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Fat bike racers take to the trails in Iron County

Dan Child prepares the trails at George Young Recreational Complex for the upcoming fat bike and sled dog races.

IRON COUNTY—With groomed trails already in place for the IronLine Sled Dog Race, organizers initiated a second race venue to coincide with the IronLine. The FatBike race will take place on Jan. 31.
    IronLine and FatBike race coordinator Josh Brindle said, “We are not only trying to bring a new competitive sport into the area, but also want to show people what fat bike racing is.”
    “This race will be kind of an exhibition of fat bike racing. We encourage spectators to take this opportunity to learn more about the snowsport of winter mountain biking.”
    Racers can choose from two course options. There will be the FatBike 40K race that is approximately 22 miles and the Shorty FatBike that will be about 12 miles.
    For the first-ever FatBike race, organizers are using the “keep it simple” approach and are offering two classes: men’s and women’s.
    The race will start at the Iron River RV Park at 12:30 p.m. following the IronLine Sled Dog Race teams onto the trail.
    The trail will follow much of the sled dog trail which is groomed for a couple months before the race. The FatBike “out-and-back” incorporates the entire six-dog class trail and is made of three main sections:
    - Apple Blossom Trail: this section is smooth, pretty and only has about one good climb (2 miles).
    - ORV Trail No. 16: this is a fairly straight forward and a straight section of groomed snowmobile trail. There is not much climbing, has a couple bridges and is scenic. This area will still be open to snow machine traffic and they will have the right of way. This area connects Iron River to the George Young Recreation Complex. (13-14 miles, out-and-back)
    -George Young Recreational Complex: this section will have narrower trails, more climbing, thicker woods and more technical terrain in general. This will also be where the course turns around and comes back to town (4 miles).
    “We’re paying more attention to the trail section at George Young’s that will be used for the IronLine six-dog race and the FatBike race,” said Brindle.
    “A lot of the trail for the IronLine is part of the snowmobile trail and is groomed by the Iron Range Trail Club. We are grooming more and will try to groom between the sled dog race and the fat bike racing. Conditions are never perfect but they do make a big difference.”
    The race is for fat bikes only.
    “Organizers will be making sure everyone’s tires stay fat, 3.7 inches or bigger,” said Brindle. “There have been a couple questions about 29-inch plus, but the conditions probably won’t favor those.”
    The race has a guaranteed purse of $1,500 to be split with the top men and women riders. These riders will also be invited to the banquet on Saturday evening at the George Young Recreational Complex.
    The Shorty FatBike leaves right after 40K FatBike. There are small prizes first, second and third places.
    For more information, contact theironline@gmail.com or call 906-284-2592.