Race

Gravel Tips For Barry-Roubaix!

Dream bike.jpg

This week, riders from across the Midwest are gearing up for the biggest gravel road race in the country! The Barry-Roubaix starts and finishes in Hastings, Michigan and offers riders 22, 36, 62 and even 100 mile distances to test their spring legs and bounce their bones over some of the famous gravel roads of Barry County.

It’s a race that grew from just a few hundred riders back in 2011 to capping out at 3,500 in 2019. Over the years, the race has tweaked and changed the course and finish, including a move away from Gun Lake and into the town of Hastings. The small village has completely embraced the event, essentially shutting down on race day and even permanently signing the routes to that riders can come to town and ride the course any time of the year.

With all those riders and all those hilly roads, everyone has a few inside tips on how to make the most of your Barry-Roubaix pilgrimage. We put together just a couple of ideas to make sure you’re ready for race day.

Don’t Lose Your Bottle. The first turn off pavement and onto gravel road leads onto the Three Sisters, a series of rolling climbs that help sort out the big waves of riders you’ll find in every category and distance. Some riders fear the rolling elevation; others are more concerned with the washboard and pothole ridden stretch of road that precedes it. It’s very common to see dozens of water bottles get ejected from their cages, leaving riders without water for the rest of the day. Leave one bottle in the cage and start the race with your second water bottle in your back pocket. If you’re bringing three bottles, use both your cages, but keep the third in your pocket, too, where it can’t get shaken and lost. This is one of the few races of the year that we use aluminum cages, which you can bend to hold bottles tighter.

Air Down. Like with fat bike tires, there’s a tendency for riders to run their gravel tires really high, especially on race day. In theory, it makes sense; a harder, rounder tire offers less rolling resistance. The reality is a bit different. The constant contact with potholes, rocks, gravel, and rough roads mean that firm tire is actually just bouncing off things and slowing you down. The exact pressure you run will vary based on your tire being tubed or tubeless, its width, the rim width, and your body weight. As a good rule of thumb, a 35c tubeless tire under a 170 pound rider should be in the 45-50psi range. The lighter the rider, the less tire pressure you need.  

Move Up. Always. With such big waves leaving Hastings at once, you can do a lot of passing just by lining up near the front of your wave and working hard to stay in the top 20 positions. For riders further back, it’s hard to see what is happening at the front, if groups are going clear, or if the peloton is breaking a part. It’s even harder, then, to catch up and bridge those gaps, especially if you have to make that effort repeatedly. If you’re heading out for a result, make it a goal to always have the leader rider or two in sight.

Bring Snacks. Even for the 36 mile, staying properly fueled and hydrated is crucial. Plan on taking in 30-60 grams of carbs per hour of racing, whether that’s by energy gel, a drink mix, or natural foods like bananas or dates. The longer the race, the more you’ll need to plan out just what to eat, when, and even where. Consider putting a timer on your watch for 40-45 minutes as a reminder to eat, or pick specific distances to earmark as snack time. These should be flat, fast sections that will let you sit in the group or sit up and eat. In the hustle and rush of a race, it’s easy to forget to eat, so heading out with a plan can be a big help.

Have Fun. Barry-Roubaix is like the spring version of Iceman. It’s not just a race, it’s an experience. Take time to look up, look around, and appreciate seeing thousands of people on bikes; it’s really a special thing. The post-race party with Founders is always a great chance to meet new riding pals, learn about gravel gear and other bike organizations, and really get the 2019 season started!

Two Duby's, Two Series Winners at Short's Brewing Fat Bike Series Finale!

BoZ Cindy.JPG

The winter racing season wrapped up on Saturday with Beard of Zeus, the party/fat bike race that serves as the unofficial start to the spring countdown in northern Michigan.

With over 100 racers, Beard of Zeus was a big event to cap off what has been an extremely fun winter for the City Bike Shop Racing squad. For John and Cindy Duby, it was a full-on winter campaign. The pair took on each of the Series’ events dating way back to January 20’s Fat Chance at Crystal Mountain. Both posted consistent results, but few quite as impressive as Cindy’s four straight wins. Staying perfect was perhaps a bit of a luxury, but she pulled it off on Saturday and picking up all the points possible for the Series and bringing the title home to City Bike Shop!

John relied on consistent and aggressive racing. At Fat Chance, Vasa, and on Saturday, it was our rider glued to the front of the chase group, his rivals holding onto his wheel for as long as they could. He ended up an impressive fourth his category, but 9th overall, showing just how stacked some of the older age groups are this winter.

Just 19 seconds back was Mike Walters, who was able to swap time on the grooming snowmobile for some saddle time this weekend. It’s really great to see such a dedicated Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association advocate throw his hat in the ring and mix it up on the trails he has done so much to bring to life and maintain!

It’s been a great winter, and a casual glance at the ten-day forecast shows that the snow isn’t going anywhere soon! Make the most of it by tuning up your well-ridden fat bike, or renting one to give fat biking a try for the first time. March might actually be the best month for riding, with more sun and warmer temperatures making the trails more accessible than ever. Got questions? Call and let us get you rolling before the snow is gone!

The Best Mountain Bike Team In The World Wears Stripes

Kate Courtney.jpg

Okay, it might not be us, but the Scott-SRAM mountain bike team features two World Champions and the best fleet of bikes to choose from.

2019 is shaping up to be an incredible year for Scott-SRAM. Already known for seven-time World Champion Nino Schurter, the squad wasn’t happy with settling. This winter, they went after, and signed, newly-crowned women’s XCO World Champion Kate Courtney, putting both World Champions in the same team for the first time in the modern era of mountain biking.

It’s a pairing that promises big results in the season ahead, and they have some serious firepower to back them up, too. They squad has Lars Forster and Andri Frischknecht also on the roster. The quartet spent the last few weeks getting ready for an ambitious campaign that starts in earnest with the Cape Epic in mid-March.

Kate Courtney, the first American to win a World Championship in over two decades, will focus her season on the full World Cup and defending her world title. It’s a special season as she looks to hold onto the rainbow jersey, with the 2019 World Championships taking place in North America at Mount Sainte Anne in Canada this Septemeber.

At the shop, we’re really excited to see just how far SCOTT-SRAM can push this year. For Nino and for Kate, it’s a season where one will look to continue a dynastic dominance and the other looks to begin her own.

Check out how the team is preparing for the new season here, and stop by City Bike to check out the same bikes they’ll be riding in person!