The call went out and only the few, the proud, the badasses showed up. There Will Be Blood is an ominous, intimidating title for a bike race, and its intent was clear: this is a hard bike race and only the strong need enter. About fifteen or so Grand Rapids area cyclists made the initial, most important selection of any bike race, which is showing up.
Leadout Racing sent most of the squad to line out the race and take the prestigious title of Most Bloodiest One. West Coast Riders, too, came out in force, and even on the initially neutral lap, the riders were eyeing each other and guessing at the tactics. Under overcast skies and a light southerly wind, the 17 starters navigated the 5 mile loop under a neutral lap to scout out the course and take in De Paterberg for the first time under truce. The climb was tough but fast, with much of its familiar gravel recently washed away by rain and ungraded since. Indeed, much of the course was pavement-smooth with the painful exception of numerous deep potholes.
The race was on as the riders came back around onto the gravel section again. It was a hesitant first trip up the small Warner Bump. Cody Sovis (Yours Truly) launched an ill-fated attack as the peloton took the left on Bliss Street. “It was a move for the cameras,” he said at the finish.
Sovis was reeled in not a half mile later as the riders hit De Paterberg for the second time, now at full gas. The entire group was lined out and falling apart. Off the back came all of the college candidates, including Thomas Beebe and Wes Sovis. Matt Baranski, too, failed to cling to the back of the charging line. The leaders saw a few attacks throughout the next few laps, with Leadout sending men up the road and setting up to make other teams chase.
Far, far behind, the stragglers were jockeying to stay with the strong wheel of Wes Sovis, who forced a mean pace for the less-amazing riders (still amazing though). The wind picked up as the afternoon wore on and the sun came out, increasing the heat and wearing down all the riders as the two hour race wore on. The straightaway leading up to De Paterberg broke many of the straggling riders who fought just to get to the short descent before the climb to get out of the wind.
Far up front, the race went to Dan Korienek, followed by Mark Hotchkin and Geoff Kuyper to round out the podium. Even the fast men were subject to some serious selections, with the second large group led home by Chris Kreple, Tom Linck and Craig Gietzen. Aaron Zuelk popped in for seventh place.
Most importantly, no one was hit by a car (and no cars were hit by us) in the process of the grueling race. The nine trips around the course drew a few scattered spectators that offered encouragement. A very special thanks goes out to Joel Wood for his excellent work as Race Director and Mark Baranski, who served as the Race Doctor and did a great job monitoring a dangerous turn.
The Top Seven:
1. Dan Korienek
2. Mark Hotchkin
3. Geoff Kuyper
4. Chris Kreple
5. Tom Linck
6. Craig Gietzen
7. Aaron Zuelk
kolo tc and the GVSU Collegiate Cycling Club would like to heartily thank everyone that came out, rode hard, rode safe and had fun this afternoon. You’re all top-drawer human beings and exceptional athletes!