906 Polar Roll

photo by Jenny Scott

One of the things that we love about the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series is the varying snow conditions that racers get to experience. Snow can transform any trail. The 906 Polar Roll took place this weekend in one of the most beautiful fat biking areas in the world in Marquette, Michigan, and racers experienced dramatic changes in conditions in just one weekend.

The 906 Polar Roll was part of the Northern Fat Bike Summit, and a lot of participants showed up to Marquette late Thursday or early Friday. Conditions were near perfect, with the course riding fast and hard packed. Race promoter, Todd Poquette, had kept an eye on the weather and warned racers that the weekend would call for milder temperatures and less-than-ideal trail conditions. Mid-afternoon on Friday it started warming up and began to rain. The rain and warm weather had wreaked havoc on the trail and the course became soft, rutted in areas, un-readable for some, and challenging for everyone. Some segments of the course were covered in ice, whereas road crossings soaked racers with wide puddles and piles of slush. Todd Poquette and the race volunteers did an incredibly job keeping spirits high and staying positive despite the conditions. Racers near the front had a huge advantage of hitting fresh trail, whereas people caught behind the long line of riders in the single-track would have a hard time passing and would come up against a continually crumbling trail that got more churned with each fat biker that passed it. The course layout for the 906 Polar roll encompassed every type of conditions you’d see in a whole winter of fat bike racing: groomed single-track, snow mobile trail, snow that felt like mashed potatoes, hard-packed snow, icy roads, hills that required pushing your bike up them, and descents that kept racers dabbing their feet to stay upright!

Another thing we love about the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series is the type of racer that shows up, toughens it out, and sticks with it. Todd shared some awesome stats on the race: in the 35-mile course 116 racers started with 104 finishers, and in the 15-mile course 171 racers started and 128 finished. That’s a great finisher’s rate! Participants persevered this weekend and endured some epic and incredibly tough course conditions. While we’re proud of the top overall men and women out on the course and we’re equally as proud of the finishers who stuck it out and hung in there for 8-9 hours. Great job, everyone!

In the men’s 35-miler, first and second place finishers, Jordan Wakely and Eric Thompson, sprinted through the 45NRTH arches with times of 3:15:58 and 3:15:59. Adam Bergman followed close behind with a time of 3:16:02. Former Olympian, Travis Brown, came in fourth with a time of 3:16:20, and Matt Acker, a familiar face to the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series, finished in fifth with a time of 3:19:23.

April Morgan had a strong first place finish with a time of 3:59:10, followed by her 45NRTH teammate, Danielle Musto who came in with 4:12:42 on the clock. It was a 45NRTH sweep on the podium in Marquette, with Jill Martindale in third with 5:01:09. Anna Zawadski, who leap-frogged a lot of the course with Jill, finished fourth with a time of 5:12:10. Wendy Zamzow-Blumerick rounded out fifth place, her first time riding on snow conditions such as these, with a time of 5:19:43.