Leadville Fatbike/Winter Racing

Photos: Leaf Treinen

The winter of 2011-2012 has seen an explosion of fatbike riding. Thankfully, the Cloud City Wheelers gang in Leadville has been organizing a winter mountain bike racing series for years that welcomes both fatbikes and regular mountain bikes. The first race of the series, the Copper en Fuego, held at Copper Mountain, was a huge hit.

This past Saturday night was the third race of the series, the Mineral Belt Mayhem. It's a staple in the series and for good reason. It's an opportunity to race down the main street of downtown Leadville, Harrison Avenue.

Forty racers showed up for the race around the Mineral Belt Trail. For this race, the Cycles of Life bike shop, located on Harrison Ave. played host as the race venue. It's a unique race because the street is covered with a thick packed snow course for the annual ski joring event that is part of the yearly Crystal Carnival, which also includes a weekend full of events.

It was nearing 7pm and we started to get ready to roll. The start of the race was a neutral rollout down the main drag until the group met a local police officer, who then lead the rest of the neutral rollout until the official race start at the Mineral Belt Trail.

The Mineral Belt Trail is a 11.6 mile paved multi-use path in the summer, catering to bikers, walkers, and other recreational users. During the winter, it is a nicely groomed cross country ski trail that welcomes fatbikers too.

Three riders took to the lead in the rollout, seemingly hoping to push the pace from the beginning. They were pushing the "neutral" aspect just enough to make it interesting. Once the police car turned off and the racers hit the trail, the race was blown apart. Riders hit deep, loose snow and were immediately off their bike, hiking as fast they could. That was only a glimpse into what was to go down.

Photos: Leaf Treinen

The Cloud City crew did a lot of grooming, but they received a lot of snow during the week; therefore, it was hard to keep a nice hard-packed surface. Fatbikes ruled the day and everyone on regular mountain bikes had their hands full. Weaving and slipping, many riders were stuck hiking many sections of the race.

Thirteen racers called it quits and dnf'ed. Others stuck it out and were out on the course for well over 3 hours!
Gretchen Reeves won the women's by over two hours! In the men's race, there was a three way race during most of it before I broke away during the last couple miles to take the win and Marvin Sandoval took over Kurt Ireland around the same time to capture second place.

We're fortunate to have such unique race opportunities here in Colorado. There is one more race left in the 2012 series. The East Side Epic starts at 10am on Saturday, April 7th. Check-in starts at 8am at the Cycles of Life.

For the full results, check out the Cloud City Wheelers website at http://www.cloudcitywheelers.com/2012-leadville-winter-mountain-bike-rac... .

More pictures of the race by Leaf Tiernan can be found at http://www.quandarygraphics.com/wheelers/

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