The Lowell 50

The Lowell 50 is a classic gravel road race that covers the countryside of Lowell, Michigan including a unique covered bridge. It offers both a 34 mile and 57 mile option. The event took place on Saturday, April 11th and WSI was well represented by Andy, Paddi, Danny and the Bridges family.

Kevin getting ready for the start of the 57 mile race
Kevin getting ready for the start of the 57 mile race

Kevin was the only brave sole to tackle the 57 mile challenge hoping that he would have logged some miles by this point in the race season. Mysteriously throughout the looped course he always seemed to be encountering a head-wind. After he split with the 37 mile course it became flat (still windy) farmland and he partnered up with another rider, who coincidentally was an Ironman as well. His realization of the day: the bike was great, the motor still needs some work!

Paddi, racing single speed, enjoyed her ride alongside Andy. She came in 9th overall for the women although the results grouped her with the men since she was the ONLY FEMALE SINGLE SPEED! Rock on, Paddi! Their biggest excitement of the day was a fat tire blowout right next to them that had them thinking they were being shot at.

 

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Katie’s brand new PINK TREK

Both Katie and Scott placed 4th in their age group. It must run in the family. Whether the ride was windy or not, Katie was going to enjoy it. She had a brand new pink ride from Team Active! Scott is working his way up the ranking in racing this year and is enjoying the learning moments. For this particular race he experienced working with a pack of riders as a team to push each other through.

Katie and Scott
Katie and Scott

Danny improved his time from last year by 20 minutes, finishing with a time of 1:46 and taking 7th in his age group. There are some wicked fast riders in that group!

All-in-all it was a beautiful, sunny, WINDY day for a race!

Melting Mann: Lives Up Its Name

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It was a brisk 30 degrees on the morning of March 8th as racers lined up for the Melting Mann: A Race Through No Mann’s Land. The course, whose main attraction is Mann Rd., consisted of conditions ranging from dirt roads iced completely over to frozen rutted mud that would grab your tire in an instant. As the temps began to warm up and the course got well-used the frozen mud turned into the real deal, speckling racers with dirty faces and muddy behinds. WSI was well represented at the event taking home several podium finishes. Overall, it was a great event, and riders are looking forward to next year’s challenges in the Melting Mann.

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David Goff placed second in his AG for the 22.7 mile course.

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David Goff Sr. placed 4th in his AG for the 32 mile course.

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Peggy Haas was the first female finisher on the 22 mile course with a respectable time of 1:32 (and that was all done on about an hour and a half of sleep).

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Kellie Kramer placed 4th overall in women and 1st in her AG on the 32 mile course with a time of 2:09:08

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Dwight Denisiuk raced the 32 mile course in the single speed division with a time of 2:14:21

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And they’re off…..

Last Night WSI Team Active Racing got together to kick off  planning for the 2014 Season.  Eric Cook was nice enough to host at his house and, since I was driving from out of town, I convincedWSI Team Active 2014 Kick Off him to go for a ride in advance of the team meeting.

That may not have been the best idea.  Dwight  joined us and is (for some reason) at mid season form and Eric is, well what Eric always is…a machine.  I was a bit late for our departure time after making some much needed purchases at Team Active, although I was dressed and ready to go, my bike still needed to get prepped and I wanted to put toe warmers in my boots and hand warmers in my gloves.  Not sure what the temperature was, I remember seeing about 20 degrees.  While I was prepping my gear, I told Eric and Dwight that I needed about 5 minutes.  Dwight said “Okay, you get all ready, then we will start spinning and warm up on our way to the ‘Dump’.”  I thought he meant, we would have time to warm up, not that we would get on the bike and proceed to ride at 22 mph right out of the driveway!  I got warm, but not much of a warm up.

We met Kathy at an intersection about a mile from the entrance to the Dump.  It was too cold to socialize too much, but very good to see her.  I had not seen her since she returned from RAAM.  The Dump is a great technical morass of cement, tar and tile and, if you go down, something gets scratched or broken.

Last time I rode the Dump was 3 years ago, that was in the middle of the summer and I was much more comfortable handling my bike than this ride when the ground was frozen and I was cold.  Nobody fell, though I did do some sight seeing a couple times, but all in all a great ride through the woods.  On the way home, Dwight pulled and I locked on to his wheel as if my life depended on it.

My feet were so frozen, that they were numb, and (you know the feeling) I wanted to cry they hurt so bad when they started to thaw out.  But then we went to Crazy Horse for some pizza and a beer…then all was good.

All got much better when I saw the team that I started riding with 5 years ago.  Mike, Eric, Kathy, Dan, Danny, Hannah, Devin, Chuck, Charles, Dave, Dave Sr., Eric, Cameron, Dwight, April, Keith, JJ, Groat, Josh, (and I probably forgot a couple guys), have all been around since I started riding.  (JJ brought his daughter with him, it was great to meet her too.)

There is something about the internal fight you have with yourself while you are putting out a big effort (or fighting the elements) and then get together with friends who do the same thing.  It is a fraternity and sorority and a family.  It was great to see everyone, go for a ride and talk about all of the great things coming for 2014.  I value our friendship and look forward to an awesome 2014.  For those who could not make it, we missed you.

Go WSI/Team Active Racing.  Jack.

2013 Detroit Invitational Cyclocross

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Of course I was sick over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Of course.  Fortunately, there were a few great things happening in the Detroit area  to take my mind off of how miserable I was feeling.  On the morning of Thanksgiving, Robert Herriman (an ultra-endurance racer from the  Detroit area) hosts a yearly group ride at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area.  I believe this is the 14th year of this ride, and about 60-70 people  were present for a moderately-paced, snowy lap at PLRA.  It’s a great way to get your metabolism going prior to the day’s mass consumption, and I only went over the bars twice due to snow-covered rocks…

Now, on to the main reason for this post: the Detroit Invitational Cyclocross race held at Dorais Park in Detroit.  My friend Tony Cressey  alerted me to this event, and I’m so glad he did.  This is a free cyclocross race held at one of the many Detroit parks that the city can no longer  afford to maintain, so a group of guys calling themselves the Mower Gang have taken it upon themselves to perform the upkeep on the park so  that the local kids have a place to play.  They do this out of the kindness of their hearts and have no government funding; if you’d like to check  out more of their efforts and possibly make a donation, please visit www.mowergang.com.  The event is organized by CX Czar Jeff Wood, and  sponsored by the Racing Greyhounds and Cycle to Fitness as a thank you to everyone they race against during the year.  It’s a bit more  eccentric than your typical cyclocross race (is that possible?), featuring beer & bacon handups, an in-race card game, costumes, and a shortcut where racers must perform a tequila shot in order to pass.  Sounds awesome, right?

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Photo credit: Bob Bruce

I had planned on getting into CX racing earlier in the year, but a mishap with a sheet of 3/4″ medium-density fiberboard ruined those plans – a broken big toe is not conducive to hopping barriers or run-ups.  Fortunately it healed prior to Iceman, but by that point in time, almost all of the CX season was gone.  So, DICX was my first cyclocross race.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I came down with a head cold on Thanksgiving morning, but there was no way I was going to miss this event.  It did take the fight out of me, however, so my race strategy was more along the lines of “let’s not get bronchitis” than “LET’S WIN THIS THING.”

The course was about 1.5 miles and featured a few sets of barriers, routes through very bumpy fields that really made me wish for front suspension, a segment across the old velodrome, a snow pile made from ice shavings collected from a local rink, a properly punishing spiral on a hillside, a run-up, and the previously mentioned tequila shortcut.  It was a 45-minute race, which turned out to be 6 laps.  My lap times were close to 10 minutes, whereas the truly fast gents were around 7-8 minutes per lap.  I was racing my singlespeed Traitor Crusade with a relatively heavy gearing, as I really had no idea what to expect of the course – I probably should have gone a bit lighter.  Anyway, the CX training I had done prior to breaking my toe paid off, and I had no trouble with my dismounts/re-mounts, barriers, run-ups, etc.  I only took the tequila shortcut twice, on my 5th and 6th laps, and I have no clue where I finished – there were probably about 150 racers, and I’m guessing I was mid-pack?  It really doesn’t matter – I had a great time, and I highly recommend this event to anyone who has even a remote interest in CX.

Here’s a link to a spectator video of the event, and here’s a first-person perspective.

– Adam Cefai

Wrapping up the Tailwind & MMBA Series – Big M Resurrection & Addison Oaks Fall Classic

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I didn’t exactly forget to write about my second race at Big M this year; what happened was that the Big M Challenge and the Big M Resurrection were on consecutive weekends, and I didn’t feel like turning this into a dedicated “mountain bike racing at Big M” blog.  Anyway, since I’ve previously detailed what riding at Big M is like, I’ll just discuss the race.

In order to win the Tailwind series, I needed to place high at the Big M Resurrection so that my result from Pontiac wouldn’t be taken into account.  I had placed 7th at Pontiac, and my next 4 races in the Tailwind series were all podium finishes; since the final standings are determined by your top 5 races, Big M would displace Pontiac if I finished higher than 7th.  So there’s that.

Apparently not many people wanted to make the drive up to Manistee for the race, and we only had 6 people in the sport SS class, including Brandon Karbum, Colin Holsinger, and Pam Bufe. Jeff Gilbert was also racing sport SS, although he usually races elite/expert in the MMBA series – USAC requires a license to race elite/expert in the Tailwind series, and Jeff justifiably did not want to pay for a license to race for one day.  I had raced against Jeff a few times before, and was anxious to see how I’d do against him with a bit more experience.

Soon after we hit the trail, it became clear to me that this race was going to be won by either myself or Jeff.  We decided to work together early on in the race, and had outpaced the rest of the field by about mile 3.  About a half-mile from the end of the course, there was a huge sketchy downhill with lots of sand – during the first lap, I (being my usual, tentative self)

Big M Resurrection Sport SS Podiumcarefully descended this section at a snail’s pace, burning up my brakes the entire time.  Jeff led during the second lap, and bombed the descent with maniacal (although oddly controlled) abandon, gaining about 20 seconds on me on that section alone.  I caught up with him about a mile into our third lap, and he was fading a bit during the climbs.  Knowing that my only chance to beat him would be to put some distance between us before that final downhill, I passed him with about 4 miles to go and increased my tempo.  I thought I had him about two miles before the finish as I couldn’t see/hear him behind me, but apparently I didn’t go hard enough, as he caught up to me as the intensity of the climbs faded right before the final descent.  Since I didn’t really need the win to clinch the series, and also because I wanted to respect the fact that he was clearly faster on that section, I let him by.  We finished about 18 seconds apart for first and second.

Although there was one race left in the Tailwind series at this point, I had locked down the series win by placing 2nd at Big M.  And since the Tailwind series also counts as the USAC state championship series, I received a state champion medal for the sport/beginner SS category.  I had no expectations about this series at the beginning of the season (since I didn’t really plan on competing in it), and I’m extremely happy with the result.

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Addison Oaks Fall Classic – September 8th, 2013 – Leonard, MI – Addison Oaks County Park

The 2012 Addison Oaks Fall Classic was my first mountain bike race ever, so I was looking forward to competing there again with a full season of racing under my belt.  On top of that, the points competition in the MMBA series was tight, and I needed to beat Talon Tramper and Byrne Johnson here in order to secure 2nd place in the series.  Furthermore, Addison Oaks is a very fast, hardpacked course, with lots of passing opportunities.  There were numerous factors making this race an exciting one.

I rode the course the night before, relatively close to dark and just after it had rained.  I was running my standard Fort Custer gearing of 38 x 18, which felt good, but I decided to make my gear a bit heavier for race day based on the amount of two-track on the course.  This ended up not being the greatest choice, because I believe I over-estimated the two-track; also, there isn’t a ton of climbing on the course, but you do spend the majority of the race on pitchy singletrack, where my larger gear wouldn’t help me much.  Anyhow.

Aside from Byrne and Talon, a number of Tailwind series racers showed up including Tim Fargo and Brandon Karbum.  Also present was my friend Mike Tuomi, who had been racing geared this year but set up his SS for this race.  The 2012 Addison race had also been his first race, and he and I had placed 7th and 8th last year, respectively.  His results in geared had been very good this year, so it was great to be racing against him again.

I took the holeshot from the start and led a 6-person paceline of Mike, Tim, Brandon, Talon, and Byrne for about 2 miles.  Now, I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but Byrne crashed during the first lap by hitting a rock on a quick uphill turn that taco’d his front rim, bent both his top and bottom tubes, and tore up his forearms.  Fortunately he was alright aside from some trail rash, but his poor bike… I feel for you, Byrne.  (aside: this would be the first of many crashes on the day)  About 3 or 4 miles into the trail, right after some not particularly technical rock gardens, I went over the bars after hitting who-knows-what with my front wheel.  Honestly, I may not have hit anything.  Ghost rocks, maybe.  Tim and Mike went by me.  I got up and tore after them, burning up quite a bit of energy.  I was bleeding a bit from my knee as well, but it didn’t seem too bad.  And my bike was ok, which is the most important thing, right?  I caught and passed them again on the longest section of two-track, and we rode together for most of the first lap.  At one point Tim washed out and fell behind, so Mike and I finished the lap together.  Now, I’m not sure where Talon came from, but he and Mike led the second lap.  My knee was starting to stiffen up from the fall, and I was having a bit of trouble pushing my gear to keep up with them.  About a mile from the end of the second lap, Talon went over a little rock/log feature and completely blew out his front tire.  He went over the bars in front of me and into a small group of trees.  It was a dangerous-looking fall, but fortunately he was ok.  But, like Byrne, his bike was not ok, and he could not finish.  He had been riding really strong too, and it would have been a great battle on the 3rd lap.  As it was, Mike and I finished the second lap, and he put the hammer down hard.  I don’t know whether it was my gearing or the fall that had sapped my energy (probably a combination), but I had nothing to keep pace with him.  It ended up being his fastest lap of the day and my slowest, so we finished for first and second; Tim Fargo ended up with 3rd.  Aside from the carnage, it was a great race.  The folks who organize Addison do a great job, and there’s free food and beer for the racers afterwards.  And Addison is a beautiful park.

2013 Addison Oaks Fall Classic Sport SS Podium

By placing 2nd at Addison, I secured 2nd place in the MMBA CPS, which I’m very happy with.  There’s one more race in the series at Pando in a few weeks, and I’ll be moving up to expert/elite SS.  6 laps of hill repeats against some of the fastest dudes in the state.  Should be a blast!