Just a heads up...lots of links to great media in this post, but if a picture is worth 1000 words, mathematically a moving picture has to be at least 24x that.
Maplelag, which hosted the 9th round of the the MNMBS, is one of my family and I's favorite weekends of the year...mtbk related or otherwise. Maplelag Resort is a little slice of Heaven perched on a little lake north of Detroit Lakes, MN, and it happens to have some of the best singletrack, maybe the best for those of us that like the tough stuff, in the Midwest.
The weekend's racing schedule is not just about an XC race though. It is a complete stage race w/ time trial (TT), short track (STXC), and XC. The winner is based on all the times added together. Oh, and you can't forget about the kids race! Tegan rocked it runing 14 psi rear 12 psi front;)
We should all smile this big when we finish a race!
TT: This is the most painful 10 min of my year...every year. It is a 3 mile course that is ~75% ski trail and 25% singletrack. For whatever reason I prize this race the most...the race of truth as TT's are often called. This year it wasn't a cool morning which suits me well, and it helped me to set a new course record of 9:28. TJ Woodruff, a very strong Pro from Wisco/Tuscon/Boulder (depends on the time of year=) was ~15 seconds back. I knew TJ was going to be tough all weekend.
STXC: This is like a dirt crit on a course that was ~2 min per lap. The first few laps saw little separation and lots of positioning. Then a few of us stirred things up getting it down to 5 in the lead group including Scotty KJ, Mason Basco, Paul Hanson, and TJ. Near the end, I decided to get on the front and just pull the last 4 laps. Well my non-tactical approach to a tactical form of racing almost worked out (got it down to TJ and I) but TJ went around me the last lap for the win. I was a couple seconds back. Video recap here.
XC: The course is long at 10 miles or so, and I much prefer 2 long tough laps over a bunch of short ones (as I think most racers do). I am not joking when I say it is tough, and the dry conditions made some spots even more difficult. Soon after I passed TJ at the beginning of the race, he fell victim to a race ending mechanical. I kept on it and ended the lap with a large gap of nearly 4 minutes. I found out about TJs misfortune (had no idea before that) about 1/4 of the way through the second lap and eased up a little, but just a little. I expanded that to over 5 min by the end of the race. I was COMPLETELY blown after the race...well until I got some dinner and a beer! The weekend had included 3 race starts, 2 TT efforts (end of the STXC was like a TT), and finished out a 8 race in 15 day stretch for me. That is probably my most intensive stretch of racing ever. Video recap of Sunday here.
While I was really happy to win the stage race again, I still had a significant, maybe most difficult, challenge to overcome. After seeing tempting video of the lakeside jumps on Jay's blog I just HAD to do it, but I was quite nervous. That said, what kind of stage race winner would I be if I wussed out on the famous lake jump? While I wasn't nearly as impressive as Jake or Jon Richards... I did it, twice! Video and picture proof:
Next up will be that big gravel and XC ski trail race in the north woods. I haven't been there in a while but figured I should give it another go. The course does not suit me, but it will be good to see all the Wisco boys again.