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At just over a month away, one of the toughest races in the Midwest returns for its second running. 

The X100 wowed riders in 2013 with mile after mile of singletrack, tight turns and fast racers. The inaugural edition was won by Jorden Wakeley, with Jason Lowetz slotting in second. Marylin Kamp was the women’s winner, followed by a gutsy ride from Brenda Carlson-Brown.

The true measure of this race was in the finish rate, which whittled off riders before the first third of the race was completed. Many riders scoffed at the relatively flat profile in the opening 33 miles, with only the slight ascent up from Ranch Rudolf making much of a spike on the map. Miles of twisting, turning trail, however, proved just as selective, and even in the early morning heat, the attrition of a tough ride tore like a scythe at the first and second checkpoints. First time endurance races, veterans and fast folks alike dropped out, with a 50% drop out rate in the women’s field and nearly that in the men’s.

That experience has a lot of riders vowing revenge on the course. Many locals have shifted gears after a busy spring race season to focus their training on the big miles of the X100. And it’s certainly a daunting task, with most riders completing the ride after nine hours on the bike, and many more over twelve hours. It was grueling day, but for many, one that reaffirmed the thrill and pride of completing such a tough event. Stacy Smith, who bowed out

Registration is open and has nearly doubled last year’s number of riders. The allure of Northern Michigan in late August is tough to ignore, as is the course that features even more singletrack than last year, and nearly all of it in pristine shape. The Team Relay class also expects to be a big draw, with three riders splitting the 100 miles to see who has the depth of squad to bring home a rather big scalp in the Traverse City area, and indeed, the Midwest.

The race also has a 50 mile option, and is unveiling a 20 mile Beginner race for those just getting into the sport. The X50 race last year featured a morning-long duel between a number of fast riders, but also some very satisfied smiles from riders trying to prove themselves capable of a very long day in the saddle in tough conditions. Expect to see a similar sort of satisfaction from Beginners this year in the X20.

The 50 mile gravel race from last year is getting it’s own date in 2014. The Rock Road 50/50 will offer 50 mile and 30km routes that include a short portion of the Vasa Pathway before hitting the fast, open gravel road between Traverse City and Kalkaska, including a long grade up along Dockery Road and a challenging descent to Deal Road that will test riders’ bike handling skills.