Fat Bike Open comes to Gold Run Nordic Center Dec. 5 | SummitDaily.com

Fat Bike Open comes to Gold Run Nordic Center Dec. 5

Mountain bikers, it's time to embrace your fat fetish.

Today at 1 p.m., Gold Run Nordic Center at the Breckenridge Golf Course will host the first-annual Fat Bike Open. It's the brainchild of Breck Bike Guides and the Nordic center, put on by local race experts Maverick Sports of the Summit Mountain Challenge MTB series and Ullr Bike, Summit County's inaugural fat bike race held during Ullr Fest in January.

"It's a rapidly growing segment of the industry," said Jeff Westcott, owner of Maverick Sports. "You drive by any combination ski and bike shop these days and you'll see fat bikes. We just want to respond to the desires of our summertime cyclists, give them a way to get out and race."

The day kicks off at noon with demo bikes from the Nordic Center and Breck Bike Guides. Borealis Bikes is also bringing a demo fleet. All of the demo models are available for both registered riders and folks who are just curious, but only a limited number will be available for the race.

The race starts at 1 p.m. from the Nordic center clubhouse. Riders take two laps on a 4.5-mile course spread across the center's groomed and relatively flat trails. There are male and female divisions for adults and juniors (17 years and younger), with prizes for top finishers in each.

For clothing, Westcott recommends typical Nordic attire: Breathable outerwear, plenty of layers, a beanie under your helmet and a good pair of gloves. The Nordic center pro shop is open all day for any gear that's missing.

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Nick Truitt, co-owner of Breck Bike Guides with Sydney Fox, says the Open is a perfect introduction to snow racing for veterans and newcomers. It's also perfect for spectators.

"At most races, there's usually a start line and then it disappears into the woods," said Truitt, a local pro who's specializes in endurance MTB events. "Having a shorter course like the one at Gold Run makes it fun. It becomes more of a gathering, a time to bring your whole family."

Fat biking 101

The Open debuts in time for Gold Run to officially open its trails to fat bikers. For the first time this season, the center is allowing fat bikes three times per week on a select number of groomed Nordic trails and singletrack snowshoe trails.

Here's a crash course for newbies. Fat bikes started gaining traction (pun intended) about five years ago, when established manufacturers like Kona and newcomers like Borealis Bikes started building frames made for big, fat, thick tires. The tires range from three to five inches and run at about 15 psi — perfect for slippery conditions on snowy roads and singletrack.

Oddly enough, Westcott said fat biking has been slow to catch on in ski towns like Breckenridge. It sounds counterintuitive, but it makes a weird sort of sense — the snow here is just too good for most of the season.

"It has been growing huge in places like Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan," Westcott said. "Places where they have snow but not gobs of it like we have here."

In Summit, snow can be a blessing and a curse for fat bikers. Scott Reid with the town's open space department is an avid fat biker and Nordic skier, and he enjoys rotating between the two to match conditions.

"If the conditions are great for skate skiing and kick-and-glide, the fat biking just isn't too great," said Reid, who's been fat biking for about three seasons. "If the powder is deep you should be on your skis. But I like that you can switch it up and bike when there hasn't been new snow. It just makes you smile and giggle."

Truitt agrees. Mountain biking is still his sport of choice, but he sees fat biking as a perfect way to bridge the gap between summer and winter.

"It would be great if we were skiing two feet of powder in November, but we're not," Truitt said. "To have an off-season sport, a mud-season sport like fat biking, it's just a great thing for locals."

Fat Bike Open

What: A 9-mile fat bike race (two laps over a 4.5-mile course) on the trails at Gold Run Nordic Center with divisions for adults and juniors

When: Saturday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.

Where: Gold Run Nordic Center, 200 Clubhouse Drive in Breckenridge

Cost: $30 for adults, $20 for juniors (17 and younger)

The Gold Run Nordic Center shares the same clubhouse as the Breckenridge Golf Club. Bikes will be available for demos beginning at noon. Register for the Open and Ullr Bike on Jan. 15 to save $10. Breck Bike Guides will offer a limited number of demos for competitors who need a fat bike. For more info or to register online, see http://www.mavsports.com.