A few hundred brave souls showed up for the 2018 edition of the Arcadia Grit & Gravel presented by Stormcloud Brewing, located in beautiful Arcadia, Michigan. On the lips, minds, and iPhone screens of all in attendance was the forecasted weather, which could only be described as a bike shop owner’s wet dream. A steady rain overnight made the dirt roads a slog and the trails a veritable ice rink in spots. But, as ever, it’s not the course that makes the race. That’s up to the riders.
The Men’s Pro/Elite field saw the most wide-open edition of the race to date, with no clear race favorite on the line. Last year’s winner, Brad White, was in ColoRADo, leaving it up to a supercharged field to sort the race out on the roads and trails. Dan Ellis, Cody Sovis, and Nick Wierzba used the first gravel/sand climb of the race, just three miles in, to whittle the front group down to a dirty dozen of riders. I say dirty, because the conditions were almost laughable, if it weren’t for the watt-sucking sand also sucking out any ability to giggle about the effort.
By the singletrack sections, the group had broken up even more significantly. It was the trio of Tyler Weston, Nick Wierzba, and Jamison Shepard who snuck away to contest the win, with Weston taking top honors just in front of his breakaway companions. Cody Sovis and Mike Powers combined well to round out the top five.
A special shoutout to everyone’s favorite Aussie, Justin Morris, for showing up to race in the mud, all the way from Australia. Not only that, he took on the slime and slop of the Arcadia trails on a cyclocross bike; a feat made all the more impressive when you see on the result sheet that he took thirteenth. So impressive – great seeing you, Justin! Bring us a kangaroo on your next visit, please.
If the men’s race lacked a favorite, the women’s race did not. Susan Vigland has lit up the spring race season with a convincing win at Mud, Sweat, and Beers two weeks back. Could the combined firepower of Erica Stehouwer, Megan Doerr, and Lexxie Mapes challenge Vigland?
After 26 mud-soaked miles, it was Stehouwer and Doerr who pushed Vigland the most, finishing in second and third, respectively. Vigland found herself with an impressive three-minute gap at the line, comfortably sitting up to take the adulation of the enthusiastic and very wet crowd. Lexxie Mapes limited her losses well after a very busy spring of racing to finish just seven minutes off the winner’s time.
In the 15-29-year-old category, Sam Holmes took an impressive win over two up-and-coming riders by the name of Ryan Miller and Kyan Olshove. Keep an eye on all three of those names; their times in Arcadia would have been more than competitive in the Pro/Elite race. By Peak to Peak, I’d imagine they’ll be beating us all.
Eric Wolting took the win in the 30-34 race, an accomplishment made all the more impressive due to the fact he rode 212 miles the weekend before. His secret? Founders Beer. Probably.
It’s also awesome to see Hagerty’s Jimmy Argyle back in action at MSB and now AGG. Jimmy is one of the nicest dudes around, and it’s great to see him racing again after events of secondary importance, such as “having a kid” and “working”, having taken up much of his time the last few years.
Lastly, but not leastly, a big shout out to Emma Schwab for taking the win in the 15-39 race. The young Hagerty punk managed to out-grind her teammates Kasey Wierzba and Amie Elvie to take the top step in what is a big statement from the young phenom.
Jeff Jacobi won singlespeed.