I do not look good in Spandex, and I never will.
But watching the Spandex people competing in Le Tour de Mont Pleasant continues to amaze me - their sheer athleticism, their focus, their determination.
Friday night, I met a young woman named Katie Hamel from Grand Rapids:
Saturday, it was the closed-course criterium races in downtown Mt. Pleasant. These actually are my favorite races. You see the riders up close. You see their faces. You can sit on the sidewalk cafe at Max & Emily's and watch the action.
I met Chris Uberti, who won the Pro Category 1 and 2 criterium. He's very matter-of-fact about the challenge: 75 minutes of high-speed street racing, then three laps of flat-out sprinting around a course with difficult, technical turns. And he wasn't even winded.
Sunday, the race course expands to the entire county. This year's course was 120 miles long, traveling through the Isabella Reservation, Shepherd, Winn, Blanchard, Beal City, Lake Isabella, Weidman, across the hinterlands of northern Isabella County, through Rosebush and back to downtown Mt. Pleasant.
The winner was a guy whom I'd love to invite over for dinner named Jake Rytlewski (right-LESS-key), originally from Bay City:
But Le Tour de Mont Pleasant was not without controversy. What really happened out on the course that caused the disqualification of 19 riders - and a stunning protest at the finish line?
This event is well on its way to becoming a fixture in June in central Michigan. It's a niche we can fill - and fill well.