We've teamed up with the co-founder of Dirty Freehub, Kevin English, to give you the expert advice on what you need to succeed at the Oregon Gravel Grinder Series events. From recommendations on tire size, what to ride, and how to take on the event if you are going to race, ride it, or touring is more your speed.
GORGE GRAVEL GRINDER
Medium Grinder Ride Distance 67.2 mi Total Gravel 41.5 mi Total Elevation 5850 ft
Tire Recommendation: 40 mm (if wet and soft, 45 mm if bike frame allows)
Gearing: 1:1 if a strong climber, .9 if need a bit more help.
If seriously racing, on the high side want a gear that can pedal at 30+ mph.
This course is ~ 60% gravel.
FOR THE RACER
If I was racing this, I would ride my Salsa Warbird with 40 mm tires, geared at about 0.9 on the low side. Something like 31/34. For the high side, I would have a 46/11.
Tire pressures: 31 psi rear, 27 psi font. I run CushCore.
If I was touring this, I would change the tires out to 45 mm, lower my gearing to .85 and not worry so much about the high-end gearing (I can always coast a bit). Tire pressures: 30 psi rear, 26 psi font. I run CushCore.
I am 59, still active, in good shape, but don’t race competitively.
How I Would Race the Course
Think of this course in 2 blocks. The fast start and the climb (the crux).
Miles 3 to 13 you need to hang on, it will be a tough and demanding start.
Mile 13 to 32 you should be able to hang on as it is mostly downhill. But the first part of the downhill is steep and on gravel, do not let yourself get too far off the back. Once you hit the pavement it is fast and furious.
Miles 32 to 52 are a long climb, that is open and exposed. If it is windy, find a group to work with. When you see the power lines you think the climb is over, but it is deceptively rolling. Find a group to work with! Near the top of the climb, make the separation.
Miles 52 to 57 if you have not created separation, this is where you will need to do so. It will still roll a bit and not be easy.
At mile 58 you begin the 6-mile gravel descent to the finish. It will be fast, but not extreme. Average gradient 4.5%. It will be difficult to separate yourself from others.
FOR THE TOURER
How I Would Tour this Course
Be careful not to go out too hard and too fast, I would temper my effort a bit. It is easy to put out too much effort in the beginning and suffer a lot in the end.
Miles 32 to 45 I would start to identify riders that I could work with. Who is riding my same speed and style? If you don’t find somebody to work with here, it will be a long solo ride in. (Did I say long?).
Miles 46 to 53 is the climb proper. Find a gear that you work comfortably for the next 7 miles. If it is windy, find a group to work with. The more elevation you gain, the windier it will become.
Ideally, for miles 53 to 58, you will have somebody to work with. It is rolling terrain and at this point, you will feel tired.
At mile 58 you begin the 6-mile gravel descent to the finish. It will be fast, but not extreme. Average gradient 4.5%. If it is a nice day, with clear skies, take in the views and congratulate yourself on a great ride.
Check out more racing and riding advice on the other distances and Oregon Gravel Series events on the Dirty Intel page here.