Saturday was the Chequamegon 40 mountain bike race WAY up north in Hayward Wisconsin. I spent about 3 solid weeks getting in as much off road riding as I could to prepare for this challenge. This coming after a forced 3 week layoff due to a stress fracture and plantar fasciitis. My plans for running the Chicago marathon were scrapped but this was my one shot at getting in a great race to end the summer. a great race it was! Aside from an 8 hour drive to get there, the weather was perfect, temps in the low 60s for race day. Trail conditions were wonderful. Dry and fast... This year I raced a 29 inch hard tail, last year it was a 26" full suspension. I was curious how the 2 bikes would compare. My condition was not where I wanted it to be due to the injuries and a few other circumstances, but all you can do is show up and do your best, and that's what I did.
I am normally pretty stressed before a race but thanks to our car experiencing a breakdown a block from the start, my focus changed from race stress to how the hell are we going to be able to drive back home in the car stress. In the end it all worked out, and the car was fixed when I returned to the Telemark lodge finish area. KUDOS go out to my long time personal manager Anne for playing it cool and taking care of that mess, leaving me to do what I came to do - RACE.
I weighed more than what I wanted to be at, I had done no bike races this whole season, and my running was ground to a halt for the 6 weeks leading up to the race so cross training was ground to a halt.
So away we go, the typical tense first 3 miles thru the packed streets with about 2000 other mountain bikers, praying to god that you dont get taken out by streets PACKED shoulder to shoulder with mountain bikers racing for the trails. Unfortunately I did hear and see carnage on the streets but luckily I made it to the trail unscathed, and then we hit the trails. I've done the race about 4 times over the last 20 years and can visualize it pretty accurately at this point.
People love my candid sense of humor.
The pirates on pirate Hill ROCK Ride to the right , Rum to the left (I rode to the right)
The birkbiener trail system is epic (as in hard) If you know anyone who has done the cross country ski race on the birky, they totally deserve your admiration because they are hardcore!
The Seely fire tower climb is brutal and this year I had a glimmer of hope to climb it but was stopped by walking riders about 200 feet into it, climbed back on and climbed till the last part of the climb, and was stopped once again by walking riders. Maybe next time. That hill is epic, and it will break you unless your a pro, or in AWESOME shape with good luck thrown in.
The last 10 miles are probably the hardest when your put back on the birky trails. The riders go silent, the walking and cramping begin to take its toll on a good amount of riders, and the inevitable throwing up occurs. I'm glad to say I rode the entire course except that damn evil Seely hill.
I got very emotional at the finish (just like last year).I think I do because i look back at the season, wish training (and he rest of my life) would have been perfect, and realize that is it for the year.
The interesting thing is during the race I felt as though my time was slower than last year, and assumed the full suspension may have been better, or I was faster last year. But NOOO This year I finished 10 minutes faster, so was it the 29'er, or was it me? I'm thinking a little bit of both :)