Rarely do the stars and thermometer align, and they’ve never done so for Fat Chance….until yesterday.
Over the race’s five previous editions, racers have seen blizzards and wind chills as low as -22 degrees American and balmy rain races that were more balancing act than bike race. Finally, Chris Remy and Crystal Mountain worked their magic for new sponsor Iron Fish Distillery for amazing weather for thrilling race.
Five-time winner Jorden Wakeley entered as the men’s favorite, with Erin Reicha the lone entrant on the women’s side. You can only beat who shows up, and Erin used the day to work on drafting and pack-riding skills with her domestique/husband Tim, who buried himself to keep Erin in a top twenty finish overall for the early stages of the day. Only a flat tire derailed the Reicha-train, with Erin picking up a win and Tim picking up some maple syrups for his efforts.
From the gun, Cody Sovis put in his holeshot starting, but was nearly spat out the back as the rest of the field revved up. A lead group quickly established itself after one 1.6 mile lap, covered in less than five minutes. It included Wakeley and Sovis, plus Brad White, Nick Wierzba, Kyler Bradley, Paul Olson, Dave “Sunset” Scott, and Tim Pulliam. Bradley and Pulliam lost ground after another lap, with the remaining riders stuck together like warm, delcious Iron Fish Distillery honey.
Sovis, Wakeley, and White were the most committe to the front, keeping a steady pace and gratefully accepting some pulls from the rest of the crew. Wakeley and White both offered up some testing efforts, but as is often the case in a fat bike race, lapped traffic lopped off more riders than racing. Sovis and Sunset lost ten feet and were out of touch on Lap 12, just as the race was hitting the crucial final 20 minutes.
The duo struggled to get back into touch, with Wierzba now commited to keeping them at bay and opening up even more daylight for Olson in the Master’s race. Just as Sovis caught back on, Wakeley opened up a huge move that briefly split the front group. It came together a half a lap later, only for White to prize it apart again, this time for good. Wierzba and Olson were the last to have a chance, but Wakeley was just too strong. He took his sixth win and stayed perfect at Fat Chance!, a race that well and truly kicks off the race season for the TC community. White was home second, with Wierzba next in.
It was one of the fastest races in memory, with nearly perfect snow conditions and only 14 feet of elevation per lap making it a road race on wide tires. Wakeley’s winning average speed was 16.9mph, with the top five completing 18 laps.
Full results are available here.
This race recap brought to you by up.bike.