In a state with among the highest concentration of fat bike riders and bike sales in the country, it’s fitting for Grand Rapids to host the 2018 USA Cycling Fat Bike National Championships Feb. 10, the second year of a two-year bid win with USA Cycling.
New this year, the event will be hosted at Cannonsburg Ski Area in Belmont as well as feature International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Executive Director Dave Wiens, a legendary racer and leader in the mountain bike world, as the special guest at the opening reception. The national championships will be followed Feb. 11 by the Meijer State Games of Michigan - Winter Games Fat Bike Race on the same course.
“We’re excited to welcome back USA Cycling for a second year of this prestigious winter sport event,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) who won and will co-host the event with Winter Rush, a Grand Rapids-based fat bike race series. “Grand Rapids is becoming known as a fat bike destination, and this venue gives racers a new course to challenge them.”
2018 USA Cycling Fat Bike National Championships
The WMSC and Winter Rush won a two-year bid to host the Fat Bike National Championships in 2017 and 2018 in Grand Rapids, only the second location since USA Cycling debuted the race in 2015 in Ogden, Utah, where it also was held in 2016. The event is hosted annually by USA Cycling, the official governing body for all disciplines of competitive cycling in the United States. Approximately 150 riders participated in the 2017 event at Indian Trails Golf Course, and attendance should be similar in 2018 – with riders already registering from 15 states (from California to Rhode Island), including Michigan. USA Cycling also held the Pro Criterium National Championships in downtown Grand Rapids in 2011 and 2012.
“We look forward to returning to Grand Rapids this second year and are excited to showcase this new venue with technical trails to our riders,” said Tara McCarthy, USA Cycling’s senior national events manager. “Grand Rapids has a great cycling and craft beer culture, so it makes sense to be here. And it’s a testament to the area’s cycling reputation that the IMBA’s executive director is coming here to meet the racers and discuss the direction of fat biking in the United States.”
The championship offers junior, amateur and pro/open levels, with individual races for men and women in age divisions at the junior (11 to 18 years), senior (19 to 29 years) master (30 to 70+ years), singlespeed and pro/open levels. The mostly rolling terrain course is approximately six miles long, with the number of laps varying by race category.
“The Cannonsburg course will be challenging, featuring elements from the bike skills park and singletrack. And the Midwest is forecasting snow, which is a significant difference from last year,” said Nate Phelps, race director and owner of Winter Rush.
Races begin Feb. 10 at 9 a.m. with men’s master (19-22), with the last race starting at 3:30 p.m. with women’s junior (11-14). Award ceremonies are held at 12 p.m. for amateur men, 2 p.m. for pro/open, and 4 p.m. for women, in which top racers in each category and age bracket win gold, silver and bronze medals. The winner of each bracket also receives a national champion stars and stripes jersey to wear for a year. Registration fees through Feb. 3 are $25 for juniors (11-14), $50 for juniors (15-18), $95 for masters and singlespeed, and $100 for pro/open. Onsite registration and packet pick-up also is available Feb. 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. and Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (no registration on race day) at $25 for juniors (11-14), $50 for juniors (15-18), $95 for masters and singlespeed, and $105 for pro/open.
Pricing includes access to pre-championship events on Thursday and Friday such as course riding time Feb. 8, 2:30 to 6 p.m. and Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and evening receptions at Cannonsburg’s Bear Creek Room. International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Executive Director Dave Wiens hosts a reception Feb. 8, 7 to 9 p.m. open to racers and the public in which he will talk about the IMBA, fat bikes, and trail advocacy. The Bootstrap Boys will play a live performance for racers Feb. 9, 7:30 to 10 p.m.
A USA Cycling Race license is required to compete, and a one-day or annual license is available with registration. The Country Inn & Suites by Carlson is the partner hotel. Find the full weekend schedule at legacy.usacycling.org/2018/fat-bike-nationals.
The USA Cycling Fat Bike National Championships is located at Cannonsburg Ski Area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd. in Belmont. Parking is available on site, and spectators can view for free, with a viewing area of the start and finish lines from the deck of the lodge. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.
2018 Meijer State Games of Michigan – Winter Games Fat Bike Race
For fat bike riders who didn’t get enough of the course on Saturday, Feb. 10, they can return Sunday, Feb. 11 to compete in the 2018 Meijer State Games of Michigan – Winter Games Fat Bike Race. While not a sanctioned USA Cycling event, it serves as a fundraiser for the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance (a chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association). Categories and corresponding fees include junior ($15), beginner ($35), sport ($35) and elite/expert ($35) for men and women. Races start at 11 a.m. with juniors and end at 3 p.m. with beginners. Juniors will race three laps on the three-mile short course, and sport, elite/expert and beginner will race two laps on the six-mile Fat Bike National Championships course (opposite direction). Participants can register online through Feb. 1, after which time riders can register on site.
About the West Michigan Sports Commission: The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), works to identify, secure and host a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to make a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in the region. Celebrating 10 years since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 646 sporting events and tournaments that attracted more than 1 million athletes and visitors, generating $297 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit westmisports.com and Facebook.com/WestMichiganSportsCommission and follow @WestMiSports.
About USA Cycling: Recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling is the official governing body for all disciplines of competitive cycling in the United States, including BMX, cyclo-cross, mountain bike, road, and track. As a membership-based organization, USA Cycling comprises 64,000 members; 2,700+ clubs and teams; and 34 local associations. The national governing body sanctions more than 3,100 competitive and non-competitive events throughout the United States each year and is responsible for the identification, development, and support of American cyclists. For more information, visit usacycling.org.