With gravel riding all the rage, cyclists are taking their bikes down roads they previously hadn’t explored. More cyclists have bikes they go adventuring on with the ability to tackle varied surfaces and mount thicker rubber. Shop floors have more offerings specific for mixed surface riding and with the rise of gravel riding has come a greater selection of events to participate in. B.C. is criss-crossed with an endless network of unpaved roads and paths, and more events are incorporating these networks into rides and races to help you get familiar with getting out there and off the paved path. From classic Barry’s Roubaix to the new crop of gravel specific rides, if you’re gravel curious and looking for an event this year here’s just some of B.C.’s options:
Jeremy’s Roubaix – Pitt Meadows – April 8
A long standing B.C. spring classic modeled after the French Monument held on the same weekend, Jeremy’s Roubaix is celebrating it’s 15th edition in 2018. While it’s changed it’s name over the years, it’s always been held on the dykes and farm roads of Pitt Meadows. Like the original version, racing at Jeremy’s is fast paced and can leave riders caked in a thick layer of mud. Everyone’s definition of gravel racing is different, and Jeremy’s is solidly on the road racing edge of the gravel spectrum.
Event Website: http://www.localride.ca/our-races-landing
The Dirty Phil. Gravel Fondo – Kelowna – June 16
The closest you will likely come to the Gran Fondo experience off road, The Dirty Phil. is fully supported with stocked rest stops, and pre- and post-event parties to go along with the Okanagan wine country scenery and gravel roads. The ride, though, is no casual cruise. There’s a Big Phil and Little Phil option and, at 133km with 2500m of elevation, including a full 80km of gravel in the mountains surrounding Okanagan Lake, the Big Phil definitely earns its title. Little Phil is still a solid 90km. As the event claims, The Dirty Phil is “not your Dad’s fondo.”
Event Website: dirtyphil.com
Kettle Mettle Dirty Fundo – Penticton-Kelowna – September 22
For the fifth edition of the Kettle Mettle Dirty Fundo, organizers have offered three different distances to make sure everyone feels able to participate. There a Medio Fondo 50km option, Full Fondo 100km, and the Full Fondo Plus 130km big event. Showcasing the historic Kettle Valley Trail in the hills above Penticton, there’s stunning views, wineries, and wooden railway trestles all along the route.
Event Website: Kettle Mettle Facebook
Ride For Water Gravel Grind – Chilliwack – May 5
Exploring the Chilliwack Valley while raising funds for the Run For Water charity, providing drinking water projects in Ethiopia, Ride For Water Gravel Grind offers two route options. A 66km main course, takes riders along the scenic Cultus Lake before turning back to Chilliwack, and makes for a great introduction to gravel riding. The 155km Epic course continues on towards Chilliwack Lake, and aims to satisfy more experienced riders looking for a proper adventure.
Event Website: runforwater.ca/ride
Cowichan Crusher – Duncan – June 24
The second event in the Triple Crown of Gravel, Cowichan Crusher rolls out from Duncan, on Vancouver Island, towards Lake Cowichan on gravel roads, logging roads, and sections of the Cowichan Valley Trail, which is now part of The Great Trail. There’s a 50km and 100km option, with organizers promising the shorter option will be a more beginner friendly course in the events second year.
Event Website: cowichancrusher.com
RELATED: Top gravel riding tips
Golden Ears Gravel Fondo – May 26 – Port Coquitlam
50km Medio Fondo and 95km Full Fondo. New for 2018.
Port Coquitlam, Golden Ears Valley and Pitt Medows. Part of “Triple Crown of Gravel, with Cowichan Crusher and Kettle Mettle Dirty Fundo
Event Website: goldenearsfondo.com
Buckshot 500 – Kamloops – September 1
Somewhere between a gravel event and a bikepacking meetup, the Buckshot 500 is an event for those who’ve tried a gravel event, are hooked and want more. New for 2018, the BC Epic 1000 has added a shorter distance event this year for those aren’t sure about jumping into the full 1000km event. Shorter is relative, in this case, as the little brother Buckshot 500 is still quite the endeavor. Riders can choose between the 280km Single Barrel course and the 580km Double Barrel route. Both options are self-supported routes spanning the backroads north of Kamloops, but with organized grand depart days you can at least have the comfort that there will be others out there with you before you plan a solo excursion. Whether you choose the single or double barrel option, the Buckshot will definitely be an adventure.
Event Website: bcepic1000.com
Don’t see your favourite event on this list? There’s more of these popping up all the time, and some long standing local events that fly under the radar. If there’s one you think people should know about, tell us in the comments below.