Pat's buddy Dan has a condo on the mountain and hosted the visit. Dan's hospitality is always top-notch, and this was no exception. Upon arriving, Dan had lunch ready and Pat partook.
Schweitzer has gone in on the idea of allowing fatbikes on their nordic trails this year, but only partway. Please. So how it works is that they make a day-by-day decision on whether fat tires will or won't be too damaging to the trail surface, based on conditions. If conditions are favorable, bikes are allowed on the trails. After 1:00 pm. Which, Pat guesses, is just slightly better than the original plan, which was to allow only rental bikes on the trail, and prohibit any user-owned bikes at all.
Look, Pat does get it. These are established trails, with established user bases, and now there's this new type of user, whose behavior is not exactly predictable, and getting everyone to play well together is not just a slam dunk. But the system now in place only works for users who stay on the mountain (and probably not even all that well for them). How can Schweitzer attract day users from Spokane or Cd'A when the potential user has no way to find out if they will be allowed to ride on any given day until 9:00 am on said given day, and then if they do make the drive, won't be able to hit the trails until after 1:00? They can't, thinks Pat.
This is the rental fleet, and for someone already on the mountain who wants to give fatbiking a try, they are incredibly affordable and convenient. Assuming that trail conditions allow riding on the particular day that said someone wants to give fatbiking a try, of course.
But enough with all the debbie downer dialogue. Pat's primarily positive.
He would say that the ride through the village, to the start-finish line, was novel and fun as hell. He would say that mixing it up with the alpine ski crowd was quite the unique experience and that hearing the comments made him, at times, imagine himself a celebrity.
|Following Dan and his skinny butt through the crowd.|
Per the order of events, the snowshoe racers went off first, at 2:00. The size of the field was not exactly, umm, overwhelming. But what the group lacked in quantity, they more than made up for in quality. Enthusiastic and fun folks. Pat is starting to really dig snowshoe'ers, which is good, seeing as how he is one.
|Pat's purchased pass.|
After which, there was a certain amount of time available with which to warm up. Dan doesn't normally even let himself enjoy fatbiking, but on this day, he made an exception.
The sun was out and the the fog was blanketing the valley below and Picnic Point was picture perfect.
Once back at the start-finish line, the clock was ticking down to start time and the competition was starting to get all serious. All joking and small talk was banned. Pat kids you not.
Passive Pat had planned on playing. "Participating". This was not to have been a truly competitive event for him. But somewhere around Athol he started getting the idea that this may be his best and last and only chance in life to win a bike race.
He did start slow, and then as he sized up his competition during those first few hundred yards of the race, he began to harbor the illusion that he could prevail. Pain was present. Puke was poised to project. Pain persevered and prospered.
Our mighty hero held the wheel of eventual winner Wayne (far left in picture above) for as long as he could, and it was a galant effort. (As of tonight, Pat is still coughing up parts of his lungs, but he digresses.) Yes, drafting was a factor, as there were certain, extended, gradual downhill sections that were continual 20+ mph stuff. His computer showed a max speed for the day of 30 mph.
In the end, Wayne was just too strong and Pat blew up and fell off the back. Pursuantly, Pat panicked. The 3rd place participant (Charles, standing right next to buddy Wayne) was hot on Pat's wheel. Pat pedalled. Productively. It was a close finish, and Pat persevered. Pow! (Pat was very glad that the race was not 10 yards longer.)
The race had taken a tremendous toll on him, but Pat understood that post-race hydration was key to a rapid recovery, and acted accordingly. Thereby averting serious negative consequences.
The aforementioned grousing notwithstanding, Pat does totally appreciate the staff at Schweitzer for putting this event together, as it was clear that it was no small effort. And to Dan, for all his fatbike advocacy up there. And who also finished seconds behind, in 4th. I think he would have kicked Pat's ass, if he hadn't been tempted by and then eaten a Krispy Kreme on race morning. This was Pat's first-ever time racing fatbikes on a dedicated course in the snow, and honestly, he thinks it was rad. Props, people.