Monday, October 29, 2012

State Championship Race

The high school mountain bike league state championship race was yesterday, 10/28/12, at Buck Hill Ski Area. It was an amazing day for a race. The sun was out the temp was cool but not cold and the atmosphere was awesome. Gary Sjolquist and the rest of the NICA crew can put on a great event. I was really looking forward to this race. I knew the venue was going to be the most challenging of the year and I had only been able to attend the first race of the season at Salem Hills, due to other personal commitments. So I was amped up to help the team pre-ride and really feel out the course.
The course was actually cooler than I thought. I had heard some horror stories of endless climbing and limited descents but really it was pretty equal and all the climbs were wide open which makes them a bit easier. The descents were single track and were a lot of fun. Tight twisty single track! I might actually show up for a Thursday race or two next year… I need to focus more on fitness next year.
Overall the race went really well. Our only girl racer ended up having some technical problems with her brakes and finished 6th, Andrew our team masochist, loves the climbs, left it all on the trail and finished 5th in the JV division, followed by Kevin, Vaughn and Nate in that order. The other racers didn’t compete for various reasons.
Here is a link to some pictures from and Griff
Over all it was a great season. I had a great time getting to know this group of young rippers and enjoyed helping them hone their skills. They really grow and developed as riders. It was a rewarding experience. All the riders from this season’s team are graduating and it is extremely time consuming. I am on the fence about coaching again next year. We will see what the winter and spring bring but I feel my time might be better spent developing the local riding scene. I feel I can reach more youth by simple providing them more exciting places to ride and possibly putting on some skills clinics!
Who knows? I’m pretty young still and would also like to focus on my own riding career for a few years. The High school league is young and I did my part to secure it and it is on the verge of exploding and I plan on coming back in a few years and helping again!

Keep it real!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Giants Ridge DH race

Giants Ridge Down Hill race was this last weekend, 10/13/12, and it might very well be the last Jolly Rogers Series race ever and the last race put on by Midwest Freeride Community (MFC), which is sad but I understand how difficult these things are to continue. Buck and Tony poured their hearts and souls, time and money into these events over the last half decade and really helped progress and grow the sport in the Midwest. It is unfortunate that they are bowing out right now as the sport is finally starting to get traction and grow in popularity here in MN but I understand as we age our priorities change.
The race was awesome, the course was phenomenal and hands down the gnarliest course I’ve ridden in the Midwest and maybe anywhere… the black hills might still have it, but it was a real test. It was truthfully the first time that I felt out gunned and that my skills might out way the bike. It probably wasn’t so, I probably didn’t reach the limit of the bike but more my limit on that bike. Which is awesome, that can only lead to growth as a rider. The venue was sweet and the people were amazing as usual. I just love being with 40 like minded people talking bikes and having a good time.
The race started at 12pm (noon), I woke up at 4:25am and got ready, I was packed the night before, and headed out the door to Trevor’s house by 4:45am. We loaded his car and were on the road, headed north by 5:15am. We arrived in Biwabick around 8:30am. Put the bikes together and were on the first shuttle heading up the mountain by 9:30am. The first run down was clean and slow. I was just trying to get my legs under me and check out the course. I had never been there before and never ridden that course so I wanted to feel it out.

To be honest the course kicked my ass for the next 4 practice runs. I either crashed or flatted every run down so I wasn’t feeling too confident going into the race. On top of that I was a little flustered as it took almost 30 mins to change my tube in on my new rims. It was pretty embarrassing actually. Those new Stan’s rims are awesome to ride but horrible to put a tire on or take off as they have a very shallow valley in the middle of the rim. I broke my tire lever trying to put it on and actually Tony was the one that finally got the tire on, thanks Tony! Haha.
The race finally got going, since it was my first downhill race and I wasn’t left too confident after the practice runs I chose to race Cat 3 (beginner) I knew that might be playing it on the safe side and I might get some shit if I actually pulled it together but who knows… 95% of the guys racing Cat 1-2 (open) were on full DH rigs, so I was definitely out gunned on my 150mm Giant Reign, heck most the dudes in the beginner category were on DH rigs!

I crashed first run, just a minor slide out and then rode through some tall grass after coming out of a corner wide, so that really killed my time, or so I thought. I put up a 2:18 and was in the lead, the next fastest was 2:28. Now I really felt like a sand bagger, haha and I was already hearing it from my buddies, haha. The next run I decided to just put it together run conservatively where I knew I might have trouble and pedal my ass off where I could. I wanted 1 freaking clean race run!
Viola, I did it I cleaned the tricky stuff at the top and was feeling pretty good. I pedaled my ass of in the flats and put down 2:08, which was good enough for first in the beginner category. However I would have only placed 3rd in the juniors category! A couple of those groms were quick! I would have been in the top 15 I believe in open but nowhere near the top. Top 4 were all under 2 minutes.

Thor won with a 1:45, Paul second with 1:49, Jed third with like 1:54 and Pete forth with 1:57 I believe. The official results aren’t up yet. Either way it was an awesome Saturday. I had a great time, I got to do my first DH race and I can’t wait to do another. I won a sweet sword as my trophy and also took home some swag, a new set of green Chromag handlebars, a set of DMR pedals and some stickers and all the Red Bull I could drink (thanks Buck).
The future is looking bright for gravity riding in the Midwest, Copper Harbor has plans to add a new double black diamond DH trail next summer, Spirit has 2 DH trails with plans to have many more and Mont Du Lac has few trails now open and plans to continue to build! I can’t wait for next summer!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Duluth, the new Whistler?

Ok maybe that is a stretch but it definitely has the potential of being the true hot spot of the Midwest, the epicenter of MN/Midwest mountain biking. With the Duluth Traverse getting under way and when that is finished they will have over 100 miles of single track in side the city limits. Then there is Spirit mountain that currently has two completed runs (closed to the public till spring) and will be the first and only full time lift access bike park in the Midwest. It will most likely run Friday afternoon through Sunday night once they open. There are big plans for expansion, however it is kind of up in the air right now on total runs I've heard 5 to 25 so who knows but if they get 10-15 solid runs they will be very successful in my opinion as there will be nothing on that level around here. They are working with 700ft of usable vertical and a high speed quad lift.
I know it is technically not in Duluth but Mont du Lac, just south of Superior WI is very close and they are moving very quickly to offer the area an alternative to Spirit Mountain. As of right now they are not lift access but are offering shuttle runs. They are working with something just north of 300 vertical feet so a fair amount shorter but to my understanding the terrain is steeper and they are on private property so are really only limited by the owners and how much insurance they want to pay. The bonus for them is that they are in WI and WI has much looser insurance regulations. I have also heard the rumor that they may be moving to lift access in the near future for sure.
Either way, two legit down hill/gravity/free ride areas with in a short trip from each other and 100 plus miles of single track can make for a great mountain bike scene. Through on top of that one of the strongest dirt jump scenes in the state and a rather large college you have a good mix for potential growth. There is a great organization in COGGS backing this program and the regional IMBA rep is located in Duluth and is supporting this project with all his might.
There are other rumors of a new bike park being built in Duluth loosely modeled after Superior Bike Park in CO and my very own creating the Lexington Street Bike Park.
Exciting things are to come so stay tuned in and help support the local bike shops and organizations MORC, IMBA and COGGS, they are really what make it happen, so if you aren't a member join IMBA or your local club.
Tides are changing and soon very soon I think you will see some seriously bad ass trails developing!