Perhaps a more fitting headline for this post is “Epic Gravel Events of Vermont for 2019.” With 8,000 miles of unpaved roads in Vermont, it’s no wonder that every one of these events takes place in Vermont.
My friend, Mary Zider, who has cycled all over the world, states that aside from her favorite (Limoux, France), Vermont is the best place to ride. If you can make it to one of these events, it will be worth the trip.
I created this list for a friend of mine who is new to gravel, but not new to riding. She is a hard-core mountain biker who just purchased a new gravel bike. She emailed me following The Muddy Onion last weekend. She had so much fun riding this event (even though it poured rain and was wicked cold), she wanted to know what other gravel grinders she should consider for 2019.
I made her a list, and at the end, I realized I came up with 10 events. That makes this list the top 10 gravel grinders of the Northeast for 2019. Starting from now, that is. Muddy Onion Spring Classic hosted by Onion River Outdoors and Rasputitsa are not included in this list, but had I compiled it a month ago, they would be. These two events are awesome and a great start to the gravel season. They should not be overlooked and should definitely be considered for 2020. In fact, register for Rasputitsa 2020 now and you’ll save a few bucks.
If this information has value to Janet, I figured it would have value to our readers as well. So I’ll share with you what I shared with her.
Top 10 Gravel Grinders of the Northeast for 2019
The 12th annual Waterbury Gravel Grinder is May 4. I've never done it and I won't be there this year because I'll be at WWCGP in Woodstock, New York, hosted by Martin Bruhn. If I was around I would do it.
The Velo Vermont Spring Roll is May 11th. It's very, very laid back. I've heard the hosts, Velo Vermont, are really cool, interesting people that I must meet. Duby and I are planning to write about them on our blog and we are planning to be at this event. I think this will be a very chill, social ride. Cheap too, pretty much you just pay for a sandwich or you don’t.
EstroFest is a MUST. This women’s gravel weekend is hosted by bikekitz and Pierce's Inn, but really, Jane LeMasurier of Kingdom Cycling and Experiences is the mastermind behind EstroFest. It's a whole weekend, and we encourage you to stay. But if you don't want to spend that kind of money, get a day pass. It includes meals, and the food is AWESOME. Duby, Jane, and I will all be there. Yes, Pierce’s Inn is in New Hampshire, but Saturday’s ride will be shuttled to Vermont. Sunday we’ll enjoy some epic gravel in New Hampshire. These are the roads I ride most.
The Ranger I’ve heard is really, really fun. This is a Gravel Enduro event. So, it's not a race in the traditional sense, but there are timed segments. Finishing times aren’t based on overall loop time, but the combined timed segments. This is cool because you can still ride with your friends even if they're faster (or slower) than you, but enjoy a little competition on the climbs. I've never done it, but I'm doing it this year. I've heard the climbs are brutal, but the after party is awesome. It’s for a great cause as well.
RAS Gravel Adventure is supposed to be good too. I'm not registered for this one because I'll be on vacation.
Raid LaMoille also comes highly recommended. It's in Craftsbury, Vermont. I've done some gravel up there and it is absolutely breathtaking. Very, very hilly and challenging area to ride. Arlon Chaffee is the event director and he's a big supporter of women's gravel. He has a couple Facebook pages dedicated to women's gravel and regularly gives out free entries to gravel events. His closed Facebook group is here and his public page is here . I recommend following these pages in order to gain access to free entries and be a part of the women’s gravel community.
Rooted Vermont is Ted and Laura King's first ever gravel event. Actually, it's their first ever event period. If you don't know who Ted King is, he's a pro road racer originally from New Hampshire. He owns Untapped. I'm planning to be there.
The Overland This event sold out in seven minutes this year. It's very, very hard. I'm registered to do it. If you're interested, keep your eyes open. People always chicken out at the last minute. Arlon’s Facebook page is a good place to look for last minute cancellations.
Cabot Ride the Ridges I don't know a lot about this one, but I've run into a couple of people who do it every year. It's also nicely spaced in the gravel lineup.
Peacham Fall Fondo Yes, yes, yes, do this one! SO beautiful up there. Ian Boswell, a pro cyclist, hosts this event and he is a pure gentleman. He rides alongside participants at an easy pace and chats with them. His fiance Gretchen is there at the finish line thanking and congratulating riders. It's a very small community with big heart. You really feel appreciated for your participation. You can read about it in our blog post here.
There are lots of gravel grinders in New England (view here) that I'm sure are all great, but these are the top 10 I feel comfortable recommending based on personal experience and/or advice and recommendations I’ve received along the way from riders I know and trust the opinions of.
I also like the spacing of these events, always having something to look forward to and not having to wait weeks for the next event. I think of The Overland as a culmination at the end of the summer. It's by far the most difficult, and the preceding events are good training for it. Anything after it just seems like a leisurely, enjoyable ride.
Have you done any of these events? I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments below.
Ride Gravel, it’s awesome!