Davenport cycling group to host off-road, fat tire race and festival

Frozen Fat Fondo Festival
All are encouraged to participate in the fat fondo race. — photo by Genevieve McKeiver Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

Although the lack of mountains and harsh Midwestern weather may limit Iowans’ opportunities for off-road cycling, the Quad Cities’ Friends of Off Road Cycling (FORC) hopes to change that. The organization is hosting their first ever Frozen Fat Fondo Festival this Saturday, Feb. 7 at 8 a.m. Credit Island Park (2200 W. River Dr., Davenport)—rain, shine or snow.

The event is what is known as a “gran fondo,” which is a challenging, long-distance race where individuals are timed. This particular fondo will test the skills of single or three-person relay teams. Bikes must have fat, 3 ½-inch or wider, off-road tires. The race is a three hour endurance test where teams will travel through varied terrains like dense lowland woods or rocky river shorelines.

Len Guldenpfennig, the race director of the festival, promises it will not be as difficult as it may sound; anyone can attend and the only requirement is the width of the bike tire.

“It’s as much of a race as you want it to be, or don’t want it to be,” said Guldenpfennig. “The fondo is a 2 ½-mile loop, and you or your team have three hours to complete as many loops as possible.”

Alternate routes are available for stretches of difficult terrain, and Guldenpfennig encourages riders to ease their way into the sport.

“Like everything, start with whatever you’re comfortable with, like maybe bike path riding, then work your way up,” said Guldenpfennig. “And be sure to go off-trail, it makes you feel blissful—like a kid again.”

The festival will also have an award ceremony at 3 p.m., as well as an after party with music, food and beer that could continue long into the night.

“Like all events, we have folks entering to dress up and have a great time,” said Guldenpfenning. “Dress warm and bring a lawn chair, and come on down,”

The festival begins at 8 a.m. with hot coffee and cocoa, while participants can register for the race until 10:30 a.m. The race begins at 11 a.m. sharp. Each member of a relay team must register individually and valid U.S. cycling ID cards are not required. Bicycles with fat tires can be bought or rented, and three-person teams have the option of sharing one bicycle between them if they wish.

Registration costs $25, and beverage donations are encouraged for the post-race bash. The money collected from the race will go towards FORC to continue maintaining and improving local trails.

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