Welcome to The Dirt, the weekly news round-up on what is happening in the worlds of gravel, mountain biking, and all things rough and dirty
UnPAved to feature 120 miles of Pennsylvania gravel
A new gravel race is on the calendar this year in central Pennsylvania. UnPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley will offer 120 miles of rough roads and trails, through Bald Eagle State Forest and Amish Country on October 14. The race starts and finishes in Lewisburg, and with all of those rolling Pennsylvania hills, it’ll serve up 10,000 feet of climbing.
“I’ve done massive rides like the Dirty Kanza 200 and Rebecca’s Private Idaho,” said event organizer Dave Pryor. “I finished each event with a full heart from the hospitality of the people of Kansas and Idaho — and tired legs from the amazing terrain of both. Having lived in Pennsylvania for over 20 years, I’ve found those same qualities natural to the Susquehanna River Valley.
Pryor previously put on SSCXWC13Philly, Junkyard ‘Cross in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Monkey Knife Fight. His co-promoter Mike Kuhn organized the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic and Iron Cross.
Cyclocross champ Michael van den Ham to race Dirty Kanza 200
Canadian national cyclocross champion Michael van den Ham got a taste of the gravel scene at Land Run 100 in March, and now he’s confirmed to VeloNews that he’ll line up for the big one, Dirty Kanza 200 on June 2.
He hopped into Land Run with little preparation, mostly to support some of his sponsors based in Oklahoma — Vittoria Tires USA, Aspen Coffee, Kicker Audio, and others in the Stillwater area. Van den Ham admitted he was pretty unprepared. He didn’t have a plan for the feed zone. His GPS didn’t have the course route. Plus, it was his first time riding wide gravel tires after years of ‘cross racing on 33mm knobbies.
That didn’t keep the Canadian from riding to an impressive second place behind Mat Stephens, the defending Dirty Kanza champion.
Van den ham also picked up on the gravel vibe pretty fast, taking a minute to stop for Salsa’s “Chase the Chaise” lounge area, even though he and Stephens were off the front.
“I’m super happy that we took 30 seconds out of our race to sit on that couch and remind ourselves and maybe everyone that this is just a bike ride and we’re just having fun,” van den Ham said.
“It was a really cool experience to see what it meant for people just to finish this thing [Land Run]. It’s so much more impressive the people who finished in 15 hours compared to someone like me that finished it in five hours.”
We’ll be interested to see how van den Ham stacks up in a race that is twice as long, with a field that’s anticipated to be even more competitive in Kansas.
El Pomar Foundation commits $1 million to Colorado Springs MTB park
Mountain bikers in Colorado Springs got some good news this week as a plan to build a mountain bike park is moving forward with ample financial support from the El Pomar Foundation. The private foundation’s trustees voted to commit $100,000 per year for the next 10 years to the project. Since 2014, Colorado Springs has had a goal to become a certified IMBA Ride Center.
“The Parks Department through its Master Plan process, has expressed a desire to put a world-class mountain bike park in Colorado Springs for several years now,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “Obviously such an amenity while a great benefit to biking enthusiasts, requires funding both to build and to operate. With this generous gift from El Pomar, we are one major step closer to realizing this particular element of the Master Plan and for that we are very grateful.”
Huck and Blevins sweep Fontana
Speaking of cyclocross champions, under-23 U.S. national cyclocross champion Christopher Blevins came out swinging at the start of the American cross-country mountain bike season. He won both races in Fontana, California at the US Cup this past weekend. On Saturday, he won the UCI pro XC race by 19 seconds ahead of Andrew L’Esperance. Peter Disera was third. In Sunday’s short track, Blevins beat his Specialized teammate Simon Andreassen by a little over three seconds. Jonas Lindberg was third.
Coloradan Erin Huck also had her way in Fontana, beating the Luna duo of Catharine Pendrel and Eva Lechner Saturday in the UCI race. The Scott rider went on to win Sunday. Lechner again made the podium, this time in third ahead of Kate Courtney (Specialized), who was coming off of a win at the Asaba Cape Epic.
This footy is pajamas: Salsa rides Patagonia
The guys from Montanus set out on a big adventure this winter in Argentina’s Austral Andes. And just in case backpacking in the wilds of Patagonia wasn’t epic enough, they threw some pack rafts into the mix to explore this remote, mountainous, and often windy corner of the world. Here’s the footy:
Got some news you’d like to share in The Dirt? I’d love to hear from you. Please email me your news and updates on all things gravel and mountain biking.