Mountain bike racers gearing up to take long way through the Northwoods at Lutsen 99er


Mountain bike racers gearing up to take long way through the Northwoods at Lutsen 99er

COOK COUNTY, Minn. – Gearing up to take the long way through the Northwoods, are six mountain bike racers of various skill levels who have their hearts set on doing their best at the Lutsen 99er Saturday, June 27.


“There are less than 40 days left, and each racer is putting the finishing touches on their game plan.  “We have provided a course that challenges, and rewards racers,” says Peter Spencer, National Project Manager at Life Time Cycle.


Ally Stacher is a seasoned professional when it comes to road racing. She has raced for pro teams such as Webcor Professional Cycling, HTC-High Road, Specialized-Lululemon and the U.S. National Team. Racing on the World Cup circuit, Stacher was a member of winning teams at the Giro d’Italia, Flèche Wallone, Tour of New Zealand, Redlands Classic and many more. This season she has shifted her focus to the dirt with racing mountain bikes for her own brand, Ally’s Bar. She has won 12- and 6-hour solo races already this year, as well as top 10 (10th) at the Bonelli Park U.S. Cup Short Track Event. Stacher is fresh off the podium (3rd) at Marathon Nationals, and is hungry for more.


She and her husband John Murphy live in Horse Shoe, N.C.  Murphy has been bicycle racing for most of his life. Starting on the dirt, he found his strengths on the road bike.  Murphy is a two-time national circuit champion, as well as two-time world championship member.  He is the winner of the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, Ark. and is among the top 5 finishers at the Tour of California. Internationally, Murphy led the day’s main breakaway into the Arenberg Forest at the 2014 Paris-Roubiax. Later in the season, he claimed the King of the Mountain Title in the 2014 Tour of Denmark.  Murphy is an all-around rider that loves all styles of races.



When Minnesotan Mike Criego of Prior Lake decided golfing was not for him, he joined a team of cyclists.   Criego and his crew train locally and compete together all over, including Alaska, Costa Rica, and the U.S.  He has been competing in the 99er since it began a few years back.  “The Lutsen 99er is a great event.  Life Time Fitness does an outstanding job of making it a full weekend experience for not only racers but also spectators,” says Criego.  “Lutsen is just a great place to experience the majestic North Shore area of Minnesota.”


Christina Ross of Chaska started mountain biking two years ago, “almost to the day”.  Mountain biking terrified Ross initially, but she kept with it and it paid off.  Her first 99er race (39 mile distance) was in 2013, which she ended up winning!  Ross’s race schedule included Ore to Shore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where she placed in the ladies single speed division, Dakota Five-0 in the Black Hills of South Dakota where she won the ladies single speed division and Chequamegon 40 in downtown Hayward, Wisc. where she placed 2nd in the ladies single speed division.  Moving on to her second 99er (99 mile distance) race in 2014, Ross placed 3rd overall and 1st in the female single speed division and again placed in the single speed division at Ore to Shore and Chequamegon 40.  Ross attributes her success to having fun and enjoying the camaraderie of the mountain bike community.


Husband and wife duo, Todd and Diana McFadden from Duluth will head to Lutsen Mountain once again for the 99er.  Todd has been an avid mountain biker for 25 years and competing for 23 of those years.   He has placed in the top 10 several times in the 99er, as well as many other highly recognized races among the cycling community.  Todd McFadden currently holds the record for the Arrowhead Ultra 135 at 14 hours and 20 minutes; he also has the current fastest rookie record and a fourth-place finish for the Iditarod Trail Invitational at two days, 11 hours and 20 minutes.  McFadden says he has only missed one 99er race, due a broken thumb.  His wife, Diana also races competitively, and they always try to include their seven-year-old son when they can.  The McFadden family is a member of their local bike club COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gummi Shores).


These mountain bikers have been training day in and day out, hoping to finish in the top 10 at the 99er.  However, the rewards for the cyclists extend beyond places and awards; it’s the experience of everyone coming together to reach a common goal.  And, of course, the scenery isn’t bad either.


About Visit Cook County

Cook County, Minn. includes the communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage. This spring, Grand Marais was named the 2015 “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel, thanks to a social media voting contest. Visit Cook County inspires guests to rekindle their sense of adventure by boldly escaping the ordinary, from Minnesota’s tallest mountains to its greatest lakeshore. Stay in touch via, Twitter @CookCoVisitors or Facebook.




LYNN NELSON | LIN PR 612.990.0126 KJERSTI VICK | Visit Cook County 218.387.2788 ext. 103