On February 25, the Devon Bicycle Association will hold its fifth Blizzard Bike Race at the Voyageur Park in Devon, Alberta. The fat bike race was the first of its kind in the province when it launched in 2013.

Winter seems to be cooperating with the DBA this year. “In 2016 only 30 adults and 15 kids participated because of the poor snow conditions that plagued fat bike racing and XC skiing,” association president Stew Hutchings tells Canadian Cycling Magazine.

The 3.3-km course with a climb in the middle of each lap is groomed first with snowshoes and then DBA members drag it with “club MacGyver” Janet Lui’s homemade device called the Jpow: half a snowboard toting a milk crate packed with free weights.

Participants sign in at 5 pm at local shop Shift Happens Bicycle Repair, with the kid’s race run soon after to take advantage of the waning light. Pepper Harlton, who owns and runs Shift Happens with her mother Judy, designs the children’s course. Pepper is a three-time national cyclocross silver medalist and represented Canada at the worlds in 2009.

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This year’s adult contest is a night race, so bike lights will be needed. Starting at 6:30 pm, there are categories for fat bikes and mountain bikes with four or six laps offered in each. Afterwards, Hutchings explains, “We move to Marcie’s Pizza at 8 pm for a chili dinner and refreshments. The awards, consisting of Dairy Queen Blizzard certificates from the local franchise, are handed out.”

Devon is about more than fat biking in the snow. Located along the North Saskatchewan River southwest of Edmonton, the town of 6,500 people is a fine road cycling centre, having hosted the 2010 national road championships where Will Routley, Svein Tuft, Julie Beveridge and Joëlle Numainville all prevailed. Hutchings notes, “We are able to provide mountain bike riding in our unique river valley and are working in conjunction with the town to build more single track and run mountain bike races along with the cyclocross race we put on in October.”

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The club has 30 members who are multi-disciplinarians and boasts an active youth program called the Devon Bears, who will be excited for their sundown race on February 25. “A friendly atmosphere filled with bike friendly enthusiasts, the Devon Bike Association is an encyclopedia of knowledge for the local area as well as the province,” Hutchings says. “Our club is noted throughout the province for our enthusiasm, sportsmanship and never-ending smiles.”

He adds, “The tech guide and full race details will be posted on our website (devonbicyclingassociation.com) and the Alberta Bicycle Association’s website under events after January 22.”

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