By P. Mitchell Dunklebarger, photos by Laura Ashley
The idea was simple: amass a cohort of riders with the inclination for fat tire bikes, with a disregard for personal warmth, and an unbounded enthusiasm for fraternization and debauchery. As such, the inaugural FrozenFat Outdoor Fat Tire Mountain Bicycle and Camping Social commenced over the weekend of January 13, 2011.
The event was held on the Seguin estate in Martin Gap, among the foothills of Rothrock State Forest in central Pennsylvania. Daring souls from across the eastern seaboard came together with a prerogative to shred big wheels on frozen trail, heeding the promised call of beer and bonfire. As riders trickled in from places like Virginia, Ohio, the New York tri-state region, and all corners of the great Commonwealth, one could not help but feel the warmth of being surrounded by so much fat.
The weekend’s bicycle activity entailed group rides in some gnarly off-the-path locales. Under brisk temperatures yet sunny skies, Saturday’s Rothrock Enduro began with a grueling fire road climb to the peak of Stone Mountain. Fearless fatheads were rewarded with a perch atop a hawk watch, complete with 360-degree sweeping views and the first of more than a few barrel-aided refreshers.
The recharge was followed by a heart-racing descent through boulder fields, singletrack, and a few special course deviations concocted by FrozenFat master of ceremonies Evan Gross. The following hours entailed lunch around a fire, shuttled downhill runs (that climb is much easier in back of a pickup truck), and general camp-side merrymaking.
It was during this time that the famed Tube-O-War was introduced, contributing much hilarity to a crowd already good of cheer and hearty of thirst. Following an evening rendezvous at the local tavern the dark hours passed on, with daring feats of fire taming dazzling onlookers. A test of will was observed to honor one who fashioned the most winter-inappropriate sleeping arrangements, with stiff competition between a few thick-skinned campers.
Sunday’s tour of the Allegrippis Trails and Raystown Lake included singletrack sessions, sandy beachside coast cruising, and off-road rambling. Undoubtedly the highlight of thrills came at the finish line of the Surly downhill fluency exam. As riders were vying for the coveted Nate tire betrothed to the winner, caution was forgotten atop the hill as bodies hurled themselves lake-ward unmercifully over all obstructions.
One dented frame, two cracked helmets, and a few bruises later, a champion was decided. It is unknown whether he mustered the physicality to make it to work the following morning, but the trophies validate the struggle.
The outpouring of enthusiasm for this gathering was reflected in the spectrum of riders as unique as the bicycles they proudly push. From race-tuned speed machines to backyard fattie-converted 29er Frankenbikes, loaded winter tourers and svelte IGH cruisers, the scope of rides testified to many dialects for the language of fat. As the audience for wide-wheeled noise spreads across the ridges and valleys, Rothrock Outfitters look to continue facilitating the fattie festival frenzy.