Caden Budd just won the first ever US Fat Bike Open in the Elite category in January. In this this story, he shares his race day recap and how he got the top spot on the podium. At just 15 years old, Caden shares what the race meant to him and what challenges he's looking forward to next.
The Inaugural US Fat Bike Open took place at the Green Bay Country Club on January 22, 2022. It was the second of four races in the Broken Spoke Snow Crown Series. Over 220 fat bike riders braved the frozen tundra for the race.
Story by Caden Budd
The first ever US Fat Bike Open took place on January 21, 2022, and it was AWESOME.
With all the energy floating around that day and the days leading up to the race, you could tell that this was going to be a big race now and years to come.
Event organizers George and Sarah Kapitz had only a month to get everything ready, it turned out amazing. With more time and some possible cash prize sponsors in the future, the goal is to make this a big event with people from all over the country to come and race.
Race Day Preparation
For me, preparation started the Wednesday before.
I wasn’t going to be able to pre-ride on Saturday, so I figured that the Wednesday group ride there would have to do. The course could not have been any more perfect that day, as I like to say, It was like riding on a highway. For those of you new to Fat Bike riding or racing use to plowing snow that means really fast.
I was really nervous as to how the race was going to go.
There was something about this race that lit a fire in me to want to win it.
Wednesday’s ride was the only day that week that I felt like my legs were not sore and I could really ride hard. My legs felt like garbage Monday and Tuesday.
I joked with my mom I was hanging it up at 15 and retiring.
Saturday arrived, I was up at 5:30 and at the course by 6:30. It takes a crew to put on a race. Working for Broken Spoke Bike Shop event organizers and sponsor, I was accountable to help set up.
Once we got everything set up for the day, I went to get changed. Mens Elite and Advanced was the first race. I had just enough time to squeeze in a lap before the race to check out how much the course has changed. There were snow drifts starting to build up, and I had to drop my tire pressure. I let out some air until I had 5 psi in my tires.
There would be no highway riding.
Just in time for the start
It was taking a lot longer than I thought to get ready, and soon enough I had only 5 minutes until race start, and everybody was already in the starting corral. I was just getting down there, and was lucky enough to be let up to the front row.
I felt amazing on the first lap of the race. I was sitting in fourth for the first half lap, until I moved up to second before the big hill. After the hill, it was just the two of us.
My father, Mike Budd, and I were off the front, and it would stay that way for the rest of the race.
During the race, I did not feel strong. Every little incline I felt like if he pushed it just a little harder, I would pop off his wheel and have no shot at winning.
I couldn’t let him see any sign of weakness or he would take advantage of the opportunity. Fortunately he did spot weakness and take off, and I was able to hang on for the entire race.
Calculating moves on the last quarter mile
With about a quarter mile to go, I messed up going around a corner and a gap opened up in between us. It stayed like this for a couple hundred feet. Luckily for me, some lappers just got into a skinny section of the trail just before we could pass them, so I was able to catch back up to my father.
To win you need to be strategic and know when to make moves. I started my sprint early and got around him just before the last corner. All I had to do was not crash and I would take the win. My approach worked.
I managed to win the first ever US Fat Bike Open in the Elite Category. There are some awesome WI and MI racers that come out. We push one another to be our best and have a great time racing and hanging out after.
After the adrenaline settled down, I was able to reflect. All I could think about was how lucky I was. There were so many scenarios where I would have easily lost, and it went perfect.
Thanks to George Kapitz for having the vision to create a cycling community and for putting on the best Fat Bike Races in Wisconsin. Thanks to Team Broken Spoke for being incredible teammates. Special Thanks to my parents for enabling me to discover and pursue racing.
Up next: winter goals
What’s next for me this winter? My two big races are Fat Bike Birkie in Cable, Wis. and Polar Roll in Ishpeming, MI. My goal is to finish top 3 for both short races.
Being only 15, I have a few years to master the short course before I can compete on the long course. I also have the rest of the Snow Crown Series, which I am striving to win the overall in Elite.
Here is my question for you…what are your plans this year? Whether you are thinking about trying it out, just bought a bike, or an experienced rider, come check out all the great Fat Bike racing in northern Wisconsin and the upper Midwest. There’s nothing like enjoying the winter on two wheels pedaling in the brisk air.
Better yet, when you fall there’s no road rash.