Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet 2021: COVID-19 Edition
by Eric Olds • February 05, 2021
Great to be racing bikes again after almost a year! With the pandemic cancelling all my usual races this season I hadn't raced bikes since fat bike season ended in the beginning of March last year, so it was great news that the Rangeley Loppet would be a go.
There were some changes made with safety in mind, though: 1) participation limited to 60 riders. 2) the course would stick entirely to the XC ski trails without any single track mixed in to avoid congestion. 3) wave starts of 4 or 5 riders separated by 2 minutes, to reduce congestion even more. And 4) no award ceremony and après race hangout around the fire, which was really the only bummer, but there was a little time for socializing in the parking lot.
Race day was cold, but not as cold as I'd feared. The thermometer in my van read 1 degree when I arrived an hour before start, but it was sunny and there was no wind, and it warmed up into the teens by the end of the race. I kept my pre-ride short and opted to stay warm in the van instead, though.
The course was in perfect shape; frozen and fast. The wave starts were seeded by past performance so I went in the fourth and final wave of the men's long race. I was feeling good and quickly rode away from the rest of my group and caught a rider from the preceding wave abut 2 miles into the first lap. That gave me a big confidence boost early on, but in the end I was only able to catch one more rider and didn't beat the times of any of the earlier riders either. But, based on the time gaps I feel like it was probably the best race I've had there yet.
There are two more races on the Maine Winter Fat Bike Series schedule coming up, with Carrabassett the following week and Titcomb in mid February. Once again, hats off to Chris Riley for putting on a fantastic event. Look forward to next year when we can hopefully gather round the fire afterwards like back in the olden days.