Iceman 2018: A Recap and Reflection

Writing a recap for a race with 400 riders is one thing, but how can you accurately describe what happened in a race with over 4,000 spandex warriors taking part? It’s not exactly an easy thing to do. There are 4,000 different versions of a single race; some stories of triumph, some of disappointment, some stories of just wanting to get the line for a Two Hearted and a brat in a pretzel bun. All stories worth reading and sharing, especially the brat and pretzel bun one. Below you’ll find a very brief overview of some of the fastest races of the day, but it certainly doesn’t mean that anyone’s race was any less important. From everyone at kolo, we want to congratulate every single person who threw their helmet into the ring and took on the Iceman Cometh Challenge.

Pro Men

When Geoff Kabush posted on the ‘gram he was taking on Iceman astride a CX rig, a few eyebrows were raised at the decision. However, it wasn’t as crazy of an idea as some people may have thought. Many have used drop bars to great effect at Icemans past, including our very own Cody Bear; he rode the Pro race last year on his 3T. Riding a cross bike at Iceman is one thing, but winning on one is something entirely different. Could the crazy Canuck pull it off?

If there was a year for a drop bar bike, 2018 was it. A gravel road replaced the oft-sandy two tracks that create havoc the first few miles of the race in most editions, and even the trails in the woods were packed tight from a perfect blend of rain and tire traffic. As Kabush and Michigan’s own Alexey Vermeulen broke away from the front of the Pro field, the two-time Canadian CX Champ had just enough in the tank to hold off Vermeulen to successfully defend his win from 12 months ago. Brian Matter, racing his 25th Iceman, took third to capture yet another podium to go along with his four wins. Canadian MTB National Champ Peter Disera came away with a very impressive fourth place in his first attempt at Iceman, with Ben Sonntag from Durango, CO cracking into the last podium spot.

Just behind the rock stars of the American cycling scene, Michigan riders had a hell of a day. Grayling’s Jordan Wakeley took 13th, with the Pride of Suttons Bay, Braiden Voss taking 20th – and I don’t think the kid is old enough to vote yet. Braiden finished just ahead of the legendary Jeff Owens, who probably smiled and gave out compliments to riders the entire 28-mile race. Kolo founder, Cody Sovis, finished a very fast 33rd, with kolo rider Dan “Hottest Dad of 2018” Ellis taking home a very impressive 41st.

A special shoutout to Leadout’s Dan and Keegan Korienek. It was really something special to see father and son finish the pro race together, and doing so at the pointy-end of affairs, no less. I can’t imagine how proud Dan was to see Keegan’s years of hard work pay off with a spectacular 26th place finish.

Pro Women

It was a small women’s field, but what it lacked in quantity, it more than made up for in quality. Choosing a likely winner seemed almost impossible prior to the race, with folks choosing American Chloe Woodruff to repeat, others touting a win for former World Champion Catharine Pendrel. We also had people saying with conviction that Sofia Gomez Villafane, the Argentinian National Champ and Utah resident, was going to bring her serious CX speed to TC for the win. Amy Beisel was also tipped to be up front, and local favorite Kaitlyn Patterson is always a threat.

About halfway through the race, there was a decisive split in the field that defined the rest of the day. Woodruff, Pendrel, Gomez-Villafane, Beisel and Patterson made the split, leaving Traverse City’s big hope, Susan Vigland and Megan Doerr, chasing relentlessly from behind. Rachel Langdon rode on in no-man’s land, refusing to drop back to the group behind or give up on regaining the lead group.

Coming into Timber Ridge, Woodruff held a slender advantage over Pendrel and her Stan’s NoTubes teammate, Gomez-Villafane. As Woodruff pressed her advantage, Gomez-Villafane played her role of teammate perfectly, jumping Pendrel on the last climb into Timber to make it a perfect 1-2 for Stan’s Notubes-Pivot Cycles. Kaitlyn Patterson may have gotten the biggest applause of the day as she rolled in for fourth, with Amy Beisel maintaining her charge to the line to finish a very strong 5th.

Wave 1

With the course changes, the start of the race has never been more important as it turned out to be in 2018. Wave 1 is always quick, but the gaps formed in the first few miles of the race became race-defining for most of the day. A group of twelve or so of the fastest dudes around got away early, with Josh Zelinski and Dave “Sunset” Scott doing the lion’s share of the work to keep the front group away. Among that group was Virginia’s Ryan Beurman, who may have not been recognizable to others in the first group, but they’d remember him by the end of the day.

In the second group, Jon Zelinski did what he could to keep the chasers moving, without eating too much into his brother’s group’s lead. The second group on the road was as big as 25 riders after Dockery Rd, easily twice its normal size. At Broomhead, the gap to the group was a minute and a half. By Williamsburg, it was two minutes. There was simply no matching the pace of the front group, even with prodding accelerations by M22’s John O’Hearn and others. As the groups broke up over the final climbs of the race, it was Buerman taking the Wave 1 win, just ahead of Grand Valley State Alumni (I had a class with him!) Colton Lock, with Sunset Scott, Nick Wierzba, and Dan Hofstra rounding out the podium.

A special shout-out to the Cross-Country Cycle’s Joe Lampen in the wave 1 field for giving me one of his bottles halfway through the race. I lost mine about two miles in, and I was starting to really bonk. The sporting gesture saved my race – thanks, Joe! I drank about half the bottle, then gave the rest to Brent Wiersema, who had lost his bottle early in the race too. Carbon bottle cages look cool and are super light, but I think I’m switching mine out for an old-school aluminum cage; ain’t no one ever lost a bottle out of one of those things.

At the end of the day, the results are very much second in importance to celebrating bikes, healthy lifestyles, the outdoors, and our cycling community. I know it’d be easy to hang up your bike and throw on your snuggie once it gets a bit chilly out, so thank you to everyone who kept on training to make the trip up to TC for our own spandex-heavy version of the Super Bowl. It’s such a thrill to share our trails, our town, and our community with people from all over the world who share the same passion for riding bikes as we do. Thank you for being part of it, and we really hope to see you all again next year.

To Steve Brown, his staff, and the army of volunteers that make the Iceman happen, thank you so much for letting us feel like champions every November. Your work is appreciated more than we could ever say.

Until Iceman 2019, enjoy every ride.

kolo t.c. is a blog about amateur bike racing and amateur bike racers. Follow us on Instagram, FB, and join our Strava club.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Race Your First Iceman)

Whether someone talked you into it or you set the race as a fitness goal to build towards all summer long, it’s finally here. The Iceman Cometh has cameth. Er, arrived. If this is your first Iceman rodeo, it can seem super overwhelming and daunting. We wanted to help the newbies prepare for their first Iceman with some tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years to help you and your buds have a fun time. After all, at the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of people wearing their spandex and riding bikes in freezing temps; here’s how to make sure your day in the woods with 4,500 new friends goes smoothly and safely.

Go to the Iceman Expo to Get Your Packet

On Friday, go to the expo to get your packet. Trust us. Picking your number plate up the day of the race is just another task added to an already hectic and rushed morning. Be sure to double-check that you get the right number plate – it’s not impossible to be given someone else’s on accident. It’s happened to me. The volunteers are working feverishly all day long, so a mistake is totally understandable; help them help you, man.

The other sweet thing about the SRAM Expo is all the vendors. If you forgot your gloves, your helmet, or maybe you want to upgrade to a new rocket ship the day before the race, the Expo will have it. And it’ll be cheap. Most vendors blow out their inventory at the Expo – I’m talking as much as 50% off clothes and gear. I once saw Kathleen Kerr leave the Expo with over 20 pairs of SockGuy socks for like $1.53 or something like that.

We’ll have a blog on the Expo itself next week. That’s how big of a deal it is.

Pack, Plan, and Prepare

Crucial to a positive Iceman experience are the 3 Ps; something I just made up. Before you go to bed, you should have everything you’re going to wear for the race laid out on the floor. You should also have everything you’ll need to eat and drink before and during the race, plus dry clothes for after. Again, avoiding stress the morning of the race is going to make your race so much more fun, and there’s nothing more annoying than showing up to Kalkaska missing your right mitten and racing in jeans because you left your bibs at home.

You should also know, by heart, which wave you’re in and when that wave takes off. You can check this info on the back of your number plate or on your Ice Society page. You need to get to Kalkaska with enough time to warm up and get into your wave without being rushed. If you want to be in the front row of your wave, you need to get lined up at least 30 minutes early – even earlier if you’re in the early waves. If you’re less concerned about getting in the front row, take the extra time to warm up and be ready to pass people early and often if you start at the back.

If you’re not on the front row and want to have a fast time, don’t panic! One of my best Iceman races ever had me starting on the back row of wave 2. Your fitness will show, for better or worse, no matter where you’re lined up.

#PROTIP: Plan your bowel movements to take place well before you arrive in Kalkaska. The porta-john seats are super cold in the morning. 

Race with Your Brain. And Your Legs.

Don’t forget, the race is about 30 miles long. Every year, I pass a ton of people who have completely blown up, with snot and spit hanging down their faces and staring 1,000 yards into another dimension of pain, and they’re only at Williamsburg Road. That’s a tough place to blow up, since the longest, most challenging hills are yet to come, and these riders are already buckled. It’s easy to get carried away by adrenaline and excitement at the start of the race, but it’s crucial to know your fitness. You should constantly be asking yourself, “Can I do this effort all the way to the finish?” If you quickly answer yes, go faster. If it’s a hard no, ease up. The ideal answer to this question? “Maybe?”

The race can get a little backed up in the singletrack sections, but don’t freak out. Every wave is going to deal with a brief slow-down in the tight stuff. You need to be ready to pass the second the course opens up. And if someone wants to go around you, let them. Then hop on their wheel and save your energy. You’re going to have a much faster race by cooperating with the riders around you versus if you piss them off. Play the game and you’ll all go faster.

This is a pretty simple overview, I know. But hopefully, it drives home the point of planning ahead, being prepared, and minimizing your stress before the race. Having your head in the right place before the gun goes off means you’re starting with a figurative head start.

See you all at the finish, and bring your I.D. so you can celebrate with some Bell’s.

kolo t.c. is an amateur blog about even more amateurish bike racing. Follow us on Insta, FB, and join our Strava Club. If you really like clicking on things, click on the DONATE button for our friends at the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association.

 

My First Iceman

In 2010, Cody and I stood on the infamous Icebreaker climb to watch the Pro men and women finish up a particularly frigid and muddy edition of the Iceman Cometh. The crowd went wild when a Brian Matter stormed up the short, steep climb completely covered in mud and barely recognizable. The cream of the American mountain bike racing crop followed shortly behind, including my childhood heroes Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Jeremiah Bishop. The atmosphere on that little hill in the middle of the woods was electric; old and young, men and women, drunk and sober, we all soaked up the excitement and fed off the race’s energy. Frozen feet and numb hands be damned; this Iceman thing was something special.

Once Cody and I were back in the car and warming up while driving home, we agreed that we wanted a piece of that experience while in spandex. Training for Iceman 2011 started the next day.

The Build Up to Iceman 2011

We’d been getting back into bike racing the year before, after the first two years of college added $25K in student loan debt and about 25lbs. After Cody ballooned to 196lbs. (he’s now 145) we sort of said to each other, “Shit, man. We gotta do something about this.” We got back into it at Barry-Roubaix, then upgraded our bikes to be somewhat competitive during the summer of 2011. I went with a 2010 Cannondale Trail SL, sporting triple front chainrings, plus a rigid Niner fork that was all the rage at the time. I think I paid $1,800, but that was before the student loan people got their 8% interest. It probably turned out to be the most expensive bike I’ll ever have bought.

Cody and I were young, pretty fit, and having a blast working, going to school, and training, with Iceman being the main motivator for the fall. When we registered, we signed up for our age group, then went about figuring out how to get into the Pro/Cat 1 race. Turns out, it’s pretty simple. Win something. At Peak to Peak, I won the Expert 29 and Under group by 6 minutes, then won my age group at an exceptionally muddy and miserable Lowell 50. Cody was hot on my heels, and we were stoked when our upgrades requests were approved. We’d made the big show, but we really didn’t have any idea what we were getting into.

Racing Pro at Iceman

Racing pro at Iceman is a really unique experience. In the morning races, Kalkaska is a hive of activity, with over 4,500 riders and innumerable supporters buzzing around in eager anticipation. Not the case in the pro race. The town is empty, except for the 200 or so pro men and women. We have these massive parking lots to ourselves and time to kill, so it’s cool to spin around and just take it all in with no stress or hurry. Or, just play catch with your dad while you wait for the start, which I did one year when the weather was 70 and sunny. Years with that kind of weather are very few and far between.

2011 was particularly surreal experience at the start in Kalkaska. Our race transport that year was my Dad’s 1988 Chevy Celebrity with over 200K miles. It’s the pinnacle of American luxury cars, if you ask me, but it had nothing on the rig that parked right next to us. The Trek-Subaru team and Trek World Racing teams pulled in, and out climbed all of our heroes of the day; Jeremy Horgen-Kobelski, Heather Irmigr, Sam Shultz, Lukas Flukinger, Matthias Flukinger, and a host of mechanics and support crew. My dad couldn’t help but snap a picture of their super-pro set up right next to our Chevy.

iceman

The race itself was a blur. I’ll never let anyone forget that I beat Jeremy Horgen-Kobelski that year. It mostly had to do with him being taken out less than 300 yards into the race and completely destroying his bike. But I’m still going to count it. The speed of the race was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I was completely pegged, even while in a draft, and I could barely hang on to the guy in front of me. For reference, this battle for life and death was taking place in like 80th place. I was completely empty, ready to vomit and cry at the same time when we took a familiar right turn onto Smith Lake Road. I felt like I had been waterboarded and my legs were swimming in lactic acid, and I was only 3.5 miles into the race. It was just unreal.

JHK iceman
Just meeting one of my heroes. JHK was a super nice dude.

It might be hard to imagine being proud to finish in 90th, but I was pretty pumped about my ride that year. I got to line up with actual professional bike riders, plus the fastest dudes and dudettes in Michigan. I was especially geeked to have my name in the results on Cyclingnews.com, even though you had to do a lot of scrolling to get to it.

iceman emmett
American mountain bike legends, Kelli Emmett and Heather Irmigr.

Pro or age group, class winner or DFL, Iceman really is something to be experienced. When I tell people I have a race in November, sometimes in the snow, and it’s from Kalkaska to Timber Ridge, they sort of just stare at me like I’m a fool. Then I have to explain to them it’s not just me. 4,500 of my best buds are going to join me for a day of fitness, outdoors, and celebrating life in Northern Michigan. Sometimes, they come out to watch me race. The next step is predictable. The following year, they’re out there on the start line, wanting to get in on the fun.

See you all in Kalkaska very soon.

kolo t.c. is a very amateur blog about even more amateur bike racing. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or join our club on Strava

Bear Claw Epic 2018: Amateur Bike Racing Nirvana

Few events on the calendar are as consistently well-organized as the Bear Claw Epic, hosted at the Cadillac Pathways. Saturday was no exception. 400 spandex-clad warriors showed up on a crisp, clear Saturday morning to test their stuff against one of the fastest, most fun courses in the state. The racing was furious, plus there were donut holes and pizza. So. Pretty great day all the way around.

Elite Races

In the Elite race, Jorden Wakeley and American Heartthrob/Dad Brad White (Velo City Cycles) quickly distanced the rest of the field to battle for the win. A distinguished career on the crit racing scene gave White the experience to position himself perfectly for a sprint finish win in front of a huge crowd. Wakeley showed true mettle to hang with White; it’s a race we really hope to see again at Peak to Peak in a few weeks.

Further back, it was Cody Sovis (3T – Q+M) working well with Alec Shau (Clark Logic) to fit into the top five, with Shau distancing Sovis late to take a very impressive podium.

On the women’s side, it was a pleasant surprise to see Kaitlyn Patterson (aka KP) show up to put on a show. She rode an excellently controlled and calculated race to take home the win in front of Traverse City’s Susan Vigland and Lauri Brockmiller. The young Maddy Frank (Freewheeler) came in fourth, with Lexxie Mapes (Ray’s Bike Shop) taking fifth in a stacked Elite field. We’re really looking forward to seeing these five, plus a few more of their friends, do battle on the much more tactical Peak to Peak course.

Expert Races

If the Elite races were competitive, then it’s tough to describe just how impressive these Expert riders are. Patrick Hornacek, Jim Jackovatz (KLM), and Tom White (City Bike Shop) were the fastest Expert riders, all with lap times that would put them up there in the Elite race. A huge shout out to John Duby (City Bike Shop) who took the win in the 50+ category. John has been busy with travel and work, but still put in one hell of a ride, while always being so supportive to everyone he meets on the trails.

Allen McClain, Jared Dunham, and Ryan Miller Rides (his real name) were the podium finishers in the 29 and under classification.

It was M22‘s Jamie Endicott taking the win just ahead of Cindy Duby (City Bike Shop) in the women’s Expert overall. This author witnessed first hand the poker game taking place on their last lap – it was both intense and extremely entertaining. I just wanted to get out of their way with my life and limbs intact. A very impressive Anne Schwartz rounded out a very strong women’s Expert podium.

#YOUTH Races

The best part of the day, as always, is the kids’ races. A slew of GR Dirt Dawgs made the journey to Cadillac to show their stuff against the Orange Armada of Traverse City’s Norte, and things got even more intense for the eyes when the Velo City Kids rolled to the line in their equally orange kits.

From Strider bikes to pre-teens, we’ve simply never had more kids and bike races in the years I’ve been around. If you want to see how this sport is doing, simply look at the smiles at the dozens and dozens of kids crossing the finish line in front of cheering spectators on a sunny Saturday morning. Things are just peachy. Be sure to thank the folks at Norte, GR Dirt Dawgs, Velo City, and Sisters-in-Singletrack for all of their efforts.

Speaking of saying thank you, a huge shout out needs to go to Michelle Andrews, Dustin Webb, and their small army of volunteers who manned the registration table, marshaled on the course, and made the 2018 Bear Claw Epic such an incredible day, and such an awesome way to raise some money for the Cadillac Pathway. Thank you!

You can see full results from the race here. Follow Bear Claw Epic, Cadillac Pathways, and Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association on Facebook. We can’t wait to see you next month at Peak to Peak!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear Claw Epic Preview: Fall MTB Kicks Off

There are few courses better suited to out-and-out racing than the one hosted at the Bear Claw Epic. A perfect balance of climbing and descents, singletrack and passing zones, high speeds and technical turns; no other course in the state offers up a winner more well-rounded than this one. And with the fall racing season kicking off in earnest, there’s no better race to see where you stand as you build fitness for Lowell, Peak to Peak and Iceman.

If you haven’t tried this race out yet, make this the year. The seven mile course features 350 feet of climbing per lap, with the climbs largely coming in the form of short, sharp tests. Riders brave enough to stay off the brakes on the descents are hugely rewarded with a little extra momentum going up the rollers, making this a race with a higher than normal average speed. The high average speed keeps gaps to a minimum, which means you should never come off the gas – the leaders aren’t ever as far ahead as you might think.

Another bonus of this race? It’s so accessible for newer riders! Race distances and categories are broken up from Beginner (1 lap), Intermediate (2 laps), Sport (3 laps) Expert (3 laps), and Elite (4 laps). No matter your level of experience, there’s a race category and distance for you. There’s a reason for this. The race is associated with the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, and all proceeds will go to maintaining and improving the Cadillac Pathway trail system. The race organizers, Michelle Andrews and Dustin Webb, want to make sure the folks who haven’t checked out these trails before come out to see the high-quality trails right in their backyard.

Speaking of the organizers, they know what they’re doing. They don’t use arrows to mark the course. They use real, life humans to man all the corners and intersections to ensure no one gets lost and everyone gets ample adulation throughout the entire course. After the race, there’s water, G&D Pizza, Blue Heron cookies – everything you need to recover from you effort on the trails. By all accounts, this is easily one of the best events of the season. A huge thank you needs to go out to the Cadillac cycling community for putting this top-notch event together!

Bear Claw Epic takes places September 22. Online registration is just $35, while day-of is $45. Get yourself signed up for one of the most organized, well-run races of the season. Anyone want to check out Clam Lake Brewery after? I’ve been wanting to check that place out for years. Let me know.

Join the Strava club. Follow us on Instagram. Go ride your bike.

 

Racing for Home: A Bike Race Through a Postcard

Many races accurately claim to take place in picturesque settings. Racing for Home, however, has a venue that’s tough to top. The course winds its way through the rolling vineyards, hardwoods, and some awesome singletrack of 45 North Vineyard & Winery to form one of the most fun and challenging courses on the calendar. Coupled with the incredible scenery the opportunity to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, it meant one heck of a fine day to be on your bicycle in Leelanau County.

The #YOUTHS Show Up In Force

The highlight of the day had to be the youth races, where almost 100 #YOUTHS took to the line to show their stuff. Kids from 3-18 raced distances varying from 1 mile up to 3 laps of a slightly altered race course.

The 3.2 mile 10 & Under race was particularly competitive, with Suttons Bay Bikes‘ Liam Wierzba blitzing the huge field of riders for the win, with Ben Burley, Norte‘s Grady Ellis, Ride Science‘s Zach Gerlando, and Justin Thompson rounding out the top five, respectively. Ella Sill had an incredible race to take the win in the girls’ race in that distance, with Emerson Jackson taking a strong second.

In the 11-14 age category, Norte’s Drew Humphrey romped to the win, with teammate Reese Cummins just 10 seconds back in second. How’s this for a killer ride? Avery Sill was the fastest girl, and third overall in the age group! Arie Ramoie wasn’t far behind in the girl’s category to finish second, with Gwyneth Schmitz taking home third.

The 15-18 year old race reminded the older generation that the end of our time at the front of the field is neigh, with Carter Schmidt, Drew Cummins, and Karsyn Rogers finishing 1-2-3 with incredibly fast lap times.

A huge congratulations to all the #YOUTH racers, and a big thank you to Norte for sponsoring the youth race at Racing for home!

The Old People Raced Too

In the Pro field, which consisted 100% of people with full-time employment or schooling, it was a matter of who could pace themselves the most efficiently on the tough course. Featuring plenty of steep climbs and plenty of tight single track, the leaders needed to time their big efforts to perfection and make no mistakes to have a shot at the win.

3T-Q+M‘s Cody Sovis pushed the pace early, with Nick Wierzba, Dave “Sunset” Scott, Sam Holmes, Rob Martin, and Paul Olson forming an elite train for the first half of the race. Brad Pauly, Dan Ellis, Kyan Olshove and Garrett Jenema overcame a bad start (getting stuck behind me) to form a chase.

With a lap and a half to go, Wierzba made his move, leaving Cody a minute back at the finish. Dave Scott, impressively pulling double-duty after racing the M22 Challenge on Saturday, took third. Sam Holmes put in an incredible ride for fourth, and Rob Martin rounded out the World Cup-style podium for fifth. Two young guns, Garrett Jenema and Kyan Olshove, finished ninth and eleventh, continuing the theme of “young-people-are-taking-over” on the day. Lauri Brockmiller beat every other Pro woman who stayed home on the couch to take the win for the women. Her lap times are a study in consistency, proving just how strong and measured her efforts are on the bike.

Racing for Home Was a Blast

A huge thank you to Trent Gskcpodkspdok from MICapital, 45 North Vineyard & Winery, and all the sponsors for putting this race together to benefit Habitat for Humanity – Grand Traverse Region. It was a total blast, and I hope y’all can join us next summer for an even bigger and better FUNdraiser in 2019!

If you missed the race, but want to toss a few bucks to Habitat for Humanity – GTR, you can do so here.

The incredibly handsome Jason Whittaker handled the timing for Endurance Evolution. Check out the full results here.

Follow kolo t.c. on Strava, Instagram, FB, and show our sponsors some love by liking them on their social accounts!

Racing for Home is This Weekend!

Increase your quantities of stoke, as the FUNdraiser race of the summer is here! Racing for Home makes its debut on our calendars and in your hears on Sunday, June 10, at 45 North Vineyard & Winery. Racers of all abilities will do laps around the picturesque vines, and take in a challenging, yet rewarding course that only Leelanau County can offer.

Money raised will go to Habitat for Humanity – Grand Traverse Region, which means the cash you and your family splash on this race will stay in our area, helping our friends and neighbors in need.

The course itself is a short, but punchy 3.2 mile track with 300 vertical feet of climbing each lap. You’ll hardly notice the climbs, because you’ll be surrounded by some of the most gorgeous views around, and amply rewarded with some of the best wines and ciders on offer IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Get out there today to pre-ride it for yourself! Here’s more on the trail, if’n you want more details.

There are beginner, sport, and pro classes, so you’re guaranteed to have a fun, competitive race on your hands. Get yourself signed up here. Follow the race’s FB page for details throughout the week. If you can’t make the race, but still want to help out Habitat for Humanity, donate here.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and Strava

Arcadia Grit & Gravel 2018: The Sandy Crank Edition

A few hundred brave souls showed up for the 2018 edition of the Arcadia Grit & Gravel presented by Stormcloud Brewing, located in beautiful Arcadia, Michigan. On the lips, minds, and iPhone screens of all in attendance was the forecasted weather, which could only be described as a bike shop owner’s wet dream. A steady rain overnight made the dirt roads a slog and the trails a veritable ice rink in spots. But, as ever, it’s not the course that makes the race. That’s up to the riders.

Men’s Race

The Men’s Pro/Elite field saw the most wide-open edition of the race to date, with no clear race favorite on the line. Last year’s winner, Brad White, was in ColoRADo, leaving it up to a supercharged field to sort the race out on the roads and trails. Dan Ellis, Cody Sovis, and Nick Wierzba used the first gravel/sand climb of the race, just three miles in, to whittle the front group down to a dirty dozen of riders. I say dirty, because the conditions were almost laughable, if it weren’t for the watt-sucking sand also sucking out any ability to giggle about the effort.

By the singletrack sections, the group had broken up even more significantly. It was the trio of Tyler Weston, Nick Wierzba, and Jamison Shepard who snuck away to contest the win, with Weston taking top honors just in front of his breakaway companions. Cody Sovis and Mike Powers combined well to round out the top five.

A special shoutout to everyone’s favorite Aussie, Justin Morris, for showing up to race in the mud, all the way from Australia. Not only that, he took on the slime and slop of the Arcadia trails on a cyclocross bike; a feat made all the more impressive when you see on the result sheet that he took thirteenth. So impressive – great seeing you, Justin! Bring us a kangaroo on your next visit, please.

Women’s Race

If the men’s race lacked a favorite, the women’s race did not. Susan Vigland has lit up the spring race season with a convincing win at Mud, Sweat, and Beers two weeks back. Could the combined firepower of Erica Stehouwer, Megan Doerr, and Lexxie Mapes challenge Vigland?

After 26 mud-soaked miles, it was Stehouwer and Doerr who pushed Vigland the most, finishing in second and third, respectively. Vigland found herself with an impressive three-minute gap at the line, comfortably sitting up to take the adulation of the enthusiastic and very wet crowd. Lexxie Mapes limited her losses well after a very busy spring of racing to finish just seven minutes off the winner’s time.

Notable Rides

In the 15-29-year-old category, Sam Holmes took an impressive win over two up-and-coming riders by the name of Ryan Miller and Kyan Olshove. Keep an eye on all three of those names; their times in Arcadia would have been more than competitive in the Pro/Elite race. By Peak to Peak, I’d imagine they’ll be beating us all.

Eric Wolting took the win in the 30-34 race, an accomplishment made all the more impressive due to the fact he rode 212 miles the weekend before. His secret? Founders Beer. Probably.

It’s also awesome to see Hagerty’s Jimmy Argyle back in action at MSB and now AGG. Jimmy is one of the nicest dudes around, and it’s great to see him racing again after events of secondary importance, such as “having a kid” and “working”, having taken up much of his time the last few years.

Lastly, but not leastly, a big shout out to Emma Schwab for taking the win in the 15-39 race. The young Hagerty punk managed to out-grind her teammates Kasey Wierzba and Amie Elvie to take the top step in what is a big statement from the young phenom.

Jeff Jacobi won singlespeed.

For complete results, go here. To see all the best mud-covered face shots from Rob Meendering, go here. To see how fast you have to go to get yourself 15th in the Pro class, go here.

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