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A revamped, rethought and much more testing course opens up a tough weekend of racing in Traverse City. 

The new circuit for the 2013 Cherry-Roubaix is a move very much in line with the rest of the weekend. The former state championship road race is known for its tough climbs, and with the same course on Sunday, the field will need its climbing legs ready. Now, however, the identity of the Roubaix as a climber’s weekend will be solidified with a lumpy, testing time trial on Old Mission Peninsula.

The race organization’s move lengthens the race, which also means the time gaps will be bigger from Pros to the massive Citizen’s Race. Now, the CAT 5 sandbagger on a $6,000 time trial bike will be in his full glory, with a 13 mile loop with which to make himself feel like a big man.

The course begins the same as last year, with a flat to gradual climb from Peninsula Township Park north along Neatahwanta Rd., running along Bowers Harbor. Rider won’t have much time to enjoy the view before climbing the first step of elevation as the road swings dead north, rising twice over the next two miles along Kroupa Road. As Kroupa curves to Peninsula Drive, the new course brings the riders north yet again, up along Peninsula Dr. and the first of two passes of the Eimen Road Climb. From the south, the approach is more gradual, but wears on the legs. This part of the course will still suit powerful riders, though they’ll be rewarded with a fast descent to the turnaround point.

The course is an out and back, but the ride back south is very different. The most decisive part of the race may be right after the turnaround at Old Mission Road. There’s a slight descent before taking on the steepside of the Eimen Road Climb, which may be a test for riders not used to switching from time trial efforts to climbing. There’s a very fast descent before two small climbs heading west again, then it’s all down hill to the start-finish.

While the course isn’t hilly enough to call on a regular road bike, a more traditional set-up may not be such a disadvantage, even over 13 miles. That said, a strong rider on a time trial bike will certainly beat one on a road bike, a glaring unfairness at this level of the sport. While time trial bikes are a reality at the amateur level, there should be some restrictions, especially in the CAT 5 race. There will be people making their first starts ever going out at 30 seconds ahead of riders on $5,000 time trial bikes. It’s a gap that goes way beyond ability, and makes entry into the sport somewhat intimidating.

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