The Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival has been sold.
Operated for 29 years under race director Gary Crandall, the country's largest off-road bike races have become the property of Life Time Fitness, the Minnesota-based company that operates 200 events and 90 health clubs around the country.
Crandall and Life Time officials confirmed the sale on Wednesday.
Over the past decade, the 40-mile and 16-mile races have filled to their capacity - now 2,750 entries, and hundreds have been turned away in the lottery process. Tour de France Champion Greg LeMond, Olympic racers and thousands of citizen athletes have battled the hills from Hayward to the finish line at the Telemark Resort in Cable.
It has been called an annual celebration of mud, sweat and gears.
Crandall, 61, vowed little would change.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I have not been decommissioned as the Fat Man."
Life Time Fitness reported revenue of $912.8 million in 2010, and acquired the Leadville 100 trail run and mountain bike races, along with the Leadville trail marathon.
Officials with the company issued a statement on the Chequamegon acquisition: "In addition to providing the absolute best health and fitness facilities and certified experts, we deliver best-in-class programming, including world-class athletic events.
"It is with this commitment in mind that we were very proud to add the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival to our events portfolio. The event carries a rich history that we intend to preserve, while ensuring it has all of the support necessary to enjoy a long-term future."
In a letter to the event sponsors, Crandall described the sale as "nothing short of positive."
"We already enjoy a strong program that now will be supported by an entity with significant resource advantages the original owners could not have provided," he said. "Our philosophy has always been built on perpetuating the event for the good of the community and the sport of off road bicycling. This ownership transition only will serve to reinforce our original objectives."
The 29th annual Chequamegon Fat Tire will be run on Sept. 16.
The start of the 2003 Chequamegon 40. Journal Sentinel photo by Tom Lynn