My goal was to finish…and in one piece. I knew the Chequamegon 40 was going to be hard. I was prepared to suffer. I didn’t give a crap about my time. I seriously just wanted to make it to the finish, alive and without any broken bones.
Here I am at the start looking fresh
I got my first mountain bike last summer. I ride a lot on the road, but still not completely comfortable on technical stuff. Chequamegon isn’t very technical, but there are some tricky spots. So I just went and hoped for the best.
I started in the back, where I belonged.
Everybody is nervous at the rollout. 1800 riders starting at once causes some traffic, but it went smoothly. I hung at the back, gave myself some space and so when I hit Rosie’s field I could get comfortable.
I actually felt pretty good the first 15 miles or so and I was cruising along quite nicely. However, I was having to work hard on the steeper climbs given I was on a 1×9 and didn’t have a true granny gear. Then it happened. My legs cramped at mile 18, quads first, then calves. Seriously, I was so pissed, but the lack of granny gear got the best of me I think. Those last 22 miles were a struggle.
Here is the famed Seeley Firetower climb (I walked):
On the positive side of things, the woods out in Wisconsin were gorgeous and the weather was perfect, mid 50’s, sunny and no wind. But the course is relentless. The hills never stop coming and just when you think you crushed a hill, you get another. Everybody around me was walking at some point, I would climb past a walker, they would climb past me walking. That is what it is like in the back of the pack.
Pretty much any significant hill I encountered over those last 22 would throw my legs into a tizzy. I walked up a lot of frickin’ hills. Throw in some mud and puddles and it made for some interesting stuff. I almost bit it a few times, but was able to stay upright.
But guess what? I finished that sucker. In a blazing 5 hours and 13 minutes. I wasn’t last, but let’s just say they were closing down the post-race donut hole station when I rolled across. I grabbed a beer, talked with some buddies and hit the road for home.
Dave and I at the finish (he finished in 3:38 and had a couple cold ones down already)
I made it in one piece and I can’t wait to try it again next year.
More pics here.