Summit’s new fat-bike series kicks off Jan. 28 with Ullr Bike | SummitDaily.com

Summit’s new fat-bike series kicks off Jan. 28 with Ullr Bike

Like oversized tires made for snow, this whole fat-biking thing just might go somewhere.

On Jan. 7, the Ullr Bike fat-bike race comes to the Gold Run Nordic Center in north Breckenridge. Now in its second season — it debuted last year with an invite-only counterpart, the Fat Bike Eliminator — the event is open to everyone and held one week before Ullr Fest, Breck's annual celebration of all things wild and wintry and horned. This year's race also features a revamped course at the Nordic center, home to a new grooming machine made just for fat-bike singletrack.

And you'd better believe that machine is getting one hell of a workout after more than a foot (and counting) of fresh snow since Wednesday.

"Whereas last year's course was exclusively on the large Nordic trails, this year's course will go from groomed singletrack to Nordic trail and back," said Jeff Westcott, owner of race organizers Maverick Sports. "This week will be really interesting. It's snowing and it's supposed to snow every day, but the hardcore fat bikers will be out there because that's what they do. That's their activity."

Now for the biggest news: Ullr Bike is the opening race of the brand-new Summit Mountain Challenge Fat Bike series, a companion to the long-running summer community series for mountain bikers. The series, organized and overseen by Westcott and Mav Sports, continues throughout the season with three races: Feb. 4 at the Frisco Nordic Center, Feb. 18 at the Copper Mountain Winterbike festival and Feb. 25 for the series finals at Breckenridge Resort.

"There was this feeling that maybe we should join forces," Westcott said of the new series and new venues, including Frisco, where fat biking wasn't allowed before this season. "This thing just happened in a very organic, natural fashion, and that's the best way. Everyone bought into it."

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Ullr Bike basics

The fat-bike series opens with Ullr Bike, and what an opening race it will be. Like Summit's first fat-bike event of the season, the Fat Bike Open on Dec. 3, Ullr Bike is open to competitors of all ages and abilities, with divisions for open men, open women, age classes and juniors. Registration is $30 for adults, $20 for juniors and $95 for adults who sign up for the entire four-race series. All bikes must have a minimum of 3.7-inch tires, and there will be no demos or rentals on-site.

Unlike the Fat Bike Open, which moved from Gold Run to trails in the French Creek system this year, Ullr Bike takes advantage of the Nordic center's groomed trails and singletrack — a must in the middle of winter. Westcott and crew spent a few days tamping down snow in French Creek before the Open, but he says it was all worth it to give athletes a taste of something new, fresh and technical.

"People loved the Fat Bike Open course with a ton of singletrack," Westcott said of this year's Open. "We did a bunch of tamping and sidestepping before that race to really prep the course, and it came out great. It wasn't done with the fat-bike grooming implement, but it (Ullr Bike) will be a similar riding experience."

The course is a 3-mile loop on a mix of wide-open Nordic trails and snowy, technical singletrack. Adult divisions take three laps for a total of 9 miles, while juniors finish two laps for a total of 6 miles. Climbing is minimal, but you don't need steep climbs and descents to get a workout on a fat bike. Westcott, who hasn't personally bought into the fat-biking thing yet, scouted the course earlier this week and had a blast. The route sticks close to the Nordic center day lodge, making it a near-perfect venue for spectators.

"I'm not a fat biker — I don't get out there regularly — but I've had a hoot on fat bikes," Westcott said. "I've been on them and thought, 'This is cool, this is a hoot.'"

The winner's circle

As the first event in a brand-new series, Ullr Bike has the goods to keep people coming back. First-place finishers in all division win a custom Ullr helmet and medal, while second- and third-place finishers take home a medal. There will be plenty of raffle prizes for all competitors, of course, and winners rack up points for the overall series crown.

The series continues on Saturdays through February. After the final race at Breckenridge, overall winners in the five series categories earn a season pass for the summer Summit Mountain Challenge series (worth $170), an entry to the 2017 Imperial Challenge on April 23 (worth $50) and other prizes, like gear and gift certificates.

"I think fat biking in this community is always going to be a good, marginal-snow activity," Westcott said. "In other words, it's something you can do between storms… We're just happy to see where this fat-biking sport goes."

2017 Ullr Bike

What: The second edition of a mid-winter fat bike race, hosted at Gold Run Nordic Center as the first race in a four-race fat biking series

When: Saturday, Jan. 7 at 3 p.m.

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

Cost: $30 for adults, $20 for juniors

Registration is available for individual events or the entire series. Series adult registration is $95 ($15 discount) and junior registration is $80. For more information, including course maps for all four series races and info on prizes and race divisions, see mavsports.com.

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2017 Summit Mountain Challenge Fat Bike series

All events are held on Saturdays at varying times. Bring a headlamp to all. To register or find out more, see mavsports.com.

Jan. 7 — Ullr Bike at Gold Run Nordic Center, 3 p.m.

Feb. 4 — Frisco Freeze at Frisco Nordic Center, 3 p.m.

Feb. 18 — Winterbike at Copper Mountain Resort, 6:15 p.m. (lights required)

Feb. 25 — Breck Fat Bike Finals at Breckenridge Ski Resort, 4 p.m.

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2017 Ullr Bike course description

Below is a turn-by-turn outline of the new Ullr Bike course at Gold Run Nordic Center, courtesy of Jeff Westcott with Maverick Sports. Just keep in mind this is only an outline — follow all course markers on race day.

Start on Sunset (just outside the Clubhouse heading east). The first mile is on groomed Nordic trails to allow for sorting to take place.

Turn right onto Dyer Straights.

Turn right onto Smuggler.

Stay on Smuggler until past the restroom building.

Take your next right onto Hoochinoo singletrack.

Ride Hoochinoo to Gold Run.

Turn right on Gold Run.

Turn left onto Gold Run Shortcut.

Take an immediate right onto Midas Touch singletrack.

Climb Midas Touch and take the only left continuing on Midas Touch to your descent.

Ride Midas Touch to Gold Run to Buffalo Flats.

Sprint Buffalo Flats to Sunset to the start/finish line.