We've been very lucky to add some amazing gravel events in Michigan over the past few years, and even more fortunate to have an event like the Lowell 50 cap off the gravel road race season.
The Barry-Roubaix started it all, and in the years since its inception, the race has grown to a mini-Iceman that draws riders from all over the country. For the past two seasons, Barry-Roubaix has been joined in the spring by the first Lowell race of the year. Almost always on the same weekend as Paris-Roubaix, the spring Lowell 50 is simply a thrilling ride.
Lined by icy, frozen furrows of quarter-bent corn stalks in wind-swept fields, the spring race is usually half survival and half tactical showdown. The fall edition, which falls on October 25 this year, is a completely different animal. With most racers entering after a full season of racing and training, the race stays together longer, with more riders, until they're picked off by a few small sharp climbs, the wind, and the accelerations of big names like Dan Korienek, Nate Williams, Tom Linck or Matt Acker.
At the shop, Jason Lowetz is cleaning up an amply used Salsa Warbird Ti for the occasion, a dedicated gravel bike with some ZIPP bits in all the right places. One of the major differences on this bike to a normal cyclocross bike is the additions of a compact 50/34 crankset, a road set-up instead of a traditional 46/36 crankset found on most bikes. It allows for a bit more gearing options at speed, a handy advantage over the flat, fast and open roads of Lowell's endless farming communities.
If you haven't gotten out to ride some gravel, the Lowell 50 is a great event to try it out. The beautiful lodge at Fallasberg Park, the free donuts, and the beautiful, striking colors of the countryside make it a rewarding race or tour.
Stay tuned for more gravel adventures, including the 100 mile White Pine Ride in November.