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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #1 
I signed up to ride the 212 coast to coast route.  Four weeks ago I had a physical issue that caused me to slow my training down substantially.  Fearing that I wouldn't be able to finish and keeping in mind that I will be going to Kansas in June I decided to drop down to the 101 mile Loop event.  These are my thoughts.

I know that this is the first year for this type of event so some things will just not be right and an education will be received.  But the promoters are not new to this so I was a bit surprised, or puzzled to say the least.

It rained all day Friday and didn't quit until early morning Saturday.  We started in mid 40 degree temps but no rain.  But due to the intense rain I found that the gravel roads were very sluggish as the treads in your tires caked up with sand making the rolling resistance much greater than dry gravel.  It is what it is so no big deal.  Nothing anyone can do about it anyway.

At around mile 40 we hit about a mile of intermittently flooded roads.  There was no riding through the water.  Hike-a-bike time.  This seemed to last forever.  You had to wade through the water, there was no option.  it was at times over a foot deep.  No going around it as the surrounding woods was flooded as well.  After finishing the event I spoke to Matt and he said they heard about it last night but it was too late to do anything about it.  They said that they didn't know about this issue in this area and the route will likely change next year.  This walking section added about a half an hour to your time. 

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But the sun was out and the temps were rising and with that eventually the roads got faster.  Then we hit the trails.  On the trails we found that the drying conditions caused the sand to now get softer.  So soft that in several spots it was unrideable.  I saw several folks fall in the soft sand.  I counted 7 sections and they were anywhere from 25 to maybe a hundred yards in length.  Overall I felt the gravel roads were good and most of the trails good too.  But there was more trail that I expected or that there needed to be.  IMHO I would have had more gravel roads than snowmobile trails/two tracks.

We rolled into the third check point in Dublin.  No issues.  Well run and my support was waiting and all was good.  The store was well stocked and nice folks.  When I'm in the area again I'll make a point to return and thank them for their support.  These places need to hear from us to understand how important they are to events like this.

The first leg was 55 miles and that means we had 46 to go.  Off we went.  Good dry fast gravel, very nice.  Then we hit more trail.  From mile 57.5 to 59.5 was two miles of the most wonderful woodsy trail.  I really loved it and wished all the trail riding was like this. Good fast surface, nice and shaded and slightly downhill.  After that more fast gravel and then at mile 61 and again at mile 65 were about two miles of mostly good trail but mixed sand pits here and there.  It got old and you couldn't enjoy the woods as your eyes were stuck on the trail. 

After we exited the trails the roads were wonderful.  I don't get board with gravel roads, I like em. 

Overall I really enjoyed 98% of the route.  For me, I like riding gravel roads.  Pick the best trail stretches but keep most of the ride on gravel.  212 or 101 is hard enough as it is.  Adding in that much off road riding to me was unnecessary in my opinion or at least ensure that the trails are really rideable.

My rig and equipment performed very well.  I had no flats and the only issue I encountered was that my computer ran out of juju with about 3 miles to go.  I brought a power stick but didn't use it as I knew were I was.

It was Ironic that the finish line required you to ride through sand.  Food at the finish was fine and plentiful. 

Value:

For $130 to $150 this is not a very good value event.  There was not much free swag like many events.  I got a sleeve of blocks, a water bottle and a tee shirt and if you finished you got a sticker and a cap for your handle bar stem (which they didn't have for some reason).  Since this was unsupported there was no aid station or sag service (which I knew and have no problem with).  So Idk, maybe there are other costs but they were not evident to me or to others I spoke with.

I didn't go to the event center for the party at 10:15 pm.  I was too tired and I didn't stay in the Holiday inn because I found a motel right next to the start line for about half price.  I didn't know that it was a "must be present" to get a chance at any of the prizes (my mistake).  I guess for logistical reasons it has to be that way but for the price you paid whether you are there or not, finished the event you rode, or not, as long as you started you should have a shot at a prize.  At least that would have been nice. 

Final thought.  I had a good time, but this was not really a gravel grinder.  It felt more like an adventure ride at times.  Which is OK because they do say that ("will not be known for its gravel, ironically, but for everything that’s NOT gravel – the forest roads, the two-tracks, the snowmobile trails").  So I guess it lived up to it's billing. 

Next year they are saying that the event will be later in the summer.  We shall see.  Maybe they will tweak the route, I hope so.   I did like the views and I only had 9 cars pass me all day long.  Weather was great, winds mostly not an issue and the people I rode with from time to time were all wonderful.  I love cyclists.    

So what did you think, those of you who rode it?

DS 




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JMosey

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Reply with quote  #2 
I did the 210 mile race and came in severely undertrained, so keep that in mind when I bitch.  

The first section of the course was pretty flat, as in 500 or so feet of climbing in 50+ miles and seemed to contain the majority of the paved roads.  My buddies and I went out at a very controlled pace trying to make sure we would have some energy for the rest of a very long day.

The second section had quite a bit of gravel and a decent amount of climbing... it felt like a very typical gravel race for Michigan.

The third section is where things started to get interesting and I think this is where the two courses started to intersect Derek.  There seemed to be two types of off road or two track riding.  The first consisted of something that resembled an actual road and it was incredibly peaceful to ride through the forest on a bike with no noise.  The second type, however, was more of what I consider a Jeep road and while fun at first, it quickly became tiring.  There was one section that seemed to be miles long (could have been shorter, it's hard to judge when you're going slow and it seems to take forever) that would have been rough on a full suspension mountain bike... getting through it on my rigid CX bike was rough as the only thing I had for a suspension was my body and I'm definitely feeling it a few days later.  I've never had my neck and shoulders so utterly destroyed after a race. 

The 4th section was in the dark for me and it was probably the sketchiest.  We left Dublin with something like 5 - 5.5 hours to go 47 miles... No problem, right?  WRONG!  There was so much sand in this section that it completely destroyed us mentally and at one point we were averaging around 8 miles per hour for the section.  There were lots of swear words, a few mechanicals, maybe a thrown bike, etc.  Eventually we found the Salsa Chaise and that really fired us up.  They told us we had 35 miles to go and it was probably the longest 35 miles of my life.  I spent the next 3.5 hours debating whether or I was going to hug Mark and Matt or punch them in the face at the finish line.  Oddly enough, I must not have been alone in that reaction as Mark (the RD) jokingly ran away as I crossed while yelling "please don't hit me!"

Overall, I thought it was a great race and a truly epic event.  I spoke with several friends who have done DK multiple times and Coast 2 Coast and they all said C2C was more difficult, which really surprised me.  The jeep/forest roads are what make this race special and set it apart, but there is a fine line between having fun and being different and asking people to hurt themselves to finish.  I should also note that I was told the course was significantly more difficult for those of us towards the back as the faster people tore things up and made the sand that much worse.  Sadly I'm not the brightest crayon in the box as I already asked Mark when I could sign up for next year.  

In terms of gear... I rode a 2011 Trek X01 CX bike with a 42 up front and a 38 in back.  My friends struggled with their 45's... not sure what bike I would choose for next year as if you go with a mountain bike you are losing time in the first 110 miles or so but it would definitely help through the forest sections.

I found the damn chaise after something like 17 hours of riding!  I've done 2 Ironmans in my life and riding my bike for 20+ hours was definitely the most difficult thing I've ever done.  

I'm still in a daze trying to process the race but would be happy to answer any questions you guys might have.  


coasttocoast_173.jpg

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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #3 
I got to the chaise and it was covered with a tarp and no one was in or around the van.  I was disappointed to say the least.  We moved on.

We did that last 45 mile leg in the day light and yes it had a lot of sand at 3 pm.  Each passing rider makes it all the more torn up.  What I'm pissed off about is that the route description specifically stated that the route is all totally ride-able.  Bull shit!  I figure that between the lakes we had to wade through and the sand we had to hike-a-bike across (after falling!) I lost at least an hour but it seemed longer.  Physiologically it kills you.

My rig is a Lynskey GR 250 with a Lauf fork.  I ran 45 Riddlers and they were fine, for me.  I did have to pump them up to 50 psi but I'm 6' and around 240 lbs. so for me it works.

 Congrats for finishing.  18% of the 212 milers didn't.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #4 
DerekJ_MI and JMosey. Let me give you some feed after what I read in your article. Thanks for posting BTW as for those who might be thinking of doing this gives you a l little idea of the ride. Here in Pa gravel riding really kind of sucks. Yeah there is riding but most are mountain fire tower roads, single track and if you want to ride gravel at least where I live I have to ride 10-15 miles just to get to the gravel. So yeah even though there was hike a bike or non rideable areas I think I might have enjoyed it.


Excuse this but I will give some feed back on the rides I have done so far.

Pony Express 120/75 miler would have to be on the top of the list. Low entry fee/feels like a grassroots ride/town gets behind the ride.hotel rates are normal/only 1 mile of hard roads going out of town the rest was gravel/all types of riding/single track/b roads/gravel/lots of photographers out on the course taking some great photos and you could steal them no problems/probably 45 minutes to 1 hr swag give away the night before the ride with one of the local bike shops seeming to footing the bill. They did give away a $1500 bike/had a free beer challenge climb this short hill without putting your foot down and win the beer/they wanted you to win the beer/only negative is you bought your own food at the end of the ride which I was ok with that with the low entry fees/town although very small went all out to support this ride.

The Kansas ride spoiled me for any other rides I have done so far.

2nd I guess would be the Dirty Pecan in Monticello FL.
Course wasn't marked/ there was to be a town that you could get some food but I missed that/free event but collecting money for the 4h club which I think most donated to/lots of clay roads/still too much hard roads for my liking/great bar b q and beer at the finish

3rd Bootlegger 62/100 Lenoir NC
really nasty downhills/hairpin blind corners which from my end the downhills were white knuckled/great burrito and beer at the finish/2 drop bags they keep my small cooler/first 10 miles were hard roads and last 10 miles were hard roads/traffic was really heavy and lots of mountain bike racers with their bikes loaded racing to the tops of the mts making you eat dust/dirt.

4th Crush and Run 11 Lancaster PA. was a secret course you had to show up Friday night to get the cue sheet. We show up and no this isn't the real cue sheet you will get that in the morning but only in a 2 hr window. Make it to a cut off time to get the 2nd sheet of cue sheets and had a rest stop there/lots of single track/rode with some locals and we still got lost 3-4 times/no food at the end of the ride and the finish was kind on anticlimatic/way too much hard roads for my liking.

One of my things about gravel would be how many hard road miles was on this course? Sounds like not many. How many cars/trucks traffic did you see?

If you want to enjoy a gravel ride I can't suggest The Pony Express anymore that I already stated above.

Going to do the Farmer's Daughter in Chatham NY this weekend on the site I think they have 3 tough hike a bike areas as they have detours that you can take and kind of saying right now not taking them but who knows.

Thanks again for the ride report
Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Bikeguy

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DerekJ_MI
I got to the chaise and it was covered with a tarp and no one was in or around the van.  I was disappointed to say the least.  We moved on.

We did that last 45 mile leg in the day light and yes it had a lot of sand at 3 pm.  Each passing rider makes it all the more torn up.  What I'm pissed off about is that the route description specifically stated that the route is all totally ride-able.  Bull shit!  I figure that between the lakes we had to wade through and the sand we had to hike-a-bike across (after falling!) I lost at least an hour but it seemed longer.  Physiologically it kills you.

My rig is a Lynskey GR 250 with a Lauf fork.  I ran 45 Riddlers and they were fine, for me.  I did have to pump them up to 50 psi but I'm 6' and around 240 lbs. so for me it works.

 Congrats for finishing.  18% of the 212 milers didn't.


Nobody made you sign up, and nobody will force you to do it again... 
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JMosey

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DerekJ_MI
I got to the chaise and it was covered with a tarp and no one was in or around the van.  I was disappointed to say the least.  We moved on.

We did that last 45 mile leg in the day light and yes it had a lot of sand at 3 pm.  Each passing rider makes it all the more torn up.  What I'm pissed off about is that the route description specifically stated that the route is all totally ride-able.  Bull shit!  I figure that between the lakes we had to wade through and the sand we had to hike-a-bike across (after falling!) I lost at least an hour but it seemed longer.  Physiologically it kills you.

My rig is a Lynskey GR 250 with a Lauf fork.  I ran 45 Riddlers and they were fine, for me.  I did have to pump them up to 50 psi but I'm 6' and around 240 lbs. so for me it works.

 Congrats for finishing.  18% of the 212 milers didn't.


I spoke with Mark and they had no idea the course would change like that throughout the day... I don't think anyone did.  It's one of those things you learn about during a first year event.  I also asked him about the chaise and he said that Salsa reserves it for the longest distance at the five races, which is probably why it was covered when the 100 milers went through.  

Hopefully my initial post didn't come off as too negative.  I thought it went well, especially for an inaugural event with some complicated logistics.  I'm hoping they make a few tweaks to the course and know that Mark is going to ride some of it this weekend to get an idea of what the conditions were like.  I've already asked when I can sign up for next year... pushing it back a month will give us even more time to try and beat the sun!
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMosey


I spoke with Mark and they had no idea the course would change like that throughout the day... I don't think anyone did.  It's one of those things you learn about during a first year event.  I also asked him about the chaise and he said that Salsa reserves it for the longest distance at the five races, which is probably why it was covered when the 100 milers went through.  

Hopefully my initial post didn't come off as too negative.  I thought it went well, especially for an inaugural event with some complicated logistics.  I'm hoping they make a few tweaks to the course and know that Mark is going to ride some of it this weekend to get an idea of what the conditions were like.  I've already asked when I can sign up for next year... pushing it back a month will give us even more time to try and beat the sun!
I talked to both Mark and Matt as well and I told them I enjoyed the ride with the exceptions I've noted.  This isn't their first kick at the can.  They have over 30 events under their belt so I'm kind of not buying the "gee we didn't know" the conditions would be like they were.  The flooded roads, that's OK, that was uncontrollable.  But the quantity of hike-a-bike sand sections was frustrating especially since they explicitly state that the route is "100% rideable".  It wasn't, and that's OK too as long as we're prepared for it.  Now I suppose we are.  

I'm sure hope that they will tweak the route. 

I saw they posted that the ride next year will be June 22, 2019.  That's the weekend after MMM Spring Classic.  That should be a good weekend and it will allow the maximum amount of daylight to race the sun.  I will expect that there will be many more riders.


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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikeguy


Nobody made you sign up, and nobody will force you to do it again... 
Very True!  But I signed up based on "their" description of what participants were to expect.  98% of the route mostly exceeded that expectation.  The other 2% was somewhat frustrating.  Mean what you say, say what you mean.  That's all.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DerekJ_MI
Very True!  But I signed up based on "their" description of what participants were to expect.  98% of the route mostly exceeded that expectation.  The other 2% was somewhat frustrating.  Mean what you say, say what you mean.  That's all.


Derek_MI I actually believe that the organizer thought that the course was 100% able to ride when he set the course up. I can't imagine how much time it took to set up a 100 mile course and over a 200 mile course of gravel. I also thought that was some of the interest of the gravel riders, not knowing what tires to select and what the conditions would be like on race day. Look at the results of the Land Run 100 2 years ago and the Pairs to Ancaster ride in Canada. I tried to read all the ride reports and stories of rides that I have some interest in. Looking at Spotted Horse 150/200 in Iowa I believe run by Sarah Cooper a solo RAAM rider. She tried setting her course up to show off the best gravel riding in Iowa. She rode almost of the course as much as she could and kept doing updates. Last year the weather was so nasty she actually had to change the course on race day but didn't get it change before some riders went thru so adjusted some of their times. Not very many riders finished the 200 miler from what results I saw. So you never know what you are going to run into on race day.

Coming from PA. I would take 98% gravel any day of the week. You don't know how good you have it out there until you come and ride 50% gravel or so in a ride in Pa.

Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurichman


Derek_MI I actually believe that the organizer thought that the course was 100% able to ride when he set the course up. I can't imagine how much time it took to set up a 100 mile course and over a 200 mile course of gravel. I also thought that was some of the interest of the gravel riders, not knowing what tires to select and what the conditions would be like on race day. Look at the results of the Land Run 100 2 years ago and the Pairs to Ancaster ride in Canada. I tried to read all the ride reports and stories of rides that I have some interest in. Looking at Spotted Horse 150/200 in Iowa I believe run by Sarah Cooper a solo RAAM rider. She tried setting her course up to show off the best gravel riding in Iowa. She rode almost of the course as much as she could and kept doing updates. Last year the weather was so nasty she actually had to change the course on race day but didn't get it change before some riders went thru so adjusted some of their times. Not very many riders finished the 200 miler from what results I saw. So you never know what you are going to run into on race day.

Coming from PA. I would take 98% gravel any day of the week. You don't know how good you have it out there until you come and ride 50% gravel or so in a ride in Pa.

Zman
You make good points.  On the one hand being totally honest that the route will require hike-a-bike through water and sand comes with the potential to scare off riders.  Not good for a first year event.  But on the other hand if you describe the route as being totally rideable and it's not then you potentially risk scaring away future riders.  It's a balance and I'm sure there will be some sorting out.   Thinking more about the event and talking to my two friends who rode the 212 route I don't think they will change much.  Well, maybe the statement about the route being 100% rideable will go away! Lol.  And that probably is a good thing.

I think next years event will draw a much larger crowd, especially for the 100 mile event.  Logistically I hope they can get the start organized better.  Doubling the number of riders will make the starts really tough as space is limited.  I can't imagine 700 people at either location.

It's too bad that there isn't a good finishing area on the east side of the State so we could ride west to east.  Ludington is a nice town and perfect, but there isn't anything really like it on Lake Huron.

Sorry to hear that PA has an aggressive road paving program.




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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #11 
DerekJ_MI you never said what the weather conditions were before the ride. When they rode the course or set it up it might have been rideable. I am doing the Farmer's Daughter this weekend. In the ride listing they have all the off road sections marked and have some bail out options on a couple of them. With it raining up there all week I expect some hike a bike and muddy sections that might not have been there when they did a pre ride of the course. Go over and read the write up on the Spotted Horse. It read to me that Sarah Cooper being an Ultra distance roadie(RAAM solo rider)/gravel rider that she was riding the course all the time to get the feel of the road conditions and for conditioning . Then a massive storm came in the night before the ride and ride day and she had to detour a section or her ride/race. After reading that I am thankful for anybody that has the guts and mental fortitude to set up a ride that we will enjoy especially if they are going out there riding the course setting it up. I think I was on 1 roadie ride where they were just using Google points so yeah the landmarks/turns were off.


Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #12 
Sounds like a really good ride, how did it go? 

It seems that Sarah has good situational awareness.  She knew what to do when mother nature tossed mayhem at her. 

The weather was heavy rain for two days before the event.  Stopped just before the ride started.  The flooded roads were unfortunate and unexpected and that stuff happens. No way to plan ahead unless you happen to be there and know that condition exists (or you check with the County road commission to see what sections tend to flood).  But even checking with locals might not give you a good picture.  Again, it happens. 


Next year will be different!  Hotter temps for sure.  More daylight and I'd bet more sand.  More riders too.  Plus I'll bet more folks run wider tires.  I was on Riddler 45's and for 99% of the route they were just fine.  I'm going to run them at DK as I used them last year and they worked great.  Not one flat.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #13 

Great feedback.  Glad I found this post.  I was pretty interested in doing this, but wasn’t sure that I was up for a suffer fest like this (although I would have done it if I was single).  Too bad, as after spending most of the winter in our new velodrome I was in pretty good shape this spring (for a change). 

Seems to me that it would be hard to do a course like this (here) without a fair amount of sand and snowmobile trails.  I can only imagine what the last 45 miles was lie.  That and the Fall was crazy wet and cold this year. Still, Zman is right – we have it good in MI. 

I agree.  I also like to ride downwind – if we get a day with a good westerly wind, heading to the west coast would be a killer.  A strong easterly wind is a rare thing. That and I always wonder in events like this (or Iceman) if I’m going too hard in the beginning to hit the hills and harder stuff at the end. 

 

“It's too bad that there isn't a good finishing area on the east side of the State so we could ride west to east.  Ludington is a nice town and perfect, but there isn't anything really like it on Lake Huron.”

I agree.  I also like to ride downwind – if we get a day with a good westerly wind, heading to the west coast would be a killer.  A strong easterly wind is a rare thing. That and I always wonder in events like this (or Iceman) if I’m going too hard in the beginning to hit the hills and harder stuff at the end. 

 

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