Few events on the calendar are as consistently well-organized as the Bear Claw Epic, hosted at the Cadillac Pathways. Saturday was no exception. 400 spandex-clad warriors showed up on a crisp, clear Saturday morning to test their stuff against one of the fastest, most fun courses in the state. The racing was furious, plus there were donut holes and pizza. So. Pretty great day all the way around.
In the Elite race, Jorden Wakeley and American Heartthrob/Dad Brad White (Velo City Cycles) quickly distanced the rest of the field to battle for the win. A distinguished career on the crit racing scene gave White the experience to position himself perfectly for a sprint finish win in front of a huge crowd. Wakeley showed true mettle to hang with White; it’s a race we really hope to see again at Peak to Peak in a few weeks.
On the women’s side, it was a pleasant surprise to see Kaitlyn Patterson (aka KP) show up to put on a show. She rode an excellently controlled and calculated race to take home the win in front of Traverse City’s Susan Vigland and Lauri Brockmiller. The young Maddy Frank (Freewheeler) came in fourth, with Lexxie Mapes (Ray’s Bike Shop) taking fifth in a stacked Elite field. We’re really looking forward to seeing these five, plus a few more of their friends, do battle on the much more tactical Peak to Peak course.
If the Elite races were competitive, then it’s tough to describe just how impressive these Expert riders are. Patrick Hornacek, Jim Jackovatz (KLM), and Tom White (City Bike Shop) were the fastest Expert riders, all with lap times that would put them up there in the Elite race. A huge shout out to John Duby (City Bike Shop) who took the win in the 50+ category. John has been busy with travel and work, but still put in one hell of a ride, while always being so supportive to everyone he meets on the trails.
Allen McClain, Jared Dunham, and Ryan Miller Rides (his real name) were the podium finishers in the 29 and under classification.
It was M22‘s Jamie Endicott taking the win just ahead of Cindy Duby (City Bike Shop) in the women’s Expert overall. This author witnessed first hand the poker game taking place on their last lap – it was both intense and extremely entertaining. I just wanted to get out of their way with my life and limbs intact. A very impressive Anne Schwartz rounded out a very strong women’s Expert podium.
The best part of the day, as always, is the kids’ races. A slew of GR Dirt Dawgs made the journey to Cadillac to show their stuff against the Orange Armada of Traverse City’s Norte, and things got even more intense for the eyes when the Velo City Kids rolled to the line in their equally orange kits.
From Strider bikes to pre-teens, we’ve simply never had more kids and bike races in the years I’ve been around. If you want to see how this sport is doing, simply look at the smiles at the dozens and dozens of kids crossing the finish line in front of cheering spectators on a sunny Saturday morning. Things are just peachy. Be sure to thank the folks at Norte, GR Dirt Dawgs, Velo City, and Sisters-in-Singletrack for all of their efforts.
Speaking of saying thank you, a huge shout out needs to go to Michelle Andrews, Dustin Webb, and their small army of volunteers who manned the registration table, marshaled on the course, and made the 2018 Bear Claw Epic such an incredible day, and such an awesome way to raise some money for the Cadillac Pathway. Thank you!
You can see full results from the race here. Follow Bear Claw Epic, Cadillac Pathways, and Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association on Facebook. We can’t wait to see you next month at Peak to Peak!