|At the Start...|
After suffering through this race last year with little training and a mechanical, I felt I had to come back and race it again!! This year Mary Ann was going to do the Soft Rock and enjoy herself instead of suffering through the hard rock. We took an extra day off this year so we could enjoy the weekend and not feel rushed. Unfortunately… Mary Ann crashed hard at Maybury the Tuesday before the race and was not able to ride. She was pretty bummed… so I guess this guarantees that we will be headed back up next year so she can do the race! We packed up and had an uneventful drive up and then I met up with Jim Bonnell and Jay Click for a preride of the start and then finish. The trail was dry and sandy which wasn’t a surprise as that seems to be a theme for the trails this year. After a nice walk and dinner with Mary Ann, I was out and dreaming of inhaling sand and ore dust.
I am a “get to the start line early guy”, but this race amazes me as with more than an hour and a half till the race start, people had bikes in the starting grid. I’m not talking about 1 or 2… but 50 or 60! A cool aspect to the race is that they have a preferred start area for people with finishing times that would put them in the top 50-75 of the race. With my lack luster 2:56 time last year, I was not one of the lucky ones. I warmed up and then placed my bike towards the front leaning it against the curb on the outside. Once we moved up for the start, I managed to be in an ok position.
The start was fast… I pinned it up the hill out of town to get with the lead group. This worked until a couple guys got together and when down before we were even out of town. I had to almost stop and then pin it again to get back with the group. There were a couple more close calls on the pavement and then when we hit the dirt there was another pile up! I rode around it and then chased all the way to the luge climb. I saw Jim a couple times during the chaos on the road, but lost sight after the wreck in the dirt. Once on the luge climb, I saw Jim about half way up the first portion and made it my mission to not let him out of sight! I was yo-yoing off the back of the group heading to Ishpeming, but managed to claw my way to the group by the time we hit town.
|At the finish... Mary Ann thought the dirt on my grill was cool!|
I was trying to recover in the group and then the lead guys made a wrong turn and there was a small pile up. Once back on track, everyone was pinning it and I was just hanging on for life. The 2 track was sandy and everyone was sliding around trying to maintain a reasonable pace. Once in the power-line section things settled down and everyone was grinding away at their own pace. I was able to advance my position a little through this section, but so was Jim. Once at Misery hill, I pushed up the hill and passed a few people. I could see Jim ahead and he was going out alone trying to catch the group ahead. I latched on to a guy that was going pretty good and a group pulled together just before the road section and started to work together. Jim back off and joined the group.
|Jim and I at the Finish!|
I rolled across the line with a time of 2:48 for 59th in the mens open class and 64th over all. I learned a lot this year and had a great time racing with Jim and Jimmie. I am looking forward to racing next year and hopefully my time will net me a preferred starting position!!
|Mary Ann trying to Ice her elbow! LOL!!|
|At the top of Sugar Loaf!|
After the race, Mary Ann and I had a lot of great food at the Portside Inn and Elizabeth’s chop house and had a great time walking around downtown. The next day I headed out to ride the Marquette Mountain trails. I rode all the loops out there and had a great time. The trails are very well maintained and have a lot of cool features and challenges!! We then headed to Sugar Loaf and hiked up to take in the views and hung out at Presque Isle Park. The weather was perfect as was the company!