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Despite the northern hemisphere’s slow march toward winter, it’s never too early to start thinking about the gravel season to come.
And this spring, a new gravel event will debut that may be the first of its kind — a women’s gravel festival.
On Monday, Girls Gone Gravel and Live Feisty Media announced the launch of the Gone Graveling Festival, a new event that will run April 28-May 1 in Bentonville, Arkansas, and will include three days of educational clinics, group rides, and community gatherings for riders who identify as women.
Kathryn Taylor, the founder of Girls Gone Gravel, an online community and podcast, told VeloNews that the festival aims to offer a supportive and stoked environment for women who are interested in or who already love riding gravel.
“I like to frame it as — we want to help equip women for any adventure they dream up whether it’s racing something like the Unbound 200, a backpacking trip, or feeling more comfortable on their local group rides,” Taylor told VeloNews.
Taylor said she’s been scheming a gravel ‘camp’ of some sort since before the pandemic hit, and over the past year and a half was able to identify Bentonville as a perfect host city, as well as hone in on what kind of environment she wanted to create.
“There are a lot of incredible races and camps out there but I wasn’t seeing a dedicated space for women to show up and just celebrate their love of cycling, learn at their own pace, and connect with the larger community,” she said.
The Gone Graveling Festival will take place over three days and focus on clinics and riding. On Friday, participants will be able to check out a variety of clinics ranging from off-the-bike topics like nutrition and bike maintenance to riding skills. On Saturday and Sunday, the focus will be riding gravel around northwest Arkansas.
In the evenings, participants will gather at various locations throughout Bentonville to eat and socialize. Part of the clinic’s focus is to give riders a taste of what the northwest Arkansas cycling hotbed has to offer, as well. Aimee Ross, the former director of Bike Bentonville and creator of women-specific events like the Uprising Mountain Bike Summit for women will be running on-the-ground logistics for the event.
According to Taylor, the Gone Graveling Festival isn’t targeted toward one type of rider but will likely appeal to someone newer to the discipline.
“We’re really working to make this an event that someone fairly new to gravel all the way to the advanced rider would feel comfortable at,” she said. “I’m hoping to connect with the crowd that might feel intimidated by ‘racing’ or maybe they aren’t interested but see how fun events can be. The great thing about Bentonville is we have so many trained ride leaders on the ground that we’ll be able to tailor the event to the people who sign up. If we have a ton of women that want to go out and crush things, we may add a segment to one of the rides, but it absolutely is not a race.”
Riders who sign up will have access to a private Facebook page where they can coordinate transportation and lodging logistics.
Registration for Gone Graveling opens on December 7, and is limited to 250 women, with up to 20 spots are reserved for BIPOC women.