It’s no secret gravel racing is hotter than the Flint Hills of Kansas in the middle of July. Everyone, from World Tour Pros to the neighbor kid who just got a new bike for her 16th birthday, is lining up to ride in beautiful places, sometimes in brutal conditions to challenge themselves, have fun, and be part of a growing and welcoming cycling community.
“I love that gravel is different everywhere I’ve ridden, and riding even the same path is never the same,” says Taneika Duhaney, a healthcare administrator from Washington, DC. Duhaney, who just got into gravel this summer, has already done unPAved and The Last Best Ride (both on this list) and plans to keep signing up for more.
“The energy and positivity of the gravel community are refreshing and welcoming. Whether riding in a group or solo, fellow gravel riders exhibit genuine interest in cheering others on and recognizing a fellow riders’ efforts to get over a hill or navigate a tricky descent,” Duhaney says.
BMX legend turned gravel racer Jamie Bestwick echoes those sentiments as he racks up his impressive gravel resume. “You can ride into any gravel event with a solo entry and come out with 1500 friends,” he says.
In the spirit of connecting you with awesome gravel communities around the country, we’ve rounded up a list of the top 20 must-visit gravel destinations. For riders to find great gravel rides that go the extra mile to create a fun, welcoming vibe. Most of these include other elements like shakeout rides, multiple courses for varying experience levels, camping, afterparties, and more. To create the list, we included events we’ve personally ridden, raced, and loved, as well as the top picks from various gravel groups, including a survey of the Girls Gone Gravel community, a group of more than 9,000 women gravel cyclists.
Note: Gravel is ever-growing and changing. As such, entry fees and festivities can change year to year. You can generally expect some free schwag like socks, a tee, or a hat with your entry fee, as well as complimentary food, beverages, and event celebrations. Most events are also affiliated with charities and donate a portion of the entry fee to those causes.
Here’s a list of 20 great gravel events logged in calendar order:
The Mid South
- Stillwater, Oklahoma | March 10-12, 2022
Held during late winter deep in the red-dirt country, The Mid South is a tough challenge to prepare for. It could be a sunny, warm, beautifully leg-searing ripping fast day or a freezing, rainy, slick, sticky, gloppy death march for 100 miles. It all depends on what mother nature has in store. As one of the iconic events on the gravel calendar, it attracts a deep field of pros and recreational riders looking to test their fitness and tune-up for the season ahead. Rain or shine, riders are rewarded with a huge, welcoming community in downtown Stillwater, shared camaraderie with more than 3,600 registrants, and finish line hugs from the event’s passionate and animated promotor Bobby Wintle.
- Course options: Riders can choose from the full century or half-century courses.
- Festivities: The town takes on a festival atmosphere for the event, with a downtown expo, sponsored shakeout rides, beer, product launches, before and after parties, and lots of live music, including Bobby Wintle himself, jamming onstage throughout the weekend.
- Cost: $100 for the entire course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: Multiple categories include men and women age groups, singlespeed, fat bike, and tandem.
- Lodging: There are tons of places to stay, including hotels, motels, home rentals, RV parks, and campgrounds, in and around Stillwater, which is a large college town.
- Hastings, Michigan | March 26, 2022
Barry-Roubaix is one of the OG gravel events. In fact, it’s so well established in the mitten state that permanent street signs are marking all the routes, except the latest 100 miler option. It’s also one of the largest gravel road races in the world, with more than 3,800 riders toeing the line. The classic 62-mile course features 3,800 feet of climbing and is on mostly fast, hard-packed, rolling gravel farm roads with some rugged two-track and rocky sections thrown in for good measure. It’s early spring in Michigan, so there can also be mud, snow, and ice. With large crowds and no sustained climbing, there are many opportunities to work with a group for some fast fun.
- Course options: Barry-Roubaix offers race distances (and podiums) for riders of every ability, including a 62-mile, 36-mile, 18-mile, and a unique 100-mile course.
- Festivities: Huge afterparty, food vendors, and sponsor expo with plenty of free schwag.
- Cost: $85 for the full course (prices scale from there)
- Categories: Numerous race categories including open, juniors, masters, masters 51+, tandem, singlespeed & fixed gear, fat bike, and riding for fun.
- Lodging: Ample hotels, motels, suites, inns, cabins, and camping available within and close-by to Hastings.
- Burke, Vermont | April 30, 2022
Rasputitsa is a Russian term for the shoulder seasons of spring and fall when travel on unpaved roads becomes difficult due to muddy conditions from snowmelt or autumn rains. It describes this springtime race in New England to a T. The classic 45-mile course that loops out and around Burke Mountain includes 4,000 feet of climbing over rutted, cratered, and often very sloppy dirt roads. It includes a notorious Class IV road called “Cyberia,” which is often still under slow and slush and forces riders to shoulder their bikes and hoof it. It is often very cold and sometimes raining and/or snowing. It’s definitely designed to be type two sufferfest fun.
- Course options: The original course was the medium distance 70K (45 miles) route. Racers can now choose a 40K (25 miles) route or a 100K (62 miles) route.
- Festivities: Each year, the Rasputitsa pays homage to a rock n’ roll classic like Prince or AC/DC. They hold live concerts Friday and Saturday night. They often offer fun amenities like free manicures.
- Cost: $150 for 70K and 100K riders (prices scale from there).
- Categories: Award categories include open men and women and age groups.
- Lodging: Hotels, inns, and home rentals around the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR)
- San Diego, California | May 1, 2022
Modeled after the European one-day Spring Classics, the BWR is designed to be an ass-kicker to the nth degree, and it attracts world-class cyclists from around the globe. Now in its 10th year, BWR was never designed to be a “gravel grinder,” but rather a 132-mile road race punctuated by severe terrain, including 50 miles of off-road riding including deep sand, rocky, double, and singletrack, water crossings, and more than 11,000 feet of climbing. So, it’s doable on a road bike, but you’ll be way happier on a gravel setup. The ride is meant to be punishing (generally, only 60 percent of starters finish the whole Waffle, and it takes many well over 10 hours.) It is also a celebration of suffering for fun, so you’re rewarded with sweeping Southern California vistas, fun aid stations, and of course, plenty of waffles.
- Course options: Full 132-mile Waffle, 71-mile Wafer, and 38-mile Wanna courses. They’re all difficult, with plenty of categorized climbs, steep grades, and rough terrain. Some are just shorter mileage to make them more doable for more riders.
- Festivities: The party starts Friday night with the expo and registration celebrations, continues on Saturday with live music at the expo, and culminates on Sunday with prerace waffles and coffee (and more) starting at 4:30 a.m. and carrying on all through race day with food, music, beer, fun, and games, including the awards ceremony Sunday afternoon.
- Cost: $225 for the full course (prices scale from there)
- Categories: Multiple race categories, including USA Cycling license Pro and 1-5 categories, as well as age groups.
- Lodging: Hotels, Inns, and Suites in the San Marcos, California, area.
Note: BWR has expanded its event catalog to include BWR Asheville, North Carolina; BWR Cedar City, Utah; and BWR, Lawrence, Kansas. Each event captures the BWR spirit with punishing courses, including a wide variety of terrain. There are three distances at each location, including a “Wanna” ride option for the gravel-curious. They all raise funds and awareness for community causes in each location.
- Hico, Texas | May 14, 2022
Set in Texas Hill Country, the 155-mile Gravel Locos course includes 8,200 feet of elevation gain and features five “wet crossings,” including the North Bosque River Crossing, which depending on recent rainfall, can get deep. It’s mostly rolling with three stout hills that kick up to 18 percent. It also passes through old pecan plantations and the Leon River Valley. Locos attracts a deep field of professional gravel privateers, including Ted and Laura King, Laurens ten Dam, Alison Tetrick, and Ian Boswell. Riders who aren’t into racing can sign up for two shorter, non-timed, non-competitive, but fully supported rides.
- Course options: 155-mile full distance; 63 miles (3,600 feet climbing) not timed, non-competitive course, and 30 miles (1,600 feet climbing) not timed, non-competitive course.
- Festivities: Riders will find the usual race-day amenities, swag bags, and fully stocked aid stations. There are also several “VIP experiences,” including a meet the pros Q & A Thursday night, a preride and lunch with the pros on Friday, and a Texan BBQ dinner with the crew postrace, which are available for an extra fee. This is how the event stays free (see below), but still raises money to help the town.
- Cost: $165 for the 150-mile course, and prices scale down to $65 for the 30-mile course. Last year the event was free and funds were raised for a new command truck for the fire department in Hico.
- Categories: Professional and general age group categories by gender.
- Lodging: There are several hotels and RV parks, but for a uniquely Hico experience, check out the cabins and tiny homes at .
- Emporia, Kansas | June 4, 2022
Known as the Super Bowl of gravel, the 200-mile Unbound (formerly DK200) event is undoubtedly the granddaddy of the gravel scene. Its reputation for being brutal is well earned. The Flint Hills are endlessly rolling and covered in sharp, often chunky gravel. It can be extremely windy, stiflingly hot, and covered in sticky peanut butter mud. It is a badge of honor to finish this sinister double century before the 3 a.m. cut-off time. The event attracts 4,000 riders for all distances and is so popular that you need to enter a lottery for an entry. With the entire town joining in the celebration of gravel, it’s something to behold.
- Course options: Riders can choose from numerous distances, including the original 200, a 100-mile, 50-mile, 25-mile, and for the gluttons for punishment, a 350-mile XL course.
- Festivities: A lot is going on in Emporia in the days surrounding Unbound, including numerous shakeout rides for riders of all abilities, a gravel expo, and an after-party that goes well into the early morning hours as the final racers roll down Commercial Street.
- Cost: $240 for the full course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: Ride categories include men and women open, age groups, and singlespeed, open tandem, and non-binary open.
- Lodging: Emporia fills up fast, so book early. Riders can choose from hotels, Emporia State University dorms, rental tents, makeshift motel rooms on a semi-trailer in a pop-up campground at the Lyon County Fairgrounds, home rentals, and RV and tent camping.
Dirty Kitten Gravel Race
- Rapidan, Virginia | July 2022
This 100-percent gravel course held on a private farm nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a great introduction to gravel. The course consists of one 20-mile lap (so you’re never too far from friends and family) with 1,100 feet of climbing, including secluded farm roads that range from smooth to choppy interspersed with some dirt and grass double-track passages. There’s plenty to look at in that short lap as you roll along Robinson River, pass by creeks and ponds, and weave in and out of forested tracks. The course features one very steep climb—the Kitten Crusher—that is a feat to clean without getting off to walk.
- Course options: Everyone rides the same 20-mile course, with the option of riding it four times (80 miles), 3 times (60 miles), 2 times (40 miles), or 1 time.
- Festivities: There are course preview rides open on Friday. You can bring your own food and drink, but there is also an after-party with postride food and beverages.
- Cost: $85 for the full course (prices scale from there)
- Categories: Multiple categories include elite, open, masters, singlespeed, junior, U23, and mixed teams.
- Lodging: Limited off-site camping about 2 miles down the road both Friday and Saturday night. There are also nearby hotels, local home rentals, and bed and breakfast options.
Ochoco Gravel Grinder
- Ochoco National Forest, Oregon | July 16-17, 2022
Held deep in the dense pines of the Ochoco National Forest, just two hours east of Bend, Oregon, this two-day gravel event showcases the region’s rich geology, including mountain streams, high prairies, and stunning views of the Cascades. It’s not uncommon to see herds of elk and antelope or even wild horses. The full two-day course includes more than 155 miles and 14,000 feet of climbing. The terrain is challenging in that there is a lot of climbing, but short and punchy and long and sustained, but the gravel surface itself is known to be hardpack and fast-rolling. The weather that time of year features low humidity with warm days and cool nights.
- Course options: Riders can choose from the full two-day course or a “small grinder” option that includes just over 120 miles and 11,200 feet of climbing. You can also mix and match doing a big ride one day and a small ride the next or just one ride on the weekend.
- Festivities: The event includes the Ochoco Gravel Festival, including a beer and whiskey bar, meals, music, and entertainment.
- Cost: Pricing starts at $180 for the two-day event (prices scale from there). There is also a tiered pricing system that includes VIP tent service and a meal package.
- Categories: Award categories include open men and women, masters men and women, and juniors. There is an e-bike category in the Small Grinder races.
- Lodging: This is a campout, so riders stay in tents (their own or provided by the event), RVs, trailers, and/or sprinters.
- Richmond, Vermont | July 29-31, 2022
Started by pro riders Ted and Laura King to showcase their home in the Green Mountain State, Rooted is an 82-mile ride that racks up 8,000 feet of climbing one short, steep climb at a time. Most of the gravel is downright pristine, but several miles of abandoned class-4 Jeep roads (known as Vermont pave) are rocky and chunky enough in spots that some riders opt to get off and carry their bike for stretches. The scenery is quintessential Vermont, with bucolic pastures, verdant mountains, and plenty of bright red barns. A highlight of the route is a stretch on the “Natural Turnpike,” which was a stagecoach road in the early 1900s.
- Course options: Riders can choose from the full 82-mile Sip of Sunshine course or opt for the shorter Little Sip course, which is 48 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing.
- Festivities: The weekend is packed with plenty to do, including two shakeout rides and a welcome party on Friday; a vendor expo, more shakeout rides, and pro panel discussions on Saturday; and a postrace festival with food, beer, and music on Sunday.
- Cost: $130 for the full course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: Race categories include men and women overall, age group, non-binary or gender non-conforming, and para cyclist. The race recently announced that 50 percent of registration spots will be reserved for female-identifying riders during the random selection process.
- Lodging: There are limited options in Richmond, but plenty of hotels, lodges, and rentals in nearby Burlington and Waterbury. Limited camping space is also available.
- Steamboat Springs, Colorado | August 14, 2022
You’ll find a star-studded deep pro field leading the charge of this challenging high-altitude course, as one of the hallmarks of the race is generous and equal payouts for men and women. The 144-mile main event features 9,400 feet of climbing, much of it in the back half. The sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountain ranges, lakes, and ranches take the sting out of the long, exposed climbs. The terrain ranges from fast hard pack to soft, sketchy moon dust, and it includes one long, chunky road right at the end. Steamboat is located at 6,900 feet of altitude, and the course tops out at about 8,200, which riders from sea level will undoubtedly feel.
- Course options: Riders can choose from four routes, including the main Black course, the 103-mile (6,300 feet of climbing) Blue course, the 64-mile (4,100 feet of climbing) Red course, and the 37-mile (2,000 feet of climbing) Green course.
- Festivities: SBT GRVL weekend includes sponsor-led prerides and shakeout rides both Friday and Saturday. There’s a downtown expo with live music and a panel roundtable discussion Saturday, and awards, food, and beverages on Sunday after the race.
- Cost: $200 for the full course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: Race categories include men and women overall, age groups, and singlespeed. The 37-mile Green course has an e-bike category.
- Lodging: The area has numerous condos, hotels, and rental properties, with racer discounts often available.
- Lincoln, Nebraska | August 19-20, 2022
Over a decade ago, what started as a tongue-in-cheek “world championship” gravel event has ballooned into a massive celebration of gravel riding with four different distances and multiple categories. S0, there’s literally something for every type of gravel rider. The classic 150-mile Gravel Worlds course includes about 10,000 feet of climbing through the rural farmlands of Southeastern Nebraska. The terrain is a mixture of hardpack limestone and pea gravel over sandy soil, so it drains quickly and usually rolls fast even after wet weather. That said, you may find patches of chunkier, deeper limestone rock or mounds of pea gravel, as well as some unmaintained dirt roads that can turn to peanut butter in the rain. It’s a proper Midwest gravel ride.
- Course options: Along with the classic 150-mile course, riders can choose from a half distance 75-mile race, a 50K non-competitive event designed for new gravel riders, and the 300-mile Long Voyage self-supported ultra-endurance event.
- Festivities: There are plenty of festivities leading into the main event, including a group shakeout ride Thursday and Friday afternoon, a rider hangout with live music, beer, and food Thursday night; an expo and women’s shakeout ride Friday afternoon, and an awards ceremony and after-party on Saturday.
- Cost: $140 for the full course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: World championship jerseys are up for grabs in many race categories, including open men and women, age groups, and men and women singlespeed, fat bike/cargo bike/recumbent bike, and tandem categories in the 150-mile event. There are also non-binary and gender expansive categories for all events. The ride also opens early entry for women riders.
- Lodging: There are several hotels and suites affiliated with and offering rider discounts for the event.
The Last Best Ride
- Whitefish, Montana | August 19-21, 2022
Inspired by Montana’s nickname, “The Last Best Place,” The Last Best Ride is designed to showcase the spectacular outdoor wilderness of Big Sky Country. Riders have ample opportunities to take in all those big sky views from the tops of many mountains as they pedal over 90 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation gain. Highlights of the course include Big Horn Sheep Scramble, the final stretch of Caribou Climb that forces riders to hike-a-bike, but rewards them with a top-of-the-world postcard-worthy view from Big Mountain Summit House of Glacier National Park. The terrain includes hard pack gravel, grassy doubletrack, and large chunk gravel. Riders are expected to have bear spray and know how to use it. It’s a true wilderness adventure.
- Course options: Riders can choose from the main 90-mile Big Horn Sheep course or the half-distance Mountain Goat short course, which includes 47 miles and 4,200 feet of climbing.
- Festivities: The weekend includes a Friday night happy hour, an expo and shakeout ride Saturday, and an after-party postrace on Sunday, including chef-prepared local fare.
- Cost: $175 for the full course and $145 for the short course. And you may purchase bear spray at registration.
- Categories: Open male and female, non-binary, para cyclist, collegiate, and under 18 categories in all distances.
- Lodging: Riders can choose from a broad array of lodges, inns, hotels, guest ranches, rental homes, resorts, condos, cabins, and camping.
Fistful of Dirt
- Cody, Wyoming | Early September 2022
This relatively new high-desert race in Wyoming bills itself as a “gravel bike race and a dang good party.” As such, it offers something for gravel riders of every ability in the form of The Good (20 miles), The Bad (62 miles), and The Ugly (100 miles). The entire 100-mile course rolls out on the North Fork Highway, a stunning stretch of road between Cody and Yellowstone National Park. It travels through a private ranch and through the challenging, sandy Oregon Basin and over a couple of big climbs and ripping descents for about 5,500 feet of elevation on the day. It’s a feast for the eyes, as you pass through slot canyons, around reservoirs, and high plains to mountain vistas.
- Course options: The courses are designed so you can travel with friends and family, and everyone can ride. Options include a 20-mile mild course, a 62-mile moderately challenging course, and the full 100-miler. E-bikes are welcome on the 20-mile course.
- Festivities: The weekend is full of bands, brews, and BBQ, including a Friday night backyard BBQ ,and live music at the after-party Saturday evening. The event is capped at 300 riders.
- Cost: $90 for the full course (prices scale from there). You get the usual race day food, beverage, and aid, plus a Fistful of Dirt hoodie.
- Categories: General age groups and junior and masters categories.
- Lodging: Best Western has two locations in Cody and offers discounts to people coming in for the event.
- Quincy, California | September 2022
This amalgamation of a gravel grinder meets enduro features nearly 60 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation over gravel roads and sometimes sketchy singletrack trails. The organizers crown the winner based on performance on a handful of shorter, timed segments within the ride. So, you can stop and Instagram the massive views of Mt. Shasta and the Eddy Mountain Range and enjoy all the food and beverages at the aid stations. Though this is billed as a gravel race, the course goes through the Gateway Trail network—a popular mountain biking destination in the area—so you’ll find yourself on singletrack with berms and slightly techy rock gardens. This event is for you if you love ripping singletrack on drop-bar bikes.
- Course options: Riders can tackle the entire Grinduro course, or if they just want to get their feet wet, they can sign up for the untimed Grindurito ride, which is the first loop of the full course, which includes 23 miles, 3,000 feet of climbing, and some of the most fun singletrack.
- Festivities: The race is wrapped in a weekend festival that includes live bands, an after-hours DJ, food, camping, and a Northern California show of handmade bikes and local art.
- Cost: $175 for the full course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: There are multiple categories, including pro men and women, age group men and women, singlespeed men and women, tandem, and open gender. In 2021, the ride committed to reserving 50 percent of its spots for women and trans and/or non-binary riders.
- Lodging: Camping is located right outside the Grinduro Village, where all the festivities are held.
Note: Grinduro has expanded to other locations around the world, including Wales, the U.K., Italy, Switzerland, Japan, and Australia.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho
- Ketchum, Idaho | September 2022
This Sun Valley, Idaho, Labor Day weekend event put on by Rebecca Rusch—a multiple national and world champion, a.k.a. the Queen of Pain—has grown into a full-blown festival of the gravel life. The main event is a 100-mile Baked Potato ride that starts with a 2,000-foot climb out of the Wood River Valley and serves up sometimes bone-rattling rollers along with sweeping views of the Copper Basin and Pioneer Range. Depending on the year, the roads can be mainly fast and smooth or miles of washboard. There’s also a little five-mile technical spur called El Diablito (little devil) to keep riders on their toes. You’ll climb more than 6,000 feet by day’s end.
- Course options: Riders can choose from a number of course options, including the 56-mile French Fry, the 19-mile Tater Tot, and the 4-day Queen’s Stage Race, which includes the Baked Potato event and covers 196 miles and 12,600 feet of climbing. Day one of the stage race is 40 percent singletrack, so that’s an event for the mountain bikers at heart.
- Festivities: Ketchum is buzzing with activity on Labor Day weekend, so you can catch the famous Wagon Days parade (the biggest non-motorized parade in the country) on Saturday, as well as enjoy Saturday morning’s shakeout ride and welcome party and expo. Sunday is an all-day festival as well as a bike race, so riders return to live music, food, awards, vendors, and games.
- Cost: $220 for the full one-day 100-mile course (prices scale from there; the Tater Tot is $40).
- Categories: Award categories include men and women, tandem, duo, non-binary/FTW (Femme, Trans, Women), and para cyclists.
- Lodging: There are affiliate lodges and hotels, as well as camping in the Sawtooth National Forest outside of town and dispersed camping off of almost every dirt road in the valley. Word to the wise: It’s a destination location on a holiday weekend, so plan well in advance.
- Skiatook, Oklahoma | October 2022
Osage Passage is Tulsa Tough’s new fall event, designed to showcase Osage County—home to rolling terrain, abundant wildlife, and cattle grazing on the open range. If you’re really lucky, you might have the opportunity to witness tens of thousands of monarch butterflies as they migrate through the region. Though the Osage Hills are an extension of the Flint Hills (well known for their razor-sharp flint rock gravel), the gravel through much (though not all…see photo above) of the Osage Passage is crushed white chat, which is smooth and rideable even in the rain. The main event is just over 100 miles with just over 5,000 feet of climbing. About 12 miles of the race takes place inside the Zink Ranch, which is private land where the race starts and finishes. The ride is self-supported, with only a few aid stations on course (though there are convenience stores on route to grab more snacks).
- Course options: Along with the 100-mile main ride, riders can sign up for 65-mile, 44 mile, and 17-mile distances, all of which, like the century ride, accumulate 500 feet of elevation per 10 miles.
- Festivities: The weekend includes live music both Friday and Saturday nights, along with a postride meal and awards party.
- Cost: $30 for all events (prices may rise as the event looks to include more amenities). Additional fees for RV hookups.
- Categories: Award categories include men’s and women’s age groups, singlespeed, and tandem.
- Lodging: RV and/or tent camping at the race venue, Zink Ranch.
The Rad Dirt Fest
- Trinidad, Colorado | October 2022
Deep in the Southern Colorado plateau, this newcomer serves up 165 miles of rolling, largely smooth, and well-maintained gravel roads that pass through the Spanish Peaks and expansive mesas. The fast, fun and mostly smooth gravel makes this an excellent first event for those just dipping their tires in the gravel scene. Of course, the lack of challenging, chunky terrain under your tires doesn’t mean it’s easy. Riders climb more than 11,000 feet and hit nearly 9,000 feet of altitude at the highest point halfway through the route as they loop into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains.
- Course options: Riders can choose from three course distances, including the main 165-mile Stubborn Delores course, the 99-mile Anteloop course, and the 38-mile Frijole course.
- Festivities: The weekend features a festival atmosphere and shakeout rides Friday, awards and afterparty Saturday, and a hangover ride on Sunday.
- Cost: $160 for the full course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: Ride categories include men and women open, age groups, and singlespeed, open tandem, and non-binary open.
- Lodging: Riders can choose from hotels, lodges, RV parks, or nearby campsites.
- Lewisburg, Pennsylvania | October 2022
Set in the Susquehanna River Valley deep in Amish and Mennonite country in central Pennsylvania, unPAved bills itself as “easy on the eyes and hard on the legs.” This holds true over the 120 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing during peak foliage season. Some of the gravel is smoother than pavement, but riders tackling the full course will test their bike handling skills on a unique loop that includes one big chunky climb and a steep, chundery, rock-garden, and puddle-strewn descent. The event features timed segments, so riders can stop and take pictures at the scenic overlooks and enjoy local fare like pierogies and bacon served up at the aid stations.
- Course options: Riders can choose from the main 120-mile course, as well as a 90-mile Plenty, 50-mile and 30-mile SOMEpaved, and family-friendly 20-mile rail-trail course. There is also an overnight option that allows riders to tackle the big course in two days.
- Festivities: Weekend festivities include fun games—like an adult scavenger hunt in town— Friday night, a social shakeout ride Saturday, a Susquehanna Pop-Up Paddle for SUP enthusiasts, an after-party postrace, and a recovery ride Monday morning.
- Cost: $169 for the full course (prices scale from there).
- Categories: Open male and female in all distances.
- Lodging: There are numerous hotels, motels, inns, home rentals, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and campgrounds in town and the surrounding area.
- Bentonville, Arkansas | End of October 2022
Named after Big Sugar Creek—a 47-mile waterway that starts near the Arkansas state line and weaves through much of the course—Big Sugar is a new event that traverses 107 miles and nearly 9,000 feet of climbing over the rugged roads through the Ozark Mountains. The terrain makes you work: It’s punchy, chunky, and rocky, with some steep grades. However, it rewards you with remote, quiet roads that carve through ancient, pocked sandstone cliffs and over open ridges lined with cow-dotted pastures and rolling hills covered in fall foliage. Riders are rewarded with a stop at the Whistling Springs Brewing Company just over the border in rural Southwest Missouri about three-quarters of the way through. So, if your day’s been rough, you can enjoy a pint before pressing on to finish the day.
- Course options: The 100-mile Big Sugar course and 50-mile Lil Sugar course are both designed to be a challenging introduction to gravel for recreational riders.
- Festivities: Big Sugar takes place in conjunction with Outerbike Demo Festival, so there’s plenty of bike stuff to see and do. There’s a Friday morning shakeout ride, a Friday evening happy hour, and a finishing party Saturday postrace. The start and finish are in Bentonville, home to Crystal Bridges Museum, which is a world-class collection of American art and jaw-dropping architecture. It’s worth extending your stay for a visit.
- Cost: $140 for the full Big Sugar and $85 for the Lil Sugar.
- Categories: There are many categories, including open men and women, age groups, singlespeed, non-binary open, fat bike open, and tandem open. The Lil Sugar also includes men’s and women’s e-bike categories.
- Lodging: There are numerous area hotels and home rentals. You can also find more than half a dozen camping locations near Bentonville.
Note: Many loose dogs roam the rural roads in northwest Arkansas. Consider carrying some spray just in case.
- Patagonia, Arizona | November 3-6, 2022
You have 10 hours to ride from the start in Patagonia, Arizona, to the border of Mexico and back in this event designed to showcase the beauty of the borderlands and the San Rafael Valley. The ride is designed to take you to the ethereal place of suffering among beauty, which you’re bound to do at some point along the 100-mile route that includes 7,000 feet of elevation gain. The gravel is rough and bumpy, and you can expect winds from nearly every direction as you tackle long climbs and big descents. You’ll also be treated to one of the most pristine grassland preserves in the U.S.
- Course options: Riders can choose from the 100-mile, 80-mile, or half distance 50-mile option with 3,400 feet of elevation gain.
- Festivities: The event is created by Heidi Rentz and Zander Ault, self-described chefs and party animals, so you know you’ll eat and drink well. The weekend includes a shakeout ride Friday and recovery spin Sunday, as well as a gravel family dinner in the town park Friday night and an after-party with a Grateful Dead cover band.
- Cost: $222 for all categories.
- Categories: Race categories include men and women overall and age groups.
- Lodging: Patagonia is a tiny town, so plan ahead. There are two inns that reserve blocks of rooms for riders. You can also camp or stay over in a nearby RV park.