What a weekend for racing. Michigan never ceases to amaze me with the schizophrenic nature of its weather system. I swear, if you have a race this time of year you need to pack everything from a bathing suit to a down jacket. Of course, I packed three of each. My husband and I rented two homes at the base of the Crystal Mountain Resort for 23 people in Thompsonville, Michigan which is about a stones throw away from the start of the Peak 2 Peak race. This was our first adventure renting two homes with some of the best cyclists in Kalamazoo. We combined the forces of the Clark Logic race team and the always impressive Team Taylor peeps for a wicked good time filled with laughter, excitement, Michigan beer, too much food, and of course, racing.
Saturday morning I awoke to a few snow flakes dancing their way down from the heavens. Although at that moment I was cursing them with every shiver up my spine, I was still happy to know I would spend most of my day in nature. With a little food in my belly and a last minute head warmer suggestion from my girl, Kelly Fisher of Team Taylor, the two of us we were off to the start with Kristy Gunderson. I was overly anxious and excited this year because it was my first time ever racing my fat bike which is a Surly Necromancer BEAST. Kristy and I were two of three ladies to enter into the Sport Women's Fat Bike category and I felt empowered and special to be a part of the inaugural event. More importantly, I was excited for Kristy to be competing in her first ever mountain bike race.
What is Peak 2 Peak?
Peak 2 Peak is an awesome race that encompasses two track, gravel road riding, single track, and some wicked uphill climbing. It's the race that truly tests you at all levels of racing. From the beginning to the middle of the course there are some great single track sections that wind through the woods with an unbelievable flow. While gliding through the trail, racers can take in the beautiful colors in Northern Michigan and this year, Mother Nature did not disappoint. Tad Peacock and his crew from Endoman Promotions flawlessly marked the trail even with a last minute re-route due to unsafe conditions on the course. They blew off any leaves throughout the entire 12 mile loop that could cause racers to slip and slide along the way. At the finish line racers and spectators can enjoy a local Michigan brew and some delicious catered food by an outdoor fire pit. Spectators can take the chairlift up to the top of the mountain where I was lucky enough to have one man literally run along side of me while I moaned in agony that he remove my race jacket due to a little bit of overheating (too many layers this year...oops) all while still climbing a hill. As I yelled to the guy who now held my jacket AND credit card (double oops) to take it to the finish line, he smiled and cheered and proceeded to a race tent ahead of me. I love racing! Even the spectators are rock stars. Thank you to my mysterious spectator friend. :0)
Why is this the perfect race for every rider beginner to expert?
Beginner riders take in the same challenges as the Sport, Expert and Elite riders however, at the end of the course they are re-routed away from the huge climb and given a shorter punch of a climb which is a great way to test your skills. On the backside of the climb is a screaming downhill that takes you all the way to the finish line.
Sport, Expert and Elite riders are given a sharp right hand turn at the re-route point for beginners and they are taken up the back side of the Crystal Mountain Resort along the chairlift line. This is an incredible uphill climb that seems to never want to end. Being a skier myself, it's great to see the mountain in the off season. My favorite part is the killer downhill section at the end that takes you through to the finish line where depending on your category, you get to do it all over again. ;0)
Ladies...this is an incredible race for us. Tad Peacock and his crew go above and beyond to make us feel like we are just as important as the guys. With a last minute add to the guys fat bike category, Tad recognized that there were some ladies out there that needed their own category as well for our fat bikes. We were all very appreciative of his kindness and eagerness to help make us feel awesome. Thanks, Tad!
Why is Crystal Mountain so great for everyone?
Every year we bring our daughter to Crystal Mountain for the Peak 2 Peak race. This is the place to go for spectating, bringing the kids, you name it. Crystal offers up the most trusted in-house babysitting around for little ones. For the older kiddos, we could barely pull our children away from the kids adventure camp where they carved pumpkins, climbed a rock wall, watched the race, walked to a petting zoo, and had their face painted. Peak 2 Peak offers a kids race in the afternoon as well. All of this takes place on Crystal's grounds. Once you park your car for the weekend, you will not start it again until you're ready to head home.
With another year in the books for Peak 2 Peak, I can honestly say that this one was pretty epic. Riding my fat bike was a huge challenge and one that I didn't anticipate being as difficult as it was. With that being said, I was happy with my time, thrilled with my ability to climb, and excited about my 2nd place and 15th overall finish out of 51 ladies. From the yummy potluck dinner that everyone came together on, to the incredible WIN by Michigan State (sorry, Tyson), it has become one of my favorite weekends of the year.
Congrats to Erin Rumery on her 1st place comeback finish (post baby)...Kristy Gunderson on her 3rd place finish, Brad Zapalowski on his 2nd place finish, Rob Grainger on his 1st place finish, and Tyler Weston for his 1st place finish. You all rocked it!
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Wheel on Women