Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
April 10, 2024

What an amazing week so far for spring weather! This week has been awesome for drying out trails and making it nice to be on the bike. I know better than to think that we are in the clear from any more snowstorms and foul conditions in April, but long time Midwesterners know you have to take what you get, and when it’s nice like this, enjoy it as much as you can! This week's report includes a first hand recap from race #2 of 4 in the US XC Open series which was held in Fayetteville, AR at Centennial Park at Millsap Mountain. Also included in this week's report are updates on midweek racing series that will be starting up soon—a great way to tune up for those big weekend races, or just to get that simple racing fix. Highlights of a few clinics some trail news rounds out the report as we get closer to racing action in the Midwest.

US XC Open #2: Fayetteville

Last weekend my wife Jonell and I made an extended weekend trip to Fayetteville, AR for the second round of racing in the US XC Open series. The Bentonville area (just 30 miles north of Fayetteville) has become a hotbed for mountain biking and a premier area for spring breakers with generally reliable weather and the ever continuing expansion of trails. Although this would be a quick trip with our focus on the race, we had a couple days to explore a few trails and hit up favorites from our last trip, as well as a new build fellow Midwesterners had suggested to check out.

The U23 women's XCO field in action (Credit: Bill Schieken)

It was a full week of racing with UCI races taking place early in the week with some of the top Pro and Junior riders in the country. Amateur races were on Sunday for which I lined up with the Cat 1 50-59 group.

Current National XC champion Chris Blevins rolling through the machine made rock garden (Credit: Bill Schieken)

Being in race form against mostly southern racers in early April has its challenges but my mantra is that training in hard conditions makes harder things easier, especially when committing to training outside year-round in northern Minnesota. With that said, I took a conservative approach at the start of my race, keeping the middle of the pack in check. The legs felt good and the course was super fun with punchy fall line climbs, super fast rolling hardpacked singletrack with a healthy dose of rocks, and a fall line descent which was, for me, one of the highlights of the course. Fellow Minnesotan Aaron Drevlow, who was leading a group from the National Youth Development Cycling team out of Minneapolis, flew off the start to take the win. I was able to move up to third in my group, ending the day satisfied.

Making a new cycling friend from Puerto Rico!

It's always fun catching up with long time friends, meeting new people from around the country (and world), and checking out new places, not to mention the inspiring service and food down there. So good.

Checking out the “Hand Cut Hollow” trail system on the edge of Bentonville

Before heading out I checked out a highly recommended trail system just outside Bentonville, Hand Cut Hollow, a must visit trail if you like more classic style singletrack that also has plenty of features like bridges and jumps to make for a full rounded riding experience. We also caught the solar eclipse before heading home. All in all a great trip and looking forward to getting back to check out many of the trail systems I still have yet to ride.

Fayetteville Results

Related: OZ Trails Website

Related: CXHAIRS Bulletin: Making Sense Of The Olympics MTB Selection Process

Midweek Series, and More

It won’t be long until the local Midwest midweek series get rolling...

Wirth On Wednesdays

"A spotlight shines bright on the Loppet Foundation-managed singletrack trails at Theodore Wirth Park with the return of the popular spring and summer mountain bike race series. Meet us at The Trailhead for the Wirth on Wednesdays (WOW) events."

John Wessling in the lead during a Wirth on Wednesdays race, 2020 (Credit: TMB Images)

Wirth on Wednesdays Website

Freewheel Thursday Night Race Series at Buck Hill

“The best night of the week is back! Join us Thursday nights as racers go toe to toe and see who is crowned the weekly champions of the mountain (hill).”

This year, Freewheel Bike and Buck Hill will bring a full summer of racing beginning June 6th. Keep up to date on weekly races and race status on their Facebook page.

Freewheel Thursday Night Race Series Website

Launching off a wood ramp at Buck Hill back in the day

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Elm Creek hasn’t officially posted about their summer mountain bike programming, but if it's anything like in years past, plan on events midweek!

Triple C Coach Newsletter

Corey Coogan Cisek has launched a newsletter and the first edition features great information on training and is a great resource for up and coming riders (and parents). Coogan Cisek also shares her journey across the pond as she wrapped up a “respectful” 7 year campaign in Belgium.

Coogan Cisek clearing a barrier (Credit: Triple C Coaching)

Triple C Coach Newsletter: Training Tips from Triple C Coaching

Mid Min Cycling Club Fundraiser

The Mid Min Cycling Club has opened a fundraising campaign to help develop trails in the St. Cloud area:

“What do we mean a MTB desert? Only 9 miles of MTB Trail total in Stearns County and access to only two trail systems within a 30 mile radius. Donate today to transform our community into a trail oasis!”

Views from Quarry Park, the proposed development site (Credit: Day Tripper)

Mid Min Cycling Club Fundraiser

Five New Trail Accelerator Grant Recipients

Trail Accelerator grants give a boost to communities that have the interest and political support to develop trail systems, but need assistance to get projects rolling. With a professional trail plan in hand, local leaders can fast-track trail development efforts by leveraging this work to earn additional investments from local, regional, and national partners. Since 2018, 42 awardees have leveraged $577,000 in grant awards to raise $12.8 million and counting for community trails. Included in the latest round of grant recipients is Grand Rapids, MI.

IMBA: Grand Plans for a Grand Loop

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