For the last decade, cyclists in the Pacific Northwest have been descending on the small town of The Dalles in the Columbia River Gorge to race the Gorge Gravel Grinder. What started as a USAC sanctioned road race with gravel sectors has slowly become a straight-up gravel race, still ridden beneath the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains.
The women’s field this year included U.S. national cyclocross champ Clara Honsinger and fellow pro ’crosser Becca Fahringer, plus pro roadie Jen Luebke of Team Twenty24. Fahringer took the win.
“Racing against Clara on the World Cup cyclocross stage this year, she clearly bested me every time,” Fahringer said. “Being at a regional level gravel race, of course I was still intimidated by her, but I think gravel is a bit more in my wheelhouse and where I suffer the best. I am not sure if I out-suffered her today or just wanted the win more, but it did feel good to finally get a win against her this year.”
In the men’s race, Pete Stetina showed up and rode away solo on a climb for the win from a group that included Stephen Mull, winner of the 2018 Rebecca’s Private Idaho.
“I had this race on the calendar for a while now and it’s in a zone that I’ve always wanted to explore,” Stetina said. “The Pacific Northwest gravel scene is a bit of an unknown to me and this was a good opportunity for me to check it out. Gravel was born in the grassroots with a local feel. The regional events are where the heart and the community is. There is just nothing better than a hard race with new folks and then beers after. This is my comfort food.”
2021 Gorge Gravel Grinder results
- Rebecca Fahringer (Kona-Maxxis-Shimano)
- Clara Honsinger (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)
- Jennifer Luebk (Team Twenty24)
- Peter Stetina (Let’s Privateer)
- Stephen Mull (Canyon Bikes)
- Jack Bardi (Gateway Devo)
Becca Fahringer, Clara Honsinger and Jen Luebke started with the numbers 1, 2, 3 – and finished in that order.
Yeah, but all that car traffic, though.
In the men’s race, a group of five formed from which Stetina would attack solo on a climb for the win.
The gorges from whence the Gorge Gravel Grinder gets its name.
The presence of a windmill farm can be an intimidating sight for a lone rider.
There were three distances on tap, with men and women racing together, per gravel tradition.
Chad Sperry’s Breakaway Promotions crew put on the Gorge Gravel Grinder, part of the healthy Oregon racing scene.
Covid is not yet in the rearview mirror, but racers were excited to get back to participating in events, albeit with restrictions and regulations.
Gravel race starts look a little different than they did in 2019.
Drip was free from Autobahn.
The Gorge Gravel Grinder runs fast when it’s dry.
Drop bars, flat bars, whatever — just come have fun.
Stetina riding alone to the finish.
Breakaway Promotions also puts on the Cascade Gravel Grinder, the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder, and four running events.