The organisers of SBT GRVL announced on Wednesday that they have cancelled their mass-participation gravel event in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. They have instead launched SBT VRTL for participants to ride one of four distances using Ride with GPS on August 16.
"The SBT GRVL experience remains rooted in our core values including safety, fun and credibility," said Mark Satkiewicz, co-founder and race director.
"Taking these values into account, it became clear to us that the required changes needed to keep every rider, spectator, volunteer, sponsor, vendor and members of our local community safe would result in a significantly compromised version of the SBT GRVL experience."
SBT GRVL hosted an inaugural event last summer. This year's event included four course options; Black Course at 230km with 9,400ft of climbing; Blue Course at 208km and 6,300ft of climbing; Red Course at 102km and 4,10ft of climbing; and Green Course at 54km and 2,000ft of climbing.
Give the popularity of the event, race registration had sold out within 25 minutes of opening in December. Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, however, organisers said they consulted with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal, state, and county governments, and after discussions with local authorities in Steamboat Springs, determined the safest scenario for the community was to cancel the event this year.
"The team at SBT GRVL showed courage today to postpone their event which in its introductory year, set a new standard in gravel events: a race, a community gathering and a party done on a world class level putting the riders safety first," said Blair Clark, president of Canyon Bicycles, and presenting sponsor of the event.
"As the title sponsor we fully support their decision and we are excited to work with them for years to come. On a personal level, it was something I was really looking forward to doing, but when it happens again in the future, it will be such a sweet appreciation.
"I'll be back for what John Denver described as: ‘The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake… you can talk to God and listen to the casual reply’… to get my ‘Rocky mountain high’ at SBT GRVL!"
Participants who signed up for one of the four distances in the 2020 event have the option to defer to 2021 or receive a race refund. Participants wishing to defer to 2021 will not need to do anything at this time. Participants wishing for a refund will need to reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and request a refund.
The details of the SBT VRTL have not been announced, yet, however, this option will be free and open to everyone to participate. Organisers have said that regional routes will be created for all four distances and easy to find and follow using Ride with GPS. There will be prize giveaways from sponsors and opportunities to continue to support advocacy partners.