Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grand Targhee Snow Bike Race Report

The Racing
I can sum it up in one word: FAST. The Nordic trails were groomed the night before the race and had all night to “firm up” which left the course much faster than I expected. In hindsight, I could have run more PSI and probably been a little faster on the flats but I liked the extra traction in the corners that 5.5 PSI provided. My GPS file says I averaged 10 mph and hit a top speed of 25.8 mph. WooT!

JayP leads the charge off the line - photo by Powder Day Photography

JayP launched off the start line in classic JayP fashion and we would only see him in the distance for the rest of the race. He rode solo off the front for the entire race and took an impressive win.

I was feeling good but missed the break to get into the chase group behind JayP. I was riding in no man’s land about 10” behind the chase group of 5-6 riders and watched as they drafted each other through the breezy sections of the course for almost two laps. What I didn’t realize was that several of the riders in front of me were only racing one or two laps and would soon be done while I went out for lap #3.

The battle for the remaining podium places really took shape near the end of lap #2. Gabe “Fiddee Cent” Klamer looked to have 2nd place locked up but Mike Piker was not giving up and continued to chase. I was locked in my own battle with Ben “Afterburner” Aufderheide and Jared Rammell from Boise lurking just behind. Near the end of lap #2, Afterburner bobbled in a wind-drifted section of the course and went down briefly. This allowed me to sneak by him but he was quickly back on my wheel.

I could see Fiddee Cent and Piker ahead but I knew it would take a miracle to catch them. My main goal was to try and stay ahead of Afterburner. Having some experience on the snow bike and being comfortable going downhill probably made the difference in the end. I attacked every time the trail pointed downward and emptied the tank on the last lap climbs.

There were two sprint finishes in the top six places. Piker closed the gap on Fiddee Cent and surprised him on the final hill before the finish line with a last minute attack that earned him 2nd place. I held off Afterburner and crossed the line in 4th place. Less than a minute behind me, Jared Rammell and Afterburner sprinted for 5th & 6th place with Afterburner taking it at the line. Greatness!

The Race
In addition to being the first ski resort to promote snow biking, Grand Targhee Resort became the first ski resort in the country to host a snow bike race. They nailed it. Racers had the option of doing one (15K), two (30K), or three laps (45K) of the resort’s Nordic trails and this encouraged many first-time snow bike racers.

Andy Williams always does a great job with any race at Targhee and his attention to detail is awesome. The race course was lined with crowd fence where needed, there were directional arrows on course, there were pin flags to indicate two-way traffic, and there was a great Start/Finish scene complete with a fire pit. Lastly, each racer got a cool custom beanie from Mt. Borah and there were great prizes for the top three as well as tons of raffle prizes. If you own a snow bike and live within 200 miles of Grand Targhee, you should seriously make an effort to attend this event in 2013!

Mike Piker crosses the line in 2nd - Photo by Powder Day Photography

Fiddee Cent crosses the line in 3rd - photo by Powder Day Photography

Piker collapses - photo by Powder Day Photography

I held off Afterburner and took 4th - photo by Powder Day Photography

Post-race stoke! - photo by Powder Day Photography


fuzz said...

Great job Dave! Man I wish we had snow in Texas. Cheers

JD said...

That looks so fun!

Colin M said...

No helmets?

MC said...

Great to see it blossoming in such a cool place to ride, Dave.

BTW, Copper Mountain ski resort in CO consistently held snow bike races as early as '98, and continues to do so today. Fairly certain that Vail and Keystone did so 'back in the day' (90's) as well.



Dave Byers said...

MC - Thanks for the clarification. I will refrain from using the "first in the US" comment from now on. I have really enjoyed riding at the "Ghee" this season and I am optimistic that Fat Bikers and Nordic skiers cam coexist with a little education.