The local annual event Powder Keg Snowshoe and Fat-Bike Races, hosted by CORBA (Chippewa Off-Road Bike Association) kicks off every January at the Eau Claire Expo Center.
Visit Eau Claire received some inside details and fun facts from Andy Tyriver, the president of CORBA.
Q: What is your role in the event?
A: I am the president of CORBA, so my role is not huge, I'll probably be at the event, but we got a new race director, first-timer, Luke. CORBA has been running it since 2011. We took it over from a couple who called it the Rumble in the Jungle.
Q: If someone came to Eau Claire for the first time and had never heard of Powder Keg Snowshoe & Fat Bike Races, how would you describe these activities to them?
A: It's a great event for anybody who has any interest in snowshoeing or fat biking or being outside. There are family-friendly walks/runs, and of course, there's racing for the more competitive folks. We've got people coming from all over the Midwest for the two races, snowshoeing and fat bike portion. It's fun; it's always a well-attended event.
Q: How did the term "Powder Keg" come about? Is it unique to Eau Claire's races?
A: No, it's a part of a theme for our other CORBA races, and at the end of June we have the Firecracker Mountain Bike Race and Trail Run, and in November we have the Fall Back Blast Trail Run Race. It's an action-packed explosion theme with the naming.
Q: How many years have the Powder Keg Races been around in Eau Claire?
A: In 2012 we added the fat bike race and of course added distances and relays. In 2015 we hosted the Snowshoe National Championships, and so the governing body that puts on the Snowshoe Championships chose Eau Claire, CORBA, to put it on. It was so successful they are looking to do it again next year. It's a nationwide organization.
Q: Who can participate in the races?
A: Anybody, everybody, I believe there are age requirements for races. But we have kids racing, snowshoe walks for families, and everybody is welcome to help out, everyone is welcome to race. It's certainly family-friendly. We built it that way.
Q: Where can people register for a race?
You can register online from either the CORBA Facebook page or the Powder Keg Facebook page. There's also a Powder Keg and CORBA Twitter and Instagram. Click here to access more event information, to register or to sign up to volunteer.
Q: Where are the routes for the events? How long are they?
A: It's out at Lowe's Creek. There are a bunch of trails out there. We build and maintain all the tracks and then Lowe's creek Park is where all the action happens. It's a great place, a great set-up. The trails at Lowe's Creek are fantastic.
Q: Do the winners receive any awards?
A: Yes, we absolutely have awards. Often there are prizes. Generally, it's a medal of some sort. New this year is the duo race so if someone did the 10k snowshoe run and the long fat bike race they could get that award. That'll be a whole new division with there being the top three winners.
Q: Do you ever participate in the events? What is it like to be a part of them?
A: Yes, I did a fat bike race one year, and then I was a race director in 2015. It's a hoot. It's definitely a well-run race. It's a great atmosphere too and the family-friendly aspect of it is pretty cool. You know, obviously you get the hard-core racers, but you'll also get the more chill-out vibe too which is pretty common among the fat-biking crowd. It's cool; it's a fun weekend of getting outside.
I'm always there helping out, I will usually manage the volunteers, and that's fun too. I always give a huge thank-you to the volunteers that come out because it's very rare what we do, even across the country, where we put on races, we're really rare where the community supports what we do. Sometimes we even turn people away because so many people are coming out. It's a pretty cool thing to be a part of a supportive community.
Q: Give us two reasons why someone should sign up for the Powder Keg Races.
A: One reason will be if they want to do a snowshoe race. The other reason will be if they want to do a fat bike race. Those are the two best reasons, but hey, it's really fun. We've been really lucky with the weather too. I think almost every year it's been above freezing which is pretty sweet. The course itself is planned well, and we've got some folks that really know what they're doing. You get a great lead-out and an awesome finish.
Are you heading to the Powder Keg this year? If so, be sure to share your photos with us by using #CaptureEC.
Image credit: IG @corbapowderkeg