This past Saturday, USA Cycling hosted the Fat Bike National Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Traditionally, Fat Bike races involve snow, even groomed trails. The race promoter, Nate Phelps (Winter Rush) worked hard and organized a great event. However, there was nothing Nate, or anyone could have done about the weather. With the warmest year in Michigan’s history and a mild start to 2017, there simply wasn’t much snow in a region of the State that has been known for significant winter storms. Snow, or no snow, the race was still National Championship caliber. Racers raved about the course and spectators commented that it was well worth tolerating the frigid conditions.
The racing was as exciting as any fan could want, with the men’s pro division coming down to a sprint finish between Jamie Driscoll (Utah) and Cole House (Wisconsin). Driscoll had a commanding lead with about 8 miles to go. House closed the gap, but those on the course reported that Driscoll still had about a 10-15 second gap with about half a lap to go. Someone, House find the power to shut down the gap and sprinted around the final turn to edge Driscoll at the line, by less than a wheel. Michigander and resident bad ass, Jorden Wakeley took third.
Replays of the finish made it appear as though Driscoll was surprised to see House come around him, as the two hit the final stretch. However, Driscoll didn’t have to wait long to redeem himself, winning the single speed race, later that day.
Ami Stuart (Utah) finished 19 seconds ahead of Elizabeth Lurz (Texas) to take first in the professional women’s division, with Susan Vigland (Traverse City, Michigan) taking third.
Several Michigan racers took advantage of the fact that Fat Bike Nats were in their home state, and fared well, including Tyler West (champion in the 30-39 age group) and Don “DC” Cameron (Champion in the 50-59 age group). Full results can be found at USA Cycling.
For those that missed it, the photos by Bike Law cyclocross racer and cycling photographer, Wade Burch, will make you feel as if you are in Grand Rapids, watching the race, in the warmth of your own home. As always, great shots from Wade!