Didn’t make the cut for Unbound Gravel? Here are five other June 3 gravel races to fill the void
From California to Michigan to Finland, you won't miss the Flint Hills one bit.
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On Thursday, nearly 4,000 people got an exciting email from Life Time, informing them that they won the lottery for an entry into Unbound Gravel.
Although Life Time won’t disclose total applicant numbers for the Kansas gravel race, we can only assume that the number of people who applied is nearly double the amount who got in.
For those that didn’t make the cut this year, there are plenty of other places to pin a number plate on those flared handlebars on June 3.
Here are five:
The Dusty Bandita — Ovando, Montana
The Dusty Bandita debuted in Missoula, Montana last year as the first ever women’s only gravel race. This year, the event returns to a new host venue and with double the amount of spots for riders.
In 2023, 200 women can take part in either a 80- or 45-mile race outside of Ovando, Montana. Ovando is a small town about an hour away from Missoula that is well-known to anyone who’s ridden the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Race founder Bri Lui said that the routes will be revealed closer to race date and are subject to change pending snowpack and weather.
“We’re about halfway full already, which is exciting,” she added.
Registration costs either $150 or $135 (for the shorter distance) includes raffle tickets for over $2,500 worth prizes, stocked aid stations, post-race food, and a finisher bandana.
Nordic Gravel Series — Kimito Island, Finland
We keep hearing that Finnish gravel is all the rage, so what better time to check it out than the second event of the 2023 Nordic Gravel Series.
The series’ Kimito Island event takes place on the Finnish archipelago, which race organizers call “a gravel paradise.” There are course distances of 50, 85, and 150 kilometers; however, none of them are timed save for a segment on the 150km route.
Registration costs $70,$90, or $130 depending on the distance and includes a shakeout ride before the event, aid stations, and post race food and drink.
Participants also have access to high-end bike rentals; BMS URS and Kaius are available for all Nordic Gravel Series event weekends.
Another thing to consider: if you’re traveling all the way to Finland for this event, consider staying a week for FNLD GRVL, which debuts in Lahti on June 10.
Dirty Donut — Martin, Michigan
Did you know that the first Friday in June is National Donut Day? Well, apparently it is.
This year, the “holiday” that began in 1938 as a fundraiser for Chicago’s Salvation Army during the Great Depression falls on June 2, and the Dirty Donut gravel event in Michigan is again riffing on the fried doughy dessert.
The Dirty Donut’s fourth edition will take place in Martin, Michigan, a tiny town between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Four distances — 10, 22, 41, and 61 miles — will be on offer with a variety of ways to win.
According to the event’s website, “serious racers will opt for the ‘Sprint’ race, which is conducted much like any other gravel race and the winners are the first to finish. ‘Donut’ racers will opt for a bit more strategy in a race where the winner is oftentimes not the fastest rider, but the rider who can combine speed with how many donuts they can eat.”
In the Donut races, each race distance has “donut stops” positioned along the race route. Participants deduct five minutes from their final finish time for each donut they consume at one of these stops. Furthermore, there are queen/king of the donut awards for the participants who eat the most donuts, regardless of their finishing times.
Lost and Found Gravel Festival — Portola, California
Not quite the Flint Hills, the northeastern Sierra Nevada mountains will play host to the Lost and Found Gravel Festival on June 3. Back for its eighth edition, the Lost and Found is a beloved California race that returned to the calendar last year after two years of Covid hiatus.
The event features three course distances — 100 miles with 8,000 feet of elevation gain and 80 percent dirt, as well as 60 miles with 5,000 feet gain, and 35 miles with 4,000 feet gain.
All routes start in Portola at the City Park and lead into the surrounding mountains through the vast alpine valleys of the Lost Sierra. The race is sandwiched into a weekend of festivities, and camping opportunities abound in Portola and neighboring areas.
Lost and Found is a longtime partner of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and this year’s event supports the Lost Sierra Route, a 600-mile multi-use trail which will ultimately connect 15 mountain communities to promote economic prosperity through recreation.
Buffalo Bill Gravel Grinder — North Platte, Nebraska
It’s no secret that Nebraska is one of the most gravel-rich states in the USA.
Home to events new and old like Gravel Worlds and Grounded Nebraska, the Cornhusker state could host a gravel race every weekend in a different county. The Buffalo Bill Gravel Grinder, which debuts in North Platte this year, will give people a glimpse into the unique scenery of Central Nebraska which is replete with hills and canyons, forests, and native grasses.
The event will offer four distances — a 16-mile fun ride, as well as 30-, 75-, and 120-mile routes — at very manageable registration fees ranging from $25-40. (Tandems pay $60.)
North Platte is less than a four hour drive from Denver and about six from Kansas City. Those driving might want to consider bringing both bikes: the area is home to the Potter’s Pasture mountain bike trail network.