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High School

Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
July 12, 2017

Summer mountain bike racing shifted back into gear in both the Minnesota and Wisconsin series last weekend, both races being held in Wisconsin. This weeks report includes recaps from both races and the look ahead.

Midwest Mountain Bike Championships

Race #6 in the Wisconsin Off Road Series served as the Midwest Mountain Bike Championships which included not only the cross country race on Saturday but short track racing and enduro racing among other events.

U23 sensation from Breezy, Point MN. Samuel Elson made the trek across the border to compete among the top riders in Wisconsin and neighboring states and files a recap of his solid finish in cross country race on Saturday:

The WORS Cup-Midwest MTB Championship was at Alpine Valley this year, and the course was a lot of fun. It consisted of two main climbs, and a lot of tight and twisty single track with some fun roots and rocks. It had rained just a little bit in the days leading up to the race, which made for perfect racing conditions. The start of the race was extremely intense, and I entered the woods in about 6th place. After hammering up the main climb at the beginning of the lap, I managed to sit in with the top 5. At first, it looked like Cole House was going to leave us right away, but he couldn't make any attack stick. For the first two laps, there were seven of us. Some gaps would form, but nobody could make anything of the situation, and the group was always brought back together. Slowly but surely, we would start dropping riders. I made a move at the end of the 3rd lap to pass Corey Stelljes, and I had to really work hard to catch up to the lead group of Cole House, Pete Karinen, and Brian Matter. Right before we started our 4th and final lap, Pete and Brian decided to punch it up the second big climb, and I went around Cole House to stay with them. I managed to stay with those two until there was only half a lap to go, and I was hitting a wall at that point. I was getting exhausted and it was difficult to handle my bike in the tight single track. In the end, I was only 19 seconds behind Pete Karinen, and about 7 seconds behind Brian Matter. I felt like I was pinned the whole race, so I was very happy to walk away with a top 3 and I'm hoping to keep this momentum for the national championship in only two weeks.

(Photo: Elite male podium)

Cat 1 elite women saw a field of 14 riders as Holly Lavesser took her first win over Leia Schneeberger by just over a minute. u23 rider Emma Swartz took third as Anna Ganju and Meghan Korol rounded out the top five.

Sunday featured exciting short track racing and gravity events.

(Photo: Cat 1 Female overall winner Holly Lavesser navigates through a rock garden, Credit: XTR Photo)


Border Crossing

Minnesota series racers crossed the border to Wisconsin for race #6 in the MNMBS, hitting up the popular Whitetail Ridge trail system. Once again Sport rider Cole Johnson provided a great report of the day, highlighted by his top 3 finish on the day:

The Border Crossing mountain bike race was the sixth race in the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series this year. In my opinion it is one of the best trails to race and ride in/near Minnesota The course is in river falls, WI. The forecast was unpredictable for the day and as rain drizzled during my warm up it looked like we could be racing in the rain. But by the time we lined up to start the rain had stopped for the rest of the day and the course was perfect. The course at River Falls is one of my favorites because of its diversity. The race starts with a climb up a long gravel service road and goes around a corn field before diving into the fast, root-filled singletrack that make the race unique. Towards the end of the lap we climb some hills in the single track before dropping down to the signature wooden berm that everyone loves, we climb up a steep rocky jeep road before hitting the ‘black’ rocky/technical section before the finish. The loop is about 7 miles so sport did only 2 laps for the race. I race in the men 15-18 sport class, and this is my first year of racing in sport. The race starts on the grass field before turning up to ascend the gravel road.

Tom Beyer (15) who is usually the racer to push the pace on the climbs was not there to race that day so Chihiro Gustafson (17) of the Mounds View mountain bike team followed by Willam Krattley (15) of MNJRC and Andrew Shuros (14) my teammate on the Highland Park mountain bike team led the pace on the hill. The start was very fast so I dropped back to maybe 6th wheel by the top of the climb and chased down the front three inside the first half lap. The four of us raced almost a complete lap together and I took second wheel behind Chihiro, who, at the bottom of the black section, just before the lap dropped his chain so then Krattley, Shuros, and I went around him to keep racing. Chihiro never caught back up and finished fourth in our age group (15-18). I felt very good at the lap and wanted to put the tactics to work, so I let Krattley lead up the climb with Shuros behind me. In the next two sections we dropped Shuros, so it was just Krattley and me. Willam never raised the pace on me so I was happy to sit on his wheel and rest until about half a lap to go I attacked on the double track and tried to make him work before the steep climb and technical trail we had left. It worked, I put some distance between us and was in front at the bottom of the single track, unfortunately I lost my focus for a second in the last corner as I closed on a rider from a wave in front of me too quickly. I went off line just enough into the loose dirt and rocks and took a slight fall. I didn't lose my place to Krattley but my seat was fully twisted so I couldn't sit when I navigated the grassy corners before the finish. As a result I couldn't quite take the inside line into the finish straight and he edged me by an inch at the line. I was disappointed at this because I felt great all race and felt like the faster racer but credit to Krattley he did exactly what I would have done in that situation, in his line choice and execution. So I finished second in my age group and third overall for sport which I am happy about. Some other notable finishes for the day, Kasia Bednarski finished first overall for sport women, Eleanor Bacso took her first overall win for Elite women, and Jesse Lalonde edged out Dominic Talerico in the sprint for the men's elite race win.

Photos: Skinnyski

Minnesota Mountain Bike Series Board

The MNMTBS is expanding and looking add a few passionate mountain bikers to the leadership group. They are currently seeking the following members;

  • Finances and taxes
  • Sponsorship / fund raising
  • Safety & course vetting
  • Two social media posters
  • Two general volunteers for administrative tasks

The driving force for the MNMTBS is to promote mountain bike racing and provide a sustainable structure for local races. The MNMTBS is a non-profit organization and run by volunteers. Each role is structured so that it is not an overwhelming amount of time commitment, and all of the members find it very rewarding. MNMTBS states "It is important that we continue to provide racing opportunities for families long into the future and therefore we need to add volunteers to our ranks. If you are excited about mountain biking and want to explore this opportunity please contact us by email." 

Looking Ahead

The Minnesota series goes back to back weekends, hitting up a new venue and the new trails at Lake Rebecca park, managed and maintained by the Three Rivers Park District. The race features one large 14 mile loop with tweaks for each category, Experts doing two laps as racers shred through tightly weaving singletrack that climbs and descends through dense oak and maple forests, open prairies and scenic wetlands that are home to a thriving trumpeter swan population. Three Rivers states “one of the highlights of the Big Woods Classic is the Landscape Structures. and the amazing race village at Hillside Picnic Area. Nestled in the heart of the start/finish area, racers and their fans have ample room to hang out, picnic, meet with sponsors and vendors, demo a huge selection of bikes, try family-friendly activities, drink amazing beers from Lupine Brewery, eat great food, and be merry! All with a stunning 180-degree view of the course.”

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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