The Yankee Springs Time Trial has always been a popular event as the kick-off for the Championship Points Series. It’s also a benefit race for the West Michigan Chapter of the MMBA which is cool. The race brought a strong attendance again this year, and I was excited about the chance to test my early season fitness against fellow mountain bike diehards. For the three days before the event, I did nothing but work in the office, eat carbs and sleep, forgoing any exercise just to make sure my body was completely recovered from training. The idea seemed to pay off, because on the morning of the race I felt terrific. Plenty of sleep, full of energy and hungry to put the hammer down. So my wife Rebekah and I packed up and headed south for the big race.
Fast forward to the start chute and here is where the action starts. At the time trial, they pair you up at the start and send each pair out on 10 second intervals. Everyone has a timing chip on the back of their number plate and the rubber mats at the start and finish lines sense your chip go by when you go over them. My start partner was an older fellow, whom I accidentally irritated by addressing as “sir.” I wasn’t sure why we was mad and for some stupid reason I decided to taunt him by saying it was good to race angry, you’ll go faster. My humor. Anyway…Right out of the start I just gunned it, probably grinning from ear to ear. With such an exuberant start it only took about 20 seconds to catch up with the riders ahead. It seemed a little strange to hit traffic so soon and I was a little concerned it would be like that all day. Yankee’s trails are very narrow and they can be very technical. There aren’t a lot of safe places to pass other riders. The last thing you want to do is cut someone off and cause a wreck. ‘Cause they would be angry, and bad stuff would probably happen. Like a knuckle sandwich. But I came to race, so I decided to make like my dad on a road trip up north, and just pass, pass, pass. The first passing maneuver was a 2-fer, and I completed it about 3 feet before hitting a small tree. Okay, not cool. The next few were in the hilly sections after the stream cross. I never got close to breaking my old man’s record of passing seven people in a row (before the advent of passing lanes on country highways), but there were many more 2-fers and even a 3-fer about half way through the race. People were really cool on the trail, many allowing you around them without even having to ask. I always try to do the same. I think I did a good job working my way around other riders, hopefully they would agree.
Yankee is a tough trail. It’s got more climbs than I can count, a lot of deep sand, rocks, loose stones, and of course, huge roots. My Reba fork from Freewheeler helped a ton with the rough stuff but my posterior took a beating. Also, there are places where falling would be like, really bad. But on race day all the obstacles, fast descents and scary turns are what helps you gain the edge if you trust your ability and your bike, which I do, because it’s a Niner. It’s interesting because if you remember to use a little less breaking in the corners, or try to maintain your momentum into the next climb, you pick up a little time here and there. You learn from it. What surprised me though was how much I was gaining on the downhill sections in particular. You look further ahead, get out of the saddle, tighten your grip, loosen your arms, and just fly. It’s incredibly fun and probably a little nuts! And before you know it, you’ve caught up with the next group in front of you. At the end of the day, all I can say is that I enjoyed the heck out of this race. My performance was reasonable, eighth place in my age group of twenty-seven racers. I could have had a faster overall time, but I felt positive anyway. So, thanks to my wife, my team-mates, and our terrific sponsors for the chance to represent D2.