Beat the Heat on July 31 and Head Up for Boulder County’s Ned Gravel—the Ultimate Newly Envisioned Gravel Cycling Event
The first annual Ned Gravel lets bikers explore the backroads of the Peak to Peak region in an event designed to welcome new and experienced gravel cyclists for an inclusive community vibe. The event will take place Saturday, July 31, 2021, just outside of Denver and Boulder in Nederland, with three course lengths designed to appeal to every type of rider.
Launched in 2020 by Peak to Peak Endurance, a local retreat and event planning organization, Ned Gravel is organized around the belief that more people should be brought into the sport, not excluded. And race organizers are taking steps to ensure the event is welcoming to all — including people who have not participated in a gravel, or any other type of cycling race before — by working with some key non-profit and advocacy groups and providing scholarships for entry fees and equipment.
Event founder Gavin Coombs is putting his commitment to inclusivity into action by partnering with established organizations to engage communities and reduce barriers to entry and give several athletes of color a spot on the starting line, personalized coaching and gear. Race partners include Shark Tooth Cycling, Ride for Racial Justice, Davis Phinney Foundation, and Ragtag Outdoors, groups who bring new and disadvantaged athletes into the sport. “This is going to be a fantastic event that hopefully helps continue to move the needle for increasing diversity and inclusivity in cycling, and giving people another much needed summer gravel race event outside of Boulder,” said Coombs.
In addition to early and discounted registration for women and BIPOC athletes, which had great success, the race is providing equal prize money and representation on the starting line. Event sponsor Megan Hottman, aka TheCyclist-Lawyer.com, is a Golden-based lawyer that advocates for safer cycling and also represents injured cyclists. A former road and track racer, Hottman is an avid rider who commutes most places, races some gravel, has dabbled in mountain bike racing, cyclocross, and fat biking. She said she is thrilled to sponsor an event that is stepping up and taking action so that all riders feel welcome. Hottman said, “Bikes are for everyone — so it’s important that everyone feels safe and welcome riding their bike, wherever they live, whatever their background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender.”
She says everyone can benefit from riding a bike as it connects the rider to their surroundings, which is why she argues, “It’s critically important that cycling events have open doors, welcoming arms, and seats at the table for all. I want everyone to experience the magic of being part of the larger cycling community — and Ned Gravel is a good step in that direction.”
Ned Gravel is a Gateway to the Biking Community
The gravel-first format of the race is a great first-time option for new racers for a number of reasons. Gravel is seen as more of an “everyman’s discipline.” Gravel biking gives riders the efficiency of a road bike, letting them move quickly over terrain as they explore mountain environments. It is also a safer option than mountain biking in many cases, and more comunal than the typical road riding scene one might encounter.
Gravel bikes are also versatile. Riders can take their bike out on the trail, and then use the same bike to commute to work in the city. “Gravel racing is the most welcoming version of bike racing,” said Hottman. She explained that unlike other road races that require a significant financial investment and a team, it’s the rider’s grit and tenacity that determine how well they perform. “Gravel is about the journey just as much as it is about the destination. It is more laid back and more welcoming.”
Bike races are also a great motivator to get outside and in shape. Coombs says that races give you the opportunity to challenge yourself and expand your comfort zone. Adding that, “Ned Gravel is a great race for beginners. Gravel biking is about adventure and exploring. It’s hard to quantify, but the attitude is inviting.” Ned Gravel will let cyclists see what gravel racing is all about while exploring the beauty of Indian Peaks and will also challenge the most seasoned competitors.
Three Unique Courses Let You Choose Your Own Adventure
All three courses start in the historic mountain town of Nederland, just 17 miles west of Boulder. Sitting above 8,000 feet at the base of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, it is the perfect launching point for any endurance adventure.
“I’m so excited to be able to share all that Nederland has to offer, especially when it comes to having fun riding bikes on our amazing network of gravel roads,” said Coombs. “Ned Gravel is unique in that we want to create an environment for beginners and less experienced racers, while also making the space for the pro’s to push themselves.”
“If you are new to cycling, our Silver Course is a great option,” said Coombs. “It’s a mix of paved road and dirt road and riders can use almost any type of bike.” The Silver Course is about 50/50 road to gravel.
In addition to a beginner-friendly course, event organizers created a route for those who have experience and want a challenge, the speedier, more road friendly, 41 mile Gold Course; and for avid riders who are looking to push themselves and really burn their legs and their lungs, there is the Tungsten Course at 66 miles.
“A notable section on the Gold and Tungsten Courses is the Mammoth Gulch climb, which brings riders to the highest point of the race at about 10,300 feet,” said Coombs. “It is also the sight of the Apex Ghost Town, which racers will bike through. Those on the challenging Tungsten Course will also pass Deadwood Diggins — where the first gold in the area was discovered in 1859, and where the race gets its name.”
He continued, “All courses will be well marked with plentiful aid stations and a course sweeper to help with basic mechanical problems if they happen.”
Another benefit of the race’s location? It’s proximity to Denver and Boulder. Coombs shared that Nederland is a bike mecca for it’s beauty and the convenient access it provides to the mountains from the nearby urban areas. He said the region also has a rich history. “There is so much incredible history the course passes, from some of the oldest evidence of Paleo-Indians all the way up through the Gold Rush of the late 1800’s,” said Coombs. “And there is no better way to explore that than by bike!”
Bikers can Connect with Sponsors to Learn about New Gear
The event will let riders network and meet others in the community — including event sponsors like Cutaway USA, who is coming out from the Southeast for the event.
An outdoor industry leader in cycling kit design for cyclists, triathletes, and runners,
Cutaways is a premium apparel brand based out of Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition to their design, color, innovation, craftsmanship, and attention to detail, Cutaway also offers a custom program known for its customer service and flexibility to meet a team’s specific needs. “We’re excited to work with Ned Gravel as they represent two things we hold dear at Cutaway USA: a desire to explore, and to share that exploration with as many people as possible,” said Cutaway founder Phillip Robb. “We look forward to partnering with one of the new challenging gravel races that showcases the best that their hometown has to offer.”
As for tips for new racers Coombs says, “Do your best to train, but most importantly, come with a good attitude and have fun! The race will challenge you, but it will absolutely be worth it.”
And if you’ve never raced before, there is no reason not to try. “You always finish a ride feeling better than when you started,” said Hottman.
You can register at nedgravel.com. Space is limited, so mark your calendar as prices will increase on June 26 if the race is not sold out.
Event Sponsors include…
Sponsors for Ned Gravel in year one so far: Cutaway USA, Spring Energy and Carbo Rocket at a Gold Level. Eldora Mountain Resort and Stages Cycling at a Silver Level sponsorship; Megan Hottman Law Office and Kim Hullet Real Estate Broker Associate at Porch Light Realty at a Bronze Level; Pure Power Botanicals, Weller CBD, and Panaracer Tires at a Community Level. LOOK Cycles is the official pedal supplier. State Bicycles is the official bag supplier. Event non-profit partners are: Shark Tooth Cycling and the CMT Research Foundation, Ride for Racial Justice and the Davis Phinney Foundation.