Hope springs eternal, and with sunny skies and one week of hard efforts under our belts, the SOLo kolo crowd splashed like so many waves at the foot of the much-feared and certainly hallowed slopes of Wayne Hill.
Once again, a huge mass of riders took on the .58 ascent, with a total of 68 riders and nearly 100 attempts in total. Plenty of the top contenders took more than one stab at bettering their times, opting to watch the weather and learn from their ‘practice’ runs to shave off a few seconds.
After Austin Johnson and then Sunset Scott posted the early marks, the real gauntlet was thrown by the race leader, Braiden Voss. His 2:21 smashed the KOM and raised the bar, with the vaunted 3 minute mark now looking a bit more middling than originally predicted. Jeff Owens, who should have squatter’s rights to Wayne Hill, as he spends so much time there, came back with a strong answer and a 2:24, while Max Meyer and Garrett Jenema both slid into the top five.
Kolo’s own Ryan Reiter may be the revelation of the race, following up a strong first stage with another top ten on Wayne and the only kolo rider under three minutes. Drew Cummins might have a claim to that title, though; he matched Reiter’s time on Wayne and the pair could be in for a dog fight by the end of the month.
The women’s race, too, is just about as competitive as can be. Sammy Maldanado put in a strong time but saw her sizable lead not just nibbled down but chomped by both Laura Webb and Susan Vigland. Susan found a single second over Webb to take the stage, but both will be more satisfied to see their GC deficit down to 31 seconds for Webb and 52 seconds for Vigland. Gwen Urbain has been Miss Consistent with another great ride and sits just another 28 seconds back. The rest of the top ten is separated by less than three minutes, and with a massive forty-plus minute effort looming on Stage Four, there’s still plenty to play for.
While Braiden’s advantage is beginning to yawn a bit wider, the rest of the race is extremely tight. Jenema holds second to Steve Andriese, but Max Meyer made up a Texas-sized chuck of ground to slot into third. Josh Concannon and Ryan Reiter give kolo to riders in the top ten, with Andy Weir lurking and looking incredibly handsome in 11th. Ryan “Mr. President” Kennedy took another run at Wayne and it paid off; he’s into the top 15.
How close is it? Fourth place through 21st place are within five minutes. While that might seem like a big gap, we should see a lot of shaking and baking on both Blue Water and certainly on the long and tough SOL stages still to come.
Maybe the most impressive aspect of SOLo Kolo has been the success of why we’re doing all this in the first place. We’ve raised nearly $1,700 for Father Fred Foundation at a time that our community desperately needs their support. If you’ve got a riding buddy who hasn’t hopped into the race, send them this post and tag ‘em, or maybe see if they’ll consider donating.
Stage Three starts tomorrow and runs through Saturday at 5pm. This week, it’s Blue Water Road. One for the punchers, it’s .77 miles long and gains a total of 120 feet, but with two descents along the way. It’s an incredibly tough segment to pace, and it’s going to come down to who can measure their effort perfectly and survive the strong headwind forecasted nearly all week.