Horsepower will count, but not for as much as usual at the 2017 Traverse City Trails Festival presented by Short’s Brewing.
The riders who love to turn finally have their day, with 40 miles of tough and technical singletrack to navigate after leaving Ranch Rudolf. Aside from a mile or two of gravel road at the beginning and end, there is hardly more than a few minutes of wide-open riding, and that suits the style of most of the riders taking on the Elite racers this weekend. Singletrack Specialists of the World Unite, this one’s for you.
The course has obviously been stewing in Tom White’s mind for some time now, and what he’s created has been praised by even the most discerning racers in the area. The web of trails uses some of the best sections in the area, and does a brilliant job of using local favorites and new stuff, too. It’s easy to look at it as X100-60, but in fact, he’s done a great job of changing and reverse many parts from how those trails are usually ridden.
It’s really M22’s race to lose, with three of the strongest riders all on the same team. Jorden Wakeley is the big favorite, with Sean Kickbush and Jason Johnson proven riders capable of getting onto the podium. The podium will be hotly contested, with the likes of Eric O’Hearn a brilliant bike handler, although he’s a bit unproven over such a long race, with a top time expected to be between 2:45 and 3 hours.
That long ride is also uncharted territory for singletrack master Tim Pulliam of Keen Technical Solutions. His handling isn’t in question, but he’s a bit of a question mark over the two-hour mark. If he’s in touch, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the finale.
One rider who will only get stronger as the day wears on is Hagerty’s only starter on the Men’s side, Josh Zelinski. He’s a diesel engine and our own Wes Sovis once called him “a sight to be seen” in the singletrack. If he survives the opening salvos on the gravel, you have to expect him to be in the hunt.
The youngest rider in the Elite field is a contender as well. Cam Owens is in for TCTF, and he’s been upping his mileage over the past few weeks to be prepared for the long day ahead. Aside from a short recovery from some dental work, he’s been dialing in his training and if he can bring the same top ten legs from Mud, Sweat and Beers, he’s going be in the top five, no question.
By far this race has to be music to the very ears of Luke Tjosvold. As he trails for Marji, the route, the singletrack, the distance and the timing couldn’t be any more perfect for his training and his style of riding. Behind Wakeley, he has to be the biggest favorite of the race, and on this course, anything less than a podium would have to be a disappointment, and also a bit of a surprise. Luke will be in the final selection, there’s no doubt; just how he finishes it off will determine whether that’s for second, third, or a top five.
What, wait the hell? Is there an apocalypse on or something? Cody Sovis is signed up for a mountain bike race that has more than a dozen turns. Can someone tell him, or at least make sure a parent or legal guardian has signed his permission slip?
The women’s race is, as always, small but extremely competitive. It’s a race that has Beth Craven’s name all over it, and few women know these trails as well as her. She’s got the mileage to be ready for a three hour race and the ability to split the route up into sections and take a few seconds every mile just through her bike handling that could really add up.
Another rider that almost needs a good three hours to get hot and lathered is McLain’s Megan Doerr. She’s a rider that can sneeze out 100 miler after 100 miler, and her steady riding style is a marked contrast to the smooth but snappy Craven. If she’s close with 10 miles to go, she’s going to be a hard rider to bet against.
Hagerty sends Laura Webb and Barb Beauregard to the Elite/Expert race, with Webb a serious contender for the win. She’s a rider that can latch on to a group, lock jaws, and never let go. It’s a style that keeps her in any race and can start to really pile on the pressure as the morning wears on. If it’s hot, if it’s dry, and if she’s within eyesight of the leader, she packs a sprint that probably tops everyone else. Beauregard, “La Petite Princess”, is back and will be looking to nab a podium through sheer indomitable consistency. We’re always rooting for Barb.
YOU can still get in for the Fest, which is the main fundraiser for Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association. The funds from this event will play a huge role in the organization’s projects in 2017, 2018 and beyond.
Also, we still have THREE free registrations for kids! If you’re under 18 and are up for the 8 mile kids’ race or 25 miler, the first three to email firstname.lastname@example.org get ’em.