WOODBURY - If the snow was flaky, the cyclists sure weren't.
About 120 racers plowed through elite, marathon and sport races during the 2019 Cold Catfish Cup on Feb. 17 at Carver Lake Park. The annual event was sponsored by Minneapolis-based Angry Catfish Bicycle Shop and the city of Woodbury.
Although skies were relatively clear and there was little wind, city recreation manager Reed Smidt said conditions for the race were less than ideal.
"We needed snow, we got quite a bit of snow. The issue that we had is that the snow quality isn't the best," Smidt said.
The racers had to contend with dry, fluffy and light snow - not what a fat tire cyclist wants, Smidt said, because it doesn't compact well.
The race was originally scheduled for January, a month that saw little snow.
When flakes began falling about a week before the rescheduled February date, trail volunteers began grooming the Carver Lake Park off-road cycling trail daily with a special machine, attempting to make the snow solid enough to ride on, Smidt said.
Trail conditions were good for the first part of race day, he said, but deep ruts eventually formed along the trails that made it difficult for racers to gain momentum.
But that didn't stop racers like Martha Flynn from having a good time. The St. Paul resident won the Women's Elite race.
"I like to think I have pretty good technical skills, but I am also very stubborn and don't like to quit something I started," she said. "So I slogged it out."
Flynn, who races with the Hollywood Cycles team, agreed that conditions in the first part of the day were great, though the trails quickly became challenging to navigate while balancing on two tires.
"Then conditions deteriorated and there was a lot of what we call 'hike a bike' sections," she said. "Racers have a choice of being frustrated, angry and defeated, or being positive and enjoying a day outside on - or with - your bike. I chose the latter and had a blast."
Mike Larson is the owner of Larson's Cycle in Cambridge, Minn., and the originator of Larson's Cycle Racing. Though a last-minute injury sidelined him, he was out at the trail supporting his team.
The LCR team, founded in 1996, has members that compete in 25-30 events each year, Larson said.
"It's just a gathering of guys that love the sport," he said.
Despite trail challenges, Smidt said racers enjoyed themselves.
"Overall, it was still a success," he said.