The last gravel race of 2018 is just over a week away, and we didn’t want you to miss it.
We were on hand way, way, way back in March when the Michigan Gravel Race Series kicked off at Melting Mann. It’s hard to say if that feels like just yesterday or a whole lifetime ago; spring, summer, and fall have flown by, but we’ve been able to squeeze in some great rides and a lot of fun memories.
While you can certainly grind all winter, October 27 offers up a decidedly spooky finale to the MGRS at The Lowell 50. With the Rogue 100 replacing the traditional 57 mile course, riders who love the normal route have had to wait a full year since the last time they battled the wind, rolling hills, and tough field the Flat River Class always seems have in store. There’s also a rather testing 34 mile route that, while cutting out some long stretches to the east, still includes nearly all of the punchy hills that start and end the 57 mile route as well. For a race with plenty of farmland, you’ll have to have your climbing legs on at least a few times.
It’s also a great course for a true gravel or cyclocross bike, with riders often switching up their tires based on conditions. Our own Ted Lott says the course was hard and fast to kick off the month of October, so unless things change, normal 35mm tires should be a nice, safe bet for race day. Of course, it also comes down to personal preference; we’ve seen riders on everything from 25mm road tires to the stacked fat bike class on four inch tires, too!
What might be our favorite option is the 47mm WTB Byway. Designed for 650b ‘road plus’ wheels, the 47mm width fits in most all road bikes like the Kona Rove or Sutra, giving you drop bars and road gearing, but a bit more rubber to smooth out rough gravel or to keep a bit of flotation over loose stone or sand. These also offer up just enough tread and sidewall protection to make them rather serviceable on the trails, too, although anything too techy would be more work than pleasure.
Make sure you get your gravel rig in for a quick tune-up and tubeless refresh, and give the Lowell 50 a try! Best of luck to everyone willing to push themselves and enjoy some stunning fall colors in the heat of a chilly fall classic.