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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Social report. Oh, and a x-mas gift from Camp Fortune!

Sorry this is a week late; I was hoping to get some actions pics of the day, but to no avail, yet. When they come in, I'll post them up.

Sometimes, snow both giveth and taketh away. Sunday the 15th was a case in point, in that while the demo was kind of a disappointment to me, the racing part of the day was a blast! The social was an example of how with fatbiking fresh snow can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you approach it, and when.

The morning of the event I didn't have high hopes. Don't get me wrong, everything was set to be awesome: a horde of snowshoers directed by Iain R. had packed down three spur lines off the CBC access road; a flotilla of demo bikes were ready, and both firewood and drinks had been secured. As foundations go for a good fatbike event, you couldn't get any better.

Unless, it snows a foot at Camp Fortune overnight, ending only an hour before the event. That can wreak havoc on the best laid of foundations. The snow was the type of cold, dry, drifting snow that is impossible to pack down in the time we had before the demo started. Although Watson, Noah, Chris, Marcel, and Rob tried to stomp the lowest and shortest section of the demo trails, it was to no avail. With that sort of snow, you need much more traffic and few days for the trails to set, not a dozen footprints and an hour of time. Thom's text to me summed up pretty much what I was thinking when I woke up: "you know, getting newbies to try out fat bikes in these conditions isn't optimal."

"Yeah, this could be a wash," I feared.

Getting sized up for a fat run.

I thought that because of the snow, not many people would turn up. I was wrong. People were there the waiting for us when we arrived, and at times folks were waiting for the bikes! In all, about 30 folks showed up to demo the bikes, some of them having skied by, gone to their cars and changed shoes so they could come back and fail around in the snow. One guy even gave me his season's pass as ID for the rental!

Hot drinks, cold trails, equals goods times.
 Generally, everyone who went out came back with positive experiences. Even if most of the trails were buried, that didn't stop folks from trying, and/or taking them for rips in and around the parking lots and the foot of the ski hills. What was cool was that people hung out afterwards, had something to drink and talked about the bikes. The recruitment, err, I mean the demo was a modest success.

The fire pit is starting to become an expected feature; these folks brought fatbikes to ride, and wieners to cook.

As the sun set and the last of the skiers came down the Mountain, Matt and Thom went to work setting up a dual-slalom course on the lower flank of Marshall. They quickly discovered that despite the new snow, it was impossible to get any poles into the ice-hard man-made snow base. So they improvised(what a surprise, given this series' history); the course morphed from parallel courses  to one where there were 6 wide gates, marked by hastily built-up snow mounds lit by glow sticks. Two riders were sent down at the same time, hoping to get the holeshot. 

Bikes getting ready to race!

Talking about the format and racing order. Yes, that is a fat unicyclist in the pic!

The Olive, prepping for the race...

...and best cape contest, which he owned. Mind you, David's all-black victorian number was pretty swank. Dapper, even.
While this format in most other contexts would likely have resulted in some elbows thrown, everyone knew this was not that sort of race, and if they didn't, they quickly got the hint from the amount of heckling that was going on at the top of the hill. If that didn't keep them in line, well, the course did. 

All that soft, new snow meant that staying upright was the major challenge, not your challenger. If you could stay upright, or manage to fall the least, you would win. In one race, each person slid out at least twice. One poor soul face-planted twice (laughing at the end of his race as he cleaned the snow out from the inside of his glasses, thankfully) and another fell four times, only narrowly losing to his competitor, who only fell three times... 

The race was done elimination style, with the winner of the consolation round going up against the loser of the champion round. The championship came down to the mad, hellbent descending of Matt, versus the smoothness of Daniel's runs. We all thought that Matt was going to take it, because, well, he was going stupid-fast! So fast, that everyone was wondering when, (not if) he went down, how much time he would lose. But we all thought that by the time he went down, he would have a big enough gap to recover, and his competitor would've wipeout out as well. However, Matt went down early, with Dan right behind him. and Dan didn't fall. Dan was in for the win. 

I can't remember much of Nick's winning run. I was staring at his new fatbike suspension fork the whole time...

 Below are the results, kept track on my high-tech scoreboard (a posterboard taped to a table). The top names are the under 40 podium, the lower three are the over-40 winners

So, Dan, Matt, Nick and Karl: I am still waiting on the prizes Giro and Outdoor Gear Canada gave me to get here. It will be likely the second week of January. Send me your emails or FB me in the new year. Or check back here; I'll post when they are in.

The fire was sooo nice afterwards, and made nicer by the bottle being passed around.

Finally I want to thank a shit-ton of people of helping out. Getting all the stuff up to Fortune and setting trails is no small task, and these people deserve thanks. All this community support is pretty heartwarming, for it shows that this fatbiking thing has the making of being a pretty cool scene of folks willing to help out to get folks together to play in the snow.
-Iain, for the snowshoing, which alas was for naught (this time; more on that after New Years)
-Mike and Noah for coming up to Fortune the night before and marking trails in one of the coldest winds I've experienced in a loooong time, and hauling stuff back and forth.
-Chris Wood for hauling up a big pile of wood.
-Marcel and Rob P. for being packing fodder (again, for naught).
-Thomas and Will from Tall Tree Cycles for bringing up the tent and their fleet of demo Surlys (which you can rent until the 7th of January),  and for paying for the drinks. Much thanks!

And special mention goes to Watson, who ran all sort of crap errands for me while I was at work: getting photocopies, getting paint, tarps, and gods knows what else. All hail Watson!

So that's it for now.  I'll post post new pics when I get them.

Happy Holidays, and I will have good news in the New Year; if you liked what happened this time, well it looks like we may get a repeat or two! Thank you Mr Sudermann!

But for now; bank on the next race being in the city, on Jan 19th. It starts in someone's backyard.

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