John, Joeberon and Jason attended Fun promotions XC race at Hanson Hills in Grayling MI. Jason placed 3rd, Joe 6th and John 7th in the Elite Open class.
Hanson wasn't on my list of races but I was in search of some fun and a test track for the new aluminum Quiring 29er. With the help of Keith and Paint Creek Bicycles the new ride was finally finished up Friday night. Don Cameron and Michael Wissink of Specialized were making the drive up to the race Sunday and were nice enough to let me join them. Car pooling is the way to fly nowadays. I was feeling a bit tired but was able to get my heart rate up quite high during the warm up. Pretty good sign for me. The bike felt great but I needed a little more trail time to dial her in. Three 10+ mile laps on a sweet course should do the trick. The Elite field wasn't huge, around a dozen, but it was stacked. Mike Anderson (RBS) and Randy Laprairie (Macomb Cycle) are back in town after lots of hard core training and racing success with the Lees-McRae College powerhouses. In addition we had CX superstar "The Wiss" joining us and a host of other strong guys. My teammate John took the hole shot. Rippin' along behind him was our teammate Jason. Then Anderson, Lapraire and me. Shortly before the first climb Lapraire jammed it and went around John. Anderson followed his move. It was john, Lummis and me just behind breathing hard. We weren't far behind the two leaders when we hit the top. A gap had formed behind us and John buried it keeping Randy and Mike in sight. They were going full on trying to drop us. Eventually Jason went to the front keeping the pace high and keeping the leaders in our sights. The gap was growing a bit but slowly. Jason was riding strong. I thought I'd go around eventually to assist but he kept the pressure on trying to catch those guys. I was starting to feel it late in the first lap, clipped a pedal and bobbled. This created a small gap between Jason and I. I lost sight of him going into a new section of downhill towards the end. Unfortunately I was only looking for Jason rather than a trail/race marker and blew past a (marked)turn. Took me over half a minute before I realized I screwed up. I turned around and got back on track. During this time Wissink (Specialized) and Ron Sanborn (Mclaine Cycle) had gone by and were long gone. Due to the efforts on lap 1 I didn't have it in me to chase at that time. I settled into the last long climb trying to recover a bit. Starting lap 2 I noticed John wasn't far behind. Thankfully!! I was feeling pretty bummed about my mistake and unmotivated. John helped me get my s**t together forcing me to work and hold onto his wheel. Closing in on the 3rd and final lap I started feeling like a bike racer again and began the chase. Eventually I could see I was closing in on Wissink and Sanborn. It was too late however as they were battling hard for the 4th spot. I actually got to see Michael's attack atop the final climb. Pretty cool! In the end I rolled in for 6th 30 or 40 seconds behind them. A pretty sloppy race for me but a fun time on a great course. The bike is awesome! You have to see this thang. Feel free to take it for a test spin too. I'll be out at the Tailwind USAC event this weekend at Brighton. Stop on by. Rumor has it the Sea Otter Semi-Pro Men's Short Track Champion will be in attendance. As well as Team Specialized, Wolverines, American Cycle and Fitness. Any others? Will Team Giant be testing their early season CX form?? This is a great venue and great weekend. Both a TT and ST on Saturday and a super fast XC course on Sunday. Come on out and get crazy!
Hanson hills XC race was on my schedule of to do races. It has some similar feel to the Lumberjack and is a really fun course. I have been getting about 12- 15 hours a week of riding (10 of those are my daily commute to work and home) and throw in a Thursday Night Potto World Championships every week and that is about all I can fit in with work/family obligations. So I have been very happy with my results so far this year.
I meet Dan K at a park and ride on US23 at 6am sunday for the drive up to Grayling (2:45 minutes later with gas fill up). I felt fine as we pre rode 70% of the course, as that was all the time I had for a warm up. My team mates John and Joe where ready to race hard from the gun as John grabed the lead from the word ready ( :>) ). The young guns Mike Anderson and Randy L. jumped to the front over John just before the first climb and got a quick gap. John didn't have it that day and tried to keep us close as the leaders pulled a way slowly. I felt the need to try and close the gap myself and went around John with Joe to close the gap. A little late and no extra jump I couldn't quite make up anymore ground on the 2 ahead. I heard Joe bobble on a climb and he was just falling off my pace as we where coming towards the end of the 1st of 3 laps. I almost missed a turn at the end that I had not pre rode, but was able to find the turn, unfortunately Joe didn't see the turn and lost some time at that point. As I crested the first climb of the course on Lap 2 I could see Ron and The Wiz about 30-40 secs back, I pushed hard thru the 2nd lap and didn't see them again. The 3rd lap was a total shut down where I just hammered the climbs and cruised the trail keeping smooth and flowing. I finished 3rd a couple minutes down from 1st and 2nd and a minute up on 4th and 5th, with an easy 3rd lap I was happy with my efforts and results. Next race Lumberjack ! Maybe Sunday's Brighton XC, I have to work saturday and can't do the whole stage race.
Great race to Mike and Randy glad to see they are improving from last year, looks as if college life in Banner Elk is making them into some strong racers/riders. I hope the keep following thru with their goals.