The first race of the season is in the books, and while Jorden Wakeley and Susan Vigland have done an awful lot to let the world know how quick they are, the party has only just begun with three races left.
The good times were set in motion in hopes of continuous movement with a grey but relatively warm afternoon of racing at Timber Ridge. The 2.5 mile course was in perfect shape after three great nights of grooming efforts by riders, racers and the KEEN Snow Scoot. Even the slower, tight technical section rolled into solid form, with riders taking special notice of the section before the gun went off and getting in a few practice runs of that particular feature.
The start list was deep in nearly every category, including the Women's Open. Last year's Master's champion, Beth Collins, moved up into the Open race, pitting her wits against Michelle Howard, Meg Cochran, Susan Vigland and Kim Thomas.
The Men's Open was deep as well, with heavy favorite Jorden Wakeley up against Jason Lowetz, Rob Goepfrich, Jake Ellis, Sean Kickbush and Justin Morris. On a day where even the smallest of differences were blown up, bike handling and consistency may have been the keys to the day.
On the opening lap of race, it was Wakeley through first with Sean Kickbush just a dozen seconds back, with Lowetz next through with Morris not out of the picture. Vigland survived with a gaggle of men's riders and was well ahead of the duel of the day, Kim Thomas versus Michelle Howard for second and third.
Surprisingly, the opening gaps held consistent for most of the first hour of racing, when the Short's category began finishing up. Jacob Fedrigon, one of only a few Juniors, took the win ahead of Bennett Paul.
The Women's Master's was a one woman affair, with the wonderful Dawn Cluchey clipping along with a smile to take the win and lay the groundwork for a series title.
The Men's Master's was a bit askew after Craig Webb flatted on the first lap. After a repair, he rode a determined race before ending up fifth place on the day, with Chris Hansen taking a big win ahead of Don Fedrigon and Scott Bury. In a stacked field, the classy Dave Hintz was sixth, but there's no doubt he'll move up over the next few races.
With 45 minutes to go, Sean Kickbush had actually clawed back four seconds to sit 40 seconds down to a flying Jorden Wakeley, but the effort of the chase began to take its toll, with the "Banana Man" slipping back. Wakeley ducked in under the 2 hour mark, capping off a day that saw him end up 1 lap on on the field when Kickbush was just a touch over 2 hours to finish with 11 laps to Wakeley's 12. Justin Morris overcame an early crash to sneak past Jason Lowetz for third, with Lowetz fourth on the afternoon as he looks to repeat as series champion.
Susan Vigland had a series battle with herself, riding hard the whole time but always with a smile. It was a gutsy Kim Thomas, riding on grit and pride, to come past Michelle Howard and scurry into second place. Howard held third, giving Hagerty Cycling two women on the podium, with Einstein Racing's Beth Collins nex through in fourth.
The series points standings will be posted by Tuesday, but watch the Facebook page for a great gallery from Thirst Mutilator!