March 15 came and went. Some people may note the Ides of March as the day Julius Caesar was killed in the senate. Others may realize with a start that they only have one month to file their taxes (to be honest, I did have this thought). While still others may daydream of a beautiful Ryan Gosling/George Clooney super-being and wonder what the heck “Ides” even means.
For me, and hundreds of other mid-west mountain bikers, the 15th of March is the day they Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Cable, Wisconsin holds their lottery for spots in the Chequamegon 40- and Short and Fat 15-mile races. It also marks the day I begin to obsessively check my online banking account to see if my check cleared. Cleared check = spot in the race!
I did my first Chequamegon last September, and it was a great weekend of mountain biking. We got there early on Friday afternoon and were able to spend a few hours out on the very well maintained CAMBA trails. There are miles and miles of twisty single track out there in deep north woods forest. Because of their design, it is easy to put together loops of just about any distance and get lost in the trees for some solitude and skills training.
The races begin early on Saturday morning. All the cool kids do the Chequamegon 40 that begins in Hayward, a massive race through fire roads and single track. The Short and Fat (my race) is smaller race that covers pretty much the last 15 miles of the 40. It is essentially a mad scramble on mountain bikes with equal parts road, a ridiculous section that takes you up and down steep cross-country ski trails, and single track. It doesn’t require much in terms of technical mountain biking skills, but while it may not make many demands on riders’ technical competence it definitely kills any riders who are not ready for the dozens of hills that stack up on each other in the middle section. The race ends at a ski resort, and an afternoon of beer drinking (this is, after all, a Wisconsin race) and socializing awaits all finishers.
Chequamegon is not my favorite race of the season - the course isn’t even in my top five places to ride – but it marks an important part of my cycling year as the last mountain bike race. The following week brings the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross in Madison, and the official beginning of fall cross season. The Short and Fat, which is just over an hour for me, is a nice way to close out the season – a bit more like a party than a race.
Of course, as I write this I realize that I am daydreaming away my entire mountain bike season and anticipating cross a full month and a half before my first mountain bike race! Entering in a lottery will do that to you. So it was nice that when I logged on to my account yesterday morning I got the confirmation that I wanted – an entry into Chequamegon 2012!