Peak2Peak 2018: We Won't Forget That One
Every few years, the weather takes over. In spite of a tough course, a strong field, there seems to be at least one race every year that pushes all of the normal facets of mountain biking and places brutal conditions front and center for the day.
Saturday’s Peak2Peak was always going to be one for the mudders. With rain in the forecast for much of the week preceding it, riders were putting on old drivetrains, looking for their waterproof gear, and watching the predicted temperature high slip from 48 to 45 to 40. By the time the Beginner and Sport classes lined up at 9:30 am, it was a balmy 38; midway through their shortened lapped, what had been a steady drizzle turned into a downpour and then, just as suddenly, into a blizzard.
As the Expert and Elite riders pulled into the Crystal Mountain parking lot and the morning racers were finishing, looking up at the ski hill, shrouded in falling snow and with its main lift running a few brave spectators to the top, you’d have thought the mountain was ready to ski. Of course, that had a massive impact on the race’s starters; huge numbers of riders didn’t show or didn’t start, and especially wise decision for those with big goals for Iceman, now less than two weeks away.
If you didn’t start, you weren’t alone. We did have plenty of riders brave the conditions in the morning. Bobby Flake was back in action after a long recovery from injury. John Semeyn picked the first podium of the day with second place Sport 35-39, just a few minutes clear of Josh Scott, who slipped into the top ten. Chad Black followed suit with first in the 47-49, a class that had plenty of finishers, in spite of the weather.
John Urbain went for 7th place in his age group, gutting it out after a muddy start that saw riders queued up for the opening three miles of singletrack, balancing racing, handling, and simply stay upright. That was right up John's City Bike Shop teammate, Dean Murphy, who went for top ten in his age group, finishing at the very height of the morning's blizzard.
Riding tandem, Dave Bucholtz battled in for fourth in what was a stacked class. Who would have though the tandem category would be one of the most competitive of the day? And if you could both riders each, one of the biggest!
In the 50-52 class, we had two BEEs slot in the top ten, with Jim Walters 6th and Chip Bourassa just behind in 7th. Chip's Remax teammate, Mark Deering, matched him with a 7th place of his own, breaking the top half of the Sport overall standings. There’s no quit in these veterans; Chuck Hathaway slogged it out for 13th, pushing his two laps to just under two hours.
By the time the morning race was wrapping up, word of the conditions and the damage done to bike and body had leaked out of the woods and into the ears of riders still to take the course. Normally filled with hundreds of racers, the registration area inside Crystal Mountain was nearly empty, with Expert and Elite riders all wondering just how foolish they were. It’s always a tough call to decide to skip a race, and no matter what you decide, you usually spend a good two weeks kicking yourself. Hundreds never showed up, and many more decided to stay in their street clothes and head up to watch the Michigan vs. Michigan State game, where the old cold to deal with was the beer.
A few indomitable riders did toe the line, albeit in a quiet, eery fashion. The starting chute, which normally gets clogged with riders for 100 yards or more, easy contained the few starters on the line; there was no need for wave signs because the five or six riders from each category had no problems sorting themselves out. On either side of the banners, there were few on-lookers and it was a mute cheer that sent riders off into what was a wet and black-mud morass.
On a day perfect for singlespeeds, Dave Walston completed his three slightly shortened laps to come home second, a great sign of form ahead of Iceman. Aside from some brake pads, he’ll be ready action in no time, too!
On the Elite side, Bridgit Widrig showed a ton of guts to take the start on a day where literally hundreds decided not to. Testing her vastly improved handling skills after a long summer of Speed of Light, our girl finished up second to Michigan cycling legend and multiple Peak2Peak winner Mackenzie Woodring. For Bridgit, this was a day that involved things she used to be uncomfortable with; bad weather, slick mud, treacherous singletrack. But after a lot of hard work, she’s turned those weaknesses into strengths!
We’re all hoping for much better weather for the big show on November 3, and we’ve got just two weeks to get there!
In case you missed it, registration for all Tempo Block classes is open to current BEEs to reserve their spots! There’s also a new Monday/Wednesday evening class with Cody Sovis, starting Monday, November 5 from 6-7:15. Keep the fitness going through the holidays, build some base, and help stave off the holiday bulge with a structured off-season plan!
That photo? Snapped by Dave Bucholtz early in the day; there was plenty more snow on top of the hill by the second race!
You can see the results from Peak2Peak here.