Cross the Bay returned post-Iceman with a huge field and some outstanding racing.
Civic Center Cross is a pretty big deal in Northern Michigan. Some of the best riders in the area took their bikes back into the thick of things a few weeks removed from the Iceman Cometh. Riders from Einstein Racing, Hagerty Cycling and North Country Cycle Sport learned that there is still an awful lot of extremely fun bike racing left to do after that big one in Kalkaska.
The race drew one of the biggest fields in series history for one of the most demanding courses. With a tough sand section, barrier and winding run through the trees, the early obstacles created some series gaps early in most of the races, with the C race being no exception. City Bike Shop’s Glen Ruczynkski rolled through fast and seized the lead early, chased hard by Rob Goepfrich and Epic Happen’s Spencer Payne. Payne used is expert singletrack skills to keep it tight through the tight sections, with Rob putting the pressure on in the wide open grass sections. Up front, Glen rolled away slowly but steadily, pushing a huge gear and riding a sort of time trial away from the field. Emily Savickis rallied from a poor start to come up with a big win, while Girl Power reigned supreme yet again for Haley Fogo. Fogo has won every Junior’s race on the Cross the Bay Series calendar so far, and she’ll be back for race four in December to try and make it a clean sweep.
The Men’s B race was stacked, with multiple state road champions taking the line. Einstein Racing’s John Leach and Ryan Bolin were the favorites on the line, with teammate Chris Kushman looking to make it a Black Train at the front of the race. Hagerty’s Craig Webb and Steve Andriese made their Cross the Bay debut, flanked by Jake Ellis, Tim Jenema, Cody Sovis and Wes Sovis. Dave Bucholtz made his second start of the day, in an attempt to work off his two-weeks-of-eating-at-Disney training regime heading into late November. North Country Cycle Sport put Ross Gibbs on a cyclocross bike and armed him with Trevor Kingsbury, who pulled hard to keep Ross in touch with the leaders. Einstein’s Mickey Humpula powered his way into the second chase group after two laps, riding with Gibbs for most of the race as they tried to reel back the flying leaders.
In the Women’s B, Michelle Howard took on Arianne Whittaker. The two raced nearly 5 laps within spitting distance of each other, with Howard staying away to the line with Arianne just a few meter back all of the time.
The Men’s race broke up late, with John Leach battling with Andriese all the time, with Craig Webb, Jake Ellis and Ryan Bolin making up a very fast chase group a short ways back. In the end, Andreise used his aerodynamic advantage to take the win, with Leach a close second on the day. Andriese was later disqualified for being, and I quote “too aerodynamic”. So, Leach wins and Andreise looked cool.
The Men’s A race was a star-studded event. Iceman Cometh 4th placer Mike Anderson from BISSELL made the trip looking for his first win on a cyclocross bike. Einstein Cycles Boss Jason Lowetz came out gunning for the hole shot, with the North Country Cycle duo of John Cowan and Chad Wells ready to defend their points standing places. East Hill Velo rider and total badass Aaron Beebe made the long trip north from Grand Rapids with some serious goals. After battling with some of the best downstate riders, he came to TC looking to measure himself against the best of the great white north.
After Lowetz took a blistering hole shot with Mike Anderson on his wheel, the battle of the day took shape. Beebe and Chad Wells rode with ten meters of each other for almost the entire day. After a mechanical took Lowetz out of the top five, Einstein’s hopes fell to the very, very Canadian Ty Schmidt and Ryan Kennedy. Mike Anderson had over fifteen seconds on the first lap and had the race in the bag by lap three, with Wells and Beebe locked in a death match for third place, with John Cowan lurking a short ways behind.
A crash in the sand section and a slip on the off-camber stretch finally separated Wells and Beebe, and then it was every man for himself. The Women’s race saw Johanna Schmidt, of Top Banana Competition fame, rode comfortably to the win ahead of equally comfortable Chelsea Strate. The Einstein Racing teammates cruised for six laps, with tired and slumping riders circling and hoping for the bell to ring for one more lap.
Anderson cruised through for the win with a huge margin, with Wells and Beebe rounding out the podium. Tim Bottrell threw in an extra lap just for good measure, and the fans applauded the tough riders for completing an extremely tough but fun course.
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Thanks to Einstein Cycles, North Country Cycle Sport, Bike Lap, Erg! and everyone who helped to make this such a great race. The final Cross the Bay race is December 9, right back at the Civic Center. Be there.