The weekly dirt: Team Kingfisher flies to win 24HoP, Howes now, sign up for the Sugars

A weekly roundup of events, initiatives, and activities related to off-road riding.

Photo: Gretchen Powers

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Hello, will it ever stop snowing in Colorado? If not, high country mountain biking is a looong ways away, and that makes me sad.

Not nearly as sad as Alex Howes will be if he has to push through many feet of the white stuff during his big Tour Divide debut this year 👀

Related: The weekly dirt: Women’s MTB camps, Sofia’s Unbound giveaway, and the Cactus Cup

Read on to learn more about Howes’ 2023 schedule, when to register for the Big and Little Sugars, and more. Thanks for reading the weekly dirt!

Team Kingfisher best in flock at 24HoP

Cannondale’s Meg Fisher and Laura King won the women’s duo category at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo last weekend, completing 16 laps of the 16-mile course in 24 hours.

The pair, who hail from Montana and Vermont respectively, had never trained or raced together prior to the event. Fisher is a decorated para-cyclist and King is also an elite racer and the mother of two small children (both of whom were at the team’s basecamp in 24 Hour Town, being looked after by Alex Howes’ wife during the race).

King said in an Instagram post that before the event, she and Fisher communicated to determine each other’s race expectations and found a serendipitous compatibility.

“I immediately smiled and knew we’d make a perfect match because we have an innate inward fire that burns towards giving our best, but a shared approach of also wanting to have fun,” King wrote.

Just 2.5 miles into the first lap of the race, after King fell and injured her leg, both women would learn that they also shared the qualities of grit, humor, and grace.

“I texted Meg and she came out on course about halfway through to see if I was ok,” King said. “I joked that we each had one “good” leg and she said “two legs, too easy!” Partnering with Meg had already given me perspective and positivity.”

Howes now

Speaking of Alex Howes, the former EF Education-EasyPost rider has announced the first half of his 2023 calendar.

Although he and Ted King found themselves out of contention at 24HoP after King injured himself, Howes has plenty of time to race for records this year.

His season picks up in just shy of two weeks at BWR Arizona, followed by The Mid South a week later. He’ll be at BWR California the week before the Life Time Grand Prix kicks off at Sea Otter.

Perhaps the most surprising — and exciting — event on Howes’ calendar is the Tour Divide, a behemoth bikepacking race that begins in Banff, Canada and ends at the US/Mexico border. Howes will have 200 miles of Unbound Gravel in his legs before the start of the 2,745-mile event, and he told me he’s already looking forward seeing how he fares at the Crusher in the Tushar a few weeks after finishing.

“I’ll be flying … or actually retired,” he said.

Register for all the Sugars

If you’re hoping to race XC MTB or gravel — or both — in Bentonville, Arkansas in late October, set your alarm clock for just before 6 p.m. CT Wednesday, March 1. That’s when registration opens for both Big Sugar Gravel and Little Sugar MTB, two events bookending a week of bike things in Bentonville.

The Little Sugar MTB race and expo will kick off Life Time’s recently-launched Big Sugar Classic over the weekend of October 14-15. Then, five days of bike-centric programming pack the week before the Big Sugar Gravel expo and event on October 19-21.

The super sugar-addicted can sign up for both races and take part in the Sweet Tooth Challenge. The ‘large’ challenge includes the 100k MTB race and 100-mile gravel race, while the 50k and 50-miler make up the ‘small’ challenge.

Little Sugar MTB registration fees

  • 100K- $160

  • 50K – $95

  • 20K – $50

Big Sugar Gravel registration fees

  • 100 Mile –  $180

  • 50 Mile – $120

Ride with Georgia Gould at Rasputitsa

Riding Rasputitsa in late April? Be sure to sign up for the post-race recovery ride on April 30 to pedal alongside bronze Olympic medalist Georgia Gould.

Gould will lead a ride with Kristin Brandt of Massachusetts bike shop Steve the Bike Guy. $20 will get you breakfast and the guided ride.

Registration for the event itself closes in one week and limited spots remain.

Mt. Washington Hill Climb back for year 50

Disclaimer: this is not an off-road event, but it’s cool so I’m including it

For an event to last 50 years, it’s gotta have some sort of magic, especially if it’s all uphill.

In spite of how notoriously difficult it is, the Mt. Washington Hill Climb has become a sell-out event year after year. On August 19 the event will celebrate 50 years of fun — and fundraising.

“This year’s 50th anniversary race is extra special and we’re anticipating a sold-out race,” said MWARBH race director Erin Holmes. “We encourage riders to also participate in the fundraising aspects of this year’s event. Riders can opt to pay the full $350 registration fee or register for $150 and raise the rest. It’s our hope riders will go beyond and help support Tin Mountain Conservation Center and its diverse environmental education programs and summer camps. We’re offering prizes and raffles at different levels as incentives to raise funds.”

The climb features an average grade of 12 percent with extended sections at 18 percent. Just before the finish line, a leg-cramping 22 percent pitch greets riders before the summit.

Last year, Phil Gaimon won the men’s race in 50 minutes and Courtney Nelson had the best women’s time at just under 1:10.

Registration for the Mt. Washington Hill Climb opens at 9 a.m. EST on March 1.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.