It’s another year of as-you-were, but how winner Jorden Wakeley and Susan Vigland got to the steps was anything but boring.
In a point brought up by Tom White at the start, it was, we’d all agree, a nice day. And just how MSB has been able to order up sun and warm temps for 9 out of its 10 years of racing either brilliant luck or rather effective witchcraft. We could essentially cut and paste last year’s lead of, “….under a sunny skies and warm temps” and save ourselves the mental effort.
And so it was, and so it remained in the results, too. Both the Men’s and Women’s Elite races saw some of the deepest fields yet, with nary a rider not in serious contention for a top ten. With 6 time champion Jorden Wakeley back from a week of sun in Arizona and last year’s dominate winner Susan Vigland looking as imperious as ever, it was always going to be a challenge for the win and for those podium spots.
With more singletrack than ever, the opening climb, redubbed “Huma Hill” in honor of new title sponsor Short’s Brewing, and the neighborhood drag race that follows it has proven itself more valuable than ever. And it was over the top of Huma that the Elite field saw its last glimpses of Wakeley for the day; Brad White, Jeff Owens, and a select chase group simply didn’t have the firepower to bring him back. They did, however, have the ability to kept a ‘nuclear’ pace (to borrow an Owens-ism) and put some serious time into the groups behind.
The Elite women started with the men and put in strong rides to hit the pavement. From the off, Susan Vigland and teammate Emma Schwab were the most impressive, but with singletrack specialists like Lauri Brockmiller, Christa Hoyt, and Beth Grassa, plus the always-fast Bridgit Widrig behind, they never had time to relax.
Meanwhile, Owens was putting on a singletrack clinic while Brad White and Scott Quiring kept the pace up, riding just clear of Nick Wierzba and a flying Garrett Jenema. Behind, Cody Sovis and Sunset Scott settled into a motivated chase, made all the more motivated-ed by Chad Wells, who took up the responsibility for offering positive comments and tail gunning. The trio spent the entire race within 30 seconds of the group ahead, at one point getting to within just 11 seconds, but never making contact with Jason Johnson, Jenema, Quiring, and Wierzba until both groups disintegrated in the final two miles.
With Wakeley already planning his route through the Max’s Mud Pit, Owens wasn’t giving up yet. He led home the chase for second, with Jamison Sheppard third. Always a strong rider, this is a big step forward for Sheppard and proof that riding Trainerroad for 1,000 hours a winter can really pay off! Just behiind, Brad White rolled in fourth , with an on-form Jason Johnson fifth. Jenema, Wierzba, Quiring, Wells, Sovis, and Sunset all snuck into the top ten.
The women’s race was anything but decided as Vigland and Schwab spilled down the ski hill descent. While it might look like a picturesque grassy knoll bathed in sunlight, that hill is full of pitfalls and sand traps, and both riders were taking every risk imaginable. Both positively dove into the mud pit, with Vigland carrying just that little bit more speed to the line to pick up yet another win. For Schwab, it’s a sign of what’s to come this summer, and all of Traverse City should be wary of the youngster eyeing the MSB crown for decades to come.
Results are available over…….here.
The kolo krew had a great day of racing. We’re really proud of the rides and ‘tudes of these dudes (and Sara), even with some misdirection. We also got a TON of encouragement on course from teammates Gary Chastain, Bryan Ellenbaas, Craig Fortuna, Sarah Drews and the kids, plus a load of other pals.
(Are we allowed to claim Brad Pauly?)