The third-annual Lone Cone Fat Bike Challenge happens on Jan. 20, and organizer Cullen Barker said some changes are in order for this year’s race. 

The bike race is a winter event that celebrates fat tire bikes, bikes which are designed to navigate snow, or sand, because of their features. In the first two years of its existence, the Fat Bike Challenge took place on a Saturday; this year it happens on a Sunday. 

Also, in addition to the regular course that has been followed, which is 25 miles in length, the race will for the first time feature a shorter course, too. The shorter route is 12 miles in length. 

Poison Spider Bicycles, of Moab, remains the title sponsor of the event; all race information is available on the business’ website. 

This year, Zuberfizz, under the umbrella of the Durango Soda Company, will be on site. Other bike sponsors include Why Cycles of Carbondale, and also Box Canyon Bicycles and Boot Doctors, both of Telluride. 

Barker said Box Canyon will have bikes for demo purposes; Boot Doctors plans to have some race rentals available. He said he is unsure of the exact number of bikes available, but estimates it will be approximately 15.

Barker said he is happy those sponsors are involved. According to him, it’s important for the public to support the other shops, too. 

Also new to this year’s event are Nordic ski options, sponsored by the Norwood Nordic Association. A moonlight ski happens the night before, on Jan. 19 at the Nordic track, which is adjacent to the bike course. Then, on Jan. 20, a skate-ski clinic and also a family-friendly relay race will happen during bike race time there.

Race time is 8 a.m. for the standard course, and 8:35 a.m. for the short course. Barker said it typically takes racers anywhere from five to six hours to complete the main course, though the quickest riders may accomplish it in around three hours. Regardless, racing will wrap up before dusk. 

This year, Fat Bike Challenge awards will be presented in the parking lot, directly following the bike race. 

Barker said the last few years have brought in about 40 or so bike racers. He expects that number to rise slightly this year. 

“It’s still a pretty small event, but it is growing in popularity,” he said. 

Already, he’s received several emails about the race, as well as inquiries about the course because some want to try it out. Barker said it’s important for bikers to know that the land is U.S. Forest Service land that is typically used for snowmobiling. He said anyone who tries the course before race day should respect snowmobiles. He said it’s only because of the snowmobile crowd that the race has been produced.  

Also, he’s very appreciative of the West End Sledders, a snowmobile group which helps sponsor the race and groom the course, and to the Telluride Outfitters for their support on race day.  He also thanks the Norwood Fire District for safety support.

As the date approaches, Barker, the sponsors and the racers will be anticipating the weather. The previous years have had dramatic differences. In 2017, the conditions were tough due to a snow storm on race day. Last year there was no snow. Barker said currently there is adequate snowpack on the track at this time.