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Adventure, Cycle / February 3, 2016

The Fat Bike World Championships

Written by: Devon Balet

Crested Butte, Colorado has long known to be a mega center for bike culture. Bicycles and riding them is an ingrained part of the small mountain town in South Western Colorado. The original Mountain Bike Hall of fame was on Crested Butte’s main street, Elk Avenue and it is known as one of the birthplaces of the modern day mountain bike.

Nestled high in the West Elk Mountain Range, Crested Butte is also known for getting snow…lots and lots of snow. They love big dumps in Crested Butte. With the change of season many people will hang their mountain bikes up for the winter, only pedaling their townie bike riding to and fro around the 448 acres size town. However, it is starting to be quickly known as a destination for winter biking, also known as fat biking.

With endless snow covered roads and groomed trails, it is no wonder that mountain bike lovers are turning to fat bikes. This past weekend, Crested Butte hosted the first annual Fat Bike Worlds and it was an event not to be missed. The four day event had three races, a Fat Bike Summit and live music from Lez Zeppelin, an all-female hard rock “tribute” band. All this wrapped up in the tiny mountain town nicknamed Crusty Butt. Shoulders of Giants was there and caught all of the wonderful sites and sounds that embody the event. We hope you enjoy!

Full results from the weekend’s racing can be found here.

Not only mountain bikes and snow, Crested Butte is also known for friged temperatures. A frosty cold morning to kick off the weekend before the warmth of the rising sun.

Crested Butte is known as one of the last great Colorado ski towns. Elk Avenue, Crested Butte's main street is lined with colorful buildings with Mount Crested Butte looming.

Crested Butte is a post card everywhere you look, just waiting to be captured.

The Crested Butte Nordic Center was gracious enough to open up several trails normally closed to bike for the weekend's events.

When you are a mountain bike mecca in the summer, it only makes sense to lead the way with winter biking as well.

Grand Junction local Dave Grossman, also known as Grand Valley Dave is well known for being a mountain biking advocator.

Bike culture is ingrained into the small mountain town of Crested Butte. It is part of life here.

One part warm day of riding, plus one part vapor lock will derive the fat bike unicorn.

Mountain Bike Hall-of-Famer Gary Sjoquist has become a beacon for fat bike advocacy and has hosted countless Fat Bike Summit conference. This past weekend's conference discussed the future of fat biking, which is the quickest growing segment of cycling.

The Fat Bike Summit also included a panel discussion of local folks ranging from the Nordic Center manager to the Forest Service and local mayors. It was extremely interesting to hear everyone's take on this new sport and how to best handle the growing popularity.

Saturday's main event was threatened by an on coming snow storm promising over two feet of snow. Luckily for racers the snow held off until the race was over.

What goes with bicycles better than beer? Odell Brewing Company was on sight all weekend providing plenty of libations to racers and spectators alike.

Bryan Phillips held down grill duty all weekend providing grub for hungry racers.

Riders pedal out the backend of Saturday's course. While the track may be wide, it is far from easy.

Flat light really makes it hard to show depth and steepness but it was flat out foot out on some descents.

Known for typically riding a single speed, Sara Sheets of Fort Collins Colorado hammers out a quick flat section heading back for another lap.

In the Elite Women's race it was all about the race for second place after Amy Beisel left the masses in the rear view.ex Alexis Skarda and Judy Freeman battled it out for several laps.

Mount Crested Butte loomed over racers as they came in for their final laps. Rebecca Gross finishes strong with the massive mountain dwarfing her.

Lez Zeppelin is an all girl tribute band to the hugely popular band Led Zeppelin. Their sound would have you thinking you stepped back in time.

Event organizer Dave Ochs giving a shout out to the band before kicking off the podium awards.

Elite Women's Podium- 1. Amy Beisel 2. Alexis Skarda 3. Judy Freeman

Elite Men's Podium- 1. Robbie Squire 2. Taylor Shelden 3. Travis Brown

Preparing the iron in the fire before human branding.

Single Speed Worlds has tattoos and Fat Bike Worlds has branding. Only one champion stepped up for his winning branding. I think he is going to like it better in a few days.

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about the author

Devon Balet

Born and raised in Colorado and living in the outdoors with a bike between his legs and a camera in hand, Devon discovered mountain biking after he started working at a bike shop at age 14.

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