The mud is still clinging to my bike, dirty clothes linger in the truck box and I just pulled a three day old ham and cheese wrap from my Revelate frame bag. Although life goes on and I may not have been able to clean up from the weekend's adventure, I can't stop thinking of what my fellow riders were saying as we rolled into Cable , WI last Sunday; I wish the ride wasn't over!
Last weekend, Fyxation and the Wisconsin Bike Fed hosted the first annual Tour de Chequamegon bike-packing/gravel trip and it was a resounding success. Riders traversed diverse terrain and wove their way through the remote roads and trails of the Chequamegon National Forest on a route that covered over 100 miles. Seasoned off road touring riders and those new to gravel grinding all found something to enjoy on this route.
The Chequamegon National Forest encompasses over 1.5 million acres and supports diverse wildlife, including re-established elk herds, winding gravel roads, epic single track and un-improved two-track trails.
The Tour de Chequamegon is designed as a minimally supported bikepacking trip where riders are expected to carry their camping gear, repair tools, ride fuel and water. Each day started with a group breakfast that we provided that included oatmeal, fruit and plenty of Colectivo coffee so that everyone was fueled up for the ride. Once the riders left camp and hit the trail, Fyxation and the Bike Fed would meet riders each day with mid-ride lunch and to check in on any mechanical issues that may have arose. We were also prepared to do mid-trail repair if needed and had a support vehicle trailing behind to offer any extra assistance.
After the days ride, the group was met at camp where a warm fire, hot food and cold drinks awaited. On the second night of camping, as temperatures dipped into the low 30's, we were joined by a neighboring camper that graced us with acoustic guitar and song, even taking requests!
Dave Schlabowske of the Wisconsin Bike Fed led the ride each day, navigating by GPS on the route scouted earlier in the year. The complete route can be found on ridewithgps.com. Nick Ginster, Fyxation's co-founder, stayed near the back of the pack to make sure all our riders were accounted for and to offer mid-ride technical support, food and water.
Riders were challenged each day with the diverse route that included hard pack gravel roads, two track flooded by recent rains and even a single track section that kept us in the woods and off paved roads.
The bikes on the trip were as diverse as the riders. We had a fat bike contingent, 29+, touring bikes and of course we brought the Fyxation Crusher which was designed with this gravel grinding in mind. The Crusher decked out with Revelate bags and 40c Clement Xplor tires proved to be nimble enough for single track and light enough to keep pace on hard gravel roads.
We would like to thank everyone that participated in the inaugural Tour de Chequamegon and look forward to next year's ride. This year we limited the group to around 20 riders, but next year the plan is to grow the ride but still keep it to a manageable group size. So if you're looking for a great way to get into bikepacking, gravel grinding or just want to enjoy the incredible scenery and fall colors join us in 2017 for another adventure in the north woods! Keep an eye on ridefyxation.com for more details and our full image gallery.