After careful consideration, the Ada Shootout was canceled, then immediately relocated to the other side of Grand Rapids. Sources close to the decision say traffic concerns played a massive part in the move, though there were definitely whispers that it was “just cooler over there”.
Heading out from the Hudsonville Middle School, a handsome peloton of roughly 40 riders cruised through the Grand Valley State campus en route to the race loop, located on Linden Road in the heart of the Grand Valley itself, right near the river. After a quick huddle quarterbacked by Mark Hotchkin of Leadout, the race was verily on with a shout. Heading up Motman’s Golden Apple Ascent, the peloton blinked and wiped away a half-hearted rain and face (quite literally) the thick and drenching spray of wheels ahead. Motman’s served as the first of two hard climbs along the 7 mile loop, and perhaps the most decisive.
Almost immediately, the race was torn in two. Ushered along in the lead group were the cream of the crop from teams like Freewheeler, Leadout, Ascension, East Hills and Priority Health. The group pulled away along the rippling route under dark skies but only a light rain before making the turn onto 20th, also known as Lover’s Lane. Heading hard into the wind, the teams played tactics and chose to keep things together early. After one lap, about twenty-five riders were still in with a shout.
The second trip up Motman’s saw a trio go up the road, including two Leadout men. Content and with riders ahead, the Leadout riders sat and watched the rest of the peloton look at one another to give chase. The pace crawled over the summit, only to be brought again to a boil over the top and down the descent. The group was strung out single file, with the break ultimately brought back heading into the wind along Lover’s Lane.
The clouds were threatening and the sun nearly set as the leader’s completed their third lap. The ‘B’ group and those left in between (Yours Truly) set up camp to watch the thrilling conclusion. The skyline was a brilliant orange and pink as the grandstands peered up around the corner that bent into the finishing straight. The sound came first; a grinding, whining whir of tires coming from a group of five or six. With a strong tailwind and a lot left in the legs, the sprint started a long ways out. In the end, it was Peter Beels who emerged from the dusk light to take the first ever Westside Shootout win. East Hills’ Jimmy McMurray took an impressive second place in a very tight sprint. Two Ascension riders rounded out the top spots, though on such a night even second felt like a lesser placing.
Everyone happily regrouped and headed back, reliving the race and telling the glory-stories that come after a very hard effort.
A rather large, warm and heartfelt thanks to all that showed up, raced hard and rode safe at the Shootout. Congrats to Peter and the entire Leadout squad on the victory, one that, we may all assume, they will cherish for years to come. Thanks to Tom Burke, as well, for getting the ball rolling on the event, and may Shootouts pop-up more often in the future.