The Seeley Big Fat Race is a Wisconsin Fatbike Race coming up on January 21, 2023. This year's race sees a new location at the Hatchery Creek Trails due to logging around the Seeley Hills. Check out the history of the event and how it supports trail grooming in the beautiful Chequamegon area.
To learn more about the Seeley Big Fat Race or register, visit their race website.
Interview with Jerry Wright
How long has the Seeley Big Fat Race been around and how did it get started?
The Seeley Big Fat was first run on January 29, 2017. The name is a play on an old Seeley Big Foot spoof. From the beginning, the goal was to put all of the entry fees collected into winter trail grooming, and I am happy to report that we have made that goal each year thanks to our generous sponsors.
This is a fundraiser for CAMBA. How many miles of singletrack do you groom and how much work does it take to keep the Cheq area a fatbike heaven?
We typically groom 50 to 70 miles of trail each year. The trails being groomed change from time to time due to logging and other activities. Groomed trails include some singletrack as well as some winter only sections that are not good for summer riding.
In fact, this year our race course is impacted by logging and we have a change in venue. The Seeley Big Fat Race will be held on the Hatchery Creek Trails for 2023 only and then back to Seeley Hills.
CAMBA owns 3 snowmobiles and one Rokon motorcycle for grooming, plus about a dozen drags for various snow and trail conditions. We also employ one private contractor who uses his own equipment for the Seeley Hills trail system, and Mt. AshWaBay provides the equipment for that trail system. We typically keep one sled in Hayward for the two trail systems there; one sled at Hwy OO for those trails, and one at Cable for the Cable area trails. The Rokon gets used mostly on technical single track during low snow conditions that make snowmobile operation unsafe for the machine, the trail and the operator.
In addition to the private contractor, we typically have 2 or 3 paid staff and a number of volunteers to run the machines. Our operators logged 300 hours grooming last season. Each hour of machine operation typically is accompanied by another hour or so of prep work and equipment maintenance, which brings the total time investment up to 600 or more hours each season. Each mile of trail costs between $11/mile and $120 mile for the season, excluding equipment costs. The big range is explained by the mix of volunteers to paid staff, the experience level of the operator, and the level of difficulty the trail presents of the operator. Our annual budget is typically between $10,000 and $12,000, which the Seeley Big Fat contributes to.
Winter riding conditions can vary a lot, so we keep our Trails Conditions page updated at least once daily to help users decide which trail offers the best riding on any given day. I usually spend an hour or so each morning sifting through user reports and weather forecasts to keep this page accurate.
Maps and signage are significant costs. Keeping them up to date as trails change is an ongoing process.
Who should do the Seeley Big Fat Race?
The race course is designed to keep all levels of user happy. This year's event will take place at the Hatchery Creek Trails but during a typical year at Seeley Hills, all riders do the first lap, which typically is mostly wide ski trails that any rider can handle. The long race then does a second, more difficult lap, that is mostly narrow, technical single track.
And if you don’t want to race, there are lots of volunteer opportunities that you can learn more about by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
What's the party like at the Sawmill Saloon afterwards?
There are awards, a silent auction, this year with a bike frame and wheels, as well as a drawing for other merch. The party afterwards is always great fun! Things are a little different this year, however, due to the logging impact and the course change.
With our 2023 venue of Hatchery, we are presenting awards and holding our silent auction and giveaways at Hatchery after the race. We will still have a party at Sawmill later in the day with music and celebrating! You can find more information about the event at the CAMBA Seeley Big Fat webpage.