Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
September 10, 2021

It's hard to believe that we are already one week into September! Although the mountain bike series race season is winding down, the NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) season is in full swing for another six weeks, and the final big point-to-point races of the season are still on the docket. Always look forward to this time of year as it can be some of the best riding of the season with pleasant temps, no bugs, and hero dirt trails. This report includes highlights from the Dakota Five-O in Spearfish, SD, the Laddies Loppet weekend races at Maplelag as part of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, a couple of mountain bike related articles, and a look ahead to the end of the season.

Early season fall riding, some of the best of the season 

Dakota Five-O

The Dakota Five-O is arguably one of the largest and most popular races in South Dakota. Based out of Spearfish, SD, the course traverses the gnarly terrain of the Black Hills.

One of the many hidden trail gems in the Black Hills, “Hell’s Canyon"

The Dakota Five-O lollie-pop loop begins in Spearfish City Park with a mass, neutral roll out, and leaves town to the west, up Tinton Road. The three miles of gravel road climbing will give the fast guys a chance to vie for position, before funneling onto the twisty, smooth, Tinton Trail single-track.

Mankato, MN native Jenna Rinehart of Nicollet Bike & Ski made the trek to Spearfish with her husband Justin and posted a recap: 

"The Dakota Five-O is so much more than a bike race. It’s an epic adventure in the rugged terrain of the Black Hills. It’s a festival celebrating cycling complete with music, food, and all things bikes. The course is tough but beautiful with 6,500 ft of climbing in 50 miles. This years Five-O was my best attempt yet. I had a great start and found myself riding in the top 25 overall for the first 30 miles. With just over 15 miles to go I got a small puncture in my rear tire. I pulled over and luckily was able to get the stans in my tire to seal it."

Jenna Rinehart digging deep to move back up in the field after a tire puncture

"Unfortunately I lost the group I’d been with for most of the day and was now on my own. I gingerly road the next downhills just hoping my tire would stay sealed. The last 15 miles turned into a bit of survival mode as I was starting to really feel the efforts of the day. I’m proud to have hung on to finish 1st for women and 28th overall. This result comes with a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and support. Thank you Justin Rinehart for the incredible support from getting my bike dialed and driving to all the feed zones for bottles. Thank you for pushing me in my training to ride single track faster then I thought possible and suffering it out on gravel rides with me."

Full Results

Laddies Loppet Mountain Bike Weekend at Maplelag

Much time has been spent preparing for the Laddies Loppet weekend here at Maplelag the past few weeks. With more trail built last summer and fall (which was incorporated into this year's cross country course), a little bit more tuning and preparation was required. The goal was to have one lap for each class, with the Elite class only repeating a small portion of trail for the “starter loop”.  After a very dry middle portion of the summer, the weather patterns changed with much welcomed moisture coming in mid-August. The Thursday before the weekend, the largest rain event of the summer occurred! The course weathered the rain nicely, albeit a bit greasy for the pre-riding on Friday. Although the evening started clear on Friday night, a quick moving shower passed through dropping a bit more rain, making the morning races a bit damp. With the quick moving front, sunshine and dry air prevailed for the remainder of the day making for a spectacular day weather-wise for racing.

Kids Comp kicking off the cross country racing action, Laddies Loppet 2021

The day culminated with the Elite races, with a good-sized men’s field towing the line, including veteran riders of Laddies Loppet: Jeff Hall, Brendan Moore, and Doug Swanson. The field also included Matt Riley, who made the long trek from central Wisconsin, and Shane Kullman, who has only missed a few races since the first one in 1990—much respect. The first four riders mentioned would have to contend with junior riders Cooper Camp and Jack McCauley.

Elite men rolling out

On the starter loop the lead group would be established of Hall, Camp, and McCauley, with Moore dealing with a small mechanical. Moore would bridge the gap to the first three riders and form a new front group, with McCauley falling off just a bit. Before the Twin Lakes loop to the west, Moore would break free and maintain his lead right up until the finish. Hall and Camp maintained sight of each other with Hall marking every move of Camp. Camp would hold off Hall by a mere three seconds for silver, who was third in this last year’s State Nordic meet and is the early season favorite going into the season. Riley would move up to the fourth spot, with McCauley securing fifth. 

The women’s elite race was a bit lighter this year led but highlighted by the presence of junior riders Elizabeth Yray, Franzika Rinkleff, and Isabella Mazion, whom would finish in that order. Previous winner Eleanor Bacso was on-site but still recovering from a concussion sustained earlier in the year. Very proud of the junior riders racing on one of the “toughest courses” in the Midwest.

Sunday Short Track

Short track racing kicked off day two of the Laddies Loppet weekend racing action. It's always an exciting day with a course weaving around the cabins and grounds of Maplelag and the great spectator area of the back bowl.

As the races moved on through the morning, the Comp men and Elite men would highlight the day. The women's open class was unique to the Maplelag short track this year. With all women racing the same number of laps, the effort was the same among all the classes.  Elizabeth Yray would make it a sweep on the weekend taking the win, followed by Mandi Hibbert, birthday girl Ayden Ochs, Stephanie Olson, and Sioban Artz rounding out the top five.

Sunday Funday was in full effect in the Comp men as two pirates, Captain Hook and Captain Crunch, entered the course mid-race and battled for the last spot on the result sheet. Taking the win however, was local junior rider Jacob Olson, who edged out Rick Ochs, Liam McDonald, Brandt Elson, and Brian Koenman.

Captain Hook and Captain Crunch chasing in the Comp race

A solid and decent-sized field rolled to the line for the Elite men's race. As expected, lead changes occurred multiple times during the race and the final placing wasn’t decided until the last lap. Like Olson in the Comp race, Cooper Camp made his move on the steep climb in the back bowl to hold off Jeff Hall for the win. Just one second behind those two was Brendan Moore, and Matt Riley was only a second back as well. Jack McCauley rounded out the top five and final podium spot for the cash award.

Ending the day with a sending off the lake jump

The afternoon saw a few riders taking on the LagChilada challenge and hitting the lake jump to cap off a fun day. This weekend is always a special one, having forged many relationships since the first race in 1990.

Cross Country Results

Short Track Results

World Championships Review

Singletracks.com did a nice  review of the recent world championships in Val di Sole, Italy, with tons of photos and an accompanying recap. The XCO races were highlighted by Swiss rider Nino Schurter winning his ninth title, and Brit Evie Richards winning her first. And Chris Blevins of the USA won gold in the short track!

Chris Blevins of the United States posting a solid 18th place in the XCO after taking the short track title a few days earlier (Gerow photo)

Looking Ahead

MNMBS #5: Lester Park

The MNMBS wraps up it’s season in Duluth at Lester Park. Rescheduled from an earlier date due to weather, the course features a gradual rolling three mile climb up before a gradual fast rolling descent. A post race plunge in the river or lake is always a refreshing end.

Signature tall pines at Lester Park

Virtual Oremageddon

The Teravail Oremageddon mountain bike race includes all the Cuyuna single-track in one great lap in a virtual option. Choose one of three different options for shredding the red: the 50 miler, the 25 miler, and the 12 miler.

Start of the Oremageddon 

All event proceeds go toward continued maintenance of the Cuyuna mountain bike trails on behalf of the event host, the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew.

Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

Rollout start, Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

Just like that, it's a little over one week until the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. Registration is still open for all events, which feature fast-rolling, double-track forest roads finishing up at the Birkie start area. There are also plenty of additional activities outside of racing.

Infamous Firetower Hill in the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

Marji Gesick

Touted as one of the hardest 100 mile races in the country, if not the world, very few finish to tell the tale. The Marji Gesick takes place in the UP of Michigan on some of the gnarliest trail the Midwest has to offer.

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 31st 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