The fatter, the better |

The fatter, the better

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times
Montana Miller (in front) and Tom Hughes sprint towards the start-finish line at the inaugural Fat Cycle Challenge. Both Miller and Hughes finished in the top-five behind winner Adam Looney. More than 70 racers took part in the event held at the Holden/Marolt Open Space in Aspen.
Michael McLaughlin/The Aspen Times |

On Saturday at the Holden/Marolt Open Space area, there was enough fat going on that “The Biggest Loser” would have been proud.

The inaugural Fat Cycle Challenge took place Saturday morning with competitors racing around the snow-covered three-quarter-mile course on fat bikes.

“This event today will pave the way for a fat-bike revolution in Aspen,” said Julie Hardman, the senior event manager for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. “The sport is gaining popularity and is really blowing up.”

A fat bike is a bicycle with over-sized tires, typically 31/2 inches or wider, that are designed for riding on unstable terrain, such as snow and sand. The bikes are designed to accommodate the large tires while remaining relatively light. The bikes cost between $1,500 and $6,000.

Saturday’s event started with a competitive division, with 26 entrants, followed by a recreational race made up of eight teams of six racers.

Hardman received a lot of input from the local biking community as she began to put the event together. Typically a summer sport, the Fat Cycle Challenge was a perfect way to give the biking community some winter activity.

Hardman then coordinated with the Parks Department, the Nordic Council and several local bike shops to put together the event.

“They all gave us feedback and helped get the course together,” she said. “It was kind of a perfect storm of ideas and efforts.”

Adam Looney, of Anchorage, Alaska, won the event. There were no winning times, as competitors had a time limit to see how many laps they could complete.

“This course is really awesome,” Looney said. “The snow is in perfect condition, so it’s a lot like mountain biking. It was almost like a soft mud, so you drift on both wheels half the time in the corners. It was really challenging both physically and technically.”

Looney enjoys both nordic and downhill skiing and was an All-American skier at the University of Wyoming. He said fat-bike racing is a great break from the slopes and is exploding in popularity.

“This sport agrees with some people more so than skiing,” Looney said. “It offers more stability, and you don’t need to rely on your back as much.”

Looney then saw racer No. 214 and asked just who was that woman keeping up with the men.

No. 214 was Aspenite Rachel Hadley, who finished in the middle of the pack and more than held her own against the guys. It was her first time riding on a fat bike.

“I race mountain bikes,” she said. “But I’ve never been on a fat bike, so I was like, why not? It was a ton of fun, and these people are such a great community, super supportive. The people who put this on did a great job, plus it’s a beautiful day, so all in all, it was a great day.”

Besides the Fat Cycle Challenge, there were also demonstrations where people were allowed to test ride the bikes. There was a town ride at 4 p.m. and an awards party at the Limelight Hotel, followed by a torchlight parade and fireworks show on Aspen Mountain.



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