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Over 220 riders from across the country race in first US Fat Bike Open at Green Bay Country Club

Posted at 8:53 PM, Jan 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-22 22:03:10-05

BELLEVUE, Wis. (NBC 26) — On the morning of a Packers playoff gameday, hundreds of fans gathered in the Frozen Tundra to watch a sport other than football.

"The conditions today kind of felt like The Last Frontier of Alaska out there," Kaukauna biker Leah Vanevenhoven said.

And it wasn't Lambeau field, but that weather was worth it for athletes like Vanevenhoven.

"We have the gear for negative-degree weather, cold weather," she said. "And that's why we have fat bikes."

On Saturday, Vanevenhoven placed fourth in the highest class of racers during the first-ever US Fat Bike Open at the Green Bay Country Club.

"The investment and the ways that people still come out in this really terrible weather is pretty cool," she said.

Riders from Northeast Wisconsin and across the country took to a three-mile-long course.

"Our furthest person is from New Mexico," race director Sarah Kapitz said. "We have over 220 riders on the course today. So it's a pretty big, well-attended event. We have a lot of spectators as well."

The event is part of a four-race series at courses around Wisconsin. And the skill levels range from beginner to elite.

"You can be an everyday rider," Kapitz said. "You could be somebody who goes on your bike once a year. You could be somebody who is in it to win it and wanting to race fast. So we host everybody."

Kapitz, the co-owner of Broken Spoke Bike Studio, helped organize the US Fat Bike Open.

"People love it," she said. "What we really want is to get more people outside and more people on bikes, feeling like a kid again riding in the snow, just enjoying what Wisconsin has to offer."

Winners took home gift cards and chocolate. And though she didn't secure the first-prize trophy, Vanevenhoven won her previous race in Manitowoc.

"I guess you know you can't be at your best every day," she said.