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Hungry Bear 2022 Redux

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Hungry Bear this year. With great weather and a good turnout, every rider we saw at the finish said they had a great time. Most everyone said they liked the course. Some found it more challenging than they expected, but so far nobody had a complaint.

Special thanks to Eric, Bree and Silvan from Embark Maple for bringing their delicious syrup energy food and setting up an aid station. And a big shout out to the Cable Volunteer Fire Department for having crews on the course. Thanks to Jim K, Gary C and Mike M for helping with parking. We’ll get the Wrecking Crew out next year. And last but not leasty, thanks to Tim and Odia for coming in again. It would not be the same without you two!

The fastest riders in both the 100 and 60-mile events finished with an average pace just below 20 mph, pretty quick for our Fortified Gravel. The last finishers for the Hungry Bear 100 rolled into Cable after about 10 and a half hours in the saddle. Everyone who finished is a winner in my book!

Some people finished and expressed some frustration at having to walk up some of the steeper, loose and sandy climbs. Please do not get down on yourself, everyone struggles at some level. Heck, I’m not a good enough skier yet to ski the neighborhood trails I groom out my back door. Notice the key word “yet” as I plan to keep skiing and figure I’ll enjoy learning and getting better every season. At some point I expect to be ripping down the steepest hills on the narrowest trails. And the people who struggled up some hills will dance up them if they keep riding too. The best thing is more riding and more skiing is fun and good for us!

Thanks to the good turnout, The Rivers Eatery ran out of pizza dough by the end of the night and Trudy said Tilly’s Pies sold out of all their pies and bread. Next year both business owners will be better prepared for the big crowds. They want to try to make sure everyone can get what they want and orders come out faster. I’ll have updates on those plans before the race next year.

That said, this is a small town, and those are both small businesses. So they can only do so much for so many people. We had 360 sign up this year. I don’t have a super accurate number for how many people showed up and started due to my learning curve with Webscorer, but roughly 250 finishers stopped to get clocked in and quite a few didn’t care about timing so they just finished without checking in. So I think we probably had 300 people on course, plus friends and family. While the Cable businesses really appreciate great sales days in the shoulder tourism season, I plan to limit registration to 400 next year so things don’t get too big.

Bree, Sylvan and Eric the Fox from Embark

There was no free pie this year and given everyone who signs up for this event can afford pie, I don’t think I’ll add that next year. I do have an idea for a yummy but smaller, easier to bake and serve treat though. Stay tuned for that announcement after I talk to Trudy.

Personally, I learned a few things about using Webscorer to time the event that I will change next year so I have a better idea of who started and who didn’t show up. I will also get some additional help so I can get out on the course longer to take photos and make some video. I only had time to jump out and catch some of the Hungry Bear leaders before I had to get back to the finish to record the first Snacking Bear finishers. So my photos are very limited this year.

This is also the first time we marked the whole course for both the Hungry Bear and Snacking Bear. Although it was minimal marking, it still took a three days to mark and remove the markers. I’m on the fence about doing that again next year given the time it takes and that most riders I asked said they relied on their GPS devices and never really looked for the course markings.

I have included some questions in a post-event survey below. I’d appreciate it if people would fill out the quick Google Form so I can find out how things went and decide what changes we might want to make next year.

One change I am sure I want to make is to add a 30-mile route. This route will stay below County Highway M and have no paved road crossings.

I will also be adding some fun apparel and other merchandise. Stay tuned for more on that after the talented Illustrator finishes the drawings.

Thanks again to everyone who registered. Thanks for riding in the “Spirit of the Hungry Bear” and for your patience with me and some of my stumbles this first year running the event. I plan to open registration for next year very soon and will send out emails to all participants from this year and past years when that opens.

If you are coming back to visit our wonderful corner of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, reach out to say hey.

– Seeley (not Steely) Dave (not Dan)

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