Barry-Roubaix Week: Rick Plite Interview

Rick Plite is the man behind the Lumberjack 100 and the KissCross Cyclocross Series. In just four years, however, he’s become the creator of the first Monument of the Michigan cycling season. The Barry-Roubaix has grown exponentially since the first edition in 2009. Plite has carefully manicured the course, the format, and the after party to suit rider’s needs and wants. It has paid off, with the 1,500 rider cap being met this year on February 4th. Rick took a few moments to answer some questions about the “Killer Gravel Road Race”, and to give us a sneak peek into what else he does when he is making outstanding bike events.

This is the fourth edition of the Barry-Roubaix. It’s absolutely exploded, drawing 1,500 people this year and selling out on February 4th. What’s all the fuss about?

Gravel road riding/racing is growing across the country and I think I am catching it at the right time and it doesn’t hurt that my formula for attracting all types of riders and abilities worked.

What are the hardest parts of this course? Are there any selective climbs that you think riders should really pay attention to?

The hardest parts are the Sager Road two-track and the new for 2012 two-track on Shaw Rd. The climb up South Head Road is a killer too!

What sort of rider wins this race? Is it climbing, is it just pure power, or do you think it’s just a matter of who’s got a bit left by the time the leaders hit the pavement?

 I think the winner has great overall power to keep the pedal to the metal; there is no resting on this course. Getting into the hole shot on Sager helps and this year Shaw will separate some guys if they don’t have handling skills.

What’s the coldest temperature at the start that you remember from a Barry-Roubaix? Is this race even colder than the Iceman?

We had 16 degrees last year when I got on site. I think it warmed up to 19 by start time, ha ha! I think the fast road riding wind-chill make this race colder than most Icemans.

You’ve got the Barry-Roubaix in March, the Lumberjack 100 in June, and KissCross Cyclocross all fall. What do you do with your down time?

It takes all year to plan these events, granted I don’t work 8 hours a day at it but it is time consuming and things are always changing. I rest hard for a few weeks after each race or series then I start planning the next one. Of course there is all the bike riding, racing, skiing, kayaking I need to fit in.

What’s harder, 100 miles at Big M or 60 miles in Middleville, Michigan, hammering the whole way?

100 miles at Big M/Lumberjack. It takes the same discipline and those guys are so fast!

What are the road conditions like so far this year? Will the course be in good shape?

They salt, plow and grade the road often so it is usually pretty good. As soon as the frost is out of the ground they will repair it fast. I ask them not to grade the course just before the race so it has a chance to pack down.

Who’s going to win in 2012?

Derek Graham would be my guess.

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