Race Update by Jill Martindale
It’s been many months since the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series season opener, the Solstice Chase, took place in St. Croix Falls, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been re-living that race over and over again since we crossed the finish line last December! New for 2017, the race course took fat bikers out on the beautifully groomed Woolly Mountain Bike trail. The race began and ended at the Dalles House Restaurant and Bar, which was also new for this year’s race. The course, the temperatures, the volunteers, and the location all made for one of our favorite Solstice Chase races yet!
The night before the Solstice Chase allowed participants to pick up their race packets from the Dalles House, to snag dinner from the Restaurant, or to pre-ride the course. Snow slowly fell in big chunks from the sky and the course was in supreme groomed shape! The course drew riders out of town on a slight climb, through a tunnel under the expressway, and then dipped them into single-track into the woods. Short, punchy climbs, twisty single-track, and fun descents welcomed fat bikes as though the trail was built for 4”-5” wide tires! Pre-riding the course in the dark was a complete blast and the promise of more snow through the night meant volunteers would be out plowing and shoveling until race start. Thanks again to all of the volunteers for battling the snow to create the perfect fat bike course!
Race morning came quickly and it was really great to roll out of the Dalles House Hotel straight to the race start! We don’t think any race starts will be easier than this one! The race course was shortened just a hair because of the negative degree wind chill that greeted racers at the start line. The long-distance 42k racers (eligible for GLFBS points) took the line at 10am, with the short-distance 21k racers beginning at 10:15am. The snow had become soft in spots over the night, causing fat bikers to focus on their lines and to hike through other messier areas. All the fun of riding in the snow! 42k racers completed two laps before making their way back under the tunnel, downhill back to the Dalles House.
Cole House, from Wisconsin, came flying in as the first Solstice Chase finisher with a fast time of 1 hour 23 minutes! Cole ran the 45nrth Dunder and Flowbeist tires, and he claims they were the ticket to the top step of the podium! Jeff Hall of Minnesota cruised through for second step (1:25:36) followed by Jeffrey Young, also from Minnesota, for third step (1:26:40).
In the women’s field, we saw Jenna Rinehart from Wisconsin race into first place for the second year in a row (1 hour and 34 minutes)! April Morgan, 45nrth racer from Minnesota, fought hard for second place female (1:40:44). April described the Solstice Chase’s course as “soft and drifty” and joked about taking a few spills during the race. Sonia Pond, also from Minnesota, rallied not far behind for a third place podium spot (1:44:19). You can find complete race results here.
Overall, we think this year’s Solstice Chase was a great way to kick off the winter season! We hope everyone is resting up over the holidays, because the second race of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series is rapidly approaching! New to the schedule, the Norpine Fat Bike Classic in Lutsen, Minnesota is January 7th! Be sure to check in on their Facebook page to see updates on race conditions. Course map, lodging specials, and the schedule are all posted online as well. We’re really looking forward to more groomed trail and to what race #2 has in store!