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Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival on the horizon!

Frank cresting Firetowner Hill, 2007

Tis the season! That's right, the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Hayward, WI is on the horizon. The "Fat Tire" as regulars call it, is the race by which mountain bikers in the Midwest are judged. I don't know how many times I've told someone I was a mountain biker, and then they ask, "Where do you finish in the Fat Tire". This race is kind of like the Birkie in that sense.

In any case, this is an amazing event run by one of the gentlemen of the bike community, Gary Crandall. Gary slaves away all year to ensure this event is the best in the country, and he delivers every year. I don't know of any other Mountain Bike races that fill up every single year with over 2500 racers! So, if your fortunate enough to get in, you're in for a treat!

Based on my experience, here is what your Fat Tire experience will likely be like:

Start: You're in a mass of mountain bikes and humanity. You're likely frustrated by all of the people who put their bike on the start line at 4AM, so now you're behind hundreds of people before you event start. The gun goes off and thousands of riders casually roll down main street to cheers behind a slow motorpace vehicle

Mile 1: Still on the roads, you take a right turn onto Hwy 77. Here the pace vehicle pulls away and the race is on. The speed goes from 15mph to 30+ mph, if you can hang. Things get spread out and at about mile 3-4 you take a left turn into Rosie's field and your off road adventure begins.

Miles 4-20: The name of the game here is momentum. You're going up and down the big hills on the Birkie trail. Go as fast as you can down the hills and keep it going on the ups. Stick to the wore in/packed track on the Birkie trail as it is much faster than the speed sucking grass. Before you know it, you're at mile 20 and cross the famous road "OO".

Mile ~30: After another 10 miles of rollers, Birkie Trail, and Fire roads, you hit the killer of the race course: Firetower hill. This is a "triple whammy" hill, essentially three large hills back to back to back. You don't see the next one until you're over the prior one. It is rideable, but pace yourself up this one! If you're feeling good here, you can pass a ton of people here!

In to the finish: If you have anything left in the tank after Firetower Hill, now is the time to let it rip. Most folks are slowing down by this point and you can literally pass hundreds of people in the last few miles if you're feeling good

Finish: After going down Telemark Hill, there is a slippery sweeping left curve. Once you're past that, you have ~300 meters of sprinting to go!

Have fun, enjoy, and come back to to share your race experience with us!

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