This past weekend was the first annual Chequamegon 100 bike race.
The race started in Seeley, WI and covered most of the 4 major trails of the CAMBA systems in Hayward, Cable, Rock Lake and Namakagon. Of the 100 total miles, roughly 75-80% was single track. In general a 100 mile mountain bike race is challenging enough. But the directors of Cheq 100 were not satisfied with amount of suffering the course alone presented, so they added another challenge. The race was a self-supported race, meaning there were no aid stations and riders were not allowed to take help other individuals. In other words, “we were on our own”.
I arrived at the Angry Minnow in Seeley around 7:00am with my race companion and good friend Mike Schroden. Once we arrived we grabbed our queue sheets (detailed course directions for the race) and started getting our gear ready. At 7:30 after a short race brief from the directors the riders started rolling out. For the first 20 miles the pace was way faster than I anticipated. Maybe it was because it was early, but I didn’t want to be going that fast that early in a long 100 race.
Eventually the pace settled down and I was in the first chase group of about 7 people. Our group rode together for another 20 until we got turned around and started riding the same stretch of single track back and forth 2 or 3 times. At this point another group of riders caught up with us and we all navigated the remaining 15 miles of single track together until we got to mile 55, the one and only check point where we had our drop bags of food, water, and other pre-packed supplies (ie. Chamois Crème) waiting for us.
The stop was very short and little by little smaller groups started heading back on the course. I was off my bike for about 10 minutes to refuel then Mike, and I took off with one or two other riders. Not more than 5 miles into the single track we took another wrong turn and ran into Heath, a lone LCR rider, who was heading back towards us on the wrong trail. Eventually Heath, Mike and I split from our group and finished the rest of the course together. We didn’t know how many riders were ahead or behind us, we just rode a good pace, stopped at every questionable intersection, and reassured ourselves we were on the right track.
As luck had it, we got lost less and had fewer mechanicals than most of those who left the checkpoint ahead of us. Heath, Mike and I crossed the finish line together just after 5pm. 10 hours of pure single track bliss and a three-way tie for 3rd. The Cheq 100 was an awesome event. I can wait to see what this race evolves into next year.