Dirt Rag Magazine

Second Fat Bike Summit & Festival aims to grow winter riding in responsible way


By Estela Villaseñor, photos by Bob Allen Images

Island Park, Idaho, is the winter mecca for snowmobilers. However on January 25, 2013, this small town situated in the scenic Yellowstone ecosystem and world-renowned for its gnarly winter weather, had a new kid visiting the ‘hood. Winter fat bike enthusiasts from eight states, 40 strong—and some with young families, filled festival headquarters at the hospitable Sawtelle Mountain Resort while the first epic snowstorm of 2013 anointed the 2nd annual Winter Fat Bike Summit & Festival.

The Summit, co-hosted by Minnesota-based Quality Bicycle Products and Fitzgerald’s Bicycles in nearby Victor, Idaho, had presentations and Q&A sessions with public land managers from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, two Idaho congressional staff, Montana and Idaho chambers of commerce, a private Nordic ski area executive, tourism professionals, non-profit land and trail organizations, the International Mountain Bicycle Association (IMBA) and members of the bicycle industry.

The 3-day weekend featured seminars and discussions on fat bike winter trail access issues, safety and maintenance, the important role of gateway communities and the benefits of fat bikes for winter recreation-based economies.

Private and public land managers spoke positively of current efforts while emphasizing the increased need for public education and safety on shared trails, maintenance and volunteer efforts, and cost sharing for trail grooming. Highlight of the seminars was the frank discussions with land managers ranging in policy from Yellowstone National Park, which currently bans winter bicycle presence in the park and prohibits summertime pedal-powered trail access, to Grand Targhee Resort’s Nordic Ski Center, the first private nordic trailsystem in the country to allow winter fat bike access. Advocacy groups representing trail conservation, bicycle access and tourism associations rounded out the summit with their input. 

Industry professionals complimented the festivities with fat bike demos, winter riding clinics, a 25K race, raffle and prizes, customized trophies, guided tours and of course a local brew—the official fuel for winter fat bicyclists.

A multi-media presentation by professional endurance fat bicycle athletes, Tracey and Jay Petervary, was a weekend favorite. Their winter expedition imagery across Alaska’s backcountry inspired the crowded but cozy yurt, our festival conference room.

On race day, a crystal light radiated the winter stormy trails. Virtually a whiteout at times, Janine Fitzgerald pedaled the foggy 25K contest while towing 2-year old Braden in a snow chariot! Bright-eyed, five-month old Erza Montegull kicked his little legs vivaciously at each passing bike, while Dad, Geoffrey, finished first in his category and claimed 5th place overall. See all the race results here.

Fat bicycling, as the fastest growing sector of the bicycle industry, has the potential to retire the debate and substantiate year-round diverse terrain trail riding as a healthy outdoor activity with relatively no impacts to the environment and important economic boosts to communities surrounding public lands.

Bicycles have been an historical presence in the Yellowstone region since the mid-1800’s by blue-collar workers traveling on low-budget, two-wheeled vacations and by the US military as non-equine, pedal-powered troops, called Buffalo soldiers. Fat bicycles represent a viable response to ever-changing social needs, and overall bicycles have been an obvious tradition of ecological-friendly recreation and transportation, contributing economically sustainable opportunities for local businesses and communities.

The future of fat bikes, a user-friendly recreation regardless of age or ability, relies heavily on establishing: year-round trail access, good natural resource maintenance, and shared trail etiquette, education and safety. Direct exchanges on perceptions of bicycle recreation in an open diverse forum and setting a clear agenda: first, always first—for fun and the love of bicycles, for healthy dialogue, for public education on social impacts and wildland-preservation benefits, and for compassionate debate. Ultimately for timely resolutions and prudent regulation to protect bicycle access on public trails and preserve our wildlands, a national heritage. 

Presentations from the Summit

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Team CF racer wins award, stars in film about fighting cystic fibrosis


By Adam Newman. Photo above by A.E. Landes, photo at right courtesy of Team CF.

Team CF racer Kaitlyn Broadhurst has been selected as the recipient of the Shining Star award from the Delaware Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Broadhurst, who has cystic fibrosis herself, is also the star of a documentary, Catching Air, that details her experience tackling one of the most difficult mountain bike stage races in the world, the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

The Shining Star award, now in its third year, honors an individual with cystic fibrosis who strives to live life to the fullest and to overcome the many obstacles cystic fibrosis presents.

Team CF has dominated endurance mountain bike racing in both men’s and women’s divisions in recent years. This year, in a move to grow the team at the grassroots level, has established a formal partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and is inviting the public to join the Club Team

Cystic fibrosis is the most common genetic disease in the Unites States affecting about 30,000 children and adults. The genetic defect renders certain organs of the body susceptible to obstruction due to thick mucus secretions. The most severe manifestation is in the lung where thick secretions lead to chronic lung infections which require a daily regimen of drug treatments and chest physical therapy to help clear airway secretions. Advances in the clinical management of CF have improved the prognosis, although current life expectancy is 37.4 years of age. There is no cure for CF, however, lung transplantation is the only life saving treatment in those with end stage lung disease.
 

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Ride for Reading forms new mountain bike race team


Dejay Birtch at the 2012 Trans-Sylvania Epic. Birtch will represent Ride for Reading in 2013.

Ride for Reading is teaming up with professional mountain biker Dejay Birtch to create an innovative, professional mountain bike team. Birtch will not only represent Ride for Reading through racing, he will serve as an ambassador of the organization by collecting books, visiting classrooms, and spreading Ride for Reading’s mission as he travels from race to race.

Ride for Reading is a Tennessee based non-profit organization with a mission to promote literacy and healthy living through the distribution of books via bicycle to children from low-income areas.

In 2008, Birtch and Ride for Reading’s founder Mathew Portell met while sitting around a campfire at the first ever “Dirt, Sweat and Gears” 12-hour bike race in Fayettville, Tennessee. Since then Birtch  has supported Ride for Reading in a variety of ways, including raising funds for the organization through his 2011 “Tour Divide” finish.

Birtch will be wearing Ride for Reading’s colors as he races nationally and internationally. The team will not only focus on winning races but also informing the public of the need for books in the homes of children in low-income areas.

Great strides are anticipated with the new team coupled with the National Ride for Reading Week to be held from May 5-11, 2013. During this time Ride for Reading supporters around the country will be hosting a Ride for Reading book delivery in their city.

The team is being sponsored by Pivot Cycles, Maxxis, NoTubes, Fox Racing Shox, Crank Brothers, Ergon, Industrial Strength Marketing, KMC, Thomson, Devon Balet Photography, King Cage, Smith Optics, Krieg Cycling, Primal Wear, and Endless Bikes.
 

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Documentary about high school mountain biking premieres tonight


The high school cycling movement continues to gain momentum in California

"Singletrack High", a documentary about a progressive approach to body, mind and character developmentthrough the sport of high school mountain biking premieres tonight in Mill Valley, California. The premiere is at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre, at 8 p.m.

"Singletrack High" follows a diverse group of high school students through the 2012 mountain bike racing season in the NorCal High School Cycling League. Through their experiences, the 61-minute film explores the positive outcomes of keeping kids active on bikes at the age when many trade in two wheels for four.

Singletrack High was produced by Pedal Born Pictures, with the generous support of Specialized Bicycle Components and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Additional production support was provided by GoPro and Sunnyvale VW.

The NorCal High School Cycling League, founded in 2001, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which serves students from both public and private schools from Monterey to Siskyou Counties. Regardless of ability level, the NorCal League is committed to providing a positive cycling experience for all its student-athletes. 

Singletrack High Teaser from Pedal Born Pictures on Vimeo.

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Jeff Lenosky signs with new sponsor X-Fusion


World record holder and mountain bike legend Jeff Lenosky has joined X-Fusion‘s growing team of athletes and brand ambassadors. In 2013, Lenosky plans to continue highlighting his head turning trials skills at multiple demonstrations across the country. On top of his national tour and dealer visits for long-time frame sponsor Giant Bicycles, he also plans on getting his competitive fix at select enduro events around the country.

 

“I raced a few enduros last year, had a fun time and got some good results,” Lenosky said in a statement. “There aren’t too many contests for my style of freeride-trials riding so Enduros are a great competitive outlet for me.”

Keep your eye out for Lenosky in 2013 riding a wide range of X-Fusion products including the brand new 34mm fork lines (Trace and Slant), Microlite rear shock, Hilo SL seat post, and all the other performance based products.

 

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Team CF returns for 4th season, invites club riders to join


Selene Yeager, Kristin Gavin, and Kathleen Harding are part of the dominate Women’s Elite team. Photo by PJFreeman Photography.

Team CF, the rolling brainchild of cystic fibrosis researcher Dr. Jim Wilson is racing into its fourth year with some fresh faces and a new Club Team that is open to the public.

Team CF, which has been a dominant force in the National Ultra Endurance Series will be beefing up its Elite Team roster with several new riders including Philadelphia-based Jesse Kelly and Janine Verstraeten; American Ultracross Series Champion Stephanie Swan out of Pittsburgh; Roger Masse, second overall in Master’s division of the 2012 NUE Series from Baltimore; and Gerry Pflug, four-time NUE singlespeed series winner also from Pittsburgh.

Cheryl Sornson and Christian Tanguy took top spots at the 2012 Cohutta 100.

Returning are Cheryl Sornson, who captured the Women’s overall NUE title in 2012; Christian Tanguy who was the 2011 Men’s overall winner; Selene Yeager who again captured the Pennsylvania Cyclocross series; Nikki Thiemann who led the cyclocross field across the country; plus Kristin Gavin, Kathleen Harding, and Cary Smith. The team will be focusing once again on the NUE, mountain bike stage races and cyclocross both traditional and ultra endurance and will be sponsored by Specialized, DNA Cycling, CarboRocket, ProBikes in Pittsburgh, and Smith Optics.

This year all those racers would like as many riders as possible to join them. In a move to grow the team at the grassroots level, Team CF has established a formal partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and is inviting the public to join the Club Team. By joining the team riders will receive a Goodie Bag Welcome Package and have access to discounts on sponsor and team merchandise. They’ll also be encouraged to participate in a Cycle for Life CF charity ride and will receive training plans and enjoy the support of elite team members with help in training, bike maintenance, and nutrition. For more information check out TeamCF.org.

CF is the most common genetic disease in the Unites States affecting about 30,000 children and adults. The genetic defect renders certain organs of the body susceptible to obstruction due to thick mucus secretions. The most severe manifestation is in the lung where thick secretions lead to chronic lung infections which require a daily regimen of drug treatments and chest physical therapy to help clear airway secretions. Advances in the clinical management of CF have improved the prognosis, although current life expectancy is 37.4 years of age. There is no cure for CF, however, lung transplantation is the only life saving treatment in those with end stage lung disease.

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Watch now: ‘The Dirt Merchant’ – a trailbuilding film from Central NJ


Film by Adam Nawrot.

Mountain biking isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘New Jersey’. Nevertheless, Jason Fenton has been building and maintaining mountain bike trails in the heart of Central New Jersey since 2004. "The Dirt Merchant" takes a peek into what it means to be a cyclist in the middle of some of America’s densest suburban sprawl.

The Dirt Merchant isn’t necessarily a documentary about Six Mile Run State Park or Jason Fenton in particular but rather a film about the cycling community and how its individual members make it what it is.

About the filmmaker: "I race bikes for Rutgers University, where I study filmmaking and graphic design. I grew up riding Jason’s trails at Six Mile Run in my early teens and I’m so excited that this film is able to give back to the community that has shaped my life so dramatically."

The Dirt Merchant from Adam Nawrot on Vimeo.

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Bringing the mountain to San Francisco


The Puppies & Rainbows Ladies Jump Jam at the San Francisco Bike Expo was a skills clinic and practice session that brought the joy of dirt to San Francisco’s Cow Palace. 

By Joh Rathbun. Photos by Shane Mckenzie.

While San Francisco is a culturally progressive and geographically unique city that provides everything a metropolis can offer, what it doesn’t have is legal, fulfilling singletrack. Like most urban environments, those with a thirst for tasty dirt must leave the city to find it. China Camp State Park, Joaquin Miller Park, Pacifica, and Mount Tamalpais State Park all offer great riding, but are not in the city.

Enter small businesses like RideSFO and Clayton Bicycle’s Stunt Team. They bring bike events to urban San Francisco. Phil Segura, owner of RideSFO and the man behind the San Francisco Bike Expo says there’s no money in doing this, “but that’s not what it’s about.”

Originally founded in 2003 as an online forum for riders, RideSFO evolved into its current iteration as a retail outlet with a mobile dirt jumping/park mobile set and crew. Headquartered out of a warehouse called the Sand Box on Portretro Hill, RideSFO is a unique blend of bike shop and cycle-centric traveling circus.

There’s no one like RideSFO in San Francisco when it comes to the 26-inch bike. As such, Phil is busy with coordinating with others like Hank Matheson of Bicycle Fabrications—co-habitant of the Sand Box—to spread the word and make mountain biking accessible to city dwellers.

Events like the San Francisco Bike Expo highlight technical riding like AT’s Showdown, a jump competition that features 30-foot doubles with a fear-inducing run-in. Based at the Cow Palace, these folks are bringing the mountain to the cycling San Franciscan. The event also included a female-specific event, this year it was the Puppies & Rainbows Ladies Jump Jam hosted by my publication, Shine Riders Company. Shine is an online publication and community center for women’s gravity mountain biking.

When speaking of AT—Andrew Taylor—of AT’s Showdown—Segura says, “He works really hard—the course is a labor of love—he’s not making any money off of it, but we both love riding, and want to bring something to the riders. We’re the only people putting on urban slopestyle events. So, that’s where we really want to hang our hat, and these comps show the possibilities with the parks and therefore, providing access for us, and hopefully we’ll have a domino effect.”

The cousin of RideSFO is the traveling Clayton Bike Stunt Team. While they’re a non-profit, they “provide BMX shows for all occasions.” As a non-profit, they focus on “bicycle safety, such as safety gear, obeying traffic laws…and always being aware.” Clayton Bicycle Stunt Team recently hosted the Battle of the Bay on Treasure Island in San Francisco.

Mike Henry, a competitor and native San Franciscan, is thankful for the few organizations like Clayton Bicycle Stunt Team, and said, “I just like to pedal around after work. I like the Chili Bowl, in Balboa Park. I got into bikes through a friend in the Mission District. If you want a dirt fix, though, you got to go out of town. We just got our jumps plowed. Guess the city didn’t want no one getting’ hurt out there.” Without cycling-centric entities like RideSFO and Clayton Bicycle Stunt Team, the San Franciscan wouldn’t get their dirt fix in the city.

“We got to keep building momentum so we can bring it to the people,” Segura said. “The great thing about the Expo is you get exposed to a lot of different things, but a kid riding in a parking lot gets a glimpse at a different type of sport. Promoting a healthy lifestyle that embraces alternate modes of transportation like cycling is beneficial for the urban community, and incorporating different lifestyles like mountain biking along the way can only be beneficial for that community as well.”

About the author

Joh Rathbun is a sport and travel journalist, a pro mountain biker and editor in chief of Shine Riders Company. For coverage of West Coast events, bike adventures, cool tips and bike tutorials, like her on Facebook
 

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IMBA releases “Best Practices” for fat bikes


The exploding popularity of fat bikes has led the International Mountain Bike Association to put together some "best practices" for fat bike riders when using the bikes on Nordic ski trails, snowmobile trails, or in the backcountry.

Regarding equipment, what is the bare minimum I need to ride on snow?

  • Tires wider than 3.7 inches
  • Tire pressure less than 10 PSI
  • You will not leave a rut deeper than one inch in the snow
  • You are able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line
  • You have permission to ride from the land manager
  • DO NOT RIDE, especially on groomed nordic and snowmobile trails, if you can’t meet all of the requirements above.

Best Practices for Riding on Nordic Trails

  • Yield to all other users when riding. Skiers don’t have brakes but you do!
  • Ride on the firmest part of the track.
  • Do not ride on or in the classic tracks.
  • Leave room for skiers to pass (don’t ride side-by-side with all of your buddies blocking the full trail).
  • Allow the track time to set up after grooming and before riding.
  • Beware of alternative days for bikes and for skiers.
  • ONLY ride a purpose-built fat bike, not any old mountain bike. Tire tread must be wider than 3.7 inches.
  • Be an ambassador for the sport: stay polite, educate other riders, discourage bad behavior and follow the rules.
  • Help out and get involved by joining your local nordic club.
  • Donate money for trail grooming.

Best Practices for Riding on Snowmobile Trails

  • When riding on snowmobile trails, use a front white blinker and rear red blinker at all times. Wear reflective material on both the front and rear of your body.
  • Stay to the far right of the trail and yield to snowmobiles.
  • Know and obey the rules of your local land manager. Understand that some trails may be on private property and might not be open to alternative uses.
  • Be prepared. Winter travel in the backcountry requires carrying proper gear and dressing properly. Be self-sufficient!
  • Use extreme caution when riding at night. Be visible and always use lights.
  • Be friendly! Fat bikers are the newest users and the snowmobilers you encounter might not be welcoming. Be courteous and open to suggestions.
  • Help out by supporting your local snowmobile club.
  • Donate to trail grooming and maintenance efforts.

Best Practices for Riding on Natural Terrain and in the Backcountry

In the right conditions, a fat bike can be the ultimate winter backcountry travel tool. Frozen conditions and minimal snow coverage (1-5 inches) means access to areas that are impassible during the warmer months. But just because you can ride somewhere doesn’t mean you should. Be aware and be prepared.

  • Do not trespass! Know whether or not you are on private property. Obey ALL land manager rules. Some land parcels are closed to bikes whether you are riding on a trail or not.
  • Do not ride through sensitive wildlife habitats. This may be especially important on beaches or in places where animals hibernate. Learn about the area you want to ride in before you ride there.
  • Do not disturb wildlife. Many species survive on minimal diets during winter. Stressors or the need to move quickly can deplete their energy stores.
  • Learn safe ice travel. Riding on frozen water can be extremely dangerous. Is the ice thick enough to support you? Take ice fishing picks and a length of rope when riding on lakes and rivers.
  • Understand changing conditions. New snowfall or warming temperatures can make the return trip much more difficult. Tire tracks can be covered, hard snow can turn to slush, rivers can start to melt. Always know the forecast and be aware of how changing conditions might alter the safe passage of your route.
  • Be prepared. Carry provisions in case you have to stay out longer than planned.
  • Let people know. Make sure someone else knows where you are going, when you left and when you expect to return.
  • Learn to share. Be aware that your tracks might attract other riders. Understand that "your" route might not remain a secret for long. 
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13 individuals honored by 2012 NICA Awards


The National Interscholastic Cycling Association Awards were established in 2010 to honor student-athletes, coaches, volunteers and partners that have made outstanding contributions toward the development of high school cycling and the national high school mountain biking movement. This year, awards were awarded to 13 individuals in 10 different categories that were selected from a field of more than 222 nominees from NICA Leagues across the country.

The Student Athlete Leadership Award honors student-athletes who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, sportsmanship, academic performance and volunteerism in their team, school and community. The recipients are:

  • Josie Nordrum, Redwood High School, NorCal High School Cycling League
  • Zachary Tucker, Lyons High School, Colorado High School Cycling League

The Trek All-Star Student Athlete Award recognizes student-athletes for their outstanding competitive achievements and potential for future success in competitive cycling. The recipients are: 

  • Kate Courtney, Branson High School, NorCal High School Cycling League
  • Lucas Newcomb, Sir Francis Drake High School, NorCal High School Cycling League

The Jeep Extraordinary Courage Award recognizes student-athletes who have persevered through challenging circumstances and overcome adversity to develop and excel as a model student athlete. The recipients are:

  • DeShaun Smith, C.K. MCClatchy High School, NorCal High School Cycling League
  • Mark Doty, Oakley High School, Utah High School Cycling League

The SRAM Coach of the Year Award acknowledges a head coach whose qualities as a leader and motivator embodies NICA’s mission to provide student-athletes with the coaching and camaraderie to help them achieve both competitive and non-competitive goals in a safe and enjoyable manner. The recipients are: 

  • Whitney Pogue, Summit Academy High School, Utah High School Cycling League
  • Ken Mozek, San Ramon Valley High School, NorCal High School Cycling League

The Clif Bar and Company Volunteer Service Award honors an exceptional volunteer whose dedication of time, expertise and enthusiasm goes above and beyond to make a difference in the organization. The recipients is: 

  • Nick Gualtieri, St. Francis High School, SoCal High School Cycling League

The Quality Bicycle Products Community Impact Award honors an individual whose dedication to high school mountain biking has resulted in positive impacts on youth, the community and the organization. This individual is an outstanding representative of the organization internally and externally. The recipient is:

  • Ed Fischer, Camas Composite, Washington High School Cycling League

The Primal Wear Race Production Partner Award acknowledges an individual whose outstanding partnership role in race productions is key to the success of a leagues race event production. The recipient is:

  • Martha Flynn, Minnesota High School Cycling League

The Easton Foundations League Founders Award recognizes an individual’s commitment, enthusiasm, perseverance, and outstanding contributions in establishing a NICA High School Cycling League. The recipient is:

  • Lori Harward, Utah High School Cycling League

The NICA Legacy Award honors an individual for their tremendous philanthropic support of NICA and NICA Leagues. The recipient is:

  • Mike Sinyard, Specialized Bicycles

Support the winners at the NICA Awards Benefit Ride and Banquet! Both events will be on January 12, 2013, with the ride at Ft. Ord and the banquet at the Specialized world headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. Register today for either the ride and/or the banquet here. 

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