Fall Brings Cyclocross and Gravel Road Race Season!
September 18th, 2015 by Marie Dershem
Alma Grand Prix is the first (and one of the most fun) cyclocross race in the fall. Even this early in the season, fall was in the air with temps struggling to reach 60 degrees. The course was designed to take advantage of the woods and features already present on the property. With a combination of flat sections mowed through the meadows and twisty sections using thrails through thickets of woods, the largely flat course was punctuated with several small berms and three sets of stairs that required the requisite dismounts from the bike. This year, the course also included two “super prestige” sections that would have looked at home on a mountain bike trail, the last and thickest of which was just over 100 meters from the finish. Needles to say, this course was a lung-busting, fast-paced, well-planned course. If you are interested, you can even view a trip around the course here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8dkIDM65rg).
Team OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors had many riders in several of the categories, each pushing the limits and having fun as they raced around this fantastic course. Chris Abston raced his first cx race in the Cat 3/4 45+ category. Chris made a wise decision in starting off slow, getting his cyclorcross legs under him. This paid off as he built speed throughout the race to finish in 2nd place! Tristan Greathouse warmed up for the Elite Men’s race with a win in the junior category, then took on the hardest race of the day with the Collin Snyder and Daniel Yankus from TEAM OAM NOW’s Elite Mens Team. These three took on one the strongest fields in Michigan CX racing history. Three Aussie professional cyclists entered the race and from the start showed off their talents with 2 of them riding away. Daniel got off to a solid start and positioned 8th through the first laps, with Tristan and Collin closely behind. As the race went on, Daniel was able to latch on the back of a chase group and worked his way up to 6th place, where he finished. Tristan followed shortly behind with an incredible ride for 8th beating one of the Aussie pros! Collin ended very respectably at 14th in an incredibly strong and deep field. Collin received his redemption, though, as later in the day he flew through the Single Speed race to win the race.
On the women’s side, Laura Melendez did an excellent job representing TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors in the Elite 1/2/3 race in Alma, MI. Racing against some of the top women, including Mackenzie Woodring, Paralympic Champion, and an elite cyclocross rider from Australia, Josie Simpson. The first race of the season is often a challenge as cyclocross is so completely different from road racing. But, Laura, who has fallen in love with this discipline, was thrilled to be back at it and finished strong in 7th place.
The following day, Uncle John’s Dirty Ride, a great gravel road race, called many of the same racers back to the dirt. Chris Abston, Collin Snyder, and Daniel Yankus did their best to shake things up early and often as the course was some kind of FLAT! Each TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentor teammate took their turn, with 2 solo efforts from Chris and a 2 man move from Collin. On the turn home with the tailwind, Daniel attacked up to Chris’s solo move and a group of 8 chased to form a breakaway. The break was too big to succeed and another push from Daniel pulled out 2 racers. The 3 they rode well together and established a few minute gap. On the headwind home, these 3 did their best impressions of tracks stands in loose gravel. A few attacks later, Daniel was able to get away in the final mile to take the win. Chris took 4th out of a small chase group and Collin took the field sprint up the Uncle John’s Cider Mill hill for 7th. What an impressive finish for all three!
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