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July 24, 2019

Jacob friede/lakeland timesMountain bike racers take off from the start line at the sixth annual RASTA Rally held at Washburn Lake Silent Trails Area on Father’s Day.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Mountain bike racers take off from the start line at the sixth annual RASTA Rally held at Washburn Lake Silent Trails Area on Father’s Day.

6/22/2019 7:29:00 AM
RASTA Rally held at Washburn Lake trail area
Jacob Friede
Of the Lakeland Times

Joe Belanger III taught his son, Joey, to ride a bike when he was four years old, and it didn't take much.

"It was a one time push, and off he was. No wipeout. No nothing," Belanger III, of Rhinelander, said. "He just kept riding ever since."

Nine years later, Joey Belanger is still on that ride and it took him across the finish line in first place at the sixth annual RASTA Rally, where, to the delight of his dad on Father's Day, he won the short course portion of the mountain bike race held at the Washburn Lake Silent Sports Trails Area.

"It was pretty tough. A lot of double track. It was really tiring," said the younger Belanger, who finished the short course in 53:08. "When you get to about five, six miles your legs just start to give out and it's really tough."

And that's just how it was supposed to be according to race director Rich Reidinger of the Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association (RASTA), who put on the race, which featured 50 mountain bikers.

"We have a blend of old-school narrow single track that's rough and tumble, rocky and ruddy, then we have some new machine built that's flowy with some jumps to it and stuff, so we have a blend of both here at Washburn. It's very challenging," Reidinger said.

Adam Swank couldn't have agreed more. He won the 15 mile long course race in 1:44:35, and, like Belanger, he had great respect for the Washburn course.

"It was fantastic. It had a little bit of everything as far as single track, some technical stuff, some good climbs. It was fun," Swank said. "There's some rock gardens out there that are really challenging. It's just rock and you're kind of bouncing over it just kind of trying to keep the bike moving forward."

Swank lives in Duluth, but is originally from Rhinelander and has raced at Washburn before.

But that doesn't mean he knew what to expect.

"They change the trails a little bit every year. Kind of improve them a little bit every year, so some of the stuff was still new to me," he said.

Regardless, Swank was able to navigate the surprises and take the victory at the RASTA Rally, which was made even sweeter by the fact that his dad was in attendance.

"It was a chance to do the race and see dad at the same time," Swank said, which, especially with his first place finish on Father's Day, was a win-win.

Jacob Friede may be reached at

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