Midwest MTB Racing Recapby Jay Richards
October 30, 2012
The Minnesota High School Cycling League wrapped up its inaugural season, hitting the slopes of Buck Hill for race #4 in the four race series. I know I speak on behalf of fellow race promoters and folks involved with the sport, how exciting it was seeing the success of the first year with strong numbers and enthusiasm for JR mountain biking. Having racing opportunities for junior riders outside of the Minnesota series with appropriate race distances has provided a great development scenario for the future. This weeks reports includes exclusive reports from both male and female varsity winners, Jordan Horner and Andris Delins. Great job to the race organizers and directors, all the kids who participated, and volunteers who helped make it a first great year and to Bruce Adelsman of Skinnyski provided media coverage at a handful of the races.
The three weeks between White Tail Ridge and the Championships at Buck Hill made me so anxious and it was by far the most fun race of the season. The course was perfect for the last race, 3 mile laps and almost 800 feet of climbing per lap. It was a pure power course unlike Eastwood where the most technical racer would win.
The atmosphere was incredible; I got there and immediately got more excited for the race. Seeing the many tents, course tape set up, and the spectators everywhere was awesome. I think there were more parents and people watching at that race than any of the other races.
At the start line with me there was Carley Endersbe (Burnsville/Lakeville), Libbey Endersbe (Burnsville/Lakeville), and Sonja Hedblom (Eagan), more girls in the varsity class than any other race. Sophia Marchiando was not there because of Mono and I definitely missed her and the competition she brought. Even though she was not there I still wanted to see how I could place for the JV boys.
The start of the race was brutal because of the immediate hill that seemed to never end. By the time I was done with what seemed like 800 feet of climbing right at the beginning of the lap my legs were burning and wanting to fall off. Right after all the climbing you enter into single track and I was recovered in no time, just trying to keep my flow through every turn. By the beginning of lap 2 I had put almost a minute and a half on second place and I felt amazing. The second and third lap were basically the same as the first, I just wanted to keep about the same lap time every lap. When I crossed the line going onto lap 4 I kicked it, turning a 14:42 which was faster than lap 2 and 3.
After I came through the line I turned around to cheer my teammates Carley and Libbey into the finish. I was so excited realizing that Burnsville/Lakeville had just swept the girls varsity podium. We also had Nicole Jensen place 2nd in the sophomore/freshman class, and Blake Nelson placed 4th in the boys junior varsity race. Everyone on the team helped us win the team category and it was a perfect way to end the season!
Going into the first ever Minnesota High School Mountain Bike Series State Championship race at Buck Hill I was jittery and nervous. More so than usual. I had a million thoughts running through my head: What will the course and weather be like? Will my legs feel strong enough after the cyclocross race the day before? What will the competition be like? Why is my new shifter cable already frayed? Will my new bike even hold up to the rigors of racing? Will the Roseville Composite team come away with the overall win? Do I even have both of my bike shoes with?! I tried my best to calm down, assuring myself that Buck Hill is one of the best race courses for me and that I’ve done all I could to prepare for the race, but doubt lingered. My main rival, Reece Oleson, had, in no uncertain terms, promised me that he was going for the win, and the other racers could have only gotten better. My nerves weren’t going anywhere.
As race time neared, things weren’t looking good for our team’s overall standings. Despite raking in a JV girls win thanks to Kelly Catlin, our other female racer Kayla Egle had some trouble with her chain and got a five minute penalty due to outside help with fixing it. We were also missing one of our JV boys racers. Hope was not lost though. I found my second shoe, grabbed my teammates, and headed off to the start.
I didn’t have any strategy going into the race. It was going to be a very short sprint to the finish, probably lasting somewhere around an hour. All that was important was getting a good start. Unfortunately I was still starting in the second row because my first race I had done JV and was still way behind in points overall. I lined up right behind my teammate Ethan Furois and told him to go fast. We had about 30 more seconds of nervous chatter before the gun went off and we started. The start, like always was a wild flurry of elbows and testosterone, everybody scrambling madly to get up the hill and get going. Luckily for me, Ethan gave me an excellent lead out (big shoutout and thanks to Ethan!) and I took the lead on the first corner of the hill. I hammered up the first hill, determined to gap everybody as soon as possible.
After the second part of the only real climbing on the course it looked like I had about five seconds on Ethan, with Reece, and what looked to be Trevor Zarecki close behind. The rest of the race was a blur of passing lapped traffic, people cheering and yelling things at me, and trying to not get rattled to death on my new rigid bike. Towards the end my legs started cramping a bit but the race was over soon enough to where that wasn’t a big problem. It was over so quickly that I doubted that I had ridden all five laps. As I was being assured that I had, Trevor Zarecki went through the finish and went for another lap. I panicked until I saw Reece Oleson come through the finish and stop. All was well.
Or at least it was for me. Reece rode up to me with a bloody leg and informed me that he had gotten in two crashes, one on the last lap that had dropped him to third. I was also told that Ethan had gotten a flat on the first lap and was then given a five minute penalty for using a neutral pump, so that he was completely out of the running for a top spot. Apparently, my other teammate Jonathan McBurney also wasn’t feeling too great. Trevor was still out on his sixth lap. I guess I had gotten lucky with my race. On a happier note though, Colin Catlin followed in his sister’s footsteps and got the win in JV.
Overall, our team, Roseville Composite, took second place to the Burnsville/Lakeville Composite team. Despite me, Kelly, and Colin winning our respective categories, we didn’t have the numbers to match the strong Burns-Lake Comp team. However, I think I speak for the whole team when I say that none of us are bitter or sad about this result. We got to race on a fantastic course with a bigger cheering section than in any of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series races, and we got to do it in the company of our friends. We’ve achieved results that we could never have anticipated at the beginning of the season and that is mighty exciting. Also a big thanks to the volunteers, especially those who took care of the trail; it was cleaner and smoother than I’ve ever seen it this season.
Looking back on the High School Mountain Bike series, I think it was a success. Could it be improved? Most definitely. However, one has to only look at how smoothly everything went to realize that, thanks to the skillful leadership of Gary Sjoquist, hard work of all the volunteers, and support of the sponsors, the series was far from a failure or disappointment. It drew in 20 teams and over 150 racers, and was able to find race venues and the manpower to accommodate such a vast horde of hormone-filled teenagers. Despite racing on three different bikes and in two different categories, I’ve had a good experience racing and am satisfied with how I’ve finished this mountain bike season. As a senior this year, I’m sad that I won’t get to race the series in the coming years because I want to see where it can take us in the future. As of right now we have a very successful mountain bike series in Minnesota, but we don’t have much competition for junior racers. As the Minnesota High School Cycling League draws in many more juniors, I hope we can produce riders as strong as Colorado High School Cycling League’s State Championship winner Sepp Kuss, who beat me in this year’s National Championships by over 20 minutes. With such a good start to the League though, I’m sure that within a few years involvement will be at an all-time high and our racers will be getting exponentially faster.
Coverage on Skinnyski
The popular end of season mountain bike race, the Iceman Cometh, is set for a great weekend as the monster storm "Sandy" brushes the area this week. The main event is a 29 mile point-to-point mountain bike race from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan. Over $54,000 in cash prizes and $10,000 in merchandise prizes will be awarded. Strong fields including international and national team riders make it one of the largest one day events in the country. I think if this race was held earlier in the year, it would create even more buzz! At this point, conditions look favorable for a record breaking pace.
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.