During the 9 year history of the Woolly Race, the closest to bad weather that we have ever had was two or three years ago. We had rain in the AM during Registration and we were CRUSHED with a severe thunderstorm right after we finished cleaning up, but every year we have had great weather during the actual racing. This year was an exception to the luck of all previous years and the weather was the most memorable element for many of our 400+ racers this year.
The forecast for race day was a scattered showers throughout the day. The first class of racers was our Kid's Comp class and they started at 9 AM. They didn't even complete the parade lap around the Soccer Field before the rain started. There was some rain on and off through the Kid's Comp and Citizen Classes. Not enough to cause issues with the trails, but it made thing uncomfortable for racers and fans alike.
Our Marathon Class (4 hours of racing!!) and Sport Class started around 11 AM. These racers had to ride through the worst part of the day. During the beginning of their race, we had some serious down pours. The Riegel Park and Big Oak sections of our course became slick, then greasy, and eventually turned into "peanut butter" mud or even active stream bed for part of their races. These people worked HARD. A mountain bike race is never an easy event because the very nature of racing causes everyone to push themselves to their individual limits. When you had rain and poor trail condition, especially for the Marathon racers that were planning to be on course for 4 hours, we had some exhausted racers lapping through the school. A few of the racers thrived in these wet, muddy conditions, but many of them were less enthusiastic caused mainly by the conditions that were tougher than anyone expected. The rain finally stopped after noon and the Sport Class and Marathon racers were actually improving the trail conditions as they lapped the course.
The benefactors of the misery from 11 AM - 1 PM was the Elite and Comp Classes. When these final racers started shortly after 1 PM , the trails had a few slick spots remaining, but most of the mud was gone. Reports were that by lap #2 the trails were in great shape. The racing action during the afternoon was just as good as the trail conditions.
The Elite Men battled from Start to Finish. In the first lap and a half, the Twin Six co-workers and BKB teammates, Jesse LaLonde and Josh Bauer, were working together to build a nice gap. During the 2nd lap, Jeff Hall (Lamere Cycles/Team Hollywood Cycles) was able to catch the leading duo. Later in lap 2, Hall and LaLonde were able to get a gap on Bauer, as they continued to storm around the course. The leading duo emerged together with Hall in the lead for their final trip around the soccer field. LaLonde got a great jump coming out of the final corner and was able to get a small gap over Hall as they crossed the Finish Line. Bauer followed 3 minutes later, but he still held a 3 1/2 minute gap over Mason Bacso (Kuhl).
The Women's Elite race offered a bit less drama with Megan Barr (Twin Six METAL) taking a lead from the opening gun, which she had stretched to almost 5 minutes by the end of the race. Using here home town advantage, Alicia Fisk (Team Hollywood Cycles) was able to pass Elanor Bacso (Mapelag) on lap 2 and build a safe gap until the finish.
Despite the challenges presented by the weather, a great time was had by all...well, at least, most. A great group of volunteer work hard throughout the weekend to make sure the racers have a great time. Our great local sponsors are truly the unsung heros of the race. Their partnership with the Woolly Bike Club allows us to build and maintain our entire Woolly Trail Network.
If you are looking for additional perspectives on the 2015 Woolly Race, check out a few of these links:
The Midwest MTB Report by Jay Richards
Troy Melhus recap video for the MnMTB Series
TMB Images Photo Gallery of the Race
More pics from Adam Emanoff
Endurance Path Blog
Alicia Fisk's Blog