Now a Super Bowl Sunday tradition, the third annual Mountain State Fat Bike Champs race took place at White Grass. The race saw a promising increase in riders, from 62 last year to 82 riders this year. Race Promoter Zach Adams is a Tucker County resident and owner of Appalachian Dirt, a trail construction company.
The Fat Bike Champs is part of the Mid-Atlantic Fat Bike Series. In its first year, the series is composed of three fat bike races, with the Mountain State Fat Bike Champs as the second race in the series. “I just try to grab on to these promoters that I know are putting on good events,” Series Organizer Rob May said. The other races are held in Scranton, Pennsylvania and Piscataway Township, New Jersey.
May organized the series as a way to get the word out on fat bike races. “I tried to build a forum that lists all the races in the Mid-Atlantic area,” May said. “I wanted to start real simple this season and build each year.”
Building up the sport is a common theme amongst fat bikers. “With winters like the last couple that have marginal conditions, fat biking is a great sport to have in the arsenal,” Adams said. “The primary purpose of this race is to use it as a driver to spread the gospel about fat biking and introduce people to fat biking on groomed trail,” Adams said.
May sees the Fat Bike Champs as an excellent example of what the sport offers. “The venue is an amazing place and to me, the future or evolution of fat biking is groomed trails. Once you ride groomed trail, you get it,” May said. Adams hopes to evolve the growth of fat biking in the area to include groomed trails.
Fat biking is growing in specific areas of the country that house conditions tailored to the sport. The Potomac Highlands offer those ideal fat biking conditions. And last weekend’s weather dialed in those conditions.
Friday’s snow precipitated one of the best powder days of the ski season. Saturday and Sunday were slightly warmer than one would want for snow sports, but riders reported that the trail conditions for the race were great. The snow was packed instead of slushy, which made for quick and exciting riding.
This year’s weather for the race was a vast improvement from last year’s. “Last year there was a blizzard during the race,” Adams recalled.
Biking for his first time ever in Canaan Valley, Chris Hays won the race. “My bike stayed upright, I stayed upright, so I can’t complain,” Hays said.
Highland Outdoors, West Virginia’s regional outdoor recreation publication, was the title sponsor of the event. “This is my first sponsored event as the new owner of Highland Outdoors Magazine, and I can’t think of a better way to kick way off our tenure,” Dylan Jones said. He and his partner, Nikki Forrester, recently purchased the publication, which now makes the magazine a Tucker County endeavor.
Other race sponsors included Mountain State Brewing and Blackwater Bikes.
As racers came through the finish line, spectators enjoying the warm day cheered them on. “Watching people come in, ringing bells, handing out beers, this has been the best part of the day. It’s warm and sunny, it’s like a spring day,” Jones said.