The Hungry Bear 100 and Snacking Bear 60 took place on a gorgeous day last weekend in Cable, Wisconsin. This year, the event was transferred to Seeley Dave and went off beautifully. Chris Schotz did the event and shares his post race recap here.
Words: Chris Schotz
Photos: David Schlabowske
Who doesn’t want another excuse to head up to Cable, the quiet little town with a lot going on?
A Chequamegon gravel race was a new way for us to kick off a weekend that could lead to a singletrack Sunday or Namekagon paddle.
Over 300 of us salivated on the start line like emaciated bears outside River’s Eatery and Tilly’s Pies. Cable was soon abandoned as our rolling population stuck together in a pack numbering 100 for the asphalt opener that was brisk, but never a strain.
The opening miles flew by in a peloton that often stretched ditch to ditch. Everyone stayed attentive, easily able to yield to the two oncoming cars met in the first ten miles. Nobody barged their way to the front. It was time to relax and work together over quiet hills and gentle curves.
The race wouldn’t start until Porcupine Road at mile 11 where a sharp bend to the right led to the first gravel climb where the sorting began.
The next six miles of gently rolling gravel are for finding your pace and the improvised group that could be your company for the next five hours. One of the things I’ve learned to love about gravel races are the unexpected companions that will help pass the time through the surprising countryside.
After the shorter Snacking Bear course split off at mile 16, I found myself trading pulls with Jim and Dieter, a couple gentlemen from across the state that I met for the first time right there on Camp Eight Road.
We were not as brave as one who drank right from the stream at mile 31 on the Morgan Falls Climb. She survived to be the first female finisher, and still had water when we all missed the 50-mile water pump at Beaver Lake Campground.
The courses had merged and taken us south of Highway M when we finally found the syrup fox and his pop-up aid station. He got a hug, and we left refreshed for the logging road segments that were followed by the punchiest ten miles of the route past Rock Lake.
Through wide gravel boulevards and narrow winding lanes the Hungry Bear climbed over 5000 feet before the home stretch up Randysek Road to beer, pizza, and pie. We were hungry and thirsty enough to devour Cable as we sat on the patio furniture like good little bears watching fresh meat roll in from the hills.
The Hungry Bear was stage two of the Iron Bear 1000, a gravel odyssey across the wilds of northern Wisconsin between May and October.