The Weekly Dirt: An ultra in the UP, women’s gravel clinics, and the return of the chaise lounge
A weekly roundup of what's happening in the off-road.
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Sorry, I can’t help but talk about the weather because since I am not a person who rides indoors, the weather is variable #1 in my bike riding life.
I know that people all over the US are feeling my pain, namely drenched Californians and snow-covered mountain westerners. With Sea Otter finally on the horizon, all I can think about is that iconic ride along 17-mile Drive. Pray for sun!
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April also brings a significant uptick in bike races, not just Sea Otter but also Flint Hills Gravel, Barry Roubaix, BWR California, the Lake Sonoma Hopper, and the Traka in Spain. Whatever your plans are for the month ahead, here’s hoping they include some sunny bike rides.
Salsa’s chaise lounge returns to 2023 gravel season
On Tuesday, I wrote about Salsa Cycles’ iconic chaise lounge for our sister site CyclingTips, but it’s news worth mentioning here, too.
From 2018-2019, Salsa brought a fancy chaise lounge to a dozen gravel races across the country. The chaise was stationed on course, usually near the very end, and served as a beacon of levity for bedraggled racers. For those who stopped at the chaise, Salsa staff took portraits which were available for free after the race. It was, as they say, a thing.
But the chaise went into “retirement” from 2020 until early this year, Mike Reimer from Salsa Cycles told me. It was a big lift for the small brand to cart the chaise around the country and pay to play at races. However, when the Mid South organizers asked for its return, Reimer obliged. The chaise will next travel to Barry Roubaix in Michigan, but beyond that its future is uncertain. Hopefully, it stages a full comeback
Moran 166 gravel race adds 333 mile distance
In my predictions for the 2023 gravel season, I said that ultra distance events would increase in number and rise in popularity. The Moran 166, a gravel race in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is on trend.
The Moran 166 is debuting a 333-mile distance this fall; the ultra joins the 166 and 66-mile distances. The 333 miler will be unsupported and will roll out in two waves, one on Thursday, September 28 and one on Friday the 29th. The 166 and 66-mile races are on Saturday.
The terrain of the eastern Upper Peninsula may lack in long, sustained climbs, but in late September the gravel roads will be shrouded in vibrant fall colors, and wildlife sightings — bears, and wolves, oh my! — are likely.
Alexis Skarda and Cole Paton win Moab Rocks
It wasn’t quite Spring Break weather in Moab last weekend, but some of North American’s top mountain bikers still had a blast ripping through the red rock at the Moab Rocks stage race.
After poor course conditions neutralized stage 1 (Porcupine Rim), riders had two days to compete. In the women’s race, Alexis Skarda, Evelyn Dong, and Kaysee Armstrong would go 1-2-3 both days and stand together in that order on the overall podium. Coincidentally, Skarda races for Santa Cruz, while Dong and Armstrong are teammates on Juliana.
Cole Paton won both stages of the men’s race, with Ontario’s Andrew L’Esperance in second. Bradyn Lange took third on stage 2 and Howard Grotts on stage 3; Lange’s time on stage 2 was enough to earn him third overall.
Grounded Nebraska, Ned Gravel to host gravel clinics for women
Grounded Nebraska, a new gravel event that debuted to great acclaim last summer, is offering an introductory gravel clinic on April 22.
The event is being held in conjunction with Prairie Bloom Cycling Club, an Omaha-based group with both race and non-competitive options. The event is free and participation is limited to women, non-binary, gender expansive and trans riders only.
Ned Gravel in Nederland, Colorado is also hosting a gravel clinic for women only on May 27. This clinic is open to riders of all levels, and the ride portion of the day will be split into different courses and pace options. The cost is $40.
Making A Difference scholarship application period open
The application period is open for the Booger Fund’s Making A Difference Scholarship, which recognizes student cyclists who are giving back to communities and organizations they care about.
The scholarships are provided in honor of Michael “Westy” Westover, an avid cyclist who grew up racing bikes and sharing that passion with others. Westover, who was a board member of the junior cycling program Team Booger, also believed in the importance of higher education and the pursuit of lifelong learning. These scholarships are created to continue his legacy of supporting and influencing cyclists and their desire to seek higher education.
“With this scholarship, we want to recognize individuals that are making a difference on the bike and making time to give back,” said Steve Westover, Executive Director of the Booger Fund.
“We also want to help offset the rising cost of college education, not only for incoming freshman but also current college or trade school students. We hope this allows individuals to continue their good work on and off the bike.”
The application period is open until April 18, 2023. Each scholarship awarded will be $2,000. To learn more or join the program, contact email@example.com or visit teambooger.com.