After a long break, the Michigan Gravel Race Series is back in action with The Divide on July 29. It’s a race we’ve only won once, but also haven’t ever lost. We’ll explain.
It will be over two months since the last stop in the MGRS, and we’re itching to get some grit stuck in our tire treads. The squad has been a bit scattered since May, what with Jay racing in Oh-Hi-Oh, Cat racing the Road Race National Championships of These United State, and Scotty hitting some Canadian Cup races (eh?) in June. Danny has been back and forth between the east coast and Scotland where, unfortunately, he didn’t meet a single man named Scott.
We’re hoping to get at least some of the band back together (probably the percussionists, at least) for The Divide. This will be the fourth year of the race, which has become a fixture on the calendar for plenty of local riders and guys looking to head north in search of points from Grand Rapids and Southeast Michigan, too. The spandex-clad convergence is always a bit of a shock to the friendly folks of Manton, Michigan. The town is pure Americana, and everyone is curious about the bikes, riders, and sport every time we roll in.
The course itself is one of the toughest in the MGRS, but also one of the most beautiful. After a climb out of town, riders have a long, gradual descent on gravel to get to the lap portion. The lollipop-style makes the racing more exciting because the peloton has one full circuit to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which often makes that final lap almost cruel.
Over 47 miles of racing, there’s over 3,000 feet of elevation gained, with much of it coming at 5-8% gradients. Each year, the direction of the lap is reversed, and this year it will feature the clockwise direction. That’s welcome news to our own Cody Sovis; he won the event the last time it went this way back in 2016 with a long-range solo move, riding 43 miles alone to the win. He’s not the only 3T Q+M rider to have some luck in Manton; he and Sean Kickbush broke away in 2015, too, with Kickbush taking the win. combine that with Al’s win in 2017, and we actually have all the winners of The Divide now wearing pajamas!
We’d like to head to the race with a strong team again this year, too. At the halfway point, Danny is still leading the MGRS, but with so many events still on the table and Danny moving east, we’ll need Scotty, Sean, or Cody to pick up the slack if we have any intentions of winning the points title.
3T has definitely put us in a good position to make a run by making sure we’ve got the right wheels for the race. If you’ve ever ridden the Iceman Cometh, you know that gravel roads north of Cadillac aren’t really gravel. More often, they’re deep, loose sand pits with a narrow and unreliable strip of grass down the center. For The Divide, we’ll be putting on the Discus Plus wheels and opting for 2.2″ Schwalbe Thunderburts to combat the very worst sand pits.
Find out more about The Divide at their website and get yourself signed up. You should also check out the up-to-date MGRS standings and see who you need to elbow past in the sprint finsh later this month.