Be it by a thread, road racing is still alive in Michigan. And after the 2022 Cherry-Roubaix, don’t be surprised to see more road events eek out a spot on the already crowded cycling events calendar.
Saving Cherry-Roubaix required a merger. The Bike Benzie Grand Fondo has occupied the early June slot for a decade but has never broken out of its 100-or-so participants. Various iterations of the event were tried: grand fondos, team time trials, and a gravel event. But it took the weight of the ethereal Roubaix, Northern Michigan’s road event that just won’t give up, to make a difference.
Bike Benzie has been making a difference locally for years. Proceeds from the event go to the Benzie Sunrise Rotary and much of the money goes directly to supporting local school programming to help the region’s underserved kids. It’s an event we’ve always felt good about supporting and the state championship road race designation was a great way to get more riders to Crystal Mountain for the event.
Cherry-Roubaix 62 Mile Race
Over 100 riders toed the line for what ended up being a combined CAT 1-4 field, including Masters. It was a huge turnout and some were hesitant (*raises hand*) about the safety of such a large and competitive field starting together on a one-lane course. The quality of the field, however, kept it safe; there were hardly any inexperienced racers on the line and it showed in how smooth a large group rolled south toward the Manistee River.
Aside from a race vehicle hitting a rider early on (that’s why there’s a yellow line rule, guys) and the predicted pile-up in the sprint finish (that’s why Fausto Coppi always won solo, guys) the race was largely a series of 30-second sprints. There were several early and speculative moves (*raises hand*) with Base Media’s baker’s dozen sending one rider clear and policing the counterattacks all morning long.
Jesse Siemen won the overall after a long, long, long solo. At one point, he held more than 4 minutes on the barely-chasing bunch before a series of climbs and attacks saw the bunch slowly reel him in. In the bunch gallop, Kyan Olshove let home a 25-ish rider strong group through a sinuous final mile. Kyle Dankert and Luca Haines founded out the top five…but we see you, DIRTy Mitten Racing League alum Joey Bianchini!
Josh Concannon led the way for the kolo t.c. squad in 12th place. He was always in a great position and rarely without teammates Patrick Cotant and Ryan Reiter lurked nearby.
Reiter, racing in the Masters category (how did we all get so old?) was fourth, with kolo-pal Kyle Macdermaid taking the win. A special nod to the Silent Assassin, Dan Hofstra, in 5th and a flying Dan Madion coming in just behind Paul Olson in 15th. Kudos to the Hagerty Masters team for showing up strong!
Cherry-Roubaix 45 Mile Women’s Elite Race
The women’s race couldn’t have been much closer. Over half of the field was together late, with Bethany Aebli taking the win in a time of 2:20, just 3 seconds clear of Kari Alsager. Kristi Neeld, Bridgett Widrig and Christina Vipond rounded up the top five.
There was some hope that the women would be slotting into the 62-mile event. Adding that option and potentially dividing the 100-rider field could offer a safer and possibly very different racing dynamic in 2023.
Cherry-Roubaix 34-Mile Junior Race
Those darn kids are fast. Hunter Post took the 15-18 Junior win just tenths of a second ahead of “Our Boy” Drew Cummins. Jonathan Meyer was this, with nearly the entire field finishing within 2 seconds.
Camille Natter took the women’s 15-18 win in what was one of the only non-sprint finishes of the day. Charlotte Roskinski was seconds, with Cosette Serrano (GREAT name) third. Elizabeth Defauw and Amelia Werner both finished up their days, beating everyone who stayed home on their couches watching The Rifleman re-runs.
Braden Tall just barely tool the win against Donald Smith in the Men’s 9-14, with Maja Kwaiser and Fiona Lafferty going 1-2 on the women’s side.
Ann Arbor has something big going on; a big majority of the Junior racers were from the A2 area. Must be something in the water.
Next weekend, join us at 8am from Darrow Park for the Less Cancer Bike Ride America! The Less Cancer Bike Ride is a month-long challenge to pedal the path of prevention. This year, TC is hosting an 80-mile ride to Northport and back. Join us for the full ride or just part of the way; every mile matters. Learn more.