The first one is always a bit special, and on a big day in the Pere Marquette Forest, Jorden Wakeley and Lauri Brockmiller held it perfectly against some stacked fields. Ranch Rudolf played host to an incredible morning of mountain biking. NMMBA‘s board put together a challenge course and the weather cooperated, as if according to plan. A lazy drizzle gave way to sunshine on the line, with temperatures carefully avoiding 80 degrees.
A ferocious start up the opening climb saw the 40 mile mass start stretch out at about the rate of Jorden Wakeley’s gear ratio. The elastic snapped over the top with a short move from Cody Sovis, which saw a lead group of six, then eight start to move clear. Jorden Wakeley kept the pace high, with Cam Owens tucked carefully in second and a strong group of riders slowly open daylight on the bunches collecting behind. That leading move was together for most of the afternoon, with riders exploding off the back of it like a rocket discarding spent boosters. First, it was Sovis knocked out with a mechanical, then John O’Hearn popped 40 minutes later, then Tim Pulliam cracked soon after, with Owens and Wakeley kept company by Luke Tjosvold and Josh Zelinksi.
On the women’s side, a strong start from Brockmiller saw her stay in touch with the second group of Expert men on the trail after the decisive climb. Over the few miles of two-track, that group pried open some big gaps to riders behind, and put Brockmiller in a position to let her skills do the rest. Gliding through the singletrack, she was always near the front of the chase group and began to slowly open up daylight. Megan Doerr led the chase ahead of Laura Webb, with Beth Craven, Sandra Dunn and Barb Beauregard coming in behind and applying a bit of pressure.
Mid-way thorugh the race, Luke Tjosvold moved ahead of the men’s field, and a brief disagreement behind saw him sneak away to a bit of a lead before Cam Owens’ orange Norte kit bounded back into contact. Wakeley saved it for later in the day, eventually using the late rolling hills to move well clear and force the chasers to turn their attentions to podium places. Josh Zelinski rode a smart and smooth race all day, but couldn’t react to Tjosvold’s final move, and had to settle for fourth in a mad dash to the line against Owens. Sovis and O’Hearn rolled in some minutes down for fifth and sixth place, respectively.
Brockmiller didn’t even have anyone in the rearview mirror, nearly five minutes clear on the day. That didn’t stop here from staying on the gas all the way to the line, however, with an emphatic final pedal stroke just as her front wheel crossed the marker. It was a sort of exclamation point on an impressive win, and the sort of effort that serves as a reminder of what a complete rider she can be. Megan Doerr was next through, just ahead of a steady Laura Webb. Beth Craven was fourth, although it’s hard to imagine anyone having more fun than Sandra Dunn and Barb Beauregard, who were fifth and sixth.
The race raised money for NMMBA’s trail maintenance, winter grooming efforts, and advocacy efforts in the region. It was a huge success, with over 200 racers and tourers enjoying a morning in the woods. Of course, Short’s Brewing Company provided plenty of support, with a well-earned shoutout to Tim Reicha for his volunteering and beer slinging efforts today.
YOU can check out the full results from Endurance Evolution on the TCTF site.
Check out Cam’s Strava file here. He’s, like, 9 years old.