Saturday, September 26, 2015

Chequamagon 40 Fat Tire Festival

Chequamegon 40 is always one of my favorite race weekends of the year.  Not sure what it is about Hayward/Cable area, but it seems to have grabbed my heart over the past few years of mountain biking.  Last weekend was no different. 

 
Tom was in Vegas for Interbike the week prior and didn't land in MSP until just before 5pm on Friday.  As a result we + Dolan had a late trek out of town, but this was OK since I am always trying to hoard the work vacation and heck we still arrived in time to take down some pizza at the Saw Mill. 

Thanks to our friend Vince we had some posh accommodations near OO.  In true April fashion we also had some midnight pre-race shenanigans which involved me dumping my entire recovery drink's worth of powder all over my suitcase and then trying to shake it all off out the sliding glass door (while it was raining)....and then a couple nasty frogs jumped in the cabin...GROSS! Naturally I screamed and begged Tom to get out of bed and take control of the situation. 

 
After that things seemed quite relaxing and uneventful on race morning.  We all checked in early and I got a stellar warm-up in....I was feeling great and hopeful that I might be able to nab a top 10 spot in what appeared to be one of the most competitive women's fields in awhile, complete with top XC pros Chloe Woodruff (national champion!) and Evelyn Dong. It's cool to see Cheq 40,  get some national attention - it deserves it.

I was lucky to line up next to Rebecca Sauber at the start and I'm pretty sure at this point we we're talking about how she carries lipstick in her jersey pocket. Rebecca has great competitive energy and I hope I can start more races next to her!  


Finally we were off as a pack of nearly 2000 carefully making our way through the streets of Hayward.  I can never remember these turns by heart but i seemed to hold my own and happily sitting on the wheel of Jorden Wakely for most of the roll out, until we took the infamous turn onto Hwy 77 and the 4 wheelers take off!  Suddenly it becomes a smashfest and an important part of the race in terms of holding your spot.  It's always a gongshow when we take the left turn down the ditch to Rosie's field.  I made sure to be in the right gear however there is always some kind of mess.  This year there was a slow motion crash that took a few riders down in front of me (I think Abby and maybe one other gal).  I managed to stay up right but had to dismount and run my way up to Rosies with the rest of the folks around me.  Not the best way to start the race, but not the worst either.


Photo Credit: Kelly Randolph
After that the beginning of the race is mostly a blur of tortuous punchy hill after punchy hill.  Outside of the Fat Bike Birkie I can't think of many other races that start out so brutally.  I'm always gasping for air and wondering "when in the heck is this going to flatten out?"  I wasn't exactly sure what place I was in (maybe 8th through 10th?) but I knew i was in pretty good company right around Jen, Abby and Corey.  I'd say things were going just okay until all the sudden I shifted up a climb and heard a "Snap!" At first I thought I broke my chain and then I heard that dreaded spoke noise.  "Ah hell!" I thought not again.  This time I actually  had a spoke wrench on me even though I had no idea how to use it :)  I set my bike down and felt around only to find that all the spokes were in tact!!! What on earth?  Oh well...GAME ON!  I was pleased to not have had my race ruined however slightly bummed about having to stop briefly - but like most races these small crashes or mechanical issues happen to a lot of people so I didn't let it bug me too much. 
 
Photo Credit: Kelly Randolph
The rest of the race flew by quickly and I seemed to feel better and better as the miles ticked by. I grabbed a bottle from Tom and OO and then felt surprisingly AMAZETOWN! on the climb up Fire Tower . I was  jacked to see my favs Hollywood and Kristy Kreme at the top with a Coke hand up!! Nothing...i mean NOTHING beats a Coke hand-up (thanks guys!).  I also could not believe how many people were on the course and how many cheers I heard through OO, up Fire Tower and then heading to the finish line!  I LOVE ALL OF YOU!!! and although I didn't have my best legs on the bike I still had the biggest smile on my face!  Only 358 days until next year!!!

Smiles + Vince was top 10 fat bikes!
Congrats to Vince and Dolan on amazing fat bike finishes and congrats to the rest of my racing friends and to all you fast ladies for killing it out there!  Huge thanks to Vince (and his wife Jen) for the hospitality. Thanks to SRAM, iSSi and Tonka Cycle and Ski for your support this MTB season. 

Now I've gotta hustle up and get my bike ready for Metal Cross....it's a beautiful day!! Psyched for some snot flying suffering and hoping these agony intervals I've been doing will pay off soon!

Meanwhile these photos pretty much sum up the awesomeness that was this past week. I'm feeling super grateful for 9 years!!! + I becoming an Aunt again + having amazing sponsors that I appreciate so very much! and yeah....you should get a fat bike, the end.



45NRTH introduces the Wølfgar!


That's Amelia!
Hot Pink Onyx hubs?! You're so spoiled right meow.
 

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