USA Mountain Bike Pro Racer, Jeff Hall

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mountain Bike Racing at the Lutsen 99er / June 28, 2014

On the road to the Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike Race, in Two Harbors, MN. Subway pre-race dinner @ 10:30pm Friday night. Still have about 50 miles to drive, foggy, with very low visibility made the last 50 miles interesting.

I got to sleep on a couch @ about 1:30am, up @ 4:30am, race start @ 7:30am. 1400 Mountain Bike Racers.
Ready for a big day on the 400 Suzuki chasing Jeff on his mountain bike for 99 miles.
 The fog was thick off Lake Superior as the 1400 mountain bike racers left Lutsen Resort and rode down to highway 61 heading north a few miles and turning up a pavement section climb before turning off on to gravel.
 The riders were still in the fog for the climb up away from Lake Superior. The front of the pack began to spread out and Jeff Hall was right up front. Looking clean and fresh as the legs warmed up, I think he was surprised that I was coming up alongside on the Suzuki. 
This is Jeff Hall in the black and white with the Foundry kit.
 I came up alongside Richard on his dirt bike up front, he was leading the 39 mile race. His brother was racing the 39 mile mountain bike race. I hooked up with Jesse and Blake as we were out front of the 99 mile race. These guys looked ready to rock with their KTMs, muddy and all knobbied up. This was going to be an adventure.

After riding a moto in the North Star Road Bike Race 2 weeks ago, I have had some awesome motorcycle rides amongst bicycle racers...It is great to see the races develop out on the courses. I was riding a BMW 1200GS at the road races and I'm riding my Suzuki 400 all knobbied up for this Lutsen 99er. The road races were about 98 and 84 miles. This mountain bike race is 99 miles off-road. Jeff averaged 16.85 mph for 99 miles off-road, with a time of 5:52:31. The first 4 finishers were 15 minutes ahead of 5th place. They were rocking up there!   

 Early in the race, still a bit of fog and a good size pack.
 On the narrower stretches several miles into the race the front pack whittled down and the tempo started to pick up...the race was on.
 Pacing off the front with Jesse we had to on occasions, gently have drivers pull over to the side of the dirt roads to let the racers by. As we rode into the aid stations we could give updates and make sure that the racers stayed on course.
 When one is on the bike for over 5 hours it is important to hydrate and eat, on the mountain bike or a dirt bike. Jeff fastened a small pouch on the front of his jersey. He carried everything from turkey jerky, power bars to gel packets. I carried a couple cans of "Rock Star Zero" energy drinks along with a leftover subway ham sandwich and of course several Power Bars. Gotta eat and drink to keep maximum power. 

 It was out on the outer double loop on the second go round that Jeff decided to put the hammer down and thin the pack of about 11 riders to the final 4 racers. That section of the course suited Jeff as it was a bit more rugged and narrow. Jeff is out front in top photo and 3rd, drinking in the lower photo. 
 This was shortly before Jeff put on a push to split the group.
Jeff is #205. The final 4 were sorted out and out front all the way to the finish for the next 50 miles.
 One of the motos chasing me through the woods ahead of the racers...
 The guys are skirting some puddles and roaring through the middle of some that span the whole road. They were really moving now.

 The water was flowing across the trail as there was a large beaver dam along the left side of the photo.

The pictures say it all...Hammer!

 It all comes down to this sign, 10 miles to go after 89 miles. Either the body has it or ya just survive...They were still together, the pack of 4, Jeff Hall, Michael Naughton, Garth Prosser and Kasey Bacso. The riders had the hammer down and as they rode into the muddy bog section. Jeff hit it hard, Garth and Kasey dropped off the back. Jeff and Michael pulled away with Jeff gaining a small gap. Michael put on a surge and Jeff couldn't match it. Michael crossed the line in first with Jeff 2nd.

 Jeff Hall @ 2nd place @ 5:52:31 @ 16.85mph average speed / 99 mile race shortened about 3 miles.
 Cracking a smile after a ride through the North Shore Forest on 2 wheels.
 I came up on a racer with a "Finish Line Finders" jersey, it was long time team member Tim McGrath. I was on my motorcycle with my helmet and goggles on so Tim did not recognize me right away but I yelled out my name and he gave me a high 5. Good to see Tim out there racing.
 Podium shot / 1st: Michael Noughton @ 5:51:49 / 2nd: Jeff Hall @ 5;52:31 / 3rd: Garth Prosser @ 5:52:43 and Kasey Bacso not shown, who earned 4th and was in the lead pack till a few miles out.
All the bikes the morning of the race before unloading to have an adventure in the the Minnesota North Shore Forest. Total of 36 hours, traveled 700 miles by truck, bike and motorcycle. 3.5 hours of sleep...back home by 3:00am Sunday.
Ride On!!