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High School

Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
August 20, 2019

A busy weekend on the racing front with multiple events going on. Both the Wisconsin and Minnesota series had races as the final events near the end. Also grass roots racing on the CAMBA trails with the long time running Seeley Pre-Fat and events at Giants Ride as part of the "Grind" festival. Recaps and highlights from all these events plus the look ahead to the last weeks of August cap off this weeks and final report for August!

MNMBS #7 Cuyuna Crusher

The popular trails of Cuyuna was host to race #7 in the Minnesota Series and is always one of the more well attended races in the series. The course was similar to years past but this year featured a long access road climb to the top for the starter loop before connecting to the last 1/3rd of the course. Long laps made for a big miles in the saddle as finishing times were the longest of the season for all classes.

The course saw a light shower in the early morning hours which only hardened the already bomb proof surface and made for very fast riding, as usual. There was no change in the course for the classes so even though the Sport/Comp/Expert races were racing on the same course, the high speeds made for challenging conditions to avoid crashing and hitting the sharp rocks which not only caused multiple flats but unfortunately a few trips to the ER for a handful of riders with lacerations.

The Cuyuna trails have been one of the major training grounds for NICA riders and it showed in the results as the top four of the top five females in the Elite class were all 18 and under. Taking the top step was Zoe Camp who won by just over a minute over the only non junior rider Jenny Beckman on the podium. Rounding out the top five were Gabrielle Manzion, Zoe Penno, and Ellie Shuros in a tight battle for the final spots on the steps.

Like the females, the male Elite class was highlighted at the top by junior riders. Local star Braeden Anderson put a "crushing" performance on the rest of the field, taking the win over fellow junior rider Jack Brandvold. Sam Berkland, Casey Griesmer and Brendan Bellew rounded out the top five. I toed the line with the rest of the Elite course. After the first lap I realized it was going to be a long race and rode a comfortable pace, keeping fellow Master blaster Jeff Colbert in sight who made it feel like a race until he pulled away from me on the last lap and moved up the field nicely to a 17th place finish. At the start I lined up with fellow team member Ben Olson who came straight from the ER having brought his son their earlier in the morning to stitch up a laceration. Seeing a few other riders on the side of the trail dealing with crashes and battle wounds, I definitely focused riding clean as possible on the fast tech track.

Post race chatter with the team

Cuyuna Crusher Results 

WORS #9 Reforestation Rambler

Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team (ANST) was host of the Rambler and acted as a fundraiser for trail repair and improvement for summer bike use and more than match the dollars with skier sweat equity. The course featured a mix of fast flowing track with high speed double track and the occasional feature keeping riders on their toes.

Leia Rollins and Cole House both picked up where they left off from last weekends big Ore to Shore wins by following up with wins in the Elite races at the Reforestation Rambler. Rollins win came in convincing fashion, showing her form is dialed with a nearly 3 minute gap over second place finisher Holly Lavesser. Caitlin Neuman, Ashely Berton and Anna Ganju rounded out the top five. House's win was a bit tighter with Ben Senkerik coming in 90 seconds. Tight racing for final podium spots as young gun Aidan Lemorande took third, WORS seasoned vet Tristan Schouten in fourth and Ray Nelson in fifth.

Reforestation Rambler Results 

Seeley Pre-Fat

The friendly and down to earth Seeley Lions were host to the long time running Seeley Pre Fat which featured a nice mix of forest and gravel roads, double track and CAMBA singletrack. Although the fields were slightly lower this year, there was good competition as usual including many Nordic skiers, naturally, as Midwest legend Jeff Hall took another 25 mile win over young gun 16 year old Pavel Nelson and Mason Bacso. The skilled multi discipline mountain biker Eleanor Bacso took the win in the female long event which featured 25 miles of old style cross country racing. Rounding out the top three were Kristina Morse and Bonnie Weiskopf.

Seeley Pre Fat 25 Mile race leaders (Credit: Seeley Lions)

Female winner Bacso sent in a report from Seeley:

Mason and I decided last minute to try the Seeley Pre-Fat mountain bike race. Friends of ours had suggested this race multiple times and with my family’s cabin in the area, we decided to give the race a shot. On Saturday morning, we woke up drove to the start which was at the new 00 trailhead. The sun was shining and the temperatures were already starting to heat up. Mason and I headed out for a quick warm up and readied ourselves at the start line. There is always such a fun feeling lining up at a race with everyone who is going through various emotions such as nervousness, excitedness or just being completely focused.

When it was finally time to take off, I tried to stay as close up to the front as I possibly could. We began on the road which turned relatively quickly onto the gravel. There was a front group that developed right away and I was in the second chase group. Unfortunately the group I was in wasn’t able to catch up to the lead but I rode with about three to four other men for the majority of the gravel. Usually these power sections are pretty difficult for me but I worked as hard as I could without burning up my legs too much. Suddenly another woman had joined our pack and our group was quickly approaching the single track section.

I was able to enter in the woods in a semi-decent position and started to pass the individuals in front of me. I had difficulty passing one male rider who would not verbally respond to my requests to get around him. Eventually I was able to get by after minutes slowly passed. This was and is a very frustratingly common situation that many women encounter in not only bike races but in other sport endeavors.

Seeley Pre Fat Female Podium 25 Mile Race (Credit: Mason Bacso)

The remainder of the male racers I caught and passed were very encouraging to me and moved over immediately, which I appreciated. As I rode the single track, I felt very strong and rode with some of the same men for about the last 10 miles. My enduro skills kicked in towards the end which helped gain me some time on the downhills. Towards the end of the race, I climbed up and out of the Seeley pass, over the bridge and saw Mason! He yelled that I was in the lead and forewarned that there was almost a mile of uphill ski trail left to tackle. I kept my pace steady and dropped into Makwa for the last little bit of single track. I sprinted down the ski trail to the finish line which was located at the new Korte start.

It was so cool to hear the announcer cheering my name as the first female! I caught my breath and ran over to see how Mason had done. He had secured a 3rd place and whats even better- had a blast racing! The Seeley Lions Club did a fantastic job on such a unique and fun course. This race was so much fun being a Saturday race, with food and beverages included and of course the amazing trails that CAMBA has to offer.

The next upcoming race is at Maplelag Resort. This is always the most fun weekend of the year, celebrating the end of summer with friends, family and making memories at such a special and wonderful place.

Pre Fat Results 

Giants Ridge "Grind" 

Giants Ridge, once host to a super fun stage race over Labor Day weekend, took a break from hosting mountain bike races for years only to return with the GRIND event recently which features a long and short cross country race and a downhill/Enduro events this year. The downhill/Enduro provided riders an opportunity to check out the new gravity trails that have been built.

In the female division long race, Connie Sjoquist took top honors over Tami Sommerville and Sheri Shrock. Male division winner was Dave Christansen posting a time of 3 hours and 4 minutes on the 37 mile course. Charlie Maahs and Matthew Lauseng rounded out the top three. Enduro/downhill winners were Jake Richards and Becca Sommerville

At the start of Grind Enduro (Credit: Jake Richards)

Grind Results 

Related: Rock Solid Trails Instagram post of new trails coming to Chisolm area 

New trail on the Iron Range in Chisholm area (Credit: IROC)

Looking Ahead

High school racing action at Buck Hill

The high school mountain bike season has been off and running for over a month now with team practices at least two times a week. Now the race season starts with the first race in Minnesota this weekend. With the growth of high school mountain biking in the Midwest, event schedule and dynamics has definitely changed.

WORS Final Treadfest 

Cole House navigating challenging conditions found on the TreadFest course

TREADHEAD’S are once again excited to have TREADFEST as the Grand Finale of WORS 2019! The TREADHEAD’S have worked tirelessly to add features to the course and events to make TREADFEST even better. The new features in the TREADZONE last year made for a great place for spectators to see their rider go by several times.

TREADFEST offers one of the tougher courses on the WORS circuit. The course has plenty of climbing and lots of single track broken up by sections for passing. The course is laid out with three different loops depending on the ability of the race so that everyone can have fun no matter what their ability is. TREADFEST has activities for riders and families

MNMBS #8 Laddies Loppet 

Old style singletrack at Maplelag

Maplelag Resort is set to host race #8 in the Minnesota series over Labor day weekend. The 29th running of Laddies Loppet will feature the usual old style singletrack cross country race on Saturday and high speed short track racing on Sunday. In between is mountain bike fellowship in a unique setting featuring home cooked family style served meals including the five famous bottomless cookie jars. Live music and activities outside of racing for all ages make it a special long weekend event for everyone. There is new 3 mile trail that is now open for riding as well (not part of race course). Other highlights include cash payout for marathon racers and as usual top 15 payout for Elite male and female classes.

Deer Fly Chase 

Aaron Swanson leading in Deer Fly Chase 2017

Join the Chippewa Off Road Biking Association (CORBA) for the annual Deer Fly Chase race on the trails of Hickory Ridge late September.This mountain bike race offers great trails, a challenging course, and beautiful country in a friendly atmosphere. The long race is 28 miles and the short race is 17 miles

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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