Midwest MTB Racing Recapby Jay Richards
May 29, 2012
A relatively quiet weekend on the racing front and rainy weather throughout most of the Midwest made it challenging for mountain biking over the Holiday weekend. Here at Maplelag we hosted a grass roots type event with two different race options with a open class for each race. A brief recap from this race, a look at the state of mountain biking regarding the various types of races and the usual look ahead, capping this weeks report.
When we held the first mountain bike race at Maplelag, we had around 30 participants. We called the race Laddies Loppet and eventually became part of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series with almost 500 participants over two days of racing, in recent years. The past five years we have done a few short notice races in the spring, going back to the grass roots feel with hand-held timing and writing results on poster boards and focusing riding in the woods with a group of people that liked to rip the dirt.
The race this past weekend was another low key ordeal, with around 40 riders attending. Despite the smaller field, there was great racing from bottom to the top with Doug Swanson, Scott Kylander-Johnson, Kevin Ishaugh and Jake Richards dicing it up at the front and former Chequemegon Fat Tire 40 female winners, Kyia Anderson and Sara Kylander-Johnson, mixing it up among the guys. Kevin and Doug bolted to the front with Jake and Scott hot on their wheels. Kevin went down early on a corner, busting a few spokes but got rolling again moving up to the fourth spot. Doug pulled away from Jake and Scott who rode together most of the race before Scott nipped Jake at the line.
Despite radar showing rain likely to move in to the area, it stayed to the south and moved east providing pretty much perfect riding conditions with nice cool temps under overcast conditions. Being a lower key event, I was able to jump in the racing action and mix it up in the woods. A good time for sure and nice to have a few new riders enter the shorter race earlier in the morning along with the young little whipper snappers.
Thanks to Bruce who provided coverage after catching a few bass off the dock earlier in the day.
Northwest MN Dirt
It's great to see mountain biking opportunities on the rise, both in trail development and racing, especially in my neck of the woods. Local riders have been getting a mid week racing fix in both Moorhead and Wadena. Fargo/Moorhead runs either a time trial, short track on Tuesday nights at 6:30 in Johnson Park, north of Moorhead which will also host a race the end of August, the Flugly.
Wadena area riders meet Wednesday nights at 6:30 at Blacks Grove. The venue will also be host to a race in August, date to be determined.
State of Mountain Biking
Riders in the both Wisconsin and Minnesota, especially Wisconsin, can make the claim as the "state of mountain biking" much like Minnesota's claim to the "state of hockey". While there have been ups and downs as far as participants, overall, both series are thriving with great organization, energy and implementation of new ideas.
Since I first started mountain biking, there have been many changes. Over the next few months, I'll take a quick look at some of the changes including, race distances and types of events, purpose built trails, trail conditions, and the wide variety of bikes.
When cross-country racing first came on the scene, it was really the only racing offered. Races were a bit longer than they were now and bikes were pretty simple. The past 10 years or so, the type of events have exploded from the traditional cross-country racing, to marathon racing, "epic" events ranging from 50 to 100 miles, 12-24 hour events, multi-stage events, short tracks, and this year the Eliminator in World Cups. Add in the gravity scene including downhill, slalom, four cross and Super D, and there are a lot of options to keep the wheels moving.
Personally this is all good as everyone has their niche to satisfy the hunger for dirt. As far as development of future cross-country races, I feel the shorter races for youth are important to keep interest levels high and keep the racing tight. When Jake and I went to Sea Otter a few years ago his race as a younger junior at the time was around three hours! Way too long in my opinion. If future US World Cup riders are to be competitive with the Euros, race times for juniors should be 30-45 minutes with maximum one hour. I talked to Matt Johnson this past weekend about the high school mountain bike racing starting to take off in Minnesota and plans are to keep the races short which is great to hear.
The Minnesota State Mountain Bike Series (MNMBS) heads south to Mankato for race #2, Bluff Riders Charge, at Mt Kato. The race is also serving as the single day Minnesota State Championships which will award state champions in respective classes. The Mt Kato course has been labeled as a "perfect course for the hard tail" with fast flowing singletrack, made technical the higher speeds are attained. The Mt Kato race will also be the first of four “Warm Up” races for the new Minnesota High School Cycling League that will debut this Fall.
Expert field climbing away, Bluff Riders Charge (Photo: Thomas Warner)
Race #3 in the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) heads to the central part of the state, hitting up the popular trails and course at 9 Mile Forest. The Big Ring Classic is consistently one of the top drawing races in the series, probably in part because of the 25 miles of trails to work with, allowing a longer course with less lapping making for "a more enjoyable racing experience for all". If you didn't get the latest WORS newsletter, check it out here.
Keep the wheels moving!
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About the author...
Jay Richards maintains a very active lifestyle. He somehow finds time between managing a full-time resort (Maplelag) and bringing up a family of four boys with his wife Jonell, to compete in both mountain bike and a few cross-country ski races. Jay rides for Maplelag Resort, manages the Maplelag/Paramount mountain bike team and enters his 22nd year of racing and promoting mountain bike races.