It's starting to look a little bit like Fall around here. Even though the temperature is still summer-like, leaves on trees are starting to change colors and I've even spotted some falling to the ground. Before long I'll be pulling out my arm and knee warmers. Hard to believe because it seems like I was just putting them away yesterday. Time flies when you are having fun...on a bike. And I've been on my bike a ton having lots of adventures.
I've been really fortunate to travel to a lot of different places over the last couple of years. I've been as far West as British Columbia and as far South as Texas. However, two of my favorite races to date are right here in the Midwest.
One of those races is the Wausau 24, at Nine Mile forest in Wausau, Wisconsin. I've competed in this race the last couple of years and it never fails to disappoint. The promoter does a great job putting on the event and the course is a blast with a nice mixture of twisty singletrack and fast doubletrack. It's so much fun. Especially when you are blasting past one of the volunteer stations and have 20 people cheering for you, complete with cowbells, tiki torches and music.
Besides having a great course, I think the overall ambiance of the Wausau 24 is what makes it such a fun race. Almost everyone camps out for the weekend and I always feels like I'm at a big party with a lot of friends. Only this party includes a coffee and food truck, pizza delivery at midnight, and usually a big bonfire or two. Oh, and a lot of bike riding.
I highly, highly recommend this race. With 6, 12 and 24-hour options it has something for everyone!
Another race that I had a ton of fun at and plan on going back to was the Minnesota Rusty Ride. Like the Wausau 24, the Minnesota Rusty Ride has several different lengths with 26, 50 or 100-mile race options. When I agreed to race the hundred miler I had no clue what I was getting into. Not only was this the inaugural year for the race, but this was my first time riding at the Cuyuna trail system.
No one warned me how fun and how beautiful the singletrack was going to be. My biggest regret about the whole weekend was that I didn't bring my camera with me during my pre-ride because words will never do justice to how freaking awesome the singletrack is. The trail was obviously expertly designed as it flowed really well through the pines and had banked turns that required no braking. Even the climbs were fun as the top promised an awesome view of lakes down below. Flowers were scattered everywhere. I basically felt like I was riding in a postcard...or one of those Nature Valley granola bar commercials that they always play during the Tour. It was soooo beautiful I was actually getting distracted while racing and found myself looking around a lot more then I normally do. In fact, now that I think about it, I think that's the reason why I had one of my biggest crashes EVER during the race. Yeah, I must have gotten "distracted" from the awesomeness and beauty of the singletrack.
In my opinion this is a really great race for someone who wants to try racing a hundred miler for the first time. The race is four laps so it makes pacing and nutrition pretty easy. But be warned. Just because this race is good for people wanting to tackle a hundred miler DOES NOT mean that it's a walk in the park. I found the course very challenging. Not only is there little room for recovery but there is also a good amount of doubletrack that was soul-crushing at times. However, the singletrack that followed was such a reward I would have raced the hundred miler all over again the next day!
Even though summer is winding down, I'm not! Next up for me is my first stage race in Canada, Crank the Shield. I've never done a stage race before and I have no clue what I'm in for. However, I'm excited and look forward to racing on new trails three days in a row. Then I'll be heading over to Colorado for the 24-Hour National Championships. After that it's time to race a little cyclocross and then start prepping for the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series.
My friends, there's no end in sight. It's a good thing I love riding and racing my bikes so much!
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These are a few of my favorite things: Mountain biking, good coffee, good food, and hanging out with my husband, family and adopted greyhound. It really doesn't take much to make me happy. Of course, winning a race every now and then is good too! www.daniellemusto.blogspot.com