“Gravel races have created a seismic shift in reshaping the landscape of participatory cycling in the United States. Gone are the traditional racing categories and the multi-lap courses. In their place are challenging new routes over mixed terrain that cater to the bike industry’s latest technology and racers’ appetites for events that blend adventure with competition. These races have given birth to the passionate riding communities in areas that are decidedly off the beaten path. Spurred by a handful of visionaries, America’s new bicycle races are embracing everyone with the gospel of gravel.” (VeloNews May 2018)
1) Dirty Kanza (Emporia Kansas)
They say it’s the “world’s premiere gravel grinder” and they may be right. The ride started in 2006, and as of 2020, the Kanza is the biggest, most prestigious, and most well known gravel race in the world. The Kanza is an epic day of over 200 miles of gravel roads around Emporia, Kansas (with 25 mile, 50 mile, and 100 mile options too). The Dirty Kanza is currently attracting over3,000 riders from all over the world. Former professionals like Ted King have shown up to win this race (2016). The race has been marred by nasty mud in the past, but I’ve heard that slots for this race can sell it out within hours of being opened online.
(The 2018 version of the Dirty Kanza will featured a whopping 350 mile race (I’ll say it again . . . 350 miles on gravel!) that starts at 4:00 pm on Friday and continues through the night, and on through the next day, and maybe through Saturday night, and maybe into Sunday. Brutal! Race organizers are branding the 350 mile race as the “DK XL.” Only 34 riders were invited to try the mammoth race at its inaugural running (2018), including Rebecca Rusch. Woooooof!
2) SBT GRVL (Steamboat Springs Colorado)
This SBT GRVL race (short for Steamboat Gravel) is a new race as of 2019, and it’s already selling out in minutes! The race traverses the incredibly smooth gravel roads that roll up and down through Western Colorado. It’s supposedly the “nicest” gravel in the US. The Black Course is 144 miles of gravel with 9,000+ vertical feet of climbing. The Blue Course is 103 miles with 6,300 vertical feet of climbing. The Red Course is 64 miles with 4,100 feet of climbing. Finally, the Green Course is 37 miles with 2,000 feet of climbing. Simply put, SBT GRVL is located in a beautiful corner of North America, on beautiful gravel roads, under a beautiful Colorado sky. We’d recommend that you do all you can to get in.