2019 Speed of Light WorldTour: Ladies’ Night

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It was a somber yet happy night to kick off the WorldTour season at Speed of Light.

With news of the sudden passing of Jack Kline overnight, all of Traverse City’s sizeable cycling community spent much of the day sharing stories of a man so full of life that he was prone to spilling over. Exuberant, positive, and tough as nails, Jack was a rider you heard before you saw, knew before you met, and appreciated all of the time. He encouraged everyone he meant to try; if you did one lap, why not do two? If you raced Sport, why not do Expert? If you can race 50 miles, why not drive out west and race Leadville 100?

Our favorite Jack story was at the first fat bike race at 45 North Winery a few years ago. The weather that day, like every race that winter, was brutal. The temperatures never hit double digits, and with the wind whipping across the barren hills meant it felt even colder. Some riders didn’t even make the drive out; more showed up and thought better of racing. Each lap, another rider or two would bail. Before the race, I’d decided I would go as hard as I could as long as I could, in no small part to simply stay warm.

I was not going fast. Near the start/finish, the few spectators left, including Jack, could stay alongside me just by walking with a bit of a smart step. When it was over, only about a dozen of us had completed the full 90 minutes. After, Jack was the first person to come up to me. He didn’t give a shit that I’d won. What impressed him was that I’d stuck it out, even as faster, tougher riders bailed. He had wanted more out of them: “”Anyone can finish when it’s easy. But sometimes, you gotta stay in there and take your lumps”.

That has stuck with me ever since. Appreciate the good days, and make the most of them. But on the days you’ve got nothing in the tank, when things don’t go your way, you don’t make excuses. You don’t give up. You don’t give into your ego, your body, your excuses. On those days, your victory is in finishing, in trying, in showing up. Take your lumps.

Inspired by remembered shouts of “Yeah, baby!”, Ladies’ Night kicked off with a fast pace and a small but tough women’s field, including Susan Vigland, who was making her first SOL appearance of the season. Erica O’Hearn and Sara Sovis also made starts, with eyes on a big haul of WorldTour points on offer.

After leading through the opening salvos, Cody Sovis ceded the lead to a spirited Jamison Sheppard. The brilliant bike handler drove the pace over the top of the CC Climb and showed off his skills by taking the new left hand turn onto to 10km unclipped and bouncing around on the top tube. The effort ripped five riders clear with a narrow gap back to a sizeable chase group. Sovis went on the 10km climb, with only Garrett Jenema able to stick with the pace. Garrett is now 2 grams lighter thanks to a new but controversial practice in cycling in which riders remove their wisdom teeth to lose weight. It worked; he stayed glued to Sovis’ wheel the rest of the way.

Behind, John O’Hearn settled in with Sheppard and a group containing Bryan Warner, Wes Sovis, Dan Ellis, Brad Pauly, and Max Meyer. The group put in a blistering time, and it helped to put O’Hearn in position to launch a huge move that got him to within just seconds of catching Sovis and Jenema for the win. He simply ran out of road, but did manage third and some very important WorldTour points in the process.

Susan Vigland seems to like the course; she’s already tickling the 40 minute mark, just two seconds over on her first attempt. She picks up 20 points, with Erica O’Hearn pocketing 19 and Sara Sovis (hi, honey) nabbing 18. That’s a huge haul and a perfect platform for these women to make a run at the Tour Competition in just a few weeks. That might be the perfect training for Erica O’Hearn, who wins our FREE entry to Skirts in the Dirt! (Full disclosure: we had a random person who ended up being Sean Kickbush to pick a number between 1 and 3)

With Jeff Owens missing out, opting to support one of his wonderful children on her birthday, Cody moves into the WorldTour lead, with O’Hearn’s gutsy ride moving him into second. There are a LOT of points on offer this month, though, and you can expect to see the top ten shift a lot.

Next up is FAT BIKE NIGHT, with double points for everyone finishing on 4” tires or wider. It’s also the official start of miniSOL and Junior SOL, with our pal (and protege) Will Unger bringing you recaps each and every week all summer long. ALL SOLs start at 6 pm, with the #YOUTHS rolling out 1 minute after for miniSOL. The miniSOL will be the exact same route as always. These kids can shred.

All the times for 2019 are up here.

The WorldTour standings are available here.

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