The second race in the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series is just two weeks away. Are you up for 40km of singletrack?
The King Vasa Fat Bike Race is back and it’s going to be a party. The event, which was included in the annual festival of ski races only a few years ago, has quickly become one of the most prestigious fat bike races in the state, and for good reason. With the majority of events moving toward easier to groom, easier to support circuit-style formats, the Vasa remains doggedly committed to adventure. Both the Short (20km, approximately) and Long (40ish-ish) races leave the well-protected and cozy confines of Timber Ridge and hit the Winter Sports Singletrack and sections of Riley’s Loop. It takes a ton of work to keep both of those trail clear, but it’s a labor of love for Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association. In years past, they’ve put all their equipment and rotated through groomers in the days and night leading up to the race in order to offer the best trail conditions possible, and they’ve always seemed to get it right.
This year, that challenge will not be due to a lack of snow. The current blizzard (this one, not the one last week) has piled another foot or so of powder on the trails, and the most recent NMMBA grooming report indicates that the crews are working hard to keep everything rideable heading through Wednesday and into what should be a relatively warm weekend. That’s going to be key for riders looking to give the course a look; we’ve got the .gpx files here.
It’s also a critical race in the four-event Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, and the only chance for singletrack specialists like Chelsey Schlict, Dave “Sunset” Scott, and even riders like Kent McNeil, who can definitely make the most of the twists and turns.
The race is also sure to be one of the longest of the year. In 2018, only 8 of the 70 riders who finished came in under the two-hour mark, which itself is already 30 minutes longer than the 90 minute cut off for events like Fat Chance and Beard of Zeus. If conditions remain on the softer side through next week, 120 minute mark could be a winning one. With last year’s winner, Jorden Wakeley, currently in action at the Arrowhead 135 at confirmed for the 50km ski, there could be a little room on a podium that also included another confirmed non-starter, Cody Sovis. With Sunset, runner-up last year, likely the race favorite, it’s going to be a big week for him to rack up points before Dogman and BoZ.
On the women’s side, Erin Reicha had a strong result at Fat Chance and backed that up with a win at Big M this past weekend. She’s confirmed for Vasa and, like Schlicht, will be making the most of the plentiful singletrack. Series leader Susan Vigland isn’t confirmed as of yet, but she’ll likely hop in the game a bit closer to race day.