Culture

The Grind: Fall gravel events are stacked – for now

September 12 alone has four major gravel racing events. But will they happen?

As of now, the month of September is jam-packed with gravel events, as spring and summer races have been rescheduled because of the coronavirus into an already crowded fall calendar. Will any of these events happen? Nobody knows.

As of now, the Crusher in the Tushar on July 11, in Utah, is the first big gravel race slated to run. Then August — and particularly September — are overflowing with events. But race promoters are facing the same reality as us gravel racers at home — it is out of our hands.

Even U.S. events in August and September are in a holding pattern, as the governors from each state are adjusting regulations on separate and fluid time tables.

Will these fall races happen?

“The real answer is that we really don’t know at this point,” said SBT GRVL co-founder Amy Charity. “We believe that it is too early to make any decisions on SBT GRVL in August. In the meantime, our team is currently planning multiple paths depending on how the next few months unfold.”

Should the country be reopened for bike racing by August, here is what the gravel calendar would look like. This list does not include the scores of regional races also slated for August and September.

Rooted Vermont, August 2
D2R2, August 15
SBT GRVL, August 16
Gravel Worlds, August 22
Pony Xpress Gravel 160, August 29
BWR Asheville, August 30
Rebecca’s Private Idaho, September 3
Wild Horse Gravel, September 5
Dirty Kanza, September 12
Grinduro California, September 12
Jackson Forest Grasshopper, September 12
Tour of the Battenkill, September 12
Stetina’s Paydirt, September 19
Mammoth Tuff, (shown above) September 19
Robidoux Quick & Dirty, September 20
Chino Grinder, September 26

If races don’t happen, can I get my money back?

There is no single answer here. Some races have deferral policies, where you can push your entry forward to the next year. Some are offering refunds. And some are sticking by their no-refund policies, pointing out that some of their costs have already been incurred.

As with many of your riding buddies, race organizers have been holding Zoom and Google Hangouts video chats with each other, trying to figure out best practices for event producers in the time of the coronavirus. It turns out, there is no road map.

Rebecca Rusch, who puts on Rebecca’s Private Idaho in early September, decided with her team to be as flexible as possible regarding registration.

“Basically we’ve told riders, do whatever works for you and we’ll make it work for us,” Rusch said. “You can defer, you can cancel, you can donate your entry to the Be Good Foundation in support of our cycling beneficiary programs and their COVID-19 initiatives. I’m just following my heart. Hopefully it’s not a bad business decision.”

The Grind is a weekly column on all things gravel by Ben Delaney. You can follow him on Strava to talk bikes.