It’s rare for one Sovis to leave Traverse City on a weekend. It’s even more of an occasion, then, to have BOTH depart for a bike race. The 30th edition of Yankee Springs Time Trial, however, is a dance worth dressing up for.
It was an exceptionally late start to the race season, but this weekend’s Yankee Springs Time Trial was the perfect way to dip the toe back into action. Usually, I’ve raced four or five times by now, but this season is just going to be different. I wasn’t planning on doing Yankee, either, but Wes got all amped up for it a month or so ago, and he got me committed to making a return to the Devil’s Soup Bowl.
We used to live in Grand Rapids, but from Allendale, Yankee Springs Recreation Area is not exactly a hop, skip and a jump. I’ve only ridden the trail, and the race, a single time, way back in 2012. It was Wes and I’s second race back in the sport, a little over a month after doing the short race at Barry-Roubaix. After riding my Dad’s 1993 Mongoose Rockadile in Middleville, I’d driven from campus and picked out a brand new Specialized Rockhopper on blow-out pricing from Village Bike in Jenison. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped.
Seven years later, things are a bit different. On the way down to the race Friday night, Wes and I were talking about marketing, Iceman, 401 (k) plans, and work. We talking (glowingly, of course) of married life and Wes talked me out of buying a van for bike-trips, ignoring the two bikes crammed into the backseat, one handlebar protruding into the front.
After a night in a pretty good hotel and one of the top five continental breakfast spreads I’ve ever had the good fortune of indulging upon, we hit Yankee. Even with a smaller, earlier start at 9 am seeing only a fraction of the racers there, we saw plenty of smiling faces, including our good pal Brad White and a bunch of the WMMBA crew volunteering. Troy Carr, Kevin Allen, Doug Huyser, shoot, half the crew were hard at it manning the registration tent or getting the start area ready to rock.
Wes was originally signed up to race Expert, but not wanting to sit in the car for an hour to wait, he bumped up to Elite. That’s kind of cool. Especially with a time trial format, it can’t affect your time too much, and he was within 30 seconds of his goal, 1:40. It was cool to have him back mixing it up on the same course at the same time; I even saw a few flashes of the new Kolo t.c. Kit through the trees. So slimming.
With riders going off solo, I was ensconced 20 seconds behind Scott Quiring and just 10 seconds ahead of Brad. I admit that I had flashbacks to a YouTube video of Brad Wiggins doing his local 10km TT a few years back. The rider ahead of him had his GoPro on and was able to time and then film the Tour de France, gold medal winning, World Champion time trial absolutely explode past him. And with my Brad, I don’t think I would have been able to keep him in frame as long as the time trial guy; Brad caught me a few minutes in and after a polite pass, pranced away on a descent to become a fair orange dot in the trees for just a few more minutes.
I was definely rusty in the woods. With only three rides on dirt and one of those just on the 25km, I was making a lot of mistakes and relying rather heavily on my motor to make up for it. I also knew there were plenty of strong riders coming up behind me, and when Marc Walters passed by near the end of the first lap, I knew things weren’t going golden. One part of it, though, was simply having too much fun. More than once I screamed through a section, bouncing just inside the limits of control, half-giggling. The trail was really firm and fast and, aside from some sand pits that reminded me of home, couldn’t have been in better shape.
It was stopping short in one of those sandpits behind another rider that caused me to tip over. Not damage, just a few seconds lost and a nice dash of shame. On lap two, I didn’t see much of anyone after a few minutes, except for getting passed by Chad Wells. With five miles to go, my chain popped off, and while I didn’t give, it definitely took me out of the rhythm I’d developed, and I spent the last two miles wondering how it had all shook out ahead and behind me.
Brad’s typhoon-style passing of me indicated he was off to something special, and he ended up winning by just under a minute. Scott Quiring, who raced Yankee thirty years ago and is still one of the fastest riders on the course any day of the week, was second. Marc Walters also put in a killer race and I wanted to give him my bell because he obviously needed it, passing so many people while I had overtaken just two or three.
Kyle Macdermaid doesn’t race unless he’s up for it, and he showed his handling skills to be top notch. He ended up just a few seconds ahead of me for 9th place, giving Traverse City a respectable two riders in the top ten. Emma Schwab represented TC, too, and did it with even more style. She won the women’s Elite field later in the day, and promptly hit the podium with her helmet still on, just in case.
Now, it’s all about Mud, Sweat and Beers. If the Yankee Springs start list was strong, then the MSB roster is absolutely nuclear. I don’t think there is a race that’s as strong rider for rider than this one; there just isn’t a slacker in it, and that much horsepower in just 20 or so riders is different than races with more top end talent and more riders total, like P2P and Iceman. There’s no easy way out and a bad day, even a bad start, means you’re in for a lonely day. I give the riders in Elite a lot of credit and it’s awesome to see people value testing themselves and taking more pride getting 15th against riders their own skill than winning Expert for a second, third, or fourth time. As Dan Ellis always says, it’s about the effort, not the result.
You can check out Cody’s Strava here.
FULL results are available right here.
Looking to check out the MSB course this week? Make sure read Tom White’s preview here.