Barry-Roubaix returns to Hastings after two-year hiatus
When organizers of the Barry-Roubaix race gathered for an emergency meeting in mid-March 2020, they didn’t know much about COVID-19.
They thought it could last a few weeks, maybe a few months, but hopefully not long enough to put an end to their April gravel bike race, the biggest in the world.
“It was early days and we weren’t thinking how long it was going to last,” said event director Scott TenCate. “Is it like a two week thing?” Is it a three week thing? Is it even going to come to Michigan? Should we care? “
The day after the Barry-Roubaix meeting, the NCAA canceled March Madness. The organizers realized that the virus was not going to go away and decided to postpone the event.
“We just put the brakes on everything,” he said.
They had planned to bring it back in the fall of 2020, but it didn’t work. They had planned for spring 2021, but that didn’t work out either. So they landed on October 2, 2021 and were hoping that nothing would cancel the event again.
Nothing canceled the event and, this Saturday, Barry-Roubaix will seize the city of Hastings for the first time in two and a half years.
About 3,200 bikers will travel to the city this weekend to participate in one of the four races. The 100 mile run will depart Church and Center Street at 7 a.m., followed by the 62 mile run at 10 a.m., the 36 mile run at 10:12 a.m., and the 18 mile run at 10:36 a.m. will then cross Barry County Secondary Roads for a chance to win over $ 34,000 in total cash prizes.
“It’s like – kind of a carnival,” TenCate said. “I mean, there is so much going on, whether it’s the sponsor tents, the music, the awards, the race, the racetrack. “
With 3,200 runners, the race will have a slightly lower number of participants than in previous years. In 2019, the event attracted 3,300 runners and in 2020 it sold out in one week with 4,100 runners registered. TenCate highlighted various reasons for the drop, including more bike races in the fall and COVID restrictions limiting international travel.
But TenCate said people can expect a similar event in previous years – from the race course to rewards to collecting packages.
“Our goal is just to keep a great experience and keep making small adjustments instead of major changes, and so at the moment we aren’t going to make any big changes either probably for 2022,” he said. -he declares.
Barry-Roubaix began in 2009 after Hastings resident Tim Curtis invited TenCate and other members of his racing team to explore the gravel roads of Barry County. Rick Plight, team member and race promoter, joined Curtis on the ride. When Plight returned from the course, he had no doubts in his mind that there must be a gravel bike race in Barry County.
The first was held at Long Lake Recreation Area in Yankee Springs with just 280 runners. The following year the runners doubled and over the years he continued to double. They moved the race to Gun Lake State Park for two years until they ran out of space again.
It was then that Mike Stevens, the owner of Founders Brewing Co., a sponsor of the event, suggested organizers look to Hastings.
“Let’s explode,” TenCate remembers saying Stevens. “Let’s really make this a big event.
In 2012 Barry-Roubaix hosted their first race in Hastings and they haven’t left since.
“It was like that perfect fit,” TenCate said.
The town of Hastings also embraced the event. Hastings Mayor David Tossava said on Saturday he would watch the race from his regular post at the corner of Green and Church Streets.
“It’s just an energy,” he said. “… There are old people, they are young people, there are children. As they walk down Green Street, you can hear every pedal of that bike, every time they pedal. It’s just a neat sound.
The event also introduces Hastings to people from across the country and the world.
This year he will bring people from 27 states to Barry County. When there is no pandemic, people from over 40 states and countries such as Canada, Australia and Germany will visit the city.
“The economy is boosted by this,” Tossava said. “… They’re spending money getting here.” When you are downtown on Saturday morning, there will be no parking space. You will see runners having breakfast in our restaurants. So this generated a lot of income for the town of Hastings. ”
When asked what he was looking forward to the most, TenCate highlighted the after-party in the parking lots of the Barry Community Foundation and Green Street United Methodist Church. There, thousands of runners, spectators and community members will celebrate the day’s activities.
“They had that experience, they all talk about their particular history on the course and their smile and they have a great time with their friends and everything,” TenCate said. “And for me, that’s what it is.”