October 6th, 2013. The day dawned dark and stormy. The weather report: 90% chance of rain with a chance of flash flooding. So what did nine University of Michigan cycling team members think as they rolled out of bed? “What a perfect day for cyclocross!"
The team had an excellent turnout at the Lower Huron Cyclocross race this weekend, hosted by Tailwind Racing. The course was already “greasy” as we did a pre-ride before the first race, and it grew wetter and muddier with each race. It featured winding grassy flats, a U-shaped sand pit (which couldn’t be ridden even by the most skilled A rider), a sandy, off-camber downhill turn, and a mud-slick run-up.
The first race of the day was the Cat 4/5 Men, with Tyler Carlton and Tyler Trask representing the team. Tyler C abandoned the race after a fall and a debilitating shin injury, but Tyler T finished his second-ever cross race strong, and on a mountain bike for that matter.
The second race of the day was the Women’s Cat 1-3, Men’s Cat 3, and Master’s 45+ Cat 3. I finished 2nd in the Women’s Cat 1-3 by riding cautiously in the wet conditions. Among 11 riders in the Women’s Elite category we had two DNFs due to crashes, one on a wet gravel hill and another in the sandpit. In Men’s Cat 3, Danny Soltan took to the podium with 3rd place in the 19-34 age group while Harvey Elliot was not far behind, finishing 6th in that category. Kurt Schaldenbrand managed the distinction of finishing the Master’s race looking completely clean, while the rest of us were covered in mud from head to toe.
The final race of the day was Women’s Cat 3-4 and Men’s Cat 5. We had two racers in the Women’s Cat 3-4 race, an excellent turnout! Elise Machiele podiumed with 4th place and Catherine Culkin took 6th. Keep in mind: this was their first cyclocross race, ever! In the Men’s Cat 5, Philip Ginsberg also stood on the podium with 4th place in his second cyclocross race ever. I’m excited to see what Elise, Cat, and Phil will do as the season progresses!
Overall, we had a great turnout and a great time. When it was all said and done, cleaning the excessive amounts of mud off of my bike was far more satisfying and less like a chore than usual. The next cyclocross race in the Tailwinds series is Mad Anthony on October 19th (see the video below). We hope to see you there!