State cycling championship changes course, bypasses Cedar
The start and finish line for the Cherry-Roubaix event is atop Sugar Loaf Mountain in Cedar, starting at 9 a.m.
The 23.3-mile route is a big switch from the 15.5-mile loop and ride that started and finished in downtown Cedar a year ago.
“Downtown Cedar was great, we loved it,” said Tim Barrons, race director and a member of the Hagerty Racing Pro Team which is hosting the state cycling championship for the second straight year. “The community was awesome, the merchants were great and the volunteers were great.
“The racers loved to be in there and the sponsors loved being there.”
“We didn’t realize how many people came in and out of Cedar on a Sunday,” Barrons said. “We thought there would be a few cars here and then, but it was a popular place.”
Barrons said there were folks who used the park in Cedar and county visitors who used Cedar as an alternate route south to head home.
“It became a challenge to manage traffic so it became a safety issue,” said Barrons, who noted there were no accidents or incidents involving vehicular traffic and cyclists last year.
Traffic should not be as hard to manage on the new course, which starts at Sugar Loaf Mountain Rd., heads east to Townline, then north to Eitzen, east to Good Harbor Trail and then north to Hohnke. It continues east to Schomberg and then north to Dufek and then east again to French Road (County Road 645).
The course heads south on French Road and turns west onto Gatzke. The course continues west to Townline and Narlock and then west to Lime Lake Road north to M-22. The course heads north on M-22 to Sugar Loaf Mountain Road and then south to the finish line at Sugar Loaf.
“The finish on top of the hill adds a different dynamic to the course,” Barrons said.
Last year’s finish was a sprint down into Cedar.
“Most of the cyclists were going over 30 miles per hour into Cedar,” he said. “That dynamic allowed for large groups of bikes to be together on the road and a sprint to the finish.
“This finish is a gradual climb and will probably have shattered cyclists all over the road.”
Barrons said the longer looped course will allow for good racing.
“The ultimate goal was to put together a course with the best terrain in our area,” he said. “This course is amazing.
“It has the best of everything.”
Barrons said there are still some gradual climbing sections, but there are also long sections of flats.
“I feel this course will be a little more challenging distance wise, but there’s more road topography for every type of racer,” he said.
Barrons said that Schomberg has two great hills that have a false flat grind to them and Dufek “is a pretty little section.”
The top pros will race four laps for a total of 93.3 miles.
This year, all the pro races and the various category races including juniors will begin about five minutes apart, starting at 9 a.m.
“Last year some of the races didn’t start until noon because there was a concern of having categories overlapping and being too close together,” Barrons said. “This year, with a longer course, we’ll have more cyclists on the road.”
The racers will miss downtown Cedar, Barrons said. In addition to the fans that lined the streets, sponsors and merchant food tents make for a great racing venue, he added.
The event’s title sponsor is the Garan, Lucow, Miller, PC, a Traverse City law firm. The state championship is endorsed by the Michigan Bike Race Association in conjunction with USA Cycling, Inc.
Last year nearly 600 racers competed in the three-day Cherry-Roubaix. Barrons expected a similar turnout. Top pro racer Chris Fisher, a Leland native who won the Cedar race last year, is expected back to defend his title.
This year, there will be a six-minute prologue time trial on Friday, Aug. 10 on the Old Mission Peninsula, instead of a sprint in downtown Traverse City. On Saturday, Aug. 11 there will be a highly competitive Old Town Criterium in Traverse City in the afternoon and a leisurely charity ride for breast cancer awareness in the morning.