Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
April 3, 2024

April is here and soon the mountain bike season will be upon us! It has been an interesting winter, like none other. Many southern locales got an early taste of the dirt season before last week's snow storm moved in and Wisconsin got a late taste of winter. Pretty much a normal spring in the Midwest. The first races of the season are not far off with many Midwest riders making the trek to Bentonville area for spring break riding . . . seems like everyone was there! This first report of the season will take a quick look at the Minnesota and Wisconsin series as well as other key events, with many links to check out also. Looking forward to another great season in the dirt and a few races too. As always, feel free to reach out with any mountain bike related events to feature, and especially so if you are interested in sharing exclusive firsthand recaps.

Minnesota Mountain Bike Series (MNMBS)

The Minnesota Mountain Bike Series is back for another year! Kicking off in Rochester at Gamehaven, the schedule features a new venue at Bertram Chain of Lakes in Monticello and concludes Labor Day weekend at Maplelag Resort with one of the longest running mountain bike events in Minnesota, Laddies Loppet, which will be entering its 34th year.

Racing action from last season on the Laddies Loppet course at Maplelag Resort

One big change this season will be no races in Duluth as COGGS and Duluthonians shift their attention to the Duluth Bike Festival and the Race Across Duluth.

Minnesota Mountain Bike Series Website

Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS)

The longest running and largest cross country mountain bike series in the country, the Wisconsin Off Road Series is set to kick off another year, starting the season in Waterloo with the Red Barn Classic.

Air time on the Englewood course at the US Pro Cup, 2023 (Credit: Englewood Open)

Just a few weekends later Fall River will host the Englewood Open which will also serve as the site for race #3 in the US XC Open series with UCI points on the line. The series then concludes at Alpine Valley which was also host to a national event back in the day.

Wisconsin Off Road Series Cycling Website

Race Across Duluth

Registration is already open for the Race Across Duluth which will showcase some of the best mountain bike trails Duluth has to offer in this epic point-to-point race on the iconic Duluth Traverse.

Rolling though a berm on the Duluth Traverse

“An unforgettable day on 45 miles of urban single-track in the heart of Duluth,” all proceeds directly support the maintenance and development of the trails in Duluth.

Race Across Duluth Website

Epic Bike Festival

The Epic Bike Festival features two days of racing—cross country mountain bike racing on Saturday, and gravel racing on Sunday. Both days have options for different distances, with miles upon miles of pristine Trek Trails at Mt. Telemark Village and CAMBA singletrack defining the course:

“Riders will surf through smooth banked turns, traverse rock gardens, and finally finish on the newest rowdy trails at Mt. Telemark Village. The premiere singletrack course in the Upper Midwest.”

Event smiles and fun on the CAMBA trails, 2023 (Credit: CAMBA)

Epic Bike Fest Website

Related: CAMBA Events & Clinics

Bike Duluth Festival

No longer part of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, the Duluth Bike Festival is now a stand alone event featuring a plethora of cycling events including mountain bike races at Spirit Mountain.

Enduro racing action at Spirit Mountain, 2021

“Minnesota's premier mountain biking event with races for experts to beginner riders! This is mountain biking at its best. Whether you're a road biking spandex warrior, free-ridin' adrenaline junkie, or a family craving adventure, good times are guaranteed. Get ready to celebrate Duluth's world-class bike trails with three days of action-packed events!”

Bike Duluth Festival Website

US XC Open Series

The US XC Open series is a four race series, the first of which already took place at Vail Lakes in California back in March. Race #2 is this coming weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas near the Bentonville area which has absolutely exploded with a mind blowing amount of trail development.

Centennial Park trails in Fayetteville, Arkansas, home to US Pro Cup race #2 (Credit: US XC Open)

Race #3 will be held in Wisconsin as part of the Englewood Open mentioned above, and the series concludes with race #4 out west in Missoula, Montana.

US XC Open Series Website

USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships

The USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships for cross country and short track return to Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania for the second straight year.

Racing at the 2023 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships on the Bear Creek Mountain Resort course (Credit: First Place)

One of the more natural, raw, and technical courses for a national event in the country, and with a touch of progressive flow, humidity and perennial thunderstorms often add to the challenge of this course.

USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships Website

Life Time Grand Prix

The Life Time Grand Prix is back for another year featuring seven events, with the opening competition a mountain bike race at the epic Sea Other event. The mighty Chequamegon makes the list again as well. Two MN riders will be competing, with Jenna Rinehart back for another year after her fantastic top-10 overall finish last year, and Chase Wark a recent add-on after a spot opened up.

Chase Wark on a training ride, Fall 2023 (Credit: Lauf Cycles)

Per Life Time: “The talented 27-year-old hailing from Minnesota, has secured a spot on the Life Time Grand Prix roste after a recent opening. With an impressive 2nd place finish at Gravel Worlds in 2023 and a strong start to 2024 with a victory at Rock Cobbler and a 2nd place at Valley of Tears, Chase is poised to leave his mark on this season.”

Life Time Grand Prix Events

Related: Life Time Lutsen 99er Website

Ore to Shore

One of the longest running point-to-point races in the Midwest, communities in the upper peninsula of Michigan are host to a great adventure on a variety of trails.

Ore to Shore Website

Other Mountain Bike Tidbits

Stable Cyclist

John Peter loves to ride bikes. He also has bipolar disorder, and on his YouTube channel he talks about bikes, training, and how it all relates to mental health. This past February JP released an incredible film taking a look at the Maah Daah Hey 100 which takes place in the badlands of western North Dakota.

A rider enveloped in the dramatic landscape surrounding the Maah Daah Hey Trail (Credit: John Peter)

“Riders are pushed to their limits at the Maah Daah Hey 100, one of America’s most rugged ultra-endurance mountain bike races. In 2023, long-time pro and Go4Graham athlete Kelly Magelky returned in search of a fifth victory while local amateur Tyler Huber aimed to do something that no one had accomplished in over a decade: win the MDH100 as an amateur.”

The Stable Cyclist YouTube Channel

Podcast with Hansi Johnson

The latest episode of the Trail Effect podcast features an in-depth conversation with Hansi Johnson as he shares life experiences and behind the scenes stories of how some of the more popular trails in the Midwest, including Cuyuna, the Duluth Traverse, Tioga, Redhead, and Jackpot, came to fruition.

Trail Effect: Hansi Johnson on the Rise of Upper Midwest Mountain Biking and more! 166

Hansi Johnson capturing a rider on one of the trails he helped develop

More Reasons to Share Conditions

“Mountain biking is not just a sport; it's a community, a way of life for those who thrive on the thrill of conquering rugged terrains. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a novice, staying informed about trail conditions is crucial for a safe and enjoyable biking experience. While most trail managers typically communicate the basic "open" or "closed" status due to weather-related issues, there are numerous other scenarios that affect whether or not a trail can be ridden safely.”

Trailbot Blog: MTB riders depend on trail managers for more than just weather reports

Loam Pass

Similar to the Epic and Indy Pass in the alpine industry, the Loam Pass gives mountain bikers the opportunity to visit multiple areas on one pass.

“With over 60 days of riding, Loam Pass is the ultimate mountain biking pass in North America! Loam Pass gives you access to 2 days at all 30+ destinations. The pass includes not only the best resorts and bike parks but your favorite shuttle routes as well, being the Loam Pass anywhere you'd pay to bike.”

Two areas in the Midwest, Marquette Mountain in UP Michigan and Chestnut Mountain in Galena, IL are part of the listed destinations which which is destined to grow in the coming years.

Loam Pass Website

Anti Inflammatory Foods

Somehow the Martha Stewart newsletter arrives in my inbox once a week. I’ll blame that on my wife, Jonell. All good. There have been some interesting articles, and one makes the selection for the Midwest MTB Report this week about foods and recipes to help fight inflammation.

Martha Stewart: 20 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes That Will Help You Feel Better

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 34th 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