Valdez, AK – Organizers of a new festival in Valdez is hoping to transform the way people think of fat biking competitions by putting an emphasis on adrenaline more than the more-common endurance-oriented races of the genre.
The headline feature of the three-day Chugach Fat Bike Bash, March 18 - 20 is what organizers are calling the world debut of a fat freeride competition. A vertical venue on Thompson Pass is luring riders like Anchorage downhill specialist Kevin Murphy to test their riding skill on some of the steepest terrain ever biked on snow. Like the World Extreme Skiing Championships of the 90’s that put Valdez on the map as the birthplace of big mountain skiing, the Fat Freeride competition will judge riders on a combination of time, creativity, and originality of line. A cash purse of up to $2,000 is at stake, provided primarily by Copper Valley Telecom.
“It’s like the Red Bull Rampage, a test of skill and guts. On snow” said Lee Hart, Executive Director of Levitation 49, the non-profit sports commission producing the event. “As fat bike technology evolves we’re beginning to see riders experimenting with air and inverts on fatties. This event is intended to nurture this direction of fat biking, the fastest growing segment in bicycling.”
Other festival events leading up to the freeride comp are designed to showcase the beauty of Valdez in a carnival-like atmosphere. Costumes are strongly encouraged and fat tires are recommended but not necessary especially for the criterium and bike rodeo.
The opening night Ursa Major Northern Lights Criterium will take place Friday night, March 18 from 9 – 10 p.m. along the Valdez harborfront. Light and reflector bedecked riders will run laps and have an opportunity to earn time credits by stopping at participating venues offering tasters of Ursa Major craft libations. Prizes for best costume and other fun categories will be awarded. The night concludes with a bonfire at Dock Point.
Saturday’s events begin with a cross-country race that will begin and end at Kelsey Dock, on the harbor. The main route is a 10-mile circuit over the river and through the woods; a shorter and easier out and back beginner route will total about 4 miles. In the afternoon, balancing skills will be on display during a Fat Bike Rodeo held at Kelsey Dock. A Bunny hop limbo, wheelie drag races, foot-down demolition derby, gap jump, and a snowy BMX track highlight Rodeo events that will conclude with a thrilling finale (details TBA). Prizes will be awarded for each event; photos should be priceless. After-party sponsored by Hoodoo Brewing is at The Fat Mermaid, official festival headquarters.
The event will be photographed and filmed for distribution on traditional media and social channels. Participants and spectators are encouraged to share their pics and vids with the world by using the hashtag #fatbikebash.
Online registration is currently open for passes to the event. Same-day registration for Friday and Saturday events is $10 for the crit and xc race; $5 per rodeo event or $10 for the full rodeo. Entry to the freeride competition is for experienced riders comfortable with off-piste riding. For complete event details and online discounted registration visit http://Chugachfatbikebash.com
The Chugach Fat Bike Bash is a production of Levitation 49, a non-profit sports commission dedicated to promoting mountain sports culture in Valdez. Proceeds from the event support L49 projects.