Racers rally for first Savoy Winter Challenge

Jeff Smith, Proofreader

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On Saturday March 22, fatbike racers and snowshoers took part in the inaugural Savoy Winter Challenge event in Spearfish Canyon.

A total of 37 fatbikers and 17 snowshoers participated in the event that was the first of its kind in Spearfish. Perry Jewett organized the event along with his wife Kristi and members of the Ridge Riders of the Black Hills.

“It was beyond my expectations for the first year as far as numbers went,” Jewett said.

A fatbike race is where competitors ride through tough terrains such as snow, mud, sand, and marsh, as well as typical mountain bike conditions with a bigger size bike compared to street bike races or mountain bike races. The tires are usually 3.7 inches to 5 inches with rims wider than 44 millimeters.

Tim Rangitsch, a fatbike rider and owner of Acme bicycles, said “Fatbikes will get a rider out into different terrain in different seasons. It’s totally worth seeking one out for a test ride to test the bike’s abilities.”

The fatbike race was 28 miles and the snowshoe race was six miles. This fatbike race was very different from any other bike race because of the winter conditions and cold temperatures. Rangitsch also said that the conditions on the race day were as good as they get. The course had a different perspective with the amount of snow it received overnight and the groomed trail and snow amount added to the experience.

The welfare of other riders was in consideration during this event because of the new course and the distance involved. Snowmobilers patrolled the course to make sure the riders were safe and they weren’t in any danger.

The event took place at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge with separate courses for fatbike racers and snowshoers. It took about a year to plan the course.

“The distance that I came up with for the 28-mile loop was challenging yet attainable by bikers or by more experienced riders,” Jewett said.

Jewett said he encouraged as many people as possible to participate in this event and thought snowshoeing would be a good supplement for those who may just want to enjoy the surroundings.

Dillon Julius, owner of Base Camp Adventure Sports, was one of the snowshoers who participated in the event.

“The best part was being out in the middle of the forest with no wind – it was silent out there,” said Julius.

This was Julius’s first snowshoe race that he’s been to as he had just started getting into the activity last winter and has been trying to get others into it.

“It was definitely a learning process for me, I’m definitely not much of an experienced racer,” Julius said.

Julius also added that being called a race might have been a bit scary for some people and about half of the snowshoers walked the course so people shouldn’t have worried about the snowshoe race being a tough competition.

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