Race Report - The Great Hawk Chase MTB

4:34 PM

A view from the boardwalk

This was a fun race to do for the simple fact that it got us out of town.  Duluth is a short two-hour drive from the Twin Cities, and in the summer it is a perfect weekend destination because of the cool breezes from Lake Superior, the great restaurants, and awesome North Shore scenery.  Originally we were going to camp for the weekend, but with the recent flooding we upgraded to a lake view room in a nice hotel.  Aside: I always appreciate a hotel that is just as superstitious as I am...
Notice something missing?

Before this weekend we had never ridden the Lester Park course, so the open preview on Saturday evening was my first chance to get a look.  The course is basically divided into two sections - east and west of the river.  On the east side, which you ride first, you get lots of punchy, steep uphills and technical single track.  The west side gives you a general downhill grade with wonderful flow. 

At the start I could tell this was going to be a very different race in the series.  There were 29 women riders, about a dozen more than the normal turnout.  I didn’t recognize any of the new faces, but it became very clear early on that these were local women who knew the course, and new how to ride it well.  After a good start up the initial climb, I pulled back a bit knowing that if I kept it up I would be done before we even got to the single track.  The local ladies, however, were just getting started and a bunch passed me as they climbed like mad to the top.

The single track went well for me.  The only times I was off the bike was due to typical race stuff – one rider goes down in a technical section and you all pile up.  I can’t say I rode the hills well, as my hill strength lies in shallower grades that go on for longer.  I pumped like a crazy woman on all the downhill sections, and was actually able to gap a women without pedaling a single stroke.  In the end I was at the mercy of the locals, who knew how to rail every corner and attack every climb.  Ninth overall, second in my age class.

But there are more important things in Duluth than mountain biking.  Really?

Yes, really.  My new restaurant recommendation: The Duluth Grill.  With their dedication to local agriculture and organic ingredients, a creative menu with tons of variety, and smooth coffee we wound up eating both dinner and breakfast there. 

Breakfast: 7 Grain Porridge

I would have taken a picture of my chocolate cake with fudge sauce, or the Spouse’s banana cream pie (you get your own single-serving pie) – but we ate them too quickly!

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