While a few American gravel races have returned in recent weeks, the state of play in California has been rather different, with permits much harder to come by, but this weekend the Grasshopper Adventure Series returns with a two-day challenge and a stacked field.
L39ion of Los Angeles riders Sam Boardman and Tyler Williams are taking part in the men's event, along with former WorldTour riders Ted King and Peter Stetina, while Amity Rockwell and Kristen Faulkner lead an impressive field in the women’s category.
The 2 Day Adventure Weekend takes place over the dirt roads in Healdsburg in California. While the two-day event can’t be classed as a race, riders will have two weeks to set the fastest times over four tough gravel segments, while the race organisers have Michelin star chef Matt Accarino on hand, Sportful running the coffee stop, and, as it’s a gravel race, there will undoubtedly be beer.
"Some things are going really well, some things are still really challenging. Events are starting to happen and I’m optimistic that we’re going to have a good summer," says race founder and organizer Miguel Crawford, who spoke to Cyclingnews from his home on the eve of the event.
"We’ve got the event this weekend which has food and wine but there’s a competitive edge on Saturday and then a big ride on Sunday. They’re both routes on which we’ve had Grasshoppers in the past but the counties that we're in still won’t hand out permits for any large-scale events.
"Then we have one on May 22 and that’s got a pretty solid men’s and women’s field. Riders will form ‘pod’ and set off in waves of four to six as they take on the tough climbs on the Geysers/Pine Flat course on day one, while day sees riders take on the familiar terrain of the Sweetwater – Old Caz route.
"This weekend it’s a challenge with four segments to it and we’ve got a few hundred people signed up. We’ll have 50 people doing the challenge on the same day and people will go out in small groups. We’ve got Stetina, and Ted King and then two riders from L39ion, so it’s cool to see the fast local folks come out for the challenge."
The riders will face some of the toughest terrain in the region with plenty of climbing on offer as they compete for the four segments with the times added together in order to formulate a leaderboard. It’s not all about this weekend, with riders allowed to set off at any time and then upload their segment times before the results are finalized at a later date.
"We’ve got the Geysers and then Pine Flats, two climbs, and we’ve got two segments on each of the climbs and then we’ll add the cumulative times together," said Crawford.
"There’s still a fun aspect to it. We’ve got a Michelin star chief, Sportful are taking over the bakery stop so there’s a competitive edge but also a social aspect. People have two weekends to complete the challenge so it’s not all about this weekend."
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