Written by Kevin Ryan Monday, 25 February 2019 00:00
This race showcases a great alliance between the fat bike and snowmobile communities. The way I see it, snowmobilers are a “keystone species” - that is, a species on which others in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed, the ecosystem would change drastically. Maybe that’s overkill, but their sledding activity does create “habitat” for fat bikers, Nordic skiers, runners, and the like.
Snowmobile clubs do a great job of obtaining access on private land and maintaining their trails, and fat bikers owe it to them for doing so. I am happy to contribute financially to my local snowmobile clubs for the work they do. That’s why this race, masterminded by Dr. Naylor and Bikeman’s Derek Treadwell, is so great. The Snowbird snowmobile club grooms the race course, and in turn, race registration fees go to the club. Win-win. And hopefully, snowmobilers and fat bikers crossing paths on trails in Bowdoinham are more cordial to each other as a result.
Another aspect I liked is that the race was rescheduled twice from its original date to optimize conditions. It was first postponed from February 3 to Sunday, February 24 due to poor riding conditions. It was then moved again to Saturday the 23rd, as Saturday’s conditions were perfect and rain was in the forecast for Sunday. No doubt this upset a few folks, but I appreciated being able to ride in good conditions. It makes for a much better race experience. My first two fat bike races several years ago were on slush, and were terrible as a result.
The course was approximately 24 miles long, 99% of which is perfectly-groomed snowmobile trail. As the course covers a good portion of Bowdoinham, the event must be done as a team (i.e., the buddy system for safety). Fortunately for me, my race buddy, Hallie, lost her original partner due to the date switch. We had not ridden or raced together for some time, so I wasn’t sure how we would match up. I had a feeling she would be stronger than I. As it turned out, Hallie was merciful and set a great pace, leading the way for probably 98% of the race. I was pretty much maxed out, and suspect she would’ve gone a bit harder had we not been required to stay together. We ended up averaging a 10.6 mph pace and finished at around the 2.5 hour mark. Thanks to Tread and the Bowdoinham Snowbirds for putting this on. I definitely plan to attend next year!