TRAVERSE CITY — Different spokes for different folks.
The Cherry-Roubaix bike races return to Traverse City and the surrounding area this week — starting with Friday's prologue time trial — but with a few changes.
The sprint and road race both have altered routes and distances this time around.
"We've went from about 15 miles up to about 21 miles," race director Bob McLain said of Sunday's road race. "This is allowing us to run everybody kind of at the same time. Every (few) minutes, we start a race out. So the idea is we finish a little earlier so the people traveling many miles will have a chance to get home at a decent time."
The road racers start at 9 a.m. Sunday with the pro men's division and the 13 varying categories on the course by 9:46 a.m.
Last year, the race started and finished at Sugar Loaf Resort, which is the same this time around. However, instead of a large, mostly square route at the base of the Leelanau Peninsula, a long stretch up the peninsula has been added to the route.
McLain said since this year's race — like last year's — is the state road race championship, they wanted to make the course a little more difficult.
"We added a loop up north," he said. "We're headed up kind of towards Leland, so we can add a three- or four-mile loop with a lot more climbing than in the past."
Friday night's sprints will also have a change of venue.
Previously, the weekend kicked off with a downtown sprint of about 200 yards, but that is now a 6.04-mile time trial, open to the first 200 applicants.
"Friday Night Live is getting so big — which is great for downtown — that we decided it was time to move the event away," McLain said of the 6 p.m. race. "So we're starting at Bowers Harbor Park and we're doing a time trial. Which basically means we send somebody off from a platform into the road every 30 seconds. They're racing against the clock."
The weekend events are expected to draw more than 650 racers, and McLain said the field is already over halfway to that number.
"That's quite a bit ahead of last year," McLain said. "Everybody waits until the last minute — I think to watch the weather. And according to the weather man, we're on par to have a great week."
A charity ride Saturday morning is open to bikers of all levels. It starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Park Place Hotel, and riders can choose between 20- or 43-mile routes on Old Mission Peninsula to take at their own pace.
Racers in the other competitive events must have a USA Cycling license. Unlicensed riders can purchase single-day licences on at registration, but will be limited in what categories they can enter.
Saturday's Old Town Criterium races start at 11 a.m.
"It's a super-fast race," McLain said. "But it's a real spectator race, because they're going around a 0.9-mile loop in the business district, as well as up into the residential area."
The criterium races — there are 15 in all — include men's and women's categories, plus ones for children, juniors and the Cruiser Classic Relay, in which teams of four riders do four laps around the loop while carrying cherry pies.
The criterium loop starts near Blue Tractor at the corner of Eighth and Union streets, going down Union to Seventh, left on Wadsworth, turning onto the cobblestone stretch of Eighth to Pine, down two blocks on Pine and continues on Ninth until coming back to Union for the stretch run.
There is a $25,000 total purse for the three competitive races, and defending men's pro road race champion Chris Fisher will be back, making the trek from Connecticut.
For more information, visit www.cherry-roubaix.com.
TRAVERSE CITY — Different spokes for different folks.
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