Pros repeat in Crybaby Classic mountain bike event
Not in the least.
A total of 170 riders in 14 different classes took to the 9.5 mile closed-loop course, which is highlighted by the approximately 975-foot ‘Crybaby Climb’, as well as hard packed dirt, rolling hills, tight wooded paths and some slick paths along the newly added single track area.
Once again, highlighting the race was the 28.8-mile, 3 lap Men’s and Women’s Elite Open/Professional class, which had 15 male riders and six female riders battling it out on what many professional riders called ‘a true mountain bikers’ course.’
And once again, Mike Anderson, 22, of Alpena claimed the Elite Men/Open/Pro title as he finished in 1 hour, 55.24 seconds, while Sue Stephens of Harrow, Ont., captured a second straight Elite Women/Open/Pro title, finishing in 2:24:16.
Stephens, 37, who rides professionally for Quiring Cycling, overcame a crash on her first lap as her rear wheel was inadvertently taken out by another female rider.
“I had a huge wipeout on my first lap and I was actually in last place for a little while,” Stephens said. “I also lost two of my three water bottles that I carry, so I was working on just one water bottle for awhile until I worked my way to the top of a climb and filled one with Gatorade from one of the course stations.”
Stephens, who last season finished first in the Ontario Cup Series, knew she had to track down Johanna Schmidt of Traverse City, who took advantage of her early fall to take the lead.
“I knew from last year that Johanna Schmidt was a strong climber and I wanted to get back to her before the Crybaby Climb,” Stephens said. “Once I got back out there, it took a lot out of me trying to catch back up with the increased pace, but that was all right.”
Stephens said more than anything, her crash fired her up to where she eventually caught up to the field and surpassed Schmidt to win by nearly 10 minutes.
“As soon as I saw her (Schmidt) in sight, I thought I could go grab her and do what I could from there,” Stephens said. “It was a long race.”
Stephens said she found the course to be a little bit tougher this year with the addition of the single-track course, but it was something also she enjoyed.
“The single-track is more my style,” Stephens said. “You still have to ride the Crybaby Climb three times and that doesn’t make anything easier. There’s a lot of climbing, but the single track made this more of a mountain bike race unlike last year where it was so open.
“I probably could have pulled a little bit away in the single track, although it was a little bit slick, but I don’t mind those conditions,” Stephens added. “It may have helped me pull away.”
Schmidt ended up placing second in 2:33:34; while Stephens’ teammate, Erin Vicary of Walled Lake, was third in 2:38:27.
“I have to give kudos to the promoters because we said we wanted more single track last year and they did that, they added equal payout to the women’s winners and they put on an awesome event. Very well organized,” Stephens said.
Anderson, a former short-track standout at collegiate cycling powerhouse Lees-McRae College in North Carolina, said he was quite familiar with the course as he’s ridden the surrounding trails quite often when he formerly lived in Petoskey and worked for North Country Cycle Sport.
“I came over last week and trained a little bit and when I was living over here, I rode it quite a bit,” Anderson said. “It’s such a hard loop. You have to save yourself and save some energy for the end. Hopefully, you can give it a little kick at the end and separate yourself from everybody.