Gravel Bike Events to Add to Your Bucket List

Katie Ridehart
May 20, 2022
Group of riders on gravel bikes, gravel raceGroup of riders on gravel bikes, gravel race

Our Favorite Gravel Events in the US

After a few years of cancellations, many gravel cycling events across the country are back! 

We had a look at the gravel calendar and selected some of the most exciting ones that we think you should add to your bucket list. 

Whether you're looking for an at-home adventure or are ready to jet-set to another state, we've got you covered.

Tips for Traveling to Cycling Events

You can be a complete beginner or an old hat at the starting line, but entering an event is always daunting - especially if it's in a state you've never been to before. 

Here's how to make your journey as smooth as possible:

  • Rally your cycling group to join the adventure, or even enlist non-cycling friends or family. Traveling is an exciting experience for everyone, and there's nothing better than seeing some friendly faces at the finish line.
  • If you're riding the event alone, build up your support system. Join online forums to connect with other cyclists who will be at the event.
  • Don't rush. Plan to reach your destination with ample time to do some training, and don't forget to plan some time to enjoy the sights after the event.
  • Taking your bike on a plane isn't as easy (or cheap) as putting it on your roof rack, so make sure you know all the associated costs. Whichever transport option you choose, your bike will be covered for in-transit loss or damage, or damage sustained while attached to your roof rack if you’re with Sundays Insurance.
  • Remember to activate your racing & events coverage with Sundays Insurance.

Is Your Gravel Bike Covered for Travel and Races?

If your gravel bike is covered under your homeowners & renters insurance, it may have some partial coverage. Still, it's unlikely to be covered for many out-of-home situations unique to cycling. 

The last thing you want to do is pack your bike in a bike box (or on your roof rack), jet off to another state, enter into a race and realize none of your adventures are covered! Even for someone who likes to live on the edge, that's a pretty risky move.

Although gravel bikes are built to withstand abuse, rough terrains can make your bike more susceptible to accidental damage, especially if you're pushing the limits while participating in a race or event. Luckily, we've got you covered for those too, if you activate our optional racing & event coverage.

With Sundays Insurance, you also don't need to worry about anything happening to your bike during transit while in the US.

Get an online quote from Sundays Insurance in a few minutes.

If you're still not sure whether your homeowners & renters insurance provides enough coverage for your gravel biking adventures, here's an overview of how it compares to specialist bicycle insurance from Sundays Insurance:

Gravel Cycling Events in the US

Barry-Roubaix, Michigan, March 26, 2022

The Barry-Roubaix in Michigan gives you the opportunity to join just under 4,000 of your fellow cyclists on rolling gravel roads, pavement, rough two-track, sand, and mud. There might even be some snow and ice.

Whatever your level of ability, there's a race at Barry-Roubaix for you:

  • Lauf "Chiller": 18 miles with 1,200ft of ascent
  • Smith Optics "Thriller": 36 miles with 2,200ft of ascent
  • SRAM "Killer": 62 miles with 3,800ft of ascent
  • Panaracer "Psycho Killer": 100 miles with over 6,800ft of ascent 

After the race, there's a street party with food vendors, live music, bonfires, local brews, and merchandise. 

If you have all the gear you need to camp in Michigan during March (where the average temperature is between 39°F and 51°F), you can camp out at Clear Lake Camp or Gun Lake State Park during the event.

Belgian Waffle Ride, California, April 30, 2022

In 2021, the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR for short) was the largest gravel event in the US, and it’s not hard to see why this unique event has exploded in popularity (and it’s not just about the waffles!).

The BWR takes you through the inland hills of Northern San Diego County, giving you countless opportunities to enjoy the sweeping views and push yourself with tough climbs. The festival venue is less than 10 miles from the beach, so you’ll want to book accommodation for a few extra days to enjoy all that San Diego has to offer.

The final routes for 2022 haven’t been announced yet, but have a look at the 2021 routes to see if it’s up your alley:

  • Waffle: 131.7 miles, 11,000ft of climbing, 10 categorized climbs.
  • Wafer: 71 miles, 6,000ft of climbing, 7 categorized climbs.
  • Wanna: 37.5 miles, 3,500ft of climbing, 4 categorized climbs.

Stetina’s Paydirt, Nevada, May 21, 2022

Named after the founder and legendary gravel cyclist Pete Stetina, Stetina’s Paydirt in Carson, Nevada has two timed segments instead of one all-out race… But that’s not the only thing that makes this event unique.

There’s also a tyre toss and mechanical bull segment. You read that right.

To keep things competitive (and wacky), the mechanical bull segment will contribute bonus time to your final time for every second you can hang on. The time and accuracy of your tyre toss also contributes bonus time. That’s one way to level the playing field!

Here are the various routes you can choose to ride:

  • The Paydirt: 63.5 miles, 4,700ft
  • Medium Course: 50.7 miles, 3,100ft

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind event that doesn’t take itself too seriously, look no further.

MadGavel - Peaceful Valley Ranch, Colorado: May 28 - 30, 2022

MadGravel takes riders on epic routes along the eastern Colorado slope. Challenge yourself by taking on 1 of the 3 routes, 43, 78, 112 miles which departs from the beautiful Peaceful Valley Boy Scout Ranch south of Kiowa, Colorado. This aint no flatty, there are serious climbs throughout, but the views along the way make up for the effort.This is one ofthe first races on the Colorado calendar, so, don’t miss out! This ultra-sxcenic race is fully supported and after the sweat and pedal, the festivities begin where refreshments and post-race food await you.

Unbound Gravel, Kansas, June 4, 2022

Five races. Four days. One remarkable event known as the "World's Premier Gravel Event". 

Previously known as the Dirty Kanza (or DK200), Unbound Gravel is located in Flint Hills, Kansas, famous for its rolling scenery and hilly, sun-baked gravel. Starting in 2006 with only 34 entrants, the event now welcomes close to 4,000 cyclists from all 50 states and 38 countries.

The event use to have only a 200-mile race but now offers six routes to make it more accessible to cyclists of different abilities. You can choose between 25-, 50-, 100-, 200- and 350-mile routes and the 25-mile High School Event for under-18s.

Bon Jon Pass Out, June 18, 2022,  Quilcene, Washington

Gravel Unravel is a 3-race/ride gravel endurance event taking place on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

Riders will be based at Worthington Park with the great folk that reside there before heading their first challenge – Bon Jon Pass. But, thankfully the wild rhododendrons are in full bloom at this time of year and wil be like colour spotlights against the deep green background of the forest, surely this will brighten up he ride. After Bon Jon Pass, take in the views and ridges, returning via Lords Lake Loop.

The Ochoco Gravel Grinder & Festival, July 16 - 17, 2022 - The Ochoco National Forest, Oregon

The Ochoco Gravel Grinder & Festival take place ove 2 days and is a great racing and riding outing on some of the best gravel roads in Oregon, and it even takes place during the most beautiful time of year. July is the best time of year to visit the Central Oregon area and you can expect warm summer days and cool nights with low humidity, ideal riding conditions. Ride both days in either the Small Grinder (60 miles) or Big Grinder(82 miles) Ride Distance. Don’t miss out!

FoCo Fondo, July 24, 2022 - Fort Collins, Colorado

In short, this is an unforgettable cycling journey, just like they describe it. It starts and finishes at New Belgium Brewing. This year there will be 5 route options: 12-, 32- 53-, 102-, 145-mile.

Gravel Worlds, Nebraska, August 20, 2022

With a decade of history behind them, Gravel Worlds is back in 2022 with their signature cheeky spin on gravel cycling. No team support, no drop bags, no friends or family on the course - this one’s all on you. 

If you want to unleash the spirit of adventure and sail the seven seas of gravel, check out their routes:

  • Garmin Gravel Worlds 150: Described as an “unparalleled challenge”, you can experience 150 miles and over 10,000ft of climbing through the scenic farmlands of rural Nebraska.
  • Garmin Gravel Worlds Privateer 75: If you aren’t quite ready to walk the plank, you can do a shorter 75 mile route with 5,000ft of climbing.
  • Garmin Gravel Worlds Buccaneer 50k: This non-competitive 50km (31-mile) route gives you the chance to get your feet wet in the gravel cycling world without the pressure of competition.
  • Garmin Gravel Worlds Long Voyage 300: Made for the “extra crazy pirate”, this 300 mile voyage includes 15,000ft of climbs and is 100% self-supported.

Ready to jet off for your next gravel biking adventure? Make sure your gravel bike is covered with specialist insurance from Sundays Insurance. Get a quick online quote.

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