Category Archives: Competition

Photo album: Superior Cycling Association’s Sawtooth Mountain Challenge mtb race

Last weekend I took photos of the Sawtooth Mountain Challenge, an annual mountain bike race in Grand Marais, Minnesota, hosted by the Superior Cycling Association (SCA).

Superior Cycling Association Sawtooth Mountain Challenge

I’m starting work on a bike advocacy project for Advocate Cycles, one of the race sponsors. (More on that soon.) So I thought it would be fun to capture the event while spending time with founder Tim Krueger and some of the SCA guys I’ve met in the recent past, (eg, Tim Kennedy, Adam Harju):

Advocate CyclesRace sponsor Tim Krueger, Advocate Cycles Tim Kennedy, Adam Harju

With sunny skies, temps in the mid-30s, and a gusty north wind, race director Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux sent the riders out at 10 am on the SCA’s Pincushion Mountain Trail System in one big group: Experts first (22 miles), followed by the Sport class (15 miles) and Citizens (4 miles):

Continue reading Photo album: Superior Cycling Association’s Sawtooth Mountain Challenge mtb race

The Duluth Enduro Series: why I’m now hooked on mountain bike enduro racing

Duluth Enduro Series 2015I tried a few XC mountain bike races back in 2011 when I first started mountain biking and while I enjoyed the atmosphere of the races, I didn’t really enjoy the riding that much, as it seemed to be 90% aerobic endurance, not my forte.  I began to equate ‘endurance’ with ‘suffering’ and haven’t competed in any XC mtb races since.

So when I started learning about mountain bike enduro racing last year and that COGGS was again hosting a Duluth Enduro Series in 2015 for members, I became intrigued because of the format. The way they explain it:

Enduro uses a time trial format with racers starting special stages 30 seconds to a minute apart. There are two types of stages: Timed stages (or Special Stages) and Transits. All of the Timed stages will factor into your final place. Timed stages are mostly downhill, but will have a few flat sections or small climbs. Transits require riders to make it to the start of the next timed stage within a given time, however there’s no benefit to finishing the Transit faster than your competitors.

The Wikipedia entry for Enduro mountain biking nails the rationale for me because of the emphasis on technical features, more my forte:

Enduro is a form of Mountain bike racing in which there is a greater proportion of downhill sections, which are timed, to uphill and cross country sections. This aims to test rider’s technical bike handling skills as well as providing endurance and climbing.

But since I live in southern Minnesota, a 3+ hour drive from Duluth, and since the Duluth Enduro Series races are held on Wednesday nights, I didn’t give too much thought to actually competing.

On Wednesday morning, June 10, a massive rain system was moving towards southern MN and forecast to cover most of Wisconsin on Thursday. I had been planning to head to the IMBA Great Lakes Summit in Marquette, MI on Thursday but decided to take a detour to Duluth to avoid the rain and sample some of the COGGS trails that I’d never ridden. I posted a note about my intentions to my Facebook profile timeline at 3pm:

Continue reading The Duluth Enduro Series: why I’m now hooked on mountain bike enduro racing

Battle Creek’s Wall of Death competition: Heath Weisbrod puts on a show

In the MORC forum back in August, Battle Creek Regional Park MTB Dirt Boss Brett Swenson started a topic titled Wall of Death bounty:

At the Battle Creek group ride (Every Wed. at 5 & 6pm) we were discussing how we have never seen anyone climb the Wall of Death trail with no dabs. So we decided to put a bounty of a case of beer… People are always looking for more technical trail features, well here you go.

After a few weeks of discussion, the idea of scheduling an informal competition emerged and an informal contest announcement thread was launched, announcing a date and miscellaneous rules and rewards. My suggestion to include a go-slow competition riding down the Wall of Death (WOD) was adopted.

Travis Miller, Brett Swenson Paul Thorsgaard, Tom Gehring

Yesterday at 1 pm,  crew of BC Dirt Bosses and volunteers (including Tom Gehring, Travis Miller, Brett Swenson, Paul Thorsgaard) got things rolling for the ten competitors, including yours truly.

For the hill climb, they had 7 flags spaced out from the bottom to top for markers to indicate climb level.  If you dabbed between marker 3 and 4, then 3 was your score for that run.  But the ultimate criteria for the winner, like any hill climb, was fastest to the top with no dabs. Next criteria was furthest up without dabbing.

Heath Weisbrod, bottom of Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, mid-point of Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, near the top of Battle Creek's Wall of Death

Heath Weisbrod, dabbing near the top of Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, after nearly cleaning Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, Champion, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Hill Climb

The champion: Heath Weisbrod. He went much higher than anyone else without dabbing on both his 2nd and 3rd runs. Here’s my video of his 3rd run in which he gets his front wheel over the final timber before dabbing:

Ray Brown, 2nd place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Hill Climb Troy Lawrence, 3rd place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Hill Climb

Ray Brown took second and Troy Lawrence third.

Hill climb results (points using the scoring system)

1st: Heath Weisbrod (furthest up without dabbing)
2nd: Ray Brown: 12
3rd: Troy Lawrence: 11
4th (tie): Mike Andert: 8
4th (tie): Brett Swenson: 8
4th (tie): Griff Wigley: 8
7th (tie): Chip Bennard: 4
7th (tie): Jose Diaz: 4
7th (tie): Larry Marx: 4
7th (tie): Tony Marx: 4

Mike Andert, 1st place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Go-Slow competition Ray Brown, 3rd place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Go-Slow competition L to R: 1st, Mike Andert; 3rd, Ray Brown; 2nd, Heath Weisbrod - Go-Slow competition

The go-slow downhill competition was to see who could take the longest time to descend the Wall of Death. If you dabbed, you were eliminated.

Mike Andert won easily. He was the last rider of the competition and after demonstrating his prowess at balancing, he graciously rode to the end when it was clear he’d beaten Heath’s time. He could have balanced there all afternoon.

Go-Slow competition results (seconds elapsed)

1st: Mike Andert: 33.71
2nd: Heath Weisbrod: 19.9
3rd: Ray Brown: 18.59
4th: Griff Wigley: 17.9
5th: Tony Marx: 15.1
6th: Jose Diaz: 10.1
7th: Troy Lawrence: 9.0 (dab)
8th: Larry Marx: 8.72
9th: Brett Swenson: 5.0
10th: Chip Bennard: DNS

RESULTS OF BOTH COMPETITIONS:

Wall of Death competitors

Props to the Battle Creek Dirt Bosses for hosting this unique, um, group ride. Winking smile  As a geezer, I’m happy to just be participating in any competition so I was pleased with my two 4th place finishes. Plus, I got a chance to meet a bunch of riders for the first time, people I’d only known from the MORC forums.

See my large slideshow of 33 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout 2013, here I come

XC-race-Beginner-class-start-photo-by-Aaron-Hautala whiteoutstickerlogosmall_2013 Iron Yeti Sagamore Snowxross course

It was just about this time last year that I made the decision to go to the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout and compete in my first-ever mountain bike event.  The whole event was a hoot (see all 5 blog posts with photos and video), despite the difficult snow conditions.  So I’m going again this weekend.

Judging from yesterday’s blog post with photos of the Iron Yeti Sagamore Snowxross course and the weekend weather forecast, the snow conditions should be much better. The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (CLMTBC) has been busting their collective butts to get the trails and other events ready, as the whole weekend is a club fundraiser. I’m way out of shape for racing but in good enough shape to ride the Yawkey unit for fun.

I still don’t own a fat bike but I’ve got one on loan again, this time from Ben Witt at Milltown Cycles in Faribault where I spend a considerable amount of my children’s inheritance. I’m not likely to blog from the event but plan to tweet regularly @mtbikegeezer and will blog when I get back.

The Freewheel Frolic at Afton Alps: my first MN Mountain Bike Series race

MN Mountain Bike Series 2012 Freewheel Bike 
The Freewheel Frolic was last Sunday, the first race of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, held at Afton Alps near Hastings, MN. (Apparently, Freewheel Bike in Mpls is a sponsor.)

Having finished 50th of 59 riders in the Rec Class at the Thursday Night Mountain Bike Races at Buck Hill a few days earlier, I was eager to see how I could do in the 60 and Over age group.

Freewheel Frolic, Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, Afton Alps Freewheel Frolic, Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, Afton Alps Freewheel Frolic, Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, Afton Alps
I was a little apprehensive about it, as I’d heard a few comments about how Afton is the toughest venue of the entire series because of the climbing required.  And on Saturday, the day before the race, temps were in the 90s. Turns out, race day temps were in the upper 50s with a drizzly sky.  Perfect.

As I lined up at 9:30 for the Citizens Class, I looked around for other fellow 60+ geezers and found two: Gary Schildgen from Dellwood and Brad Beisel from Plymouth. "Guaranteed podium," we laughed.

The climbing was indeed tough.  In three places on the course, I got off to walk my bike, not because of the sheer difficulty but because my legs were crying out for a different set of muscles to take over.  I also discovered I could walk the bike up these sections faster than I could ride. Most other riders I saw did likewise.

Some of the downhills had bumpy washboard sections so you couldn’t really relax on those. And there were a few downhill turns that were flat with loose gravel. I wiped out hard on one and threw my chain, but got up without a scratch as I had my knee/shin protectors on and was wearing my new padded gloves, courtesy of a Penn Cycle swag drawing at Buck.

I was thrilled to pass a few riders since I’d only passed one rider the whole race at Buck.  My 29’er flies on any kind of downhill so on Loop 2, I tried to position myself to make some passes just prior to a downhill. That’s the extent of my first attempt to think strategically. I have no idea if it’s sound.

Podium, 60 and Over group, Citizen Class, Freewheel Frolic 2012 Minnesota Mountain Bike Series podium medal Kryptonite Modulus lock 
I finished 35th of 59 and won my age group, earning me the right to stand on the podium, a classy medal, and a Kryptonite Modulus lock

I’ve learned that a cross-country mountain bike race is a very different experience than just riding a single-track as fast as I can. The pure pleasure of a rolling, berm-and-obstacle filled trail isn’t there, at least not yet with the two race venues I’ve experienced. But the overall physical challenge is much greater and therefore the end result is quite satisfying.  And the social environment before and after a race is definitely fun.  I think I’ll keep doing it.

See the large slideshow of 46 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

And now I can say I’m a mountain bike racer

Eric Guse with his son, RyanI raced again this week at Penn Cycles’ Thursday Night at the Races at Buck Hill.  But it felt like my first-ever mtb race since last week’s race in the Beginner Class was, um, special. Why? I showed up at the 7:30 pm starting line, only to see about a dozen kids, most if not all under 13.  I spotted a dad nearby, Eric Guse, who appeared to be lining up to race, too. But he’d already raced and was there to accompany his son, Ryan.

I felt more than a little foolish but at the advanced age of 62, I’m starting to get used to age-related embarrassments so I shrugged it off and started out leisurely aside Eric. But after a few minutes, I decided to go as hard as I could until I approached the end, at which point, I’d stop short of the finish line.  I really didn’t want to be on a podium, denying one of the kids their chance in the limelight.  

Sydney Carlson (2nd from left) and familySo I passed one kid after another until I could only see one more, about two minutes from the finish line. As I got closer, I could tell it was a young girl, her blond pony tail flying.  She was fast, though, and my only realistic opportunity to pass her was on the long, gravelly downhill right before the finish. It was not to be. Her family was there cheering for her and that seemed to motivate her to go faster. I just kept right behind her to the finish where I pulled aside before crossing the line.  I learned later that she was Sydney Carlson, and she finished third. Two boys finished 2-3 minutes ahead of her so I probably would’ve lost to those guys even if I’d gone out hard from the beginning. Dang kids.

I asked one of the women workers at the finish line why nobody told me that the Beginner Class was really a kids class and she explained that normally, they do have a dozen or so adults in the class so they split the awards by age: 17 and under and 18+. Ahhhhh.

The Penn Cycle folks rubbed salt into my wounds by awarding me first place in the 18+ Beginner Class.  At least no one laughed loud enough for me to hear when I went up to accept my $10 gift card.

Penn Cycles' Thursday Night at the Races at Buck Hill Penn Cycle owner Pat Sorenson (right) and staff, Thursday Night at the Races at Buck Hill Penn Cycles' Thursday Night at the Races at Buck Hill
As you can see from these three photos and others in my album of 180+ (large slideshow) it’s quite a festive atmosphere. Props to Penn Cycle owner Pat Sorenson (on the right in the center photo) and staff for a great venue.

swag: Thursday Night at the RacesSo last night I raced again at Buck Hill, only this time in the Recreation Men Class.  Two laps, a slightly more difficult course than last week, 59 riders. I finished 50th.  Complete results here.  I passed one rider, right at the end, which, I must say, was quite satisfying.

And I lucked out: my name was drawn for some swag. I got good pair ($25) of mountain bike gloves (which I really needed) and a "Thursday Night at the Races" t-shirt.