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Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
August 1, 2017

The first week of August is upon us, with some of the bigger races and events of the season forthcoming. This weeks report includes first hand recaps from last weekends PRO XCT race Boston Rebellion, MNMBS race at Gamehaven, mountain bike events coming up including a busy weekend of point to point racing.

Boston Rebellion PRO XCT

A handful of Midwestern riders extended their visit east after National championships including Breezy Point, MN rider Samuel Elson who provides a first hand recap from the Pro race. Elson recorded a top 25 finish, just ahead of fellow Midwestern Peter Karinen. Cole House nailed a top 10 finish recording an impressive 7th place on the technical course. Elson’s recap:

The course at the Boston Rebellion has plenty of rocks, roots, punchy climbs, and super tight single track. Basically, it rides exactly like the mountain bike trails at Maplelag Resort. I had raced here almost exactly a year ago, but I had to drop out of that race because of a flat tire, so I was very happy to return this year and redeem myself. This year, the race was an HC rated UCI race, so the field consisted of many racers from South America and even a few racers from Australia. The start of the race was an absolute mess. We only had about 40 seconds of double track until we took a very sharp corner into single track. I got caught up behind a crash right away, and went into the woods in about 45th place out of the 55 competitors. Slowly but surely, I managed to work my way up through the field and by the middle of the race, I was in about 25th place and riding with Jeremy Powers. Just over an hour into the race, I started going through a bit of a rough patch and Jeremy dropped me. I was probably getting tired from the gnarly single track. The insane number of rocks and roots kept me on my toes all day, and you were always trying to pick the smoothest and fastest line. I was passed by one more person, and was finally able to hang onto a group of 3 other riders that caught me. I rode with them for almost the entire last lap. When we finally came to a passing zone with just a couple of minutes left, I decided that it was time to make my move.


(Photo: Elson off the A-line)

I attacked the other guys I was with right before the Shimano "A-line", which is a solid 3-4 foot drop followed shortly by a rock garden. I sent the A-line, hammered through the rock garden, and kept on pushing as hard as I could all the way to the finish. I ended up in 25th place, which is the last place that gets a UCI point. This was my final chance of the year to snag my first UCI point in the elite ranks, so I was very satisfied with my performance. I really love the course here in Boston and I can't wait to return next year!

Results/Coverage on Cyclingnews.com 

Gamehaven Recap

Minnesota series racers headed south this past weekend to race at a new venue on the series, the Gamehaven Scout Camp near Rochester. A host to successful high school races, the volunteer built trails have provided mountain biking opportunities for the growing scene south.

Long time racer and mountain bike advocate Matt Johnson provides a recap:

On Sunday our family made the trip to Rochester Minnesota to race at the Gamehaven Scout Camp. Jeff Robertson and a group of local volunteers have been working with the scout camp for years to develop mountain bike trails on the site. They have hosted a number of high school league races. This would be their first Minnesota Mountain Bike Series race.

The conditions for the race were excellent with a sunny 80 degrees and dry trails. My son Cole had the advantage of racing here with the high school league last fall. My son Jack and I would both be navigating the course for the first time.

(Photo: Kid Comp racers lined up ready to race, Credit: Travis Seeger)

A change in the start waves had us all lining up together in the Sport class. The front row call up consisted of three 40 year olds and three kids under 18. At the whistle we accelerated up the gravel start climb. Tom Beyer (15-18) went to the front while three of the guys in my age group (40-49) followed him including Nick Pettis, Bill Walters and me. We quickly reached the top and the trail narrowed as we began a long descent into the woods.

The singletrack linked together well and the corners felt natural and smooth. The trail work put in by volunteers was clear and a joy to ride. The trail was just wide enough to sneak a pass if you had the right momentum. I had pushed myself a little too hard at the start in previous weeks so I let a few riders pass by including Cole while I saved a little fuel for lap two. Towards the middle of the first lap we started to encounter a few short punchy climbs and then near the end of the lap the climbs had me using all of my 1x gears.

We came out of the woods to complete lap one and I grabbed a cold bottle from my wife Meredith who was supporting the family trail side. I now had a good sense of the course and started working my way back towards the front. I started to see a few riders from my age group including Tony Lema who is consistently fast. Tony let me pass and he quickly jumped on my wheel. At the next doubletrack section he jumped back into the lead and I followed him closely. I knew we still had most of the climbing left and when we hit the next major climb Tony cracked hard. I was able to get around him and soon saw Nick up the trail. I wasn't able to close the gap and finished second in my age group to Nick on the day. Bill unfortunately broke a chain early in the race or he would have surely been in the top group. It's great to have strong competitors in their 40's to race with each week, the racing is clean and we are always pushing each other to go faster.

The young guys beat us this week with all of the Top 10 finishers in Sport under the age of 18 led by Tom Beyer, Emmett Donohue and Chihiro Gustafson. The largest men's age group in Sport was actually the (50-59) class, won by Jack Ellefson. The Women's Sport race was equally competitive with Siri Bohacek taking the overall win with an impressive time of 1:04, followed by Lisa Young and Kris Brazil each of whom won their respective age groups.

I want to give special recognition to Jeff Robertson who has worked behind the scenes for many years building and advocating for trails in his hometown of Rochester and playing a critical role in managing the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series. The Gamehaven site is on par with any race course in the Series and I look forward to going back for many years.

Results

Spirit Mountain Bike Divas

The second session of Spirit Mountain Bike Divas starts this month, designed to be an environment where women are supported and thrive in improving their skills and building confidence on the bike and trails. This is not an intense downhill or jumps clinic, it is safety minded fun.

Each week riders join coaches who will cover the fundamentals and to develop skill sets for the trails. Divas is great for beginners to intermediate riders and is designed to give every Mountain Bike Diva the opportunity to build confidence and skills to make the mountain her own.

Back from the high country: Cyclists describe trials of 2,745-mile race

For most of a month through June and part of July, seven Duluth-area cyclists were among nearly 200 who took part in the brutal and unforgiving Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile bicycle ride along the spine of the country — the Continental Divide — from Banff, Alberta, to the Mexican border in New Mexico. Five of them finished the race, their times ranging from 22½ to 29½ days. Two decided to drop out. Read the full story.

Best Mountain Bike Trails in the World


(Photo: Burro Pass on the Whole Enchilada Trail, Credit: Michael Paul)

Ready to quit the job, sell everything and travel around the world riding mountain bike? Singletracks.com latest “top” list is a good one, the top mountain bike trails in the world. Pretty tough to single out ten in the world but a great read. Spoiler alert: if you are wondering the top trail in the United States like I was, it is the Whole Enchilada at Moab Utah.

Upcoming Events This Weekend

Maah Daah Hey 100


(Photo: Early morning racing on the Maa Daah Hey, Credit: Greg Ames)

The unique and exhilarating Maah Daah Hey trail is host to the MDH 100 this past weekend. Possibly one of the most grueling and challenging endurance mountain bike races out there. Probably the most challenge aspect is the exposure and heat. "This event will push competitive riders to their limits while giving every participant an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. The Badlands provide a truly stunning backdrop for one of North America’s most challenging and rewarding stretches of singletrack. This race is EXTREME, death or serious injury could occur, race at your own risk!” states the event page.

Ore to Shore

One of the longer running point to point races in the UP, the Ore to Shore takes place in the communities of Negaunee, Ipsheming and Marquette. The course features a mix of fast rolling doubletrack, forest roads broken up with challenging climb on bedrock. Always a strong field racing for big prize money.

Hixon Forest Epic

WORS heads to southwest Wisconsin near Lacrosse for racing on land preserved by the Hixon family. Course description: An uphill rolling meadow start to heat up the legs and spread out the pack. Sport, Comp, and Elite riders will endure the spectator-favorite downhill section followed by a long, steady climb up the Vista Trail. Racers can relax for only a short section of road riding before diving into the technical single-track portions of the course. Citizen and Junior courses maintain the characteristic Hixon challenges with significantly less climbing. All riders can expect to find thrilling challenges through rock gardens, root tangles, and punchy climbs with fast descents.

Looking Ahead

Seeley PreFat

The PreFat provides the perfect warm-up for the Chequamegon Fat Tire races. The race course starts and ends at the Hwy 00 trailhead and goes north using both forest roads, single and double track, allowing fast speeds and easy passing, and the CAMBA single track to test your riding skills. Great post race eats and beverage all served by one of the friendliest Lions clubs in America.

Copper Peak Trails Fest

Want the chance to stand on top of the world’s larges podium racing for over $1000 cash purse, head to Ironwood for the Copper Peak Trails Fest. The area is developing trails and ready to showcase them with a race in September. Pasta feed Friday night and post event party Saturday night with live music.

MNMBS Great Hawk Chase at Spirit Mountain 


(Photo: Racing returns to Spirit mountain, 2016 MNMBS racing action, Credit: Todd Bauer)

Next up in the MNMBS is racing action in Duluth. Originally scheduled for Lester Park, the venue has now been changed to Spirit Mountain. I talked to local Scott Kylander-Johnson who build a lot of the original singletrack at Spirit Mountain that has now disappeared to a alpine slide and flow trail. However, Scotty has been working on different scenarios for this years race and all racers will not be disappointed from Kids Comp to Experts. While the Citizen and Sport races will focus on the lower part of the mountain with a nice mix of flow trail, challenging climbs and a sprinkle of tech singletrack, the Comp and Elite riders will be see a bit more tech climbing along with some technical sections that will have require riders attention from going off a steep ledge! Fast downhills mixed in to provide a truly pure mountain bike 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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