An absolutely wild race ends in mud, guts and glory for a pair of familiar faces.
Usually when racers eye the forecast the day before an event, they imagine the worst and hope for the best. Unless you’re completely sick and demented, you didn’t imagine this. A steady downpour turned into a rather nasty rainstorm this morning at the Peak2Peak at Crystal Mountain. It was an unbelievable race where the elements literally altered the race.
The Sport and Enthusiasts went out at 9.30 with a slight drizzle and cold temperatures. While they were certainly chilly and the muddy singletrack section was tough, most of the fields put in impressive times. One notable and impressive ride was NCCS’ Ross Gibbs, who won the distinction of being the first man atop Crystal Mountain leading the Sport youngsters, and while the phenom made it look easy, the riders in his wake made the climb look like a death march. A special hats off to Epic Happens’ Spencer “The Man With The Built In Nickname” Payne for his Sport win and his impressive ascent of the Crystal Climb.
Right around noon, the weather took a turn for the worst. The rain started to come down in buckets just as the wind began to pick up. Already a problem from the Sport race, number plates were flying off left at right as they disintegrated in mud and rain. After a brief delay, the race went ahead with riders under orders to simply yell out their numbers upon finishing.
The Elite wave went off with a bang and defending champion Cole House was in control throughout. The conditions turned a fast, road race like affair into a muddy, ugly slog. Jorden Wakeley, Alex Vanias, Mike Simonson and John Cowan were all in the hunt after mechanicals and the conditions forced more than a few to retire. The Pride of Elsie, Dan Korienek put in an impressive ride as well, powering along and keep the race in touch.
Race organizers, both because of course conditions and the myriad reports of riders’ brakes failing decided to cut off the final lap in the interest of safety. The top of the mountain was extremely windy and reminded Yours Truly of some of the infamous mountain top finishes in Giro d’Italia’s gone by. The few spectators still there were tucked behind trees or each other to get out of the blustery wind and rain. Riders were equally concerned with their complete lack of brakes while heading down the tight and slick descent, negotiating the turns as best they could and trying not to literally slide off the mountain.
In the end, Cole House ‘rode away with a close but comfortable ascent of the final to snatch up his second consecutive win at P2P for 616 Fabrications. Einstein Racing’s Jorden Wakeley slotted in for a solid and hard fought second place. The BISSELL tandem of Mike Anderson and Alex Vanias took third and fourth, with Mike Simonson taking a solid fifth place.
The Women’s race was blown to pieces early in the terrible conditions. It became rather apparent that defending champion Mackenzie Woodring of Einstein Racing was not here to mess around. A gusty, hard ride was always in her favor though Sue Stephens battled hard to take the P2P crown. The field of 8 behind were simply blown away. Woodring’s Einstein teammate Johanna Schmidt suffered some tough crashes and had a hard time in the thick mud, while Amanda Ryan soldiered on to the finish. Hagerty’s Melissa Ryba spent her day covered in a blanket of mud chasing Erin Vicary, with Vicary getting away to take third place. Woodring proved herself with a second P2P crown with Sue Stephens taking a strong second and snatching up more valuable Top Banana points heading into the Iceman Cometh.
A massive Chapeau to everyone that gave it a go, and an extra one to everyone who managed to finish. This was a pretty good example of Mother Nature making bike racing even harder than normal, and reducing $5,000 to brakeless, non-shifting hunks of carbon.
As always, here’s the Strava data, which would be good enough to get you 6th place in the Expert 29 and Under category if it had been you.
For the full, 138-photo gallery, click here. Photos are free, but maybe keep that kolotc.com on there, eh?