It was cold, it was windy, and it was damp. Simply, it was the spring edition of the Lowell 50.
Two weeks after the Barry-Roubaix, the gravel die-hards were back in the chill of a slow-to-thaw spring at Fallasburg Park this morning. With temperatures limping over freezing by start time and the wind rather steady near 20mph, it was always going to be a test, even for those already on form.
There were two tales to be told, and the stores were writ in the early miles. After an impressive performance at Barry-Roubaix, WAS Labs was out to prove themselves dominate at Lowell. This publication had guessed the ambition earlier in the week, and it didn’t take long for York, Adams, Young, Burke and Cruishank to make it happen.
Meanwhile, Mackenzie Woodring was looking to avenge a near-miss at Barry-Roubaix, with aims at a clinical, powerful showing at Lowell as the big favorite in the women’s race. A victory Saturday was a point of pride, but the effort it took was what really mattered for Woodring.
The men’s race rolled out sedately, crossing the picturesque covered bridge before the action started to hot up. York, Cruikshank and Burke all sent off half-measured moves, with the field behind at full attention. The first climb away from the river bed ripped the group apart; the second cut it delicately with a tough. The first selection of the day fielded nothing less than the full compliment of WAS Labs, Matt Acker of Freewheeler, Tom Linck of Leadout, Cody Sovis of Einstein Racing, a strong Rob Dutcher and Matthew Light. York put in a speculative dig, with Sovis responding, followed by another WAS Labs probe with Acker pulling it back Another move, now with WAS Labs in pairs, was enough to reduce the chase to heads on swivels, and it was a matter of a minute or so until WAS Labs, with Dutcher clinging on, were into a team time trial.
Sovis, Linck and Acker chased until the 22 mile mark, when the slow leak of Acker’s front wheel knocked him back to the quickly forming chase group of six riders that included Cam Timmer, Light, Dan McGraw (Freewheeler) and some other attentive riders. As WAS Labs rode out of sight in a smooth, circling peloton, Linck and Sovis battered on to stay in the hunt for a top ten finish, eventually ceding nearly 7 minutes to the lead group and clawing out 3 on those behind.
It was simply a matter of who asked politely to take the win, with WAS electing Shawn Adams to take the victory with Adam York alongside. Jason Young and Tom Burke finished it off with Aaron Cruishank, with Robert Dutcher riding to 6th. WAS Labs sweep of the top five cements two amazing performances on the gravel roads.
Mackenzie Woodring was impressing on her own, grinding out the win with a solid 3:18:28 time on the day. She finished safely ahead of Debora Haley and Wendy Zamzow-Blumerick, with the University of Michigan’s Cat Culkin 4th. Einstein Racing’s Beth Collins rounded out the top five, braving the steady wind in a long day of very tough racing.
Full results will be added here when available. The gravel season returns this fall, with the Rock Road 50/50 (TC), Gravel Grinder (Boyne City) and fall edition of the Lowell 50 on October 25.