204 Mile Race Details

Koon road in Manistee National Forest

The Coast to Coast gravel grinder is not known for just its plentiful gravel, ironically, but for everything that’s NOT gravel – the forest roads, the two-tracks, the snowmobile trails, even a little gravel-friendly singletrack. Much of the second half of the course is heavily forested, with winding two-tracks, constantly changing. It’s a challenging roller coaster ride. Set your eyes on the glorious sunset over Lake Michigan or ride into the night to get to the finish line on time.

  • Date: Saturday, June 22, 2024
  • Start: Point Au Gres Marina, Lake Huron
  • Finish: Stearns Park Beach, Ludington
  • Distance: 204 miles
  • Support crew info below

The Experience
This is a simple race. Just a small fishermen’s village at the start to cheer you on. A spattering of cheering folks along the way but no big crowds. No fancy finish (although Lake Michigan is more spectacular than any grandstand). It’s just you, your bike and a strip of dirt winding its way from one freshwater sea to another…

Racers on gravel road on courseExcept it’s not just you. The rider next to you shares that he just beat cancer and this is his victory ride. And another is more than willing to help you with a mechanical despite encroaching darkness. Then you open up to a stranger about your life and why you are doing this race. And you bond with your amazing support crew who are helping you achieve your goal. This isn’t a simple race. It’s a memorable, powerful experience.

Bicycling Magazine’s Selene Yeager captures the essence of this experience in her ode to this race.

Course Design
We’ve teamed up with top Midwest endurance racer Matt Acker, co-course designer, who knows Michigan’s gravel roads and gravel racing better than anyone, to create a course you will be sure to love. You’ll never forget the sunrise start on Lake Huron and the “ecological + elevation bell curve” journey westward through farmland, wetlands, pine barrens, rolling uplands and magestic forest and then back down a similar curve, toward the amazing sunset over Lake Michigan. Finish your race in one of the great outdoor towns in the country, Ludington, touching your front tire to the waters of Lake Michigan and completing your amazing adventure.

Our design philosophy is to provide the best combination of scenery, dirt surfaces, safe roads and fun riding while minimizing sandy sections and paved and/or higher traffic riding (you’ll see very few vehicles on the course). Depending on drought conditions and ORV traffic which is now allowed on US Forest Service roads, there will be some stretches of sand so we recommend going with the widest tire you can on your bike, particularly if the course does not receive much rain in the weeks leading up to the race. Those who ride at or wider than 44mm or 2″ get through the sand well. We will do our best in the weeks leading up to the race to alert you to road surface conditions as they can change fairly considerably depending on rain, drought and ORV traffic before the race. In 2023 we added a neutral water station half way through the most difficult section but we still recommend maximizing your water at each checkpoint and taking advantage of the trail angels along the way (but not depending on them).

I arrive at the finish a better person. – Rebecca Rusch, world champion mountain biker (and gravel road lover)

Finish Rates
2023: 192 of 249, 77%
2022: 146 of 255, 57%
2021: 150 of 316, 42% (monsoon year)
2019: 320 of 375, 85%
2018: 199 of 238, 84%

Beat the Sunset Rates
2023: 127 of 249, 51%
2022: 67 of 255, 26%
2021: 65 of 316, 21%
2019: 217 of 375, 58%
2018: 77 of 238, 32%

SWAG & Finisher Awards

  • All racers will receive your choice of one of the following (water bottle is while supply lasts; shirt or socks are guaranteed):
    1) Race t-shirt (men’s and women’s crew, navy, poly/cotton/rayon blend; available through approx. June 6). Men’s/unisex shirt sizing Women’s shirt sizing
    2) SockGuy 4″ SGX race socks OR
    3) Water bottle
  • 204-mile finishers will also receive a sticker/decal and pick from either a “finisher” tumbler, beer barrel mug or another pair of the socks (we’ll do our best to get you your first choice). We like to offer choices so you get items that are of value to you!

Rescue/Support Crew
You must have a rescue/support person or crew in your general vicinity throughout the race, either our paid service or your own. They do NOT need to be present when you arrive at the three checkpoints. They may NOT meet you out on the course, consistent with many similar endurance gravel races with a self-supported ethos.

bikers in Manistee National ForestWhy do we use the word “rescue”? Let’s say there’s unexpected severe weather and 50-100 bikers need to quickly be removed from a dangerous situation or the race has to be cancelled. Or it’s a day of record heat and 30 bikers need to drop out. How do they get to Ludington? That’s the job of the rescue/support crews.

No bike or wheel swaps are allowed during the race. See the Rider’s Guide under More Info for all the rules and more.

Details on the two options:

Endurance is all about heart. — Bear Grylls

Weather Averages

  • Average temp at start, Au Gres, 6 am: 55 degrees. Primary temp range: 65-75 degrees. Average temp at finish, Ludington, 60-65 degrees
  • We experienced abnormally warmer temps the last two years so have a conservative pace and hydration plan if that’s the case again.
  • Cloud cover is typical and heavy shade in the Manistee National Forest (during peak sun; miles 130-190)
  • Wind direction: 67% of time wind is NOT out of the west in late June
  • Average wind speed: 6-10 mph during day (less early am and late pm)

Two-Person Relay
If you’d like to experience the crossing of Michigan with a friend, you can each bike two separate legs as a relay, handing over your race number/bib (with timing chip) at a checkpoint. The teammate who is not biking, drives the support vehicle to the next checkpoint (keep in mind the support vehicle can only meet the racer at each checkpoint). You must switch at a checkpoint and you must each do two of the four sections; one person can do two in a row if desired. Keep in mind that section 3 is the hardest and the longest. You each use your own bike.

five bikers riding on gravel roadRoute Finding

  • Course directions are via GPS tracking file (gpx/tcx on Garmin, Wahoo, Strava, etc.) and cue sheets. ALL riders must have at least cue sheets.
  • There will NOT be signs on the course except posts with streamer tape at two-track and snowmobile trail intersections where clarity is helpful. See the Route page for details.

Lodging
See the Lodging page for options for both Friday night in the Au Gres area and Saturday night in the Ludington area.

Schedule

Friday, June 21, 2024
Check-in, Pt Au Gres Marina & Campground, Au Gres (Lake Huron side): 2:30-8:00 pm
2325 Green Dr, Au Gres, MI 48703
Mandatory Pre-race Meeting, Pt. Au Gres Marina: pick from 4:00 or 7:00 pm. 1 hr.
Taco buffet, Pt. Au Gres Marina, $15 minimum donation to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 5:00-7:00 pm. Includes sweets and drinks.

Saturday, June 22
Final Race Announcements, Pt Au Gres Marina & Campground: 5:45 am
2325 Green Dr, Au Gres, MI 48703
Start: 6:00 am (5:54 am sunrise in 2021)
Bike/helmet light recommended but optional at start, mandatory after CP 3.

Checkpoint #1: Gladwin High School
1400 N. Spring St., Gladwin, MI 48624
Mile 54
Fastest rider projection: 8:30 am
Cut-off (must leave by): 11:25 am

Checkpoint #2: Marion Jr./Sr. High School
2213 20 Mile Rd, Marion, MI 49665
Mile 103
Fastest rider projection: 10:45 am
Cut-off (must leave by): 4:20 pm

Neutral Water/Cut-off: Clay Hill Church
(support crews NOT allowed here except for racers who are dropping out)
W 48 & S 13, Hoxeyville, MI 49601
Mile 143
Fastest rider projection: 1:05 pm
Cut-off (must leave by): 8:20 pm

Checkpoint #3 Big M Recreation Area
3500 Udell Hills Rd, Wellston, MI 49689
All motorized vehicles must purchase $5 US Forest day fee
Mile 169
Fastest rider projection: 2:25 pm
Cut-off (must leave by): 10:55 pm
Bike/helmet light mandatory after CP 3

Finish: Stearns Park, Ludington
420 N Lakeshore Dr, Ludington, MI 49431
Mile 204
Faster rider projection: 4:15 pm
Ride into the Sunset Award Cut-off, Stearns Park: 9:33 pm
Awards: Saturday evening as podiums fill
Cut-off: 2:30 am Sunday  (20.5 hours)

______________________________________________

start of the 200 mile route in Au Gres at Lake Huron

Start Line Details

  • Pt Au Gres Marina & Campground, 2325 S Green DR, Au Gres, MI 48703
  • Touch your rear bike tire to Lake Huron before the start and front tire to Lake Michigan after you finish (optional, but a cool memory maker)
  • Average temperature at the start: 57 degrees

Finish Line Details

  • Stearns Park Beach, 420 N Lakeshore Dr, Ludington, MI 49431
  • Touch Lake Michigan to finish your quest (optional)
  • Average temperature at the finish (sunset): 65 degrees
  • The City of Ludington doesn’t allow dogs at Stearns sadly so be aware

Post-Race

  • Awards will be giving out as podiums fill. If you missed your award, come find us at the finish line.
  • We will provide a really tasty Q Smokehouse pulled pork (or veggie jackfruit) & pasta & cheese boxed meal. My favorite BBQ and sauce! Food is also available at the concession store right next to the finish. Or, lots of great options downtown, just 1 mile away.
  • Your crew or spectators can purchase a meal on the website.

Merchandise

  • Extra Coast to Coast shirts and socks will be available for purchase online; pick up at the race. We will have limited quantities available at check-in and finish. Cash preferred due to limited cell service at the start.
  • Jersey, bib, and cap available through the Borah store, open in the spring each year for a few weeks. Design to come. Mailed to you separately, before the race.

Severe Weather

  • Race organizers reserve the right to cancel the event in the case of extended severe weather or any emergency situation. We will do everything possible to get the event in, but refunds are not available if it is cancelled due to significant costs we must pay in advance of the race. In all likelihood, we would adjust start and finish times to dodge bad weather.
  • Hazardous Weather Policy

Charity Partner
Our charity partner is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the only global organization with a strategic research plan to end type 1 diabetes (T1D), a serious autoimmune disease that affects millions of children and adults. Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Currently, there is no cure. It requires constant carbohydrate counting and blood-glucose testing, and lifelong dependence on injected insulin. But insulin is not a cure, and it does not prevent the possibility of serious complications such as kidney failure, blindness, and stroke. With your help, JDRF’s vision of a world without T1D can be achieved! Visit their website.

Facebook Group/Community
Forum to connect with other riders, seek support crew, transportation to/from the start, and to have questions answered from veteran endurance riders.

See our Facebook page for more general ride communication from the organizers.

Consider using #micoasttocoast tag for photos, posts, and tweets on social media.