By Jeremiah Bishop
One of the U.S.’s biggest mass-start mountain bike races, The Chequamegon [say “sha-wa-mu-gun”] Fat Tire Festival has taken place in the north woods of Wisconsin for 32 years. It’s been on my bucket list, so I thought I had better tick it off before The Munga! I made a whirlwind trip of it. Coming straight from Las Vegas mid-week, where I’d been for Interbike, the northern lights and serene lakeside setting in Wisconsin was a big contrast from the neon lights I’d just left behind.
The good news is Munga training is going well, this however takes away the snap required for a race like the Chequamegon 40 miler by teaching fast twitch, type 2 muscles to work more like diesel tank pistons. I scored a solid second-place in a sprint finish to mid west rouleur Brian Matter with a ride time of less than 2 hours. It was a fast race—sketchy and fun—with more than 3,000 racers and a party atmosphere.
A lot of press is coming out about some of the top teams who are entering The Munga, and it looks like some serious competition is mounting. I’m feeling like a colonial American rebel, preparing for the onslaught of the British at Boston. In other words, “Bring that shit!’
Yeah, so what… Olympic gold medalist Sir Bart Brentjins, world class road racer Joroen Boelen; five-time 24-hour Solo World Champion Jason English, and the Canadian freight train Cory Wallace will be tough; and the bike-packing ranger duo of Kurt Refsnider and Jay Petervary might put us all in the sleeper hold. But, no sweat! Right?
But the latest entrants – four-time Cape Epic winner and German tough-man Karl Platt and former world marathon champion Thomas Deitch bring another level of professionalism. Not only are they paid, full-time pros, these guys are on the powerhouse long-distance squad Team Bulls; one of the top teams on earth. Now this is getting interesting. Will The Bulls know how to handle the extreme distance and nighttime component of The Munga? Will Jay P. and Kurt Refsnider be able to handle the speed? Or will they fight over the last bag of Cheetos in the Karroo? Can Wallace and English handle the heat? Or will their million dollar dreams be too much pressure? Brentjins and Boelen will be a big question mark, as super-long is a new challenge for them.
My teammate search is coming along, and I do have some options, but they are unknown entities at the distance and level of The Munga. Perhaps I can team up with a small rhesus monkey: he can ride on my shoulders, feeding me Whoppers and cracking the whip as I churn through the night.
I wish my buddy and former partner at TransAlp and Cape Epic, Chris Eatough of 24-Hour fame, would float down to earth wearing a red cape like Super Man, in peak racing form, leg muscles glistening like tan brown anaconda’s but his current world is filled with full-time work, coaching and kids. He’d need a year of training before he can save the day.
Really though, I have a feeling “The Munga Man” is out there and the only way to find him are a few “Mini Munga’s”: tests of endurance and toughness that I’ve lined up. They are going to be huge adventures in and of themselves. The first will take place in mid-October and the next in November, and I’m really looking forward to these challenges, and the challengers.
I’ll have some very big news to announce shortly, and it could be a Munga game-changer!
Wish me luck and stay tuned!