With the State Championship Road Race creeping up, Cherry-Roubaix organizers have been fielding the best emails possible heading into a race: it’s too hard.
The Cherry-Roubai returns to Sugar Loaf this year, joined by a handful of new climbs and the infamous old favorite, Narlock. It’s 23 miles of pure torture, and only the exclusion this year of the southern part of Schomberg keeps it from being completely cruel. But is it the hardest race in the state?
Ruling out MTB marathons and 100 milers, which course is the hardest? Write on the Facebook wall with your replies, or comment below. Here are some contenders.
The Crybaby Classic went from being a wide-open climb-fest to a tight, singletrack climbfest that is almost always near freezing at the start. Think of it as the Iceman but with some actual obstacles, about five times the elevation gain, and a twisty section of new trail tacked on nearly every year. This race usually provides some exciting Elite races, but most other fields have gigantic time gaps throughout even the top ten.
The Rustshaker, and it’s summer counterpart the Sweatshaker, don’t feature a ton of climbing. It’s not the most techinical course out there, though it’s probably close. It’s one of the hardest races because it’s so rough. The new, rarely used trail systems are punctuated by roots, rocks and all sort of off-camber turns that punish riders. More than one rider reported bleeding in the nether regions after the Sweatshaker this past June. It’s a race that is proves that the true challenges of an event often go beyond the hard data. At Sweatshaker, throw out the elevation, the average speed, all of it. The beating can’t really be accurately measured.
The Barry-Roubaix‘s most common comment is that there is a lot more climbing than one might think. There’s a sort of constant undulation under constant pressure over gravel roads. As a rule, it’s absolutely frigid at the start as well, with many riders going most of the race with frozen water bottles. The climbs themselves aren’t completely insane, but the speed at which they are taken and the consequences of being dropped are fatal. Lose a wheel at Barry-Roubaix, and the only one you’ll get again is from another group passing you.
What do YOU think is the hardest bike race in Michigan? MTB, Road or Cyclocross, though we aren’t including Hundos. Those are obviously rather tough.