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Over 3,000 bikers to race in the 31st annual Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

More than 3,000 mountain bike riders will flock to Hayward, Cable and the trails in between this weekend for the 31st annual Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.

Fat Tire Festival
The 31st Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival takes place this weekend. (Courtesy Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival)

More than 3,000 mountain bike riders will flock to Hayward, Cable and the trails in between this weekend for the 31st annual Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.

The two main events begin simultaneously at 10 a.m. Saturday: The Chequamegon 40, from Main Street in Hayward; and the Short and Fat 16-mile race, from downtown Cable. They're unique among mountain bike races, both for being mass start events and for being point-to-point as opposed to circuit races.

A sold-out field of 2,100 riders is expected for this year's Chequamegon 40, race officials said. Another 1,000 riders are slated to compete in the Short and Fat race.

After Saturday's big races, the festival continues on Sunday morning with some more colorful events at Telemark, aimed at riders of all ages and abilities. There's a race that combines mountain biking and orienteering, and a circuit race with obstacles tossed in.

And then there are events like the bicycle toss, bicycle limbo and bicycle bowling -- instead of walking up to the lane to toss a bowling ball, participants will ride with bowling ball in hand, and must be sure not to cross the foul line before they let the ball roll.

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Among the top riders in this year's 40-mile race are four-time men's champion Brian Matter of Sheboygan, Wis., who is seeking his unprecedented fifth overall title; he finished third last year. Former champions Jeff Hall of Burnsville, Minn., and Steve Tilford of Topeka, Kan., also are slated to compete.

Last year's women's champion, Jenna Rinehart of Mankato, Minn., will be back to seek her fifth title; she also won in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Sara Kylander-Johnson of Duluth, the 2006 women's champion in the long race, also is taking part.

For more information on the festival, go to www.cheqfattire.com .

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