We all know it's been a long, cold winter and many haven't had the 'off' season they dreamed of, so the question for those looking for wood was 'Have I done enough ?' From yesterday's results I'd say most have managed things well. Some great rides out there. Mine was good, but made some mistakes.
Race morning went well, with no problems. Rolled into town and got suited up in plenty of time. I didn't do much of a warm up and this will come to haunt me later, but I lined up front row and knew a few guys to mark in my wave 6 start. Plan was to ride smart, stay with the leaders up Gun Lake then get on the front and see what I can do.
Race pace starts quick, not fast, and we settle into formation early. Pace picks up on Cook Rd. and the 'lead' group seems to be forming already. We're about to hit the dirt for the first time and no one wants to be gapped off. Right turn onto Yeckly and the race is ON! Pace goes up again and we start to see the first signs of weakness / strengths from those who are still in the mix. By the time we reach Hubble our group is already into earlier waves and staying together is tough. 'Left, Right, Middle, Hold Your Line, Leaders Coming' we are picking our way through recreational victims of peanut-butter dirt roads. I'm not sure the exact location but the main move in my group came somewhere before Gun Lake Rd.
As I said earlier, not doing a proper warm up will haunt me later. There were 2 sections where water and thick mud created one preferable line. These lines were congested / occupied by earlier waves so we needed to make our own lines. I was 4-5th wheel and would get gapped off in these sections and my body was having trouble fighting back to get on. The leaders were slowly gaining ground. Up Otis Lake I could still see the leaders and was driving hard but I wasn't closing quick enough. Left turn onto Gunn Lake I could still see them and I needed to do all I could to gap back before we crossed Yankee Springs Rd. I stayed on the front and crested the climb but the leaders were gone. I did a fast look back and realized I was dragging 4-5 guys with me. On the shorter climb past Yankee Springs Rd I gave a flick of the elbow and decided to change tactics. My guess was 2-3 guys from my category were up the road and I wasn't the only one here that wanted to bring them back. Luckily I was rite. 3 others decided to work together and keep the pace going. We worked together well and nobody tried to explode the group, just ride hard. About mile 28-30 we were joined by Wave 7 leaders and they helped to motivate us further. We formed a group of 6-7 and charged to the finish.
Once done with the dirt roads and onto Broadway the group slowed and no one wanted to pull. It stayed like this until the last punchy climb, then the pace jumped and the finish tactics were on. Over the top and a series of left and rights before the downhill finish. It would be another sprint finish for the final piece of wood. Like last year I came up short but still managed a spot on the stage. 5th in category and a top 20 overall. I was hoping for more but I'm not disappointed. I'm not a great tactical racer when it comes to sprint finishes. That comes from experience and I don't have done many of those races.
Congratulations to all we finished the race. Great 62 mile race for the Michigan guys and great to see all the familiar faces. Good luck this season and may you exceed all you set out to do.
|3||1973||Brent Portenga||West Michigan Coast Riders, Mountain||Muskegon||MI||1:57:06||18.4|
|4||1083||Troy Crady||MOX MULTISPORT||Prophetstown||IL||1:57:09||18.4|
|5||1709||Jarod Makowski||Bele Tire / CXC||Troy||MI||1:57:09||18.4|