Most of the MBRC membership is fairly new to cycling and therefore are unaware of the history of the club. So I thought it might be of interesting to give you some information on it’s beginnings and it’s past and present members.
The MBRC was formed in late 1974 by Chuck Strauch, owner of Pursuit Cycle, and Paul Slarks, 1974-5 State Road Champion. You may have met Chuck and not even realized who he was. He has worked at Flanders Cycle off and on for the past few years.
At the time of it’s formation the only bicycling club in the Twin Cities was the Gopher Wheelmen, which everyone belonged to.
“The Wheelmen” was a large club with quite a mix of riders from racers to tourists. It was very formally run with a President, VP, Secretary, and Board of Directors. This arrangement worked well but at times became very political making it hard to get things done. What Chuck envisioned was a club of serious bicycle racers run more like a European “team”. A tighter knit group that traveled to races and raced together.
In this original group were Scott and Jim Flanders, Chris and Kevin Kvale, Bob Williams, Paul Slarks, Australian Warren Keyser, Jeff Howe, Mike Tracy, Nancy Eddington, Rich Lackman, Bruce Caulfield, and Steve Gaertner.
Chuck had secured a modest sponsorship from a local bicycle distributor known as Northwest Bicycle Supply. The company was the distributor for Motobecane, a French bicycle company, and that was the name that would appear on the club jersey in 1975.
Since the MBRC contained the cream of the crop in Minnesota bicycle racing it had a very successful first year.
In July of that year the MBRC sent a group of riders to the very first “Red Zinger Bicycle Classic”. It was a three stage event with a road race, a time trial, and a criterium. Although not used to the long climbs the team did really well. Scott Flanders won the Junior division race from Tom Prehn with Steve Gaertner finishing in a tie for 3rd. The Senior division was won by John Howard with Jim Flanders finishing 9th overall. Kevin Kvale won the Criterium in the “B” Race.
At the National Championships, Paul Slarks took a fine 3rd place in the National Ten Mile Track Championship and Jim took 9th place in the Time Trial.
Locally the MBRC dominated, winning just about every State Championship event. Paul Slarks again won the Road Race and the Points Race on the Track. Jim Flanders was 2nd in the Road Race 1st in the Time Trial and 1st in the 4000 Meter Pursuit on the Track and Scott won the Junior Road Race, theTime Trial, and 3 Track Events. Bruce Caulfield won the Track Kilo.
In 1976 the team was sponsored by Unwind Handlebar Tape which supplied a van to travel to races and all the handlebar tape we could use. There was no monetary sponsor so it was all out of pocket for the year. Despite this the team had some great results.
At the State Championship Road Race MBRC took the top four places in the Senior Division with Kevin Kvale 1st, Scott Flanders 2nd, Jim Flanders 3rd, and Chris Kvale 4th.
Jim Flanders was invited to the Olympic Trials in New York based on points accumulated in midwest races.
At Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky Jim took 7th place in the Road Race and Paul Slarks was 4th in the 4000 Meter Pursuit on the Track.
In the second Red Zinger the team rode well with Jim finishing in 10th.place overall. More importantly Chuck met and became friends with members of the British and Australian Commonwealth Games Team.
This friendship was to pay big dividends the following year when Dudley Hayton of the British team agreed to ride the 1977 Red Zinger with the MBRC.
At the end of 1976, Warren Keyser and Jim Flanders teamed up with 1972 Olympic silver medalist Clyde Sefton and fellow Australian Ian Chandler to race a stage race in Detroit. Scott Flanders was teamed with a Composite Team from Ohio. He made the break in a star studded field in the final stage to end up 4th overall.
In 1977 Chuck landed a new sponsor, Hoky Carpet Sweepers. It was the first real sponsor for the club. This sponsorship would help bring Dudley Hayton over from England and add another good rider, Jim Huff from Detroit to its 1977 Red Zinger Team.
By this time the Kvale Brothers had left the MBRC to ride for the Skunk River Cyclists in Iowa sponsored by Kretchmer Wheat Germ and Michaels Cyclery. Later that year they would set a new National Coast to Coast Cycling Record.
Bob Williams had also departed and formed a new club, The Star of the North, sponsored by a local bike distributor Bauer Cycle.
Warren Keyser, after having some spectacular rides at Super Week, also left the MBRC and joined forces with the Stetina Brothers on the more national level Cool Gear/Exxon Team. Paul Slarks retired from racing and got married.
Despite these changes 1977 was to be one of the best years in the history of the club.
At the State Championships Jim and Scott were 1st and 4th in the Road Race and 1st and 3rd in the Time Trial. On the Track, Jim was 1st in the 4000 Meter Pursuit with Scott 3rd. Jim also took a 1st in the Points Race and 2nd in the Kilo.
Then came the 1977 Red Zinger Bicycle Classic. With Dudley Hayton’s strong 6th place overall, Jim in 10th place, and Scott in 16th the MBRC/Hoky Team finished in 2nd place behind the Mexican National Team and in front of all 3 U.S. National Squads. Jim Huff who was vertically challenged by the Colorado mountains managed to get a great 3rd place in the Denver Criterium adding to the teams hefty winnings.
At the Nationals in Seattle, Washington Jim and Scott finished 16th and 23rd. The junior race ended in a two-up sprint for 1st between Greg Lemond and Jeff Bradley.
Because of their good rides at the Nationals and the Red Zinger Jim and Scott were put on the National “B” Team in the fall of 1977. This gave them the chance to try some racing out of the U.S.
Jim was sent to the 12 day 1000 mile Tour of Guatemala and Scott to the 7 day 916 km. Tour of Costa Rica.
Scott finished in 11th place and Jim in 16th place scoring a stage win in a time trial over eventual Pan Am Games Road Race winner Bernardo Colex. The winner of the Tour of Guatemala, Jose Patrocinio Jimenez eventually rode the Tour de France placing in the top 10.
After the 1977 season Jim and Scott left the MBRC to join Warren Keyser and the Stetina brothers on the Cool Gear/Exxon Team.
With Scott and Jim gone and Chuck Strauchs departure to the West Coast the MBRC would disappear for a few years.
During 1978 Jim and Scott had continued success with Cool Gear/Exxon. Due to his good ride in Guatemala, Jim got to ride in the 1978 Tour of Baja finishing best American in 27th place.
Scott narrowly missed a second State Road Title but won numerous other races.
Both Jim and Scott competed in another Red Zinger. This time teamed with the Stetina brothers. Scott dropped out on the Morgul Bismarck stage and Jim was about to do the same when he saw Scott at the feed zone. He knew you had to finish three team members to stay in the team competition so he suffered on to finish. This later paid off when he finished 3rd in the Denver Criterium stage to earn his first podium finish as well as 15th in the overall.
At the end of 1978 their grandfather who helped them start Flanders Bros. Cycle, passed away leaving them with full responsibility for the shop. They both decided to race only on a local and regional level in the coming years.
This changed a little in December of 1978 when Jim was invited to the Olympic Training Center in February of 1979. The decision was made by Jim to give it one more year. Thanks to Scott holding down the fort Jim was able to ride in the Pan Am Trials, narrowly missing a win in Allentown, PA., the 1979 Tour of Guadalajara, and another Tour of Guatemala. He also had the opportunity to ride with the Avocet team in the Red Zinger Classic. This team included Kent Bostick, Harvey Nitz, Steve Pyle, and Greg Lemond who was still a junior riding in his first Red Zinger. This was to be the last year for the Red Zinger. The following year the race became the Coors Classic.