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Gravel Worlds reaches goal of 1,000 women participants

Nearly 40 percent of registered riders in 2022 are women, and the race will donate $15,000 to Nebraska's high school MTB program for girls

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The weekend of August 20th in Lincoln, Nebraska will be one of the largest gatherings of women on dirt in 2022.

On Wednesday, the Pirate Cycling League, hosts of Garmin Gravel Worlds, announced that the event had reached a milestone: 1,000 women have signed up to race across the event’s five distances.

Read also: Gravel Worlds announces 1000 Women of Gravel Worlds Initiative

The number corresponds to nearly 40 percent of the event’s total registrants.

The race announced the 1000 Women of Gravel Worlds initiative last fall, and through a huge push on social media, it achieved the goal this week, less than two months before the event.

Gravel Worlds co-promoter Jason Strohbehn said that the impetus to increase women’s participation at the event stemmed from conversations with sponsors, who said that 28 percent women’s participation at Gravel Worlds 2021 was nearly double the industry average.

“Initially, we were embarrassed by our women’s participation numbers, and it then became embarrassing to learn that it was double the industry average,” Strohbehn said. “We quickly set a monumental goal to triple the number of women we’ve ever had at Gravel Worlds and obtain more than 35% women. We wanted a goal that was not only going to push ourselves, but also be big enough to encourage an entire industry.”

Strohbehn said that the Pirate Cycling League didn’t spend any money on the campaign, relying instead on the “gravel family” and media to do the legwork so that the PCL could help contribute with its own dollars.

gravel worlds
The 2021 Gravel Worlds podium (Photo: McColgan Photography)

“We may have opened the door for this to happen, but this achievement was accomplished from the Gravel Family encouraging one another,” he said. “We intentionally spent $0 on advertising to open up the budget to donate as much as we could.

“Most importantly, we wanted to show the world that women want to be a part of the gravel community without being coerced by ad dollars to do so. It’s been amazing to see the support and encouragement by women towards other women.”

Gravel Worlds co-promoter and event founder Corey Godfrey said that the growth of women in gravel since he founded the event in 2010 has been impactful — but that the work isn’t done.

“The participation of women in the first Gravel Worlds in 2010 was less than 10 percent,” Godfrey said. “It’s taken over a decade to make meaningful progress and I’m amazed by the support and passion for inclusion within the community. We still have room for improvement; especially with our LGBTQ+ and BIPOC friends, and we’ll keep working to ensure all feel welcome and included at Garmin Gravel Worlds.”

To further show its dedication to the theme, the Pirate Cycling League has raised $15 per female rider – $15,000 total – to Nebraska’s NICA GRiT (Girls Riding Together) to help encourage and foster the next generation of female cyclists.

Registration for Gravel Worlds 2022 will remain open through August 1, 2022.