Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
September 6, 2016

A great Labor day weekend of racing! There were plenty of events for riders from the Midwest to hit up including the Copper Harbor Mountain Bike Festival, Giants Ridge, the Dakota 5-0 and the Laddies Loppet at Maplelag Resort. This weeks report includes a recap from the Laddies Loppet, couple of news and notes items and the look ahead.

26th Laddies Loppet

The Laddies Loppet is a mountain bike event that has been held at Maplelag Resort since 1990, making it one of the longest running events in the Midwest. The year I first started mountain biking was also the first year I started promoting the Laddies Loppet. After participating in a few races that summer of 1990, I was hooked and thought it would be fun to put on a race at Maplelag. The first race I did that first summer was at Quadna Resort, promoted by Gene Obrepriller and the Alt Bike and Board Shop. The course featured what is now called classic old school singletrack. After riding that course I had the bug to build trail similar to what we rode in the race. There wasn’t a lot of time to crank out trail that summer before the first Laddies Loppet slated in the fall of 1990 but we managed to crank out a couple miles of raw, hand built singletrack that has since been modified greatly. The rest of the course in 1990 featured mostly ski trail and the typical bike was a fully rigid.

This years course for the Sport/Comp/Expert and Marathon races included most of the singletrack that has been built at Maplelag, minus a couple of sections that were removed based on rider feedback from previous years, MNMBS guidelines and consideration that we were hosting a marathon race which features four hours of racing. The Citizen and Kids Comp course were similar of previous years. Preparing the course for this year was unlike any other summer as we had close to 75 trees that came down in winter storms on the bike course alone that required removal. I had a great group of friends that helped moved most of the trees in a four day period that I can’t thank enough. In the process of clearing the trees, we did a lot of fine tuning along the way and this included up right until the morning of the race. I will ride the course close to 50 times during the summer, most of the times at “race pace” to see what needs improvement or tweaking to get it dialed in.

The weekend racing kicked off on Saturday morning with the cross country races after riders staying at the resort filled up on chef Deb’s famous Norwegian pancakes served with berries, pure maple syrup and cream. Breakfast runs pretty close to the first races so it’s always a fine line for the first classes on how much to consume! With the first races running early Saturday morning after most people arrive in late Friday, there isn’t much time to get settled in. That didn’t stop long time Maplelag guest Nico Alexander in the Kids Comp as he took the overall win in the boy’s division. Ten year old Gracie Guyer from River Falls, WI. took the girls division. The youth movement continued in the Citizen race as the top three riders were14 and under as Cole Bergman, Wyatt Horner, and Cole Johnson took the top three spots respectively. The female division was nearly the same as 13 year old Sudie Hall took the win followed by 21 year old Megan Schleske racing in her first race and third spot going to 15 year old Ellie Shuros.

Up next was the marathon class who started on the full course that featured 600 feet of climbing in the first four miles! Cranking out 4 full laps plus a 5th lap that only missed out the lakeside drop section was Keven Ishaugh who put in a jaw dropping performance. Tom Camp was in second who also completed the same amount of laps as Gnate Hackensack rolled in third doing just one less lap than Kevin and Tom. Taking top female honors was Pamela Nielson who was on course for 4 hours and 39 minutes followed by Ronnie Wick. Huge kudos to the marathon racers. Personally, in all these years riding the Maplelag course, I have never done more than three laps at one time!

(Photo: Henry Hall dialed in the Sport Race)

The Sport class was the first class to do a prologue lap before dropping right into the lakeside drop section. This made for a bit crazy starting and not the most ideal but we had to make the change after a shift in policy with the DNR that forced us to use different trails as concerns by the DNR that invasive species would be transported on nearby AMA land possible by mountain bikes that had come from a different location even though no invasive species had been found in a recent inspection. Anyways, the riders adopted and made the racing intense at the start with the larger waves having to manage dabs or slip ups by riders in front but everything sorted out fine. Fifteen year old Henry Hall, easily identified on the trail by his flowing locks, took the overall win, and the only rider to crack one hour. Bruce Adelsman of skinnyski.com of course, caught a great photo of Henry coming up the Lakeside section, looking ahead down the trail instead of right in front of him. Nice work guys! Rounding out the top three in the Sport males were Logan Christian who was at the time trial earlier in the week dialing in the course and AJ Lange. Sport female division saw 14 year old Zoe Camp rip out an impressive lap in 1 hour 14 minutes followed by 15 year old Kaisia Bednardski and Christin Stuschka.

Comp Men were up next and instead of hitting the lakeside drop section, continued on the ski trail making way toward Suicide Hill before getting into the full lap. The dominance of the young guns continued (which was awesome to see) as 16 year old singletrack slayer Calvin Sandberg took the overall in a time of 1:35:06. He was followed by ESPN X Games Sno Cross star Tucker Hibbert, Dave Christansen and Maplelag team riders Matt Horner and Matt Engen. Good to see two other teenagers in the top 10 mix at Campbell Karjalla (16) took 7th and Wyatt Horner (15) took the 8th spot.

Elite women ran the same course as Comp men and featured one of the largest fields at Maplelag in recent years with 11 women to toe the line. There was questions why the elite women ran a shorter race than Elite men, reasoning being laps set from rider feedback from previous years and MNMBS guidelines. Sara Kylander-Johnson added to her win list at Maplelag taking the top position over marathon specialist and the partially retired Pro Kyia Anderson. Robin Williams, Eleanor Bacso and jr rider Anna Christian who was the Minnesota state high school champ last year, rounded out the top five.

(Photo: Kyia Anderson at the lakeside drops)

The Elite men were the last class to head out course and although the field wasn’t particularly large, it was loaded with some solid riders. Coming down from Canada was last weekends Manitoba Provincial champion Jason Wiebe and bronze medalist Chris Benson. Adding to the list including the usual suspects from the series were Brendan Moore who was racing in his first MNMBS cross country event of the season and John Westling who flew in from California after a busy summer training athletes with the Geico/Honda motocross team. The Elite men did two prologue laps to try and string out the field but the pace was all out and did little to mettle the field. Jeff Hall was first to get to the singletrack and would stay there all day. Brendan Moore was 30-40 seconds back after the lakeside section as riders sorted out the selection and was unable to bridge the gap. Chris Benson maintained his third place positing from early on to finish in that spot. Mason Bacso and Jason Wiehe rounded out the top five respectively.

Sunday racing action was the exciting short track races. Kid Comps were the first to kick off the day, racing on two laps of a course just under a mile featuring double track ski trail with tight turns, quick corners and a couple short punchy climbs. Kids Comp overall winners were Gracie Guyer and Brady Thompson. Nice job kids racing on the longer lap this year! Both male and female riders competed against each other as the Citizen class was up next with 10 minutes of racing plus two laps on tap. Sudie Hall and Ellie Shurors battled for the top female spot with Sudie taking the win. Kristie Trosel rounded out the top podium spot. The male division saw junior riders Cole House and Wyatt Horner continue to do battle, each taking turns at the front. Cole’s hard work this summer and a little road crit experience paid off as he made a move that stuck to just nudge Wyatt. I was personally excited for Cole to take the win as there can’t be a kid more amped about mountain bike racing, always watching the races in each class and having a good knowledge of the racing scene. If there is anyone that will be suited for future MW MTB reports, it will be him. Rounding out the top three was Daymon Thompson who was in the mix of a full bowl of junior riders.

(Photo: Kids comp short track)

A quick course change for the Sport race as riders in this class along with Comp and Expert would go up the steeper part of the “Back Bowl”. The sport race had no lack of excitement and story lines as jr female rider Zoe Camp was mixing it up in the front later in the race after bridging a gap to the front from the fourth spot. However, it was the cagey veteran Matt Johnson taking the overall win as Zoe caught Per Alexander in the sprint at the finish line for the second spot and top female. Rounding out the top three females where Kaisia Bednarski, and marathon racer Pamela Nielson who made the adjustment nicely from racing long distance to intense short track. Taking the third position in Sport male behind Johnson and Alexander was happy-go-lucky kid Isaac Lownenthal-Walsh.

The Comp Men and Elite women would join together for the next race, and was the largest field on the day. The first lap I went up to the ridge to watch riders go up and down before the final stiff climb up the back bowl than back down a twisty descent. It made me cringe watching the large field sort out to a single file while keeping the rubber side down. Whew, It’s a lot better to ride like that than watch! Regardless, the racing was very tight and it took 4 laps of the 7 lap race before things sorted out. In the mix as mentioned were the women as it was fun watching crowd favorite Kyia Anderson battle at the front. However it was Calvin Sandberg, Tucker Hibbert and Paul Schommer to be break away for the final lap as an exciting sprint was on tap. It was the young son Sandberg to take the win over Schommer with Hibbert just a handful of seconds back. Should be noted that Schommer went out for a 2 hour run in the morning, raced short track, than roller skied for 1.5 hours than went out for a mountain bike ride again. We are pulling for him as he tries to make the US National biathlon team! Kyia would keep strong to take the top female spot over Saturday’s cross country winner Sara Kylander Johnson. Third place would go to Eleanor Bacso, with Anna Christian and Leslie Hale rounding out the top five respectively.

The Elite men did not disappoint to keep the adrenaline flowing for spectators as a group of five would break free and continue on together until the final lap. Jeff Hall thought he made the move to stick but it was Kasey Bacso that took the win over the Canadian Jason Wiehe in a photo finish. The finishing sprint was one of the fastest I can ever remember. Fantastic stuff. Rounding out the top five would be Brendan Moore and Mason Bacso.

(Photo: Elite mens short track)

After the final awards ceremony and a hearty home cooked meal, folks enjoyed a variety of activities including paddle boarding, yoga, wood fire sauna, dirt jump track, live music, eastern block ping pong and overall great fellowship. With the racing wrapping up before lunch, it allowed many folks to get back on course and enjoy the buffed out conditions after the previous day of cross country racing. Huge thanks to all the racers that helped made it a great weekend and of course all the sponsors, volunteers, support staff and fans!

Coverage on skinnyski.com:  Cross-Country,  Short Track 

Shredding North America

The article last week catching attention and causing a little day dreaming is Singletracks.com listing of suggest trails to ride in each state and province. This is just a guideline but brings the attention that no matter where you are, there is probably a cool place to rip it up with the mountain bike. 

Looking Ahead


TREADFEST offers one of the “toughest” course on the WORS circuit and features the crowd pleasing Rock Garden, the infamous Colorado Heartbreaker, the serenity of the Pines, the excitement of Butch’s Playground and the fluid fast lines of The Big “O”. TREADFEST has activities for riders and families alike including: a consumer expo, TREADFEST Learn to Race Clinic, TREADFEST Kids Race, slacklines, tasty food and drink on site, TREADFEST T-shirts, the Next Door Pub Saturday night pasta feed, and all the weekend fun in beautiful Lake Geneva!

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/LaMere/Paramount/Jake's Bikes mountain bike team and enters his 26th 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