Monday, June 15, 2015

Thank you - for 14 years of suffering.

I wanted to post a thank you to all of the racers, officials, and volunteers who helped to make the Cone-Azalia Classic what it is.  The cold winds and relentless rain made 2015 one of the most memorable and difficult races in memory.  Early in the week, it seemed like we might actually have a nice day - Sunny and 75F - something that almost seemed unusual for the Cone-Azalia Classic.  But then, on Saturday night, the weather turned and we got dumped on in a way much more fitting with the 14 year prior history of the race. During my 8 laps - the chalky white mud of the road plastered my eves shut, the rain wasted no time in soaking through my jersey, and the wind cut through my numb fingers. Still, at least I had my bike and the heat associated with the 300+ Watts I was pumping into the pedals. Our officials and volunteers are the real heroes of the day. The men and women manning the corners and intersections - standing still in that cold horizontal rain. We couldn't have done it without you. Thank you all for coming out and sharing the glory and the misery of this day. I hope to see you all again next year and we'll have to wait see what year 15 has in store for us.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bring out the fat tires!

Bike racers of Michigan, you are about to experience the most difficult road race in the region.  Last year, it was the wind.  The year before that, the water bottles.  This year, it's the gravel.  Do not underestimate the gravel!

There's no shame in bringing the CX bike or the MTB bike this year.  It's loose out there and the bigger tires may actually be faster.  Make your selection and suit up.  We'll see you Sunday.

Doesn't it look so peaceful and innocent???  DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE GRAVEL!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Course Preview

Cone-Azalia is one of those races that always spawns pages and pages of discussion on tire selection and gear ratios.  If you've never done it before, the best thing to do is simply come to Milan and pre-ride the course.  It's worth it to know what you're facing out there.  If that's not an option - I will do my best to explain the conditions here.  As the race is in late May this year, the Monroe County Road Commission has made some road "improvements."  The good news is there aren't many potholes to worry about (it's almost all dirt) the bad news is we have a lot of fresh gravel on the course.  Cone is intended to be a spring classic done on road bikes with slick tires.  While you're welcome to try (I am), I've received a lot of email from racers incredulous about the "golf-ball sized" or "razor sharp" gravel.  This is a race which will be won by the person who's bike continues to have two rolling tires after XX miles.  Keep that in mind while preparing your steed.  Many people are opting for CX bikes with file treads this year.  If you choose to bring a CX bike, you will not be alone.  Now, let's do a short walkthrough on the course...

Parking - Corrigan Propane on Cone Road, just off of US 23.  We also have limited parking at the Milan Township Hall just down the road, but most people will want to park at Corrigan.  It's closer to the course, we'll have registration here, and the all essential porta-potties. Be aware that if you Google Corrgian Propane in Milan, MI - Google will lie to you.  If you prefer to use Apple Maps - Apple Maps will tell you to fly to Italy.  To get to the race, go to US23 and look for Exit 22 "Cone Rd Azalia."  It's right there - we'll be waiting.

Starting Line - Cone Rd and Azalia Rd.  Have you ever wondered where the name of this race came from?  I was at first confused because the course we've done the past few years has never gone by Azalia.  It never made a whole lot of sense to me, but for 2015 - you're in for a treat.  We weren't able to use the 2014 course due to a conflict with Milan High School and the Township.  Instead of canceling the race, we decided to bring it home.  Cone-Azalia is back to Cone-Azalia.  Welcome!

Road Conditions - These are dirt roads and they're highly variable.  Some parts are a-ok for road slicks and other parts like this one - may not be.  There is fresh gravel all the way down Bunce Road, on Oelke near the railroad tracks, and on Azalia past the railroad tracks - shoulda got a picture of those!  There's a definite trade to be made between a road bike and a CX bike this year.  Choose wisely based on how much you're willing to risk a flat.  

Golf-ball sized gravel, huh? - Yes, that's how I'd describe it.  It sucks and it's loose in some spots.  Be careful.  We have volunteers sweeping the turns and what we can of the roadway, but we can't clean the entire course.  The best thing is to be prepared.  

Finish Line - I know the map shows start and finish at Cone and Azalia Roads, but we're actually going to setup the finish line at Azalia and Church Street - in Azalia.  This is it.  It's paved, but it's narrow.  You sprint to this sign.  Don't worry about the field finish because there's no way it's sticking together out there...  

Final Thoughts - I really want to thank the racers and volunteers who continue to make this race what it is.  Cone-Azalia is a different kind of animal.  I love Cone and think it's really something special in the Michigan race calendar.  I hope you enjoy this year's event and I'll see you all out there.  HE  


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pre-registration deadline extended until Thursday!

Due to the Memorial Day Holiday we will be extending the pre-registration deadline until midnight on Thursday, May 28th.  If you haven't already, please pre-register online now!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Details on the Cone-Azalia After Party

After the event on Sunday - racers, family and friends should plan to go to Original Gravity Brewing Company for some great food, beer, and prizes. We have tons of swag to unload and in addition to the spectacular pub menu - The Mother Loaf Breads will be there to offer up some delicious homemade brats featuring OG's County Street Amber, with horseradish mustard, Brussel-Kraut, Potato Salad and homemade bun! Also, Brad is installing an additional bar on the patio just for us and I've just received word that this year's Cone-Azalia IRA (O.G. = 1.049 - 4.5%) is now on tap! You need to try this smooth, citrusy and refreshing session style India Red Ale! It's brewed entirely with Mosaic hops and a unique German base malt to give it a rich red color. It's the perfect beer following a long and arduous bike ride! ;) 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Course Change for 2015

For 2015, the Cone-Azalia Classic is returning to its roots on Cone Road in Azalia, MI.  The course is 90% dirt - hard pack for the most part - and is remarkably scenic for a 6.7 mile square.  As you can see from the elevation profile - the only hills you have to worry about are the railroad grades.  If you liked the Cone-Azalia before, you're going to like this course a whole lot more.  Welcome to the farm roads of Monroe County!

What's it like to race Cone-Azalia?

Thanks to the indefatigable Joe Lekovish for this description:

This race is SERIOUS. Billed as Michigan’s "Paris-Roubaix", the Cone-Azalia lives up to the billing. 

*beep* - Monroe County IS WESTERN FLANDERS!

Heed my advice, anything you have that is carbon fiber on your road bike, if you can, LEAVE IT AT HOME! Seriously! It may BREAK! Bike manufacturers love to sell you carbon fiber. It's tough and light, but it's made to break under tuff conditions and if it's anything, Cone is TUFF. 

I remember the year the top team in Ohio rolled in with their beautiful carbon aero wheels. Those wheels were made for people who race in states like Arizona, Georgia or Florida, where the asphalt is smooth and potholes are an unknown entity. Ohio - no, Indiana - no, Illinois - i'd pass. Michigan - DEFINITELY NOT. The whole team was DNF’d by the first lap and they laid out their punctured and torn tubulars next to their van like it was a body-count! I almost cried seeing that. 

The course is a 6.7 mile circuit on unpaved roads. It’s pancake flat and if the wind is blowing, THERE WILL BE PAIN. Now these roads will range from sun-caked, hard packed dirt, ala the Bonneville Salt Flats, to loose gravel with razor sharp stones. Ask the promoter what the course will be like this year and his response will be “depends what the Monroe County Road Commission wants to do that week”. 

I’ve raced eight consecutive Cones and I’ve only flatted ONCE. I have a wheelset I use especially for Cone. It's heavy and slow and Iove riding it on Hines Drive where potholes are a-plenty. WHEELS: Sun MA-14 rims, 32 hole, 3x, 14g spokes laced to Shimano 105 hubs.TIRES: Continental Sport 1000’s, 700x28. TUBES: Thick, cyclocross tubes meant for 700x35 tires, which will move inside your tires and avoid pinch-flatting.

Despite all the hardships Cone throws at a bike racer, or maybe because of all the hardships, Cone is a beautifully surreal race. The horizon stretches for miles across freshly plowed farm fields. The wind sweeing across the landscape takes on an orchestral quality that mixes nicely with the whir of your bike gears, the beating of your heart and the gasping of your accompanying participants. 


If you can, before the race mount a set up like the one described above on your bike then go out and hammer down every dirt road you can find. Intentionally run into curbs and do everything you can to force a pinch flat or to knock the wheels out of true. If you avoid flats, broken spokes and taco’d wheels….. you’re ready for Cone!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Some details for 2015!

This year we'll be doing a two day race weekend with the Milan Circuit Race on Saturday - May 30 - and the Cone-Azalia Classic on Sunday - May 31.  Checkout the preliminary race schedule below.  

Another thing that's new this year is the "Fun Ride" a single lap of the race course which is intended for everyone - kids, families, everyone! You don’t need to have a special kind of bike or a racing license. Just show up and we'll get your time! Immediately following the fun ride there will be a pancake breakfast provided by the Milan Rotary Club.  Proceeds of both the Fun Ride and the pancake breakfast will support Aid In Milan - a local non-profit serving the Milan community.  If you'd like to do more to support Aid in Milan, please bring a canned or dry food donation with you on race day!

Milan Circuit Race – May 30, 2015
Length Laps/Miles
08:00 AM
Fun Ride: Kids & Families
1 Lap
08:30 AM
Cat. 1/2/3 Men
45 Minutes
09:30 AM
Cat. 1/2/3/4 Women
30 Minutes
10:15 AM
Cat 4/5 Men
30 Minutes
Cone-Azalia Classic – May 31, 2015
Length Laps/Miles
09:45 AM
10:00 AM
Cat. 1/2 Men
12/81 mi
10:03 AM
Masters 35+ (Cat. 1-4 Men)
8/54 mi
10:06 AM
Cat. 3 Men
8/54 mi
10:09 AM
Masters 45+ (Cat. 1-4 Men)
8/54 mi
10:12 AM
Cat. 4 Men
6/40 mi
10:15 AM
Masters 55+ (Cat. 1-4 Men)
8/54 mi
10:18 AM
Cat. 5 Men (Age 18-34)
4/27 mi
10:21 AM
Cat. 5 Men (Age 35+)
4/27 mi
10:24 AM
Cat. 1, 2, 3 Women
8/54 mi
10:27 AM
Cat. 4 Women
4/27 mi
10:30 AM
Juniors 9-14
2/13 mi
10:30 AM
Juniors 15-18
4/27 mi