Written by Eric Olds Monday, 06 February 2017 00:00
The 2nd annual Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet was the first race in the three-race Maine Fat Bike Winter Series. It was held at the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center, mostly on groomed Nordic ski trails. However, new for this year, was a section of single-track and the plan is to build on the amount of single-track in future years.
The course was just around nine miles long, with the option to do either one or two laps. I chose the longer race, which had a stacked field including some of the fastest mountain bike and cyclocross racers in Maine. I had no illusions of keeping up with them, but there were some racers who I hoped to keep up with.
We really lucked out with the weather. At race time it was 26 degrees with alternating sun and snow flurries. When Saddleback was open, it wasn’t unusual to arrive in the morning to find windy conditions and -10 degrees, so this felt absolutely balmy! (not really, but it was fine once I got warmed up).
The race started out with a three mile climb on ski trails followed by a long descent through an open area that offered stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The fast group disappeared pretty quickly, but I settled into a group of about four riders which I battled back and forth with throughout the remainder of the two laps. Some would pass me on the ski trail descents, others would catch me in the climbs, and then I would pass them on the more technical single-track.
The fun factor was definitely high for this race, especially after the pain faded into distant memory. Great to finally race my Kona Wo! The only thing I might change for next year would be to put on a pair of Schwalbe Jumbo Jims in place of my heavier studded tires, which weren’t needed in the packed powder conditions. Looking forward to next year’s edition of this race which should feature even more single-track!
And, special thanks to Bikeman.com for the continued support, and to Chris Riley for his work in bringing more off-road bike racing back to Maine, and for the accompanying photos!
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