Have you heard of the latest boom in cycling? It’s called gravel riding. It fits somewhere between road cycling and mountain biking. Instead of just pavement or singletrack, bikers use a drop-bar bike (i.e. road bike) with a bit wider tires to access a spectrum of terrain. Another twist in the gravel cycling world is that the term “gravel races” is a loose word. Yes, there’s a competitive aspect. But at its soul it’s more of a community gathering of like-minded folks to test their personal limits.
Gravel Grinding Season
Nevada County is biking nirvana. Due to its vast elevation profile ranging from 1,000’ above sea level in the western section to almost 10,000 feet in the eastern half, gravel-istas can pretty much ride all year long. Even so, prime cycling season in the western half is from late fall through early summer. For the eastern half due to its high elevation, it’s when the snow melts. So that means it’s all about late spring into summer. Nevada County’s gravel races are like two bookends of the cycling season. Each is scheduled in the cycling season’s best time to ride for each section of the county.
Heart Of Gold Gravel
As the name suggests, this is a tour of Nevada County’s gold country. Due to its mining past, the foothills and mountains surrounding Nevada City and Grass Valley have a vast network of prime gravel roads to explore. Even with so many options it can be challenging to connect them into an enjoyable loop. The Heart of Gold Gravel is a great way to introduce to the area since it isn’t a “groad” but a true gravel tour. The route features an overwhelming % on dirt. This type of riding can take its toll on the bikes, but we’re fortunate enough that our local bike shop YouBet is providing mechanical and neutral support throughout the ride. And 100% of the proceeds go to support teen mental wellness in Nevada County! It’s no wonder that the Heart Of Gold Gravel is one of the prime things to do in October.
New For 2023
For the first time ever there will be a cash purse of $2,000. The winnings will be split evenly between both men and women for each of the top three men and women on the long course segments. But as we said earlier, at its soul the Heart of Gold gravel race is a community gathering. The real reward is a chance for you to pedal through some of the least ridden places in the foothills of the Sierra.
Truckee Tahoe Gravel
June 29th, 2024
One of Truckee’s premier adventure races, the Truckee Tahoe Gravel was started in 2018 by 3x world road racing champion Peter Sagan. This gravel ride is a good introduction to the endless possibilities of gravel grinding surrounding Truckee. While the event itself happens on one day, throughout the whole weekend you’ll find a full plate of fun activities for the entire family to enjoy. You can expect live music, beer, local cuisine, and a vendor expo. For first timers, the Truckee Tahoe Gravel’s rollout at only 19 miles is a perfect way to sample the experience since it’s un-timed. And for those that want to up the challenge, their medium 54-mile course and the long course stretching in at 75.5 miles give event goers an opportunity to pick their poison.