The second SBFBS race is coming up, and the Series leaders look to open up some daylight in the standings. Jorden Wakeley and Susan Vigland have 4 point leads in the Men’s and Women’s Open categories, but they’ll need to stay ahead of the game at Vasa. John Roe and the Vasa team have unveiled a route that mixes the best of the Winter Sports Singletrack, Riley’s Loop and a short but screaming fast section of the Vasa Pathway to provide a course that challenges everyone.
On the Men’s side, it’s last year’s Series runner up Nick Wierzba with the most to go after, sitting in fourth place after Fat Chance! at Crystal Mountain. With Alex Morton not expected to finish the Series, Wierzba now looks to leap frog Sean “#VanLife” Kickbush. Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing’s Jon Throop should also move into the top five after Vasa, but he’ll be looking to play the long game with solid starts at the final three races to crack the podium.
Erin Reicha, Throop’s teammate, is sitting behind Susan Vigland, and is confident that the Vasa is a solid course for her to offer a challenge. It could be a case of one against two, with Vigland’s Hagerty teammate Velvet Battegeir in third and looking like a totally different rider from 2016.
Dale Plant leads the Men’s Masters, but he isn’t flying in from Bellingham, WA to finish the Series. Dave Hoyt and Hal BeVier will be battling this one out, with Hoyt looking in impressive form after strong riders at Fat Chance and Fat Bike Nationals. He also put on a show at Hanson Hills, and looks to be the rider to watch.
Bonny Hall has the universal four point lead in the Women’s Masters, with last year’s Series winner Birgit Yetter in second spot.
Saturday’s Vasa race comes after what looks to be a roller coaster week in weather, with highs ranging from the high 30s to low teens throughout the week. The midday start Saturday could also play a factor, with temperatures expected to inch close to 40. The groomers have been piling on their efforts and the route should be in the best shape possible, but high traffic and high temperatures may make the second lap a bit softer, which is always telling on tired legs.
The 42km course is largely the same as last year, although the route will be taken in the reverse direction. This means the hills of Riley’s will be slightly steeper and come after a steady dose of singletrack and a drag race on the Pathway. Gaps will be bigger after one lap, and it’s hard to imagine the bunch sprints that typically decide the podium. Aside from a galloping Jorden Wakeley last year, the field sprint saw five riders in action, while a three-man group sprinted for the win in 2015. Cody Sovis was second both of those years, with the Diabetic Australian, Justin Morris, the frozen winner in 2015. In sub-zero weather, Morris was famously found sat almost in the fire back at Timber Ridge, his toes in the flames and his beard a one-piece icicle.
Registration is open for the Vasa, with participation already up from last year.