my fatbike birkie

Pre-Riding on the Fat Bike Birkie Course

Pre-riding of the course is limited to the first two kilometers of the race where the course is on Telemark property. This section will also be the final 2K of the race. No fat bike riding is allowed on the Birkie Trail system, outside of Telemark, except on race day. We appreciate your cooperation!

New Event on the Birkie Trail!

The new Fat Bike Birkie provides a once-a-year chance to ride your fat bike or mountain bike on the groomed American Birkebeiner Trail. Fat bikes and mountain bikes are otherwise not allowed on the snow covered, groomed trail system.

Snow Conditions and Course

The Birkie Trail usually receives fresh snow during March and goes through a daily thaw and freeze cycle, resulting in a very compacted snow base great for Spring skiing. The ABSF continues to groom for cross country skiing during this time.
We believe these conditions will allow the Fat Birkie Birkie race to take place without damage to the trail. If conditions such as an early thaw occur and damage to the trail appears possible, the race course will be moved to neighboring forest roads.
Snow and trail conditions before the Birkie ski race in February can be softer and more vulnerable to damage. For that reason, and because of the far greater numbers of people skiing on the trail, Fat biking on the Birkie Trail system is not permitted at any other time during the winter.
The long and shorter Fat Bike Birkie races will take place on the northern half of the Birkie Trail system, between Telemark Resort and the "OO" trail head. Cross country skiing will be available on the Birkie Trail south from "OO" on race day. The northern trails will be regroomed Saturday night, following the Fat Bike Birkie, and available for skiing the next day and through the remainder of the ski season.
We post trail reports all during ski season at Birkie.com and on Facebookand will continue to do so up to the Fat Bike Birkie to keep you well informed. Trail reports will be posted on this page as well.

What is Fat Bike?

Wide rims, extra-large tires, and weirdly-dimensioned frames to make it all fit together define a Fat Bike, a cycling subcategory that’s garnered a serious following now in 2012. Bike shops report selling out of fat-bike stock.

What is the appeal? From improved traction on dirt to flotation when riding through snow, the obese tires let a bike roll where it has not rolled before. The wide rubber — some fatty tires are 4+ inches across, or twice as wide as most mountain-bike tire tread — adds notable grip on the ground, and the extra surface area does not allow the wheel to sink as much into soft surfaces like snow or sand.
(Source: www.GearJunkie.com) 

Special Note: Bikes on the Birkie

One-Time Use Only
Fat Bikes or any other kind of bike are not allowed on the Birkie Trail when
snow is present. Our priority is giving skiers the best possible experience
all winter. The Birkie Fat Bike is a one-day exception to this rule.
Sign up and get your gear to the start line for 
the one day when bikes can ride the groomed Birkie trails!

Participant Numbers Limited

Be One of Only 300 People
to Participate

in this First-Ever Birkie Event!
The Fat Bike Birkie event is limited to 300 riders, of which no more than 50 riding non-Fat mountain bikes. These bikes must have a minimum tire diameter of 2.1". All Fat Bikes must have 3.7" diameter or greater. This requirement will be evaluated at the event by the sizes indicated on the tires used.

Tire Size Requirements

Fat Bikes must have 3.7" diameter or greater.
Mountain Bikes must have a minimum tire diameter of 2.1"
* This requirement will be monitored at the event
by the sizes indicated on the tires used.

Registration Fees


Course Map

Race Flyer or warning?  50/50 by my estimation.

I skipped the "fatbike birkie" event.  I found the "once a year opportunity to pay to be honored to ride a short race on the pristine and beautiful birkie course that is too good for people on bikes" a bit off-putting.  I'm pretty stoked on fatbikes, but I think I'd prefer to leave the birkie trail to the skiers and just open up more actual mountain bike trails to fatbikes, have some races like those that I never seem to make it to up at hillside, that kind of thing.  Feel free to tell me otherwise in the comments, but this thing sounded a bit like having a road race on golf cart paths.  That combined with the condescension towards bikes that I (being the opinionated asshole that I am) read into the birkie website with regards to their thing.

My fatbike birkie was the day of the actual birkie...


"There are no acheivements on this ride"

I had a lot of fun and got to see a ton of the race plus ride some great roads.  I spent almost as much time watching the skiers as I did riding so it was a very tough day nutritionally and warmth wise.  I definitely left with a new appreciation for the skiing event!

It was amazing how many people commented on and/or were excited about my bike.  I know that a some local companies were there promoting their fatbike wares the day before.  Lots of people who had never seen one until then I think...  Also a lot of people who were very interested.  I wish I had a product to sell them.

This is one of the many awesome fire roads in the area...    why grovel to ride the birkie trail when this is just there, waiting?


  1. I wasn't going to do it either, but for other reasons....I ski it and I know the hills are tough and they get tougher as the day goes on. But, as a number of friends were going I bowed to peer pressure and went. It was well worth it.
    As new kids on the block and an avid skier of the Birkie, I see no problem showing a bit of respect and reverence to a trail that's been there for 40 years as we begin encroach on it with fat bikes.
    We were made more than welcome by those involved in the race and by those skiers out on the coarse. One skier asked me as I was pulling a hill how I felt, I said about the same way I felt 2 weeks ago. He laughed and said he knows what I meant. A friend of fat-bikes made, not sure, but it beats going into it with a chip on ones shoulder and being defensive.
    All the "anti-bike" vibe is probably there to try to keep the bandits and "rules don't apply to me, I'm too cool of an individual for that" from going out on the trail before acceptance of the general skiing community and ruining the opportunity to use the trail on a more consistent basis before we even get started.
    The riding was much better than I expected, the hills not as daunting (it helped that the trail was setup great and 30-35mph downhills helped carry the next uphill) but there was plenty of low gear pulls.
    Anyway, I think you missed a good ride, but there is always next year.
    for your readership if they are interested: http://motoscotch.blogspot.com/2013/03/fat-bike-birkie-2013.html

  2. I do understand that a lot of that wording was probably there to keep the skiers from freaking out about this thing happening.

    I do not understand how so many others read that and thought, "hey, sounds like something I want to support".

    I too seriously considered it because of peer pressure.

    I look forward to the general fatbike stoke dying down and the better events then sorting themselves out. This certainly may wind up being one of them, but for a first year event with the above for a 'race flyer' being successful numbers wise I think it shows how non-discriminant the fatbike community is right now.

    I still maintain that this had to be like a road race on a cart path.

  3. oh, actually the only real negatives I saw and others commented on as well:
    - the seemingly endless awards parade. Many of us thought we ended up at a kids soccer match where just about everyone ends up with a trophy. It'll be interesting if winners in the short races move up next year or stay in the same race.
    - they seemed rather concerned they'd run out of food....brat or burger, not both, pasta or chili, not both. And NO seconds!!

  4. Where was the awards held? Telemark?

  5. I think it will stick just because of the difficulty of the coarse. Challenging coarses and races never seem to die.
    Look who showed up...some of the best racers in a 3 State area.
    Maybe they will change it up some...longer, to Hayward and back for only qualifying riders(otherwise you need too many volunteers, etc)?, etc, etc. They fully admitted we were lab rats...I see then totally restricting it to fat bikes, the few mtn. bikes tore up the trail.
    As to it being a road race, I can't comment as I don't do road races and actually won't sign up for the Fat Tire 40 for the same reason...hell, I don't even do WORS races because it seems too much like a road race!
    As a cart path not sure what you meant, it started out tight but there was plenty of room after a short while. The trail was plenty wide but with the speeds there was a few tight corners on the return but that is on the Classic track so it is by design a narrower trail.
    I always think it will be an out and back to avoid transporting people and bikes, which is smart.
    The Birkie over the years has proven to make some pretty good decisions. Splitting the Classic and Skate at the beginning was whined about by many but it proved to be a great idea for all.
    The Birkie is a logistic nightmare but you sure don't see the numbers declining much.
    At the end of the day, it's just a bike ride, not unlike any other ride. Everyone has their own reasons to do it or don't do it.

  6. one thing on the road race comment....you weren't there to know this and I don't think they state it in the flyer, but they separated groupings by 10 minutes. Long vs. medium vs. short races. I don't know if they separated the mtn. bikes but there were so few it probably didn't matter.
    The first few hills really strung out the line anyway. Plus limiting it to 300 racers was seemed to be a very insightful amount. They could move that around some by limiting each distance or do waves (based on previous or similar races, as they do in the Birkie and other races) and probably keep it at a manageable amount of racers.
    I was concerned about coming around and getting into the pack of 18k riders where they came into the trail based on my Noque ski races where they allow the short distance racers to filter into the full distance racers...that has sucked in the past, but I never noticed a change at the cut-off.
    anyway...it was a very good experience.

  7. Was it technically more or less challenging than the 40?

  8. if you're addressing me on the 40 question above, I can't respond as I've never done it, but I will maintain that it has to be like a road race on a cart path. ;-)

  9. Anyone really who has done both the Cheq 40 and this race. I'm assuming that on 3.7s this was even less technical than that race? I know I'm assuming things and I'm open to hearing otherwise.

  10. Technically more challenging than the 40 due to the soft snow conditions. I did see quite a few crashes due to losing control in soft areas and ruts left from skiers and other bikes. The weather and snow conditions will dictate how fast the race is. Just happened the trails were perfect for fast speeds, as the leader averaged 15mph on the Birkie Course while he barely avg 11mph on the Noque World Championships a few months ago. The race really broke apart quickly, and was very different than any road race I have participated in. A very unique and exciting event I will definitely sign up for again next year.

  11. I think you're just an opinionated asshole :)

  12. some videos are up, will give you an idea of race conditions.

  13. Ron- thanks!

    Bear- Remember the unnamed epic? (although maybe someone would tell me that was a great event too, if I'd actually done it).

    Will watch videos. Maybe I'll attend next year, who knows. I will not attend if the race flyer reads like the above...