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Offroad Weapons Ready to Roll!
The 2016 Chequamegon 2016 edition was a return to the Northern Wisconsin forest. This marks the 31st year of the trek to Hayward for us. My first Chequamegon race was 1985, the 3rd annual Chequamegon Festival. My racing the Chequamegon lasted till 1993, 8 years... The following year 1994 Jeff raced at the World Mountain Bike Championships in Vail, Colorado, placing 18th as a Junior. From then on I assumed the roll of Team Manager/Driver/ Travel Coordinator/Athlete Trainer/Moto Rider. For many years the moto was an important training tool. Jeff and I used Motor-pacing with my moto about once a week, the single best training tool we used over the years.
It was and still is the roll I enjoy. Really a team effort now with Jeff having his Family and working full time. I still do most of the driving and manage the loose ends. It is, each week creating a game plan. Don't stress the minor stuff, we both know how to travel and be ready to rock and roll when the start gun goes off.
This is it. The moto is gassed up for the trip on the forest roads to stay ahead of the racers and hand up bottles. Every year Gary issues feed passes to any of the top racers support crews.
Jeff heading to the line 12 minutes before the start as I wish him a good race and the police escort lines up for the lead out of Hayward.
Mr. Chequamegon, Gary Crandall...all smiles as the 34th Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 Mile Festival is ready to roll out of Hayward and finish at Telmark. The top riders will average between 19 and 20 mph for the 40 miles of offroad mountain biking.
The roll-out is about 3 miles of pavement to Rosies Field, then the race is on, all offroad till the finish. The riders are reaching speeds of 35 mph which helps to string out the 2100 riders.The top 10 finishing riders are in the front group as they enter the dirt.
Cory Stelljes, Jeff Hall, Brian Matter, Tristan Schouten, Jesse LaLonde, Samuel Elsen, Michael Olheiser, David Flaten and Mark LaLonde are at the front on the roll-out...they will be the players at the front in a select group of about 16 riders till OO, 16 miles into the race.
As Jeff Hall pushed the pace and strung out the group down Janet Rd, down a short section of snowmobile trail down Martel's Pothole.
The group was whittled down to about 9 riders by the time the lead group hit Boedecker Rd. Once again with Jeff pushing the pace in the front. Single file and roaring down the forest road!
Meanwhile I'm rocking the backroads myself. Having pre-rode the backroads the day before, I knew what to expect. The race was moving right along, having rode motos at Chequamegon since the year 2001 I know the routine.
Back to the racers... The pack stayed together through Lake Helane Rd. and it was a sprint to Fire Tower Hill. Cory Stelljes was on a mission this day, he was the first rider over the Fire Tower Climb, just like last year when Jeff was out front up and over the Fire Tower. After that it is an 11 mile sprint to the finish. Jeff was the 2nd rider up and over the Fire Tower after Cory, he was chasing as hard as he could go, pulling the pack which was now down to the select 7 riders. I saw them and Cory only had a 7 second lead about a mile after Fire Tower. When I next see them it is with 6 miles left and Cory had a 30 second lead with Jeff again at the front of the chase group. I want to say that I am saying that Jeff was at the front at these different points in the race. I know a couple other riders did their share of work at the front... just telling it as I saw it the 7 times that I see the riders on the course. When I saw that Cory had gapped the pack I was sure he would not be caught this day with 6 miles left.
A Cliff Bar and a can of Rock Star for me along the course and I'm good ta go. Gotta fuel the Manager, don't ya know... haha! Good times!
They were flying down Camp 38 Rd., hit the short section of Telemark Rd. and Timber Trail. It started to string out a bit and at the finish the top 7 riders were all with-in 1 minute and 3 seconds.
#1 Cory Stelljes / Brian Matter / Michael Olheiser / Samuel Elison / Jesse LaLonde / Tristan Schouten / Jeff Hall / David Flaten / David Lombardo / Mark LaLonde rounded out the top 10.
Jr. gave it all he had... 7th. Fast Men out there today.
Family...They were there for the ride.
Throw back picture from 2003 with Owen at his first Chequamegon, 1 month old with Weez and Big John looking on. Kinda a family tradition ya might say. 13 years ago.
The Owner...JP LaMere racing his Namesake LAMERE Cycle full suspension 29er. Jeff raced a 29er rigid on this day. I'm running a Yamaha WR450F with a Baja Design street kit, that has plenty of gitty-up and go.
The Kid taking Grandpa's Fat Bike for a ride to wrap up a good day on the trails! Next stop downtown Hayward for much deserved burger and cold beverage!