There isn’t really a whole lot that a fat bike can’t do. Thanks to their enormous tyres, fat bikes are quite capable of riding over surfaces that regular mountain bikes struggle with, including sand and snow. Sure, a downhill bike will go faster on a downhill track, and an enduro bike will likely be a better option than a fat bike on technical singletrack trails. But for sheer versatility for riding across any surface that comes your way, you’d be hard pressed to find a better go-anywhere vehicle than a fat bike.
Up until recently however, a fat bike couldn’t exactly compete at the highest level of the sport. But that looks set to change. Held in GSTAAD in Switzerland, the Snow Bike Festival has just been awarded UCI-accreditation, making it the first UCI-approved race on snow – how cool is that! Check out the press release below from the festival, including an array of stunning event photos that’ll make you want to dust off the winter boots and start stuck into some fat bike training!
Race directors Herman Coertze and Evert van Muyden are “extremely pleased to make history in the biking world by hosting the very first UCI race on snow. We are looking forward to seeing the UCI professionals compete on this surface for the very first time. We also believe this will be an exciting opportunity for amateur riders to test themselves against the top pros.”
The Snow Bike Festival is Europe’s “winter festival of snow biking”. The third edition of the event will take place in Gstaad, Switzerland from January 19th to 22nd 2017. Snow biking is the use of Mountain Bikes (MTB), Plus Bikes and Fat Bikes to ride through the snow. The Snow Bike Festival features a Stage Race (Prologue + 3 Stages), an Eliminator Night Race, a School Race and an EXPO.
The Snow Bike Festival origins lie in the demand for winter riding opportunities in Europe, where there are few formal events. Snow biking has become increasingly popular due to the Fat biking hype in Europe as well as the growing demand for winter MTB training opportunities. Mountain biking is no longer just a summer sport. The event has entered a long-term partnership with the destination of GSTAAD, keeping the festival in one of the most beautiful corners of Switzerland for at least the next three years.
The 4-day stage race will feature a prologue on Thursday (Jan. 19th) and then 3 main stages (from Jan. 20th to 22nd). The prologue will be a short time trial course through the beautiful village centre in GSTAAD. Spectators breathing down the rider’s necks cheering them on as they tackle this unique course. The 3 main stages will vary in length and difficulty.
Routes for the Stage Race range from 25 to 35 km in length and 500 to 1000m in altitude gain. Riders should ensure they properly train and prepare for the event, as the routes are not as simple as they may appear on the route profiles (especially the climbs). Stages will start in the centre of GSTAAD on the Promenade and take riders through the beautiful Villages of Saanen and Lauenen and deep into the Valleys around GSTAAD. The scenery on these stages is stunning.
Riders can enjoy the view as they pass beneath one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world. The hard-work the riders put in on the tough uphill sections will be reward with thrilling downhill sections on ski slopes normally reserved only for skiers. No previous snow biking experience is needed to compete in the Stage Race. Riders should however have mountain biking experience and at least average fitness levels.
What The Competitors Are Saying
“A stage race on a Fatbike in winter wonderland. It was so nice! I am looking forward to coming back next year.” – Hielke Elferink (3x Dutch MTB Marathon Champion).
“Mountain biking is an all year sport and the new Fat Bikes are the perfect match for winter. I am very pleased that GSTAAD is the host of the Snow Bike Festival. A beautiful destination with the combination of traditional and modern, the perfect fit for this event.” – Christoph Sauser (2008 MTB World Champion, 4x Swiss MTB Champion & 5x Cape Epic winner).
“A totally different bike experience you’ve never seen, that’s the Snow Bike Festival.” – Laura Turpijn (2014 Dutch MTB Champion).
“For me it was my first experience on a Fatbike and my first race, a wonderful experience, such a pleasure.” – Johan Tschopp (Swiss MTB Marathon Champion).
“For me the downhill was the highlight of the day because the snow was perfect, the grip from the bike is really good and its full speed on the downhill.” – Tomi Misser (2x Snow Bike Festival Champion).
“We’re very happy with the response from riders and the media after the event in January 2016. The long term partnership with GSTAAD opens a new chapter for the Snow Bike Festival and we are very excited to be part of the event.” – Herman Coertze & Evert van Muyden (Snow Bike Festival Directors).
“A UCI race on snow! I never thought it would be possible, but thanks to the very great and professional organization, plus GSTAAD as the perfect host town it all came together. Probably the most special UCI points that you can win in Switzerland” says Christoph Sauser (2008 MTB World Champion & Olympic Bronze Medallist – Sydney 2000).
The introduction of the Snow Bike Festival into the UCI calendar will not only ensure riders can collect valuable UCI points, but also guarantees a total prize money in excess of CHF 7’000.
The 2017 Snow Bike Festival will be held over January 19th-22nd, and you can learn more about the event here: www.snowbikefestival.com