Midwest MTB Racing Report

by Jay Richards
June 25, 2013

Once again Mother Nature made things challenging this past weekend for Midwest mountain bikers, leading to the postponement of the Chequamegon 100 and forcing organizers of the Red Wing Memorial Classic, race #3 in the Minnesota Mountain Bike series, to shorten laps. But bottom line, folks were able to keep the wheels moving. This weeks report includes exclusive recaps from Jeremy Hecker and Sophia Marchiando from Red Wing and the usual look ahead.

Memorial Classic

The Memorial Classic served as the Minnesota single day State Championships. Wisconsin Pro, Jesse Lalonde crashed on the Minnesota party taking the win as Sara Kylander-Johnson took top honors for the females. Expert riders Jeremy Hecker and Sophia Machiando provide reports:

Jeremy's report:

There was quite a bit of checking weather forecasts, radar, and twitter updates on the days leading up to the race, and on the race day itself to check on the status of the 3rd race in the MNMTB series.  With heavy rains on the two days prior to the race, the course was sitting in pretty rough shape.  On the morning of the race the race officials made the call to switch the race course from the singletrack loop, to a rain loop consisting of mainly double track ski trails.  While we were a little disappointed in this switch as we were all really looking forward to the fun singletrack that Red Wing had to offer, we were all still excited to still be able to get on our bikes and race!

We had a group of seven riders from Maplelag/St. Scholastica head down to the race together to compete in the comp and expert categories.  Before the start of the race, we all got a chance to catch up and ride a couple mini-laps around park for a warm-up before heading to the line for the race.  At the race line we were greeted with a pleasant surprise.  Some of the shorter singletrack sections had dried up enough to ride and were added the race course to help change things up a little bit from the rain loop.  And with that, the whistle blew and the race was started!

This being only my second race of the year, and only my fourth xc bike race ever, I was a little unsure of my race tactics and pacing during an expert race still.  With the entire pack together during the rollout, the pace was very high.  It wasn’t until after the first couple single track sections and the long climb on the course that race started to spread out a little bit.  I wanted to start out a little bit more on the conservative side and go at my own pace for the first lap so I found myself towards the back of the pack after the first lap.  But as soon as I got back to the ski trail again, I started to feel more confident in how I was riding and decided to start making my way up the field.  This continued for the next couple laps and by the end of lap 5 I think I was sitting near 14th or 15th.  At that point I realized that my inexperience with mtb races and misjudging how long these races were kicked in.  I was having a harder time keeping up the pace that I had been before, and on the last lap was struggling to even keep my legs moving.  I ended up dropping a few positions to 23rd overall by the end of the race.  Overall I was happy with how the race went for me, and hopefully can use this as a learning experience for the next race this upcoming weekend at Buck Hill!

Overall the group of riders that came down had a really good race and had a fun time!  Mason Bacso, after recovering from a crash on lap 5, moved his way back up to 9th on the day.  Kasey Bacso didn’t have the legs in him and ended up having as much fun as he could and finished in 6th in his age category.  Eleanor Magnuson finished 3rd in her age category in the expert womens race.  Matt Lee and Paul Schommer finished 1st and 3rd in the 19-29 division in the comp division.  The overall winner in the mens expert/pro race was Jesse Lalonde with the race coming down to the last big climb.  Things were a lot less close in the womens expert race with Sarah Kylander-Johnson coming away with the win with almost a 4 minute lead. 

I want to thank all of the race officials, volunteers, and even the trail builders at Red Wing.  With out the hard work of all of these people, there is no way this race would have been pulled off the way it was.  Even with all of the bad luck that mother nature gave them, they were still able to host a fun and hard race.  I hope to see many of you on Sunday at the fun course at Buck Hill!

Sophia's report:

This past Sunday was the third race of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series in Red Wing. The day started pretty gloomy and wet. The race promoters decided they didn’t want a repeat of last years super wet course so they created a “rain lap” that consisted of double track with some single track. They had this as a backup plan if Red Wing got the rain it was supposed to and sadly that was the case. Thankfully by the start of the pro expert race the rain clouds went away and sun came out, but to protect the trails we were keeping the rain lap but added a tad more single track. Despite the bad weather conditions there was still a pretty good turn out in the elite women's field, six expert and one pro. 

Coming off of a concussion from a few weeks back I did not know what exactly to expect from myself. There were some pretty strong women on the line next to me. I was also the only member of my team Girl Fiend there that race, it felt weird without my girls next to me. Despite my nerves I had a solid start. Off the line I was in second position for a bit until Corey Coogan Cisek snuck around me and I hopped on her wheel. I sat there for a good while until I found my legs moved up to third where I was able to stay the rest of the race. The only problem with that was I was chasing April Morgan who was second the whole race so I was in no man’s land. Every now and then I’d jump on the wheel of a comp racer, but for the most part I was on the chase. I never knew exactly how far back Corey was and that really helped push me. 

Our race ended up being six laps and by lap three I knew the trail pretty well. It was a good mix of double track and single track with two small punchy climbs. After my first two laps my legs started to feel really good and I was able to break my fourth place streak and break into the top three behind Sara Kylander-Johnson and April Morgan with Corey Coogan Cisek behind me in fourth. Overall it turned out to be a really good day. A huge thanks to my teammates on Hollywood Cycles, the race promoters and everyone else who helped to put on a darn good race. Looking forward to another great race at the Buck Hill Birch Bump on Sunday.


Photoset: Red Wing Classic (from Todd Bauer)

Looking Ahead

Minnesota Mountain Bike Series - Birch Bump at Buck Hill

Back to back weekends for the Minnesota series as racers head to one of the longest running race venues in the Midwest, Buck Hill. Despite changes over the years, the Buck Hill continues to provide a great race venue and has created more race opportunities than probably any other venue in the country! If you are in the metro area and haven't checked out the Thursday night at Buck series, a great chance to preview the course at race speeds.

Lutsen 99er

The Lutsen 99er takes place high above the shores of Lake Superior. The 99 mile (39 mile option also offered) race course  takes advantage of the scenery and topography of Minnesota's North Shore. The race starts at Lutsen Ski Resort, in Minnesota’s Sawtooth Mountains, overlooking Lake Superior, with Category 3 climb. Once over the ridgeline, the course takes advantage of the glacially sculpted terrain, rolling hills, and numerous lakes and streams. A nice mountain bike adventure for sure.

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/Paramount mountain bike team and enters his 23rd year of racing and promoting mountain bike races.