On February 23 the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center hosted their 5th Annual Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet. The Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet was the third of six events in the Maine Winter Fat Bike Series. The Maine Winter Fat Bike Series just ended its 4th year on March 1st at the Essex Woods Fat Bike Race in Bangor. The series started with Twin Brook in Cumberland, Central Maine Cycling Fat Bike Race at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, the Carabasset Fat Tire Race in Carrabasset Valley and the Bethel Snowmageddon in Bethel.

The Rangeley Lakes Trails Center, which is on your way up to Saddleback Mountain, is one of those locations that used to only have snowshoers and cross country skiers, but now everyone gets to share the beautiful and varied trails together.

Start of the long course race. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Rangeley Lakes Trails Center yurt lodge Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

For the Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet, bike enthusiasts had the choice between a 10 mile short course or 20 mile long course. Both distances offered Nordic trails only or Nordic and single track mixed. Originally scheduled for an earlier date, but postponed from the last weekend in January due to weather, about 50 people were still able to reschedule their plans and turned out for some perfect trail conditions and some truly great weather.

Scott Ash of AJ Cycles in Rangeley, the main sponsor of the event. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Beth Flynn, co-organizer of the event along with Chris Riley recalled the beginnings of the first Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet years ago, “We were one of the first races here for fat tire bikes and noone else had really started to do it.  Chris is a biker, and he just kept thinking we need to have one of these events up here. You know, this is just such a beautiful place. So he came to me five years ago and he said ‘What do you think about this?’ and I said ‘Oh heck yea, let’s do this!’ So working together we came up with a course and a lot of our snowshoe trails have now turned into bike trails too and we groom them all the time now. And we keep them groomed all winter long”.

Volunteer Barbara Eller and Event Organizer Beth Flynn near the finish line. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

From left, Andrew (AJ) Ash of AJ Cycles, main sponsor of the event and race organizer Chris Riley. Chris was the one who started this event five years ago and AJ not only sponsors the event but was on hand in case of any need of parts or last minute mechanical needs.Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

She agreed there was less participants than in previous years but attributed it to the weather postponement of the event as well as the increased popularity of the sport compared to the first one they had back in 2015. “That was five years ago and now there’s all kinds of new races popping up all over the place. We were just a stand alone, sort of like a destination and last year we were part of a three part series. Now it’s a six part series. There’s just so many other opportunities now. Also, most people don’t have the single track, we do, and so it’s much more challenging for people”.

I asked Chris Riley if single track was harder. An avid biker he responded “Well, it’s just more fun, way more fun. It’s narrower, it’s more engaging, it’s like riding a mountain bike”.

Number 136 Charles House shortly before entering his first short course race. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Speaking of mountain bike riding I asked Charles (aka Chuck) House, a first timer to the event, how long he had been riding fat bikes and he told me he had ridden from as far as the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center yurt over to the start line. That was it! However, he had done a lot of mountain bike riding so he was happy to try it. He had come on up to the event and AJ of AJ Cycles let him use one of his rentals at the last minute. So he gave it a whirl. The funny thing is, unbeknownst to Chuck, until I ran into him the following week, he hadn’t as he predicted, come in last. Second to last! Good job Chuck!

The following are the top three winners along with their times.

Congratulations to all of the participants!

 

LONG COURSE ST MIX FEMALE

1 107 BLUNCK, Hallie      1:34:28.5 0.00

2 102 VENTURA, Kathy   1:40:45.0 0.00

3 105 CAMPBELL, Laura 1:48:40.0 0.00

 

LONG COURSE ST MIX MALE

1 119 OICKLE, Brian     1:10:25.1 0.00

2 114 OICKLE, Eric        1:16:19.0 0.00

3 121 GEROW, Warren 1:17:30.7

 

SHORT COURSE ST MIX FEMALE

1 124 ARCHIBEE, Danielle 1:02:38.6 0.00

2 128 OLDS, Elisa               1:19:55.1 0.00

3 108 CURRIER, Lindsey   1:20:32.3 0.00

 

SHORT COURSE ST MIX MALE

1 127 CHAPMAN, Jeremy :50:28.3 0.00

2 137 RAVENELLE, Ryan :52:10.0 0.00

3 139 CURTIS, Blaine ’72  :52:25.1 0.00

 


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