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One of the toughest circuits in the state is confirmed for Saturday’s showdown at the Village. 

Some changes to a brutal course haven’t done anything to make it easier. While the 25% pitches of the DH Climb have been removed, the climb of Traverse City’s newest race will still be one of the biggest of any race around. The 261 foot Fire Road Climb is taller than any climb on the Cherry-Roubaix road race course, and all in just seven tenths of a mile in length.

The Fire Road Climb will be the first test of the loop after a difficult and rough sprint along Red Drive. The curvy, speed-bump ridden road gives way quickly to a short dirt road that is pockmarked to the point of despair. The climb starts quick from there, turning towards the heavens at over 10% for the first 75 yards. The gradient relaxes slightly to around 5% before kicking again, this time taking on a stretch of over 15% for a further 50 yards. The trail opens back up to a wider fire road, though ‘road’ wouldn’t be a fair description. The climb kicks and relaxes, with pockets of sand, leaves, rock and washed out portions all the way to the top, with two distinct gradients of over 15% in the last 200 yards of the climb.

Over the top, it flattens for a stretch before diving down a freshly created switchback descent. The rough curves spill out to a flat and fast sprint towards Hushovd Hill, a favorite of local racer Wes Sovis. After the punchy climb of 75 feet at 16%, it’s another flat and descent as riders traverse the face of the hill, with the full, stunning glory of the State Hospital and downtown Traverse City over their right shoulder.

The last challenge is a tricky descent and fording of a dried up creek bed, though the wet black mud can certainly suck out some speed. From there, it’s a drag race north towards Munson and an abrupt about-face back toward the start and finish venue at Left Foot Charley’s and Higher Grounds.

Each loop is roughly 3.4 miles in length, and should take about 17 minutes if you’re a fairly average and chubby Expert racer. The temptation is to empty the tank early, but be mindful; that climb is harder the second time than the first, and by the fifth lap, every rider will be in full-on survival mode as their make their final ascent.

kolo t.c. sponsor Brockmiller Elite Endurance is hosting a race preview Wednesday at 6pm at the Left Foot Charley’s square. Lauri will guide the riders for one loop of the course and a respectable pace. Join in and check out the circuit, and be sure to sign up.