By Chris Carmichael,
Founder and Head Coach of CTS
Last weekend I competed in the best gravel race I’ve ever entered, the SBT GRVLrace in Steamboat Springs, CO. From the level of organization to the remote, scenic areas we raced through, and the feed stations to the after-party, it was a tremendous event and one I highly recommend for anyone.
The event had three courses, modeled after the difficulty scale of ski resorts and mountain bike trails: Black (141 miles), Blue (99 miles) and Green (37 miles). The Black course, which I rode, was more technical than many flat to rolling gravel races and features extended descents with loose gravel. Those will get your attention! The majority of the roads – mostly gravel with a few paved road connections – were hard packed and fast, to the point I rode 35c tires on my Pinarello Grevil and never felt I was at a disadvantage due to tire volume.
The organizers – Mark Satkiewicz, Amy Charity, and Ken Benesh – designed a fantastic and thoughtful course that took us back into remote areas you normally wouldn’t get to see on a mountain biking or hiking trip to Steamboat. It was great to see another side of that incredible countryside. They also used lollypop loops that brought riders through the same feed stations more than once. This small detail can – and did – have a positive impact on rider experience because it means the event can focus on making fewer feed stations more comprehensive, rather than spreading their resources out across a larger number of locations.