The Grind is a weekly column on all things gravel.
Wild Horse Gravel kicked off for its second running at the High Lonesome Ranch on the western slope of Colorado. Sticking with Roll Massif’s sportive format, Wild Horse Gravel features two timed segments, and the lowest cumulative time wins. This year, Pete Stetina (Let’s Privateer) and Kaysee Armstrong (Liv Racing) took the top spots on the hay-bale podiums.
I am obviously biased, having been a part of the launch of the Roll Massif gravel sportives in 2019, but I love the race-the-segments, regroup-and-ride-the-rest format that we have.
Van life was in full effect at the High Lonesome this weekend. A lot of folks camped, but scores more posted up in their vans, trucks, and campers, including Stetina and Armstrong. (I stayed in a ranch cabin; I am soft and I like to sleep on soft things.)
Vans aside, vehicles were at a minimum over the weekend on the course northeast of De Beque (population: 518; traffic lights: 0). That said, we did hit a little traffic on course — cows and calves at one point were running in front of the field, forcing Stetina to ease off the pace for a bit. (Thanks, cows!)
Check out the gallery below from our coworkers at FinisherPix. If you rode Wild Horse, you can check out your photos here.
If you are a member of Outside+ (formerly Active Pass), then you get one free package of photos a year. Claim your photo package by clicking on your profile in the upper right corner, selecting “My Perks,” and scrolling down to “Discounts.” Not an Outside+ member? Become one today!
We kick things off a little different at Wild Horse Gravel. Our lead-out vehicle is a horse, piloted this year by a young cowboy.
Roll Massif is a group of road, gravel, and mountain bike events in Colorado and New Mexico.
Many riders camped in tents or stayed in their vans at the High Lonesome Ranch Friday and Saturday nights.
A cold morning was quickly warmed up by coffee.
Breakfast was provided for the sold-out crowd of 400 riders.
The roads around the High Lonesome Ranch, host to Wild Horse Gravel, are quiet and peaceful.
You bike riders aren’t from around here, are you?
Eventual men’s and women’s winners Pete Stetina and Kaysee Armstrong chatted with Outside CEO Robin Thurston and me before the start.
And we’re off! Riders could choose between two distances, and long-course riders could also opt to pull the plug partway through the day. The roughness and challenge of the course caught a few folks off guard.
Wide-open gravel roads quickly gave way to a rutted back road with two good lines.
Cows in the break! In the midst of the first timed segment – The Valley and the Goblins – a few cows and calves ran in front of the riders for a minute.
Stetina and Taylor Ross (Go4Graham/Primal) at the front of a small group towards the ends of the first timed segment.
Armstrong, from Tennessee, was on the tail-end of a trip to the Utah and Colorado desert. She was clearly acclimated and won both timed segments and the overall.
Our own Betsy Welch, at the start of the descent back to the ranch here, took second overall.
Sparky Moir Sears finished third overall, riding an interesting bike with lots of new and unreleased tech.
MRP exhibited its new Baxter gravel suspension fork at Wild Horse Gravel. In 2019, Shimano exhibited its GRX gravel group for the very first time at Wild Horse.
Scott Tietzel took third on the day.
Mitch Comardo was second.
With the CDC having dropped the national mask policy days before, riders were enjoying hanging out outside with others for the first time in a very long time.
Armstrong, Welch, and Moir Sears take home the 2021 cowgirl hats.
So long, partners. See you next year?