With the official 2011 season coming to a close, our team members have had an amazing list of accomplishments. This was the first year the team put on their own event and it was a huge success. The Bad Apple Ultra saw just over 70 racers in it’s first year and constant positive feedback has been flowing in ever since. The team also helped plan and execute the first Honey Creek Inn Duathlon which saw over 120 participants. With both of these events slated to return for next year and the other smaller events we volunteer in, we know our calendar is going to busy for next year. Each and every one of our members have overcome obstacles and progressed farther than they probably thought possible. As a team we have grown, not just in numbers but in life. Let’s recap each of our members - in no particular order.
If you haven’t been following Ben in his running endeavours then you are truly missing out. Not all is lost as I’m sure 2012 will be even more amazing. Ben started to focus heavily in ultra distance running for 2011. It was only a few years ago when Ben decided to challenge himself with 50 mile runs and this year his dedication and talent have really shown through. The best way to put Ben’s accomplishments is to pull an excerpt from a pre-race news release from RockCreek.com listing him as a competitor to watch. The article reads this:
“Ben brings with him an impressive resume of 2011 ultramarathon podium finishes: Hallucination 50-miler (3rd), Yankee Springs 50-miler (2nd), Green Swamp 50-miler (1st), Dances With Dirt 50-miler (2nd). That’s a lot of quality mileage; we’ll be watching this guy!”
What this article failed to mention was Ben’s first 100 mile run. Not only did Ben finish his first 100 mile attempt but finished in a Top 20 position among a sanctioned race. With all that running, Ben still competed in the Iceman Cometh Mountain Bike Race and broke the 2 hour barrier earning him a spot in the non-official Sub 2 Hour Club.
Dominic is our only triathlete on the team, but that doesn’t stop him from riding and running with the best of us. Although Dominic puts his main focus on Xterra’s, he has gained multiple podium positions at expert level mountain bike races and has rounded out the year as the overall winner of the Midwest Xterra Series in his age bracket. Since Dominic took the win for the Midwest Series, he gained an invite to Xterra Nationals out in Utah. Although Dominic has gained entrance into Nationals a few times before he has never took up the challenge, until this year. He traveled out to Utah to compete in Nationals and finished 129th out of 286 racers. Just to put Dominic’s competition level at Nationals in perspective he was racing against names like Lance Armstrong and the 4 time Xterra World Champion Conrad Stolz.
Adam is the tried and true endurance mountain biker. Although Adam can also run like the wind, his priorities are focused on endurance events. This year Adam had to overcome a major injury that he encountered during a road biking ride. Even with a lot of his season lost, he still landed multiple top 5 finishes in the Michigan Endurance Cup races and finished 8th in the North Country Trail Half Marathon. Before Adam’s “incident” he set a personal best at the 5/3 Riverbank 25k Run and finished his first 100 mile mountain bike race. We are confident to say that Adam will be ready for some great racing and riding next year.
Ryan started the team in the sport class and really wanted to see what was possible. After hanging out with the team and learning what we had to offer, by the end of the season Ryan jumped up to the Expert class. Midway through the year he decided to pick up his first road bike to help enjoy more endless hours of cycling. Now Ryan is on his second road bike and able to ride in the faster groups at the Grand Rapid’s weekly night rides. It appears the world of cycling has opened up a lot for Ryan and he is thinking about trying his hand at endurance racing next year. Something he would have never thought was possible just this spring.
Chris is by far our team role model. When he isn’t working or sleeping, he is on his bike. The year started out early for Chris and it first payed off with a trip to Tennessee to race in the Big Frog 65. His goal was only to ride with whomever was feeling the best that day and with four of us lining up that morning, not a single one us really knew who that was going to be. After the 65 miles passed and the finish line was behind him, Chris landed a top 10 finish with Eric beside him. After the Big Frog, Chris’s focus was derived towards the Lumberjack 100. The only NUE stop in Michigan and one that Chris has a personal pride to ride in. This year he broke the 8 hour mark landing him a top 30 spot in the open men category. Then the training was turned to running so Chris could attempt his first marathon. He completed his first marathon up at the North Country Trail Marathon with Eric and now has one more thing checked off the bucket list. The end of the season was marked with a 1st place overall (excluding invite-only pros) at the Ronde Van Stony Dirt Road Race and another great showing at Iceman in the Pro/Cat1 Category. With the determination Chris has and what he is currently talking about, we know next year will lead to a lot of exciting adventures and great races.
Eric is commonly known as the “hub” of the team. He is one of the first contacts for the team and has an uncanny ability to handle all administrative tasks for the team. Nonetheless, he knows how to put the power through his pedals when necessary. Eric, similar to his brother (Chris), has a significant fondness for the Tennessee area and rolled through the finish line at the Big Frog 65 with a Top 10 finish. Since last year, Lumberjack was his first time finishing a 100 mile mountain bike, this year his goal was to make the Top 25 instead of the Top 50 like 2010. Although he never accomplished that goal, he did continue to hold a Top 50 position and earned another notch in the 100 mile belt. Surprisingly, a week after Lumberjack, Eric gained his first podium finish at the Michigan State Games Cross Country Race along with Dominic. As with Chris, Eric too ran his first marathon up at the North Country Trail Marathon and they both came running through the finish line together with a respectable time of 4:48. Before Iceman, Eric decided to race the Ronde Van Stony which is a dirt road race. After a few hours of duking it out in mud slung roads, he landed a 5th in his age group with one spot shy of Top 10 overall. Iceman this year was a first for Eric; not as in the first time racing it but a first in competing in the Pro/Cat 1 category. Although there were no podiums to be had that day, it was a great learning experience and we are sure we will see him come back next year stronger and wiser. Next year will be another early start to the season for Eric with two dirt road races in early spring and then the Big Frog 65 mountain bike race down South. Eric is setting up for a good season and we can’t wait to see what he accomplishes.
We are proud to have each and every one of our riders, supporters, and sponsors. There are a lot of people that have came together to produce such an amazing team and we are all looking forward to see what 2012 will bring us.