Mud, Sweat, and Beers 2018: A Recap

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After months of snow and ice, all of Northern Michigan felt we were due for a sunny Mud, Sweat, and Beers. The endless hours on indoor trainers, bundled-up rides on “balmy” 38 degree days, and the numerous almost-lost toes after doing twenty-minutes too many on fat bikes and XC skis sort of meant that we felt Mother Nature owed us one.

In the week leading up to the race, it rather looked as if Mother Nature was going to bone us out of a decent MSB. If it weren’t for the hard work of the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association guys and some fortuitous rainstorms, 4-inch tires would easily have been the weapon of choice for the day. However, we were gifted with by far the nicest day of the spring on Saturday, which brought out perhaps the biggest number of spectators in the race’s nine years of existence. The only questions about the rain that remained were; how would the course ride with so much new singletrack, and, who would take the Elite titles?

Concerning the course, it was by far the most singletrack included in an edition of MSB ever. Fortunately, the new singletrack was in excellent shape, owing to the hard work of Tom White, Mike Walters, Dan Ellis, and the other folks willing to get out in the woods on behalf of NMMBA to ensure the race went off without a hitch. The course provided riders with the perfect test of power, stamina, and technical skills.

It was on this ideal course that the Elite fields would try to beat Jorden Wakeley, the favorite on the day. After being bested at Rust Shaker last weekend by less than a second, Wakeley was on a mission to show who rules the Northern Michigan racing scene. His win was no foregone conclusion, with Jeff Owens and Sean “The Fastest Soccer Dad on the Planet” Kickbush looking to push Wakeley to his limits. In the end, it was Kickbush who came closest to Wakeley on the day, finishing less than thirty seconds behind. Einstein’s Luke Tjosvold finished third, with M22‘s Tyler Weston and Suttons Bay Bikes owner Nick Wierzba rounding out an impressive top 5. It should be noted that the 2018 Elite field could have been the most evenly matched ever, with time gaps largely minuscule relative to years past.

In the women’s race, picking a potential winner of the eight riders lined up would have been one hell of a task. No one counts out perennial powers Susan Vigland, Lauri Brockmiller, or Bridget Widrig. But after impressive rides at Rust Shaker last weekend, Lexxia Mapes and Susan Newmyer also had tossed their Derby hats into the ring. (It was Derby Day, if you didn’t know.) It ended up being a familiar theme for the Elite women’s field, with Susan Vigland putting the field to the sword from the off, and everyone else riding to limit the damage and to get on the podium. To that end, McClain’s Megan Doerr showed her class by riding to a very strong second place, with Widrig, Marie Voss, and Brockmiller finish out the top 5.

If you were like me, you left the race seeing orange. Over 40 #YOUTHS from Norte raced in the various events on the day, ranging from the kids’ race, up to Kyan Olshove in the Expert 17 and Under category. In fact, Norte swept a more than a few podiums on the day, but Hagerty Youth Cycling also had a fine ride from Ryan Miller, with Jorja Jenema taking a win. It makes you wonder how much longer we have before the kids start really taking us behind the whooping shed. I reckon Peak to Peak will have some very young names at the top of a slew of categories this year.

A huge thank you to Becky and Jim Kalajian and their army of volunteers who have been putting on this awesome race for almost a decade. This race has raised over $435,000 for Mt. Holiday and other charities in its existence, making a huge impact on the viability of the ski hill in particular, which is the only non-profit ski hill in the Midwest. Thank you for keeping our community outdoors and active all year long.

You can see full results from the race here.

Great ride, everyone. We’ll see you on the trails very soon.

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