Midwest Events for *2023*

My friend did it this year. Torrential rain all night before and plenty during the race too. Complete mud fest and very slippery walking even with MTB shoes. He walked multiple miles.

So I highly advise against road shoes

Would not suggest road pedals. In particular, there is one significant climb at mile 25 (Fire Tower) where many people walk due to the grade and looseness. Plus, it’s doubletrack, so there are 2 lines at most, and one person dabbing in front of you can wreck your climb. I’ve made it up cleanly many years but it’s very rocky, so walking it in road shoes could wreck your shoes and your race.

Otherwise, the course is largely comprised of near-constant 30-60 second duration rolling hills. Climbing starts at mile 3 this year and it will sort out very fast given the early climbs. The course goes back and forth between rolling hill ski trail and gravel road, every few miles. Be prepared for Fire Tower at 25, the seven sisters at 28-30, and Bertha at 37.

Last year was certainly an insane year with the torrential rain. Usually it’s mostly dry with some puddles if it rains that week. The only guidance I can give on pacing is not to go too far into the red on each hill because they continue for the entire race!


I’d also add that the beginning is much easier/faster than the end. Most the climbing comes in the second half, although with the course changes this year, maybe it’s a bit different.

It is definitely different this year. The course is a little longer and harder overall. There is less cruisy gravel and more birkie trail. Instead of doing Rosie’s field, we are turning right off the highway and then immediately doing the tough grass hills where the pro race started last year. It is also the same start as the Borah Epic mtb race, for people that have done that in the last two years. Fire Tower now comes at mile 24 instead of 29-ish and there is a lot of climbing still after that. Obviously birkie rollers, but they also changed the last 6 or so miles of the course to the finish so that stretch is harder now too. My theory is that they made these changes to make the pro race not quite as short, but it is going to make the people’s race a little harder and longer than usual.

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Okay sounds like road pedals are definitely a no-go then. And pace conservatively.

Thanks everyone for the info!

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If the fire tower climb wasn’t on the route, i’d run road shoes and my pm pedals but I’ve yet to have a clean attempt at it. Last year we were walking 20 ft in due to the mud. This is the year I ride the whole damn thing!

@wik04 Any idea how much time you think it’ll add? I did 2:52 last year and would still like to be sub 3. I think good weather and I can do it. Some guy in a bike shop in Minneapolis told me his friends prerode it and thought the route was much much harder, like almost twice as hard.


We pre-rode it too Labor Day weekend. I’d estimate an extra 10-15 minutes maybe?

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I also pre-rode the first 5 and the last 15 last weekend. I’d estimate a little more, maybe 20 minutes for that duration. I wouldn’t call the changes twice as hard, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if the changes added a few hundred of climbing from last year.

I’m hoping the forecast rain for tonight is minimal!

Looks like it’s been raining all morning… Anyone there already?

So what did everyone think of the new course? I ended up going 12 minutes faster than last year, coming in at just under 2:40. I had a pretty great day all things considered.

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It took me about 9 minutes more this year. The course is harder, but the conditions were much better this year.

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I was 15 minutes slower than last year, coming in at 2:45. Some of that difference was due to cramps around firetower that forced me to dial it back for a few miles until I could recover. I also got caught right behind a crash during the rollout, so I was sprinting back to the tail of the front group right as we turned off the pavement, making those first few hills even harder. I set 2023 power records at 15s and 5min in the first 15 minutes of the race, so the cramps were probably predictable…

I didn’t mind the changes to the last 10 miles, but the added hills so close to the start were brutal. I think I personally prefer more gravel roads so it’s a little more of a race and less of a 40 mile hilly TT.

That crash on 77 was crazy. I’ve never seen that many people go down at once. Luckily, everyone I knew avoided it somehow. Hopefully no one got hurt or broke their bikes in that one.

I was right behind it. I was able to slow down and move over just enough not to get involved. Someone fell over into my rear wheel and I had to unclip quick, but was able to stay upright. I don’t understand how that happens. It was perfectly flat, straight and wide open there. I gotta imagine at least one person’s race was over at that point. It sounded like bike parts being ruined.

Honestly, that is when mass crashes are more likely to happen…people let their guards down and aren’t as alert. A few riders start overlapping wheels and next think you…mass pileup.

Happens all the time, even in the pro peloton.