Craig Gietzen has put in a stellar start to the season, chalking up another Inside Out CX win.
In the rain and wet, Inside Out Cyclocross kicked off the series with a solid turnout and some extremely exciting racing. The BMX track once again drew some of the best bike handlers in the Mitten, with a number of mountain bikers and roadies unhitching from the trainers and flocking to Greenville for race numero uno.
The C race went off with a few riders using it as a warm up for the dual A/B race later on. Rob Goepfrich, of Cross the Bay CX and OtS/kolotc.com fame, came in at a solid fourth place at his Inside Out debut. The C race was perhaps the most fun to watch, with a ton of kids on BMX bikes fighting through the woods and trails outside, only to rip up the track inside. They ripped up the berms and even cleared a few doubles, which kept the crowds and awaiting A and B racers entertained.
The A race brought out some heavy-hitters, with the Grand Rapids locals fielding Craig Gietzen and Dan McGraw as top contenders. Gietzen had won at least one race at every stop of the series last season and rode like a true parton right from the gun. McGraw, unlike Gietzen, went with a ‘cross bike, as did most of the contenders. The up north contingent came in strength, with Cody and Wes Sovis (Hagerty-TOLaw U-25), Mickey Humpula (Einstein Racing), Chelsea Strate (Einstein Racing) and Harrison Webb.
Strate rode unopposed in the Women’s A, with Iceman standout Kati Krikke opting to ride the B race. Strate rode from the front, towing along a number of riders before the race finally broke up.
The Men’s A race was a true Cross Clash. From the gun, Gietzen pulled off the front with another rider, eventually pulling out over twenty seconds, while nearly the entire field was tucked behind the wheels of Wes Sovis. “Wagon Wheels” kept the pace high in the chase for two laps until tactics changed. With most of the field running the single barriers, Cody Sovis came around his brother and bunny hopped the first barrier inside. “I saw that happen, and I thought, “The race just started,” Wes said later. The chase grew went from 8 to 4 almost immediately, with Cody bridging up to the leaders in a lap and a half.
With more riders starting to bunny hop and the fatigue of the race setting in, racers started hitting the deck left and right Humpula recovered from a crash and Wes, Harrison and McGraw narrowly avoided riders going down. McGraw took a spill himself, but clawed his way back to form a lead trio of Gietzen, Cody Sovis and McGraw. Humpula was never far back, and Wes Sovis was lurking just behind.
Disaster struck first when Cody’s rear brakes seized up. After fiddling for a minute, he hopped aboard Ross Gibbs’ (North Country Cycle Sport) brand new FOCUS Mares, only just picked up the day before. Out of contention and on a borrowed bike, Sovis wheeled in low and slow. Ahead, Gietzen finally broke the chord and rode away, with Humpula battling with McGraw for second until McGraw used his BMX skills to take the second step away from him.
Here’s the A race video, with a special thanks to Andy Grow for his stellar cameraman skills.