Fat Tire Fever hits the streets and hills in the Hayward-Cable area this Friday through Sunday as the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival presented by Trek draws thousands of mountain bike enthusiasts for the 31st annual events.
A newly-expanded field of 2,100 riders will participate in the Chequamegon 40, which starts with a controlled roll-out on Main Street in Hayward at 10 a.m. Saturday, heads out Highway 77 to the Birkie Trail and finishes at Telemark Resort. Another 1,000 riders will start at the same time in downtown Cable and race 16 miles in the Short and Fat, which also finishes at Telemark.
Cyclists in the Chequamegon 40 are placed behind one of seven starting gates on Main Street in front of the Hayward Primary School — six of which participants must qualify to join.
“We’re sorting people out depending on their anticipated finish times,” said Fat Tire Festival Executive Director Gary Crandall. “The goal of that is a much safer roll-out. We’ve added gates in the Short and Fat race as well.
“Things are looking great on the trails” for Saturday’s races, Crandall said. “We’ve had episodes of a lot of rain, especially right before Labor Day weekend when we marked the course. Fortunately with our glacial type soils, sand and rocks, when you give it 24 hours (after a rain) it’s in pretty good shape.” The course uses portions of the Birkie Trail, snowmobile trails and fire lanes in the Sawyer and Bayfield County forests.
The Fat Tire Festival has permission to use the Telemark grounds for its Saturday race finishes, awards programs and Sunday Funday Events, “which we’re very pleased with, because for 26 of our 31 years we’ve been at Telemark,” Crandall said. “We know how to fit the pieces of the puzzle here. The stadium, finish line and approach are all familiar to us and the riders, and that will make for a higher quality event.”
Besides the list of “riders to watch” for top times in Saturday’s races, Crandall said a well-known person in the mountain biking world, Gary Fisher, will ride in this weekend’s festival. Fisher is “one of a handful of people who invented the mountain bike” and is affiliated with the Trek brand. He visited the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival and CAMBA Festival of Trails a few years ago.
“We’re very glad to have him,” Crandall said.
The race staff again used a lottery format in March to select riders for the Sept. 14 races. Nearly 500 riders were turned away as the Chequamegon Festival continues to limit its total registration to 3,100 riders, making the race one of the country’s most popular mountain bike events.
Events begin at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, when the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) will lead tours, showcasing their singletrack trails in the area. This year the CAMBA tour will start at Camp 38 Trail Head off of Spider Lake Fire Lane south of Cable.
At the Telemark Resort event site sponsors and vendors will be on hand all weekend, starting on Friday, with Trek displaying their new line of mountain bikes.
This year’s traditional Pasta Feed will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Telemark under the Big Top Chequamegon tent near the finish line.
Saturday’s races are preceded by Children’s Bicycle Parades at 9 a.m. in both downtown Cable and Hayward.
The Big Fat
The Chequamegon 40 starts on the west end of Main Street in Hayward, when 2,100 riders will rush through town, up Railroad Street and finally east on Highway 77 to Rosie’s Field near Fish Hatchery Road, where the field will first see dirt and the action really begins.
As in years past, the winner likely will be determined in the final 10 miles, from the tiered climb up the Seeley Fire Tower Hill and then onto the hilly Birkebeiner Ski Trail.
The 16-mile Short and Fat starts in Cable and will use the traditional course that leads the 1,000 riders south on Randysek Road, then onto logging roads and ski trail surrounding Telemark. Spectators should expect the first Short and Fat finisher just before 11 a.m., while the winner of the Chequamegon 40 should reach the finish line at Telemark sometime shortly after noon.
Riders can pick up bibs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday under the Big Top Chequamegon tent on the Telemark Resort grounds. Both of Saturday’s races will finish in the Telemark stadium area just outside the tent. The tent will also host the Sunday Funday events.
On Friday, the weekend starts at 1 p.m. with CAMBA (the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association) trail tours at the Camp 38 trailhead off Telemark Road south of Cable. This is a chance to ride some of CAMBA’s new flow trails. The sponsor and vendor expo as well as a pasta feast will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. under the canvas.
On Saturday, the Children’s Bicycle Parades in the downtown areas of Cable and Hayward start at 9 a.m.
Riders to watch
Several top riders and former champions return for the main events —the Chequamegon 40 and the Short and Fat. Four-time champion Brian Matter of Sheboygan, Wis. is back, hoping for an unprecedented fifth title. He won in 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He will be challenged by Cole House of Oneida, Wis., who narrowly edged Matter in this year’s Ore to Shore event in Michigan’s upper peninsula.
Alabama rider Michael Olheiser, second to Matter in 2011, comes to Saturday’s 40-mile race hungry and hopes to claim his first title. Ageless three-time champion Steve Tilford from Topeka, Kan., will also factor in the race. Former Radio Shack rider Jason McCartney will be back and wants to improve his 2011 third place finish.
Former champ Jeff Hall of Burnswille, Minn., has gotten back into the sport after several years’ absence and could surprise the field. He won the Seeley Lions Pre-Fat 25-mile race three weeks ago.
In the women’s field, Minnesota rider and 2012 champion Jenna Rinehart returns to defend her title. Her toughest competition may come from Arizona rider Chloe Woodruff. Rinehart will also be chased by three-time champ Catherine Walberg, a Topeka, Kan. rider. Don’t count out former champion Sara Kylander-Johnson of Duluth either.
Both Brett Poulten and Ian Haupt, second and third in last year’s Short and Fat, hope to climb to the top spot on the podium this year. In the women’s short race, the second place finisher the last two years, Terra James, hopes she can win it in 2013. Sixteen-year-old Keely Jackson of Hayward could challenge James.
The Rough Stuff Poker Ride, a bicycle orienteering race around the Telemark woods, highlights the Sunday events, starting at 9 a.m. Day of registration is at the Big Top Chequamegon tent from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Rounding out the weekend, the Sunday Funday events held at Telemark will put some fun into the fat with complimentary events for those over 12 years of age. New this year is Bicycle Bowling. Folks can also try the Klunker Toss, Bicycle Limbo, Lumber Jack and Jill Log Pull, and Flying Bunny Hop from 10 a.m. to noon. A complimentary children’s bicycle rodeo will be held for those 12 and under.
The festival features several children’s events starting with bicycle parades in either Cable or Hayward. Bike decoration starts at 8 a.m. and the parade begins at 9 a.m. In Hayward, children should gather on the 200 block of Main Street, and in Cable at the fire hall behind the Old School Mall. For all participants, there will be prizes, surprises and treats.
On Sunday, kids can ride in the Bicycle Rodeo at the base of the Telemark ski hill. Rodeo events include bike limbo, a bike relay, a log pull and an obstacle course. There will be a fun lap race for kids as well. The parade and rodeo are free and open to all kids under 12. Helmets are required.
- Judge rules Telemark has been abandoned (channel3000.com)
- USA Today touts 10 great places to ride a mountain bike – and one is in our area (alpinedailyplanet.typepad.com)
- Getting Fit: Mountain Biking Near Pittsburgh (local.answers.com)
- Judge rules famous Telemark Lodge abandoned (lacrossetribune.com)