MPLS Skyline
MENU

A Visit to Chequmegon Fat Tire Festival HQ

SCROLL DOWN

A Visit to Chequmegon Fat Tire Festival HQ

Race organizer Gary Crandall reflects on past races and champions

It's not all fixies and whip skids over hear, we love bicycle culture in all it's forms, especially when it's local. Here's an article that I wrote for my personal blog, that I thought you might enjoy checking out. Let's dig a little deeper into Midwest MTB history.

While visiting the Chequamegon area of Northern Wisconsin earlier this January, we took the opportunity to stop by the headquarters of the famous Chequemegon Fat Tire Festival. The catalyst for this visit was the discovery of and subsequent urge to document all of the wonderful prints that were given to the finishers during the late 80's and early 90's. That story began hereWe hoped to find the posters and hear their story, however we ended up discovering so much more...

When the formative days of mountain biking are discussed, it's usually the West Coast that gets all the love. However the story of mtb'ing in the Midwest has deep roots as the new past time quickly ingratiated itself to folks who had long been riding whatever bikes they had on the dirt roads and snowmobile trails of their local wilderness. I am super stoked to be able to share a little bit of this history with you.

We met up with Gary Crandall, who has been the race director every year since the inaugural running in 1983, to take a peek at the momentos, souvenirs, and to engross ourselves in the history of this event, which for decades held the distinction of being the largest and one of the most prestigious mountain bike races in the world.

The race itself takes place on the same hallowed terrain as the world renowned American Birkebeiner. As such, its course is very much a throwback to the early days of mtb'ing as it's a double track affair. In the last 15 or so years the race's prestige and place has seemed to dim a bit, although it still manages to pull 2500 racers each year, and is considered a right of passage for riders in these parts. I hope you enjoy this tour through some unique MTB history.

IMG_7839
Outside of the offices in Cable, WI

IMG_7837

IMG_7833
Signs for the famous Seeley Firetower climb, one of the course's signature obstacles sit outside the shed waiting for a bit of maintenance

IMG_7852
The posters that originally drew me to find out more about the race's history

IMG_7845

IMG_7844
Sara Balbin, the artist behind the posters and Gary's partner in life

IMG_7851

IMG_7847
Results from the first running of the event in 1983 won by Jeff Peterson

IMG_7856
The four wheeler lead out has been a calling card of the event for decades

IMG_7859
A prime example of a common memento around the office: a hand drawn card hoped to influence the race organizers to grant entry into the event

IMG_7861
Test prints for event t-shirts

IMG_7863
This one holds a special place in my heart as I'm lucky enough to actually own one of these long sleeve t-shirts

IMG_7870
Gary holding court

IMG_7875
Geno the first winner to hoist the 40lb trophy over their head

IMG_7881
Sara Balbin also made these amazing and iconic trophies

IMG_7887
Jerseys from past winners and supporters of the event

IMG_7883
Lemond looms large as the winner in '90 and '91

IMG_7962

IMG_7891
Gary's nickname is "Fat Man" in case you were wondering

IMG_7892
"Cable Beer & Gear Brigade"

IMG_7898

IMG_7897

IMG_7903

IMG_7915
This photo is from 1983, here Gary points out a rider

IMG_7924

IMG_7930

IMG_7933
These posters are so dang great! Very distinctive style.

IMG_7936

IMG_7938
Doug Kruse who's image pops up over and over again on the race's posters and artwork

IMG_7941

IMG_7942

IMG_7947

IMG_7953

IMG_7960

IMG_7961

IMG_7973

IMG_7981
Poster from year one

Thanks for having us Gary and sharing your stories!

Comments

Leave a comment







Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?
* Get your picture next to your comment with a Gravatar Account.

Recent Posts

Introducing the Classic Jersey and Perennial Bibs!

Some of our very favorite days are new kit days. There's something deeply satisfying about clipping the tags off and sliding into an unsullied pair of new bibs and jersey. Oh the places you'll go together and the goodness of that fresh fluffy chammy! We recently received the shipment of our latest design.
Read More

We are so Stoked that Twin Peaks is Back

But we obviously, can't say nothin' about the new episode since maybe you haven't seen it yet, and we would never do that to you. But this does present a pretty good time to walk down memory lane with the Log Lady video we made last year. Which was released on Twin Peaks day, because, you know. Kismet!
Read More

Solstice Campout 2017

Come join us for the 2nd annual All-City Solstice Ride! Taking place on the longest day of the year, the ride celebrates all that we love about summer in our fair state - cycling, swimming, cold drinks, and friends! We have a group camp reserved at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve campground that boasts plentiful space for tents, hammocks, and open air sleeping.
Read More

Archive