The wonderful folks at North Country Cycle Sport and Einstein Cycles spearheaded the Cross the Bay CX Series. If you missed this one, your life is not complete. 

It was, perhaps, the best atmosphere of any cycling event of 2012. Nestled in the beautiful hamlet of East Jordan, the first stop of the series was a brilliant way to get the CX going in Northern Michigan. A great turnout from riders all over the region came out in droves to participate on a tough course that left exactly zero room for error, but a lot of room for great competition.

The C race started off and Hell Yes’ Ryan Bolin joined Einstein Racing’s John Ammond off the front for much of the race. Over the long lap, the pair pulled out a sizable gap over riders like Rob Goepfrich, who gave a brave but forlorn chase. In the Junior race, Haley Fogo broke the boy’s with some skillful sand-riding and took a massive win. Obviously, her next move is to sign with Specialized-luluelemon. Give it time. Blake Courtright  finished up second, but the Chapeau of the Day goes to Zac Bachus. Bachus earned the “One Armed Bandit” award after racing with a broken arm and lifting his bike over the barriers with one hand. The Herculean effort earned the applause of everyone on the course, and won the young man a few fans for life.

The Women’s C was veritably ran away with, and Amy Haney is now legally obligated to move up. She was chased by Christina Balch and Nancy Lange to round out the podium.

The B race was close for only about a lap. Einstein Racing’s Bennett Paul (he’s also co-founder of  Team Yellow) started near the back but took just about seven minutes to weave his way to the front. He got a gap of about 15″ ahead of NCCS’ future Tour de France winner, Ross Gibbs, that held for a long time until Paul slowly pulled away. He had enough of a gap to survive a crash on the last lap to take the win ahead of Gibbs, who absolutely tore himself inside out in a brave chase, but had to settle for second. Einstein’s Chris Kushman, doggedly within spitting distance of Gibbs the entire race, slotting in third to give Einstein two spots on the podium. 

The main showdown between Einstein’s Jorden Wakeley and the deadly duo of Chad Wells and John Cowan of NCCS capped of the day appropriately. In spite of fielding the likes of John Leach, Ty Schmidt and Jason Lowetz, Einstein couldn’t get support up to Wakeley as the Giant of Grayling dueled for much of the day. After a bad start, Wakeley took just a lap to ride past the entire field to get to the wheels of a hard-charging tandem of Wells and Cowan off the front. The NCCS pair were working well but changed tactics when Wakeley joined. After a brief but high-speed cease-fire, the NCCS boys played numbers and started throwing attack after stinging attack at Wakeley. One would go, forcing Wakeley to follow and giving the other NCCS a ride back. Wells did much of the working-over, and after about three laps fell off the pace.

Cowan, with a teammate not far behind, rode hard for a short while before forcing Wakeley to the front. For the rest of the race the pair slowly rode the rest of the field into the ground, gaining a 30 second advantage over Wells and over a minute to anyone else. Wakeley refused to slow down the race and play cat and mouse, relying on his horsepower to try for the win. It wasn’t to be, and Cowan put in a perfectly timed move to take the win, with Wells happy to hang on for third.

The Women’s race wasn’t quite as close, with Kim Chapman jogging through the sand pits and away with the win ahead of Laura Mendelez and NCCS’ Tina Dominic. Tina, it should be noted, did a wonderful job on her mountain bike, which may have been a burden save the deep sand pits that were so loose by the end of the day that Yours Truly lost a Chewy granola in it. Seriously.

A huge thanks goes out to NCCS, who put together a great race and fielded the classiest racers and volunteers around. A special nod to Chad Wells and John Cowan for being class acts and for the work they do with the younger racers on NCCS’ squad.

Full Gallery of Free Photos! Wow! What a Value! 

The next stop in the Cross the Bay series is Norsemen Cross in Petoskey on Sunday, October 21.