Ore To Shore! Another awesome weekend in Marquette is in the books. Triple Crown #1 was this past weekend and somehow I managed another win making it three in a row with last years FatTire40 and Iceman wins. More Rocks and more Bike Furniture! Grand total is now 10!
I'm still blown away because If I did the math I bet all 10 wins would have a total victory margin of less than 1:00. This race was no different coming across the line with maybe a bike length over a hard charging Cole House.
The race played out way different than in the past. Cole went hard up the luge climb. Lead group of 30. I went hard over the power lines. Lead group of 15. Tristan went hard before the Misery Hill. Lead Group of 15. I went hard up and after misery Hill followed by Tristan going hard. Lead group 13. WOW. 30 miles into a pretty hard race and the lead group still contains 10 guys that have the ability to win. I went through a wide array of emotions during the race. After misery hill we hit the long pavement section it was time to start making things happen. First things first though...a fresh bottle of water and a package of the Margarita flavored Clif Blok's. The new bridge shortened the race a little, but it was still a big enough climb to start launching some attacks and softening legs. Simonson, Tristan and I started things out by attacking on the pavement, but with such a big group nothing happened with 20 miles to go.
I went pretty good in the lead from approx 17 - 15 miles to go in some of the tighter fast two track. Simonson kept the pace high, but seemed to be struggling in the high speed corners. Mike Phillips finally blew the race apart. He never really pedaled faster, but he started ripping the corners. I went across the gap and Mike and I started riding away! I thought just maybe that was going to be the move! Tristan closed it in no time w/ Cole and Nathan and we were 5 strong w/ 8 or 9 miles to go.
Tristan launched the first serious attack and started to ride away. Mikey P took a nasty crash at the bottom of a descent. I was content to let Cole and Nathan do the work, but Derek Graham was catching back on. Cole finally decided to close the gap and did so pretty quickly which was enough to make sure Derek never made contact.
(photo from Marquette Mining Journal)
Now we were 4 strong w/ one of the best sprinters in the country....not good odds for winning and 1st place - 4th place $$$ is a big drop. I took the lead again down the big sand pit in hopes to put some time on somebody and maybe make it a group of 3. It didn't happen and I wasn't about to crush the woodchip climb, because every year we crush the woodchip climb and nothing really happens. Tristan passed me on the climb and pedaled hard over the top but Cole was glued to his wheel and nothing really happened. It was looking better and better for Cole and he was the guy to beat for sure. We hit the final singletrack and nothing happened. 2.5 miles to go mostly pavement with one flat woodchip section a 1/2 mile long in the middle. Tristan was at the front followed by NG and Cole. I was sitting in 4th waiting for something.
Last year I was in the same situation...I waited and I was 6th out of 6. Not good. This year I wasn't going to do the same thing and I told Andrea that before the start. I would attack and either win or lose trying. Tristan pulled off the front and I wanted to go as soon as the pace slowed w/ 1.25 miles to go, but there was nowhere to go. Tristan drifted back and jumped in line in front of me to get on Cole's wheel. As soon as the line to the right was opened I launched my suicide attack. The legs weren't happy. I saw Nathan jump at the front, but then hesitate. I had my gap. I hit the pavement with about a 50 meter gap and 3/4 of a mile to go. I thought they were going to completely sit up, but then Cole started going. He was like a freight train bearing
down on me. The gap was closing fast. I didn't want to crash on the paved corners and I'm sure Cole was taking better lines and risks and closed 10 meters in each corner. With one corner to go I was still scared and Cole was still coming fast. My HR was at 193 and I couldn't pedal any
harder even though I tried. I have been passed in the final 20 meters on more than one occasion at O2S and I thought it was going to happen again. I grit my teeth and pedaled 10 more times to win my 4th Hard Rock at the Ore To Shore! My bike was flawless and thanks to Demo Ken from Trek I had the fastest tires out there!
In the end it was the strongest 3 riders to cross the line first. I have a feeling Cole, Tristan and Nathan are going to be very motivated to beat me in 1 month.
Even cooler than my victory was hearing about Andrea's win just after I crossed the line! Andrea did her first race of the year on her brand new Top Fuel w/ the new 10spd XTR and won the Soft Rock by just over 1:00. She said the bike was flawless(that always good to hear as a mechanic). Trek Top Fuel also won the womens Hard Rock!!! Hmmmm do I see a pattern!
The best part of the weekend though is not even the racing any more. Its hanging out with friends. Dinner with Jamie, Tristan and Ellie Friday night and post race Pizza and Pasta on Lk Superior Saturday afternoon. Watching all the junior mtb campers pick up there awards and listening to their war stories. Dinner w/ the Adventure 212 crew after the awards Saturday night. Breakfast Sunday morning at the local cafe w/ our friend Bruce and reading the local paper, and of course following Mike Anderson down the Blue trail doing some of the most fun mtb riding you can do at Mqt Mountain. After close to 2 hours in the saddle Andrea, Mike and I couldn't resist to go out and do one more loop!
A huge thanks to all my family and sponsors who make it possible. Gear Grinder, Trek, Shimano, Hyundai and all the others who helped along the way. A special thanks to SKJ & Chase Sova for the water during the race and to Karl Hendrickse for lots of help leading up to to the race.