With 3,500 racers, Barry-Roubaix is the largest gravel race in the world, but it didn’t start that way. Ten years ago, about 300 people (mostly on mountain and cyclocross bikes) lined up to race on the cold, spring gravel roads of west Michigan. That day, Mike Simonson won the first ever Barry-Roubaix.
This year, with the help of Matt “if it ain’t over a hundie it’s crap” Acker, the 100-mile Barry-Roubaix was added…. and Mike won. On the 10th anniversary of his winning the first Barry, Mike won the first 100 mile Barry. There’s probably a metric system joke in here somewhere, but if we’ve learned one thing, it’s to never joke about the metric system.
Mike’s pre-ride of the new 100-mile course revealed four sections of deep sand and mud in the first 30 miles. He came prepared with wider tires on the 3T Exploro LTD and mountain bike pedals. In the first of the four deep-nasty sectors Mike rode off while Al picked sand out of his road cleats (this was a very bad choice).
After each sector there were fewer and fewer competitors able to stay with Simonson. Once they hit the open gravel on the south side of the course, they’d realize that he had ridden all that nasty sand on an aero road bike. He rode away solo for over 60 miles to make sure there’s still only one first Barry-Roubaix winner: Mike Simonson.