Mother Nature had her way this weekend for trail riding unless you were one of the hearty ones to hit up the series racing action in Minnesota or Wisconsin. This weeks report includes first hand recaps from the Shakedown, race #2 in the MNMBS, the Iola Bump and Jump, race #2 in WORS, a link to Duluth trail love and a look ahead to a quiet Memorial day weekend on the racing front.
MNMBS #2 Detroit Mountain Shakedown
Detroit Mountain was host to race #2 in the Minnesota Mountain Bike series offering a fast flowing course on the new trails built the past few years. Sunday race day wasn’t so fast for the early races as light steady rain on Saturday saturated the soil than a light rain Sunday morning facilitated a greasy surface once riders hit the course. However, by the time Comp and Expert riders hit the course, the track has been turned inside out and was starting to iron out with the constant beat down of riders. A couple of corners and turns remained greasy throughout keeping racers on the toes but by the last lap, the surface was like those hanging fly strips where the tires were connecting with no issues of sliding out. Perfect.
(Photo: Kyia Anderson having fun with the conditions in the marathon race. Lone female, top 10 among the males. Credit: MN Trails)
I made the short trip to Detroit Mountain to hit up the first race of the year for me. It has been a good spring of riding after probably the best winter of riding thanks to my friend Ben Olson grooming the Twin Lakes singletrack at Maplelag that made for some incredible winter riders and a good release after many hours of saddle time on the groomer. I had been in touch with race director Tony Schmitz about the weather during the week offering thoughts on what to do and his gut instinct was to go for it. I couldn’t help but think of the video of the guy that launches the snowmobile, crashing and says “still gonna send it”. Tony analyzed the forecasts and decided Thursday, letting MNMBS officials now, he was still gonna send it.
Rain all day Saturday in the entire state kept a lot of riders from “sending it” at Detroit Mountain but a hearty group of over 200 riders showed up in conditions what could be typical of a late season ski race, mist and upper 30’s for temps. The Sport and Marathon riders took the brunt of the mud but usually people that show up for a mud race like racing in it. This includes myself that was eagerly looking forward to the conditions. Maybe not the cool temps so much but thanks to lightweight clothing that keeps you warm, racing in cold temps a bit more “doable”.
The elite race started with a half lap that included a rollout on a service road that was sandy and saturated immediately coating the drivetrain. I was delayed in getting off like the rest of the field which had me at the very back at the end of the start but I was fine with that being it was the first race of the year and wanted to get into a rhythm before moving up. A quick right turn and we were on the singletrack slipping and sliding on the slickest part of the course making way to the west side for new trails built last summer. Original plans included the new “Rolling Thunder” loop but due to the conditions, this loop was taken out.
(Photo: Citizen riders on the switchback climb. Credit:MN Trails)
After completing the western loop we shot back over to the start area to begin a full lap and the switchback climb on the original “Chipmunk” ski run. Every time I climb this trail, I can’t help but reflect back on many times riding at Detroit Mountain, having only missed a couple years riding here since 1990. At the top of the climb we descended on what was probably my favorite part the course and winding and weaving descent on the back side before pumping some rollers back to the singletrack. I settled into a pace with a couple other riders and we took turns pulling each other along.
When we hit the western side for the the second time the track was starting to tack up, allowing the speeds to open up. After completion of the second lap of the west side I was starting to feel better and put a small gap on the two riders I was with and put a surge on the last climb knowing It would be all downhill and fast and flowing after the climb. The trail was getting faster and not sure if I was but it felt like it and looking at the Strava splits after the race, confirmed. Whatever, it was good to knock out the first race of the year and probably the best part was hooking up with fellow racers. This was short lived today as I had to get on the road and head to St Cloud for a grad party.
Nice job to Tony and all the helpers pulling off the race in less than ideal conditions and all the riders that battled the elements.
Notes: The Fargo Marathon was held the day before and two runners that competed in the half marathon, Steve Wenzel and Aaron Tait, also competed in the Shakedown, nothing dicing it up in the greasy Sport race
Wet weather also greeted riders and racers in race #2 in the Wisconsin series. Trails were closed for Saturday pre-riding but good to go for Sunday.
The Women’s Elite field was solid as usual as Leia Schneeberger took the win over Lindsay Guerra after a battle at the front. Those two created a gap over Anna Ganju who took third, Holly Lavesser fourth and Minneapolis rider and former MN high school champion Anna Christian rounding out the top five.
Elite rider Isaac Neff provides a recap from the mens race:
Riders at stop number two of the Wisconsin Off Road Series were met with cool temperatures and wet conditions at the line of the five-lap race in Iola. The race went off with a bang and riders immediately faced an uphill start that has long been a feature of the Iola course, followed by a plunge into “the bowl,” and then a series of fire road climbs that were cut short due to the wet conditions.
(Photo: The infamous “bowl” at Iola, Credit: WORS)
First up the hill in the men’s race was a always fast starter, Cole House. I was able to slot in behind Cole, and the rest of the large field of elite men followed. After the uphill start and the series of fire road climbs, we plunged into the first single track section and the race started to really take shape. Cole set a very fast pace through the first few corners, but wasn’t able to keep it upright and crashed in one of the corners. I was barely able to squeak by, running over a some of Cole (sorry) and ended up on the front.
Over the next lap and a half, a group of six emerged at the front: Nathan Guerra, Pete Karinen, Cole House, Caleb Swartz, and my Neff Cycle Service teammate, Corey Stelljes. After a few turns on the front I led the group into one of the slicker sections of single track and was able to force a gap with Nathan on my wheel. Over the next lap we traded pulls and our gap grew. Towards the end of the third lap I could see that someone was gaining on us, Corey! Corey made the catch and there were three of us at the front. Not soon after, Nathan decided it was time to go and put in the first real attack. Corey and I went with him, but I was hurting. Corey countered with a big move as we came through the start/finish and up the start climb. Nathan went after him and I did everything I could to stay with them. The move proved too much. I could not hold Nathan’s wheel and I watched Corey and Nathan pull away.
The next lap was the all in point of the race for me and I did everything I could to keep my bike moving forward with any kind of speed. Apparently my speed was not enough to hold off Pete, and he caught me toward the end of the fourth lap and went around me fast enough that I had no chance of latching on. I was alone again with another whole lap to go!
Luckily I was able to regain some composure, push through, and hold onto my fourth position, rolling across the line, surprisingly only a few minutes behind Nathan, who took the win after Corey made a mistake on a technical downhill and had to stop. Corey held onto second, Pete third.
In hindsight, my pace making early in the race was a bit too much for this point in the season, but it’s always fun to give it a go! I can’t wait to race the next WORS race in two weeks at Cam Rock, my home course, and give it another go.
If it isn’t Cuyuna or CAMBA, it’s Duluth making lists on great trails in the Midwest. The latest one to come across the desk is from National Geographic. Always fun to look at the other places and dream about riding other dirt. Copper Harbor in UP of Michigan also making the list. "To foster authentic bike culture, a town needs more than just high quality trails. These 20 mountain bike hamlets around the country (in no particular order) offer bucket-list rides, new trail development, a variety of outdoor recreation, and a fun, bike-friendly vibe."
(Photo: Copper Harbor)
A pretty quiet weekend as far as racing goes on tap. With the holiday weekend, the destination areas should be busy, hopefully tacky and dry trails to all! The Wisconsin Endurance Series heads to the Stump Farm for 100 miles of endurance race.
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