It was a day for the favorites, the gusty, and the bike shops with a healthy supply of brake pads in stock.
Since its debut, Mud, Sweat and Beers has boldly slotted in the beginning of May. The weather has, on the whole, worked out flawlessly. Even with the forecast calling for some showers, many held out hope for dry weather.
The heavens opened up just as the opening starters rolled to the line, and they were the lucky ones. The later waves were exposed as they waited their turn to spill out around Mt. Holiday, with a trademark mud pit lurking around the first few curves. In the Pro race, two-time winner Jorden Wakeley took the lead with Nate St. Onge and Matt Acker on the wheel as they curved out of side. Bridgit Widrig and Lauri Brockmiller were within arm’s reach, with Melissa Colflesh not far off.
MSB is famously selective early on Heart Attack (or Will Power) Hill just a mile into the race. Wakeley led Acker clear over the 8% gradient and onto the one mile stretch of pavement, with Ryan Kennedy losing a chain and contact just at the steepest part of the climb. A rolling fix and the joining of Cody Sovis gave Kennedy a long shot of bridging up, but Wakeley and Acker were on a rail heading into the woods.
The course this season was a big change from previous additions, and in a downpour, the added singletrack sections were especially challenging. Going from sand pit to mud pit, the tight turns opened up huge gaps in every race. Wakeley held a minute and forty seconds over Acker nearing the halfway mark, with the Einstein Racing duo of Kennedy and Sovis doing their all to hold Acker at 40 seconds more. Their teammate, St. Onge, was on the move as well, coming past Trever Kingsbury and smoothly navigated the singletrack.
Widrig was slowly compiling an impressive lead over her teammate, and it was before the halfway point when it became clear that the two would swap positions on the podium from last year. Behind, Colflesh was hopping in with Expert waves whenever possible trying to close the gap, but it was a tall ask against two local riders with intimate knowledge of the new sections.
Wakeley completed his third MSB victory with a healthy lead over a flying Matt Acker. The Freewheeler rider wasn’t too far behind The Grayling Giant, and is looking great ahead of a busy race season. Einstein Racing represented well on home turf, slotting Ryan “Mr. President” Kennedy in third place, with Cody Sovis and Nate St. Onge rounding out the top five.
Widrig managed a five minute gap over Brockmiller, giving Hagerty another 1-2 in the Pro Women’s race. Colflesh raced to a terrific third place, with Melissa Socia rolling in fourth.