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Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
May 21, 2019

The weather was not kind to mountain bikers in the Midwest this weekend on the racing front as forecasted rainy conditions that delivered for the most part, forced organizers to postpone the Iola Bump and Jump to this coming weekend and also the Rasta Rally. However it was business as usual on the World Cup circuit as rain made for a mudfest in the Men's XCO race but slowly dried up for the women's race as rising star American Kate Courtney took the win in the cross country event after a short track win the day before. This weeks report also takes a look at the growth in popularity of Enduro racing and the always popular Midweek Buck Hill races that start this week.

Courtney claims Albstadt World Cup win

American Kate Courtney backed up her 2018 World Championship win by taking the win in the opening round of the UCI World Cup in Albstadt Germany. Courtney pulled away with Jolanda Neff of Switzerland early in the race and eventually dropped Neff to take the win by 49 seconds. Another Amercian, Chloe Woodruff, familiar to Midwest riders as a former Chequemegon Fat Tire 40 winnner, posted a best ever finish at 7th place capping off a excellent showing the the Americans.

American Kate Courtney climbing to the win in the UCI World Cup race #1 in Albstadt

The men's race began with light rain, that turned into a deluge for nearly 30 minutes mid-race, before the sun came out for the final lap and a half. Swiss rider Mathias Flueckiger upset World champion Nino Schuter and young sensation Mathieu Van Der Poel to take the win in the men's race. Keegan Swenson was the top American rider in 70th place.

CyclingNews: Women's coverageMen's coverage

Enduro Ramps Up

When enduro racing debuted in the US in the early 2010s, it filled a void in American mountain bike racing. Cross-country racing demands intensive training plans and lightweight mountain bikes that shy away from technical descents. At the other end of the spectrum, downhill racing requires an impractical bike for most riders and the necessity to live near a venue that hosts downhill races.

Lars Ellefson, formerly of Park Rapids area, turning it up at the 2010 USA Cycling National Championships en route to a second place finish Cat 1 (19-24), Super D Sol Vista, Colorado

For a time, the Super-D format bridged the gap best. The courses were longer than a downhill race and less technical than one, which made the racing a little easier to sell to a wider audience. It also required more endurance than a traditional downhill race, which drew interest from the XC crowd. It had its drawbacks though as the more gravity minded racers thought it was too much XC. Read the full Singletrack.com article 

Enduro has filled the gap nicely, satisfying most downhill racers with just the right amount of xc but not too technical for the xc riders. Locally, Enduro has become popular in the Midwest, particularly the Great Lakes region with Duluth holding a midweek Enduro series along with weekend events like Max Fierek's Duluth Hard Enduro, and probably the most popular Enduro in the Midwest, the Duluth Bike Festival Enduro. Many of those racers also compete in the Great Lakes Gravity Series which includes sweet events in the UP communities of Copper Harbor and Marquette. Personally, Enduro has been very attractive as it includes riding and racing on course more typical in the infancy of cross country racing in the Midwest versus the explosion of fast flowing machine built trails that now dominate the racing circuits. The vibe is definitely more laid back but a midweek evening or a multi-stage event shredding the gnar satisfies the old school mountain bike appetite.

Spirit Mountain Bike Festival Long Enduro (Credit: Tone Coughlin)


Buck Hill

The ever so popular Thursday Night races at Buck Hill hosted by Freewheel Bike kicks off this week!

Detail from the series Facebook page:

The most important mountain bike race in the entire galaxy is coming back for its one zillionth year! Join everybody that's anybody for the most fun you can legally have on a weeknight.

Racing on Buck Hill singletrack (Credit: skinnyski.com)

This year, Freewheel Bike and Buck Hill Ski & Snowboard Area are bringing you two complete spring and summer race series! Starting May 23, the spring series kicks off its 6-week schedule, followed by a 7-week summer schedule starting July 18.

Beginner: 20-Minute Race
Recreational: 40-Minute Race
Advanced: 1-Hour Race
Series Prizes for the winners of each category.

More information

Minnesota Mountain Bike Summit

Cuyuna trails near Crosby, MN (Credit: Mason Bacso)

The Minnesota mountain bike summit is open for registration as the event date is fast approaching on the 26th which will be held at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, MN. The summit is about knowledge sharing and collective discussion in a workshop format. Presentations will only be used to set the stage for each session. Goals for all sessions are to 1) define current circumstances; 2) establish desired way forward; and 3) create an action plan.

Related: Bike Summit Flyer

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 29th 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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