Fat Chance Preview: Wakeley vs Acker To Ring In 2019

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Fat Chance is BACK on Sunday, January 20, and it’s fitting that two of the original fat bike masters will be on the start line to celebrate.

Fat Chance was the first truly rad fat bike race in northern Michigan. In 2012, the first edition of the race included a 70s theme, a stretch of treacherous pavement, and some hot laps of the Otter Loop at Crystal Mountain. This year, Race Director Christ Remy has brought back a version of that course, sans asphalt, to celebrate the event’s longevity and killer vibes. Title sponsor Iron Fish Distillery, already hosting a recon ride this weekend, will be helping, uh, fuel those festivities on race day.

The course sticks primarily to the Otter ski and fat bike loop, just across the road from Kinlochen on the south end of the Crystal Mountain campus. With there is little elevation to deal with, the race has always been famously fast, with some editions averaging over 15 mph on years with favorable conditions and especially strong fields. While the start list remains relatively compact up to this point, there’s plenty of horsepower. Jorden Wakeley is back, and if you’re putting $5 on someone, he’s a safe bet. He’s never lost a Fat Chance he’s entered, whether the race was circuit style or the few editions that saw two longer laps that included the Betsie River Valley.

If anyone can give him a challenge, though, it’s famously tough Matt Acker. While the 90 minute race is a bit short for his liking, he’s proven at the Iceman Cometh that he’s got the punch for shorter events as well as long, all-day (and night) challenges like Dirty Kanza XL. Indeed both Wakeley and Acker would be just as happy riding for 15 hours as they will be approximately 15 miles, a good guess at the distance of next week’s race.

On the women’s side, there’s no sign yet of regulars like Erin Reicha, Cindy Duby, Christa Hoyt, or Susan Vigland, but Amanda Cecilio and Anabel Miller will have plenty of fun without them, if push comes to shove. In fact, it’s the Women’s Masters that looks the most loaded, Birgit Conway, Amelia Hasenohrl, Singletrack Sister’s Kami Wade, and Tina Laurence all fat bike veterans and podium finishers.

Andy Weir and Dan Ellis have been slated to lead the way for kolo t.c., with both riders more than capable of picking up a podium finish. Especially if the course is packed and fast, with plenty of snow, they should be able to work together and play the team card early and often.

Registration for Fat Chance presented by Iron Fish Distillery is open online and available day-of. We’ll have photos and recaps up that evening, and we’ll even be posted up in the up.bike #AdventureHub throughout the morning to chat with riders as they preview the course.