This one is for all, or at least the vast majority, of the marbles. Saturday, the Huma Luma Licious Fat Bike Race caps off the 2020 Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series at Timber Ridge. There’s still plenty to play for across the board, not the least of which is the Short’s beer.
The weather, as always, will certainly play a factor, and just exactly what we’ll be racing on March 7 could be up in the air along the side the ever-rising temperatures. With incredible riding conditions all February, an exceedingly warm start to March means it’s possible that the debut of the newly-named and new format of the race take place on a thin crust of snow. Formerly the Beard of Zeus, SBFBS organizers have redubbed the race in preference to one of Short’s most famous brews.
That extra consideration extended to the race course itself, or, as might be more accurate, both courses. This year, the Long race and Short race will only overlap for a short stretch near the start/finish banner. Early on each lap, the two distances will split, with the Long race going for four mile circuits and the Short race sticking to a more traditional two. There is hardly any elevation for either race, and the Long race has a full 1.5 miles wide-open racing along Riley’s to make sure there’s no excuse for not getting around.
It’s a course that certainly suits the powerhouse riders like Jorden Wakeley, Dave “Sunset” Scott, and Eric Langley. Riders like Kyan Olshove and Garrett Jenema might have preferred a bit more elevation, but they’ve also proven themselves more than capable of producing the big-time power it takes to go fast on a fat bike.
The Elite series titles are all but pocketed, with Wakeley and Susan Vigland both looking for clean sweeps. We’re into that murky point of the year where some riders have the requisite four finishes in the bag, but plenty of others sitting on three or even two starts and therefore taking up spots on the sheet or capable of making up a lot of ground with a strong finish on Saturday. Riders like Sunset, Nick Wierzba, Jenema, Spencer Mendel, and a slew of others could all vault into the top five with the right shake out of the top ten on the day.
Behind Vigland, it’s all but assuredly going to be Erin Reicha and Madine “The Governor” Whitmer, with Annabel Miller sitting in fourth.
Perhaps the most exciting race of the day will be the men’s Masters. While Rob Richardson has reminded us week in and week out that he’s the top rider, his 100 point lead isn’t the talking point. Instead, it’s that after four races, Jim Jackovatz and Kris Sands are sitting tied for second. It’s a course that suits Sands, but Jackovatz has showed some incredible smarts in these crit-style types of races in the past, and it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top.
With four different races and four different winners, the women’s masters is tied at 200 between Kim Fisher, Wendy Britain, Laura Webb, and Sandra Dunn, none of the women will have the requisite three finishes to officially take the title. But, in the spirit of competition, we’re sure that if any of those women show up and throw down, they’ll probably be declared the champion.
It’s just about impossible to pick against Wakeley and Vigland, and Rob Richardson, for that matter…so we won’t. There is plenty of room for surprise, however, and for all the Jackovatz/Sands in-fighting, watch for Paul Olson to sneak onto the podium. There’s also a really good chance you’ll see Garrett Jenema and Kyan Olshove pair up on the podium for yet another race, confirming that the future of Traverse City cycling has already showed up.
Need another reason to sign up? Proceeds for the race are going directly to Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association, helping put leather gloves on Mike Walters and leather chaps on Tom White. It’s a big year for NMMBA, with projects like 11 miles of new singletrack at the Cadillac Pathway, new signage at Glacial Hills, and the need to try to top the 2019 VST TT // Fiesta from last year…how much fun was that? Race, ride, just be at Timber for the last fat bike dance of the season.