One of the toughest editions of MSB is in the books, with winners new and old on the top step.
Beautiful weather and great conditions prevailed at a race that consistently get spoiled with both this morning. Mud, Sweat and Beers logged another installment of the event to a packed roster of fast riders. Over 800 riders toed the line at Mt. Holiday to a 22 mile course which featured over 1,000 feet of almost hidden climbing, punctuated more with new sections of rough singletrack and the decisive parts of the race.
Foregoing yet again miles and miles of well-used, flowing and fun singletrack, race organization once again cut new trail to link up parts of the course. In packs and amongst the very fastest, these rough and sandy portions proved the biggest test of the day in most categories. Heart Attack Hill, renamed at the race as ‘Will Power’, was just a stepping stone for the selections of the day, even in the Men’s and Women’s Pro races.
Jorden Wakeley entered as the favorite, but BISSELL and North Country Cycle Sport had ambitions to keep him from another MSB win. From the gun, NCCS went to the front, with John Cowan and Chad Wells queued up ahead of Wakeley, with BISSELL’s Alex Vanias and Derek Graham tucked in as well. While the murderous opening mile introduced a few gaps, it was the singletrack that proved most decisive on the day.
The Women’s race broke up earlier, with Amanda Schaap and Melissa Ryba knocked off the wheels of Bridgit Widrig and Lauri Brockmiller at the foot Heart Attack Hill. Both rallied in the paved neighborhood, but the race was already up the trail. Chelsea Strate was in hot pursuit, but the chase was a tall ask for the field with the two Hagerty women working seamlessly.
Wakeley’s closest chaser was Alex Vanias, but the BISSELL wunderkind took a wrong turn as he neared the final climb to Mt. Holiday. A number of sections of the course proved troublesome, with a number of racers going off course due to some bad signage. Kati Krikke and Erin Disterheft both went off course, which cost them a shot at breaking up the all-Hagerty podium. Many riders in other categories also noted some bad corners, with wide open track looking to be the course, only to find that an obscure arrow into the woods was the actual course.
With Vanias out of contention, NCCS’ John Cowan took a hard fought second place just a handful of seconds ahead of Matt Acker. Derek Graham was fourth, with Einstein Racing’s Ryan Kennedy taking fifth and giving the team’s new kits some exposure in front of a mass of fans at the line.
Another course marking issue broke up the Hagerty leading duo in the women’s race. The questionable persistance of including a divided but parallel two-way traffic section on the course cost Bridgit Widrig a chance at the win. The inclusion of that section, which also joins the 12 mile race to the 22, has been an issue in years past and, unfortunately, did too much to decide the Women’s Elite win. Lauri Brockmiller came home a handful of seconds ahead of a frustrated Widrig, but both were satisfied to have kept the win safely in house and will leave MSB happy to give the team a 1-2 in one of Traverse City’s biggest events.
The on-form Melissa Colflesh took the win in the Women’s Expert race, deftly preventing another Hagerty 1-2 with Rachel Decker and La Petite Princess Barb Beauregard settling for second and third. Jeff Owens, Tom Scott, Brian Hofstra, Tom White, Craig Webb, Don Fedrigon, Ken Blakey-Shell, Patrick Hornacek, and Pete Skellenger all put in solid times in the Expert men’s different age groups, as well.
Results are up here.