Behind the Scenes at Fat Bike Nationals with Dave Harrison

Club Ride Ambassador Dave Harrison is no stranger to the cycling world. He started mountain biking on the pro circuit in 1987, and in the 90s he raced in the European World Cup and four World Championships. As if that wasn't challenge enough, Harrison then went on to compete in Xterra, Ironman, adventure racing, and winter triathlons (which include running, biking, and skate skiing).

Harrison is a born competitor and always looking for his next challenge. The most recent race he added to his long list was the USA Cycling Fat Bike National Championships held February 14 in Ogden, UT. 

You work full time. What’s your 9-5?

Aerial Ropeway Safety Guy at Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Mesa, Colorado. I’m just a glorified dirty, greasy lift mechanic.

With a full schedule, how do you make time to ride?

I usually work ten-hour days, four days a week which leaves me three days to ride. I take advantage of the midnight sun in summer and I enjoy riding rollers for pedaling technique in the winter months. I used lights to ride some frozen Nordic trails last week.

What are your favorite rides around Palisade?

Palisade Rim Trail is world class. There is tons of exposure and rock drops. Another one is Kokopelli trailhead in Fruita – I recommend you try the Marys and Lions Loops. Again… world-class stuff!  Grand Mesa Nordic has excellent fat biking as does Powderhorn Resort.

You’ve been a pro rider since 1987. How has the industry changed and evolved?

I was the first rider to use a full suspension bike in World Cup cross-country race back in the 1993. It was the opening World Cup in Barcelona, Spain. These days, riding ‘dualies” is pretty standard.

The advent of bigger wheels is not so recent. They first allowed the use of 29-inch wheels back in 1999.  Now the “fat” or “wide” bikes (I call them) are the latest craze. 

What draws you to fat biking? Why is this exciting?

It is new! And it breaks the routine. I used to skate ski but I’m not crazy about the motion, physiologically or bio-mechanically speaking. Biking year-round is more kind to my old skeleton.

Are you targeting this race as an important one in your schedule, or is it something you’re doing for fun? What are your hopes and goals for this race?

Of course I want to crush it!  My experience has taught me to go in with good preparation and hope for best. I’ve learned to never make excuses and always say I had a great race when asked–even if I had a mechanical or biomechanical malfunction.  

To have longevity in any sport means to enjoy it and not get caught up in winning.  I used to race against guys like Lance Armstrong, so I have learned that some people will do anything to win and I’m the kind of guy who would rather try to grab an extra hour of sleep and drink more water the day before. I keep it all natural because I’m in it for the long haul. I do it for my health and enjoyment…that’s it. I just love riding daily.

What did you think of the course? Was it what you expected? Any surprises?

Fast downhills, big berms, technical singletrack sections, and a monster climb with 25 mph side wind.  I was surprised to find several tabletop jumps where I could cross it up.

Any advice for cyclists thinking about getting into fat bike racing or preparing for their first fat bike race?

Invest in some light wheels if you're mining for the gold. I came "under-gunned" in that department, but any 33-pound fat bike demo, like the one I was riding, will still have you grinning ear to ear.  The top contenders all used spandex skin suits and 23 pound bikes with $2200 carbon wheel sets!

Will you be back next year?

It is back at Powder Mountain for another year- so yes! I have a rule about not driving more than 4 hours to race.

And of course… what’s your favorite piece of Club Ride apparel?  

These new Rale Pants are treating me really well and are my new favorite. CR drastically reduced my “transition time”- no more frightening women and young children if I stop for a coffee or grab a beer without changing out of my cycling gear. Loose fitting, light, airy, and breathable fabrics keep my nether regions comfortable and prevent saddle sores or other unmentionable afflictions associated with tight fitting, sweat laden spandex and traditional riding clothing. It’s a revolution. Anything with a CR logo is my favorite now. The pants are so fashionable and fresh. I feel hip and cool again… at the ripe old age of 51!