Update: We have created a slick website for this event here at the link below. You can find all this information with a slick presentation here: http://www.ridefyxation.com/
Look at the map of bikepacking routes on the popular bikepacking.com website and a midwesterner can’t help but feel ignored. Fyxation Bicycle Company and the Wisconsin Bike Fed aim to change that. Our inaugural Tour de Chequamegon Bikepacking Weekend, October 6th-9th, will finally and literally put midwestern bikepacking on the map!
Take a look at this screen capture of the empty midwest in the map page from bikepacking.com. Where are all the pins? We have hundreds of miles of great gravel! Hopefully we can drop a pin on northern Wisconsin after this trip is in the books.
Before we get into the details of the trip and how you can sign up, a little background for those unfamiliar with the term bikepacking. It is believed to have been coined by by Dan Burden in his 1973 National Geographic article, “Bikepacking Across Alaska and Canada.” While there is really no official definition, these days bikepacking tends to imply bicycle off-road touring, mostly on gravel or dirt surfaces, using bags that do not require racks like traditional panniers.
The new style bags are used to reduce weight, but more importantly to allow the use of mountain bikes (even full suspension), cyclocross bikes and gravel road bikes that often do not have braze-ons for traditional racks and panniers. The new seat bags, handlebar bags, frame bags and top tube bags are also designed to jiggle less than panniers so bikes are more stable riding off-road and on mountain bike trails. I use the Relevate Designs bags, including their Tangle frame bag, Gas Tank top tube bag, (totally love this one), Sweetroll handlebar bag, and Terrapin seat bag. (Note: I purchase all my bags at full retail. I am not sponsored by Relevate, I just like their stuff)
Perhaps the most famous modern bikepacking route is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route developed by Adventure Cycling in 1997. About 90% of the GDMBR is on unpaved roads and mountain bike trails and there is an annual race along the route. Beginning in Banff, Canada the GDMBR follows the Continental Divide down 2,700 miles south to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Since Dan Burden was one of the founders of Adventure Cycling, it is only fitting that Adventure Cycling continues to be integrally tied to bikepacking.
While our Tour de Chequamegon might not be quite as impressive as racing the GDMBR, we think everyone who joins us will be challenged by our route and have a great time. For our first year, we decided to keep our daily distances below 50 miles so we have time to bookend some socializing into the mornings and evenings at camp and enjoy the beautiful fall colors in the Northwoods.
Below is our route for the inaugural Tour de Chequamegon. You download the route and cue sheet by clicking on the “View Full Route” link:
Day Zero: Thursday, Oct. 6th– Optional pre-ride gathering and dinner at the Sawmill Saloon in Seeley. Riders can stay overnight at the cool Lenroot Lodge next door so they are fresh and ready to roll by 9am on Friday morning. The cost of lodging and dinner are not included in the trip. You must call the Lenroot Lodge at (715) 634-7007 for reservations. If it fills up (space is limited) you can always stay in nearby Hayward.
Day One: Friday, Oct. 7th– Ride leaves at 10:00 AM from the Brick House Cafe in Cable. (Cost not included with registration, so bring cash or credit card) Leave cars parked in the public lot at 43301 Randysek Road, behind the Brick House. Ride to Moose Lake Campground, about 32 miles.
Day Two: Saturday, Oct. 8th– Ride from Moose Lake Campground to East Twin Lake Campground, about 42 miles.
Day Three: Sunday, Oct. 9th– Ride from Twin Lake Campground back to Cable for a finish party at The Rivers Eatery, about about 37 miles. Note that the cost of your food and beverages at the Rivers Eatery is not included with registration.
The Route and daily mileage:
Note the daily mileage is not very long, but with the hills and soft gravel, it is still a good ride. We did that intentionally so we can sleep in a bit, ride at a conversational pace and have plenty of time stop along the route for photos and relax next to the lakes when you get to the campgrounds. Of course if you want to crush it, there are hundreds of miles of gravel forest roads in every direction, so feel free to go explore and get some extra miles in. Everyone is expected to carry their own water, tent, sleeping gear, clothing, and incidentals, but you don’t have to bring food. All food and beverages will are included in the price.
We hope everyone will stick together in a group and we will lead the ride at a conversational pace. People should however bring the route on a GPS, Garmin, Phone App like RideWithGPS, etc. You can also draw the map on paper, use the RideWithGPS cue sheet and follow mileage on a cycle computer to know when to make turns. Be aware there is no electricity, so your phone or Garmin must last the entire trip. I use a Shutter Precision hub dynamo and Bush + Müller Luxo U dynamo powered light that will also keep my phone charged. I then have the route downloaded to my phone from RideWithGPS because their is no cell coverage for much of the route.
What bike should I bring?
On our very rainy recon trip to scout the route (read soft gravel), I rode a Fyxation Crusher carbon gravel bike with 36mm tubeless tires at 48psi and loved it. You can find a more detailed description of my prototype bike and personal build on ridinggravel.com. Since that review I have swapped the front wheel for a Stan’s Notubes Crest Mk3 built around a Shutter Precision PD-8X-M dynamo hub with 12mm thru-axles and Mequon-made Wheelsmith spokes (natch). That powers a Bush + Müller Luxos U dynamo light and usb charger (from Peter White Cycles). Steve took the new Fyxation Quiver Disc with 40mm tires run at a similar pressure.
Seriously though, bring any bike of any brand you have that rolls well on soft gravel. You can bring a cross bike, hybrid, mountain bike, fat bike, touring bike, etc.
What gear should I pack on my bike?
Google bikepacking gear list for three days and you will find plenty of different suggestions. Below you can see what I typically bring, but you don’t need to bring a cook stove, kitchen kit or coffee making stuff. Fyxation will handle all that. I typically just ride in Swrve Knickers and Ex Officio boxer briefs, but I also bring a kit to change into if I want. For our reconnaissance trip for this route, I brought a Borah Teamwear complete Spring Classics Series Cow of Wisconsin kit, including bib shorts, long-sleeve wool jersey, short sleeve jersey, long sleeve OTW midweight jacket; Marmot Precip rain jacket with hood, a pair of cycling tights, lightweight pants for around camp (I pack Club Ride jeans) a couple pair of socks, very small and lightweight tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag (choice varies depending on weather forecast), bike pump, extra tubes, multi-tool, pocket knife (only if cooking since tool has a small knife), toiletries, helmet, camp towel, three water bottles and a small flask of good rye whiskey.
What about food?
You do not have to bring food for the camping trip as breakfast, lunch and dinner on the ride are included. When you register, please select any food preferences for vegetarian, vegan or gluten free. Each afternoon, the crew from Fyxation will arrive at our campgrounds ahead of us with cold beverages and hot meals, so you only need to carry your fuel for the day’s ride. In the morning Fyxation will provide camp breakfast and something for you to take with you on your ride for lunch. The Bike Fed will bring a supply of hydration mix and Bonk Breaker bars too.
What will the camp culture be?
Fyxation will have demo bikes to try as well as cool raffle items to give away. We are hoping to round up a couple local speakers to share some wisdom about the forest with us while we sit around the campfire. We will have some craft beer and other non-alcoholic beverages, but this is NOT a raging party with bike jumping through the fire. Feel free to bring a book or go hike or ride a Fyxation demo bike and explore a bit.
We are trying to keep the cost down but still cover some of our expenses this year, so the inaugural ride will only be $100. As a reference, the Salsa Ride Camp weekend is $175. Next year we will probably charge $140 for Bike Fed members and $175 for non-members and include a membership with the fee, but this first trip everyone gets a deal. Spots on this first trip will be very limited, so sign up ASAP if you are interested. You don’t have to be a Bike Fed member to do the trip this first year, but why wouldn’t you want to be one anyway?
When you register, we will ask for food preferences and a very general question about what size bike you ride so Fyxation has a better idea of what demo bikes to bring along.