In weather more suited for July than late October, one of the biggest editions of Peak2Peak saw sun, speed, and one of the fastest fields in the event’s 12 years.
Lured from the couches and Out’n’Backs and cyclocross races by impeccable weather and a huge field, Crystal Mountain played host to perhaps the best edition of Peak2Peak to date. Founder’s Brewing fueled the day as sponsor, brewery, and even had their man Jeff Jacobi on the mic for a full day of racing that began at 9:30 with the Sport and Beginner races.
It’s worth noting the dozens of #YOUTHS that started the morning races, including a massive contingent of orange-clad Norte Varsity and Junior Varsity riders aged 14 and under. They took on Kona Grassroots/Central District Cyclery’s Hayden Fox on the slopes of the ski hill, and the big crowds at the top saw just how tough these kids are. Kyan Olsove was one of the fastest Sport riders period, while Carter Schmidt and Will Unger joined Fox on the 14 and Under podium. Make sure you give these kids their propers when you see them toeing up at Iceman in two weeks.
In the Elite race, both the men and women saw big start lists and an interesting mix of talents. Peak2Peak always has 5-6 top riders, and a handful of riders that can only really hope to push them. Not this year. After a regroup at the bottom of the ski hill, the men’s race had 16 riders in touch after the first lap, the biggest peloton at that distance in years.
The start was, as is the custom, blisteringly quick, with Cody Sovis doing his camera time to try to put 3T Q+M Scotty Albaugh into the first stretch of singletrack first. Because of, or in spite of, hard to say, Albaugh railed the opening turns of the race and put a huge gap in the field, with last year’s winner, Alex Vanias, caught behind. Vanias paired with Dan Korienek to bring the chase group back to the leaders just before the ski hill, where the race exploded.
Who had made the first selection was already telling; Jorden Wakeley, Cole House, Brad White, Peter Karinen, Dan Yankus and a few others were still near the front when the trail tilted up, and along with Scott Quiring and Albaugh, the selection was essentially made after one.
Behind, the race exploded, with Nate Williams finding himself with Braiden Voss latched on and Cody Sovis chasing just ahead of Nick Wierzba. Sovis would catch, but the lead group had long since slipped away, with the sheer firepower of those riders enough to make up for what we’ll politely term a cold lack of cooperation from certain parties therein.
In the women’s race, the field was largely paired up. Kaitlyn Patterson came through after one lap with Susan Vigland, while Lauri Brockmiller and Marie Voss were just about a minute behind. As is often the case, the waves of Men’s Expert riders played into the tactics of leaders and chasers alike, with Kaitlyn unable to get clear without Susan coming back on the flats either under her own formidable steam or with help from the machinations of other riders. The effort drew the pair ahead, with Brockmiller eventually moving clear of Voss and looking for friendly wheels to motor her chase.
In the end, Kaitlyn proved irresistible on the climb, coming home to another Peak2Peak win over a minute clear of a strong Vigland. Brockmiller kept Voss behind her to take third in a stacked podium that survived a deep field.
The men’s lead group kept their lead despite some massive efforts behind. Albaugh posted the fastest time on the second lap, with a full seven riders in contact heading out for the final circuit. It was singletrackers vs. climbers, and Albaugh staked his day in the fast, flowy turns early. Always present and correct, Pete Karnin rode smart and never lost a wheel, even as the gamesmanship ramped up. In the finale, Quiring, White, Vanias, and Albaugh couldn’t take the pace up the ski hill, but Karnin could. He put in a flying descent to dethrone two former winners and take a P2P win.
House came through second ahead of Wakeley, with Albaugh and White rounding out the top five. Braiden Voss flew in the final half of the last lap to drop Sovis and sweep up Alex Vanias for seventh, while his fellow #YOUTH Justin Kreger put in an awesome ride to round out the top ten.
We’d like to thank Endoman Promotions, Velocity USA, and Founder’s Brewing Co. for bringing us this great event at the best venue in Northern Michigan, Crystal Mountain. Seriously. We’re really lucky to have a mountain bike race.
You can check out Kaitlynn’s race-winning Strava file right here.
You can see who had the fastest time up the ski hill right here…and you may be surprised to learn it’s a retiree.
The full results are available here.