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Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
May 9, 2017

Couldn’t of asked for nicer conditions for racing for the opening of the series in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Also a handful of local riders made the trek out west to compete in the Tinker Classic 100 in Nevada near Death Valley. This weeks report includes coverage from these events, a few items to note and the look ahead to Mother's Day weekend that includes a few events in Wisconsin and Iowa.

Englewood Opener


(credit: Brian Patterson)

Pretty much perfect weather greeted riders at the first race in the WORS series. "Great race at Englewood Opener this weekend. It's always a blast starting off the WORS season and catching up with so many racing buddies after a long winter. The course at Englewood Grass Farm was fast and made for a great venue to open the 2017 WORS racing season..” reported Brian Patterson on a social media post. Both the men and womens elite fields were well attended as riders battled in all classes for the first series points of the year. Taking the win in the elite women was Emma Swartz, a convincing victory over second place finisher over Amber Markey. Lindsay Guerra, Leia Schneeberger and Anna Ganju rounded out the top five.

(Photo: 3rd place mens elite, Caleb Swartz, credit: Team Linear)

The men elite race was tight from top to bottom with the top 50 riders all finishing in under 2 hours. It was UP native Peter Karinen taking the win in a tight battle with Cole House edging House by just 13 seconds. Rounding out the top five were Caleb Swartz, Ben Schmutte and Ben Senkerik.

Results 

St. Croix Valley Woolly

After wet weather earlier in the week, dry weather moved in setting up ideal conditions for racing and the Woolly Bike Club put the finishing touches on making sure the event was top notch. Record fields battled under gorgeous weather as many riders toed the line for their first race of the season. Fargo resident Steve Hausman was one of them and sent in a report:

After participating in my first two mountain bike races ever last year (Detroit Mountain and Laddies Loppet) and having all winter to think about how fun they were, I decided I wanted to do more of them in 2017. A few months ago I picked about 5 or 6 races on the MN MTB Series schedule I thought I'd be able to make it to then promptly requested those dates off at work and began training. The St Croix Woolly in St Croix Falls, WI was not initially on that list. It just so happened that I had the weekend off and nothing planned when I realized that there was a race going on Sunday! So I loaded up and headed out of Fargo and basically figured out where exactly I was going after the fact. Luckily my sister lives in St Paul so I was able to stay at her place which made the trip manageable. I got to the trail bright and early on Sunday morning in order to get signed up and hopefully do some scouting of the trail since I'd never ridden it before. I was able to ride one section and see parts of others. It reminded me a lot of what I typically ride during the week, giving me a little bit of confidence before the race. My expectations were not super high, however. Last year I had okay results in my two Sport Class races and figured I'd be somewhere near those finishes here as well. I have been riding a lot this spring but wasn't sure where my pace and fitness would stack up in a field of what turned out to be 100 other riders! My plan was to give it a good run and just see what would happen, either way it would be fun.


(Photo: Start of Sport Race, WOOLLY, credit: Steve Hausman)

I lined up at the front of the pack for the start of my age group flight. When the whistle blew I decided to get out front and set the pace. If other riders passed me I would just try to hold their wheel. I was pushing my cardiovascular system slightly being out front but about 1/3 of the way through the first lap I stopped hearing the freewheel of the rider behind me. From there I settled into a fast but comfortable pace I thought I could hold the entire race. I held that pace, avoided mechanicals and made my way around some marathon riders smoothly to finish without getting passed! I was both surprised and excited as I crossed the finish line. Later I found out that I finished 2nd overall in the Sport Class and couldn't have been more pleased with how the day went. The weather was beautiful and the trail was in excellent condition. There were so many riders and happy, enthusiastic volunteers that it made for an awesome atmosphere, one reason why I love going to race! Overall it was an extremely well-run event on a great trail system, which makes me think I'll be putting the St. Croix Woolly on my list from the start next year.

Like the WORS Elite class, both the men and female categories were well attended with strong fields. Unlike the WORS opener that saw the top 50 under 2 hours in the male race, the winning time at Woolly was over 2 hours. Jeff Hall took yet another win in his storied career, edging out u23 rider Dominic Talerico by 15 seconds in a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes and 34 seconds. Logan Grace and Mason Bacso occupied the 3rd and 4th places, respectively with 15 year old junior rider Braedon posting a very impressive top 5 finish in a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds.

The female race had great battles as well with a field of 18 riders, one of the largest ever in a MNMBS race. Junior rider Anna Christian just edged out Eleanor Bacso in sprint finish. Eleanor posted “ That was so close! I was between 1st and 3rd most of the race and lead part of the beginning and entire last lap. It came down to a sprint where I missed by .1!! Luckily there is always more races to come. Was pretty surreal to lead a race for a bit as I never had before in a series race. It was so amazing to see the elite women’s group start with almost 20 women” Rounding out the top were Rebecca Ireland in 3rd, Robin Williams in 4th and Josie Welsh in 5th.

In the Marathon class, Tom Abel cranked out 7 laps logging over 50 miles in 4 hours, 8 minutes in 38 seconds around 5 minutes ahead of second place finisher Tom Camp. Brandt Elson, Ben Hey and Charlie Serrill rounded out the top five. The marathon guys always impress me cranking out miles like that on a shorter lap even though the Woolly lap is a bit longer than most courses in the series.

Results

Tinker Classic

A group of area riders made their way out west to participate in the Tinker Classic mountain bike race in the high dessert of Nevada. Peder Arneson of Hawley, MN. filed a full report with photos that captured the flavor of the event nicely:

Over the weekend of May 5-7, Matt Engen, Kent Throlson, Steve Wenzel, and I traveled to Beatty, NV for the inaugural Tinker Classic MTB Race. While Kent rode the 60K option, Matt, Steve, and I rode the 100K. The consisted of mostly rocky and sandy doubletrack roads with some gravel. The course traversed around the mountains surrounding Beatty, skirted the western edge of Death Valley National Park, then finished at the Spicer Ranch outside of town. Arriving the day before the race, we had a chance to scope out the town, ride some singletrack at Spicer Ranch, and enjoy the pre-race meal in town. At the meal we had a chance to meet Tinker Juarez and celebrate his MTB racing career! It certainly was interesting to hear about his early days racing and how he has continued to compete for the last 30+ years.

(Credit: Peder Arneson)

The race began promptly at 7 on Saturday morning with a 2 mile neutral rollout before heading onto the appropriately named "Wall". At 4.5 miles and 1300 vertical feet, it was a wakeup call for what to expect from there on out. Once past the first climb, we had a nice decent before heading onto doubletrack roads with slightly more technical terrain. The rocky roads in the mountains were more than enough obstacle to keep things interesting while moving along with the other riders. The most technical feature of the race hit shortly after at the Silca Mining Cart road. Large, loose rocks made balance slightly difficult and treacherous. While I had to dismount for portions, both Matt and Steve were able to ride right on through. We followed a sandy dry river bed until we met up with US-95 again. The loose sand lacked traction at many points and I could see a benefit of a plus bike during these parts of the course. At US-95, we rode back into Beatty for a brief refueling at the aid station and headed off to the old railroad beds outside of town. During this part of the ride, it was nice to have Matt's company. We kept a steady pace to the ghost town of Rhyolite before a short downhill to the Bullfrog/Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad bed. Scattered throughout the course were distance/milestone markers that also made note of the areas we were riding through. This particular railroad bed was narrow gauge and used from 1900-1917. At just a few percent grade, this climb was probably the most punishing of the day. We were completely exposed, the sun was out, and winds were blowing! Unable to keep pace with Matt at around mile 32, I dropped back to a more comfortable speed and effort.

Several miles later I crossed into Death Valley National Park and made a quick break at a checkpoint aided by a man named Bob. There I was able to regroup and chat a little with Bob before Steve caught up with me. The well-earned refuel and being reunited with Steve definitely boosted my spirits for the remaining 20 or so miles of the ride. Together we rode along the edge of Death Valley before connecting with doubletrack roads and the final climbs of the day. We crested a number of steep climbs and rocky terrain before a nice long decent to Spicer Ranch and finished the Tinker Classic. Overall, this race was a great way to see a new place and start off my spring/summer season. Despite making errors in proper nutrition/hydration on raceday, I had a great time and look forward to my next MTB event! The people of Beatty, NV were very welcoming and put on an excellent event. The riding around the Beatty area is only getting better with places like the Spicer Ranch for camping and singletrack riding. I highly recommend those curious to check out future versions of the Tinker Classic!

Photoset:  Tinker Classic 10 photos (from Peder Arneson)

Josie Welch

Recent top five female finisher at Woolly, Josie Welch, posted a blog entry this week highlighting her experiences with cycling that is inspiring to young and old alike.  Excerpt:

I am a junior in high school and spend a ton of time working on school. All of my spare time is dedicated to bikes. I work as a mechanic at a bike shop, which is super fun.

In the winter I cross country ski, run and road ride as preparation for the season. During the warm months of the year, I ride my bike almost every day.


(Photo: Josie catching some air on a training ride)

While I train on the road, I am really a mountain biker. I race during the summer on my own and when fall comes around, I ride for my high school team in the Minnesota High School Cycling League. Over the summer, I helped out at the high school league's summer camp and was a junior mentor for Little Bellas.

COGGS Keeping the Wheels Moving

Duluth and destination mountain bikers gained a huge step forward in their access to more trails process of expanding the trail system when Duluth City Council voted unanimously a few weeks ago today to move forward with the decade-long vision shared by the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, or COGGS, and the city of Duluth to complete the Duluth Traverse Trail system. By approving it, councilors were not authorizing spending taxpayer money. They simply placed their stamp of approval on a document, allowing the city to leverage outside funding to improve our green spaces in thoughtful phases over the next several years, based on merit and need. 


(Photo: Rocky riding on the Piedmont trail, Duluth, MN)

Duluth Enduro

The folks in Duluth enjoyed select trails this past weekend in as segments of the expansive trail system opened over over the weekend. The popular Duluth Enduro Series kicks off in just under a month and after attending an event last year, highly recommend trying to hit one of the races despite the midweek dates. Courses are reminiscent of old school cross country. Although the actual timed race is mostly downhill, there is no lift service access outside of the Spirit Mountain event, which is part of the Duluth Bike Festival. Event dates on the Ski Hut website. "It’s not Cross-Country. It’s not Downhill. It’s Enduro!! All rider abilities are welcome”.
Enduro Duluth Facebook 

Looking Ahead

With Mothers day this weekend, both series takes a break. The WORS resumes on the 21st of May at the long time running Iola Sports Center featuring the Iola Bump and Jump. The MNMBS heads northwest to Detroit Lakes and Detroit Mountain for the Shakedown on May 21st. Full previews in next weeks report but one major change in the Shakedown race is the omission of the classic singletrack at Mountain View. All courses this year will be on the Detroit Mountain trail network including the new “Rolling Thunder” trail which is similar to new trail built last summer and features a pine section that one local stated “gives you the feeling you are somewhere else". The course currently is in great shape, buffed out nicely and riding very fast.

Iowa Mountain Bike Series

The Iowa Mountain Bike Series kicked off back in April and resumes with an marathon event at the Sugar Bottom race venue. Full schedule on the IMBCS website.

Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Series

Race #2 in the Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series heads over to Alpine Valley Ski Resort featuring a 9.5 mile loop, 80% tight single track, both long and punchy climbs, off camber turns, down hill grass slalom section, crowd pleasing spectator tight enduro cross section. Pit areas will be well lighted, lots of pit area and spectator areas

RASTA RALLY

One race this weekend that traditionally runs on Mothers Day is the RASTA Rally.  The Rally features Short and long courses to be held at the Washburn trail system. Long race approximately 15 miles, short race approximately 7 miles.


(Photo: Bridge crossing, RASTA RALLY 2016.  Credit: RASTA)

Registration opens at 9:30 and ends at 11:30 on race date. Race starts at noon. Discount code for participants of high school age or under is youth17. Race is west of Rhinelander at Washburn trails. There will be brats/dogs/baked goods on sale on site too. Free flowers for moms!

Keep the wheels moving!

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 mountain bike team and enters his 27th year of racing and promoting mountain bike races.

Have an event or mountain bike related information to share from the Midwest? Feel free to contact Jay at


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