Pontiac Lake TT –
Not having trained much this winter due to a knee issue, I wasn’t expecting much out of this race. I used to hate Pontiac, but as my cycling skills have matured, it has become one of my favorite placed to ride. I rode 4 laps the weekend before, so I felt like I knew the course pretty well. As we went off I focused on winning the first race with the guy that went out with me… mission accomplished. Once in the single track I tried to maintain a sustainable pace that would allow me to make it to the top of 2 mile hill without being on the limiter… step 2 complete. From here to about mile 9 I just tried to get around people as quick as possible and push on the flat sections. Coming into the last climb I felt pretty good and put the hammer down knowing it was all down hill after I reached the peak. Once on the 2-track, I put it in a big gear and didn’t let up until the finish. In the end, my plan worked as I won my first sport race by 10s over second and 20s over third!! Close race!!
Fort Custer –
Feeling good after my win at Pontiac, I decided to make the trip to the Fort. Fort Custer is a fun course as it has a lot of unique single track and some wide open 2 track to hammer on. When we arrive, they told us that they were running Granny’s Garden in reverse!! Now this worried me as anyone that has ridden Granny’s Garden knows that there are some drop offs that would be a bear to get up in reverse, but the expert guys said it wasn’t an issue. As we lined up it seemed as if there were 50 people in the class. Watching the clock, instead of listening to the start, I jumped the start by a spit second, then stopped and restarted. This error caused me to be running mid pack at the start and having to pass a lot of people to get towards the front. By the time we hit Cardiac climb I was sitting about 4th wheel when a couple of people failed to make the climb and we had to dismount… this also happened at the CPR climb. Granny’s Garden proved to be tough, but there always seem to be a path to get up the drop-offs. I then found myself riding Jason Dellinger’s wheel for a while until he let me around wanting to ride my wheel, which was fine. After the water crossing I looked back and he was no longer there. At this point I thought I was leading as Jason was the last rider in our train. I then caught and rode with the leader of the Sport/Beginner SS class for a while and noticed someone from my class closing in. I tried to push the pace a little but he kept coming. He eventually passed me just before the boat launch, so I jump his wheel and held on. I noticed that he was slowing on the climbs, so I just waited for the sprint to the finish. As we rounded the last corner before the trees, I stood on it and took him on the inside for what I thought was the win. After looking at the results, I found that Mike Stoliecki went off the front early on and took the win. I felt good the whole race and love the sprint finish… reminded me of CX!! Glen Moore caught some of the finish on film… Great shots Glen!
Let me first state that Bloomer is not my favorite place to ride… very tight and technical low speed corning which is not what I excel at!! Before the race, I watched a few areas of the course as the expert and elite guys raced. I had a plan for the corner before the down hill at the sled hill… More to come on that!! This time I waited for the whistle and had a good start, I noticed a guy that I had an issue with getting around last year at this race trying to get out front, so I put the hammer down and lead the pack. As I approached the sled hill I put my plan in motion… although the turning patch that I was going to use was tore up from the expert/elite race and did not exist anymore!! As I when off course trying to maintain control, my bar clipped a small pine tree causing a spectacular dismount… Once back on the bike I was third wheel. At the bottom of the hill, I found that my controls on the right side were out of position, so I rotated them back around. I worked my way through the course trying to catch Mark Bourgeau who was running 2nd. I could see him in the single track but couldn’t catch him. My knee started to bother me towards the end of the last lap, so I eased up a little and finished P3. Good finish considering the start!
Brighton Stag Race –
Torn Shirt TT –
Being that tight and twisty is not my specialty; this race always puts me at a disadvantage. Also not riding all week due to my knee issue also didn’t help. I went out 30 sec ahead of Shawn Schaffert, so I used him as a gauge of my performance... which was not good. I fumbled on a couple of the climbs and he passed me in the last couple of miles. I almost made a wrong turn out to the road, but recovered and made up some time finishing on Shawn’s wheel finishing in 5th for the stage.
Short Track Race –
Having raced CX last fall, I was looking forward to the short track race, which was basically 1 ½ miles of riding on the grass around flags for 5 laps. I grabbed a front spot as did my teammate Jeremy Clark. I had an OK start and rode the wheels of a couple of CX bikes for a half a lap and then went around them. I was right on Jeremy’s wheel running P3 until I was gapped during passing. I kept pushing and then when I was passing a couple of slower riders near the end, a rider cut into me clipping my bar. I recovered and thought I was fine, when all of the sudden my bike stopped from the rider turning into my front wheel and sending me flying. I took a second to see if I was still in one piece and then ran back and got my bike. At this point the guys behind me had caught up and I now had to push hard to not lose any positions. Shawn went around me and I was challenged at the end by Jason Dellinger who I just edged out in the sprint placing me 3rd in this stage.
Murray Lake XC –
Still sore from the crash on Saturday, we had the XC race to complete to end the stage race. This is a fun course but is challenging due to the 2hr length. We again lined up and off we went and I ended up sitting 5th wheel. The front runners took off and I was held up by a couple of wrecks allowing a couple guys to get around me. After being passed a couple of times and then later by the leaders of the older age groups, I knew that this was not going to be a great race for me. I eventually picked off a guy from my class but just didn’t have enough to catch back up with the leaders. Laps were consistent and I felt good the whole race finishing 7th for the XC and 5th overall for the Stage Race. It’s looking like I have my work cut out for me this year.