2013 Northmen Cross - 61

The second race of the series was filled with upsets, crashes and rivalries renewed. 

On a perfect day for cyclocross and on at a venue that might be the most photogenic in the state, Cross the Bay’s second race of the series brought out more racers and more action than ever before. With some faces missing and some imported talent on the line, it was a day where names meant nothing and talent on the course revealed an awful lot.

The Men’s A race, while certainly the fastest, was a boxing match that could have been called a few rounds early. Jorden Wakeley turned a 35 second gap on the second lap into a stolen march that turned half the race into a lap of honor. Behind, John Cowan and Chad Wells traded turns until Wells’ tire gave way, leaving Cowan to plow a lonely furrow. Behind, it took some last lap heroics for some Canadian guy named Jan to take the final podium spot from big Todd Freidinger. The Diesel held a tremulous lead with one to go, and the final descent saw him bow out of third place. Behind, Bennett Paul, Ryan Kushman, Jake Ellis all battled to finish on the mucky course that seemed to be almost 50% off camber.

The Women’s A race went off early, and the battle went to Bobbie Liegl. Einstein Racing’s Chelsea Strate came out fighting before sliding back into third on the day, a great 2013 debut. She was joined by teammate Stacy Smith, who once again went double-duty in both the A and the B race, with a third place in the B as a reward.

Perhaps the battle of the day came from the Juniors race. The undefeated Hailey Fogo went up against the imported juggernaut of Claire Reeves. Fogo, yet to have ceded victory in almost two years, rode a brilliant race. Early on, Reeves was tucked in behind Einstein Racing teammates Chelsea Strate and Stacy Smith as they rode behind leader Pam Bufe. As the lead group splintered, Fogo was in no-man’s land behind a storming Reeves, who dropped Smith and rode off in search of a gap. Behind, Fogo rode with unmatched determination, racing not for second place but to catch the leader and take the win. If the mark of a true champion is to search for victory in dark and sundry places, Fogo earned the title  today.

Reeves kept a steady pace and took her first Cross the Bay win in conditions that suited her far better than the heat of Lansing CX on Saturday.  Luke Whittet wheeled his full-suspension way into third place. Madison Reynolds rode into third place late as Fogo folded, unable to ride after chasing so hard for so long. She finished up fourth place on the day, with the NCCS boys coming in a short time later.

The Men’s B was again the biggest field and the most competitive, at least from the gun. Algoma Bicycle Co. was again down in force, though without Kim Chapman. Paul DeBeer went out in search of glory, taking the hole shot and riding the mud section smart before new Einstein Racing signing Cody Sovis put in a dig. The idea was to force the pace and draw out NCCS’s duo of Trever Kingsbury and Ross Gibbs. The tactic worked, but the results weren’t as anticipated. Kingsbury stormed off and grabbed a lead of a few seconds, with Sovis, DeBeer and Wes Sovis queued up in pursuit. A blown tire knocked Cody off the bike and directly into the way, opening up the gap  as riders plowed through the carnage around a tight corner.

Kingsbury proved himself head and shoulders above the rest, while the field began to bicker for the podium spots. Wes Sovis rode strong but fell to fifth place on a day where Hagerty Cycling had big ambitions. Jake Ellis was in the mix until a bad crash knocked him out, forcing him onto a gracious Kingsbury’s bike for the A race. DeBeer, Ryan Kushman and Tim Bottrell filled the top five, with great rides coming from ABC’s Jason Luther and Einstein Racing’s Rob Goepfrich and Jim Picotte.

The Men’s C race pitted some serious rivals elbow-to-elbow. With Breezeway Cross winner Jim Picotte up in B and second place finisher Austin Johnson training at altitude, it looked like a wide-open chance at victory. Steve Wright closed that door on a fat bike early, though the race behind was dramatic and heated. Einstein Racing’s Keith Conway mounted the pursuit while a crashed Garrett Hein gathered himself for the tall task of reeling in Wright. Recovered, the silky-smooth Hein made steady progress, especially in the off-camber descent to the line. Conway rode himself into the ground, bravely battling like Fogo for the win, not the placing. He fell back on the day, with Hein giving lasting challenge and taking a solid second place finish.

Cross the Bay Cyclocross continues next Sunday with Crystal Cross. It’s a the capstone on the Peak2Peak Mountain Weekend, with a number of racers planning racing Peak2Peak the day before. It’s also the Short Pant Showdown. Racers are encouraged to sport either Jorts (jean shorts) or capris (knickers) for the race. A points system may or may not be devised for race day.