Breckenridge’s Gold Run fat bike race series a hit during low snow year
With snow scarce in Summit County, the one winter sport that has benefited from the conditions is fat biking.
At the heart of fat biking this winter has been the town of Breckenridge’s Gold Run race series, which just wrapped up its third of four races this winter.
The series, operated by Jeff Westcott of Maverick Sports Promotions, has attracted more than 40 people to race in a virtual format, where racers record their course times on the Strava application. The first races of the season were Dec. 12 and 19 before racing returned Saturday, Jan. 23. The final race will be Saturday, Jan. 30.
“I think the sport this year is experiencing a little bit of a surge for two reasons,” Westcott said. “No. 1 is conditions. We have not had a lot of snow, which makes fat biking conditions excellent. Fat biking conditions are inverse to snow conditions. And people are looking for alternative activities away from crowds due to COVID.”
Westcott credited the town of Breckenridge’s COVID-19 resiliency committee and the town’s Open Space & Trails Department for cultivating a situation in which recreational and competitive fat biking could thrive this winter. That included the town grooming and maintaining popular mountain bike trails — such as the Slalom Singletrack, Upper Flume, Middle Flume and Hard Luck — specifically for winter fat biking. The trails are not exclusive to fat biking, but Westcott said adding the trails to the town’s fat biking inventory takes the network to the next level.
Gold Run race cyclist Brandon Dyksterhouse of Lafayette agrees. On Westcott’s premarked race course last week, Dyksterhouse raced to a second-place time of 35 minutes and 35 seconds, behind race winner Taylor Shelden of Breckenridge (35:12).
“Two weeks ago, I rode up the Gold Run climb and came down Slalom, and the huge banked turns felt like I was in the Whistler bike park coming down,” he said. “And this past week, we had these huge rollers. These are pretty amazing features for what is a weekly town series.”
For Westcott, operating the series is a return to fat bike racing after Maverick Sports Promotions did not host the Ullr Bike or Fat Bike Open events last year.
Westcott — who disputed the word virtual, which has been used for other similar event formats, to describe the Gold Run races — said the formalized, premarked courses provide a different feel for participants and that cyclists can let it rip “with their eyes up like it’s a regular race.”
For Dyksterhouse, a former NCAA giant slalom champion and Olympic championship U.S. Ski Team coach, the Gold Run races are quality enough to make the return trip to Breckenridge. It’s his first time competing in one of Westcott’s winter events after racing in the Summit Mountain Challenge for years.
Dyksterhouse said he chooses to drive up from Boulder to race because the competitive experience and courses provide him with a unique sporting outlet.
“And I also coach two young athletes, Alpine ski racers, and I’ve been able to introduce them to fat bike racing through the series,” Dyksterhouse said. “They are having a total blast doing it. I think Colorado as a whole has really gone out of their way to keep winter sports accessible.”
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