Bikers in fat city at Northstar |

Bikers in fat city at Northstar

Sam Bauman

For the more than 10,000 spectators, many of whom took advantage of free guided bike rides, the high point of the second annual Tahoe Fat Tire Festival at Northstar-at-Tahoe was the dual trials, where Brazil’s national champion Christiano Santos came in second after Californian Shaun Miller picked up a 15-second lead in the first heat of the event.

This was billed as a world championship event, chiefly because nobody else is staging such an test. Normally, trials consist of one rider leaping and gyrating over a series of obstacles such as a swinging foot-wide beam, a jumble of boulders, upright tree trunks, swiveling platforms and a ramp with a jump of up to 10 feet to the finish. In the dual format riders had to run the course twice with the winner on time advancing to the next round. Elapsed time included actual time plus a 3-second penalty for each “dab” or touch of any part of the body to the ground or obstacle

At Northstar on Saturday, the eight-man field included Miller and Brazil’s champ. On the second run in the finals, Miller hung on to edge the world-ranked Brazilian by almost 10 seconds.

Third was Alex Cubbage and fourth was veteran California rider Aaron Faust. Internationally top-ranked Libor Karas of the Czech Republic was a no-show.

On Friday, the dirt criterium was marred by a bad fall by an unidentified woman rider who had to be taken off the course on a stretcher. The dirt event was staged on a looping course of three hairpin banked turns with a four-roll series between the loops, topped by a 300-yard uphill leg which returned the riders to the dirt track. Winners of that event were for women Marla Streb, first; Lel Tone, second; and Michelle Sinnot, third. Men’s winners were Michael Ronning, Myles Rockwell and Kirt Voreis.

The Paul Mitchell dual slalom event took place on a 350-yard downhill featuring a series of banked turns through gates interspersed with large tabletop bumps. Men’s winners were Kirt Voreis, first; Pee Loncarevitch, second; and Myles Rockwell, third. Women’s winners were Vanessa Quin, first; Kim Sonier second; and Daamian Skleton, third.

In the premier Fox Five gravity downhill, run from the top of the Comstock Quad Express Chairlift, the course was a challenge that took out many riders as it weaved The Falls, Sherwood Forest and the Rock Garden. Riders hit 55 mph on the rocky, sand and grit trail. They wore armor right out of medieval times.

The men’s champion was Dave Cullinan, with Myles Rockwell second and Phillip Tinstman third. Women winners were Vanesse Quin first, Kim Sonier second and Daamian Skelton third.

In the grueling Vans Fat Tire Fest cross-country, which took riders up to the top of the Comstock Lift and then wound down the mountain through a series of jumps and obstacles, Rachel Lloyd was first, Lel Tone second and Kerry Barnhold third. Winners of the men’s cross-country were Matt Gerken, Sean Doyle second and Nathan Lloyd third.

Men’s “Gravity God” was Myles Rockwell, winner of dirt criterium, dual slalom and downhill. “Gravity Goddess” was Marla Streb, winner of the Criterium, dual slalom and downhill.

Last year’s Fat Tire Fest was staged at Squaw Valley, but lingering snows made it impossible to prepare the venue. However, Northstar was able to stage the event at mid-mountain with spectators enjoying a free gondola ride to enjoy the events. No word on where next year’s festival will be staged.

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