As the starting racer of the relay team, you may be able to ride all out for five .5-mile laps. When tired, you will head for your team’s designated Exchange Zone, slap hands with your team’s next rider, then recover for your next effort. Use your energy wisely, as you will be needed throughout the race to put out efforts that will challenge your fitness. Likewise, the entire team of four will need to use their energy strategically in order to finish the 50- or 100-mile race.
THREE RIVERS, MI—This is gonna’ be fun!
Heart Smart Events—the folks who bring you the annual Melting Mann Dirt Road Bike Challenge—have created a one-of-its-kind relay event for fat tire enthusiasts. To be staged at The Pit, an undulating gravel and dirt trail loop in Three Rivers, MI, the Frosted Fat Tire Fat Bike Relays are a four-man or four-woman relay event on a half-mile loop. The race structure was inspired by Indiana University’s Little 500 bike race, according to Heart Smart co-founder, Mark Wright.
“The hardest part will be not knowing how many laps you can do, because it will be a constant sprint,” Mark said. The same timing chip will be on each team’s bike(s) so they will be timed as one keeping track of the total team laps. Riders will be required to slap hands in the exchange zone and can exchange as often and as many times as needed.
Teams of four will compete in relay fashion. Men will ride 100 laps to complete 50 miles and the women will ride 50 laps to complete 25 miles. Unlike the Little 500, each team will be able to provide its own bike(s) and can have up to four. And yes, riders can share fat bikes.
One of the Heat Smart Events sponsors, supporter and rider, Jon Neilson (ProForma) is excited to be a part of the competition. “The key strategy is going to be staying competitive throughout the race,” Jon said. Teams will need to keep their best rider ready so they can nail the last lap. It’s going to be an off-and-back-on the bike event— they just won’t want to get too out of breath.”
“We’ve truly never seen an event like this,” said Jamie Stafne, Mark’s partner as Heart Smart Events co-founder. “We have always planned to add on to our events. With Melting Mann in the spring, Frosted Fat Tire Relays makes for a perfect winter event promoting the popularity and participation of fat tire biking. When approached, area bike shop owners immediately embraced the idea. Even as we were unveiling and promoting the event at Michigan Mountain Mayhem in October, we could see people in the crowd already figuring out their teams.”
The venue find is no less exciting— an abandoned gravel pit that is being developed into a recreational playground by the property owner, Jerry Jones. Various mounds throughout the course will provide ideal spectating lookouts. Several out buildings will serve as warm-up areas—since it will be Jan. 20 after all—and bonfires will be provided. Mark and Jamie are encouraging teams to bring their own warm-up tents.
So, ya, if you pack it up for the winter and stick to pedaling indoors, this may not be for you. Yet Mark and Jamie have heard nothing but “bring it on!” since they began introducing it to the fat tire and cycling community.
“It’s a way to stay competitive on your bike in the winter, and something to look forward to before spring,” Jamie said. When the Clark Logic Race Team president put it out to his club, one enthusiastic cyclist wrote back, “Heck yes, what else would you like to do in the middle of winter but go outside and ride in extreme conditions”
Be sure to visit the FrostedFatTire.com website for a virtual tour of the course and event details. In the meantime, here are a few more guidelines:
- Fat bikes must be equipped with a minimum of
- 3.7 width tires and may be shared.
- Women will race at 10am. Men’s race will begin at approximately 1:30pm.
- 40-team limit per event
- Cost is $50 per rider
- Cash prizes for top 3 female and male teams.