Hub of Aspen cyclists lead Fat Bike Nationals |

Hub of Aspen cyclists lead Fat Bike Nationals

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Fat Bike national champion Kevin Willson, right, celebrates with national runner-up Tom Hayles after the two led the field in the Men Master 50-59 finals at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Hub of Aspen photo |

Cyclists from the Hub of Aspen collected top honors last weekend at the first USA Cycling Fat Bike Nationals in Utah.

Kevin Willson, a longtime area cyclist who now lives in Carbondale, won the national title in the Men Master 50-59 age class in the championship race staged at the cross country area at Powder Mountain Ski Area near Eden, Utah.

Aspen cyclist Tom Hayles, coming off the World Cyclocross Championships in Switzerland, finished a close second to training pal Willson in the initial national championships in the fat bike category. Hayles had won a bronze medal at the world cyclocross event earlier this month.

“The course was at the top of Powder Mountain,” Willson said. “It as a nice cross country course … wide open, plenty of places to pass.”

He said the course on the cross country trails basically included a descent and a climb. The 50-59 riders did two laps.

“I went out in front, and I took a big gap on the downhill,” Willson said. “Tommy got on my wheel eventually, and we started pulling away.”

The two local bikers rode together on the second lap and pulled ahead of bronze medalist David Harrison of Sun Valley, Idaho, and fourth-place Mark Gouge of Littleton.

On the last climb to the uphill finish, Willson edged ahead of Hayles, a veteran of international competition for more than 20 years.

“I didn’t think I could beat Tommy,” Willson said. “He was just back from the world cyclocross in Switzerland. “To the truth, I didn’t think I could beat him.” But he did.

After, they celebrated together in the finish area — both riding for the Hub of Aspen.

Hayles, as well, rides for ZG.

Bike-maker LaMere also supported the Hub riders, according to Charlie Tarver of the Hub of Aspen.

Willson said the snow surface was firmly packed snow, perfect for the huge tires on the fat bikes.

Willson, when he’s not running the Woody Creek Tavern, rides his fat bike regularly in the Prince Creek area outside Carbondale.

He’s been riding and racing fat bikes for four years.

“I have bad knees, a bad back, so I can’t ski anymore,” said Willson, 57, “But I can get out and ride (all year round).”

He said the new cycling sport is growing rapidly, as witnessed by the first USA Cycling national championship event in the discipline.

“You have to ride one of these bikes to appreciate it. It puts a smile on your face,” Willson said.

In the 50-59 men’s division alone, there were 16 riders at the nationals, including cyclists from Montana, California and Texas as well as Utah and Colorado.

Cycling legend Ned Overend of Durango, a longtime professional mountain biker, won the open division for Pro Men last weekend. The pros raced on a 30-kilometer course.

Brad Bingham of Steamboat Springs finished second. Travis Brown, another Durango-based cyclist, finished third.

Boulder’s Mitchell Hoke finished fourth.

Overend won the open division at age 59. Back in 1990, Overend won the Mountain Biking World Championships.

At the age of 55, Overend won the famed Iron Horse Bicycle Classic 50-mile road race from Durango to Silverton.

In the Women Pro category at the Fat Bike Nationals, Amanda Miller of Colorado Springs won the gold medal.

Rebecca Rusch of Ketchum, Idaho, finished second.

Amanda Carey of Victor, Idaho, finished third.

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