2009 Shimano Minnesota State Championship a Huge Success

Minneapolis, MN

Ending with the GP Zac Daab on Sunday, November 15th, 2009, the Shimano Minnesota Cyclocross State Championship super-event concluded another season of cyclocross in the upper Midwest. The event, which spanned two days of racing, drew over 500 participants and hundreds of spectators to Bassett Creek Park in Crystal, MN, for the weekend’s festivities.

Most of the weekend’s racers had pre-registered for the event and filled CRC Bicycle Shop and Coffee Bar in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood to the gills on Friday night where promoters had scheduled their packet pick-up from 7-10pm. CRC’s owner, Tommy “Hurl” Everstone, was pleased with hosting the packet-pickup prior to the event. “I think it was a good turn out and I was stoked to be a part of it,” Everstone said, “I think a lot of people that hadn’t been to [CRC] before were exposed to the shop and in general the whole vibe of the weekend was cool.” Both on-line pre-registration and a packet pickup scheduled prior to the event’s start conspired to eliminate registration lines on Saturday and on Sunday, as racers were able to focus on warming up and preparing for their respective races rather than waiting to pay their fees and pick up numbers.

Once racing got under way at 9am on Saturday morning, Bassett Creek Park was already a-buzz with scores of spectators and racers, whose chance at state-championship glory would come later in the day. Morning attendees of the the event were treated to artisanal coffee, a variety of pastries and a delicious egg-bake courtesy of Stillwater’s The Bikery. Later in the day, lunch fare was provided by Twin Cities culinary powerhouse, Brasa, whose pulled-pork and chicken sandwiches were the talk of the massive Shimano hospitality tent. Meanwhile, Rush River Brewing Co. provided thirsty spectators with no fewer than three flavors of their hand-crafted seasonal beers and Emy’s Mini Donuts of St. Cloud, MN, catered to attendees’ sweet-tooth with warm donuts served from their mobile donut-hut.

Much of the action on both days of racing centered around two critical energy-sapping portions of the course: the sand pit, which was located directly next to the Shimano hospitality tent and adjacent vendor expo area; and the infamous stairs, which were hidden in the depths of Bassett Creek Park’s forest. These high-traffic segments of the course along with both barrier sections were sponsored by local bicycle shops who partnered with the event’s organizer, Juggernaut Promotions, to ensure these locations maximized the experience for racers and viewers alike. The stairs were given a complete “Belgian” makeover by Excelcycle with banners adorning each grueling step while the sand pit was sponsored by Freewheel Bike Shop, whose employees offered light snacks and coffee along with copious amounts of audible support for passing racers. The course’s two unique barrier sections were sponsored by Behind Bars Bike Shop and One On One Bicycle Studio; both provided racers with challenging obstacles that in some cases did more than their share to impede a racer’s forward progress.

Additional race sponsorship was provided by Penn Cycle, who expertly provided riders with on-site mechanical and neutral support, and by The Bikery, who generously sponsored the race itself as well as one of the weekend’s three raffles with a new Ridley Cyclocross frame set in an appropriate size to fit the raffle’s winner. The other two raffles were sponsored by Handspun Wheels, whose employees donated a pair of hand-built tubular cyclocross wheels, and by the event’s title sponsor, Shimano, which provided a complete Ultegra 6700 group and a pair of 2010 Ultegra 6700 tubeless wheels for raffle. Jeanne Fleck, winner of the Shimano component group was ecstatic with her prize, “Please extend my sincerest Thank You… to the sponsors who gave away such wonderful prizes. I’m very happy that I decided to get involved in cyclocross this year. What a great sport and what an awesome group of people!”

The event was also made possible by a large group of generous sponsors including Clement Tires, DT Swiss, Thule, Dig It Triathlon, Salsa Cycles, Ridley, Zipp, FSA, Thomson, Vittoria, Planet Bike, Clif Bar, GU, and Grand Stay Hotels. Stephen Vitvitsky, who organized event sponsorship for the event, said of the sponsors, “Each of our vendor and local bicycle shop sponsors played a critical role in helping Juggernaut Promotions achieve its twin goals of a contribution to Crystal’s youth sports programs in the amount of $5,000 and of securing this outstanding venue for future Minnesota cyclocross calendars.” He continued, “On behalf of all the weekend’s racers and spectators, we would like to extend a hearty and well-deserved ‘Thank you!’ to every sponsor for their contribution to the success of the 2009 MN state cyclocross championship weekend!”

Winners of Saturday’s official state championship races were awarded medals during a special ceremony at One On One Bicycle Studio on Saturday evening, while winners of Sunday’s GP Zac Daab races as well as the weekend’s combined omnium points competition were treated to a healthy pot of cash and prizes that exceeded $15,000 — the largest in the history of Minnesota cyclocross racing. The generous pot drew racers from around the Midwest including Iowa, Wisconsin, both Dakotas as well as adjacent Canadian provinces. Minnesota natives Doug Swanson and Jenna Rinehart won their respective Cyclocross State Championship Pro Category races and the honor of wearing gold for the next twelve months. Swanson and Iowegian Kim Eppen took home first-place prizes for the weekend’s Omnium combined points competition.

By the time race promoters began tearing down the course on Sunday afternoon, much of the Minnesota cycling community was already excitedly talking about what Juggernaut Promotions will have in store for the 2010 cyclocross season; while promoters declined to comment on specific plans, the group did hint at the potential of a Juggernaut Promotions Midwest cyclocross race series that would rival the likes of Portland, Oregon’s Cross Crusade. Still, cyclocross enthusiasts of all stripes will be forced to wait for next year’s schedule to learn what ultimately comes to fruition.

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