The Big Dance is in the books, and so is the first ever points title for Northern Michigan Fat Bikes Series.
The inaugural season was wrapped up at St. Fatty’s Day today, utilizing the famous circuit that including climbs, white knuckle descents and the much-craved open avenues of the picturesque golf course and resort in Gaylord. The cold, crisp and sunny weather drew out a number of new racers and those familiar faces as well for the final showdown of the fat bike season.
The first big move happened well before the course was even finished. Series leader Chris Kushman bowed out due to illness, opening the door for teammate Jorden Wakeley to shimmy his tall self into the final lead. The only challenge for the points lead would come from another Einstein Racing teammate, Ryan Kennedy. The victory for the day would be well-fought, with the legendary Scott Quiring looking to take a big win and Einstein Racing Jason Lowetz trying to get off the second step of the podium to see the view from up top.
The Women’s points series was wrapped up in 14 minutes. With a single lap in and certain points on the day, Chelsea Strate had technically finished off a clean sweep of the NMFBS calendar. But Strate, in the pattern of a true champion, wanted nothing less than a victory in the last race of the series, and took a commanding lead after just one lap. The Norweigian-by-way-of-Minnesota absolutely flew, and she won by two laps over Melissa Ryba. Strate’s time was actually good enough to have her in the top fifteen of the men’s race. Hagerty-TOLaw U-25 phenom Maddi Miller took third, battling with Christina Peek and Michelle Ryan on the final lap. The trio were all shoulder to shoulder with a half mile to go, and Maddi scrambled past Peek with less than 200 meters remaining to secure yet another podium finish.
Jorden Wakeley made sure the race and the series wouldn’t be in doubt from the very start. His dominance was hardly entertaining, except to watch the mastery of passing through worsening trail conditions. Perfectly groomed in the morning, the sun came out and melted the surface of the course to a rather silky style of mashed potatoes. By the third lap, entire portions were torn up to the point of being unrideable. Long legs and steady lungs paid off, with Wakeley putting one lap on second place and two laps on third and fourth. Behind, Quiring rode perhaps the smoothest race of all, relying on supple handling and the experience to stay calm. Lowetz gave him a good fight, but eventually settled for third ahead of a fighting Ryan Kennedy. Kennedy seemed to develop his handling skills as the day went on, eventually settling into as best a rhythm as possible. It wasn’t enough to take the series, but it looks to have kept him in second place for the series final.
Congratulations to Wakeley and Strate on their double wins today (race and series), to everyone who race, and to Northern Michigan Fat Bike Series on a great four-event season. Chapeau!
We’ll have the official series points once they’ve been confirmed, which is contingent on doping control results.