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North Carolina dentist wins fat bike race

April 02, 2018

By Kimber Solana

Photo of Dr. Overton after his bicycle race
Winner: Dr. John Overton poses for a photo after his win at the 4th annual U.S. Open Fat Bike Beach Championship, held March 17 in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Photo by Robert Butler
Wrightsville Beach, N.C. — For Dr. John Overton, it started after he bought his first road bike before his fourth year of dental school.

"I kind of just got hooked," he said. "Dentists are very Type A personalities. I wanted something to pour all that energy into, especially after dental school."

Racing bicycles — along with the commitment to training — was it.

On March 17, Dr. Overton took the top spot in the 4th annual U.S. Open Fat Bike Beach Championship, a race held on an all-sand course along the shores of Wrightsville Beach using bikes with tires wider than 4 inches.

Dr. Overton, 39, won by completing the course — making 32 one-mile laps — with a time of two hours, two minutes and 36 seconds.

"Cycling is a niche sport," Dr. Overton said.

Racing fat bikes is a small subset of that sport, utilizing the growing popularity of fat bikes, he said. With its wider wheels, the bikes allow riders to gain traction on challenging surfaces, such as sand and snow.

"It's a pretty demanding race," said Dr. Overton, a 2008 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. During the race, he averaged about 16 miles per hour, while slowing down on turns and curves where soft sand can cause a rider to slip or crash. Then you add in the weather.

"Because you're at the beach, the wind plays a big factor," he said. The race starts at noon just before low tide.

To train for a race, Dr. Overton dedicates about seven to eight hours a week cycling, in between his dental practice and raising a family. He said he used to train 10-12 hours a week but had to cut that down because of his 18-month-old son.

Dr. Overton said he still prefers road cycling but decided to enter the U.S. Open Fat Bike Beach Championship in 2017. For a road race, he often has to travel an hour or two to the event. The fat bike race was much closer to home for the Wilmington, North Carolina, resident. The owner of a local cycling shop where Dr. Overton bought his first fat bike organizes the race.

Last year, he finished fifth. This year, he said he knew he was going to win about an hour and a half in to the race.

"It was pretty surreal," he said. "I knew as long as I didn't crash or run out of energy I was going to win."

It's not the first time Dr. Overton won a local sporting event.

In 2013, Dr. Overton said, a dentist colleague convinced him to take on the cycling portion of an Iron Man race held in Wilmington. The teammate would swim, and another teammate — a periodontist — would run the marathon. The trio of dentists won.