05 May, 2013

Mud. Sweat. Beers. Redemption

This is the fourth time I have competed in this event. Since 2011 I have come out and raced my singlespeed in the hills of Traverse City.

2011 wasn't my best effort. I finished 5th, about 1o minutes behind the winner.
2012 wasn't much better.  I bunch of riders missed a poorly marked turn, and I finished in 4th, 5 minutes behind the winner.

My brief research told me that the top riders were going to be back this year.  In addition Trevor Smela, local speedy guy was going to be there as well.

Still some snow on the hill!

We arrived in TC the night before,had a good dinner and got some rest.  The morning of the race, the short drive, and VIP Jeep parking made things really convenient.

 My plan was to start at the front, and hang on as long as I could.  I line up in the first row, that way I would not be caught up in any missed clips.  To my right was TrevRev, and a few other speedy folks to my left.

We took off and I got a decent jump.  I was third wheel heading up the hill.  There was some incident to my left, I heard the announcer call out a crash.  I am glad I avoided it.

We entered the woods and I was happy in 3rd letting the other 2 do the work.  We reached the first climb, and we caught on to the previous group of geared riders.  We made up 3 minutes in the first mile.  The two in front lined up, and I went left to ensure I would not get caught in any unexpected dismounts.  I ended up passing the bunch and now I was in the lead.  I kept a decent pace, but didn't push too hard knowing Will Power (aka Heart Attack) Hill was ahead.

The climb was much better than years past, as the added gravel and graded it.  Unfortunately the clear line was packed with geared spinners, and us SSers had to hit the more gravely part.  We chugged up, with our back tired slipping on each pedal stroke.

I was back to second by the time we hit the paved subdivision.  There were four of us now, and a DTE rider went to the front, with Trev, me and Anthony (remember him from Pontiac?) lined up behind.  About halfway through the paved portion Trevor made a jump and the other two latched on.  I did not make the jump, thinking with 20 miles left, I wasn't wanting to burn another match.

The three hit the singletrack ahead of me but still in sight.  Much of the race consisted of getting caught behind geared riders on the singletrack, and passing where clear.  This is incredibly similar to Iceman, but much warmer, and the conga lines aren't as long.

I passed the DTE rider, and was working to close on the other two.  I would catch glimpses of the orange Niner of Trevor, so I would keep pushing.  At one point I was behind 4 riders crossing a sandy powerline section.  The front rider went down in the sand and laid there like dead fish.  The other wo guys were waiting for him to remount, and I hopped off and ran around them all.

At one point a guy along the trail told me the leaders were 1 minute ahead, and 50 yards apart.  I kicked it up another notch.  By Timber Ridge I had closed on pair who had regrouped.  I was within spitting distance of them, but couldn't close.

We hit Joy Ride on our return to the hill and I had closed on Trevor.  I was on his wheel entering the subdivsion again.  Once again he took off and I couldn't hold his wheel.  He was flying!  I bombed back down Will Power, made the correct turn between the padded trees, and muscled up the last climb.

Entering into the hill I didn't see the leaders, but the sandy off-camber held the majority of my attention.  I didn't want to eat a face full of sand right at the finish.  I rounded the last cut-back to the Specialized tire, and I heard the announcement of the sprint for the end.

Anthony on the right, Trevor right behind in the white helmet.

I pedaled on, bombed through the mud pit, and finished a close third.

After the reason, the weather turned around, and I spent 3 hours drinking beer and hanging out getting a sunburn.  It was a good race, and I finally got my podium.  I didn't even mind finishing behind Trevor (who ended up in second, with the same official time as the winner Anthony) because he is a badass workhourse.

Time to head home and see what is next on the agenda.  Stay Metal!

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