Maybe they saw the name and thought, “This is just some crazy guy with a website,” or maybe they knew the race director and thought, “This is going to be way too tough.” Whatever the case, the BURGR 95 Wisconsin gravel grinder had a light turn out again. Named for a notorious homesteader too far gone to be held liable for the carnage, the 95.5 mile course was a steaming concoction with a bit of everything from 29 miles of rolling pavement to three segments better suited for mountain bikes. The majority of the mileage was beautiful fast wilderness gravel through Lincoln, Langlade, and Oneida counties.
Tom Wittman was up from Chicago with his skinny wheels to join four seasoned veterans of years of 12-hour racing: Joel Hynes, Randy Wegener, Rich Lytle, and me. We never intimidated Wittman, and he rode with high spirits as the rocky fire lanes of Langlade County approached, but the washouts of Five Cent Road proved a big disadvantage to his 23c wheels and Lytle went to the front on the mountain bike. As four of us rode the hilly single-lane roads of Oneida County, Wittman rode just minutes behind and survived the mushy mile of Cinder Road before passing too close to his family cabin to move on. The high points of Harrison Hills had been ravaged by June downpours, but the washouts and sandboxes soon gave way to the mile downhill and homestretch.
Hynes again was the strong man who consistently pushed our cross-bike pace-line past 20 mph. He’s made the 12-hour podium in Wausau four years in a row and looks prepared for another high finish. Wegener had a strong day and is ready to get over last year’s sophomore slump in the Wausau 24. He and Lytle were game to turn the weekend into a full-on training camp and followed one of Wisconsin’s toughest days in the saddle with arguably the toughest single-track loop in the state. They followed me on the 19.4 mile grand tour of Underdown singletrack, an undulating course that climbs over 1,700 feet past several lakes and numerous boardwalks. 12 of those miles will host the WEMS Championship race on October 12th
Wegener and Lytle were up for anything I could throw at them, and they’ve built a great springboard for the rest of the season. Underdown training camp will be open again next year.
You can view Garmin data from the 2013 BURGR 95 [HERE]. Please note, there are a few extra miles on the data.
Some BURGR 95 Ride Notes:
- The BURGR 95 is a self-navigated, unsupported, free
race“group ride” through the wilderness dirt roads of Wisconsin’s Lincoln, Langlade, and Oneida counties.
- A cross bike is the best tool for the job. Road bikes will not survive the fire roads. Mountain bikes are fine, but thinner, more cross-like tires would make it better.
- The 95.5 mile route contains 66.6 miles of gravel.
- Like any other training ride, you will be responsible for yourself and should not count on rescue from anyone.
- Ride time will be anywhere from 5 to 7 hours and will not pass through any town… ever.
- A drop bag can be delivered to the 45 mile mark.
- Depending on weather 3 to 4 bottles should be fine, with the same amount in drop bag.
- You will be in bear and wolf territory most of the time (maybe leave the bacon cologne at home).
- Your phone will work most of the time.
- All traffic laws and laws of nature apply (+ don’t be a jerk).
- Cue sheets are handed out at the start, make sure you have a a stem bag with a window, clip board, binder clips, or go gravel ghetto style in the cuff of your shorts.
- An accurate computer is a must (unless you plan on never getting dropped from the group).
If you’re interested in taking part in the 2014 BURGR 95 keep an eye on the Thunderdown In The Underdown Blog for information, dates and RSVP instructions.
Words and photos by Chris Schotz. Look for Chris’ 2013 Trans Iowa recap in XXC Magazine No. 18 due out soon.