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Oregon’s gravel riding season starts this weekend

The Dalles will host the inaugural event of the 2019 season with the Gorge Gravel Grinder on Sunday.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

2019 is going to be a big year for gravel. And it starts in The Dalles this weekend.

Sponsored by:

These companies make our gravel coverage possible.

With promoters stepping up to meet demands of riders who increasingly want to leave cars and pavement behind, our calendar has filled up quite nicely with events that focus on unpaved roads.

Here’s a quick rundown of some local weekday rides and a few of the larger events happening in Portland and around the state…

Small Weeknight Rides

Wild West Gravel Ride Series – Hosted by our friends at Western Bike Works, this weeknight series happens every Wednesday at 6:00 pm. Meet at the shop on NW 17th and Lovejoy (1015 NW 17th) and roll up into Forest Park to get your local gravel fix.

OMTM’s East Buttes – Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) just wrapped up their winter Snax Trax series today. After a week off they’ll fire up the spring season with the weekly East Buttes ride. Led by the experienced unpaved legend Ryan Francesconi, these rides tackle a different route around, over, and through the hills of southeast Portland and Gresham. Ride happens Thursdays at 6:00pm and meets at Gates Park (SE 136th and Holgate). For more on OMTM, check out their website.

Big Rides and Races

Gorge Gravel Grinder (4/7) – This much-anticipated ride is technically sold out; but you might be able to score an open registration slot by checking the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list.

Yamhill Gravel Fondo (4/20) – I’m looking forward to this one, as it’s a new entry on the calendar and the route goes through some beautiful Oregon Country that’s relatively close to home.

Dark Larch V3 (4/21) – This is an unsanctioned, self-supported OMTM ride that will explore the lush, secret netherworlds around Larch Mountain in east Multnonmah County. And yes, this is Easter Sunday.

Cascade Gravel Grinder (4/26) – Billed as a three-day omnium, this unique format blends recreation and competition in a choose-your-own adventure format. You can race or ride and choose any or all of the routes over three days.

Oregon Coast Gravel Epic (5/4) – The opening salvo of the Oregon Triple Crown, a three ride/race series that also includes the Sasquatch Duro (5/18) and the Oregon Gran Fondo (6/1). I’m doing all three of the events this year because I love visiting the small towns that host them: Waldport, Oakridge, and Cottage Grove respectively. It’s also a goal to ride well at all three since they present such varied and challenging routes. OTC, along with series sponsors Co-Motion Cycles and Rolf Prima Wheels is also a BikePortland sponsor so I’ll be riding Co-Motion’s newly redesign Klatch gravel bike!


A scene from last year’s Oregon Coast Gravel Epic.

Oregon Emerald Outback (5/4) – Another unsanctioned adventure that is not for the faint of heart. Check the official website for details on the 600-mile route.

Gravel (5/17) – Cycle Oregon’s contribution to the gravel revolution is based in Dufur this year. It’ll be three days and two nights of riding, eating, and camping.

Skull 120/60/30 (6/15) – After I did this last year it became an instant Father’s Day tradition. I’m going back to Burns this year and can only hope it’s as good as it was the first time.

Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder (6/19 – 6/23) – This is a new format: Five days and 400 miles of great riding in a loop west of Bend. You’ll ride and camp at pre-determined spots. Looks awesome!

Ochoco Gravel Roubaix (8/24) – Hosted by the excellent Good Bike Co. in Prineville, you should seriously consider putting this one on your list. In just a few years it has become a classic and attracts riders (and sponsors) from across the country.

Check out the gravel category on the BikePortland calendar for all the listings.

I hope this gets you excited about all the great gravel rides in the region. Next up I’ll share some of the best (relatively) local areas to find your unpaved paradise. Stay tuned.

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

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