With the Michigan Queen of the Spring Classics just a few weeks off, Michigan’s mountain bikers are readying the legs with long rides at the VASA or by taking the start line at the Rust Shaker

This race has happily been the best kept secret around in past years, but it’s quality course and field has drawn record numbers already for the 2012 edition. Located at the Mid Michigan Community College campus in Harrison, Michigan, the Rust Shaker is a true challenge for all abilities and is a perfect warm-up and test a few weeks ahead of Mud, Sweat and Beers. Over the past few weeks, the Rust Shaker is the number one race link clicked from kolotc.com, and the race is getting more and more attention from area athletes.

The race has a added an extra 1.25 miles to the 11 mile lap from previous editions. Racers chose from one lap or two based on Pro or Sport category. For the elder gents, an Open Vet class of two-lappers over the age of 45 is also an option for those looking to really test their legs and gains from spring training.

Loyal kolo t.c. contributor Joe Sovis (pictured above, on his way to glory at Pando in 2011), riding for GTMTBA.com, recently reconned the course and reports back that it is a bike-handler’s race. Technical sections dot a singletrack that has some wide-open areas with great passing spots. The climbs are mostly gentle and don’t have massive elevation gains, but will definitely break up the pack early on in the race. The start of the race comes on pavement, and Joe anticipates a drag race for positioning before making the turn onto the singletrack. He will be racing in the Vet Open two lap race in his debut for the new GTMTBA mountain bike squad.

Last year’s Pro category champion Jorden Wakeley is already signed on to defend his title a few weeks before his first big test of the NUE Series kick-off race, the Cohutta 100. His five minute win over John Cowan last year was impressive, though he can expect another strong field ready to take on the Einstein Racing juggernaut.

The Rust Shaker kicks off at 10.30am this Saturday in Harrison. Wakeley is the big favorite, and won’t let a broken hand stop him from another win. There’s your prediction, folks!