Midwest MTB Report

by Jay Richards
May 31, 2024

Hard to believe we are in the last week of May! It has been one of the wetter months of May on record, making days on the singletrack less of an occurrence, but overall a good month of riding considering the early start to the season. Outside of the action in Copper Harbor where gravity folks made way for some early season enduro racing at Ride the Keenewa in the UP of Michigan, it was a quiet weekend for mountain bike competitions. Filling the void were a couple gravel events, highlighted in this week's report, along with a few cycling rated articles and links.

A rider navigating the roots at the Ride the Keenewa enduro (Credit: XMatic)

Ride the Keenewa Results

Le Grand Du Nord

Le Grand du Nord is one of the most spectacular gravel courses in the United States. Beginning in downtown Grand Marais, riders quickly leave the shores of Lake Superior as they head into the Sawtooth Range. The first few miles for all routes are paved as riders leave town and get set for each course.

With more than 5500 ft of climbing and a decidedly remote feel, the 110 mile course is unlike any other gravel century. Most of the course is well maintained Forest Service and county gravel road. There is a 5 mile section of especially rough, rocky two track with a likely stream crossing (depending on the weather and local beaver activity).

Ready for the North Shore gravel (Credit: Peder Arneson)

Peder Arneson was one of the riders to take on the 110 mile and reports:

"Beautiful day! Had great company for the ride, which helped the day go smoother. Definitely a fitness day as legs weren’t super good from the start but excellent to be out at a favorite gravel event!"

Sean Topel was the overall male winner in the 110 miler, and Shanie Joynes took top honors among female field. A few junior riders cracked the top-10 as well, including 16-year-old Phoebe Leege who finished 5th.

Le Grand du Nord Results

Badlands Gravel Battle

The Badlands of North Dakota were host to the Gravel Battle which featured a course on rugged Badlands backcountry gravel roads. Some of the gravel is made up of crushed red scoria rock:

"When the scoria is freshly laid it can be large and sharp at first, but once it is worn in by truck traffic, the gravel turns hard and smooth and in the right conditions it is very fast and fun."

The course featured 8600 feet of climbing in the long race. Fresh off securing a Masters World Championship title last week, all eyes were on the legendary Tinker Juarez who was aiming for his 9th consecutive win on the season. Unfortunately Tinker missed the turn for the long race. Tinker posted:

"Well the winning streak ended today at North Dakota Gravel Battle sadly. I knew this was asking a lot to try to win my ninth win in a row. I really was hoping for a great weekend, but with little time coming from Cairns Australia World Championship on Monday."

Tinker Juarez in the zone during the Badlands Gravel Battle

"I left on Friday to put my bike together and only had Saturday to do a very easy ride for the big race on Sunday. I entered the 118 mile race and the biggest class was the 80 miler. The weather was going to be a big test and the roads were soft and muddy. It was cold and rainy, adding head wind and my gravel bike wasn't geared right for all the distance I was spinning and wasting too much energy going down all the hills plus on top of it the road was taking my energy out of me. I tried hard to hang in and I was leading my race in the 118 miler, following the 80 racer was my Strategy and I knew once the 80 milers for Split off I would be leading my race! Unfortunately, I missed the split where the 118 miler would Continue and instead I went the wrong way finishing with the 80 milers. I Figured it out once I was already at mile 65. I was going wrong so there was no way to turn around because I wasn't sure how far I missed the wrong turn."

Badlands Gravel Battle Website

Badlands Gravel Battle Results

May Training Tips from Triple C Coaching

The May edition of training tips from Coorey Coogan Cisek features articles on rest and recovery, female health and cycle training, and race selection and planning:

"When planning your annual schedule, consider life balance. "Race Weekends" away from home are particularly fatiguing. They mean travel prep during the workweek, failing to accomplish normal weekend tasks, and then playing catch-up over the next workweek. I suggest athletes create rules to guide how many weekends per month they travel. (Never more than two weekends a month works best for most!) However, even "local races" need to be rationed. If you think about it, most of them suck up the better part of a day."

Strava Ride of the Week

The Strava ride of the week is back! Strava is a great app for riders to track their training, fitness, rides, and share photos and videos. It's also a great networking tool and has challenges abound for anyone who likes to get out to exercise. It’s always fun seeing the different places and trails people ride, and the app can be useful for finding places to ride when traveling or exploring.

Terry Holm with his son, Arik Jon, ready to head out for an 80 mile birthday ride!

This week's ride goes out to Terry Holm who rode 80 miles for his 80th birthday!

Terry Holm's Birthday Ride on Strava

Sodium, Good or Bad?

There has been a recent surge in pushes for more sodium intake, with many new drinks, gels, tablets, and mixes on the market promoting more sodium in one's diet. It’s easy enough to do a search to get more information, and I am not necessarily advocating for one or the other, but the following are two links I found interesting supporting either side:

Got salt?

Hammer Nutrition: Excess Salt Harms the Brain

Training Peaks: Why Athletes Need Sodium

Nove Mesto World Cup Coverage

The latest UCI World Cup for cross country mountain biking was an important one as it secured the final spots for countries looking to send the maximum number of riders to the Olympics, which is not very many! Bill Scheiken of CX Hairs breaks it all down with full results in his recent bulletin:

Haley Batten en route to a second place finish in Nove Mesto (Credit: Specialized)

Falcon Cup Mountain Bike Race

Scenic views on Falcon Ridge mountain bike trails (Credit: Chris Benson)

If you are looking for a grass roots, old school style race laced with bedrock, a great race just across the border in Manitoba, Canada is the Falcon Cup at West Hawk Lake. The race will be held a month from now on Saturday, June 29th.

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