The 10th annual Fat Bike Birkie takes place this weekend on March 12. Expect cold beautiful trails and the most iconic fat biking community in the world. Chris Stevens and Amanda Mann share their Fat Bike Birkie stories and what they're looking forward to for Saturday's event.
Story: Josh Rizzo
The Fat Bike Birkie is in a category by itself. The Northwoods race takes place on the most iconic ski trail in the nation.
It shoots hundreds of fat bikers flying over hills that never stop on a snow highway unlike any other.
Meet Chris Stevens, 3x Second Place Finisher.
Chris Stevens is a constant podium threat at the Fat Bike Birkie and beyond.
He has now finished 2nd int he last three Birkies and also won first in 2018.
But his story gets better.
Not only is Chris a past winner and 3x second place finisher at the Fat Bike Birkie, he's also a 3x second place finisher at Fat Bike Worlds.
His racing and cycling community, the Big Ring Flyers, of New Richmond Wisconsin have made such a name for Wisconsin fat biking that his leadership and work ethic were monumental in Fat Bike Worlds choosing to host the 2022 event (and next year's 2023 event!) in Wisconsin.
Okay, back to the Birkie.
When asked what makes the Fat Bike Birkie unlike any other event in the world, Chris said he loves that it's "the one and only opportunity to ride a bike on the Birkie trail in winter. It’s wide, like riding on a highway. They have the best grooming equipment and create an incredible course. Also it’s extremely difficult because of the elevation."
"Out of all the courses, it might be the most challenging I do. It's a single 30-mile loop and the hills never quit. It's very hard and it's very beautiful."
To prep for the race, Chris emphasizes that between Friday and the time he crosses the finish line on Saturday, he's not there to have fun.
"Everything I do is to prepare for the race on Saturday. I'm not there to have a good time until I cross that finish line."
And after that?
Me too, Chris...I'll take a slice of pie too.
Meet Amanda Mann, 10x Fat Bike Birkie Racer
Amanda Mann loves mountain biking, fat biking, and just generally exploring the Northwoods by bike.
You'll see her at Fat Bike Birkie, and while racing isn't everything to Amanda, she's fully enveloped in the Birkie race community.
Her first Fat Bike Birkie was with her husband Darrin in 2013, the inaugural year of the event and they've raced every year since then, making this their 10th consecutive race, never missing a year yet.
That 2013 Birkie was on a steel Surly Pugsley that she wishes she didn't sell and every year after that has been another new chapter in the chronicles of Cable fat biking and its evolution.
Sure, the course is incredible and the community is rich, but her favorite part every year?
"My favorite part is the volunteers. They are priceless and amazing. They're always supportive and they get kids involved. There is a unique volunteer base up here which is really second to none."
Last year she finished in the top 10 but when I talked with her this week leading up to the event, it was clear that race results aren't everything.
"I love finishing and just having fun. I'm not disappointed if I don't finish in the top 10. It's always nice to have the recognition, but training is just one part of life. When I was younger, I focused more on placement or results. Now that I don’t do as many events, it's just great to beat your own time."
2022 Fat Bike Birkie Outlook? Cold, Fast, Hilly, and Epic.
With temperatures forecasted below zero at start time, the 2022 races have all been delayed by 2 hours.
Birkie trail groomers are among the best in the world so expect incredible trails, packed snow, and fast, hungry cyclists wrapping up their winter season with everything on the line.
Being the end of the fat biking season, Chris Stevens says when he gets home to New Richmond from the Birkie, he hangs up his bike and doesn't even touch it again until next fall.
Enjoy the grand finale of fat biking season at the Birkie and good luck everyone; we'll see you in Cable.