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Moran 166 is in its second year and offers $10,000 in cash prizes with equal payout for men and women. The event is remote, fast, and growing in popularity. Check out this Q&A with Tyler Tafelsky, Race Coordinator, to learn more about the philosophy and vibe behind this event.

Moran 166 takes place in Moran in the upper peninsula of Michigan on Saturday, October 1st. To learn more or register for the race, visit the Moran 166.

Photos: @moran166race

Ok, so $10k is a lot of dough. That means 20 men and women are going home with money in their pocket; why the prize purse?

We’re not ones to compare ourselves to others.

But to make a point, you see these big iconic gravel bike races in the U.S. that draw thousands of racers including major sponsorship and media attention, and yet, there’s no payout to the top finishers.

That’s kind of bogus, in our opinion, especially when some of these events are pulling in millions of dollars in revenue.

Pros and non-pros alike invest 10, 20, 30 hours a week into training for these events. That’s a part-time job in and of itself.

While the MORAN 166 still has a lot of growth to reach a similar volume as the major gravel races throughout the country, we’re adamant about setting the tone now that our race gives back to the gravel community and rewards those top-performers who show up and race their hearts out.

Sure, there's an incentive component to attract cyclists to our event. But the decision to offer a $10k cash purse goes much deeper than that.

In the fast growing gravel community, we’re positioning ourselves now among race promoters by doing the right thing and giving back to those who train hard, show up, and race with us.

Moran is just about the farthest corner of The Nxrth's coverage (WI/MN/U.P.). What makes it worth the drive?

Arriving into Moran and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is like stepping back in time. Very little has changed in the last 100 years here. So the vibe is very historic in a way. There’s not much for development, as much of the eastern UP is protected national forest.

It’s probably as close to true wilderness as you can get without traveling further north into Canada.

The course itself is truly an adventure. You can count the number of buildings and/or cars you’ll see on both hands.

Within the first mile upon heading north up East Lake Road out of Moran, you’ll quickly cop on to the untouched wilderness vibes. For the first 30 miles, it’s nothing but pristine gravel roads lined with flourishing wetlands, open expanses, and densely packed woods.

There are a few paved stretches throughout the course, but they’re a welcomed change and the traffic is minimal. Overall, it’s one of the most beautiful and scenic bike races that truly feels like a remote adventure ride. And with this year’s race taking place October 1st, the autumn colors should be blazing.

Tell me about last year's inaugural event

This will be the second year for the Moran 166.

We’ve made some slight course modifications at the northernmost section, so there will be slightly more climbing.But still not very much.

Over the course of the 166-mile course, the elevation gain is fairly minimal (about 3,000 feet), so it’s a very fast race.

Last year’s top finishers averaged 21 MPH for the full 166 miles.

Between the weather, the people, and local community support, we couldn’t have asked for a better inaugural race in 2021.

The race itself had some interesting turning points.

A small breakaway group separated itself from the pack at mile 30. Two of those attackers held on to take first and second place. But a hard-working chase pack managed to catch up to the other around mile 110 to make for a dramatic sprint for third at the end. You can read the full race recap here.

We had just about one hundred racers show up for the first year’s 166-miler.

It was the perfect kickoff that received rave reviews from both participants and the community.

We expect to see double (perhaps triple) the participation for 2022.

Combined with on-site camping and more vendors, food trucks, and event happenings, it’s going to be a much more lively and energetic time at the Mackinac County Fairgrounds this year.

Currently, we’re open to sponsors and vendors who’d like to get involved. Interest in the race is rising fast, so we expect to see a great turnout for 2022.




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