Montana goes gravel with The Last Best Ride in 2021

Pro riders Jess Cerra and Sam Boardman launch a gravel race set for August 22, 2021, in Whitefish, Montana.

Views of Glacier National Park await racers for next year’s inaugural gravel race in Montana, The Last Best Ride.

Montana native Jess Cerra and her partner Sam Boardman are organizing the race, to be held August 22, 2021, from Whitefish, Montana.

There will be a 48-mile course with 4,800ft of elevation gain and a 78-mile course with 8,700ft of climbing. Registration opens on Tuesday, November 10, with discounts for collegiate riders available.

The race’s title comes from a 1988 book, “The Last Best Place,” which is an unofficial moniker of sorts for Montana.

“After exploring the gravel roads of Whitefish all summer and discovering these routes, we thought, ‘Wow, this would seriously be the most beautiful gravel race in the entire country,’” said Boardman, a member of Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling.

The Last Best Ride is slated for August of 2021.

Cerra raced mountain bikes and then on the road with Team Twenty16 and Hagens Berman. Racing around the world helped inform the experience the couple wanted racers and their families to have at The Last Best Ride, Cerra said.

“We believe that the spirit of the race itself is equally as important as the spirit of community,” she said. “So we made the event all the things we wished races could be: challenging enough for top pros while still approachable enough for enthusiasts, inclusive to families, and supportive of the local community.”

Cerra said race proceeds will fund their Champion Scholar Award, which will be given to one financially qualified Whitefish female student and one financially qualified local Native American student seeking post-secondary education.

“My priority is activating underrepresented populations, specifically women, by creating a platform for a more inclusive start line,” she said.

Cerra and Boardman have lined up a full weekend of activities around the event, from a pre-race dinner and fundraiser to a race expo and block party with food trucks and live music.

Registration opens Tuesday at