Need a gravel race fix? Here are five races going down this weekend

It's not too late to register for Gravista, Bighorn Gravel, Grounded Nebraska, and Michigan's Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder.

Photo: Ben Delaney

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Now that the Unbound hangover has worn off, you’re ready for another gravel race, right? The weekend of June 25-26 happens to be bursting with them, from Gravista’s deceptively difficult punchy course in Virginia’s Blue Ridge to Bighorn Gravel’s huge climbs in the Colorado Rockies. In between are races in Nebraska and Michigan.

Oh, and there’s a UCI Gravel World Championship qualifier in Arkansas 🧐.

Registration remains open this week for most of these events, but if you’re not the spontaneous type, follow them on social media to see if they might make the cut for your 2023 calendar.

Gravista, Lexington, VA

East Coast gravel (outside of Vermont at least) doesn’t get the love it deserves, and we’re guilty. If I had the energy to get on an airplane this week, I would be headed straight to western Virginia for Gravista. The event, in its second year, is held in the ancient hills and hollers of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Don’t let the short course distances fool you — both the Worthy 30 and Stoked 60 courses feature a heavy vert to mileage ratio.

For traveling’s sake, Gravista is central to many places on the East Coast, just three hours from both Washington D.C. and Charlotte, NC.

And, if you still need selling, how about this? Gravista is the brainchild of Unbound XL champ Cynthia Frazier — the Velocio Exploro rider has ridden hundreds of miles near her Lexington home, and Gravista’s courses highlight some of her favorite roads.

Registration closes Friday, Jun 24, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. EST

Grounded Nebraska, Roca, NE

Cait Dumas and Susan Cronin, the team behind Grounded Nebraska have been doing their research. After racing and observing multiple gravel events throughout the country, the duo has come up with a formula for their own inaugural event, and it has everything to do with inclusivity.

From the three distance options (25, 60, and 125-miles) to the scholarship-based Rider Support Program to a modest prize purse, Grounded wants to be a place for every type of rider. And, judging by the gender split of current registrants, the formula is working.

Registration closes Thursday, Jun 23, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. CST

Bighorn Gravel, Gypsum, CO

Former ‘cross pro Jake Wells is convinced that the gravel near his home in Avon, Colorado is some of the world’s best.

And since the multi-time U.S. cyclocross national champion has been riding gravel and endurance MTB events for nearly a decade now, the time was right for him to put on an event in his own backyard.

Bighorn Gravel debuts on Sunday in Gypsum, Colorado with three distances for all levels: the mega Ram’s Horn Escape that takes in nearly 10,000 feet of climbing in 85 miles, the Little Bighorn at 50 miles and 6,400 feet, and the Gravel Curious, 20 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing.

A $10,000 prize purse will be split evenly between the top three men and women in the Ram’s Horn Escape race.

Registration closes Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. MST

Robidoux Rendezvous, Scottsbluff, NE

Western Nebraska is surprisingly scenic, and the four races distances of the Robidoux Rendezvous take riders on a nice tour of the region. From 25 to 100 miles, each course boasts 95-100 percent gravel roads that traverse interesting human and natural history.

New this year, there are also four, yes four, shakeout rides. On Thursday, a three hour adventure ride ends at the Robidoux Rendezvous Edition Summer Ale beer release party at Flyover Brewing Co. On Friday, there are three shakeout rides from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. before packet pickup, the vendor expo, and a bluegrass show at 5!

In 2020, this was the first race I attended after COVID decimated the majority of the summer gravel calendar.

Michigan’s Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder

Michigan’s mitten is sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and on Saturday, over 300 riders will ride from coast to coast. The fourth annual Michigan’s Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder begins on the eastern side of the state on Lake Huron’s shores and ends in Ludington on Lake Michigan. The 213-mile course is composed of doubletrack, gravel, dirt, and paved roads. There is a 21-hour cutoff.

Gravel pro Amanda Nauman won both the 2018 and 2019 editions.

For those who don’t want to spend all day on the bike, there is also a 100-mile loop option that begins and ends in Ludington and features 85 percent gravel. 40 percent of the course is in the Manistee National Forest.

Registration closes Wednesday, June 22, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

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