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Complete Field Guide to the 2019 Fat Tire Festival

The Riding

There will be professionally guided rides available Friday and Saturday with options for everyone, from family paced mellow low mileage and low speed jaunts to full-on-worm-burning 30 mile epic rides.  All rides leave from the vendor expo area and there will be multiple ride options rolling throughout both Friday and Saturday.  When you check in to the event you will receive the hard copy schedule of all of the rides and all other activities for the weekend.  You will also receive a hard copy of the maps of the trail networks and GPS files will be available for download prior to the event and onsite.

The trail network at CampO has grown a bit with a new ~8 mile Lake Loop trail that will be completed in early 2019, bringing a much more rideable network for the beginners that also offers great flow and fun for everyone.  We will also have full use of the Glendale trail network, the original home of Fat Tire Fest!   Glendale is about 10 miles, as the crow flies, from the expo area, about a 20 minute drive, and well worth it, with some of the best riding in all of Southern Illinois!  We will have personnel on site at Glendale and multiple guided rides there also both Friday and Saturday.  This ~15 mile trail network is the favorite of riders from all throughout southern Illinois and the Paducah Kentucky area, a super fun set of trails with slickrock, bluffs, tech and flow.

Specialized and Niner will be on site with demo trucks stuffed to the gills with awesome bikes for you to throw a leg over and take out into the dirt, all will be available for real demo rides on our CampO trail network! The only limit to the fun will be please bring them back within one hour so others have a chance to try them out too, but feel free to take them out multiple times and try multiple bikes!

For the mellowest riders we go offsite on Saturday to the very scenic Tunnel Hill Trail, a short 10 minute drive away, for a fun ride on southern Illinois’ only rail trail.  Experience riding through a tunnel over 500’ long, riding across multiple trestles, the largest of which is 400’ long and over 100’ high and enjoy the fun of a meandering ride on the relatively flat trail. This ride is an out and back so you can go as long or as short as you want.

Finally on the riding front, for those that would rather grind gravel than play in the dirt, we have the Cannonball Race Saturday morning and anyone registered for Fat Tire Fest can get in on the race for free!  What is Cannonball you ask?  Cannonball Gravel Races are epically fun cycling races, held on open roads, completely self-supported, utilizing GPS for navigation and Strava for timing/scoring. No traditional timing clock, no corner marshals, no closed courses; just you, your bike, and your honor. The Cannonball race at FTF rolls at 10:15AM on Saturday and is the first event of the 2019 Fall Cannonball Series.  There is a 30 mile short option and a 55 mile long option for the gravel race thru the hills, valleys, and creeks of deep southern Illinois.  This course will present some rather challenging terrain with significant elevation and plenty of challenges on course for even the most seasoned gravellier.  This race will finish at FTF HQ at CampO where a late lunch will be served while first round points are tabulated. This race will be followed by the second annual Gravel Crit World Championships.  This is a super fun gravel crit around on a 1 mile course right through the middle of FTF HQ.  All are welcome to participate in the race, MTB, Cross, Gravel, doesn’t matter which bike, it’s all about the engine, two years in a row this race has been won on a MTB!

 

The Venue

Camp Ondessonk, located in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, is an amazing destination that has served as the location for Fat Tire Fest for the last seven years.  They provide us with treehouse accommodations for all, have tent camping options if you would rather, and a number of spots for RV’s too (no hookups though), let us know when you sign up which you would rather do. The treehouses give you the outdoor experience like no other, without the hassles of packing all your camping gear. Think open air sleeping with a roof over your head, no doors or screens to interrupt your enjoyment of all things outdoors while keeping you and your gear dry and off the dirt.  Each treehouse has a number of bunks, all with mattresses, and to keep it real none have power. So a sleeping bag, some clothes, your bike, riding gear and a good flashlight are all you need to bring. We will have a charging station at HQ with more than enough room for all your devices to get a refresh.  There are flushers and warm showers conveniently located throughout camp to get you back to fresh after a long ride.

 

The GRUB and Liquid Refreshments

Those who have been before know; we have the best food and drink of any MTB festival in the country. Hot breakfast both mornings with great food options and plenty o’ BACON, a Pulled Pork BBQ dinner on Saturday night, fresh local Bratwurst and Burgers Friday night and to cap it off on Sunday awesome Open Fire Grilled Pork Steaks for all at the final lunch! We also make sure you have lunch with you on the trail, a full sandwich and lunch snack bar is provided Saturday morning so you can pack yours before you get on the trail and on Friday we have a small sandwich bar set up at the HQ/Expo area and Glendale.  We have watercoolers all around at the Expo area and samples of many different performance drink mix options.  Excel bottling makes sure we have soda on tap all weekend, and let’s not forget our beer sponsor, New Belgium keeps the taps on every night from 4PM till we close it down with great brews that are ice cold and included for all of age. All of this is included for every FTF participant!

 

Other FUN!

Vendor Expo

This year we have the largest vendor expo we have ever had with representatives from the following sponsors onsite with awesome products: Specialized, Sram, Shimano, Garmin, Thule, New Belgium, Niner and a couple others yet to be announced. We will have prizes from tons of sponsors, as always thousands of $$$$’s in prizes will be given away throughout the weekend

Fat Tire Challenge Friday Night

The Fat Tire Challenge will go down on Friday night, and always  includes the world famous “Huffy Toss”, the “Little Kids Bike Dual Slalom”, the CampO tug of war to lead it all off and who knows what else we might cook up. We will have a huge campfire going all night long to keep you nice and warm while you wait for your turn at the craziness.

Live Music in the CampO Grotto Saturday Night

Saturday night after everything else is done and dinner is finished, we will roll the kegs down to the CampO grotto and enjoy some awesome live music.

Sunday Morning O’Face Adventure Race

Sunday morning, just after breakfast, we all jump in for the O’Face Adventure Race.  This is a super FUN, challenging and exciting adventure race held on the CampO grounds that gets everyone in on the fun.  O’Face is an awesome way to cap off a great weekend of fun, and great prizes will be awarded right after lunch.