Spring means gravel in Grand Rapids, and we've got the best calendar of gravel events in the Midwest! Grinding season starts with Melting Mann and keeps rolling the following weekend with the first annual Dirty Thirty!
We're as anxious as anyone to get out on the dirt this spring, but with the wicked freeze/thaw cycle in place, gravel roads are the easiest way to explore, get fit, and certainly race this time of the year. Our area has one of the best gravel race scenes around, with events all over West Michigan offering their own unique take on how to make a race tough and fun. Kicking off the local gravel season is Melting Mann.
Located down in Vandalia, Melting Mann is entering its fifth year. With it's late March time slot, the weather has ranged from idyllic and warm, cold and rain, and downright frigid and snowy! Course conditions this time of year are very dynamic, making tire and gearing selection for the race always a part of the challenge, or part of the fun, depending on how you look at it.
At over 90% gravel, Melting Mann is as pure a gravel challenge as you'll find in the state. Aside from some asphalt at the start/finish, the roads offer largely fast and smooth roads but a few important rough and technical two-tracks that often serve as the selection points in the 35 mile Long course.
Melting Mann registration is wide open online, so get yourself signed up right here.
If you can't make it on March 25, or if the first race only whetted your appetite, great news. The Dirty Thirty is another chance to get out and put down some power, this time even closer to home in Saranac, only a short drive from Grand Rapids. The race starts and finishes right downtown, heading north in the wide-open, wind-swept farm fields that surround the town. Expect crosswinds to split the field early, and watch for those gaps to open further as the race turns south and hits the hills near the river.
Both events offer a short course for those who haven't been able to get many miles in this winter, or for folks that just want to see what gravel racing is all about. There really isn't a more accessible type or racing than gravel, and there's no better place to get into it than West Michigan. We are absolutely spoiled for great roads, great rides, and great races throughout the year, and it all gets started in March!
If you've got questions about these races, gravel riding, or what the best bike for gravel roads might be for you, swing by and we'll show you all the bikes, tires, and more.