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Check our Gravel Riding Guide and get excited for the season

Posted by on March 21st, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Scene from the Hell of the North Plains ride in January 2018.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This special coverage sponsored by Oregon Triple Crown, Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS.

Gravel grinding, rambling, mixed-terrain riding, off-roading, adventure riding — no matter what you call it, exploring unpaved backroads is one of the most popular things to do on a bike these days. What’s not to like? Pedaling on logging, fire, and farm roads gives you the accessibility of road riding and the adventure of mountain biking all rolled into one.

Gravel Guide partners!

While the gravel trend is strong nationwide, our regional and statewide abundance of quiet backroads has made it a fast-growing part of our cycling scene.

And this year it’s poised to explode: Promoters are launching exciting new events, the industry is offering new gravel-specific bikes and products and local riding clubs are making it easy to find new roads and new friends.

Thanks to a partnership with the Oregon Triple Crown series, Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS, BikePortland will bring you more gravel coverage than ever this year. I’ll be traveling far and wide to pedal some of the best dirt roads in the state and will keep you plugged into the gravel scene. I’ll also share guest posts from other gravel riding fans, profiles of gravel bike builders, and more.

If you’re a veteran of this site, you’ll know we’ve been fans of unpaved road riding for a long time. For us (and many others), it started with Otto Miller Road back in 2012. In 2013 I rode the “Bullshit 100” ride and was hooked forever.

In hopes of getting you hooked — and/or helping you plan your season — below is a list of major gravel rides happening in Oregon this year (you can also check the Gravel category on the BikePortland calendar for the latest listings):

April
Gorge Gravel Grinder – 4/7 (Breakaway Promotions)
Yamhill Gravel Fondo – 4/20 (Zone 5 Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 1 – 4/26 (Breakaway Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 2 – 4/27 (Breakaway Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 3 – 4/28 (Breakaway Promotions)

May
Oregon Coast Gravel Epic – 5/4 (Mudslinger Events)
Oregon Emerald Outback – 5/4 (Benjamin Colwill)
Gravel – 5/17 (Cycle Oregon)
Sasquatch Duro – 5/18 (Mudslinger Events)

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This is Bacona Road last Saturday. Can’t wait for all the snow to melt!


June
Oregon Gran Fondo (Sherman Route) – 6/1 (Mudslinger Events)
Skull 120/60/30 – 6/15 (Harney County Chamber of Commerce)
Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder – 6/19 (Breakaway Promotions)

August
Ochoco Gravel Roubaix – 8/24

That’s a seriously exciting lineup!

If you’re like me, you daydream with maps. Check out the routes of selected events in the Ride With GPS map below:

I can’t wait to share more as the season gets underway. Stay tuned for chances to win a free pass to the Oregon Triple Crown series and for lots more coverage. If you have gravel-related questions or story ideas, let us know!

For now, check out our 2019 Gravel Riding Guide for lots of ride recaps and photos, links to local resources and riding clubs, and more.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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18 Comments
  • Avatar
    Tomas Quinones March 21, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    That map embed is sweet! Excited for the Emerald Outback!

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    Kate March 21, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    So nice to open this page and see Mielle’s smiling face — truly one of the best ambassadors of bicycling (and stoke) I’ve ever met.

    I’ve only ever done the Gorge Gravel Grinder- but can vouch that the support/snack stations are truly top-notch and scenery is spectacular. Hoping this is the year I get a few other gravel races and rides under my belt.

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    Kimberlee March 21, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Bummed that Cycle Oregon Gravel conflicts with the Sasquatch Duro. I did both last year, and they were both awesome!

    Is that Skull ride out in Harney County happening again this year?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 21, 2019 at 3:31 pm

      Hi Kimberlee… Yeah I’m bummed those overlap too. I am actually thinking of driving from Oakridge to Dufer to catch the 2nd day of the Cycle Oregon event!

      And yes, the Skull 120 is definitely on. Can’t believe I left it out. I did it last year and it was magical.

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      GNnorth March 22, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      Wow, I had no idea that a promoted ride went to the top of Steens. I see the Skull 120 doesn’t go even close to Frenchglen this year. Was it a race to the top previously, and what month? Can’t ride past the end of September w/o getting into some serious weather up on the hill was my experience.

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    jered March 21, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    That is a pretty large list of official events.
    Imagine all the “unofficial events” that may or may not happen…

    (also if you need someone to cover an event that you can’t make – give me a shout)

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 22, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Gifford Gravel, Mosier Mayhem, Gorge Groundup.

      Hope those happen again.

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    Todd Boulanger March 21, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Don’t forget there is gravel north of the Columbia River too. (Oregon did not invent gravel. 😉

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      Toby Keith March 21, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      What?! I was sure we had the copyright on gravel.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 22, 2019 at 8:54 am

      I am well aware of that Todd! The Gifford Gravel 50 is one of my favorite rides.

      I can’t include everything. It helps my brain to limit things to Oregon. Doesn’t mean I won’t add some WA stuff when/if I can.

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    Middle of The Road Guy March 22, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Tour Deschutes has a gravel option this year (July) and I am not sure if they are doing it this year, but Barlow Bikes had a nice gravel grind as well (was in July also).

    Two years ago there was the VanDuranDuran classic – I hope that one happens again.

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    Middle of The Road Guy March 22, 2019 at 10:26 am

    It’s a long-ass trip, but there is some fantastic gravel in the SE portion of the state. Frenchglen to the top of Steens Mountain and the Owyhee Reservoir area were pretty awesome.

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      GlowBoy March 27, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      There are some truly awesome dirt roads in SE Oregon, and I’ve had some great rides everywhere from the Owyhee Canyonlands to the Alvord Desert and Sheepshead Mountains to the Hart Mountain-Abert Lake area. That’s the *real* Oregon Outback. Just be aware some of SE Oregon is seriously remote country, and even for day rides you’d better have strong survival knowledge and equipment. Some of those old Jeep tracks can go weeks or even months without a single person passing through.

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    Josh G March 22, 2019 at 10:57 am

    6/22-23 http://ridethewillapa.com metric century and longer bikepacker option

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    PDXCyclist March 22, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Would people be kind enough to recommend me gravel loops/rides that I could do one my own/with a friend? I like the idea of gravel because i wont get killed by a driver but I’ve never done it before so I’m not aware of what the popular routes and loops are. I am too novice to do rides like these (as exciting as they seem). Any recommendations are appreciated!

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 22, 2019 at 2:20 pm

      Hi PDXCyclist,

      Start with this great list of routes on RideWithGPS created by the amazing and wonderful Unpaved folks (Ryan Francesconi/Ron Lewis/Our Mother the Mountain).

      As for recommendations. Easiest place locally is Leif Erikson Road in Forest Park. Hop on it at Thurman Gate entrance or Germantown Road and have at it!

      Depends on where you are, how long you’re willing to drive, and how many miles you can ride. My favorite places are Columbia County/Scappoose area and everything in Washington County between here at the small town of Timber. There’s fun stuff out in Forest Grove (Barney Reservoir). There’s the CZ Trail in Scappoose off of Hwy 30 (and roads like Pittsburgh north of it and Gunnars Lakes south of it).

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      Middle of the Road Guy March 22, 2019 at 2:59 pm

      I second what JM has written. Scappoose and North Plains are both good starting points for the gravel NW of Portland. Basically, look for Dixie Mtn Road, Pumpkin Ridge Road, Dairy Creek, Smoke Ranch Road using Ridew/GPS. Bacona Road is also good but in my opinion slightly more difficult that Pumpkin Ridge or Dixie Mtn.

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