The beginning of a new year brings with it plenty of promise and possibility by hitting our internal reset button. While a plan to start anew simmers just beneath the surface, a little inspiration might be the jumpstart you need. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate bike race, ultra marathon or triathlon, we’ve compiled a list of races both old and new that promise to test your mettle for the year ahead.
Oregon Gravel Grinder Series
This series of spring bike races that begin on April 8, 2018 include plenty of gravel miles with spectacular scenery. Riders can choose from distances of 59 up to 105 miles in the first race, Gorge Gravel Grinder located in The Dalles, Oregon. Participants will find this north central Oregon location to be the best in the northwest for spring riding, as it’s a prime spot for sun and warmer temps. Hundreds of miles of paved and gravel farm road await riders, along with little to no traffic. The course offers great views of the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding Cascade Mountains. Rolling wheat fields are also prominent, and create a breathtaking foreground for the majestic mountain views. Riders will find that the gravel sections are well packed, smooth and fast, which is why The Dalles is the original home of the Gravel Grinder Series. Keep up the adventure on April 29 at the High Desert Gravel Grinder in Bend, Oregon. For more information, visit www.oregongravelgrinder.com.
Ironman Santa Rosa
For experienced triathletes who’ve ramped up training because a full Ironman distance is a real possibility, set your sights on Ironman Santa Rosa on May 12, 2018. Replacing the popular Ironman Vineman, Ironman Santa Rosa preserves the best parts of the iconic race. Located less than 10 miles from the original venue, triathletes will tour Sonoma’s historic wine country and rolling countryside, passing through regions known for their popular varietals including the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys.
The course begins with a swim in Lake Sonoma. The 2.4-mile loop will lead athletes to their bikes, where they will set off on a 112-mile ride on rolling hills along countryside roads through Northern California’s wine country. Riders will return to Santa Rosa where they’ll embark on a marathon course that consists of a double loop along the Santa Rosa Creek Trail. Ironman triathletes will cross the finish line at Courthouse Square Park in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. If this sounds like a perfect location for your first (or fifth) Ironman finish, visit www.ironman.com.
The Oregon Gran Fondo
If a big road ride is where you’ve set your sights, then consider the Oregon Gran Fondo. Gran Fondo rides originate in Italy and France, where the public was invited to ride a single stage of one of the professional grand tours, like the Tour de France or the Giro D’Italia. By definition, a Gran Fondo is not a race, but rather a mass start event designed to draw the community together and give everyone a chance to enjoy the fun of riding a bike on the same course as the pros. The Oregon Grand Fondo starts south of Eugene in Cottage Grove. Riders have the choice of distances ranging from 40 up to 137 miles, through the foothills of the Willamette Valley west of Interstate 5. This is pure road riding at its finest, through some of the greenest scenery in Oregon. For more information, visit www.oregontriplecrown.com.
High Cascades 100
If a century mountain bike ride is more likely to quench your thirst for adventure, check out the High Cascades 100 mountain bike race on July 21, 2018. Featuring 100 miles of high desert mountain terrain on technical single track surrounding Mt. Bachelor, this challenge is for experienced riders and requires training for approximately 10,000 feet of elevation gain in the Cascade Mountain Range. Riders will enjoy stellar views of surrounding peaks including Broken Top, Mt. Jefferson and South Sister. While there will be three aid stations and additional water stations throughout the course, the event organizer reminds participants that this is a remote event and adequate preparation is required. For more information, visit www.highcascades100.com.
Tackling a mountainous 50K ultra marathon is a very daunting but do-able race goal. And while the name itself might be intimidating, the Volcanic 50 is a single track course that circumnavigates Mount St. Helens – the infamous Pacific Northwest volcano that erupted in 1980. Runners will spend a majority of their time on the Loowit Trail which climbs and descends deep gullies left by the eruption. Runners will also be treated to expansive views from the base of the blast zone for 32 miles, while they accumulate approximately 7,400 feet of elevation gain. Because of the technical nature of this course, event organizers require registered runners complete a 50K prior to race day. For more information, visit www.gobeyondracing.com.