Last weekend the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) and the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) partnered to host the Epic Bike Fest in Hayward/Cable, WI.
In February I saw an announcement from the Birkie group, sharing that they would be taking over the former Borah Epic.
The Epic was founded in 2013 with the intent of hosting an unforgettable mountain bike race on the CAMBA singletrack trails between Cable and Hayward, Wisconsin. Over the years, net proceeds from the event have provided more than $160,000 to CAMBA. As the new owners of the Epic Bike Fest, the ABSF has made a long-term commitment to provide annual donations and other fundraising opportunities for CAMBA during the weekend event.
I had previously competed in the Full Epic, racing full gas, and most recently in the Half Epic, with my wife and our son, as well as my brother-in-law. We all signed up again, with my brother-in-law also taking on the challenge for the Epic Gravel event as well.
As we discovered last year, the Half Singletrack event is not for the novice mountain biker. The distance is shorter, but the terrain is quite possibly more challenging. My son is just entering middle school and found the technical sections passable, but at a slower speed. We all enjoyed a bit of suffering together!
I’m also happy to report that some things didn’t change; and that’s a good thing. The parking, bib pickup, start and finish lines were…epic, as always. There were some tweaks to the finish line, and they were all fun. And if you haven’t been to an event in CAMBA land, please note – you need to finish with a pizza and pie from the River’s Eatery and Tilly’s Pies. Even with my gluten aversion I was able to get both, and that’s a win in my book!
We all relaxed around a fire on the lake that evening, as my brother-in-law readied his mountain bike for the gravel event. He had checked out some sections of the new reroute due to wet trails, and decided it was the right choice. And was he glad he did! At the risk of being redundant, he had an epic time, and finished in 5th place despite breaking his chain early on.
Meanwhile, my wife and I took the kids to the Cable bike park and we all practiced our skills. Afterward, munching on fresh baked goods from Velo Cafe, we drove down to the new-ish Hospital Trails in Hayward and did a family ride. It was the perfect cap to a great weekend. We all had fun in different ways! I plan to come back next year and chase a belt buckle for the new E2PIC, given to those who finish within 20% of the leader’s time each day.