That’s right, and this is a real face that’s true, Rick Trudo, the Busch Light to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Molson, wins the 2017 Clarabella GROAD.
After 2016’s peanut butter mud slog, 2017 was as sunny and dry as possible. And all that ‘dry’ meant mile after mile of loose, sandy gravel roads punctuated with short climbs and a rising crosswind the whole way home. The start/finish moved away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Clare to Herrick Recreation Area. If you’ve been there, you know; it’s frickin’ cool. There was a swimmin’ hole, a swingset, a slide, and to Wes’ delight, a bathroom with dedicated changing.
Revolution Racing was out in force, and they should be, because it’s their home race and like most Under Armor commercials, there was a vow taken that involved protecting even a figurative house. Short of the shouting and growling and simple platitudes of “It’s us versus them” Revolution Racing had a pretty simple gameplan; dominate.
Before the start, I got to catch up with Salsa/QBP hombre Jeff Buerman. He’s a great rep, and it is so cool to see those brands supporting races like this, with part of the proceeds going to Heart of the Lakes. Jeff even got to hop in the 28 mile and enjoy the sunshine on his Warbird.
I did, too, which is the same thing I do every race. I went really hard early, then attacked, then got caught, and then continued attacking whenever I could. Invariably, I lose, and today was no different. Justin’s cousin wasn’t just up for the challenge, he was swatting it away like Dwight Howard in 2009. It was readily apparent in the first 5 miles I was outmatched, but I was hoping to at least get far enough ahead to not be outnumbered.
Aside from a few attacks and Wes tipping over on a left-hand turn (he never could turn left) not a ton happened. As we hit the rollers on Herrick Road, it was most of the Revolution Racing squad, THE ROY KRANZ, and Cody+Wes. Just as Wes was being smart and telling me to just sit in, we hit the deepest, darkest, scariest section of washboard in history. We were scattered across the road, and mostly by pure luck, I had angled to a slightly smoother section and I drilled it.
Rick had no problem catching up, and the two of us eeked out a small lead. I was as committed as I get (ask all my old girlfriends) and Rick was rolling hard over the top of the climbs. I sprinted back on a few times, but it was one hill too many (actually, several hills too many and some 30 miles) and he was effortlessly 150 meters up the road. We hit a wide open section of crosswind, and as he laid down the power, I ceded time every mile the rest of the way.
With the races mostly broken to pieces, I had a lot of time to think about the current political world, Puerto Rico, the meaning of life, my employment…. but instead I counted piles of horse crap. I didn’t see any Amish buggies in action, but I saw plenty of evidence of their existence and dietary habits. The route was, shit aside, rather stunning and a 50 miles tour of Americana. Sean Kickbush would be excited to hear about the plethora of barns, while I reveled in the cornfields rolling over the hills for as far as the eye could see. There were plenty harvested, but still a few untouched. There should be a race that finishes near the entrance of a corn maze. Sure you won, but you don’t get the trophy until you make your way through it, kind of like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but with a lower body count (We miss you, Cedric).
Clarabella GROAD is the laidback, hard-as-hell kind of racing that I really like. Some of the bigger races just get so stressful, it’s a treat to ride somewhere new and different and just have fun. Rick was the strongest guy out there, and we got to see a #SOLID bunch gallop for third overall that went to Jason Crockett ahead of Adam Bender and DK200 legend Roy Kranz. Lexxi Mapes and Paul Mapes CRUSHED it on a tandem (Wes was looking over his shoulder the last few miles), and Christa Hoyta gave me her cookie. Also, the Women’s 50 mile 40 and Over class was the coolest of the day. Only two women were in the category, so kudos to them for challenging themselves and trying. Mandy McDowell and Sharon Larouche, you guys kick ass.
Full results are available right here.
See this hut? Great hut. Tremendous hut. People tell me it’s the best hut in Middle Branch, beleive me, they say that.