Mackenzie Woodring gets back on top, while David Lombardo rolled in first in the biggest gravel race in the world.
“The Killer Gravel Road Race” is in the books for 2015. Michigan’s toughest 3,000 humans were on the line in Hastings, Michigan and were promptly welcomed with 18 degree weather but an awful lot of sun under which to ride bikes. All the big names were ready to test the legs early in the season, though admittedly some were more prepared than others. Results indicated who was whom. Or whatever.
The Men’s race saw a lone leader in the opening miles, but it was business as usual in the main pack, with favorites like Mike Simonson, Cody Kaiser, Greg Kuhn and others present and correct as the race left pavement and hit the opening salvos of climbs. Even the early climbs saw riders tailed off in ones and twos.
On the same climbs, Mackenzie Woodring picked her way through traffic and put some daylight between herself and the chasing women, including Crystal Anthony. Nobody knows the course like Woodring, and she made the most of other riders to work herself free and stayed on the gas.
Sager Road worked its dark, cruel magic. A group of 50 or so hit the left hand turn, and only those tucked smartly in the top ten were safe. It was a whopping ten feet until the first casualties, with riders dropping left right and almost especially center, dodging some deep truck ruts. Even those riding strong were at the mercy of other’s misfortunes.
Over the top a selection had been made, and a leader up the road. A concerted effort of chasers couldn’t return to the main peloton, despite holding the gap at two minutes until the forty mile mark. A full 27 riders came to the line with Nathan Beams and Rudy Peterson second and third. Robert Forshag and Ben Raby rounded out the top five, with a stacked top 30 averaging 21 miles an hour over 5,000 feet of climbing.
Crystal Anthony finished five minutes down to Woodring, but put a comfortable seven minutes into third place Kelli Richter, Stephanie Swan and Kae Takeshita rounded out the top five, and our last chance to include Takeshita for yet another year.
The 62 Mile Singlespeeders put in an incredibly close race, and a fast one, with Lucas Seibel taking the win ahead of George Lowe and the cow-bike-guy Collin Snyder. In the not that Master’s race, Robbie Ventura, of Pet Detective fame, took the win ahead of Paul Swinard, who is sponsored by the Weather Channel. All of the logos on his jersey were click bait, you probably noticed. Leadout’s Dan Korienek and Tom Linck went 3-4, a great finish from “The Pride of Elsie”.
Some punk kids were the fastest 36 milers, Cameron Buccellato and Luke Mullis. The fastest 36 mile women were Lindsey Kriete and Bridgett Widrig, Widrig proudly repped Interlochen Michigan, the best place with all major businesses with monosyllabic, male names.
And finally, because Einstein Cycles likes fat bikes and they pay the bills, the fat bike winners. Nate Williams won, but as is becoming the custom, it was a field sprint for second with Jimmy McMurray edging out Tyler Keuning (gee, he’s nice, isn’t he?), Don Cameron and Randy Coddington.
Surprising no one, Danielle Musto won the women’s race and as obnoxiously cool about it, with Suz Falvey second and Musto’s very short teammate Jill Martindale third.
And that is mostly what happened.