Patterson Places 2nd Against at Chequamegon in a Test Against the Best
September 25th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team OAM Now Multi-Sport Athlete
My second season of mountain bike racing has been a progression of increasing challenges and quite a few surprise wins. After buying my Giant Lust 2 last April, I have been able to climb the ranks of Michigan mountain biking with the help of Alex Vanias’s experience and my fitness from running and triathlon. After a surprise win at Ore to Shore, I decided to make the trip to the Chequemegon Fat Tire Festival in Hayward, Wisconsin for another test against an elite field. Starting in Hayward and ending at Telemark resort in Cable, the Chequemegon 40 is the largest mass start, point to point mountain bike race in the country. The town of Hayward is famous for also hosting the Birkie cross country ski race which I raced this past February. Much of the Cheq 40 is on the wide Birkie trail as well as gravel roads and features a lot of climbing late in the race. With no real technical challenges, Cheq 40 is considered a power race which is consistent with my strengths.
The weather on race morning was perfect and the atmosphere was electric as 2,100 racers convened in downtown Hayward. I was granted a starting spot in the elite start gate and attempted to not be intimidated by the impressive cycling talent surrounding me or the thousands of racers behind me. I navigated the nervous rollout without incident, but I was a bit farther back in the field than I wanted when we hit the dirt at mile three.
The course was more wet and muddy than I anticipated, but I was feeling good and moving up with every climb. I caught several of the female riders I knew would be contenders and by the famous OO road crossing at mile 16, I was neck and neck with five time champion Jenna Rhinehart. I was able to get some feedback from spectators and learned I was in second place about two minutes down on pro rider Chloe Woodruff.
I was riding in a large group of guys, but nobody would help pull the group on the open gravel roads. This was extremely frustrating since I knew Chloe was up the road and nobody would work together. I was happy to arrive at the famous “Fire Tower climb” 11 miles from the finish, and I dropped my group up the rocky steep climb. At that point, I didn’t think I had a chance at catching Chloe, but I wanted to secure my runner-up finish so continued to push every climb solo.
It was an amazing feeling to descend the last hill into Telemark resort and hear the announcement that I was the second female finisher. I was directed to the podium area immediately following the finish where I had a chance to meet and chat with Chloe Woodruff and Jenna Rhinehart, two of my cycling idols. They were both very down to earth and both impressive athletes and people. The experience was surreal and I was thankful I had mechanical-free race and was able to rise to yet another challenge.
The remainder of my fall racing calendar is much closer to home with the northern Michigan staples of Gravel Grinder and Peak to Peak, but the major focus is my goal of a podium finish at Iceman in November. This season has been an amazing ride so far and I’m excited for the weeks to come!
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