Arcadia Grit and Gravel 2021 Recap

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Sometimes, things just work out. Such was the case Saturday as 119 riders took the start line in Arcadia under beautiful sunny skies. Despite a forecast leading up to the event that looked to promise only rain and mud, racers enjoyed a beautiful late-summer race. If there was anything to complain about, the temperatures and humidity were downright oppressive. But with fall on the horizon, few would waste time worrying about a little obsessive heat and sunshine with the leaves already changing on Nessen City Road.

If anyone needed another reason to smile, it came in the sight of the Voss family lining up Braiden’s bike with the Elite riders. We lost Braiden to a tragic car crash, but his energy and inspiration certainly gave all the riders who knew him a little something extra on Saturday. It was a wonderful gesture and sure one that would have made Braiden smile. 

Men’s Elite

In the Elite category, all eyes were on Garrett Jenema. He’s been on stellar form, and even with a small but very fast Elite field lining up around him, he was the man to beat. His bike of choice, a gravel bike, gave some riders hope of making up the difference in the singletrack, but could they overcome the advantage he was sure to enjoy on the long gravel climbs?

No, they couldn’t. Jenema rolled in five minutes ahead of second place in a demonstrative win on a very hot, humid day. Hagerty teammate, Austin Johnson came home second to Jenema in the Elite category. Second overall went to a romping Rob Richardson, who took home the win in a spectacularly fast 40-49 division. 

Women’s Elite 

Emma Schwab held on by the skin of her teeth to take home the win, despite a hard-charging Marie Voss catching her on the finish line. It was the nail-biting finish that many expect from an Arcadia race and one that spectators will remember for years to come. Kalamazoo’s Tory Cane took third place only a few minutes behind, and Midland’s Alicia Trevino rolling in for a very strong fourth place. The Elite women weren’t content to sit on wheels. It was clear to all that Schwab, Voss, Trevino, and others didn’t shirk pulls and thoroughly earned every second their stellar race times showed. We can only lick our lips at the thought of future Elite women battles at Bear Claw Epic and Peak to Peak.

Ride of the Day

The ride of the day has to go to Jack Klau. At 11 years old, the kid should be destroying ½ mile kids races, not riders more than twice his age on the long course of races. Jack finished 31st overall in a very deep and strong field – keep an eye on this kid. He’s going to be a world-beater before we know it. The sight of him flying through the woods in one of Braiden’s old Hot Tubes jerseys made it look like a younger Braiden was out there with us.

Kolo Krew

Tim Bottrell was at the race, but you may have not recognized him. He’s down about 35 pounds since last year, and his dedication has been thoroughly rewarded. He took 7th in the stacked men’s 40-49 division and 22nd overall. If you need a little inspiration to eat better and make some smarter health decisions, Tim is proof that the rewards are worth the effort. 

Josh Concannon put on an absolute show in the 30-39 division. He took home the win and placed 25th overall to boot. It’s a heck of a showing from kolo’s diesel engine and an excellent sign that more is to come from him this fall. 

Wes Sovis had a great start, catching back on to the first group after the super-tough first climb. He paid for his early efforts but rode a decent recovery ride to get 3rd in his age group and 36th overall. Most importantly he didn’t have any of the back pain that hampered his return to racing at Traverse City Trails Fest; a great indication of what lies ahead for the fall races. 

Next up for many of the kolo squad will be the Bear Claw Epic at the Cadillac Pathway. It’s a super fun race with the proceeds benefiting improvements to the trails and infrastructure at the venue. Plus, there’s pizza and cookies. It’s a throwback race where the organization is excellent, the racing is fast, but it’s also welcoming to newer riders. It’s a really wonderful event. 

You can check out the full race results from Arcadia here. A big thank you to all the volunteers who stood in the sunshine and heat to make it happen. 

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