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With the annual mark of mountain bike season, the Yankee Springs TT, moved back, Mid-Michigan Community College’s Rust Shaker is the first chance to test the legs on the singletrack.

Known for a rough, even rocky course with a few punchy climbs tossed in for good measure, the mountain bikers of Michigan will have their first shot of the season to impress at Rust Shaker, April 26. Just a week before Mud, Sweat and Beers, it’s perfectly placed to give racers a chance to test themselves in the woods ahead of a big test.

The race is an annual warm-up for Northern Michigan’s finest, with John Cowan, Chad Wells, Jorden Wakeley and others typically making starts in Harrison, Michigan. Nestled on the campus of Mid-Michigan Community College, it’s a cozy little race that is tougher than most anticipate. While the course is wearing in, in years past, the roots, rocks and tough turns have knocked the stuffing out of racers, especially those not accustomed to riding in such conditions. The course itself is otherwise fast and open, with a handful of choke points punctuating what is otherwise open enough for quick passing.

Jorden Wakeley is confirmed to return to the race as a tune-up for Mud, Sweat and Beers, with Einstein Racing’s Dave Walston and Wes Sovis slated to join Matt LaVasseur in the Pro/Expert men class. Einstein’s Stacy Smith is the lone woman racer thus far, but there’s plenty of time for others to hop in. The Pro/Expert classes will take on two 13 mile laps, with winning times expected to be comfortably under two hours for the faster riders, and around two for a mid-pack finish. More riders are expected to sign up last minute, but it’s typically a rather intimate affair, with small fields watching each other early before being slowly torn apart over the tough singletrack sections.