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Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series goes back to the vines on Sunday, with titles in the balance for Jorden Wakeley and Susan Vigland.Racers looking towards the overall title will need to pick up some points this weekend, with the four races Series tipping past the halfway point and up one of the toughest climbs on the fat bike circuit. Sunday, February 19, brings an awful lot of opportunity and a strong field confirmed for the Series return to Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery.

Weather, a constant topic of conversation heading into Fat Chance! at Crystal Mountain, is again a factor. Temperatures are expected to tip over the 40 degree mark, with a high around 45 non race day. The 10am start time should help to avoid the warm up, and the trail will be closed to all traffic starting Friday night.

The two Series leaders, Jorden Wakeley and Susan Vigland, are expected to race, with Wakeley making a rushed trip back from Polar Roll to make a start Sunday and keep his title hopes intact. Last year, Wakeley was demonstrative in his efforts, cruising to the win after spending much of the day just around the river bend ahead of a big chasing pack.  Liz Belt won the women’s race, gutting out a tough morning in the heart of the vines just a day removed from a slow, heart-wrenching slog at Polar Roll. On a bike borrowed from a teammate, she made the rounds to finish and the performance was ultimately rewarded with a race win and complete control in the title chase with a single race to go.

Wakeley looks untouchable, but there is a small but strong field on hand to offer up some resistance. Nick Wierzba always shines on what is his home course, just a few miles from Suttons Bay Bikes. The Hagerty rider climbs exceedingly well and you couldn’t design a better circuit for his style of riding. He’ll be in the hunt for the win, but also to consolidate a high finish in the Series with a podium on Sunday. He needs to have a strong ride to put himself safely ahead of the likes of Jon Throop, Kyler Bradley and his teammate Hagerty teammate, Kyle Smith.

Every stop sees a new rider enter the fray, even if it’s only for a single race. Velo City Cycles’ Brad White is making the trip north just a week removed from a win, but this time, it won’t be grass and wind, but snow and ice to contend with. It looks like he’ll be battling with Wierzba and Wakeley for the podium, but where they end up will be interesting over 90 minutes of racing.

Susan Vigland and Erin Reicha are leaving everyone nervous, with no women signed up for the Open or Master’s categories as of yet. If one goes, so must the other if they want to have a shot at the title in the Series finale. There’s a chance, just a small chance, that Brad can get Jenny White to fly the orange flag and challenge as well.  Erin has vowed to put her mark on the race, and her aggressive style of riding will likely make the most of The Chute, a steep, 20%+ descent off the top of the 300 foot climb that tips riders down and back to the start/finish line.

Dave Hoyt can go a long way toward wrapping up the Master’s win after an impressive third at Vasa this past weekend. Dave is in ridiculous form, and after a top showing at Fat Chance!, he’s looking to put the icing on the cake Sunday with another win. Hagerty may need to put a plan in place if they want to rein in Hoyt, with climbers like Paul Olsen pairing up with strongmen like Steve Andriese, a recipe that worked wonders at Vasa.

Registration is open online until Thursday night at 7pm, with day-of  registration opening at 8am. The gun goes off at 10am!

Here is last year’s race recap.