screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-1-57-42-pm

The final race of the 2017 Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series is on deck, with Beard of Zeus looking like a chance to enjoy the snow. 

And right about on cue, winter returned to Nothern Michigan. The Series finale on Saturday, March 4 will be in snow, although the course is not yet set in stone (or ice, or whatever). More snow and cold temperatures are in the forecast through race day, and we should see plenty of white stuff for the big dance. After nearly a week near 50, it’s a treat to see the Series decided on the surface we intended to race on.

It’s certainly a party atmosphere, too, with Suds’n’Snow Microbrew Festival starting just as racers begin their final few laps of the Series. There could be over a 1,000 confused but enthusiastic on-lookers for the exciting, circuit-style event, with laps of around 1 mile rolling past the beer vendors and live music nestle way, way back in the woods. The first 50 people to register to race will also get a free ticket to the event. Which is good. I mean, shoot, free is free.

By and large, things are decided for the Series in the Open categories, although a fair bit of shuffling could still happen. Jorden Wakeley just needs to finish in the top ten to keep his title, but he’ll have his eyes set on taking a clean sweep of all four races instead. It’s the same story for the dominant Susan Vigland, who would like to cap off her best fat bike season yet with another win to punctuate her efforts. Wakeley and Vigland both will become the first two-time Series winners if they can hold things together on Saturday. Nick Wierzba will likely be the bridesmaid again in second place, with Kyler Bradley looking safe to hold third. Erin Reicha and Velvet Batteiger should be fill out the women’s podium.

It’s the Master’s races that have the most going on. After a brilliant win at The Vineyard Race, Paul Olson may have to ride for the Greater Good in the House of Hagerty, with Hal BeVier tied on points with Dave Hoyt going into the last race. If Olson goes up the road, Hoyt may have to decide if he’ll risk the title to go for the race win, with the  likely outcoming being to pull BeVier around in the process. Hal might also call on Don Fedrigon, Craig Webb and Steve Andriese to go after the title. Hagerty has the numbers and cards to play, but can they put the title ahead of any personal agendas?

On the women’s Masters side, Cindy Duby bounced into first place and now has a single point gap up on Bonny Hall. The pair will have almost nothing between them Saturday, as the flat, fast course suits both riders equally. If the course gets soft there might be a very slight edge to Duby, but we have to assume the cold overnight lows will keep the snow blazing fast. Cindy will be quietly hoping for a strong showing from Kami Wade, who could help out by slotting home ahead of Hall and saving Duby the point swing and adding a buffer. Or more exciting still, could Wade be let up the trail and our two likely champions stare each other out of the final race win?

All races go off at High Noon on Saturday, March 4 at Timber Ridge Resort. Registration closes Thursday night, with day-of registration opening at 10am.