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It’s one of the best races of the year, and not just because they have donuts. That doesn’t hurt, though. Another edition of Uncle John’s Dirty Ride is in the proverbial sack. The race starts and finishes at Uncle John’s Cider Mill, where the official cousin of kolo t.c. dips caramel apples on the weekends (seriously) and the heroes, like the donuts, are made by getting totally fried.

It’s really, really fast because it’s really, really flat. Pan flat. Garmins and Wahoos nabbed 400-600 feet of elevation over the 56 mile course, but man, I don’t know where any of that was. After about 60 minutes of riding, I would have punched a baby in the face for a 2% grade, just for some more suitable terrain.

Some Quick Cool Facts:

  1. Collin Snyder wears a 44 shoe. He forgot those shoes, so at the race, he wore a pair of borrowed 46s.
  2. Uncle John’s Cider Mill changed the grease recipe they use for the donuts this year. Could you tell?
  3. The route comes very close to Ashley, Michigan, home of the Ashley Bears. The village had a reported population of 563 people in 2010.
  4. There is no ATM at Uncle John’s Cider Mill.

As always, a bunch of fast people showed up, including strong contingents from OAM Now and Leadout Racing. Numbers are half the game at a race like this, unless you’re really strong, and if you’re Mat Stephens, Dirty Kanza and Barry-Roubaix winner, you don’t even really need to know how to count. As far as we could tell, he couldn’t. Also strong, also possibly numerically challenged, also possibly a male calf muscle model, Dave Koesel, showed up on the new 3T Strada which, 1. I’m not being paid to mention 2. You’re welcome, 3T, hope you guys can cope with the new spike in demand.

The first ten miles were #CLASSIC UJ’s; crazy attacks at 25-32mph, crazy chases at the same speeds, some minor bellyaching, and, for me, a lot of trying to get as low and aero as possible to hide behind the biggest guy I could find (Dan Korienek works good) in between aforementioned chasing and attacking. I only got off the front once or twice, but with the BRILLIANT idea of working for Sean Kickbush, spent a good amount of my day chasing.

Finally, the winning recipe went away. Take one Mat Stephens, replete with aero bars, and throw in Daniel Yankus (OAM) and Dan Korienek (Leadout Racing/Taco Bell/Mountain Dew) AND Koesel, and the race is over. Leaout had four more guys in the chase that ain’t gonna chase, ditto that for OAM, and you’ve got about one-third of the chase group not actually chasing. I mean, that’s smart, that’s how it works. It’s bike racing. Don’t bitch about it.

Now, for the other riders, it’s a matter of settling for a spastic sprint for fifth (which is sure to score you some babes) OR enjoying a cruel, fruitless and slightly Quixotic chase on the front on the slim hope other people with help you. Brendan Sharrot, who is a Kiwi, wanted to win, and he did some big pulls with little “What Do You Do With XS Men’s Race Jerseys?” Earl Hillaker, and Sean, and, you guessed it, me. Why did I chase? Because it’s a 2.5 hour drive and I wanted to get my $48 plus transaction fee’s worth. PLUS, I knew I had a pile of donuts at the finish and cookies at home to eat and I wanted to earn them. #CALORIES

Well, Earl cashed in his chips after a while, and Brendan, too, threw in the towel (or whatever they throw in in New Zealand, maybe cloaks or entire hobbits?) leaving lots of me on the front, with some help from the awesome TC dude Dan Ellis (and my ride to and from the race, thanks again), and still a little Sean. Not tons of Sean, though, because we wanted to turn all of his stunted service industry frustration into a bunch sprint WIN (for fifth place), but we also didn’t want to be out there all afternoon. And not all me, by any means, but lots of me, and enough that I could feel the perfect outline of my cleats through my shoes, like a painful imprint. So, I threw all 147 pounds into the last 15 or so miles of the race. I don’t have a power meter, but if I had to guess, it would have been blinking at me for the last bit. Hills, sure, I’ll go up them. But giving it everything I had, I was barely holding 22-23mph on pan flat and fast gravel. Having Wes there would have been a really big help.

Finally, we were almost back to the cider mill, which was pointed out to me by my aunt and uncle, who were hopping along the route and cheering at different intersections. All those well-rested riders put in a few fliers, and with a mile to go I put in my last long, hard effort, which wasn’t really that long or hard (get your mind out of the gutter). For the first time in a long time, the lights went out at the end of it, and I sort of awkwardly fizzled out into the gutter and watched everyone else fly by.  I cruised in and had a cookie.

Mat Stephens had ridden away for the win, but that breakaway nailed the race and rode incredibly strong. The full results are over here if you want to check it out. Kae Takeshita won the women’s race ahead of Heather Goss. Hey, Kae was on a 3T too! Crazy. (No problem at all, 3T)

Anyway, Steve Smith puts on a great race, and you should do it next year.

Next up for kolo is the Speed of Light WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS this Thursday at 6:30 from the split rail fence. Then, it’s the Bear Claw Epic, which benefits NMMBA and the entire Cadillac tourist industry. Probably.