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PC: Birit Yetter

 

Two days, three season’s worth of weather, and some incredible racing between the vines at 45 North Winery to kick off the Series. And not a single motorbike incident. 

Saturday’s cross country races saw rain, sun, wind and some terrific racing on one of the most underrated courses in the state. Even before the clouds cleared, the rolling, sweeping countryside is creased with vines running east to west to make sure no row is ever in shade. The course weaves through the vineyard and up a steep, twisting singletrack climb to what feels like the roof of Leelanau County before spilling back to the start/finish.

That climb was always going to be the decisive landmark of the day, and smashing into the base of it the first time doesn’t break a rider, the second, third and successive ascents will certainly snap the legs.

The class of the day was quickly apparent, with Jorden Wakeley and Scott Quiring establishing a solid lead in the first time up the climb. The pair was safely away, while Nick Wierzba, Craig Webb, Cody Sovis and Braiden Voss quickly formed the chase group, which was always going to be a fight for the final podium spot.

On the women’s side, it was Katie Clayton’s first taste of the Elite level, and she didn’t have the luxury of simply sticking a toe in to test the waters. Susan Vigland, Marie Voss, and Lauri Brockmiller all rolled up in fine form after Mud, Sweat, and Beers just a week ago, and a cautious eye looking ahead to the Arcadia Grit’n’Gravel next Saturday. Vigland proved herself the best climber of the day, putting time on the ascent every lap and holding her own on the rolling, tough terrain around the vineyard.

Wakeley and Quiring were mostly evenly matched, Wakeley finally pulling free to take an impressive win on his singlespeed. Quiring took second comfortably, while Webb, then Wierzba took advantage of an outnumbered and totally outgunned Sovis, for third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

Vigland’s win means she’s still on track to take what would be a benchmark Triple Crown. MSB, The Barrel Roll, and then next week’s race at Arcadia having the makings of something special, although the lack of local talent willing to test themselves on the toughest of the three courses was notable.

You can check out Susan’s race-winning effort on Strava here. 

Sunday’s Short Track included some of the toughest riders from Saturday, including Vigland. She was back on the bike and back in the lead at the gun, while Webb resumed Saturday’s thumb-wrestling match with Sovis, aided by a galloping Braiden Voss. Sovis tried his hand repeatedly on the fast, twisting descent each 1.8 mile lap, but the elastic hardly stretched, and when it snapped, he was watching first Webb, then Voss bounce away with a lap to go. That’s how the Elite race finished, with a mechanical knocking out Mom’s Day crusher Marie Voss, which saw Vigland escorted to the podium by Katie Clayton.

Here’s Susan’s Short Track Strava file, for comparison to Saturday’s effort.

The FULL USAC results are available here. 

The second race of the Short’s Brewing MTB Series comes at the height of summer. Expect to see everyone back in action on July 29-30 at Merril in Grand Rapids, with the finale coming in Kalamazoo in September.

Murderous May rolls on, with Stage Two of the SOL Giro Competition on Thursday, followed by the Arcadia Grit’n’Gravel on Saturday, May 20. We’ll have a preview up with an updated start list! Can Vigland take the Triple Crown?