Each year 2,100 participants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis to take part in this challenging, 40-mile fat tire event that takes place on Saturday of the Festival weekend. While a few compete for the chance to be called champion, it is the citizen class athletes who are in it for the adventure and personal challenge inherent in the sport that make up the bulk of the race field.
The Chequamegon 40 begins travels from downtown Hayward, WI over the famed American Birkebeiner Ski Trail, forest roads, snowmobile trails and other wooded paths in Sawyer and Bayfield counties to the finish line at Telemark Resort in Cable, WI.
The large field size dictates that the race course have a carrying capacity suitable for the masses. Characterized as a power course, the linear nature favors the fittest and not necessarily the most technically accomplished rider. This is not to say it’s an easy 40 miles by any stretch of the imagination. The race course is long and fast, and the never ending profile fluctuations wears down even the fittest participants.
The iconic Chequamegon rollout from the start line defines one of the longest running, largest off-road events in the sport and presents racers with an unmatched beginning to their off-road adventure. For the safety of all riders, please follow these rollout safety tips:
Ride in control at all times
Hold a steady and secure position until you hit the dirt
Move with caution, each move you make in a mass start rollout impacts fellow riders
Do not try to jump ahead of riders in the rollout
Never leave the pavement
Be aware of changing positions and paces of fellow riders
Call out to others and announce your intentions when noticing a change of pace, hidden hazard or any other pack dynamic that may impact the group
Main Street Hayward: Chequamegon 40 start
The mass start of the Chequamegon 40 is spectacle unmatched in the sport. The pre-race anticipation reaches a pinnacle when the black powder cannon is fired. As the rollout heads down Hayward’s Main Street, the hum of the wheels, cheers of the crowd and shifting of gears energizes the parade start. The tempo is controlled down Main Street as the riders pass the large crowd of spectators lining both sides of the street.
Rolling down Hayward's Main Street
A left onto Railroad Street and then another right onto Highway 77 are negotiated by the anxious race field. Once on the highway, the tempo is increased as the peloton heads east on Highway 77 to Fish Hatchery Road. It is here that the riders hit the dirt and connect with the southern end of the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski trail. Following a tricky off-camber transition from the pavement into Rosie’s Field, the race is on as the fat-tired flyers make their way north to the finish line.
Rosie's Field: The race is on
Over the miles the off-road drama is played out one rider at a time as mind, muscles and two-wheeled machines roll up and over the unforgiving race course profile. The race-day logistics of a 40-mile, point-to-point course are significant. Aid stations, course control monitors, emergency medical staff, and evacuation vehicles for the drops and spectators are scattered from start to finish.
Seeley Fire Tower climb
A pivotal point in the race comes at the Seeley Fire Tower climb at 11.5 miles from the finish. Following the climb the elevation gained is lost again and the climb back to the high point on the Birkie Trail at seven miles from the finish presents yet another knockout punch.
The final approach to the finish line is rewarded with a long-distance ski hill vista at Telemark Resort. Augmented by the sounds of music, the roar of the crowd and the fragrance of Wisconsin’s favorite grilled bratwurst, riders complete their long journey through Wisconsin’s North woods.
START GATE PLACEMENT INFORMATION
There are seven start gates in the Chequamegon 40.
Individual rider start gates are automatically assigned using historic finish time criteria loaded into the registration database. For the Chequamegon 40 assignments, automatic gate assignments, for riders having recent Chequamegon race history, will be made using the best of either 2015 or 2016 Chequamegon 40 times.
At the time of your application, everyone had the opportunity to request a preferred gate and provide, past results, a short race resume or other criteria to be considered in assigning a start gate.
Riders who do not have past Chequamegon event results and who did not provide a race resume for consideration will by default be placed in the last start gate.
The decision of the race officials is final. After you receive your start gate confirmation email up until September 1, you may request a gate review via our online race change portal at https://register.chronotrack.com/r/24782
In any gate assignment or reconsideration, the decision of the race officials is final.
Start gate time splits for the Chequamegon 40
• Start Gate 1: Race time less than 2:17:00
• Start Gate 2: Race time greater than or equal to 2:17:00 and less than 2:32:00
• Start Gate 3: Race time greater than or equal to 2:32:00 and less than 2:47:00
• Start Gate 4: Race time greater than or equal to 2:47:00 and less than 3:02:00
• Start Gate 5: Race time greater than or equal to 3:02:00 and less than 3:17:00
• Start Gate 6: Race time greater than or equal to 3:17:00 and less than 3:32:00
• Start Gate 7: Race time greater than or equal to 3:32:00
Placement in gates
Each participant’s start gate will be indicated on both their Tyvek body number and laminated handlebar number provided at bib pickup. You may not enter start gates with a lower number, however, you may enter a start gate with a higher number. Loading in assigned gates is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please show up early to load into your gate for best placement and to ensure you will get in your gate.
Your race time is calculated using a 10:00 a.m. gun start time. Your finish time will be determined by when your race number with transponder cross the finish line.
Important start gate protocol
Past year’s improvements in start gate layout and procedures have lessened race morning confusion on both the Chequamegon 40 and Short & Fat start lines. Prior to race morning, each participant is assigned a specific start gate. That gate assignment is printed on both the Tyvek body number and laminated handlebar number. At the start lines, the seven Chequamegon 40 gates and six Short & Fat start gates are clearly marked at the respective start lines.
Permission is granted from the City of Hayward and Town of Cable to close down Main Street for the Chequamegon 40 and Randysek Road for the Short & Fat events at 6 a.m. It is important that you do not lay down your bike on the streets in your start gate before the street closing officially goes into effect.
In both Hayward and Cable the start lines are in close proximity to fire departments and ambulance services. These essential services must be able to access their service areas via the customary roads. Since the official closures do not go into effect until 6 a.m., early morning local traffic is also inconvenienced with early bike lay downs.
Those arriving before the official street closing time can line up adjacent to their assigned start gate. At 6 a.m. riders can move their bikes into their assigned start gates and take a position on the street. At his discretion the start line chief may allow earlier line up. Prior to the gates opening, riders should line up with their bikes on the grassy areas adjacent to their start gate. Once open, access to the designated start gates will be allowed by specific race number only. Priority in each gate is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
We ask that all riders maintain order, be courteous and line up safely at the start lines. Rider entrance to each gate is via the clearly marked entrance at the back of the start gate. Do not climb over the sideline fencing. Help us maintain our valued municipal permissions by observing the posted bike lay down times and locations.
Ghost bikes at the start line
In Chequamegon start-line operations, the term “ghost bikes” refers to unattended placeholder bikes in the start line area. These ghost bikes fall into two basic categories: bikes WITHOUT RACE NUMBERS attached to them, and bikes WITH RACE NUMBERS attached. In either case, ghost bikes belong to registered participants who plan on returning to them just prior to the start.
Ghost bikes are left at the start line for a variety of reasons; while their riders are warming up, standing in the portable toilet line or perhaps having just one more cup of coffee before the start. In all cases the assumption is that riders have every intention of returning to the start line to claim or replace their ghost bikes just prior to the start.
As the start time approaches, if the owner does not return in a timely fashion, ghost bikes become a problem. For the safety of those in the start line up, please note our removal policy as it relates to ghost bikes:
All ghost bikes without race numbers must be removed by their owners and replaced with race bikes with race numbers no later than 9:30 a.m.
All ghost bikes with a race number must be attended by the rider no later than 9:45 a.m. Ghost bikes without riders will be removed from the start line promptly at 9:45 a.m.
At those specific times, the event’s Bandit Patrol volunteers will remove ghost bikes from the start area and place them in the marked impoundment area immediately adjacent to the start line. With this in mind, please plan your last-minute needs accordingly.
Riders who have their bikes removed from the start line will lose their start position and be required to re-enter their start gate at the back of the lineup. If you value your start line position, be sure you are with your race bikes by the posted times. The Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival is not responsible for bikes left unattended in the start gate area or bikes that have been removed from the start gate area.
Notification and request for reconsideration
Once start gate assignments have been made and you have been notified via confirmation email, you may request a further review for reassignment to another gate. The first group of gate assignment emails will be sent to all registered riders by June 1. Following that, those who registered late with guaranteed entries will receive start gate assignment emails over the summer at regular intervals prior to September 1.
New in 2016, requests for additional start gate review can be made online HERE prior to September 1. All gate reconsideration requests will incur a nonrefundable $10 fee, payable online. The decision of the race officials is final. After September 1, no further start gate reconsiderations will be made. If you have any questions about start gate assignments please email email@example.com.
Each participant’s start gate will be indicated on both their Tyvek body number and laminated handlebar number provided at bib pick up. Position within each of the assigned gates is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Bicycles left unattended in the start gates must have a valid race handlebar number attached to them by 9:30 a.m. and must be accompanied by their registered rider by 9:45 a.m. If you fail to meet these requirements your bike will be removed from the gate and placed in the bicycle impound area adjacent to the start line by the Bandit Patrol.