Written by Eric Olds Tuesday, 19 February 2019 00:00
The Snowmageddon fat bike race on the Bethel Village Trails was in its second year and its first as part of the Maine Winter Fat Bike Series. To get to the race on time I had to get on the road by 6AM, and after a nearly 3 hour drive arrived in a bit of grumpy mood with temperatures still in the high single digits. But, having the warmth of the Bethel Village Inn to get dressed in, and then a quick warm up ride on the trails got me into a positive mood and ready to race. With no wind it didn’t feel as cold as the thermometer would indicate.
The race started out fast and I was looking at a replay of the Rangeley race, with most of the A group pulling away from me. But, as soon as the pack hit the first soft gentle climb it was like a bomb went off, with riders scattered all over the course. After a few hectic moments getting tangled in the mess, I was soon making my way up through a bunch of riders that were unable to ride in the soft conditions. The real fast guys were gone, of course, but at least I was in the race.
Contrary to what I expected after the mid-week snow storm, the single track was the most packed, rideable part of the course. This was thanks to many hours of snow blowing put in by the race organizers. Rather than try to pack it down, they just blew it off to get down to the hard pack that was there before the storm.
The nordic ski trail between the two sections of single track was probably not the favorite of most of the racers, but I really enjoyed it since it allowed me to outride riders I struggle to keep up with in fast conditions. Lots of swooping turns and ups and downs which were pretty wild and loose. Point it down, aim for the rut, foot out, hang on and hope for the best! I only fell twice, and those were soft landings.
Sadly, towards the end of my second lap, I noticed my rear tire was going flat. I had just set my tires up tubeless that week, so figured there was nothing I could do but hope it held what air was left (no way I could get the tire off the bead to put a tube in in those temperatures). But, had I briefly left the course to get a pump before heading out on lap 3, I would have noticed that I simply hadn’t tightened the valve enough after letting air out before the race. I guess my fingers were too frozen to notice at the time. In any case, half way though my third lap I was down to the rim and ended up walking out.
I still had a great time and enjoyed the loose conditions. Hopefully I’ll have better luck next time. The course was fantastic and the amenities at the Bethel Inn were superb! Nice to sit inside after the race and catch up with friends while enjoying a beer and hot meal. Big thanks to BMB for putting on a great event!
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