Yukon mountain bikers celebrated the winter solstice fat-bike style on Saturday.
Fifty-three cyclists broke out their donut-wheeled fat bikes at the fifth annual 5+ Hours of Light bike festival, hosted by the Contagious Mountain Bike Club at the Biathlon Yukon range.
“There’s so many more fat bikes and fat bike makers now that my current bike feels so much more like a mountain bike than my old fat bike,” said rider Ian Parker. “The equipment has come so far in the last couple of years. It’s changed the sport completely …
“It’s upped the fun factor of riding these bikes. It was already really fun, but now it should almost be illegal.”
Parker put more chubby tire tracks in the snow than anyone at the festival held a couple days shy of the official start of winter, the winter solstice.
He regained the solo men’s title completing nine laps of the nine-kilometre course in the five hours. For those who flunked grade school math, that’s 81 kilometres.
“It was one of those rare days where everything came together. The conditions were amazing … It’s just a really fun event and I seemed to feel better as it went on,” said Parker.
“The event is really not about the racing,” he added. “I didn’t have racing in my mind. It’s more, ‘Let’s go out and see how many laps we can do in the time that we have.’
“It was a spectacular day, spectacular trail, spectacular setting. It’s one of those events that makes you feel lucky that we live where we live and we can do the things we do.”
Aaron Foos and Rob Horne completed seven laps to place second and third, respectively.
Believe it or not, 81 kilometres is not the longest Parker has ridden a fat bike in a day.
“I thought it was, but I did bike the Dawson trail last year and I think that’s over 100K,” said Parker. “It’s certainly the most I’ve done going around in a circle.”
Solo women’s winner Virginia Sarrazin of Ibex Valley has spent considerably less time on a fat bike. It was her first time in the event and just her second time on a fat bike. Still, Sarrazin completed five laps of the course.
“The conditions were really good. The trail was really well packed and it was cold – cold enough to make the trail not too slippery,” said Sarrazin. “The weather was beautiful.”
Sarrazin is no stranger to racing on snow. She is president of the Dog Powered Sports Association of Yukon and often races – and often wins – skijor events.
“I really enjoyed it. I did the (24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival) this summer and it was basically the same idea: people coming and doing as many laps as they want,” said Sarrazin. “We had a place to warm up and the club, CMBC, prepared some really good food and it was a really nice social event.”
Nicole Jacques, Stewart Van Bibber and Andrew Reid joined forces to win the team event with seven laps on Saturday. Their team name, The Flat Nolans, comes from a school project for Jacques’ nephew Nolan in Calgary, who was assigned to have cutout of him photographed in various locations. A cutout of Nolan rode the race on Jacques’ helmet.
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