In what was the first ride on dirt this year for the vast majority of riders on Saturday, Mid-Michigan Community College’s rocks and roots offered a less than gentle welcome to the forearms and taints of riders venturing off-road or out-of-doors for the first time this season. A 43-degree temperature reading at the start, plus gusting winds out of the North, made it a great day to be in the woods, where the singletrack welcomed the 100-strong field to the racing season.
In the Pro/Elite field, Jordan Wakeley and Rick Wetherald quickly rode away from the group, which started alongside the Expert 39 and Under class. Jason Johnson, M22’s second rider in the field apart from Wakeley, initially made the selection but drifted back to ride a steady race in No Man’s Land. Jon Zelinski (Brockmiller Elite Endurance) pushed the pace at the end of the first last to break up the race behind, with Nick Zambeck (Ray’s Bike Shop) and Ben Kalis, and a select few able to follow. Wes Sovis initially pushed the pace on the first lap, but Zelinski’s bike handling skills eventually distanced the kolo t.c. rider.
Wetherald ended up winning a sprint by less than a second to beat out Wakeley for the win, with the two well ahead of Johnson in third place. Zelinski was fourth in the Elite, with Sovis fifth.
In the women’s race, Lexxie Mapes (or Maple, as the post-race announcer went with) took the win less than thirty seconds ahead of second place (results aren’t posted as of writing, so I don’t have her name) with Beth Grassa rounding out the podium in third. Mapes’ win is a shot across the bow of sorts to the Pro/Elite women at Mud, Sweat, and Beers on May 5th. Mapes is coming into the race in fine form, and if the main contenders let her slip off the front, could ride away from everyone on the extremely fast MSB course.
A shout out must be made to two teams who showed up to this knobby-tire fundraiser in force. Both City Bike Shop from Traverse City and Ray’s Bike Shop fielded huge teams to contest fields from pro down to beginner. Both teams are some of the classiest and most down to Earth people in the cycling world, and their presence made the event even more fun for everyone involved. Way to be, peeps.
There was another big event on Saturday, with the Yankee Springs TT ringing in the mountain bike season over GR way. Marc Walters edged out Alex Vanias to take the win, with Justin Kreger less than a second behind Greek Yogurt to round out the top three. Kaitlyn Patterson took a break from doing whatever really smart people do to take the women’s race in a really fast field. Full results for that race are right here.