The first race of the 2016 Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series is in the books, with some familiar winners on the top step.
Jorden Wakeley again took the opening challenge of 2016 after third at Farmhand. It was a return to form for the Grayling Giant, moving him up the GLFBS standings but firmly atop the SBFBS with 3 events left on the horizon.
For women’s winner Danielle Musto it was business as usual. She’s a former winner at beautiful Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa and this race turned into a bit of a tune-up for her. Her teammates Kati Krikke and Chelsea Strate rounded out the podium.
The 2016 event marked the very first time Fat Chance! was held in sunny skies and above frigid temperatures. The last two years were marred by winter storm advisories, 20+ mile per hour winds and sub zero temperatures. The fair weather was a deserved treat, as was the inclusion of the newly groomed Betsie River Valley trails that Crystal Mountain grooms exclusively for fat bikes all winter long.
It turned out to be some of the ski trails that weren’t as well packed, with a few riders just outside the top ten putting a fun down and forcing the rest of the 150 rider field to foot on the opening climb. Wakeley went around 45NRTH/GRCO’s Matt Acker near the top of the climb and never looked back, while Acker and his beard settled into a race-long pursuit.
Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing’s Ryan Kennedy paired with Brian Geshel in a fight for the final podium spot, but found themselves over two minutes down after one lap of the 9.2 mile lap. Behind, Master’s racer Scott Diment settled into a rhythm of his own as Hagerty Cycling’s Rob Goepfrich tried to find a group to vie for the win.
The women’s race was splintered early on, with Musto churning away and Krikke tapping out her pace behind. Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing’s Liz Belt was in third after a lap and looking very strong, albeit Chelsea Strate was only just beginning to find her legs beneath her after 45 minutes of racing.
The Master’s Women race was almost always going to Dawn Cluchey, the Freewheeler rider smiling as she finished her first lap and headed out for a second. Three syllable tri-ath-alete Cindy Duby wound up second in the category in her first fat bike race, as the Ironwoman balanced a steady engine with some developing bike handling skills.
Meanwhile, Wakeley was racing himself more than others en route to another Fat Chance! win. Acker held second comfortably, while it was Geshel who got the better of Kennedy to round out the podium. Keegan Myers came off the beaches of Hawaii to take fifth, while Nick Zawadaski and Mike Walters treated the crowds to a thrilling descent to the line and sprint, with Nick inching Mike out and offering a congratulatory high-five past the finish. Hagerty’s Nick Wierzba, Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing’s Jon Throop and Brian Monton rounded out the top ten.
It’s a bit of a roll call with the Vasa Fat Bike Race on deck, three weeks off on February 13th at Timber Ridge. We’ve certainly got a sneak peak into the great and the good very early into 2016, and there are some riders with a lot of reason to be excited at their Series prospects before it all wraps up on March 5.