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A final word of encouragement. Not that you need it.

It’s been a winter that’s stretched on a bit too long, a bit too cold, and a bit too gray. Barry-Roubaix is no “Race to the Sun”; it’s no mark of spring, no mark of coming nice weather, no promise of anything. It’s a race that stands simply as itself, and over the past few years, that has morphed into one of the largest gravel events in the country and one of the top two or three largest bike race in Michigan. And unlike so many other races, it’s done so in spite of its weather, in spite of its difficulty. It’s done it because there are thousands of riders in the Midwest who, with no decent weather to train in, with the promise of cold and wet conditions, over one of the hardest courses they’ll face all season, still simply can’t wait to get on a bike.

This year, like last year, will be a race for perhaps a few hundred of the nearly 3,000 registered riders. The rest will plow on, turning over the pedals with more concern for finishing than for how quickly. They’ll encourage one another, help one another. They will share a bottle and an energy bar. Dozens will stop to help a complete stranger fix a flat, or to check on a downed rider, because that’s what cyclists do.

Saturday is a big day because it is a massive race, a massive test, and a massively good time. Enjoy it. Ride hard. Get tired. Don’t give up.