DerekJ_MI
I didn't do the race.  I have a lot of issues with the ride and I don't like hike-a-bike more for that a few times for very short distances.  And there are a bunch of other issues that "I" don't really care for but to each is his own and it is what it is and if you like that type of event more power to you.  I road DK three weeks ago so I got in my epic 200+ mile event in for the year.   And I did ride the coast loop last year and liked most of what that was all about except for the flooded roads.  

So to those that competed the event what was your overall take on the event?  For those who did it last year how was this year better, or, worse?  
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nellborg
I did the 210 and thought it was fantastic.  The terrain was quite varied and that made the miles tick by fairly quickly.  We started out on flat gravel roads through farmland and then rolled up and down small hills and through hardwoods and past grassy fields.  The middle third added lots more dirt road climbing (50-300' climbs, so nothing major and nothing steep or needing more than a 1 : 1 gear ratio) and gently rolling single lane roads that wound though a dense canopy of forests.  We also had many miles (20 to 30?) of sandy/loamy two track that snaked though pine and fern forests which was really the highlight of this event.  The two track was broken up into many segments of several miles long, and if your energy was good, then you would be in and out of the saddle and switching tracks continually to find the fastest line.  The last 30 miles or so was mostly all gravel roads with longer shallow climbs and descents west to the coast.  I probably got off my bike about 4x during the middle third of the course and walked for distances of 20 to 40 yrds around deeper sand pits, and up one sandy hill that was maybe 100 yrds long.  If you have reasonable bike handling skills in sand and maybe some mtb experience, then all the other short sandy areas were fun and completely rideable with normal 43c gravel tires (I used GK sk's).  I didn't mind at all having to dismount a few times and walk the short sandy sections as it gave me a chance to stretch my legs for a minute.  Such a great course...Plus, it was well marked in the woods and the gpx file was spot-on.   
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DerekJ_MI
What was the start like?  I mean, having a start on a dead end road seems to me to be really asking for a lot of problems logistically speaking.  If the event grows next year can that starting area handle more riders?  
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nellborg
It wasn't really on a dead end road because while there was only one paved road in, there was also a dirt road out.  I suspect that the race director didn't want 300 vehicles driving all the way to the start line because with all those vehicles turning around inside the campground at 0500, it could have been a mess for them.  The dirt road out wasn't all that bad, either, because our chartered JDRF bus accidentally took that way in on Friday evening.

The start line at the campground/marina could easily have handled twice the number of riders as it didn't seem all that crowded.  I'm not familiar with that general area, but I suspect there might be a better place to hold the start if the numbers grow.  The reason why I say that is because bathrooms seemed to be few in number (and I didn't see any honey buckets) and I'm not sure that all the campers appreciated all the ruckus in their midst from 0500-0600.  
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Koyote
@DerekJ_MI : I'm considering this race for next year, and am wondering if you would elaborate on your issues with the C2C? If you're not comfortable doing that, I understand.
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Renegade
I too am looking @C2C instead of DK.  Being from you Michigan, you would have the inside scoop.
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Zurichman
Koyote look at the old thread from last year. I think if I remember right that there was a very long mud hole that make it a somewhat long hike a bike. Sounds like they might have worked it out better this year.

Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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msugrad96
I rode it for the first time this year and wow, what an amazing event.  Gravel is supposed to be an adventure and this didn't disappoint, from the early mud pit that everyone was able to get through, to seeing bears cross the road, to the beauty of the Manistee National Forest.  Overall, I'm not sure a point to point race could be ran much more seamlessly.  The organizers try to work with the counties to see if they can be taken care of in the weeks leading up to the race and for the 2 track areas, it was marked perfectly. 

Yes there is sand.  This is Michigan and we are between two beautiful lakes that have sand.  As @nellborg said, it was actually refreshing in a couple spots to walk through and stretch the legs.  I think I was off the bike maybe 6-7 times which was less than I was 2 weeks prior when I rode the last half.  

The start could handle about 100-200 more folks and the organizers look to cap the entries I think at 550.  Bathrooms could be an issue, but this is something that could be dealt with easily.  The paved road leading in has plenty of space to park.  

I think the only negative that I had was that there were a couple of very busy road crossings that I had to wait at for quite some time and then took a chance to get across.  They were close to the middle of the race, so it would be difficult to have police stopping traffic and it both directions were visible.  Not sure what they could do about this besides me riding faster and getting to the spot earlier when there's less traffic.  
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chas
good feedback, thanks!!!
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Zurichman
I have a few question while it is fresh in everybody's mind.

What was the entry fee?
Was the course marked at all or where you on your own to navigate the course?
With what looked to be 300 riders where you riding around other riders or did they spread out quickly?
If it started a 5 AM when did most of the riders finish?
How many miles was it?
Was there a finish line cutoff time or cut off times along the course?
What was the close town to get a hotel the night before the ride and how far was it from the start line?

Thanks
Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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DerekJ_MI
Zurichman wrote:
I have a few question while it is fresh in everybody's mind.

What was the entry fee?
Was the course marked at all or where you on your own to navigate the course?
With what looked to be 300 riders where you riding around other riders or did they spread out quickly?
If it started a 5 AM when did most of the riders finish?
How many miles was it?
Was there a finish line cutoff time or cut off times along the course?
What was the close town to get a hotel the night before the ride and how far was it from the start line?

Thanks
Zman


As far as I know:

  • Entry fee was progressive but started at $160.00
  • The course is unmarked except that in the western portions of the route, in the deep woods, they did mark many if not all of the turns on the dirt two tracks.
  • Last year when I rode it the riders spread out really quickly.  But you could see riders all the way to the first check point.  later in the day you were at times all alone. In contrast I didn't turn on my Garmin at DK until mile 135.  I just followed the heard and had no issues.  I saved a ton a battery life.  This said, with my Garmin off I didn't track my speed or timing.  But I didn't care.
  • the event started at 6 am, not 5 am,
  • You can go see the results and see that folks finished all day and night long.
  • 210 miles I think is the total distance.
  • There were both check point cut off times and a finish line time limit. I think it's listed in the rules on their web page.
  • Lodging is probably the biggest issue for the night before the ride.  There are very few close by hotels or motels available and they fill quickly.  Camping is also available but limited. There are no good choices and if they do fill up to 550 riders finding a place to stay will require as much as a 40 minute car ride to get to the start line.  Ludington is a different story.  Many places to stay.  Much bigger town and it's kind of a beach front resort.  Very nice, good food and brew pubs.

If you are out of state coming in I would make reservations now for next year.  Use Google maps to find the local lodging places then call them.  Like DK, I get my lodging set up as soon as I know I'm going to go..

Good luck.
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Koyote
Zman:  if you are on Facebook, you will find pages for both the coast to coast gravel grinder and for a coast to coast gravel grinder group.  For the latter, you will have to ask to be admitted – and they will put you on the list. There you will find lots of feedback from people who have actually done the event. 

I booked my lodging today – both for the starting line and the finish. Rooms are going fast apparently. 
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Zurichman
Koyote wrote:
Zman:  if you are on Facebook, you will find pages for both the coast to coast gravel grinder and for a coast to coast gravel grinder group.  For the latter, you will have to ask to be admitted – and they will put you on the list. There you will find lots of feedback from people who have actually done the event. 

I booked my lodging today – both for the starting line and the finish. Rooms are going fast apparently. 


So the last question would be and thanks for the info Koyote and DerekJ_MI

For somebody that is coming in from out of State with no crew people(can't have one right) How do you get back to the start line?

Koyote would you feel comfortable here sharing which hotels you booked or private message me? I do have Facebook so I will try that. Thanks 

Thanks
Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Koyote
Zman,  just go to the C2C website and you will find lodging recommendations. I just called one place near the start line, and another near the finish, and made my reservations over the phone. I have no idea about the prices – didn’t ask. Does not matter to me. 
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nellborg
Zman, I signed up for the race 5 days before the event and was able to book a hotel one block from the finish in Ludington for Saturday night (race day), so there were still rooms available.  And that's with 375? starters in the 210 mile race this year.

On Friday, the day before the race, about 45 of us racers drove to the finish area in Ludington and left our vehicles.  We all hopped on the JDRF chartered bus for the ride across the state and then got shuttled to where we were staying for the night - most of us slept on the floor in a local church just a few miles from the start line.  The same JDRF volunteers then crewed for all of us at all three CP's and then brought all our gear bags to the finish area that evening.  All for $150 - which was a bargain.  I heard that the race organizers were going to look into trying to expand that service for next year's race because not everyone has someone who can crew for them.

However, you could probably have driven to the start line, paid the lesser price/donation of $50 to have the JDRF people crew for you during the race, and then arranged with somebody to get a ride back to the start area to get your car - though the logistics of that would be difficult because your finishing time would be less predictable, and I'm not sure how many people were driving back to the start.
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Zurichman
Koyote wrote:
Zman,  just go to the C2C website and you will find lodging recommendations. I just called one place near the start line, and another near the finish, and made my reservations over the phone. I have no idea about the prices – didn’t ask. Does not matter to me. 


Thanks Koyote Have you done a long distance gravel ride before? I have done plenty but not any long ones yet.

Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Zurichman
nellborg wrote:
Zman, I signed up for the race 5 days before the event and was able to book a hotel one block from the finish in Ludington for Saturday night (race day), so there were still rooms available.  And that's with 375? starters in the 210 mile race this year.

On Friday, the day before the race, about 45 of us racers drove to the finish area in Ludington and left our vehicles.  We all hopped on the JDRF chartered bus for the ride across the state and then got shuttled to where we were staying for the night - most of us slept on the floor in a local church just a few miles from the start line.  The same JDRF volunteers then crewed for all of us at all three CP's and then brought all our gear bags to the finish area that evening.  All for $150 - which was a bargain.  I heard that the race organizers were going to look into trying to expand that service for next year's race because not everyone has someone who can crew for them.

However, you could probably have driven to the start line, paid the lesser price/donation of $50 to have the JDRF people crew for you during the race, and then arranged with somebody to get a ride back to the start area to get your car - though the logistics of that would be difficult because your finishing time would be less predictable, and I'm not sure how many people were driving back to the start.


Thanks for that info nellborg. Yes $150 would be a bargain as that would be cheaper than me having to fly somebody out there. I also would have somebody taking care of me that knows cycling versus somebody that I might take that probably wouldn't.

Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Wonkey
Not really understanding the negativity @DerekJ_MI regarding C2C. To compare it to DK is a little disingenuous to both events as they are entirely different; furthermore, DK has been around for 7 years and has now been purchased for a corporate entity. 

I’ve done both DK and C2C and I loved them both for what they are. I do agree that finding accommodations can be difficult for a point to point event like C2C and that is why you’ll never see it grow to 2000+ riders like DK or even Land Run, which also is notorious for hike a bike but you don’t see them having trouble filling the 1000 rider cap each year. 

If C2C went to an out and back format like a DK or LR, I have no doubt you’d have a event that would rival those in size, popularity, and commercial backing. 

But we ride bikes because we love it. We ride grassroots gravel events, and gravel in general, because we get to see parts of the country, towns, convenience stores, bakeries, meet people, dodge cattle poop, learn to change flats, find joy in riding alone, learn our limits and all the other things we wouldn’t otherwise get to experience if we simply hopped on a road or mtb bike. 
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Millbilly
Hike a bike was a non issue for the  210 mile route. There were a couple run/walk ups, but hardly a memorable part of the race. 

As others have commented the logistics at the start are also not a problem. If you wanted you could have rolled up at 10 mins to the start and been fine. If the race grows in the future I’m sure the organizers will make sure that is accounted for.

They definitely went out of their way to make sure everyone came away with a positive experience. These guys ran rider meetings all day on on Friday, we’re on the course and at the finish until 3am Saturday, then setting up awards breakfast early Sunday.

Good food at the finish as well as lots of raffle prizes and swag for the riders makes it good value from my perspective.

This was my first time doing a race in Michigan and I love the vibe of the gravel scene there. Hope to be back next year.
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chas
Millbilly wrote:

This was my first time doing a race in Michigan and I love the vibe of the gravel scene there. Hope to be back next year.
 

Glad you liked it.  We have a huge amount of gravel (see "gravel maps").  I laugh that some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country are here and have a fair amount of gravel - so we don't even have to leave town.

C2C is only in its second year.  Sounds like they are doing a great job with what they have.  There is a gravel race series in MI - so plenty to do other than C2C.
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Zurichman
chas wrote:
 

Glad you liked it.  We have a huge amount of gravel (see "gravel maps").  I laugh that some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country are here and have a fair amount of gravel - so we don't even have to leave town.

C2C is only in its second year.  Sounds like they are doing a great job with what they have.  There is a gravel race series in MI - so plenty to do other than C2C.


Chase could you give me a ling to the grave race series in MI.? Back issues here and no training so looks lie the C2C might be out for me for next year unless I really get on the bike quick.

Thanks
Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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