Friday, April 29, 2016

Trails are ready to go!!!

So yes, we were a bit concerned.  It rained MUCH more than was forecast yesterday.  We had already started discussing course re-routes to avoid sections that might be wet.  Even when we were out first thing this AM, there was standing water in a few spots.  Luckily the sun and a breeze make a big difference.  We currently have a couple soft spots, but those will disappear quickly with traffic tomorrow.

The entire course was visited with a leaf blower today.  A couple trouble spots had significant dirt work done to make sure they are ready to go.  A couple of the guys did a scout lap just before dark and they report conditions as ideal...nicely tacky.

Tomorrow will be one of the busiest weeks of the year on the trails, so be patient with the other riders.  Remember, not everyone on the trails are racers out for a pre-ride.  We have lots of recreational riders that will be enjoying the trails tomorrow, so please be conscious of them.

The different race courses are signed and trail tape is marking much of the course already.  We will be finishing things up tomorrow, so watch for volunteer and give them plenty of space.  Check our post on race course and maps for 2016 because there are some changes.

Also, if you are driving up from the Cities, check that post.  There is construction in Taylors Falls and the MnDOT detour will add over 20 minutes to your drive.

There is a GREAT weekend on tap in Woollyland!!!

Cool Activities all weekend long in Woollyland

We are partnering with Spring Awakenings to have fun activities all weekend, so come for the biking, but enjoy some lots of other fun outings.

We know the day can get long trying to keep the little ones busy while mom/dad/big brother or sister is racing.  We are excited to have some non-biking kid friendly activities at the High School on Sunday at 11AM.

And don't forget the Pre-Woolly Party at the Dalles House (a Woolly Bike Club sponsor) on Saturday Night with the Undergroove.   Plus they will have a Woolly burger and Woolly beer special.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Woolly Race Week Trail Status - 4/27/2016

Updated 4/28 6:00pm

Nicholas is asking what I'm sure many of you are wondering, when can I ride Woolly?

First, you'll notice we've added a trail status indicator on our webpage in the top right.  That is where to look for the most up to date status of the trails.

Here is what we know right now as of Thursday late afternoon.  The trails are wet and CLOSED.  We got quite a bit of rain in Woolly Land the last few days even more than predicted on Thursday.  Friday things start looking up. For now,  please stay off the trails so we have the best course possible this weekend.

We are going to put a highly unlikely for opening the trails Friday evening.  You can be assured we will be keeping a close eye on them over the next two days and we will keep you informed.  We are more optimistic and would be willing to upgrade the rating to a definite hopefully to have the trails open Saturday.

We have already begun marking the course.  You can check out the pictures below to see some of the signage.  Friday evening and through Saturday we will be completing the full course marking including taping off the unused portions of the trail.

We will have a guided tour of the courses Saturday afternoon at 3:00pm.  Meet near the start/finish area by the HS.  We will have two levels of rides so everyone is welcome.

So, stay tuned, do an anti-rain dance if you've got one, and hopefully we will see you on the trails this weekend.

Be sure to check out the course descriptions HERE.

2016 Woolly Race Page

Looking for one stop shop to find all of the information about the 2016 edition of the Woolly Race?  We've created a landing page that contains links to all of the information you could want.

Click HERE or find the link in the navigation bar at the top of the page.

Don't see an answer to a question you had?  Be sure to send us an email to let us know.  You can find our contact information on the About Us Page

Another Mammoth Gravel Report

T-minus 4 days until the Woolly Race!

But first, another fantastic report from the Mammoth Gravel Classic 100.

Dan Woll, author of North of Highway 8, rode last weekend and has filed his report on the Cyclova XC Blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Weather we race, or not...

For the last 10 years, we have hosted the St. Croix Valley Woolly Mountain Bike Race.  For 8 years, Mother Nature smiled on us and blessed us with great weather.  Last year, Mother Nature was unhappy with the Sport and Marathon Class racers because during their race, IT POURED.  I don't mean nice sprinkles.  I mean buckets full of water dumping down.  It wasn't pleasant for racers, fans, volunteers or anyone...except maybe ducks.

Last years experience has us a bit cautions.  This week we have also been questioned by club members, Minnesota Mountain Bike Series personnel and several racers.  As we watch the weather forecast leading up to this weekend, I have decided that meteorologists have the easiest job in the world.  Just make something up for the next week or so, then change it frequently, so no matter what the weather ends up being, you were right with one of the guesses.

That being said, I have been checking the forecast hourly...OR MORE for the past few days.  First ,weather was going to be great next weekend, then it was going to be nice for the week, but a chance of showers on race day, then it was going to rain all weekend. Forecast then predicted heavy rain rain during the week, but be nice for the weekend.  At one point, we were forecast to have a full on monsoon which is weird, since we are in the middle of the country and no where near an ocean.  (I thought the temperature was expected to be 27,000,000 degrees F, but then I realize I was actually looking at the forecast for the  actual surface of the sun, so that temperature made more sense to me.)  Literally, as I was discussing the grim forecast earlier today with one of the guys on our Physical Committee, the forecast changed drastically and got much more appealing.

Currently we are here with "occasional rain showers" on Thursday, then perfect through the weekend.

So...will we race or not?  If the monsoon hits, NO.  If the temperature reached 27,000,000 degrees F, NO.  Anything between these extremes, ABSOLUTELY.  The Minnesota Mountain Bike Series does have a few open dates in their schedule for as rain dates.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the deadline for a change.  We will look at the weather forecast (then ignore it because it is just a random guess), we will consider the condition of the trails and how we expect they will be on Sunday.  We really don't want to reschedule and will do so only as a last resort.  Considering we had several inches of snow on the ground a couple years back in the beginning of May, this year the weather does seem to be shaping up nicely for a mountain bike race.

Please don't plan to just show up for your event, then leave.  Plan to make a weekend of it in Woollyland.  We are expecting a great weekend.  Plan to come up on Saturday for a pre-ride and bring the family.  Spring Awakening is a fun event in town that will have lots of fun outdoor family activities both Saturday and even during the race on Sunday...can you say "petting zoo" for the kids?!?!  Plus, one of our new sponsors, the Dalles House, is hosting a Pre-Woolly party Saturday PM for a "less family friendly" activity.  This will feature The UnderGroove, a great funk band out of the Cities, plus Woolly burger specials and even a Woolly named beer because carb-loading and pre-race hydration is critical.  

There is a weekend full of fun on tap with the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series race on Sunday as the highlight, but hardly the only activity in town.  And please, make sure people know you are here for the bike race.  It is important that the community realizes what an asset we have with our trail network and hosting great events like this weekends race bring people to town.

See everyone soon...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mammoth Gravel Classic Ride Report

Even though we are just a week out from the Woolly Race and I know people are getting excited to kick off the MN Mtb Series racing I want to take a quick moment to reflect on the Mammoth Gravel Classic from this past weekend first.  Some of you may be familiar with my race reporting over on the CyclovaXC blog, this will be similar, but different.

We would love to have some more content for the Woolly page.  If you have a write-up of the event or would like to write something up, please get in touch.

Here are a few other reports that I already know of:

Steve Hamlin

"Walter Rhein"

Ben Jonjak

Event Summary

Before I get into my personal report we can cover the overall event.  In this fifth edition we were treated to probably the best weather yet. We've had two editions affected by major snowfalls and I rode one in 40 degree rain, so 70s and partly cloudy skies are fantastic. We did have to deal with what I'll call "The Breath of the Mammoth" on the return trip for all the riders. A steady 15 to 20 mph wind out of the south was definitely a bit of a downer as you headed south back to St. Croix Falls on the Gandy Dancer.

All told there was approximately 275 people who signed a waiver and participated in one of the three rides.  That is a record for this event.  I think most people found the day challenging and enjoyable. I heard of two issues. Unfortunately we had one rider crash at mile 99 on the ruts left on the Gandy from illicit motor vehicle use. He is getting some new hardware installed on his collar bone next week, but is in good spirits. I also heard about a couple of 70 mile riders that got a ride back to the Gandy from Crex Meadows (decidedly off the 70 mile course)  but since I heard about it they clearly survived though they may have gotten more ride than the bargained for.

In total I think it was a great event with something for everyone.  A huge thanks to Frank Lundeen for being Mammoth Man again this year and pulling it all together.

My 100 Mile Report

This was set to be my third Mammoth Gravel Classic 100 event.  I'm in an interesting place where I'm getting close to 10 gravel centuries under my belt so on one hand they seem like no big deal (been there, done that, didn't die).  On the other hand, I'm a skier not a fat biker in the winter, so these spring rides leave me a little wanting for bike specific fitness.  The week before I rode 50 miles on my mountain bike on the gravel roads out in Carlos Avery and was pretty well spent at the end.  So going in I was highly confident I would be able to finish the event, it was just going to be a matter of how much I was hating life and my bike when I got back to St. Croix Falls.

The Woolly and close Woolly friends were well represented at the start of the 100 with probably close to a dozen riders (in no particular order and apologies if I missed someone, Frank, Jason, Nate, Steve, Steve, Ben, Greg, Greg, Tim, Jim, and myself).  The odds seemed high that I would have a chance to ride with someone for a good portion of the day.

Not quite the whole 100 mile group getting ready to roll from the St. Croix Falls Overlook.
The initial 13 miles or so of the 100 mile course are a paved roll-out along the river.  With a large pack of 20+ riders and a nice tailwind this was an easy cruise at 20 mph.  The first short gravel section saw things get excited in a hurry with a decided increase in effort.  That was short lived though and we were back on pavement for another two miles where with a little chasing the majority of the pack regrouped.

And then, as we turned onto 300th Street just shy of 17 miles, things blew up for good.  Last year the really soft section in the Barrens, really wasn't too bad and ended up just being a mile or two of really soft stuff.  This year was different.  It was a solid 7 miles of really soft beach like riding.  There were riders everywhere for a while.  I'm happy to say, despite my less than stellar bike handling skills I was able to ride the whole thing cleanly, though it was a huge effort to keep the tires rolling at times.

Coming out of the super sandy stretch onto O I was definitely feeling like I was putting in above 100 mile level effort.  I found myself next to a couple of strong guys on mountain bikes.  Within a few miles as we turned into Fish Lake State Wildlife Area we pulled in fellow Woollys Nate and Steve and another Steve.  The effort continued high as we did a little pace lining all the way to Grantsburg.

Grantsburg was a super short stop to just refill water and Nate and I were back on the road with the same crew again minus Woolly Steve who had rolled through.  Again the pace continued really high through Crex Meadows.  I was still taking my turns on the front, but it was sometimes hard to catch back onto the back after a pull.  Headed east and occasionally south we could definitely get a feeling for the headwind we were going to be facing once we got onto the Gandy north of Siren.

Just before we reached the Gandy our group of five was caught be another group of three that included friend of Woolly Mike.  Things got a little silly here in my opinion as the pace started to surge the last few miles of pavement before hitting the trail again.  Before we finished going around the airport Nate and I both sat up.  We were cooked.

We stopped in Siren to refill bottles again and take a short rest break.  Nate and I were both feeling a little nauseous.  We made sure to give the other group stopped there a few minute head start back on the trail to make sure we didn't get any silly ideas of trying to hang with them.

This was the start of our dark times.  This stretch of trail from Siren to Frederic is a false flat and coupled with the wind we were slowly turning the pedals just eeking out 12mph after having averaged 18mph (including stopped time) to Siren.

Riding into the Breath of the Mammoth headwind on the Gandy between Siren and Frederic.
Once past Frederic Nate and I started to eat our way out of our respective bonks.  Food didn't sound good, but I knew I needed to get something down.  We finally made it to the oasis of Cafe Wren in Luck where we decided to take a good sit.  Espresso Malts for both, a peanut butter sugar bomb of some kind for me and a black bean wrap for Nate.

Sweet sweet calories.
I also happened to be here at the perfect time to spend a few minutes with my girlfriend Starr who was riding the 70 miler.

Nate and I sat for probably 30 minutes before heading out again.  While sitting we tried to cheer on Steve, Tim, and Jim as they rode past.  The Roar of the Mammoth was in their ears though and they didn't hear us.

Finally feeling refreshed we hit the trail again.  I knew that once we hit Centuria it was pretty close to "all down hill from there".  We decided not to take a quick spin on the Woolly single track as we rode past.  We rolled in at a little before 3:30, tired but not destroyed.  Despite doubling my long ride of the year I actually felt better than expected.  On wards and upwards.

I hope to see everyone at the Woolly Race next weekend.  I'll most likely be taking your money if you are doing day of registration.

Woolly On


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Getting To The Woolly - HWY 8 Road Construction/Detour Advisory

We are just over a week away from the 2016 edition of the Woolly Race.  In order to help get you to the race on time we wanted to give everyone the heads up on a significant detour that you can avoid if you are coming from the Twin Cities.

MN Hwy 8 is being rebuilt just outside of Taylors Falls MN.  If you are coming from the Twin Cities this is likely the road you were going to take.  Rather than getting there and finding yourself detoured back south to cross the St. Croix River at Osceola (Hwy 243 Bridge), we advise you to take the following route.

From the Twin Cities:

  • Interstate 35 North
  • Hwy 97 East
  • Hwy 95 North
  • Hwy 243 East (crossing into WI)
  • WI Hwy 35 North into St. Croix Falls

This alternate route does take you through a little construction in Forest Lake at the intersection of Hwy 97 and Hwy 61, but the traffic should be minimal and the detour is a few block instead of the 20 miles if you take Hwy 8.

For the curious, HERE is MNDOT's map of their proposed detour.  Again, we don't recommend this route.  It will get you there, but it is going to take extra time.

From the north:
If you are coming from the north, MN Hwy 95 from North Branch will take you right into Taylors Falls and across the St. Croix River into St. Croix Falls without any issues.

From the east:
If you are coming from the east, you also won't be affected by this major detour.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Race Courses for 2016 are slightly revised...

***SPORT/COMP/ELITE/MARATHON*** will ride almost the same course this year as they did in 2015 (minus all the rain...we hope).  We will start with a lap around the soccer field to stretch things out before we dump into West Ridge.   (Sport, Elite and Marathon will not ride West Ridge on their first lap.) This section is fast, but gruelling!  There are some fast, fun, tricky decents, but "what goes down, must come up", so there are several short steep climbs and one long climb back up the the school. 
You will transition to our upper singletrack sections though the school yard, walking path and a paved bike path.  You will take a hard left in to the "lower meadow".  This is a false flat that will take more our of you than you expect.  Once you enter Riegel Park, you will enjoy some smooth, fast singletrack highlighted by a section of local basalt rocks, which are the remains of the last glacier to shape the St Croix River Valley.  Use caution through the rock gardens because pinch flats, rolled tires, sidewall tears and bleading shins are common...if you aren't careful.  Some more smooth and twisty singletrack will lead you to a gradual climb through some grass ski trails toward our on-course aid station.  
Since we are skipping Wissahickon this year, you will now jump on the Gandy Dancer for a half-mile, so grab your bottle or a gel pack and grab someone's wheel as you head to our newest singletrack, Erratic Rock.  You will now enjoy 1 1/4 miles of flowy fun.  The first section is a long gradual climb that will help separate the group, but you are rewarded by a great high-speed, berm'd up decent back down to the railroad bed that will have you smiling from ear-to-ear.
Another short section of Gandy leads you back to Big Oak (which is where our trailhead is located), your last section of singletrack each lap.  It is fun and twisty with several fun A-B lines to choose from.  A-lines will have an obstacle that will be faster to ride, but if you are in traffic, the B-line may allow you to sneak past a few competitors, so choose wisely.  The lap will finish with you hammering a 1/2 mile of snowmobile trail back to the Start/Finish area.
Please print these maps, if you are heading up to pre-ride.  The course is marked all year, so Sport/Comp/Elite/Marathon classes will ride almost everything.  We will put up temporary signage at key intersection for all classes soon
***KID'S COMP & CITIZEN***  These classes will ride the same course as described above with the following exceptions.  Racers will not ride West Ridge, but will head straight to Riegel Park.  While in Riegel Park, racers will not ride the Rock Gardens, but will take the B-line cut across.  From the Gandy Dancer, racers will go straight into Big Oak (avoiding Erratic Rock), then ride the snowmobile trail back to Start/Finish area at the High School.  Kid's Comp will ride 1 lap and Citizen will ride 2 laps.

Monday, April 11, 2016

We NEED you!!!

Calling All Race Volunteers
Race day (Sunday, May 1st) is fast approaching and we are still in need of many volunteers to help make this event a success. 

Volunteers are needed for a wide variety of positions, many of which can be done in pairs.  You can volunteer for a full day, half day, or even just a couple of hours and still have plenty of time to cheer on your favorite racer, compete in one or more of the races, and enjoy Woolly 2016 as a whole.  Anyone able to commit to 4 hours or more will get a free Woolly Race T-shirt as a thank you for their time.
Position Descriptions and Hours Needed:
·              Registration - 7am – 1pm 
·              Course Marshals – 8:45am-4:00pm Direct and assist riders and spectator, monitor road crossings and report accidents.
·              Feed zone - Hand out water/energy drink on course or in finish area post races.
·              Clean-up/Tear down – 4:00pm ‘till it’s all packed up

Positions will be done in shifts, so it is not necessary to commit to the full time listed for each.  Just specify the hours you will be available to work.  

Email with your name, phone #, email address, hours desired to work, position desired, t-shirt size and we will confirm receipt.
Effective volunteers will be assertive and proactive, but always courteous and helpful.
Thank you!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Race Prep is critical...


1.   Rehydrate - CHECK

2.   Quality Nutrition - CHECK

3.   Relax and enjoy the evening - CHECK

Looks like we have you pre-Woolly Saturday night planned already.  Hope to see lots of you there!!