kolo tc is such a big deal, we can’t be everywhere all the time. There’s champagne to sip, jets to hop on, Rihanna’s always calling, we got S#4% to do, people. Luckily, we have people who go to things we don’t and then they tell us what happened. Well, hold onto your Beggin’ Strips because you’re getting a double dose of Yankee Springs TT from Kent Sinclair and Brian Swem. These are their stories. 

Look, we live in the groove. How did Stella get hers back? We let her use some of ours. In Brian’s recap, he finds a little bit out in the woods, and baby, it ain’t going nowhere. 

Yankee Springs TT 2017 Through The Eyes and Thighs of Swem

For those of you who don’t know me, I am the guy who has organized the Local Trades Alley Cat for the last three years.   If you enjoy beverages and/or bicycles mark your calendar for May 16th because we are doing it again, and this year is not an event that you want to miss.

Whether it be fun events, just cruising around town, or riding some sweet jumps in the driveway I have always ridden bikes for fun but only recently have I realized just how fun it is to race bikes.  Believe it or not, the 2017 YSTT was my first ever mountain bike race.  I have been racing Fat bikes for three years but had not ridden a mountain bike race until this year.  YSTT would be my first, but certainly not my last.

After racing the 2017 Winter Rush series in the elite category, by mistake, I felt as though I was obligated to sign up to ride two laps at Yankee in the expert/elite category.  And because my Fatback Skookum was the best weapon in my arsenal, I would be doing it Fat.

Being my first time trial I was nervous and ended up in the cue long before I was supposed to be there, but this gave me the opportunity to stand aside and talk to racers as they walked past.  I learned a lot in that line.  Most people didn’t understand why you would ride a fat bike when they make perfectly good 20lb hardtails, while others were happy to share that the “good” people can do a lap in under 50 min.  50 minutes? I knew I was in trouble, I had never done a lap in less than an hour and a quarter.

So here I find myself 10 seconds before we launch, with Mr. 47min.  At this point, I am thinking that I will let him roll out first to save the embarrassment of being passed in the first 30 seconds and I hear it.  GO!  I wait for half a second but Mr. 47 is too busy talking to the race marshall, so I take off.  I felt like I was flying 14 to 16 mph this was amazing, this was easy!  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, “hey, let me know when I can get by”,  I was getting passed.  While this was the first, it certainly wasn’t the last, in fact, my entire first lap felt like a lesson in “how to get passed at Yankee”.  My only takeaway was that my fellow expert/elite racers were far more courteous than I would have expected.

Regardless of how I compared to the competition, I felt great.  I had never ridden trails this aggressively and the Skookum would take anything I threw at it.  In fact, it bailed me out of many, many mistakes.  I felt like I was carving corners and blasting up hills. Not only that but every time I got passed, which was a lot, I had a burst of energy pushing me to try to catch the wheel of the bike in front of me.

Then it happened, the bike in front of me was not someone who had passed but someone new.  Not only that but it was a fat bike!  I now knew that if I could hold it together for little more than another lap, I wouldn’t have to worry about the dreaded DFL.

By the end of the first lap, I had burned so much energy trying to keep up with passers-by that I wasn’t sure how I could complete another lap.  But I pressed on and much to my surprise the second lap almost seemed easier than the first.  The hills still hurt and my legs threatened to retire but somehow I wasn’t suffering near as much as I did during my first lap.  Perhaps the first lap changed my expectations or perhaps I was in the groove but once again I felt good.

With little more than a lap to go, I could begin to hear the spectators in the distance, after nearly two hours on the trail the finish was literally within an earshot.  Rounding the last corner I managed to dig deep and sprint across the line, finishing 10th of 15 in 1:51:39.1.  My Fatback Skookum performed flawlessly and I had just finished two consecutive laps at Yankee a full 20min faster, per lap, than I had ever ridden Yankee before.

The 2017 Yankee Springs Time Trial was a great race.  The biggest surprise being that almost all of the many many people who passed me were tremendously courteous, even though some newbie on a fat bike was in their way.

Yep, frickin’ awesome. But hey, so is Kent’s tale of adventure, course marking, and general gnar-shredding. 

Kent Sinclair and the Sorcerer’s Hei-Hei

The Yankee Springs Time Trial signals the start of the Mountain Bike race season in West Michigan and serves as the biggest fundraiser for our local IMBA chapter the West Michigan Mountain Bike Association  Central District has been a sponsor of the race this year and the past three years that I have raced the TT. This year was a little different for me – last fall I took ownership of a brand spanking new Kona Hei Hei DL . So I dropped a bunch of bike weight and added gears and squishy bits to compliment my sculpted soft winter physique. I was faster by a bunch and love the heck out of the new carbon Hei Hei (sales plug give the guys at the shop a ring and they’ll set you up with your own). I ended up on race day with a 4th place in the Sport Clydesdale class (later on I would find out a couple guys finished later in the day to make me end at 6th).
This whole weekend was something else! The race is always held on Sunday and the campground always sells out. Luckily we had a couple of adjacent lots for most of the crew of misfits to setup on Saturday. I volunteered on Saturday afternoon to put the course markings up and got the VIP tour from the trail coordinator. (IMAGE1 – DownArrowPic). The setup ride was about nine miles and felt good on the legs. Later on as the rest of the team showed up we built a great fire. Mitchell made the trip out on his Kona Big Honzo so his firewood contribution was low but his log stacking ability made up for it.
The crew of volunteers (myself included) put on a fantastic event and race day this year went off without a hitch. The fast guys and gals (Elite/Experts) started off on their two laps around 10:00 am and the single lap classes started off at noon (Sport) and 1:00 pm (Beginner). Team CDC has well represented in the Elite, Expert, Sport and Beginner classes this year with racers in almost every category.

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