The third stage of SOLo kolo saw the riders back on Old Mission Peninsula, which serves as a sort of natural wind tunnel this time of the year. That was certainly the case this week, with wind speeds comfortably over 15 nearly every single day the competition was open.
With ugly weather both Monday and Tuesday, only a few riders set times until the bulk of the peloton, in their own time, started putting down efforts up the staircase that is Blue Water Road. As challenging a segment that it is on its own, timing effort over the .77 mile distance was only one part of timing what day to hit it. Friday and Saturday seemed to be the sweet spot, though Saturday late was a bad, bad idea, when you look at the bottom third of the stage results.
The revelation of SOLo and indeed of Stage Three was men’s winner Ryan Reiter. Riding at a cool 20mph, Ryan set the mark headed into the weekend with 2:19. Only Patrick Cotant could get close, three seconds back. They were two of a total of ten riders who were able to slot in under the 2:45 benchmark, with a slew of other contenders finding themselves orbiting something closer to 3 minutes.
On the women’s side, Erica O’Hearn took back a Costco-sized pack of time on Stage three, posting up 3:11 to take the stage and close up the gap to riders ahead of her. She’s now 5 seconds behind Beth Collins and 19 down to Barb Beaureguard, and with the Speed of Light lap looming, she’s still got a strong chance of slipping into the top ten.
Sami Maldonado made the most of the effort to hit a metronomic pace and post a 3:16 on Stage Three. After cededing a chuck of time on the slopes of Wayne Hill, she put another 19 seconds into Laura Webb, who sits second overall heading into the Speed of Light stage, with a 24 second buffer back to Susan Vigland in third.
With Braiden Voss and Garrett Jenema dropping out to start a Zoom-based acapella group (sign of the times), it’s not only Steve “Dr. Pain” Andriese into the lead, we see the top ten get even tighter than before. The gaps back from first to fifth are all so close; 9, 18, 3, and 10 seconds. Max Meyer, now second, has proven himself one of the most consistent riders of the competition, but he’ll have a tall task in chasing down Andriese, who has long been famously adept at managing his efforts over a set distance and being incredibly aero, even in the woods. Josh Concannon smashed Stage Three and sits in three seconds ahead of John O’Hearn, with Concannon’s kolo teammate and stage winner, Ryan Reiter, giving “The Good Guys” two riders in the top five. In all, kolo has seven riders in the top twenty.
The squad was also buoyed by a rider who has always served as a sort of talismanic charm for over the years, Wes Sovis. When he rides well, the whole team rides well, and by actually riding a road bike, he showed just what sort of fitness he’s carrying deep into spring. His top ten, tying teammate Dan Ellis, saw him jump a few places and put him in a position for another vault forward on his go-to course.
That final stage is a doozy. We’re using the 2019 Speed of Light route, which is just a sneeze over 11 miles and features a series of short, punchy climbs, including the Boonenberg and Anita Hill. Jeff Owens currently holds the KOM in tandem with Garrett Jenema at 34:11, it’s hard to imagine that being threatened by a solo rider. Susan Vigland holds the women’s QOM, and she’s got to be chomping at the bit to see what she can do on a course she’s made her own in the past few years.
Just a bit of housekeeping, if you’ll allow it. As pointed out by up.bike (they’re so smart), it’s really important that we don’t contribute to overcrowded parking lots. With that in mind, consider riding to the Vasa this week, if you can. If you do need to drive to get a bit closer, we totally get it. If that’s the case, consider parking at parking lots like Einstein Cycles, The Rock, Ace, even Meijer and riding up. You’ll need a good warm-up, anyway, and if experienced riders can use their fitness and knowledge to reduce traffic at lots, we’re doing our part to stay safe, healthy, and let newer trail users get into the woods.
You’ve got from Monday until Saturday at 5pm to put in your FINAL time for SOLo Kolo. We’ve got $50 gift cards from Velo City Cycles and Suttons Bay Bikes for our overall winners! Ryan and Sammi, we also have some Scout Tools for you that we’ll figure out a way to get into your jersey pocket.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and thank you all for raising $1,720 for the wonderful people at the Father Fred Foundation!
Weekly and overall standings are right here.