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Gravel

Stetina’s Paydirt this weekend has a $4,400 prize purse — only for women

Shimano Women’s Challenge includes two timed segments, plus time bonuses for riding a mechanical bull and a tire-toss game.

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After a WorldTour road career, Pete Stetina has been racing gravel with great success since winning the Belgian Waffle Ride California in 2019.

Despite COVID and wildfires canceling his last two events, Stetina is also a gravel event promoter. This weekend is Stetina’s Paydirt, a gravel race in Carson City, Nevada, where the $4,400 prize purse is strictly for the women’s field. There are men’s, masters, and para competitions as well, but without prize money.

“My whole road career, the women’s race, if there was one, was usually treated as the opening act to the men’s,” Stetina said. “I’ve profited off that my whole career due to cultural norms and I realized I have a platform to make a change.

“So at Paydirt, the women are the main show. I believe prominent exposure and attention will lead to better endorsements and career opportunities for these talented racers.”

The course starts and finishes in Carson City Nevada, and includes two timed segments. In between the timed segments is an aid station in Genoa, Nevada’s oldest settlement, where riders can hang out as long as they like. The cumulative time from the two segments will largely determine the event standings.

After the ride, there are bonus seconds on the line for anyone who wants to try to ride a mechanical bull, as provided by the Professional Bull Rider’s Union and Stetina’s sponsor Wahoo.

However many seconds a rider can stay on the bull will be deducted from their race time. (Eight seconds is a long time on a bull, mechanical or otherwise.)

There will also be a tire-toss game to take seconds off a racer’s time.

Toss a tire on Pete, shave seconds off your time. (Photo: Wil Matthews)

“This means that, if you and a friend finish together, you need to contest the games to see who stands taller in the results sheet,” Stetina said. “Even the women’s purse could come down to the bull ride with Dave Towle announcing!”

Longtime event organizer Bike Monkey is running the event, as it has since Stetina first started the event as a road gran fondo called Stetina’s Sierra Prospect in 2017.

“I asked Bike Monkey to craft what an all around greatest day of gravel riding would look like to me. That means great craft beer and great food. Then there’s weird time bonuses, aid stations outside of race timing, and jaw-dropping vistas.”

Stetina also put the following rule in the race handbook for the Shimano Women’s Challenge:

“No male domestiques are allowed. Gravel is special due to the mass start and we don’t want to compromise this, however having male helpers solely dedicated to helping tow a female contender is against the ethos of this challenge. There is a difference between ending up in the same group together and having a predetermined tactic. We will be scouting the course and any riders falling afoul of this will be ostracized, shamed, potentially disqualified, and put on the next train outta here.”

Stetina recommends a relatively larger tire, something in the neighborhood of 42mm, for Stetina’s Paydirt. (Photo: Wil Matthews)

The $4,400 purse for the Shimano Women’s Challenge goes five places deep.

As of Tuesday, notable racers on the start list included:

  • Kathy Pruitt
  • Flavia Olivera
  • Amy Charity
  • Amity Rockwell
  • Heather Jackson
  • Lauren Cantwell
  • Nikki Jo Peterson
  • Starla Teddergreen
  • Serena Bishop Gordon
  • Whitney Post
  • Andrea Dvorak
  • Isabel King
  • Emily Schaldach
  • Angela Naeth
  • Meg Fisher