2012 Lowell 50 Race Preview: A Race For Belgians…In Michigan

The Lowell 50 is beckoning again. This will be the best edition yet. 

Lowell is probably not the first town you think of for a bike race, but it will be. While the Barry-Roubaix claims the title of “Killer”, the Lowell 50’s two editions each year, one in the spring and one in the fall, happily take on the title of “Thriller”, and will good reason. If the Roubaix is a slog and a bare-knuckle brawl, the Lowell 50 is two and half hours of Flanders-like speed, grit and weather.

The Iceman Cometh comes just one week after the Lowell 50 and the race has been selected by a few riders as the perfect Iceman preparation. At 50 miles, it’s a lot longer and faster, but serves as a great dry run to practice the high pace and intensity of the Iceman’s 28. There won’t be an Emily Batty to chase, but Lowell always boasts some big names looking for a late final tune-up.

Last year, the first edition of the race was a rain and mud fest. The roads were soggy, speed-sucking, evil things that covered riders with spray almost immediately. The toughest element was the wind; it was absolutely devastating. Riding alone for more than a few minutes was like pedaling in a wind tunnel. Crosswinds split up the main group almost immediately and opened up gaps throughout the day in the three chase groups still in contention. The third group on the road ended up with just four riders after growing to as big as fifteen around the ten mile mark.

This Saturday, weather will once again be a huge factor. The high for the day is forty-one degrees, and while there’s no rain in the forecast yet, there’s a chance of snow throughout the week and overnight. If the wind picks up, temperatures for the riders will feel like well below freezing, making a race of attrition even more about survival. It is a much flatter course than the Barry-Roubaix with just over 1,200 feet of climbing over the 50 mile route. Changes this year mean most of the climbing will come in the first eight miles. The big rouleurs will have to make it over the first steep, sharp ascents to have a chance, while the more well-rounded riders will put in big work early to get away.

The Men’s 50 Mile winner, Matt Light, will be returing to defend his Spring victory, though there are a number of riders looking to take the top spot on the hay bale podium. Hagerty Cycling is sending a Classics contingent south for the day, though no names have been confirmed at the moment. You can expect the familiar names from Leadout, East Hills, PriorityHealth and Einstein Racing to make the start, even in the frigid conditions expected.

There’s still time to sign up for the race in both the 50 and 28 mile. The race will start and finish at the Lodge, so there’s plenty of snacks and food for after you’ve battled like Boonen all morning. There’s no better Iceman preparation than racing hard and in adverse conditions. And this race is even more fun…


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