Mother Nature dished out some interesting weather this past weekend making for a mix bag of conditions. Cold, wet and muddy highlighted the big Lutsen 99er, muddy at WORS but cool fast and dry greeted riders in St Cloud at the MNMBS series race. This weeks report includes recaps from these events as well as the opening race in the Duluth Enduro, a couple of news and notes items and a look ahead as we move through the 4th of July holiday period.
Last week I made my way east to hit up the first race in the Duluth Enduro series, a six race series of mostly technical racing on the Duluth area trails featuring downhill segments. An enduro race is mostly downhill event and usually features multiple stages, each timed and the combined time determines the winner. The first Duluth enduro featured two stages at the Piedmont trail system which is one of the more technical trail systems in Duluth.
I arrived about 45 minutes before the race and met up with son Jake to ride the first half of the first stage which featured the most technical section of the first stage, a couple of rock drops before transitioning into the flowy and bermy Duluth Traverse section. It was a bit of an adjustment to jump from the car to technical trail but after 5-10 minutes I was smiling ear to ear.
(Photo: Rock drops, Credit: Pete Stone)
We made our way up to the registration area and received pre race instructions with emphasis on rider etiquette. It was good to quickly catch up with riders that I raced back with back in the 90’s that are still going at it. We than made our way to the start area and waited for our start time. Riders would head out in 30 second intervals. We were 11th and 12th to head out so our start time came quick out of the 75 riders registered. Off the start I sped into the first drop section and felt confident of the line after riding it a couple of times. Rode through clean than on to the fast second half of the stage. Not having ridden this part I held back a little and was over a bit sooner than I expected. All good, kept the rubber side down and didn’t get passed by Jake, although it was close, who started 30 seconds behind me.
After the first stage we rode over to the start of the second stage and again rode the top half a few times to dial in the lines which featured a few more rock drops and tight singletrack. Although racing the stages goes by quick, the fun thing about enduro is the riding before, in between stages, and after. After feeling confident about the lines, we made our way up to the start which included a great overlook of the Duluth bay.
The second stage went down pretty much the same as the first, I cleaned the technical sections just fine and held off a fast charging Jake on the second half which, again I rode a little conservative not having ridden it before. After we finished the second stage, Scott Kylander-Johnson led Jake and I back up to the top on a new hand cut trail that was laced with rocks and technical features. This sums up the attraction to enduro racing for me, technical riding that used to be common in the early years of cross country racing that is now replaced by faster and flowier courses. All good. Next day before heading home, did a long ride with Jake, riding most of the eastern half of the Duluth trails using the traverse. Great riding and scored nice weather.
A cold steady rain made for extremely challenging conditions in the Lutsen 99er. Lot of reports of hypothermia and a plethora of great mud shots.
Max Ellingson posted on Insta; “ Rained pretty much all day, but that was kinda fun (initially). The first five hours felt great! My brother Jack and I were on pace for a sub 7 hour finish. But then it got cold and the rain started coming down hard again. Jack dropped his jacket with a friend earlier in the race. He ended up getting so cold that he couldn’t steer his bike. We decided it would be safer to DNF. Better luck next time”.
(Photo: Ryan Carlson digging deep in the 99er)
Then there were riders that not only completed the full 99 but rode extra! Tom Miller was one of those riders and reports: “ Didn’t go as planned. Took a wrong turn and ended up riding an extra lap out at Devil Track for an extra 13 miles making my total ride over 8 hours and 112 miles in the cold, rain and mud….my longest bike ride to date! Thanks Laura, Soren, Andy and Ryan for the cheers, I needed it”.
(Photo: Slippery rocks and mud Red Flint Firecracker, Credit: Extreme Photography Unlimited)
Good ol’ fashioned mud in off and on rain greeted riders at race #5 in the WORS, Red Flint Firecracker.
Leia Schneeberber also provides a report via Facebook from elite women:
The WORS #5 Red Flint Firecracker 2017 was the classic tale of, "you know you're getting played and there is nothing you can do about it." In this case I was up against Emma Swartz, a stronger and more experienced racer then myself. My only advantage was my proficiency with the course.
The 1st mile of the race was flat double track that allowed us to jockey for the hole shot into the single track. I made a move to get the lead into the first wooded stretch and Emma followed. Smart strategy on her part to follow my line through unfamiliar territory. We soared through the single track together for the first lap. There were several sizable stretches of double track where she could of made a move and I was just wondering when she is going to pop me.
We began our second lap on the long lead out when it started to pour. My glasses were quickly covered in mud and water and I could hardly see as I'm trying to guide us through a flowy pine section. We broke out of the woods and there was Mark Anderson spectating. We ditched our glasses with him, chuckling about how neither of us could see a thing. We traded places several times in this lap. About half way through I got caught up in a mud pit and was ejected from my bike. It wasn't bad, I hopped right back on and had to burn a couple matches to catch back up.
(Photo credit: Extreme Photography Unlimited)
Coming into the 3rd lap on the wide open stretch is when she finally decided to attack. I gave it my all to respond but it wasn't enough to grab her wheel. She created a sizeable divide and I was pretty discouraged. Kept telling myself it's never over til it's over, keep pushing. It wan't until half way through the last lap that I was able to bridge the gap. We were together again but it was short-lived. The rains had turned the latter half of the course into what I call, "The soup kitchen." A slick, mucky, sloppy mess. "Aaaaand she's Gone" lol It was all I could do to maintain composure, avoid crashing and not be bent out of shape about the unfortunate circumstances. That's racing.
Racing those that are better then yourself shines the light on your strengths and weaknesses. Because of this race I have a better sense of the aspects of cycling where I am lacking. I got a schooling on race strategies and tactics that I've never seen or employed before. Experience and understanding is accellerated when you lose, so, that's a win, right?
The Singletrack Escape held at the "Jail Trail” was host to race #5 in the Minnesota Mountain Bike series and conditions could not of been better. The Mid Minn Cycling club crammed in some hard working hours to provide a great course when typically the group is prepping in September. Club member Kyia Anderson not only was clearing the course late at night the evening before but pinned on a number to race en route to taking the win. The colorful MC and usually fashionable Kris Anderson took time after the busy weekend to provide a full report:
The 12th annual Revolution Cycle and Ski is now in the books and it was a whirlwind week for our club! All week the local kids had been practicing for Kid’s Comp and even with mist and cold summer temperatures a nice group showed up to ride the first ½ of the trail! Was great to see even our local 5 year olds out doing 2 races on the day, as well as riding extra miles around the field in between races. All overall winners of the race once again went home with custom granite trophies including the boys and girls of kids comp! The Boys winner was Ben Frensko, while Gracie Gujer won the girls. The course was tacky, clean and riding fast!
Citizen tackled 1 full lap of the course as conditions were slightly improving with mist dissipating and temperatures increasing. The men’s winner was Aaron Benson who had no problem hoisting the heavy granite over his head, while the women’s winner was Isabella Dickmeyer.
Sport raced under partly cloudy skies, no mist and a super fast trail. While divided up into waves was great to see that the Johnson family was pushing amongst multiple generations for the overall podium positions. Men’s sport was ultimately won by Nick Pettis with Mr. C. Johnson and Mr. M. Johnson (Freewheel) thereafter. Women’s sport was won by Bonnie Weiskopf with Sudie Hall in second and Emma Albrecht in third! Awesome to see a 14 and 16 year old on the podium and seriously challenging for the sport women’s win!
The Marathon race featured a strong contingent from the Revolution Cycle and Ski team including Ben Doom who is the co-owner of the shop and also race director for the event. Nice to see that Revolution Riders Ben, Gnate, Charley and Noah (USA Para-Olympic Devo Squad) who had been at trail work/set up and donated a ton of time to the event/trail, were able to pull off great results although not the win this year. As those at our race experienced I offered some preferential call ups for those who had volunteered at trail work at any trail this year… as all know I love to throw in a bit of the unexpected with the announcing! The marathon ultimately was won by a very able and hard charging Matthew Abel with Ben Doom and Gnate Hackensack rounding out the podium! Women’s marathon was won by Caroline Lund with Kjerstie Wiltzen in second and Lisa McIntyre in third. Nice job to Chris Gibbs of LCR who is battling colon cancer for taking the start and having a full team rollout around the field while completing 3 laps of the course!
The Comp race featured our famous rock garden sections and Twisted Sister for those who ventured down from Canada! Comp was won by David Jensen with Alex Sipe and Campbell Karjala rounding out the podium!
(Photo: Kyia Anderson rolling to the win on the home course)
The Elite/Pro race went off under absolutely perfect conditions of 70F and sun! For the women all eyes were on Kyia Anderson (Podiumwear) as this is of course, her home course! While some preferential write up may be detected here, the spirit of mountain biking was exemplified by her actions with dedicating 9am to 5pm Saturday to set up the course with the club and get the food and then go back until after dark to rake up as much of the single track as possible “I want my friends to have a great trail” in addition to helping evacuate Anne Elefson of Team Maplelag after a very hard crash right before the elite start. For the men eyes were on the return of Mr. Bauer from China, The Bacso Brothers, and the Sandberg (Penn Cycle) multi-generational MTB team. In the men’s race it came down to the wire as 4 laps of tight, twisty technical single track could not break up Josh Bauer and Mason Bacso. As I was witnessing the sprint for Josh’s win I was actually chatting with the Bacso parents and learning how to properly place the consonant accents in their name for the announcing! Third on the day went to Saumel Berkland. In the women’s elite Kyia took off in the first lap on Twisted Sister (no I’m not really a fan of the band) and never looked back winning by about 4 minutes. Robyn Williams (Mercy Specialized) fought off a hard charging Eleanor Bacso (Team Maplelag) to round out the women’s podium.
Was a great day of racing and was glad to hear that Anne did not break her leg in her crash and is on the mend! I was surprised to find that our race volunteers T-shirt of orange matched the favorite color of a friend of mine that was recently lost to cancer and since I apparently have a reputation starting for my outfits cobbled together some orangish items to carry on the reputation for another year….
The 7th Annual NICA National Conference brought 70 leaders and speakers from NICA leagues across the country together to share lessons learned over the past year and to strategize on how to strengthen and further expand interscholastic cycling in America. NICA’s President, Austin McInerny, observed, “The conference enriched NICA League leadership by providing time to work together on important initiatives aimed at improving NICA’s overall programs and services. In meetings and on rides with residents of rural Minnesota communities, we heard very clearly that interscholastic cycling is empowering youth while building stronger communities. NICA’s national and league leadership is energized and ready to build on the outcomes from this conference!”
(Photo: NICA group ride, Credit: Todd Bauer)
This year’s conference provided attendees the opportunity to experience three locations, starting with a tour of QBP’s headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota. The conference then moved to Duluth and Cuyuna, Minnesota, IMBA Gold and Silver riding centers, respectively. Both these areas are home to amazing trails and the local communities have embraced and been bolstered by mountain biking as an economic driver for their community. City of Duluth Mayor, Emily Larson stated in her welcoming address, “The City of Duluth is thrilled to host NICA's national conference! As we have seen on our local high school team, which my own son rides on, mountain biking is a great youth activity that helps students build strong body, mind and character, and also strengthens our local community by connecting youth with responsible coach mentors and trail stewards. Our city’s enthusiasm is growing - in the last 5 years our high school program has grown from 13 riders to over 90. Communities across America have much to gain by supporting NICA's growth and expansion."
Josie Smith who has been doing a nice job updating her blog of women mountain bikers recently posted an interview with Rebecca Sauber of the Twin Cities area.
A Toast to Tilford (Cable Style)
(Photo: Steve Tilford, 2009 Chequamegon)
July 4 6-9 PM Rivers Eatery
Join Trudi and friends for a toast to our great friend & cycling legend Steve Tilford!
As recorded on his epic blog site, Steve loved the Fourth of July in Cable. As busy as he was, he almost always cleared his calendar to come for the parade, pies in the park, dinner and drinks at The Rivers Eatery and then the fireworks. We hope you’ll do the same. At 6 PM we’ll pop a keg of Stone Brewing’s Drink By July 4th IPA as well as Steve’s favorite wine and share some stories and celebrate the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest cyclists.
Many of us plan to watch the fireworks from the back yard of the Rivers Eatery at 10 PM. All food, drink and memorabilia proceeds from the evening will go to the charities set up in Steve’s name to promote youth and drug-free cycling.
A quiet weekend on tap with the Fourth of July Holiday following on Tuesday. Next weeks report on vacation, will catch up the week after two big races in both series, both in Wisconsin!
The WORS Cup presented by Trek will be hosted at Alpine Valley Resort near Elkhorn, Wisconsin on July 7-9, 2017. This event promises to display the high level of production from past WORS Cups, providing a UCI level experience for participants, spectators, and exhibitors alike. Sanctioned as USA Cycling’s Midwest Regional Mountain Bike Championship for Cross-country (XC), Short Track (STXC) and Enduro, the WORS Cup will offer both Championship and Non-Championship for all ages and levels of experience. This three day event, (one practice day, two days of competition), is slated to draw racers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The White Tail Ridge course will again challenge every type of rider. With a great mix of fast-flowing single track, roots and rocks, fast downhill sections, wide open fields, leg scorching climbs and our own signature elevated wooden berm. Whitetail Ridge is fast-becoming a Twin Cities favorite for riders looking for an ever-evolving challenge. Each race course is tailored to meet the ability level of racers, yet pose a challenge to keep things interesting. Whether it's a leg-churning climb or fun flowing downhill you crave, the trails at Whitetail Ridge will serve up something for everyone.
The race has evolved over the past years into a great community fund-raising campaign in which the local mountain bike club, Kinnickinnic Off-Road Cyclists (KORC) use 100% of the race proceeds to either build and maintain new trails at Whitetail Ridge along with promoting other mountain biking opportunities in the Twin Cities metro and St. Croix River Valley.
Have a safe Fourth and ...
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