Few could imagine weather at P2P as nice as 2017, but we very nearly enjoyed just that on Saturday. Sunny skies, warm temps, and prime trail conditions led to perhaps the fastest editions of the race in its 14-year history. The perfect fall weather brought out some of the fastest bike riders in the Midwest for a chance to tame one of the biggest races in Michigan.
The big names came out for a chance at a great payout and to put on a show, with the likes of Wakeley, Vermeulen, House, Yankus, and Shau all in with a shout for a win. Vermeulen and Wakeley quickly established themselves as the frontrunners on a course that was in terrific shape after rain earlier in the week. Ending each lap, the duo were neck and neck. It was far from clear from anyone spectating who was the stronger rider, with neither looking like they were so much as breaking a sweat. It became inevitable that the flat singletrack sections weren’t enough to separate the two. A final, all-out assault on the Crytal Climb would be the decider before a plunge to finish line.
Vermeulen used his former World Tour power to get a gap on the soul-crushing ascent of the ski hill and then maintained a narrow gap on the descent to the line to take a well-earned win, with Wakeley coming in just a few seconds behind.
It was Dan Yankus in third, with Cole House in fourth. House was aboard a gravel bike, a gamble that didn’t quite pay off, but certainly is something to keep an eye on at Iceman in two weeks’ time. Big ups to Nick Zambeck in ninth, proving that #BigBoys can climb. Another shoutout to Michigan legend Scott Quiring for coming in thirteenth. What can we say? The guy just doesn’t age. He must have some seriously good genes.
Kaitlyn Patterson has made this race her own. If there were any hopes of an upset this year, those hopes were thoroughly dashed within the first six miles of the race when the women’s elite field was broken into ones and twos due to a ferocious pace. Wisconsin’s own Leia Schneeberger (GREAT name) put up a valiant fight until the very end, hanging with smaller groups and refusing to hand the race to Patterson on a silver platter. Her efforts awarded her second place, but a somewhat distant five minutes behind Patterson, putting an exclamation mark on just how strong KP is on a course that’s become her happy place for the last few years.
Bridget Widrig, from the thriving metropolis of Grawn, Michigan, took home a very impressive third place on the day. Bridget has been putting the work in this fall with plenty of out-and-backs on the Iceman course, and those hard miles are really starting to show. Her confidence in the singletrack has grown leaps and bounds, and she has plenty of potential to get even better. Having her teammate, Susan Vigland, around as a tail gunner gives Hagerty an exceptionally strong duo headed into Iceman. Erica Stehouwer put in a gutsy ride for 5th, with Julie Medema was in sixth. All in all, this has to have been one of the fastest women’s fields in race history.
Joseph Lampen, ladies and gentlemen! I thought big dudes weren’t supposed to do well at a race like Peak to Peak? Lampen took fourth in his age group and was 34th overall on a course where climbers usually have their way with the field with the decisive climb so close to the finish line. If Saturday was any indication, Joe is going to be a great wheel to follow when we all line up in Kalkaska on November 2nd.
Judah Gustafson is 18. He can’t buy you a beer, but he can whip you on anything with two wheels. A CX wunderkind, Gustafson had the fans talking on Saturday after winning in a seriously stacked Expert 18-34 field. His is a name to watch, along with Kyan Olshove, Garret Jenema, Max Meyer and other #YOUTHS on the scene.
Charlie Black took a big step forward on Saturday with a fourth place in his age group on Saturday. The Norte stable of young riders is deep, and it seems like each race we see another kid make the jump to a new level. This burgeoning form is a great sign for Black, as he’s seemingly hitting his stride with another big target at Iceman to come.
A big thank you to all the volunteers at P2P who made this yet another great day on bikes in Thompsonville. And what can we say about Crystal Mountain as a venue? I can’t think of a more beautiful place to be on a fall day in October, with the views from atop the ski hill singularly gorgeous Great trails, excellent amenities, beer, camels, brats. Yep. There was a petting zoo. Top that. We can’t wait for Peak to Peak 2020!