Written by Samantha C. Coleman
All photos courtesy Samm
Samm enjoying the mile 30 rest area at Rooted Vermont, 2021
I love riding and traveling with my bike. Every gravel event I travel to I also bring my Tour de fierce Ultralight Cycling Case by Fierce Hazel. It fits perfectly in my back pocket, and it keeps everything clean. While in Bentonville, Arkansas leading up to the Big Sugar/little sugar gravel event that I was participating in. I stopped into Airship Coffee and enjoyed the hot brew with my Tour de Fierce bag. Whose to know if the flavor was enhanced because I was surrounded by things I love or not.
Not only do I enjoy a great cup of coffee with a great case but an awesome gravel event. I present to you Samm’s Fierce Gravel Round-Up. As an amateur cyclist and lover of working on my personal best, here is a summary of some gravel events that I enjoyed throughout the years.
Samm's Fierce Gravel Round-Up
The 4G Great Gator Gravel Grinder (Homestead, Florida. March 27, 2022) Hosted by Gary Mendenhall. The terrain is access roads, dirt farm, gravel canal roads, grass, water crossings depending on the time of year as the landscape is always changing. They have routes from 10 to 70 miles long. It's endless gravel so don’t let the sea level elevation fool you as dehydration is possible. Make sure you have plenty of nutrients and water. This is a ride that is beloved due to the organizer Gary Mendenhall, who is pleasant and in tune with the local bike community and businesses. Cyclists are patiently waiting for these rides to resume.
The Red Clay Ramble (Hillsboro, Georgia. June 25, 2022) Hosted by Chainbuster Racing. I highly enjoyed the 56-miler route. The terrain was chunky gravel, road, hard packed gravel, and a couple wooden bridge crossings. This is a well-organized gravel event.
Road, Rocks and Reggae (Gilchrist, Florida. March 18-22, 2022) Sponsored by Atomik Carbon bikes. This is a 2-day bike packing event. In years past the organizers would pick up your bags and unload at the destination you were expected to pedal to. This event offered a rainy-day alternative route when its location was in Florida. This two-day gearless bike packing mileage consisted of day-1, 40 miles and day-2, 47 miles. The terrain consists of red clay, sand, road and gravel, peanut butter on wet days. 2022 is the year it ventures out of Florida to the beautiful Alabama, so stay tuned to the updates of this event.
Mid-South (Still Water, Oklahoma. March 10-12, 2022). Hosted by District bicycles. The terrain would have been hard packed red clay but it was raining the year I did it so I was only exposed to extremely sticky peanut butter. That didn’t stop the funishment. The route was easy to follow. I signed up for the 56 miler. It was a cold, wet and super muddy ride. In 2020 it was one of those rides that you had to remind yourself that you signed up for this and traveled far for this. Our ride started freezing and rainy and muddy. It got muddier but my Tour de Fierce Ultralight Case kept my phone and keys dry. Unfortunately, my brake pads were nonexistent by the end. The route had gradual hilly climbs which I am looking forward to experiencing on dryer conditions. Overall, this was a great ride that I will be returning to in 2022!
Our ride started freezing and rainy and muddy. It got muddier but my Tour de Fierce Ultralight case kept my phone and keys dry. Unfortunately, my brake pads were nonexistent by the end.
Rooted Vermont (Richmond, Vermont. July 29-31, 2022) Hosted by Ted & Laura King. This course has two routes. The Little Sip which is 48 miles with 4,000 ft of elevation and the Sip of Sunshine which is 82 miles with 8,000 ft of elevation. I completed the Little Sip, and I really enjoyed the down hills. It was worth the first 2 miles in steep climbs and all the exciting climbing that this route presented. This event is well organized. It is worth it to participate in the breakout forums and the shakeout rides to get a feel for the course. There is something to be said about the organization of an event when you finish a race, and it’s raining, and people are still participating in the festivities.
Samm crushing RPI, 2021
Rebecca’s Private Idaho (Sun Valley, Idaho. Sept 1-4, 2022) Hosted by Rebecca Rusch. This event had four days of events. The Queen Stage Race is the participation in all 4 days of 3 stages of the RPI event totaling up to 196 miles. Day 1 is 43 miles with 3,700 ft of elevation with more single-track terrain than gravel. Day 2 is 49 miles with 3,000 ft of elevation with a terrain of gravel. Day 3 is the fun ride 20 miles with an elevation of 1,000 ft with half gravel and half road. Day 4 is the Baked Potato that is 102 miles with an elevation of 5,295 ft with a terrain of gravel. I participated in the 56 miler French Fry that had 4,386 ft of elevation with a terrain of majority gravel. The last route was the Tater Tot which was 18.83 miles with an elevation of 1,478 with a terrain of majority gravel.
This event was well organized and there was a respect that was shared among all as we pedaled through sacred land. During this event I learned about the Be Good Foundation and sustainable products. Just like those products all of the Fierce Hazel products are made from rescued materials. Fierce Hazel prides themselves in creating products that appeal to everyone with the least amount of harm to the planet. Now that you know, get out there and ride your bike. I might even see you at the next event! Onward!
About the author: Samantha C. Coleman is an amateur MTB/gravel/road cyclist, teacher within early childhood and higher education. Author of academic, cycling publications and the creator of “The Hello Funishment Podcast” and blog, where fun and punishment meet up for an exuberant bike ride.