Do you want the long story or the short story?
I raced hard and placed 58th out of 1759 finishers.
Friday after work, I traveled down to Hayward, WI with Dave Grant, hereafter referred to as "DG". After picking up our race packets we stopped in to KFC for the obligatory greasedown. We were greeted at the drive-thru by Susan who was eager satisfy our every culinary desire. Although she forgot DG's coleslaw, we continue to recommend the Hayward KFC.
Lodging was dicey in Hayward, so we settled into a quaint motel room in Spooner. The motel's proprietor was perplexed when we asked what the main attraction was in Spooner. She mentioned that some people come to fish, and others shoot bears.
We retired to our respective beds after last minute bike tune-ups, number plate placements, secret energy drink prep and Ambien only to rise again at 4 am. There was a hint of rain in the air as we drove 30 minutes to the start of the race where we left our bikes in the middle of the street to secure our start position. We were 7 rows back when we arrived at 5 am and heard that to get a front row placement you had to arrive at 4 am.
We caught a couple more hours of sleep back at the hotel and returned to the race start for 8:30. 1800 is a lot of people, and a lot of bikes, as you can here.
You may be able to spot me at about 25 seconds into the video. Consider that my start position is considered very good and that I had to get up at 4 am to secure it!
Anywho, the rain cleared out and made way for blue skies. The temps were high and rising, a drastic change from the 30's and rain racers experienced last year. The rollout was pretty well controlled and not too fast. There was a lot of accelerating and braking, but that's the norm. I saw one dude lock 'em up and fishtail on the pavement. Not good. I pulled a little chicanery myself and bunny hopped up onto the median putting the hammer down and passing at least 100 people in the process. It felt like the right thing to do, but in retrospect, I wouldn't do it again.
The lead group immediately got a gap on the rest of us and was probably a quarter of a mile up the road by the time they reached the dirt. I wasn't going to blow myself up chasing them alone, so I just sat on a tandem and cruised. I tried to keep the pace steady throughout the race, avoided going anaerobic, stayed seated on almost all the climbs and just hung on. Normally I blow up and end up riding most of these races by myself after getting shelled from a group. Not this time. About 1/2 way through the race I put in an effort to pull my group up to a group ahead of us. This group included ladies winner Jenna Rinehart (who beat the tar out of me in the Ore to Shore). I figured if I stayed with her group I'd do alright, so that's what I did. I ended up dropping all but two of our 20+ group on the Firetower Hill climb. From there I rode as hard as I could trying to maintain my position.
Another smaller group came together and we rode it out to the last section of Birkie Trail. I don't remember much of what happened the last few miles, except that as I crested a little hill someone shouted, "it's all downhill from here". I put it in my big gear and ripped it to the finish. I was very pleased with 58th place in my first Chequamegon and hope I earned a preferred start for the next time. The course is very fast and enjoyable to ride, and I think suits my strengths (not climbing).
DG finished 2 minutes behind me and beat his time from last year by 15 minutes! We partook in a beer and kraut-covered brat at the finish line, then jumped in the truck, still covered in dust, to make the 4 hour drive home.
In 10 hours of driving between Marquette and Spooner we didn't see a single deer. This does not bode well for the hunters this season.