BY DENNIS CHASE
— TRAVERSE CITY — Jorden Wakeley called it “an adventure.”
The 22-year-old Grayling resident convincingly won the World Championship 50K Snow Bike race in Marquette on Saturday, but it proved to be quite a workout.
Fresh snowfall in the morning made for a soft track.
“Very soft,” Wakeley said. “I had to push (the bike) up every single hill the first half of race. It was that soft. You couldn’t ride (the hills).” How many hills? “Over 25,” he said. “It was an adventure.”
Wakeley, a member of Traverse City’s Einstein race team, finished in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 29 seconds. Ishpeming’s Tyler Gauthier was second, 21 minutes back in 2:42:19. The Einstein team took the next three spots — Jason Lowetz at 2:45:43, Ryan Kennedy at 2:53:16 and Chris Kushman at 2:53:32.
Riders were competing on the same course as the Noquemanon ski racers.
“They started us about an hour and half to two hours after the last wave of (50K) skiers,” Wakeley said. “But we caught them about halfway.
“It made it quite a bit more challenging, trying to be considerate to them (skiers) and get around them the safest way possible. There were a few who didn’t take it so well, but most were real supportive of the snow bike race.”
Wakeley said course conditions improved the second half of the race because that part of the trail was also used by the 24K skiers.
“There were twice as many skiers on it at that point so it was packed down pretty good,” he said.
Forty-five riders finished the race, the first Noquemanon bike race at that distance.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Wakeley said.
Wakeley, seventh in last November’s Iceman Cometh, has competed in four races the last four weekends. The weather has been different for each, ranging from balmy spring-like weather two weeks ago in Grand Rapids to a minus-five wind chill last weekend at Crystal Mountain Resort.
Wakeley plans to compete in 25 or 26 more races before this year’s Iceman.