Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
August 6, 2020

Summer is flying by fast, a few more racing opportunities popping up as we approach some of the best months of riding. This weeks report includes a recap from the Maah Daah Hey 100, highlights from the Duluth Enduro series which started up last week, updates on local races, a few cycling related items to note and the Strava Ride of the Week.

Maah Daah Hey 100

Start of the Maah Daah Hey (Credit: Julie Engen)

Ultra endurance racers were delighted to see the Maah Daah Hey in the North Dakota badlands take place and conditions were some of the best in years with cooler weather and dry fast conditions. The fast track resulted in record times being posted with Josh Tostado taking the 100 mile male division in 8 hours, 32 minutes and 58 seconds. He held off the legendary Tinker Juarez who rolled in just 30 seconds behind. Anoka resident Luke Nelson took the third spot. In the female division, Ashley Bushack posted the fastest time in 11 hours, 34 minutes. Rounding out the top three were Candace Jenkins, and Sandy Marshall.

Shane Kullman reports on his race from the 100:

2020 has been an interesting year, with no racing at all, having event after event cancelled or switched to “Virtual” I was waiting for the final message canceling North Dakota’s Legendary Maah Daah Hey 100. Because of the limited number of participants, the wide open landscape, and the sparseness of the population, the event was on! Nick Ybarra, the face and voice of the MDH, did a fine job adding some reassurance of distancing and cleanliness. The Thursday preceding the event I was able to do a short pre-ride of the start with Nick. We chatted about the weeks leading up, and the very extensive trail work. They utilized 400 lb mowers through all 107 miles while shovels and rouge hoes leveled out the washouts. One cool fact Nick told me is he alone marks the entire course, every sign post, every spray painted arrow keeping us on course.

The Morning of race day was picture perfect, 5am the parking lot was buzzing with bikes, temps were 58F and a light breeze. Just after 6am 70 riders from all over the country were finally racing. Tinker Juarez and Josh Tostado were off the front as expected and it was the last time I saw them. The terrain is exactly as it is always described: all single track, some rocky and sandy, some rooty and flanked by trees, and part of the trail were cow track through the fields. Every 10 miles there is approximately 1000 feet of climbing (and most of the time a similar decent)

One of the many climbs along the way (Credit: Luke Nelson)

Rinse and repeat for as long as it takes you. If the technical switchback downhills with shear drops don’t phase you, the random 1500 lb cow in the middle of the trail, the sound of a rattle snake or a cute prairie dog will keep you entertained. Each checkpoint had water, the main aid stations had everything you’d need to ride the event solo. I do however recommend you get a non-racing partner to drive SAG. The day is long, but the adventure of driving the backroads criss-crossing the course, and foraging the Little Missouri is nearly as fun. In the end those 2 fast guys finish within seconds at 8 hrs 32 mins, MN fast guy, Luke Nelson, was just behind at 8:41 rounding out the top 3. Out of the 70 riders who started the 107 mile race, 61 finished with the last die-hards rolling in at 16 hrs 57 mins, well clear of the 18 hour cut off. If you get the opportunity, participate in the 100/75/50/25 or 13 mile adventure. If you don’t dig racing, go ride any part, there are great places to access the trail, plus it continues another 50 miles farther south.


Strava Ride of the Week

The Strava Ride of the Week goes to Shane who provided the above report on the Maah Daah Hey. What impresses me about his ride is that on Monday he stopped by at Maplelag to ride the challenging singletrack and complete the “LagChilada” challenge en route to a 25 mile ride. It was fun to connect with Shane for part of his ride.

Shane slaying the slow tech singletrack with ease

Duluth Enduro Series

The Duluth Enduro series kicked off last week at the fast and flowing Mission Park in the southern part of Duluth. With the series being delayed until race officials and riders felt it was “safe” the series will be running every Wednesday through this month versus every other Wednesday like previous years. Timing glitches in the first stage resulted in stage two determining the fastest riders for the evening. Taking the open race in the women’s division was defending champ Eleanor Bacso and top male finisher was Jacob Link.

Eleanor Bacso all smiles rolling to another fast time on the Wednesday night Duluth Enduro series

Duluth Enduro Series Facebook page 

Great American Outdoors Act

The Great American Outdoors Act has been passed by Congress and was recently signed by President Trump and became law. "You helped this happen! Your care, support and voice as an IMBA advocate made such a difference. Our Government Affairs team and its partner organizations were tenacious” states IMBA in a recent press release.

Extended wood feature at Copper Harbor Michigan

What does this mean for mountain biking?  It means $900 million guaranteed per year to support public lands and outdoor recreation through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). But, to ensure a fair allocation is applied to trail projects, every state must be ready with a recreation plan. 

Giants Ridge Registration Open

Giants Ridge is moving forward with the hosting of the GRIND cross country races on August 15th. From the website: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there will be several changes made to the format of the event. The Short & Long GRIND will be scheduled with a staggered start time. Every three minutes, a group of 10 riders will be sent out onto the course.

The field size will be limited to 250 participants. There will be two aid stations with limited resources, and there must not be more than 25 participants at an aid station at any time, so please plan accordingly. Spectators must maintain social distancing not exceeding groups of ten. Spectators are encouraged to wear face coverings.

Registration MUST be done online in advance and packet pickup will be done outside under a tent. There will be NO in person registration.

This year’s GRIND will not have the Downhill Race or Cycle Cross. We expect these events to return in 2021.

Flowy berm action at Giants Ridge (Credit: Old Saw Media)

Laddies Loppet Cancelled

Kids comp racing action, Laddies Loppet 2019

Earlier this week, the decision was made https://www.maplelag.com/posts/events/20928 to cancel the Laddies Loppet at Maplelag Resort over Labor day weekend. Although all the races in the Minnesota series had been cancelled, the Loppet had the option to run the race as a stand alone event. With the uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 situation, and the health and safety for all riders and staff, the best choice was to cancel. The LagChilada Challenge, https://www.maplelag.com/posts/sports/20754 a challenge to ride all the trails currently on the Maplelag trail system remains in place and runs through the rest of the dirt season into late fall.

Miners Revenge Cancelled

 Riding the stairs in Miner’s Revenge 2017 (Credit: Jeff Wolf)

After posting the race was on than later rescheduling, the Miner’s Revenge held in the UP of Michigan is now official canceled.

Seeley Pre Fat Virtual

The 2020 Annual PreFat Mountain Bike Event is creating a Virtual Race that can be ridden anytime between Friday, August 14 and Sunday, August 23, using the same PreFat courses used in recent years.

Blasting through the tunnel, PreFat 2016

"We’ve made this change as your protection and our volunteers protection is our highest priority. We believe you can still participate and have a fun event on a great course, even with all the challenges we’ve all faced this year.” states organizers.

Detroit Mountain Bike Industry Summit

Detroit Mountain will be hosting a mountain bike industry summit, welcoming professionals in the bike industry to show appreciation for the specialists in the area to engage with one another to build upon the passion for the sport. The cross country and lift service gravity trails featuring new trails added this summer will be open for special hours for riding and both days, September 10th and 11th. A social hour meet and greet along with local food vendors on site.

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 30th 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