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.
Friday of race week
From 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. under the Telemark Big Top Tent at the finish line
Saturday of race week
Day-of bib pickup from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Hayward Primary School gym on the west end of Main Street near the start line in Hayward
Included in your pickup envelope are your:
• Tyvek body number
– Use the safety pins to attach the body number to the lower left side of your jersey.
• Laminated handlebar number with timing tag (chip) attached on the back
– Attach the handlebar number with twist ties for viewing from the front.
– Do not fold your handlebar number because it will deactivate the timing tag.
The timing tag (chip) on your handlebar number is disposable and does not have to be returned. There is no strap or transponder to wear and return.
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:
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.
Virtual course map
Check out our virtual course map — brought to you by Trail Genius — for a complete tour of the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival course including video, GPS data, detailed terrain profiles and other key features to get you ready to rock the race.
> View the virtual course map
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:
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.
More than $30,000 in merchandise awards will be given away during the Festival weekend at the Saturday Awards Ceremony at 4:00 p.m. under the Big Top at the finish line.
A prize package valued at $1,500 including a great Trek bicycle, other great merchandise and a Sara Balbin sculpture will be presented to the men's and women's champions of the Chequamegon 40.
The top 20 men and the top 10 women in the Chequamegon 40 will receive a framed certificate of accomplishment and a merchandise prize for the high-place finish.
Award medallions and merchandise prizes will be awarded to the overall winner and top three places for men and women in each age/competition class. Competition classes include age class divisions, singlespeeds for men/women, fat bike category for men/women, tandem and mixed tandem.
Competition Classes for men & women
• 18 – 24
• 25 – 29
• 30 – 34
• 35 – 39
• 40 – 44
• 45 – 49
• 50 – 54
• 55 – 59
• 60 – 64
• 65 – 69
• 70 – 74
• 75 plus
• Mixed Tandems
• Singlespeeds M/W
• Fat Bike M/W
Each participant will receive a Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival T-shirt.
Rosie’s Field: 2 miles from the start
The Chequamegon 40 riders first hit the dirt in Rosie Martinson’s hay field. Rosie’s Field is a great place to watch as the early drama of the lead riders develops over the irregular, rough-mowed field. If you would like to watch in Rosie’s Field, you must get there before the start of the race and park in the Fish Hatchery Park lot that is accessible from Highway 77 East at Fish Hatchery Road. Please respect the private property easement and do not drive your vehicle into Rosie’s Field. Only authorized race vehicles are allowed access to the field, so please arrive by foot if you plan on watching from this location. Pet owners must hold dog’s leashed at all times for the safety of the riders.
“OO” and Birke Trail: 15.92 miles from the start
Drive north of the start in Hayward on Highway 63. In Seeley, take Cty “OO” east to the American Birkebeiner ski trail crossing. Park on the north side of “OO” in the large lot. You can watch or provide racer support on the north or south side of the trail. Exit the area via Cty “OO” west back to Seeley.
Janet Road & Snowmobile Trail 71: 17.02 miles from the start
Off Cty Hwy “OO” in Seeley, take Janet Road north to the intersection of the race course on Snowmobile Trail 77. Janet Road is marked as 'Road Closed Ahead' and the intersection is closed to vehicle traffic.
Boedecker & Winding Pine Trail: 20.14 miles from the start
Drive north of Seeley on Highway 63 and turn east on Northern Lights Road, the first road north of Seeley on the east side of 63. Proceed 100 yards east to the T intersection with Boedecker Road. Boedecker should be marked with a 'Road Closed Ahead' sign. Turn left onto Boedecker and follow the gravel forest road to Snowmobile Trail 22-Winding Pine Trail intersection. Here you will see the Chequamegon 40 course entering Boedecker from the south, your right, after they ride through Martel’s Pot Hole. The riders will turn right onto Boedecker and ride east to Telemark Road. This is noted by CAMBA land marker S-6 on the north side of Boedecker. Park safely on Boedecker, west of the race course crossing, and please do not drive your vehicle on the race course.
Winding Pine Trail & Birke Trail: 31.35 miles from the start
This spot is noted by the CAMBA land marker S-6 and is accessible if you walk or ride your bicycle north on the Winding Pine Trail. Walk to the intersection with the American Birkebeiner Ski Trail at CAMBA land marker S-7. Personal vehicles are not allowed on this trail. Return via foot or bicycle to your car at Boedecker and proceed to the finish line via Highway 63 and Cty Hwy M in Cable at Telemark Resort.
Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, Inc.
P.O. Box 267
Cable, WI 54821.
13460 Spruce Street
Cable, WI 54821.
Email our media team for athlete interviews, event information and credentials to the event on race weekend.