by Mark VanTongeren

Saturday brought the first annual Michigan Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder sponsored by Salsa Cycles to the state’s lower peninsula. The course covered 210 miles of mostly gravel roads across the mitten state, starting at Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay and heading west to the finish in Ludington along the Lake Michigan coast.

Inspiration for the Coast to Coast race came from a now-defunct Coast to Coast adventure race that crossed the state on bikes, foot (orienteering) and canoe many years ago. Race promoter Mark VanTongeren of the Grand Rapids area decided to bring the trans-Michigan race back as a gravel grinder to capitalize on the sport’s growing popularity.

As recently retired Trans-Iowa race director Guitar Ted can attest to, mapping long gravel routes can be challenging. Fortunately for the folks of the Wolverine state, Salsa-sponsored rider and gravel guru Matt Acker of Grand Rapids undertook a side project marking the state’s gravel roads and putting them online at

VanTongeren used Acker’s map to plot a route from Saginaw Bay to Ludington, not knowing who the man behind the oh-so-helpful Michigan gravel road map was. When Van Tongeren showed the map to Acker, the gravel maven chipped in some of his local knowledge to add to the challenge of the route while recognizing the usefulness of his handiwork.

Acker added several miles of roller coaster-like forest service roads, two tracks and snowmobile trails in the Manistee National Forest to create the final route. In total, the route included about 6,300 feet of climbing. Adding to the challenge, similar to the Dirty Kanza 200, riders were only allowed to meet support vehicles at three checkpoints along the mixed terrain route.

The race covered Michigan's Lower Peninsula from East to West. photo:

The race covered Michigan’s Lower Peninsula from East to West. photo:

Two-hundred miles of gravel makes for a long day on the bike, and not surprisingly, the weather was on folks’ minds leading up to the race. All forecasts pointed toward substantial rain and a 40-degree start.

Mother Nature deemed the riders in her good graces, as temperatures reached the 50s for much of the day and the sun shone upon the mid-mitten crossing route. The race started on the east “Sunrise Side” of Michigan with a firey-red 6:12 a.m. sunrise start. Riders dipped their rear tires into Lake Huron and they were off.

Two-hundred thirty-eight riders started the 210-mile race. Organizers gave them 21 hours to complete the cross-mitten journey, and come 3:12 a.m. on Sunday, 198 of the starters had completed the trek.

The Coast to Coast race started with a Lake Huron sunrise. photo: Andy Klevorn/Singletrack Showdown

The Coast to Coast race started with a Lake Huron sunrise. photo: Andy Klevorn / Singletrack Showdown

The west side of the start got some rain in the days before the race. It firmed up the doubletrack and snowmobile trails to create the race’s signature sections in the Manistee National Forest. Because of the rain, riders who heeded race organizers’ 40mm minimum tire width recommendation really benefitted as they racked up the miles. Mountain bikes and fat bikes were good choices, while riders in the pack with skinny tires struggled as the gravel roads and paths softened up with traffic.

At 210 miles and three weekends before the Dirty Kanza 200, the Michigan Coast to Coast race was a good chance for DK200 competitors to get a good long-distance training ride in and enjoy the state’s excellent post-race beer options. Accordingly, the race brought two 2017 DK200 podium finishers all the way from California in Amanda Nauman and Menso de Jong.

As arguably the two favorites in the first-year race, both the Golden State natives delivered. Nauman led wire-to-wire in the Women’s race and finished in 12:53, for an average pace of 16.3 mph. Selene Yeager finished second and Michelle Hance third.

After missing out on her Salsa couch photo at Land Run, Nauman got redemption on Saturday.

In the Men’s race, De Jong was the top dog as well. De Jong helped drive the pace of the lead group and pulled away from the field as conditions toughened as riders reached the west side of the state. He finished the race in 11:53, for an average clip of 17.7 mph. Local hero Mike Bernhard finished second and Nicholas Stanko took third.

Full Women’s and Men’s results for the 210-mile race are below.

The race finished at Ludington’s Stearns Park, a quintessential Lake Michigan coastal setting with a sandy beach, pier and lighthouse. Racers dipped their front tires in the 45-degree Lake Michigan and moms who made the state crossing got a Mother’s Day rose. Baths in the frigid Great Lakes water, however, were rare.

Race organizers have already decided the Michigan Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder will be back for 2019. Next year it will be held on June 22 to give riders more time to train outdoors, more time to finish during the longest Saturday of the year and to avoid awkward talks about racing on Mother’s Day weekend.

Women's Results: 2018 Michigan Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder

PlaceBibNameCategoryTimeAvg. Pace
1167AMANDA NAUMANOvral12:53:0716.3 m/hr
2261SELENE YEAGEROvral13:47:5715.2 m/hr
381MICHELLE HANCEOvral13:49:2715.2 m/hr
4180KERI PAWIELSKIOvral14:12:2014.8 m/hr
535MARI CHANDLEROvral14:42:1114.3 m/hr
6264WENDY ZAMZOW-BLUMERICK40-4914:54:0514.1 m/hr
7266CHERYL BECKER30-3915:05:3213.9 m/hr
8252RACHEL WEAVER40-4915:17:2813.7 m/hr
9117TARA LAASE-MCKINNEY30-3915:58:4813.1 m/hr
10237MARNIE TENCATE50+16:23:2212.8 m/hr
11136JILL MARTINDALE30-3916:23:2312.8 m/hr
12156AMY MILLER40-4916:25:2312.8 m/hr
1319WENDY BILLINGS40-4916:30:2612.7 m/hr
1416TRACY BERMAN30-3916:30:3312.7 m/hr
15231MELANIE SPLITGERBERWFtBk16:37:1812.6 m/hr
16256JULIE WHALEN30-3916:51:0512.5 m/hr
17110MICHELLE KNIGHT40-4916:51:0612.5 m/hr
18234JUDITH STUTES40-4917:25:3512.1 m/hr
19154TEAM MIDDY/HEIDIWmTdm17:25:3612.1 m/hr
2082LAURA HARALDSON30-3917:43:2011.8 m/hr
21169BARBARA NIESS-MAY40-4917:48:4211.8 m/hr
22263GABRIELLE ZACKS16-2918:06:5511.6 m/hr
2374KATHLEEN GOUGH50+18:43:2311.2 m/hr
2448JENNIFER CONINE40-4918:43:5711.2 m/hr
2570KATE GEISEN40-4919:26:2510.8 m/hr
26214CINDY SCHWAB40-4919:26:3310.8 m/hr
27193TAMMY QUILLANWFtBk19:28:0810.8 m/hr
28129ANGELA LOISELLEWFtBk19:28:0910.8 m/hr
2913MICHELE BASAL40-4919:59:1210.5 m/hr
3046MARY JANE COMBS40-4921:24:129.8 m/hr

Men's Results: 2018 Michigan Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder

PlaceBibNameCategoryTimeAvg. Pace
149MENSO DE JONGOvral11:53:2517.7 m/hr
217MIKE BERNHARDOvral12:06:5817.3 m/hr
3232NICHOLAS STANKOOvral12:11:1617.2 m/hr
420KEN BLAKEY-SHELLOvral12:17:4417.1 m/hr
5194SCOTT QUIRINGOvral12:17:4917.1 m/hr
652MITCHELL DEYOUNG30-3912:35:1716.7 m/hr
7260ERIC WOLTING30-3912:46:1616.4 m/hr
8103JEREMY KAREL30-3912:46:1616.4 m/hr
9174TROY OTTE30-3912:46:1916.4 m/hr
1034JORDAN CAVERLYMSS12:47:1216.4 m/hr
11158CHAD MILLS40-4912:52:4616.3 m/hr
12113ROY KRANZMFtBk12:52:4716.3 m/hr
13238SCOTT TENCATE50-5912:52:4816.3 m/hr
14257ALLEN WHEELER30-3912:56:4016.2 m/hr
15217TOM SCOTT40-4913:17:0215.8 m/hr
16225JEFF SIMPSON16-2913:20:1415.7 m/hr
1758TROY EDLER40-4913:24:5315.7 m/hr
18164JAY MORRISON40-4913:29:2815.6 m/hr
19198JAKE REMACLE30-3913:38:5215.4 m/hr
20201RANDALL RIECKERMSS13:44:3715.3 m/hr
2163STEVE FIELDS40-4913:44:3915.3 m/hr
22209MATT SAYRE40-4913:44:5615.3 m/hr
23115GREG KUHN40-4913:47:1215.2 m/hr
24152DAVID MESSING40-4913:47:1315.2 m/hr
2547BRETT CONAWAY40-4913:49:2615.2 m/hr
26176DAVID PALMER40-4913:49:2615.2 m/hr
278ZACH ANDREWS16-2913:49:2615.2 m/hr
28223COLLIN SHIPMAN30-3913:49:2715.2 m/hr
29116STEVE KUNST30-3913:53:1315.1 m/hr
30163JUSTIN MORRIS30-3913:53:2015.1 m/hr
31190JAMES PLICHTA50-5913:54:3115.1 m/hr
32212CHRIS SCHROEDERMSS13:56:2815.1 m/hr
3337CHRISTOPHER CHASE30-3913:56:3115.1 m/hr
34183JOE PERRY30-3913:56:3215.1 m/hr
35135TEAM MARK/SHAINACoTdm13:57:0515.1 m/hr
36199ERIC RENNIE60+13:58:1815.0 m/hr
37107FRANCIS KENNEY30-3914:05:4614.9 m/hr
38173MIKE ORTEGA16-2914:08:4514.8 m/hr
39251EDWARD WALKER40-4914:08:4514.8 m/hr
4023STEPHAN BOIANOFFMSS14:08:4914.8 m/hr
41137IAN MARZKE16-2914:12:1514.8 m/hr
42184NEIL PERUSKI40-4914:12:2814.8 m/hr
43102RELAY TEAM JULIE/SCOTCoRly14:12:3714.8 m/hr
4475ERIC GRAF30-3914:14:4514.7 m/hr
45240MARK THERRIEN40-4914:14:4514.7 m/hr
4643BRYAN COLEMANMSS14:18:4214.7 m/hr
47171DAVE NORTON50-5914:20:0714.6 m/hr
4891NEIL HOFFMAN30-3914:21:1914.6 m/hr
4951BRYAN DEW16-2914:23:2814.6 m/hr
50205KEVIN RYAN40-4914:23:2914.6 m/hr
519NICHOLAS ANDRIANO16-2914:25:0114.6 m/hr
52159NATHAN MIRUS40-4914:27:1914.5 m/hr
5333EDWARD CAVERLY50-5914:27:2114.5 m/hr
54178MICHAEL PATTON16-2914:31:0114.5 m/hr
55245JAMES TYRRELL30-3914:31:5114.5 m/hr
56195JESSE RAMSEYMSS14:32:0714.4 m/hr
57108TYLER KEUNINGMSS14:34:5514.4 m/hr
58221BRIAN SEVEN50-5914:37:2814.4 m/hr
5976BLAKE GRAHAM16-2914:41:3714.3 m/hr
60101RELAY TEAM JOSHUA/STEVEMnRly14:45:1714.2 m/hr
61168JON NIEMUTH40-4914:47:0314.2 m/hr
62208BRAD SATTERWHITE40-4914:47:0414.2 m/hr
63141JUSTIN MCBRIDEMSS14:49:3114.2 m/hr
64247MICHAEL VAIL30-3914:49:3314.2 m/hr
6515ADAM BENDER30-3914:51:5414.1 m/hr
6621ADAM BLATTER16-2914:53:0214.1 m/hr
6722TODD BLUMERICK40-4914:54:0514.1 m/hr
68100MIKE JONES50-5914:59:2214.0 m/hr
6918JAKE BIERNACKIMSS14:59:3214.0 m/hr
70242ANDREW THOMPSONMFtBk14:59:3914.0 m/hr
7126ZACK BUDDISH30-3915:01:0514.0 m/hr
72121DAN LANG40-4915:21:0413.7 m/hr
7369MASON GEIGER16-2915:21:0513.7 m/hr
74230RICHARD SPARKS30-3915:21:0713.7 m/hr
75109AARON KLEIN40-4915:21:1213.7 m/hr
76112MIKE KOZLOWSKI40-4915:21:2813.7 m/hr
774SCOTT ALBAUGH40-4915:23:5013.6 m/hr
7861CHRIS FALBERG50-5915:23:5513.6 m/hr
79142MIKE MCCLINCHIE40-4915:27:1513.6 m/hr
80114MATT KRETCHMAR40-4915:27:2013.6 m/hr
81126KIEL LESTER16-2915:31:0513.5 m/hr
827RELAY TEAM ANDREW/RYANMnRly15:37:2313.4 m/hr
8330TERRY CAMPBELL60+15:54:3113.2 m/hr
84196ERIC REBER40-4915:57:1113.2 m/hr
8542KEVIN CLEGG30-3915:58:4813.1 m/hr
8640RELAY TEAM CHRIS/JOHNMnRly15:59:0313.1 m/hr
87182MIKE PEIFFER30-3916:02:1513.1 m/hr
88128DAVID LINTEMUTH30-3916:06:5113.0 m/hr
8980PETE HALL30-3916:06:5213.0 m/hr
90228JEFFREY SMITH40-4916:06:5313.0 m/hr
91166MATT MURRELL40-4916:07:5113.0 m/hr
9254PETER DORNBOS30-3916:10:0413.0 m/hr
9310CRAIG ANIBLE40-4916:10:0613.0 m/hr
94243TOBI TUNGLMFtBk16:11:2013.0 m/hr
9578ALEXANDER GRAY30-3916:13:3412.9 m/hr
9645PATRICK COLLINS16-2916:14:5312.9 m/hr
97119BRIAN LAND50-5916:25:2112.8 m/hr
9872DAVID GIEFER30-3916:27:4812.8 m/hr
99215JEFFREY SCOFIELD50-5916:27:5112.8 m/hr
100254LUKE WENDT40-4916:30:2812.7 m/hr
10166DAN FRAZIER40-4916:30:2912.7 m/hr
102175DAVID PALAN50-5916:30:3212.7 m/hr
10389COREY HILLIARDMSS16:33:2912.7 m/hr
104132DAVID LYNCHMFtBk16:37:1812.6 m/hr
10539COLIN CHISHOLM50-5916:37:3312.6 m/hr
106235STEVE TAFELSKY40-4916:47:1212.5 m/hr
10790SHANE HINDENACH40-4916:47:1312.5 m/hr
10836TONY CHARAMEDA40-4916:51:0412.5 m/hr
109106JONATHON KEMNITZER40-4916:51:0412.5 m/hr
110123PAUL LEE40-4916:58:0212.4 m/hr
11141GARY CHURCH50-5917:06:1612.3 m/hr
112125MICHAEL LEMKUILMFtBk17:06:2612.3 m/hr
11311PAUL AZAR40-4917:07:3012.3 m/hr
11455KYLE DOWNS16-2917:07:5212.3 m/hr
115149BRIAN MCPHERSON30-3917:09:5112.2 m/hr
116262J. ROSS YUZON40-4917:09:5112.2 m/hr
1173CLINTON ADAMS16-2917:25:0512.1 m/hr
11895MATTHEW JAGLOWSKI30-3917:25:1012.1 m/hr
11932CHRIS CARVILLE40-4917:31:0312.0 m/hr
120188DANIEL PIKE30-3917:31:0312.0 m/hr
121144PATRICK MCENANEY40-4917:31:4912.0 m/hr
122179RELAY TEAM PAUL/TADMnRly17:31:5112.0 m/hr
12385THOMAS HAYES30-3917:33:2012.0 m/hr
124185MARK PETERSON30-3917:41:5911.9 m/hr
125246PAOLO URIZAR40-4917:44:2511.8 m/hr
12662BRADLEY FELDER16-2917:44:2611.8 m/hr
127160TONY MISOVSKI40-4917:48:4311.8 m/hr
12850TIM DEVLIN30-3917:48:4411.8 m/hr
129104ERIK KARLSSON40-4917:50:1611.8 m/hr
130227ANDREW SMITH30-3917:51:0711.8 m/hr
13112JASON BAILEY30-3917:51:0911.8 m/hr
132189JOHN PIKE40-4917:51:1011.8 m/hr
133267CHAD DREUTH30-3918:04:0811.6 m/hr
134244ALEXANDER TWEEDIE30-3918:04:1111.6 m/hr
135148JUSTIN MCNALLY16-2918:06:3111.6 m/hr
136127MIKE LEWIS30-3918:23:5211.4 m/hr
13727NATHAN BURKS40-4918:28:0511.4 m/hr
138211MATTHEW SCHMUKER40-4918:34:2411.3 m/hr
13967Brian Fried50-5918:34:2611.3 m/hr
140202DAN RIPBERGER50-5918:40:2111.2 m/hr
141133PETER LYTLE60+18:40:2911.2 m/hr
142118ANDY LACOMBE50-5918:43:2411.2 m/hr
143105NATHAN KEARNS40-4918:43:5811.2 m/hr
14473BRIAN GILLIESMSS18:43:5911.2 m/hr
14584STEVEN HARRAST50-5918:44:1211.2 m/hr
146138TEAM MATT/CHRISTINACoTdm18:54:0411.1 m/hr
147155RICK MIKKELSON50-5918:54:0711.1 m/hr
148161DAVID MITCHELL40-4919:00:0511.1 m/hr
149143DAVID MCCLOUD30-3919:04:5811.0 m/hr
15071GRANT GETSCHOW16-2919:09:1311.0 m/hr
15177MATT GRAVES60+19:20:0310.9 m/hr
15244KEVIN COLLINS40-4919:20:0410.9 m/hr
15387TONY HERSBERGER40-4919:20:0610.9 m/hr
154206JIM SAMLOW40-4919:20:3210.9 m/hr
155204DON ROPPOLOMFtBk19:26:3210.8 m/hr
156250BILLY VOLCHKOMFtBk19:26:3610.8 m/hr
157219MARK SEABURG50-5919:29:3710.8 m/hr
158259EVAN WILSON30-3919:55:2610.5 m/hr
159203NATHAN RISCHE40-4920:04:2410.5 m/hr
160165JOHN MOSEY30-3920:07:0210.4 m/hr
16164JAY FOURNIER30-3920:07:0610.4 m/hr
162181ZACHARY PAWLOWSKI30-3920:34:0010.2 m/hr
163147SHANNON MCLOUTH40-4920:34:0310.2 m/hr
164146RAYMOND MCLEOD50-5920:34:2410.2 m/hr
16531JEFFREY CAREK50-5920:47:0810.1 m/hr
166216RICHARD SCOTT50-5921:01:2510.0 m/hr
16786ADAM HELFRICH30-3921:05:4110.0 m/hr
16888ROBERT HICKEY60+21:23:529.8 m/hr