By Taylor Doss
In its third year, the U.S. Open Fat Bike Beach Championships will feature the return of one of the top bikers in the sport when the race returns to Wrightsville Beach this March.
Professional Cyclocross racer Robert Marion, known by many as “Fear the Beard,” announced last week that he will return to the US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship race in Wrightsville beach, hoping to repeat his 2016 victory.
“The US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship is a very unique and fun event,” Marion said. “It’s exciting to see the event growing exponentially every year.
The Fat Bike Beach Championship will be held on Saturday, March 11. Cyclist will take off from the starting line at 12:00pm on the one mile beach tack at Blockade Runner in Wrightsville Beach.
In addition to the Saturday races, the 2017 US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship will offer adventure-cycling clinics on Friday, March 10 and a fat bike nature tour of Masonboro Island on Sunday.
The main event offers three different divisions for ranging skill levels, the 8 mile Fat, 16 mile Really Fat, and 24 mile Super Fat. Cyclist will register beforehand for their desired distance.
Marion will compete in the Super Fat 24 mile race, as he did in 2016, competing against his usual teammate, fellow professional cyclist Drew Bailey.
“I was really excited and had never ridden on the beach until the day before last year’s race,” said Marion. “Race Director Shawn Spencer and his crew do a nice job mixing the course up with soft sand, packed sand and obstacles to keep the race very challenging and exciting.”
An ex-football lineman in 2005 at 260-pounds, Marion picked up cycling to lose weight.
“When you’re 260-pounds playing football, you’re an athlete,” said Marion. “When you’re 260-pounds hanging out and watching TV, you’re just a fat guy.”
Marion’s professional teammate, Bailey from Johnson City, Tenn, will also participate in this year’s Fat Bike Beach Championship. Both ride for the American Classic / Xpedo Professional Mountain Bike Team presented by Maxxis. Marion and Bailey have participated in two mountain bike races so far this season, with Marion coming in first and Bailey placing third, in both races.
“There’s nothing else like this race in the United States,” Marion said. “It’s exciting. We’re looking forward to getting back to this race and the beach.”
There are currently 35 participants racing on March 11, but registration is still open. Potential racers can register online up until March 8 at 12:00pm through http://www.fatcross.com/registration.html.