NOW it feels like summer. Another edition (we seriously don’t know how long this has been going on) of the Pancake Ride is done and covered in syrup. Every summer, the ride serves a sort of benchmark for the season; you can divide everything else as Pre-Cake and Post-Cake, and there’s a sense that it’s all downhill to Labor Day.
For the second year, the ride accepted optional donations for Norte, with the cash splashed going to support snacks at miniSOL and Junior SOL, as well as a scholarship for the Norte Summer Bike Mas program. With over 100 riders showing up for the 8 am start, we weren’t worried about shorting our pals at Team Orange.
As is the tradition, things were neutral until Bugai Road, where things ratcheted up from 20 mph to a nice 28 mph to wake everyone up. Wes’ new 20 mile “Good Looking’“ group took the opportunity to turn off and have a bit more relaxed ride, including a bevy of youngsters putting in one of their biggest riders ever. Will, Logan, and more than a few others not only knocked out the 20 miles, but had a bit left in the tank to show Wes how to sprint.
Over the first climb of the day, Kasson Road, Jeff Owens and Cody Sovis led a group of six riders clear, only for a regroup just before spilling down Bow Road and starting the short flat stretch up to Inspiration Point. Here, the elastic snapped for a number of riders, leaving little more than a dozen in touch for a scenic and fast lap around Big and Little Glen Lake. With the Sleeping Bear Dunes and a surprisingly strong crosswind coming off Lake Michigan, the lead group took a rolling break to have a snack in the shadow of the dunes. A gentle sprinkle moved through, but only light enough that Sunset was convinced it was actually sweat from other riders.
Through Glen Arbor, the lead group geared up for the real meat of the ride ahead. This year, tucked between the traditional combination of Trumbull and Hlavka, riders turned north on Wheeler Road for a short gravel climb and a fast dirt descent to School Lake. With Trumbull dealing plenty of body blows, the grit snapped the elastic, and a 30mph+ downhill went a long ways to leaving just Owens, Sovis, Tim Pulliam, Sunset Scott, and some dude from RBS whose name I can’t remember. That left just the Darga/Tower double to tackle, and Owens showed everyone a rather clean pair of cleats as he bounced up the 20% grade. When the leveled off, Sovis was just barely able to ride across, leaving two riders to finish Philosophy trying to hold off a group of three.
When the leaders arrived back at Cherry Bend Park, Carly Ellis and Johanna Schmidt had enlisted some tiny, adorable help from Grady “Ferocious Teddy Bear” Ellis in manning the paella pan and stacking the pancakes high. Brian Buysee was handling the accouterments and totally not judging you for eating a handful of chocolate chips and chugging about a quart of Breakaway Cafe coffee at the same time. These volunteers are really the ones who make Pancake Ride happen, so make sure you thank Carly, Brian, Johanna and most especially Grady because that kid could have dropped us all this morning.
Even if the Pancake Ride is sort of the pinnacle of summer, there are a TON of great events just around the corner. This Thursday, Speed of Light is BACK in action with Stage One of the Tour Competition. This one is for the sprinters, with double points on the Power Section. Stage Two will see double points on the Boonenberg, then, the most feared day of the SOL season. This year, the Queen Stage comes on the third stage, with TWO laps on the docket.
From everyone at kolo t.c. and Norte, thanks to everyone who made it out to keep the Pancake Ride tradition alive! Didn’t have cash at the ride? Consider donating to the ride’ mission here. Check out the Pancake Ride by the impressive numbers of Jeff Owens here. One of the fastest editions ever!