Complete Field Guide to the 2018 Fat Tire Festival

The Riding

There will be professionally guided rides available Friday and Saturday with options for everyone, from family paced mellow 5 mile jaunt to full-on-worm-burning 30 mile rips.  All rides leave from the vendor expo area and there will be multiple rides roll throughout the day.  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 ~2 mile connector that hooks up Cinder Path to Pakentuk, a great ad that eliminates the need to do Heart Attack hill😉.  We have also recently heard that we will have permitting to use 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, but well worth it!  We will have personnel on site at Glendale and multiple guided rides out there 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.

To give the competitive among us something to scratch that itch we are rolling out a Strava Challenge for a number of segments throughout the trail network over the weekend.  You will need to GPS track your times and make sure to post them to Strava to get in on the fun.  Prizes and glory will be awarded to the fastest amongst us and times/standings will be posted throughout the weekend to make sure you know where you stand.

Specialized will be on site with demo truck stuffed to the gills with awesome bikes for you to throw a leg over and take out into the dirt.  Turbo Levo’s, Stumpjumper’s, Epic’s and a number of other fun toys 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 for a ~20 mile 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.

Finally on the riding front, for those that would rather grind gravel than play in the dirt, we have the Cannonball series of races hosting an event on site 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 2018 Fall Cannonball Series.  It is a ~35 mile gravel race/grinder thru the hills, valleys, and creeks of deep southern Illinois.  This course will present some rather challenging terrain with significant elevation, over 2000’ gained within the ~35 mile course, 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!


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 five 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 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 throughout camp to get you back to fresh after a long ride.


The 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 BACON, a Pulled Pork BBQ dinner on Saturday night and fresh local Bratwurst and Burgers Friday night and to cap it off on Sunday 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 more simple 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, with the crowd favorite Ski a citrus soda with more than enough caffeine to help you PR the day.   And don’t 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!

With our move to CampO five years ago FTF grew from more than just one of the region’s best MTB events into a full on outdoor adventure weekend with tons of fun for the riders and non-riders alike.

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 and a couple others yet to be announced. We have prizes from over 25 sponsors this year, as always WAY over $10K in prizes will be given away.

CampO Outdoor Adventures

Camp opens almost all of their activities for us throughout the weekend rock climbing on the CampO rock wall, professional guided hikes to some of the best destinations on CampO’s 800+ acres, zip lining up at the rock wall, paddling on Lake Echelon, and for the little one’s a full on gaga ball pit going all weekend and super cool arts and crafts projects for those interested.

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 musing from the Ivas John Band. “A throwback and an innovator. A musician with local roots and worldly chops. A purist who can play the dirtiest blues. Ivas John is a musician’s musician.  He has a style of effortless authenticity that is both a breath of fresh air and a link to days of yore, imbued with the same sense of timelessness as the shores of the Mississippi River he now calls home. Check them out at www.ivasjohn.com

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 incorporates all of the outdoor fun that camp has to offer. O’Face, n awesome way to cap off a great weekend of fun, prizes will be awarded right after lunch.

Sponsors for the 2018 Fat Tire Fest

We really appreciate everyone who makes Fat Tire Fest possible and all of our sponsors have really stepped up this year.  Check them all out here: Bike Surgeon, New Belgium Brewing, Bike Surgeon of Carbondale, Sram, Shimano, Thule, Kuat, Specialized, Salsa, Tifosi, Camelbak, Chamois Buttr, Feedback Sports, Climb soILL, Garmin, Hammer Nutrition, Clif Bar, Mavic, Niner, North Face, Park Tool, Nite Rider, SKS, Thomson, Verge Apparel and Wahoo.