Held by the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Borealis Fat Bikes, the world championship event marked the cornerstone of a five-day fat biking festival, which included two other races as well as a daylong conference on fat biking advocacy. Similar to first-generation mountain bikers, who regularly struggled with trail access problems, fat biking riders also struggle to find suitable places to ride.
Enthusiasts from the Midwest and mountain states discussed strategy for convincing land managers to allow fat biking. Opinions varied, but many advocates pointed to nordic centers, snowmobile routes and even popular wintertime hiking trails as the best routes for fat bikers.
One one hand, I love riding bikes, and can certainly understand wanting to prolong your season and maximize your cycling time by riding a fat bike.
On the other hand, at what point are you just being an asshole by insisting on access to trails that have been used for other activities for years? Like, why not just do that activity instead? You don't have to ride a bike all the time.
Think about it. Imagine you're into nordic skiing. You wait all year for it to snow. Finally you can get out there on the trails and suddenly you have to contend with 20 or 30 clueless fat bikers who want to try this new thing they saw on the Internet and who leave the trail all pockmarked due to their knobby tires. It's not like mountain bikers have to contend with nordic skiers on all-terrain roller skis with massive wheels hogging the singletrack during the summer. There's a fine line between pioneering a new athletic discipline and just pissing on other people's fun. What's next, dropping in on surfers and blocking them on one of these?
("Ahoy, Water Fred!")
This is not to say I'm inherently anti-fat bike. Far from it. If you're not appropriating anybody's turf then fat bike away! In fact I participated in New York City's first-ever fat bike race this past weekend (full report to come) and here's a picture to prove it:
I'm just saying there's a difference between fat biking and cockblocking, and we'd probably all do well to keep that in mind.
Meanwhile, the big news this past weekend was that a U23 competitor at the Cyclocross World Championships was caught with a motorized bike:
1. The bike is from Femke Van den Driessche, the current Belgian and European Women’s U23 Champion.
2. They have found electrical cables and a motor inside the bike, according to Sporza, translated:
“After one lap of the World Championships…Femke’s bike in the pit area was immediately sealed and taken.”
“When the saddle and seatpost was removed, there were electrical cables from the tube.”
“When they wanted to remove the bottom bracket, which is normally easy, it was not because the crankshaft was stuck. Just sat there the motor.”
3. Femke Van den Driessche had mechanical issues both at the start and at the finish and was visibly upset after her race and did not receive a finishing place.
4. Tests have been done since the Hoogerheide UCI Cyclocross World Cup in 2014 to look for motors. Now these tests have found something.
5. The UCI has an app and tablet to scan bikes. Peter van de Abele confirmed that the UCI is able to scan bikes in seconds. “Through our (developed) app on a tablet, the bike can be scanned and analyzed in no time,” he said, according to demorgen.be.
6. Brian Cookson of the UCI held a press conference on Sunday, 10 a.m. CET to address this topic.
In retrospect, it should have been obvious that Van den Driessche was cheating. For one thing, note the stickers on her helmet:
Okay, we know all cyclists cheat. That's just a given. (In fact Van den Driessche's own brother is currently serving a ban for EPO.) So if she's not cheating with drugs, then obviously she's using something else, and what else could it be besides a motorized bicycle?
As if that's not enough, there's the suspicious button on the handlebar:
See?@moral_eclipse @bikesnobnyc So check out this from @cyclocross and note the tape on the right inside hbar pic.twitter.com/HNSQCYg4BN— fritesenmayo (@Fritesenmayo) January 31, 2016
Looks like one of these:
Except she's using a mechanical drivetrain.
So then what is the button controlling?
Then there's the fact that she was holding on to her bike on the run-ups and mud-skiing behind it:
("Make it stop!!!")
Not to mention how she couldn't stop the bike without employing a parachute:
(The "Chute Belge")
Though of course nobody questioned it at the time because she's using rim brakes and we all know that you can't bring a bicycle to a full stop without discs.
Actually, maybe...just maybe...the push for disc brakes in road and cyclocross is part of a motorized bicycle cheating conspiracy since they need the extra stopping power for their e-assisted bikes.
Plus, you don't want your rim braking to interfere with the workings of your electromagnetic wheel:
“A motor hidden in the seat tube is old stuff, almost artisan. It’s been overtaken, it’s a poor man’s doping,” Ghisalberti writes. “The new frontier is far more technologically advanced and ten times as expensive. It’s in the rear wheel: it costs 200,000 Euros, and there’s a waiting list of six months. The first type uses a motor to turn the cranks; the second is electromagnetic.”
Wow, seat tube motors are artisanal now? So basically Van den Driessche was engaging in farm-to-table doping.
Of course, given the cost, it's hard to believe anybody would use an electromagnetic wheel. I mean, nobody would pay 200,000 Euros for a piece of cycling equipment except for most Freds as well as anybody delusional enough to purchase a Specialized Venge Schmenge:
But even though UCI officials found a bicycle with a motor inside it at the World Championships, let's give Van den Driessche the benefit of the doubt, because she's got a plausible excuse:
“I don’t know how it got there. I’m focused on myself on that day. I took care of myself. I was in front. At the back, the mechanics made a mistake,” Van den Driessche continued to profess her innocence. “They can check everything: all my cross bikes, all my road bikes. They will not find anything. I’m 100 per cent sure about it."
Oh, sure, mechanics accidentally install motors at bike races all the time. And how can she not know how it got there yet be 100% sure there aren't any more in any of her other bikes? If you're going to complain you're the victim of unwitting motor doping then at least take that all the way: "If someone planted a motor in that bike then there could be one in all of them! Quick, UCI, search all my bikes!"
She'd be great in anti-terrorism. "Yeah, we have no idea how the bomb wound up at the airport, but even without checking we're 100 per cent sure there aren't any more."
And of course even though she doesn't know how the motor got there, she knows exactly how it got there:
Van den Driessche offered up a potential reason for the bike’s presence, saying that it was owned by someone she’d been training with. “That bike belongs to a friend of mine,” she said. “He trains along with us. He joined my brothers and my father. That friend joined my brother at the reconnaissance and he placed the bike against the truck but it’s identical to mine. Last year he bought it from me. My mechanics have cleaned the bike and put it in the truck. They must’ve thought that it was my bike. I don’t know how it happened.”
Oh, right, the friend who bought your bicycle and motorized it! And yes, you know those stupid cyclocross mechanics. They'll clean and prep anything you put in front of them. Leave your ham sandwich too close and next thing you know it's in the pit and waiting to be ridden.
Still, you sort of have to feel bad for the company that now carries the distinction of making the first-ever doped bike--and they're not taking it lying down, either:
Managing director Andrea Gastaldello said he was "stunned" by the news that Femke Van den Driessche competed in the under-23 race over the weekend with a concealed motor in her Wilier Triestina bike.
"Our company will take legal action against the athlete and against any (person) responsible for this very serious matter to safeguard the reputation and image of the company," the executive wrote in a statement.
In other words, yeah, they totally helped.
I wonder what kind of motor you could hide in a fat bike tire...