Cyclists slay The Bear fat biking race in North Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Cyclists slay The Bear fat biking race in North Routt County

Cyclists leave the starting line during The Bear fat biking race over the weekend in North Routt County.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County's first endurance fat biking race is in the books.

A dedicated group of 15 volunteers and 43 brave cyclists took part in The Bear, an inaugural race organized by Steamboat Springs resident Jon Kowalsky.

"Everything went off without a hitch," Kowalsky said.

The 50-mile and 105-mile races started at 7 a.m. Saturday as unstable weather moved through the area.

"It was pretty brutal," Kowalsky said. "It was really windy in the morning and snowing sporadically during the day."

Hahn's Peak Roadhouse was the race headquarters, and Columbine Cabins served as an aid station.

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There were 11 men and three women who started the 105-mile race, which crossed into Wyoming and had nearly 10,000 feet of elevation gain.

Three men, who were veteran fat bikers visiting Steamboat to compete, finished the long course, with Neil Beltchenko coming in first with a time of 15 hours and 20 minutes.

Beth Shaner was the only woman to finish the long course. She crossed the finish line after 24 hours and 45 minutes.

Those who dropped out of the 105-mile race instead rode the 50-mile course, which had nearly 5,000 feet of elevation gain.

Tom Sawyer finished first for the men with a time of six hours, 19 minutes, followed by Steamboat's David Zink in a time of six hours, 21 minutes.

Steamboat cyclist Helen Beall was the first female finisher on the shorter course with a time of seven hours, seven minutes.

Beall was competing in her first fat bike race, and she thought it would take her anywhere from eight to 16 hours to complete.

"I was pretty scared going into it," Beall said. "I can't stress enough how much fun it was. I'm still smiling from the weekend.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.