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Downeast Racing: Twin Brook Fat Bike Race 2019

by Kevin Ryan • February 25, 2019

I switched gears this year, so to speak. After a good summer and fall of racing, I decided to add something else into the exercise routine. I've been riding mountain and road bikes since 2006, and haven't done much else besides. So, after Circumburke in October, I joined the Cult of CrossFit. I knew it would eat into riding time, but I think the extra core strength might help with bike handing and punchiness. I also bought a Salsa Beargrease, a nice carbon upgrade from my aluminum Kona. Eager to ride and race it, I entered Downeast Racing's Twin Brook Fat Bike Race at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland, Maine.

Prior to the race, which was on January 19th, I had not ridden since Christmas. That's one of the longest stretches I've gone off a bike in the past ten years! As I had no idea how I would feel, I entered the short, 10-mile course. This year's course was all on open field with moderately hilly terrain. The race reminded me of a cyclocross race in that laps are short (around two miles) and in a relatively confined area. This makes it a great spectator race, and I plan to bring my daughter Lily next year provided she's interested.

Once the race started, people sorted themselves out quickly. For almost the entire race, I jockeyed with Tall Sock team member Liam Somers, with one younger guy just behind us. Liam got smart and eventually just stayed on my wheel. One thing I like about mountain bike racing is the (usually) friendly banter. The race leader flew past us, and I asked, 'should we get on his wheel?' Liam thoughtfully replied, 'you go right ahead.'

I knew the race would come down to a sprint, so I while I kept a decent pace, I did not waste energy trying to put distance between me, Liam, and the younger guy behind him. As we came around the final turn, both Liam and the kid went for it. My sprinting legs were not with me that day (so much for CrossFit) and both guys finished ahead of me. I ended up coming in seventh out of 17. Not great, but I guess not terrible after having been off the bike for so long!

As a final note, if anyone is looking for a great race bike, I would highly recommend Salsa's Beargrease. The carbon frame is stiff but comfortable, and the nice, tight geometry makes for nice, responsive handing. The thing is definitely at home on a groomed race track!

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