Barry Roubaix 62 Mile Gravel Race Overview

  • Barry Roubaix is cycling’s largest gravel race in the world with three different distances: 62, 36 and 22 miles.
  • The gravel race traverses the rolling and scenic gravel roads throughout Barry County, Michigan.
  • Up to the top ten finishers in the various categories receive cash prizes ($34,000 total purse in 2017).
  • Over 3,500 cyclists race in all the categories.
  • Cyclocross, Mountain, Road, Single-Speed, Fixed gear, Fatbikes & Tandem bicycles are welcome in any category.
  • The course is marked well.  RED = 62 mile, YELLOW = 36 mile and BLUE = 22 mile
  • There is a huge after-party and awards ceremony.
  • The event is very well run.  It is by far the best run gravel race I attend each year.

Barry Roubaix Lessons Learned

I raced Barry Roubaix in 2015 for the first time.  In fact, it was my fist bike race ever.  I had no idea what to expect and was nervous as hell.  I was prepared to ride hard for 62 miles, but did not know how to fuel, hydrate, position, etc… I wish someone wrote a blog post for newbies to help with the basics.  This post is for you.  Here are my top tips for new racers.

  • #1 TIP!!!!  WEAR A CAMELBAK FOR HYDRATION AND FUEL.    The gravel roads are nice, but they are rutted and choppy.  It can be difficult to grab a bottle, especially in the first 20 miles.  It’s a hammer fest with hills and lots of traffic.  Not to mention, if it’s cold, opening a gel or bar with gloves is impossible.  Do yourself a favor and heed my advice.  Use a hydration pack.  I wear mine under my jersey to stay more aero.
  • Follow the rules.  Do not wrap your number plate around your top tube.  In 2016 I got “cute” with my number plate and wrapped it around the head tube and got DQ’d.  Not to mention, my time chip did not even work.  That was really stupid and a direct violation of the posted rules.
  • The selection starts when you hit the first large hill on the gravel.  You can see them on the videos below.  Prepare to ride full gas on these hills.
  • Stay to the left side of the road in the first group of hills.  Slower traffic to the right can be VERY slow and sometime they walk their bike up the hills.  Do yourself a favor and STAY LEFT.  I plan to get this right in 2017 after screwing it up in 2015 and 2016.
  • The first 20 miles are hard. Prepare to ride at 90 to 95% for 50 minutes, until the jeep trail around mile 15.  The last major selection happens here.  The jeep trail is a total mess.  It’s rutted, sandy, and steep.  I dropped my chain on the inside and lost valuable time in 2016.  Get in your little ring BEFORE turning left onto the trail to avoid a chain suck.
  • If the temps are warmer the roads can be dusty.  You can see it in the 2016 video, compared to the 2015 video below.  There is nothing you can do to prepare for the dust.  Just be aware it’s coming.  Also, in the warmer temps there are sections in the first 20 miles that have sand.  Be careful hitting the sand fast.  In 2016 there were sand sections that I hit at 25mph in the middle of a dust cloud.  People don’t know how to ride sand.  They stop pedaling and create log jambs. Remember,  pedal through the sand at higher RPMs.  Do not stop.  Keep pedaling.
  • For some reason, rider hammer the hills and coast down the back side.  For the heavier riders, you can surf the pack going up the hills and catch up going down the back side.
  • There are some feed zones to get water and gels.  You don’t need to slow if you have a Camelbak full of water and fuel.  I use Carbopro for fuel.  You won’t burn through your natural energy stores PLUS what you can take on from Carbopro.
  • Hotels for this event fill up fast.  If you plan to stay in Hastings, make reservations one year in advance.  Right after the 2017 event you should make hotel reservations for 2018.

Barry Roubaix Bike Setup

The roads are predominantly gravel (at least 90%).  I recommend a light weight gravel tire assuming the conditions are dry.  In 2017 I plan to run the Clement LAS 700×33 Clincher.  I’ve been testing this tire for months now and love it.  The tire weighs about 350 grams and with a latex tube the setup is light.  The puncture protection with the Clement LAS is adequate given the smooth gravel conditions.  In prior years I ran a 700×38 and 700×36 tire setup.  The added weight of the wider tire is not worth the gain in traction and/or ride comfort.  Plus there is only one technical section (the jeep trail) and the sand pits are short and infrequent.  You are better off running through the sand in exchange for a faster rolling gravel tire.

If you must bring food, tape gels to the top tube.  They are easier to grab, especially with gloves in the colder weather.  I might tape the ride profile to the top tube identifying the major hills and jeep trail.  I recall a steep hill later in the ride that becomes a factor if you are getting tired.

Barry Roubaix Course

62 Mile Course Profile

Bary Roubaix 2016 Gravel Race Elevation Profile

Barry Roubaix Images

Barry Roubaix 62 Mile Gravel Full Length Race Video – 2015

Barry Roubaix 62 Mile Gravel Race Full Length Race Video – 2016

Race Summary

In summary, Barry Roubaix is by far the largest and best run gravel race I attend each year in the midwest.  The course is a good mix of gravel roads, punchy hills, technical trails and some asphalt roads. The locals come out to support the racers and the cars seem to be on their best behavior.  The time of year is not always ideal from a weather standpoint.  In 2015 the starting temperature was in the low teens and did not warm up for the entire race.  In 2017 the starting temperature was in the 30s and it poured rain.  Thousands of racers show up from all over the country for a chance to win some prize money and party like rock starts afterwards.  Hope to see you out there!