Fat bike races are a great tool for carrying fitness into the winter, building your base for the coming year, or letting out your inner nutso cyclist. During some of the longer hauls, riders should expect to carry everything from sleeping bags and tents to locator beacons and cooking infrastructure. Just a few years ago your race options were limited, but the rapid growth in the category has created a number of race options and formats to choose from. Here are some of our favorites.
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The Arrowhead 135 takes place in the coldest part of winter in the coldest city in the lower 48, which is why the average finish rate is 50 percent — and if you’re a newbie your chances of finishing are even lower as you attempt to ride 135 miles across northern Minnesota. If you are one of the few who make it to the end you’ll see a mix of rolling hills, frozen streams and some of the oldest volcanic rock on earth.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores
If you prefer sun over snow head down to Costa Rica for La Ruta de los Conquistadores. La Ruta is known as the first multi-stage race held in the Costa Rica, and one of the hardest races in the world. The race goes from the Pacific to the Atlantic over the course of three days, covering approximately 250 miles of terrain.
Iditarod Trail Invitational
Riding a bike across Alaska in the dead of winter seems like a bad dream for most people, but for over 20 years riders have been taking a shot at the Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI). It’s the world’s longest winter fat bike race with either a 350- or 1,000-mile route following the historic Iditarod Trail from Knik, over the Alaska Range to McGrath and on to Nome.
Want a free entry into the Iditarod Trail Invitational? All you have to do is win the Tuscobia Winter Ultra 150 in northern Wisconsin. This semi-supported race offers three distances: 150 miles, 75 miles and 35 miles. This is one of the only races we have ever seen where soup is offered at aid stations, which is good news if you usually pack cans of your own bisque.
JayP Backyard Fat Pursuit
Most winter ultra races consist of a mix of runners and riders on the same trails, but the Backyard Fat Pursuit bucked that trend by creating a 60k and 200k race in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for riders only. The event organizer likes to call this the “Moab of winter bike riding” because of the massive groomed network of trails. But grooming doesn’t make it easy: 200k riders will need a sleeping bag, fuel and a SPOT locator beacon.