The fall edition of the Lowell 50 was, at the very least, a beautiful sight to behold. A race known as much for its consistently cold and wet weather as much as its very tough course, Saturday's warm temperatures and brilliant sunlight was a rather welcome change of pace.
Located just east of Grand Rapids, the race takes place in the spring and fall, with both having very unique circumstances due to changes in fitness, the racers on hand, and a variety of other factors. The constant, it would seem, is a strong westerly wind that decimates the field. October 25 was, of course, no exception, with 20+ mile per hour winds kicking up at start time.
Einstein Racing sent some gravel specialists south for the day, with three riders contesting the stacked 57 mile field. Jake Ellis, Wes Sovis and Cody Sovis were front row and center as the gun went off. Ever mindful of the crosswinds, rough roads and fast riders, the team was present and correct in the opening turns and bottlenecks. The trio were all accounted for over the top of the first climb, as the lead group were reduced by nearly half in the opening salvo of ascents. Wes Sovis, a gravel killer and important rider for the day, had his efforts ruined with a flat tire a little over five miles into the race. It's a real shame, as he was riding comfortably in the top ten at the time and looking to be a big ally for his brother in the second half of the race.
Jake Ellis rode smooth and calm, staying with the big guns over the first hills and staying in touch with a chase group to stay in the top 50 or so on the road. His day was ruefully junked when he, like much of the field, were sent astray when some course markings were blown over. Missing the turn added time and distance to an already tough day. He would soldier on, however, getting in some valuable race miles ahead of Iceman in two weeks time.
Cody Sovis was in the front group marking moves until timing went against him. After briefly going clear with Dan Korienek, Mike Simonson and Sean Kickbush, he went back to the front to do some work in the crosswinds. As he pulled off, a number of attacks went with the same idea, and he slipped well out of the top ten. After closing one opened gap, it was a move too far and he was dropped with a dozen or so other riders. He paired up and rode away in pursuit, but there was no getting back to the locomotive ahead. He missed the same corner as Ellis, going a little over 2 miles out of the way, only to about-face and retread those same two miles to get back on course, waving dozens of other riders back with him.
He went on a bit of move in the final 20 miles with Earl Hillaker and Noah Yonker to stay clear of the rest, but lost almost 17 minutes in his misadventure and ultimately finished outside the top 30.
The Patriarch, Joe Sovis, recovered from near-disaster even before the race started just to get on his bike. Cars, locks and keys were involved, but an at-hand locksmith and a quick jimmy had Sovis on the bike just in time to make the start, and he rode with focus on a windy, tough day. He celebrated his 55th birthday, and his debut in the 55+ class, with a 15th place, very solid work on a limited ride schedule. He's looking very solid heading into his first-ever Iceman Cometh Challenge in two weeks.
Keith Conway represented ER in the fat bike class, and as always, had some great stories to tell. Dangling behind Joe and riding with former Einstein Racing wunderkind Claire Reeves, "Keitha" was all-in against a stacked fat bike category, where he ended up in 13th place. It's a great result, and in a class where nearly everyone was averaging over 16mph on fat bikes!