Didn’t know what to expect this year for the Chequamegon 40. How would I fair rolling over 40 miles on the fatties? I questioned my conditioning and yet felt good. I really did not know what to expect. Some training rides in August I felt strong while others I felt like my body was trapped in May. I really had no clue as to what to expect. But I did know that they were expecting fast conditions and possible record time.
Friday came and Ayden and I tagged along with Kent and got a ride up to my parents place on the lake. We dropped Ayden off and Grandma and Grandpa’s place and then headed up to the finish in Telemark to ride the last 10 or so miles of the race course. Kent and I rode the course on Labor day and saw first hand the expected fast conditions, but two weeks later and no rain, the course just kept on getting faster. Mud holes were dry and conditions were hard packed and setting up nicely.
Nikole met up with us later in the evening and we went out for dinner at the Sawmill and ran up and grabbed my number and some goodies. Early to bed because I was early to rise.
4:15 am the alarm goes off and I’m off to put Kent’s bike and my bike at the start line. I don’t know how much stock you put into our start position, but after this year I firmly believe in a good start. I arrived at the start at 4:40 am with about 50 or so other bikers. We were told we could not leave our bikes on the street until 5:00 am. So I sat and waited. By 4:55 there were ~150 bikers and by the time I left at 5:05 there were already bikes lined up twenty rows back. This year…Kent and I were three rows back from the preferred start. Hell yea…
Went back home for some more sleep and was back in Hayward at 9:00 am for a warm-up ride. Into the start corral by 9:40 and riding down main street by 10:00 am. This year was really cool because I started so close to the preferred riders that when the rollout started I was immediately mixed in with them. Literally, I was twenty feet from the leaders as we rolled down main street and railroad street. That changed once we hit HWY 77. At the turn the atv gunned it and the pace went from 17 mph to 30 + mph. I was able to hold my own and when we hit Rosie’s field I was still able to see the backs of the leaders. Pretty sweet feeling.
I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to hold the pace. We were hitting hit pretty hard as the pack around me was checking everyone else out and sorting out who was staying and who was dropping. The first Birkie section flew by and Kent and I were working with each. Onto the first gravel road section we got on the wheel of a tandem crew that basically pulled us along, knocking off rider after rider. By the time we hit the second Birkie section leading to HWY OO we had a pretty solid group with each taking a pull or two.
We flew through OO and after a clean water bottle exchange with Nikole we were off again. As we closed in on the Seeley Firetower climb our group would catch some riders and then drop other riders. I was able to keep the pace but was waiting to blow. Kent attacked a mile before fire tower and no one really stayed with him and by the time we hit the base the group had shattered. I rode fire tower in its entirety for the first time and actually passed a few riders. Usually I’m the one being passed. Once over fire tower a small group formed and we began our work for the last ten miles. In this group was this WOMAN! She ended third place overall for the females. It was pretty sweet working with her and maybe helping her a bit as well.
We hit the last Birkie section, which might I add is the most difficult part of the course. I climbed, climbed, and climbed some more, descended some, but seemed to climb more. Our group didn’t stay together throughout the Birkie section and by the time we dumped back out onto Randysak rd it was just me and three others. We cruised along picking off more riders. By the time we hit Telemark road our group grew a bit and along come DOUG. He had mechanical problems early on by eventually came through. We jumped onto his wheel and he essentially pulled us to the finish.
It’s a good feeling to cross the line and better your time from the year before. I actually knocked nine minutes off my time and cracked the 2:30:00 mark. I knew I had a great ride going but If you would have asked me on Friday that I was going to crack the top 160 I would have been excited. So…yea…I’m happy with race and feel great that I left everything on the trail. Problem is that I am not that kind of person. I tend to become bummed with my finish. As Tilford says – “It is funny how your expectations and outcome differ.” I do think, however, that my new 29er had something to do with my ride. Seriously, THIS thing rocked…or at least made me LOOK FAST.
Its been fun, to say the least, to travel and race as a family now. Nikole and I are getting the hang of traveling, cheering, and sticking to the nap time pretty well. Its a challenge but we enjoy it. As long as Ayden is in his Kelty backpack he is ready to watch any race. he is only eight months and yet he hasn’t missed a race yet.
Off to hike with the dogs.