Approximately 3,100 off-road bicycle riders will take to the trails in the Hayward-Cable area this Saturday for the 37th annual Chequamegon Mountain Bike Festival, produced by Lifetime Inc. of Chanhassen, Minnesota, and presented by Trek Bicycles.
Local event staff bring hundreds of years of combined experience to the race weekend and there are nearly 500 community volunteers who help at the event.
Racers will experience several new twists to the event this year, including a separate start in Hayward for pro 40-mile riders.
For the first time, both the 40-mile and 16-mile races will finish at the Birkebeiner start line 2.5 miles southeast of Cable. There also will be a children's race at the Birkie start line Saturday afternoon.
As in past years, Saturday's Chequamegon 40 race will start with a spectacular rollout by 2,100 riders from the Hayward Primary School down Main Street — the largest mass-start off-road bicycle race in the nation. Escorted by police, they will head out Railroad Street to Highway 77 East and two miles later will turn onto the Birkie Trail next to Hatchery Road.
Simultaneously, another 1,000 riders will begin the Short & Fat race at the Birkie start line off McNaught Road in the Town of Cable.
At 1 p.m. there will be a separate 40-mile start for about 50 elite riders in Hayward. Those riders will receive a police escort from the start line next to the primary school to Fifth Street, Kansas Avenue, Railroad Street and Highway 77 to Hatchery Road.
To attract the pro riders, the event will offer $10,000 in prizes: $5,000 for men and $5,000 for women. As with the other races, all bikers in the
pro event will finish at the Birkebeiner start line near Cable.
Peter Spencer, race director for the festival, said registered riders will drop off their bikes between 5 and 8 a.m. Saturday at the start line on Main Street next to the primary school. Security will be provided to watch the bikes.
The bikers will then drive their private vehicles to the Birkebeiner start line — the finish of the bike race — where they will park and take buses back to Hayward.
"This event really stands apart from other races," Spencer said. "Not only does it have a colorful history and recurring characters who continue to show up year after year, the course is a rare gem. It has the essence and challenge of mountain biking, gravel and road racing without being exclusively categorized as just one of those race types. The mixed offroad route is picturesque, gritty and fun, which I believe aids in its attractiveness."
Spencer said the elite racer start allows a greater number of earlier race participants to watch the professional group of riders battle to the finish.
Notable elite riders in this year's 40-mile race include:
Women—Jenna Rinehart, Mankato, Minnesota; Leia Schneeberger, DePere; and Melisa Rollins, Alpine, Utah;
Men—Brian Matter, Prescott, Arizona; Corey Stelljas, Madison; Jordan Wakeley, Grayling, Michigan.
Riders are coming from regional metro areas including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicagoland, Milwaukee, Madison and Des Moines, Iowa.
In addition to ski trails, the 40-mile course will also take riders on scenic ATV and snowmobile trails and forest-lined gravel roads, exhibiting the beauty of autumn in northern Wisconsin.
Life Time made the decision to change the name from the previous title of Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival to Mountain Bike Festival this year to honor the many bicycle types represented in the race, Spencer said.
In addition to thousands of spectators and more than 500 volunteers, this year's festival will include an expanded festival and sponsor vendor expo that will feature food trucks along with Bent Paddle and Fulton breweries.
The festival at the Birkebeiner Cable trailhead is free and open to the public on Friday and Saturday. Also new this year, each participant and volunteer will receive one complimentary beverage from both breweries.
Gary Crandall, who retired last November after 36 years as director of the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, told the Record that he will be at an action spot in the woods this Saturday as a course control volunteer. "I will blend in and help out," he said.
Crandall said he experienced "a lot more relaxed Labor Day weekend this year," the first Labor Day he's had off in 35 years.
To make the Chequamegon MTB Festival weekend a fun event for the whole family, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday after mom and dad finish, children are invited to participate in the Hayward Area Memorial Hospital Little Loggers Kids Crit. This free race at the Birkie start line offers an introduction to mountain biking for young riders. Participants will receive a race plate, T-shirt and finisher medal.
Kids are asked to register from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Great Hall to reserve their sport. They should check in from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Saturday at the Great Hall.
The Kids Crit is a 20-minute lap.
Friday, Sept. 13: At Great Hall at American Birkebeiner trailhead: 1-8 p.m., bib pickup, food trucks, MBR festival; 1-7:30 p.m., MBR festival, sponsor and vendor expo.
Saturday, Sept. 14
5-8 a.m.: Bikes can be dropped off and placed in assigned gate corral at start line on North Main Street in Hayward;
8-9: 30: Chequamegon 40 bib pickup, Hayward Primary School.
8-9: 30 a.m.: Short & Fat bib pickup at Great Hall, Birkie start line, Cable.
10 a.m.: Chequamegon 40 start, Main Street, Hayward; Short & Fat start, Great Hall at Birkie Start Line.
10 a.m-5 p.m.: MBR Festival, sponsor and vendor expo at Great Hall.
10: 45 a.m.: Short & Fat first finisher, Great Hall.
Noon: Chequamegon 40 first finisher at Great Hall.
1 p.m.: Chequamegon 40 pro/elite start, Main Street, Hayward.
2 p.m.: Short & Fat awards at Great Hall.
4 p.m.: Chequamegon 40 awards, Great Hall.
4: 30 p.m.: Little Loggers kids bike event at Great Hall.
5-8 p.m.: (New event) CAMBA after-party fundraiser at Sawmill Saloon in Seeley, followed by live music.
Forest road closings
Selected forest roads normally open to vehicular travel will be temporarily closed during the Saturday running of the Chequamegon 40 and Short & Fat events. Only rider support vehicles with vehicle passes, race official vehicles, local residents and hunter traffic will be allowed on the following roads from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during the running of the Chequamegon 40 and Short & Fat events:
Town of Spider Lake
• Telemark Road/Spider Lake Fire Lane from Clear Lake Road north to the town line
• Boedecker Road from the town line east to Spider Lake Fire Lane
• Janet Road from the town line north to Boedecker Road
Town of Lenroot
• Boedecker Road from Northern Lights Road east to the town line
• Janet Road from OO north to the town line
Town of Cable
• Spider Lake Fire Lane from Telemark Road south to the town line
• Randysek Road from the Town of Cable south to SMT 22
These road restrictions have been implemented to increase the safety of the riders during the event.
Those providing nutritional support for elite racers along the race route will be required to obtain a vehicle permit from race headquarters on Spruce Street in Cable prior to race morning to access the course.
SPOONER — Half a million people across Wisconsin do not have access to high-speed broadband. A $24 million grant could lower that number.
Gov. Tony Evers announced the start of the latest round of grants through the Broadband Expansion Grant Program during a news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Spooner Ag Research Station. The $24 million is more than the total of all seven of the past rounds in the program and is half of the money set aside for the program in the 2019-2021 state biennial budget. It is available for 2020, and another $24 million will be dispersed in 2021.
The program aims to bring access to underserved and unserved parts of the state, and it defines high-speed broadband as an upload speed as 25 Mbps or greater and download speed as 3 Mbps (25/3). Those speeds are hard to achieve in rural areas where the spa rce population makes it financially infeasible for companies to install infrastructure such as fiber optics without some outside financial input.
In the 2019 broadband service report (for the reporting period through the end of 2017), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that:
• 8.7% of the population in Wisconsin (504,200 people) lack access to at least one broadband service with a speed of 25/3 Mbps or better. The national average is 6.5%.
• 27.9% of Wisconsin residents in rural census blocks (486,600 people) do not have access to at least one broadband service, compared to the national average of 26.4% for rural residents.
A bright spot in the report was that 278,800 more Wisconsin residents had 25/3 Mbps access than the previous year, a 35.6% increase.
"Compared to other areas
of our state, our rural communities are behind when it comes to high-speed access to broadband, which has a detrimental and inequitable effect on our rural businesses, farmers and schools," Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said. "Our underserved communities are often at a competitive disadvantage. They're unable to access the resources available to other parts of the state, where the populations may be a little more dense."
He said 63 of the state's 72 counties have already benefitted from 138 broadband access projects through the Broadband Expansion Grant Program.
Equitable access to high-speed broadband is needed for businesses and the economy, education, and agriculture, he said.
"Thanks to our governor, despite opposition from Republican leaders of our Legislature, we were able to fight for and sign a budget that made historic investment in bringing broadband to our underserved com munities all throughout the state," Barnes said.
"We all do better when we all do better," he summarized, and the grants are a first step in giving everyone in the state a chance to thrive.
Evers said that in his and Barnes's travel across Wisconsin, people repeatedly told them they need high-speed broadband, that it is critically important in many applications, especially in telemedicine. He said a strong economy depends on access in schools, businesses and homes.
"The state working together with service providers and local government can and will fix this, we can make this happen," Evers said. "So that's why I'm so very, very happy to be here today to announce the opening of the 2020 broadband expansion."
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Brad Pfaff, speaking of agriculture's need for broadband, said the state's farmers are "some of the best in the world," hardworking, forwardlooking and resilient, and they can do even better with 21st century communication technol ogy.
"We're connecting the dots, rural and urban and suburban, we're going to make sure all of us in Wisconsin have an opportunity to move forward," Pfaff said.
"The public and private partnerships are what's going to make this work," said Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. "We need municipally owned telecom providers and privately owned telecom providers to partner up with our local governments to make sure that broadband is getting everywhere it needs to be because access to it is no longer a luxury. It's a necessity."
Grant applications will be reviewed and scored by a panel of industry experts, with a threemember commission selecting the finalists. The Department of Administration has a strategic plan for broadband access.
The deadline for applying for the grants is Dec. 19 through psc.wi.gov/Pages/Programs/BroadbandGrants.aspx. Workshops on the process will be held across the state and online.
For those who live in the Winter area, the first eight months of 2019 have been record-breaking for precipitation, with 33.08 inches recorded so far this year compared to the previous record of 33.07 inches set in 1968 for the period from Jan. 1 to Sept. 10.
The normal Winter area precipitation total for the eight-month period is 23.52 inches, or 9.56 inches less than this year's total, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Online Weather Data (NOWData).
For those living in the Hayward area, the NOWData has recorded cumulative precipi-
tation of about six inches less than the record for the eight-month period. Through Sept. 4, the area has received 27.86 inches for 2019; the record is 34.51 inches in 1954.
The normal total for Hayward Area precipitation for the eight-month period is 21.57 inches, or 6.29 inches less than this year's total.
However, data for the Hayward area is incomplete, as the last entry was recorded on Sept. 4. For those four days in September, Hayward received 1.90 inches compared to a normal of .77 inches.
The Spooner Ag Research Station in Washburn County recorded 23.76 inches for the eight months, or slightly above its normal reading of
22.48 inches for the same period.
The Clam Lake area to the north and east in Ashland County for the first eight months recorded 29.35 inches. NOWData does not have a normal for Clam Lake, but notes its highest recorded was 37.03 inches in 2016 and lowest 20.53 inches in 2015.
Winter area month by month
In the eight-month period for the Winter area, there were four months with precipitation totals noticeably higher than the normal:
• February recorded 3.62 inches versus its normal of .84 inches. (February also set a snowfall record of 39 inches.)
• May recorded 5.57 inches versus a normal of 3.49 inches.
• July recorded 6.24 inches versus a normal of 4.59 inches.
• August recorded 5.11 inches versus a normal of 3.79 inches.
Just for those four months, there was 7.83 more inches of rain than normal. April and June totals were slightly above normal and January and March were slightly lower than normal.
Hayward area month by month
During the first eight months of 2019, two months in the Hayward area were well above normal:
• April recorded 5.39 inches; the normal is 2.80 inches.
• May recorded 6.37 inches; the normal is 3.27 inches.
Adding the April and May totals (11.76 inches) against the normal (6.07 inches), 5.69 inches more rain fell during those two months than in a normal year.
Other months with above normal precipitation included February (.67 inches; a record 33.4 inches of snow also was set) and June (.64 inches).
Four months recorded precipitation totals that were slightly lower than normal: January, .59 inches lower; March, .92 inches lower; July, .21 inches lower; and August, .51 inches lower.
Hayward Public Works Director John McCue informed the Hayward City Council on Sept. 9 that a $1.5 million Main Street and sewer project the city was to begin in 2021 instead must be completed in 2020.
In August the city reported it had been awarded a $1 million, 2-to-1 federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that requires the city to put up $500,000.
Michael Stoffel, a civil engineer with Ayres Associates, the city's engineering consultants, advised the city to delay the project to 2021 and use the proceeding year for gathering public input on the project, which would involve
replacing water and sewer lines, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and blacktop, but also can be used for other improvements and beautification.
Now the city has much less time to solicit input.
McCue told the Record the federal agency administering the grant does not want the funds sitting unused for a year, and that is why work has to be completed in 2020.
McCue said it would be at least a month before initial plans can be drawn, and once the plans are received, he would call for input from downtown stakeholders.
The Main Street work would include Highway 63 to 5th Street, and 3rd and 4th streets from Main Street to Kansas Avenue.
The $1.5 million project also would include replacing a sewer line from California Avenue to Nyman Avenue.
With Main Street work now scheduled for 2020, this means Hayward will experience back-to-back years of heavy road construction, following this year's improvements on Highway 27.
Like the schedule of the Highway 27 project, Stoffel recommended the majority of the Main Street work be completed outside the heavy tourist season, before Musky Fest in June and after Labor Day in September.
McCue says he prefers that the work occur in spring rather than fall.
Residential garbage contract
In other business, the city signed a contract with Eagle Waste & Recycling of Eagle River to be the city's residential garbage/recycling collector.
All residential sites will be required to pay a monthly fee of $12.50, representing $11.50 to Eagle Waste and a $1 city administrative fee. The fee will be collected via the city's monthly utility bill. Service will begin Nov. 1.
Residential sites will be given a 48-gallon container, with the option for a larger 64-or 96-gallon container for weekly garbage pickup and biweekly recycling pickup. The larger containers will require an additional yearly fee paid directly to Eagle Waste.
Mayor Charlie Munich said the city would notify residential customers via the utility bill of the upcoming change.
Munich noted the new contract only impacts residential garbage collection and the service would not be available on those portions of the city that have a private road in a development.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a request from Spider Lake Church to close a portion of 4 th Street from Main to the alley in front of the church during the Saturday, Sept. 21, Fall Festival.
• Approved the start of Chequamegon 40 on Main Street on Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. for most riders, followed by a 1 p.m. start for 60 professional riders. City police will escort both sets of riders to Highway 77 and then to Hatchery Creek Park.
• Approved an amendment to the ATV ordinance allowing Nyman Avenue from Main Street to Highway 77 as an approved route.
• Approved a payment of $55,731 to the Town of Hayward for paving the city's portion of Johnson Street. McCue said the city had estimated the work would cost $75,000.
• Conducted the first reading of an ordinance amendment regarding columbaria, structures used to store the ashes of the deceased. The amendment requires a plan of "perpetual care and maintenance of any proposed columbarium." The amendment was initiated after St. Joseph Catholic Church acquired a columbarium.