It’s spring in Michigan. The sun has a tangible effect on your skin as it eases out from behind voluminous layers of billowing clouds. The snow, even 24″ of it, is sinking and disappearing. It lurks only in the shadows, in deep forests and winding trails hidden from all light. The wind whips, but don’t complain. It will not relent until June.  

Races are already creeping up on riders who’ve been hidden away in makeshift ‘Pain Caves’ since December. Even though much of the state was treated to a mild winter that allowed for rides in February (yes, that deserves emphasis) the daily workout was often spent spinning and going nowhere. Those days are behind us. Even if foul weather returns, it won’t stay long. Besides, races don’t get cancelled for snow in Michigan (I’m looking at you, Tour of California) so get out and get going.

The first big race of the 2012 season is the Barry-Roubaix. kolo t.c. will dedicate much of next week to Barry-Roubaix previews, weather forecasts and general preparation, including an interview with race promotor extraordinaire Rick Plite. The Killer Gravel Road Race now welcomes 1,500 riders, many of them from the Grand Rapids and Traverse City areas.

It’s a short six days until racing kicks back up with the first hard decision of 2012. The Lowell 50 makes its Spring debut after its Fall edition impressed. Replete with a solid gravel road course, some serious climbs and  podium girls, The Thriller After The Killer will draw the best from the Roubaix just a few miles over to Lowell, Michigan. The addition of the Lowell 50 to the calendar gives Michigan an outstanding two-week treat to gravel racing, similar to the Omloop-KBK ProTour kick-off but with 6 days off in-between.

 

The other choice on March 31 is the St. Fatty’s Day Fat Bike Fest at Marsh Ridge in Gaylord. For the Traverse City cycling crowd, Gaylord is a hop, skip and a jump through Kalkaska away and half the distance that a drive to Lowell would entail. The race is a celebration to the plumpest of bikes, the Fat Bikes. St. Fatty’s will feature Fat Bike Solo and Duo classes as well as a normal mountain bike division at the race. If the snow isn’t still sticking by the end of the month, race promotor (and total badass) Jason Lowetz of Einstein Cycles says it will be the muddiest bike race in the history of mankind. Don’t expect him to disappoint.

Registration for Barry-Roubaix has been closed since February 4th, but both the Lowell 50 and St. Fatty’s both have open slots to sign up. kolo t.c. will be covering the Barry-Roubaix live and in living color (on Twitter) and have full galleries, videos and race recaps the evening of March 24. On the 31st, kolo t.c. will venture north for St. Fatty’s and provide the same happy offering by 9pm, sharp. Or thereabouts.

Use the Races page to check out this month’s races and sign up. It will make you a better person.