As fat biking’s popularity has increased in Minnesota, so, too, have the options for organized races and casual rides.

The Fat Wednesday event straddles both ideas with its races at Keller Regional Park in Maplewood.

The concept for such a race, held each Wednesday in January and February and in its third year, started in the mind of Steve Hed, the late bike wheel innovator and founder of HED Cycling. Jeremy Sartain, a massage therapist, had Hed as a patient, and the idea for the fat bike races was born of their shared love of cycling, Sartain said. Hed, 59, of North Oaks died suddenly in November 2014.

The first race in 2017 is Jan. 4.

“I was able to build on Steve’s idea of the social aspect and connection to cycling in winter, and capitalize on that idea that Steve really saw,” said Sartain, the race organizer. “Most people are here to have a good time, and the racing is secondary.”

Sartain and others have strove to carry out that vision. There is an after-party inside the Keller Golf Course clubhouse, swag prizes and more. NOW Bikes, too, has demo bikes to use. The course is looped, with riders choosing from two timed rides. Registration is $20 per race. Money from the races goes to nonprofits and toward grooming equipment.

Find more details online at fatwednesday.bike.

Bob Timmons