2 weeks after, it was time for Ore to Shore (O2S). My hip was feeling better, I was back in the saddle enjoying training again, and I was already over 10 lbs lighter with a lot more energy when I needed it.
I headed up the day before with Brad Lako for what was going to be another classic road trip! We got to Marquette early to do a quick preride. During the ride I realized I was feeling the best I have felt all year. And I was feeling something else I haven't felt in a long time.... I was excited to race! Finally I was feeling like myself.
We woke up early the day of the race to make sure I got a good starting position and so we did not feel rushed before the start. I killed time chatting with several friends and just trying to stay loose. I was able to get in the 2nd row just behind the preferred starters but in front of 750+ other 48 mile Hard Rock Racers. What a great way to start such a cool race right in the middle of downtown Ishpeming! The gun went and we were off!
Just like last year the start was fast and crazy! 2 riders went down before we even left the pavement. Nothing like 750 mountain bikers elbow to elbow exceeding speeds of 30 MPH! We finally hit the dirt roads and rode past the iron ore mine. This is the cue that you need to start making sure your getting through traffic as the first big 2 track climb is just around the corner. I was in a good spot and lit a match to push through the traffic up the climb. I was picking off riders one by one. By the time I made it to the top, I was already free to fly. I bombed down the hill and began to go into TT mode to play leap frog from group to group. I could not believe how strong I was feeling and was making up a lot of spots. As the course leveled out a bit, I was ready to open up and take advantage of my strength try chase down a few more big groups ahead. I knew if I could reach them, I could increase my chances to make a top 75 or even possibly a top 50. As I was increasing my speed and reeling back more and more riders, I began catching and passing several riders that were in the preferred starting group. This stoked my motivation even more! And just as I was getting into my groove, I looked up around the next corner, and a train was crossing the tracks about 50 yards in front of me! I could not believe it. At first I panicked not knowing what to do. Then I was angry that it happened. Then realized it was actually funny. But then the trained stopped. We thought it was backing up to let us by. But it backed up and stopped again. People were going through the cars and all kinds of cray stupid shit! By now, about 5 mins had gone by and about 500 racers had joined us. The only ones that made it through before the train were about the top 75 or so. I was so close to bridging that gap I thought! Damn it! We all decided to ride down in front of the engine and safely cross to get back into the race. This took us about .25 miles out of our way to get back on course. As soon as I was clear, I had to light a few more matches to try and make up any of the ground or positions I had lost.
I continued at a good pace and felt strong the rest of the way. I was now near the front of the 2nd group and knew I was within striking distance of hanging onto a top 100. I settled into a fast group of about 10 riders that were all willing to share the work. This really helped keep the pace and motivation high. As we rolled into the last bits of single track and last 2 miles of 2 track, I was able to lay down one more hard effort and pick off a few more riders in the process. I crossed the line at 2:53 and some change! A
bout 2 mins faster than last year's time with a 5 min train delay. This was good enough for 97th overall and 21st in my age group. So I was really happy with this. My Garmin time was 2:48. I know this time doesn't mean much, but it sure gives me some motivation to shoot for that top 50 mark in the future...
Joe Seidl for 3rd in the single speed class!
Brad Lako for breaking top 50
Brian Matter for 2nd overall! and thanks for letting me hang out the day after to ride the South Trails.