New grass track races Friday at
Wilderfest have potential to grow
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 3:04 AM
Just as gravel road racing has caught on in the United States since Chris Skogen initiated the Almanzo 100, grass track racing has the potential to do the same.
If it does, Spring Valley could be in the forefront, just as it is for gravel road racing with one of the earliest and largest events in the Midwest that has earned Skogen a solid reputation.
The initial event is Friday during Wilderfest in the area near the Spring Valley camper parking area two miles east of the city. Andy Tetmeyer of Hed Cycling Products of the Twin Cities, in conjunction with Skogen, is organizing grass track races, called Run Wha-Cha Brung. The races will be held along with a gravel road bicycle expo, Almanzo 100 sign-in and entertainment.
Tetmeyer said he doesn't know of any grass track races in Minnesota - yet.
"I'm sure there will be some (grass track events in Minnesota) after this one, just like there were no gravel races in Minnesota until Almanzo happened eight years ago. Now there are at least 40 gravel road races here," said Tetmeyer.
Grass track racing is much more common in England, Scotland and Australia, said Tetmeyer. In those countries, it is a little like sandlot baseball, except there is a national championship in addition to the hometown races like the one that will happen in Spring Valley.
The grass track racing Friday, with registration starting around 5 p.m. and racing starting around 6 p.m., will be on a 200-yard oval mowed out on the field just behind the camping area. There will be at least three categories: serious, men and women. If there are enough takers - and local residents are invited to participate - they will add beginners and youth categories.
The race will run "just like a real velodrome racing event," which is similar to a track meet, explained Tetmeyer. There will be four races for each category:
A 10-lap scratch race has all the participants line up and race 10 laps. The first one across the finish line wins.
A devil take hindmost race is a 10- to 20-lap race with a sprint every other lap. The last person across the line on each sprint is pulled from the race. On the last lap, the riders still in the race compete for places.
The unknown distance race has racers going until they hear the bell. Places are taken at the finish line on the lap after the bell rings. Tetmeyer noted that there is always a bell that rings to signal either the start of the last lap or a sprint lap.
The eight-lap handicap race has the organizer spreading the field out with faster riders starting farther back.
The name for the event, Run Wha-Cha Brung, stems from open car and motorcycle races in which entrants are able to enter the race using the vehicle they arrived in, or what they "brung."
Most bicycle riders will be doing the same, rather than riding specialized fixed gear bicycles normally used for track races. They are called fixed gear bikes because if the wheels move, the pedals move, so there is no coasting. Since track racing bikes for grass are rare - Tetmeyer knows of just one person in Minnesota who has a purposely-built fixed gear bike for grass racing - the races don't have a requirement for special bikes.
Just as the Almanzo started small, Tetmeyer isn't expecting a huge field to start. He figures about 50 racers this year "and many more in the future."