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Silverton Whiteout Fat Tire Bike Race Saturday!
From Silverton Standard, the place where you can write!
Posted on February 05 2015, 4:45pm by Mark Esper in Local News category


By Margot Early


Silverton’s first-ever fat-tire bike race is ready to roll this Saturday, Feb. 7, with more than 100 riders expected to take on the snowy course.

Riders on mountain bikes designed for snow riding (the extra-large tires leading to the name “fat bike”) will compete on snowy terrain in the 10-hour Silverton Whiteout.  

As of last week,  more than 60 teams, ages 12 to 65, were registered for the event.  Russell Zimmerman, owner of Durango Cyclery, and Sarah Tescher of Durango DEVO have been organizing the race. 

Competitors may race in solo, duos, 3-4 person teams and family teams.  All team members may use one bike, and bikes are available for rent (call 970-247-0747 or visit silvertonwhiteout.com).  

Racers can register on site.   The race will follow an 8-mile loop, with fire-warmed outposts in front of Silverton Ski and Bike (1350 Empire), at Arrastra Gulch and on the Shrine Road.

The events begin Friday afternoon at Race Headquarters, the Grand Imperial Hotel, with baton pick-up and registration.  Happy Hour at Montanya will benefit the Silverton Singletrack Society, Silverton’s new bike and trail club. The Singletrack Society’s mission is to promote mountain biking in Silverton.

The race begins Saturday at 9 a.m., and spectators may want to visit the outposts, watch batons being passed in front of the Grand Imperial or drink free beer from Ska while staying warm by barrel fires outside our local bike shop.

According to Zimmerman, fat bikes were born out of winter bike racing on the Iditarod Trail in Alaska and now represent the largest-growing segment of the bicycle industry.   

Zimmerman, who rides a fat bike himself, says, “the big tires act as a form of suspension, so it’s a pretty smooth ride.” 

Julie Garcia, who is traveling to Silverton from Alaska to compete in the Whiteout, says, “It has been really cool to see how fat bikes have changed over the years. It started out as people modifying their mountain bike frames to allow for two wheels or bigger tires. Then a few local guys started making custom frames. The tires keep getting bigger and the bikes keep getting lighter and more efficient on the snow.”

Garcia was introduced to fat bikes by her husband.  

“He used to go to these late night races called the Frigid Bits, where about ten guys would meet in a parking lot and race in the dark on the snowy trails of Anchorage, in sub-zero temperatures, and drink beer afterwards. He would come home with his facemask frozen to his beard, covered completely in frost, but with a huge smile on his face. He finally convinced me to go to one of these and I loved it.”

Like other outdoor winter activities, fat bike riding can lead to harrowing situations.  Garcia describes having to change a flat in -25 degrees during the White Mountain 100.  

“I was at around mile 75 and about 20 hours into the race when I got a flat. At the time I was riding a Pugsley with Endomorph tires, which were really hard to get off of the rims, especially at really cold temperatures. I remember working for a half hour trying to pry the tire off of the rim and then after getting it off and pumping for what seemed like an hour (those tires are really big!), I spent another half hour trying to get the tire back on. In the meantime, my fingers were freezing. I would work a little, and then run up and down the trail and swing my arms to try to warm up. ... This year I’m going tubeless.”

Garcia says, “I’m not competitive, I just do it for fun.”  

Nonetheless, this year she will be one of 50 racing in the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 350-mile race that follows the Iditarod Trail to McGrath. She heard about Silverton’s race from a friend in Grand Junction and decided it would be a good event for her.

Silverton Whiteout needs volunteers to act as marshals, monitoring intersections, helping people check in as they complete laps in the timing area at the Grand Imperial,  and to man the outposts. All outposts will have fires and refreshments for the comfort of participants and spectators.  



Silverton Whiteout schedule:

Friday, Feb. 6

Registration at Grand Imperial Hotel, 4-6 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 7

7-8:30 a.m. — Registration at Grand Imperial

Racing: 9 a.m.- 7 p.m.

Email or call Sarah T at sarah@durangodevo.com or (970)779-8480


Volunteers needed:

“We need some Greene Street Marshalls,” said Silverton Whiteout organizer Sarah Tescher.

Contact: sarah@durangodevo.com or (970)779-8480

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