Race #4 in the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series, the Iron Line held in Iron River, Michigan, decided to pair its annual sled dog race with a fat bike race! New this year to the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series, this event was only in its second year ever to take off. With a smaller field compared to a few of the other races in the series, this fat bike race brought a lot of components to the game that will have its participants coming back year after year.
First of all, the course had fun elements comprised of groomed double track, gentle climbs, technically mushy climbs, descents, flat straightaways, and soft hike-a-bikes. You were led through local bike paths covered in snow, around Minnie Lake, and past local’s front yards where they cheered for the fat bikers. The snow was deep in spots, and taunted racers in some spots where they were asked to ride on the sugar-snow bike path while the smooth, paved road was only a few feet away. The course was split in to basically three parts: 1) the way out of town, 2) double-track around a lake, 3) re-tracing your route back in to town. Having the course split up this way made the race go by quickly and allowed for racers to hit the gas following the lake, speeding on the final stretch back to the finish.
The second reason why we loved this race so much? All of the dogs, of course! The Iron Line is in its fourth year as a sled dog race and who can resist a fluffy sled dog? Dogs were leashed up and heading out to race as fat bikers warmed up before the start. As the bikers were lined up ready to go, a few of them barked and howled , mimicking the excitement of the dogs. Many racers met and played with the dogs after both parties had finished their respective races.
Jordan Wakely gave race promoters a run for their money, threatening to roll through the finish line before they could be there to congratulate him with the overall win with a time of 1 hour and 42 minutes. Jordan came in ahead of Adam Bergman (1:44:17) and Matt Acker (1:44:48), who both tried hard to catch him.
In the women’s category, April Morgan claimed her first win of this year’s Great Lakes Fat Bike Series with a time of 2 hours and 4 minutes. Jill Martindale felt surprisingly fresh after just finishing her first Arrowhead 135 just four days prior to this race and came in second overall female (2:14), followed by Chelsea Strate (2:23), who made her way on to her third GLFBS 3rd place in a row.
At this point in the series, Chelsea Strate leads the women’s category, followed by Jenny Scott. Both women have participated in every Great Lakes Fat Bike Series race thus far. For the men, Matt Acker and Brian Geshel are separated only by 5 points. The next two races in the series, the Cuyuna Whiteout and the City of Lakes Penn Cycle Fat Tire Loppet, are back to back on Saturday and Sunday, giving us a better look at this year’s series contenders. Remember, each racer only needs to compete in three races in order to be considered for the GLFBS. A racer’s best 5 finishes will be counted toward the final series standings. Racers will be awarded an additional 15 bonus points for up to but no more than 2 additional events above the 5. Good luck, fat bike racers!