906 Polar roll Race Write-up by : Mark Kransz
📷: Ryan Stephens :: Photographer/Videographer
It is always fun to have the home course advantage being one of the hometown heroes, and being able to wake up in your own bed and casually ride to the start of the race. Rolled up to the start of the race with the crew of guys I had staying at my place and was instantly greeted with familiar faces at the start line. When the race finally got underway, we were lead out by the 45nrth van down the first and only decent of the day. The pace was pretty dialed back until we hit the snow and it was a full-blown drag race for position I was sitting 7 back watching the Rubicon lead out bike which took over for the van crash in front of the peloton. Luckily we chuchued on by without a problem. We hit the first long steep climb of the day and I saw the leaders start pulling away made a few passes on some friends and bridged the gap. Got in with a group of five and took the lead through the singletrack we slowly started to reel in what happen to be Matt Acker in 2nd place. As we hit the snowmobile trail I decided to let someone else take the lead as I refuel on some CarboRocket and Honey Stinger. Unfortunately for me, my water bottle had frozen and my nutrition was almost impossible to reach in my back pocket with my crab gloves on (this was my first long fat bike race in 3 years, so I had no clue what I was doing). My fumbling around forced me to burn some matches back up to the group who at this point was bridging back up to Matt Acker and Cole House who bridge the gap to Matt earlier in the singletrack. We eventually caught those two and had a pretty good pace line going we averaged between 12-13mph on the soft uphill 3% grade snowmobile trail which let me tell you is tough. I knew I was not going to be able to hang on with the group forever but made it a goal to at least let them drag me to Ishpeming. That way I would not be caught out in the windy snowmobile trail by myself. I did a few pulls for the group and was told by my teammate Cole I needed to pull ¾ of the time I was doing. Gotta learn the hard way, right? Around two miles from Ishpeming is where my bonk finally occurred the elastic was broke, I swear the shockwaves from my bonk could be felt all the way back in Marquette. At this point I was able to get some water in me and finally get some food out of my back pockets the lead group was long gone so it was a great time to recover. I rode the entire Ishpeming singletrack portion without seeing anyone in front or behind me, which was 15 miles of me just enjoying the ride. I made a quick stop at the bacon and hug aid station, got my hug from the famous Chris Holm. Then picked my way through the singletrack towards the finish. I slowed down towards the last 5ish miles due to significant ice on the singletrack did not feel like biffing it at this point. And strolled into the finish in a little under four hours. It was a great weekend filled with lots of good memories and new/old friends. Happy to come away with a buckle and an 11th place finish in the XC, and a 7th in the uber fun snow-duro.