Female racers take off for the beginning of a lap at the 2021 Borealis World Fat Bike Championship in Sublette County. (Sam Harnak)

In the fall, the fate of the 2021 Borealis Fat Bike World Championship race looked grim. With pandemic restrictions in the race’s traditional home of Gunnison County, Colorado making the event highly improbable, event officials announced their quandary on Facebook. 

But then, Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association Executive Director David Ochs said, they got a message from Pinedale. 

“It didn’t take long for Darren to respond,” Ochs said of Darren Hull, the executive director of Sublette County’s chamber of commerce, “and say ‘hey, we can do it in Pinedale.’”

A line of fat bikes stretches out over the 2021 Borealis World Fat Bike Championship course in Sublette County. (Sam Harnak)

In Hull’s eyes it was pretty simple: Wyoming’s restrictions allowed for a COVID-adapted race, he said, and hosting it would direct the eyes of the fat biking world to Sublette County. 

“One of the goals of the chamber is to really turn Pinedale into a destination winter sports area, and specifically with fat bikes,” Hull said. The region offers miles of groomed and packed trails, he said. “I feel like it’s really overlooked.” 

Organizers got busy. In mid-January, more than 70 fat bikers convened on a ranch near Bondurant to compete in one of three categories. The roster was smaller than normal, Ochs said, but that was to be expected in a pandemic year.

Competitors at the 2021 Borealis Fat Bike World Championship in Sublette County. (Sam Harnak)

Due to COVID-19, it was also a stripped-down affair compared to previous years. No big parades this time and none of the demos or dance parties of previous fat bike world championships. 

“We did cancel the party part,” Hull said. “We just couldn’t in good conscience have a band and a big party.” 

But the weather came through, conditions were prime and participants had fun, organizers said. 

“It was a beautiful day, and we don’t always get those in January,” Hull said. “There was no wind, and the snow was solid. People had a good time.”

A bold fashion statement at the 2021 Borealis World Fat Bike Championship in Sublette County. (Sam Harnak)

Ochs is grateful for the Pinedale bike enthusiasts who salvaged the event, he said. 

“I think it went awesome. I think Pinedale did a great job,” Ochs said. “People had a ton of fun. We scored in terms of the weather. It was glorious.” 

Andrew Zook, who owns Geared Up bike shop in Pinedale and grooms area trails for fat bike use, said he thought it was “a great opportunity for us to kind of open people’s eyes from around the country about the kind of opportunities that are here.”

And Hull hopes it aids one of his long-term goals.  

“We want Pinedale to be the fat bike capital of Wyoming,” Hull said. 

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Katie Klingsporn reports on outdoor recreation, public lands, education and general news for WyoFile. She’s been a journalist and editor covering the American West for 20 years. Her freelance work has...

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