The forecast calls for pain…and the forecast was accurate. After Many attempts to convince the full team to take on the Boyne Marathon we had four takers; Danielle, Tim, Earl and myself. I was offering up a free ride to any takers and Danielle had graciously offered her parents place, thanks again Danielle, for the night’s residence. Next year we’ll represent in true Founders Alger fashion.
We had a strong showing from the Founders Alger team members that raced…
Earl Hillaker–2nd place finish Men’s Elite
The trip began with an early end of the week for Danielle and myself to get a pre-ride so we could find out what all the granny gear talk was about. It didn’t take long to realize that climbing and lots of it was in our future. “Am I really walking and will I really need to go 32×18 on the SS?” were my thoughts for a couple sections of the pre-ride lap. After arriving at Danielle’s and recapping our pre-ride, 32×18 it was.
Typical pre-race activities began Saturday while we we’re all getting ready to race. It seemed that many of us were racing Boyne for the first time or the first time in a very long time. I wasn’t sure if that is because the race is tough and people don’t race it every year or we all decided to wait for gas to be too expensive before making the three or more hour trip.
Weather was perfect at the 10am start time with the threat of a little too hot by race end. The race began with about a mile of flat and fast twisty and everyone took off as though the whole ride was going to be like this. Thank goodness for the pre-ride as I knew what was coming and held back from spinning my legs off for the first mile. As the SS group approached the first climb I was in about 9th or 10th place and came out of the first hill in 6th or 7th. First hill down and several miles of dusty sandy single track and a few big leg burners to go. About 20 minutes into the race we all got a pleasant surprise, a mid-morning rain shower. The rain was welcomed with open arms as it kept the temps down and more importantly the dust. The trail got a little tacky and a little faster. As the race progressed and the rain stopped, it was time to settle in and try to pace this course out. I say try because when I started to settle in the course takes you down a series of longer down hills with short pitchy climbs in between then takes a sharp right for the longest and most grueling climb. The climb is long a series of steep pitches with less steep short breaks in between and a paved surprise to cap it off. A little relief seemed to be near as we cross an open field, but that is when the paved road comes into play. It’s just a road, so it shouldn’t be too bad, but the road looked to be one of the steepest in Northern, MI…no rest here. The road climb that lacked all technical ability seemed to be the one sections that punished people the most. It’s a road, so you can’t get off and walk, right? Good news is that once you reach the top of the road it’s all downhill from here. One quick loop of single-track, back out on the road for a few seconds and then dive back into the woods for initially a technical and eventually a very fast descent to the bottom of the ski area. You pop out where everyone is hanging near the finish line and cheering on the racers.
As the race progressed, I picked my way through a few SS’ers and was passed by another which put me in 5th position. From that point on I rode with another SS’er for the rest of the race. We swapped positions often as he was stronger on the climbs and slower in the technical areas. After passing him on lap 2 in the technical downhill section I came upon another Founder Alger member, Tim. Tim was committed to four laps and had set a pace to finish strong. We gave each other a little encouragement and raced on. Back in the flat section I got my final bottle hand off from Nancy, Thank you Nancy, and pushed on for the final lap. My SS competitor and I continued to swap positions for the final lap where he was leading going into the final technical downhill section. I would say that I passed him, but he actually let me by where I picked up
13 seconds on him to finish the race.
Overall the Boyne Marathon was a lot of fun… a challenging and rewarding race in a good setting. Hope to see everyone next year!