Race Report: The 2015 Talkeetna Trio

I would like to thank the organizers of the Talkeetna Trio for the following:

1. Hosting a great event in an awesome town where a cat is the mayor.

2. Doing a great job designing and marking the trail.

3. Setting the start/finish line at the home of Denali Brewing Company.

The Trio provided plenty of close racing for riders
The Trio provided plenty of close racing for riders

With that out of the way, March 14th saw the town of Talkeetna, Alaska turn into a fat biking mecca for the annual Talkeetna Trio race, an event hosted by Speedway Cycles and Backcountry Ski and Bike. While the name Speedway Cycles may not immediately ring a bell for some, they are known for their Fatback brand of bicycles, which are credited by many with starting the entire fat biking craze that we are all embroiled in.

Riders were treated to fantastic views of the Alaska Range as the course wound its way along the Talkeetna River
Riders were treated to fantastic views of the Alaska Range as the course wound its way along the Talkeetna River

The Trio offers riders a choice of either 20-, 40-, or 60-mile events, with the most hardcore riders turning in laps in the low 1 hour, 40 minute range. The 20-mile course began in the heart of Talkeetna, at the Twister Creek Brewpub (again, this is awesome), and led riders through the main downtown stretch and onto the well-maintained trail system, complete with challenging climbs, plenty of switchbacks, and a picturesque section along the Talkeetna River, with unobstructed views of Denali, or Mt. McKinley to those of you in the lower 48. Every rider that I spoke with at the event had only positive things to say about the layout, and most were in agreement that the Trio is becoming a permanent fixture on their race calendars.

One of the many climbs that challenged Trio riders
One of the many climbs that challenged Trio riders

In the Women’s categories, Laura Fox took top honors in the 60-mile category, with a fastest lap time of 2:01:17; Darcy Davis led the 40-mile class with a fast lap of 2:06:04; and Julie Berberich beat out the rest of the packed 20-mile group with an impressive 1:54:44 lap.

Though support vehicles were not permitted at the event, there were no stipulations regarding support dogs
Though support vehicles were not permitted at the event, there were no stipulations regarding support dogs

For the men, Tim Berntson claimed the top honors in the 60-mile event, with a fast lap of 1:37:53 (!!); Phil Hess took the podium in the 40-mile category, clocking a 1:52:47 fastest lap; and Justin Libby knocked out a 1:38:23 lap to win the 20-mile.

Full results are available at the Trio event page.

All smiles while carving through the woods
All smiles while carving through the woods

Thankfully, the riders were rewarded for their efforts at the post-ride party, with delicious food and beer provided by Denali Brewing Company and music by the Rabbit Creek Ramblers. Once the official after-race festivities wrapped up, the party continued as riders made their way to the Fairview Inn for the after-after party, which ran well into the wee hours of the morning.

Denali Brewing Company provided the toast, and the Rabbit Creek Ramblers provided the jams
Denali Brewing Company supplied the toast and the Rabbit Creek Ramblers provided the jams

For those of you who are looking to participate in the 2016 Talkeetna Trio, here are some pro-tips to help you out:

Keep yourself updated on all happenings with the Trio by following Fatback bikes on Facebook and by keeping an eye out on their events page. Expect next year’s event to happen in the February-early March timeframe. Be sure to register early for the 2016 Trio and start planning your trip up to Talkeetna, as lodging will fill up fast!

Talkeetna, the quintessential Alaskan town
Talkeetna, the quintessential Alaskan town

Speaking of lodging, some of the favorite spots for weary riders to catch some rest after the event include the Talkeetna Roadhouse, Swiss-Alaska Inn, or the Denali Fireside Cabins and Suites. My group stayed at the Swiss-Alaska Inn and luckily managed to snag a cabin a couple weeks before the race for $147 per night. The accommodations and hosts were great, plus we were in our own cabin in the woods for the weekend, which is pretty stellar. Do yourself a favor and book an extra night to allow for some Aurora Borealis spotting, as well as a day trip to Denali National Park, which is just shy of a 3-hour drive aweay, but totally worth it.

Be sure to stop by the Twister Creek Restaurant to sample some of Denali Brewing Company's brews
Be sure to stop by the Twister Creek Restaurant to sample some of Denali Brewing Company’s brews

Outside of racing and cabin life, be sure to stop by the Talkeetna Roadhouse for a delicious meal (the reindeer pasty was solid), and follow that up with a visit to Twister Creek Restaurant for a pint or three of Denali Brewing’s solid selection of beers. If you’re lucky, you may get a chance to discuss Talkeetna’s history and current political climate with the town’s mayor, Stubbs, at Nagley’s. However he’s become a bit more reclusive as his tenure continues, mostly keeping to himself while drinking on the job (catnip-spiked water is his beverage of choice) or hiding behind the Pepsi machines.

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