“Fat bike racing in this format is an exciting spectator sport,” said Shawn Spencer, race director, and chair of the US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship. “Unlike distance and downhill racing, the course is up close and personal, allowing spectators to see the entire course from one location, watching each racer go by on the one-mile oval course.”
Now in its third year, the US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship returns to North Carolina’s Wrightsville Beach March 10-12, 2017.
“Fat biking began with the Iditarod Bike Race in Alaska and is growing rapidly,” said Spencer. “In North Carolina, it’s unlocked a lot of adventure biking along our coastal region in areas previously not accessible.”
The US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship will offer adventure-cycling clinics on Friday, beginner, sport, and expert races on Saturday of 8-miles, 16-miles, and 24-miles, and a fat bike nature tour of uninhabited Masonboro Island on Sunday. All activities will originate from the host hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
“Layout of the course this year will have less soft sand, making the straightaways less difficult,” said Spencer. “However, we will introduce more obstacles on the course, making the race more interesting for the athletes and more entertaining for the crowd.”
“This is one of the first races of the year, and you have a chance to test your early season fitness and see where you stand,” added Spencer. “The first year we had 30 racers, last year we doubled to 60, and this year we will limit the event to 100 racers.
“Each discipline of cycling – road, mountain, or Cyclocross – can do well and have fun in this event. But you have to be super-fit to come here and take the number one spot.”
Professional American Classic mountain biker Robert Marion of Mount Airy, North Carolina, won last year’s expert 24-mile male championship, with Jesse Piersol of Downington, Pennsylvania, capturing the women’s title. In 2015, Wilmington, North Carolina’s Cyclocross competitor Ben Brown earned the grinding expert division championship.
This year Spencer and the race committee will introduce a team division in the 24-mile race, allowing six team members to compete four miles each.
“Last year we had racers show up from the West Coast and other parts of the country,” said Spencer, owner of Bike Cycles in Wilmington. “This year, the race is the same weekend as the high school National Interscholastic Cycling Association Race in Brunswick County. We expect some of the bikers and their families to come out and see the fat bike competition on Saturday.”
The 3rd annual US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship will benefit the Wrightsville Beach Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public parks and amenities for residents and the island’s hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.