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
SMALL Grinder Ride Distance 53.5 mi Total Gravel 31.5 mi Total Elevation 4360 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
Miles 3 to 17 are all downhill and on the pavement. Find a big gear, pedal, and keep with the group.
Miles 17 to 31 are undulating and all on gravel. It will slowly work you. If you are strong and powerful, here is where you want to surge. If you are a climber, wait until mile 31 to begin your attack. The next 7 miles will gain 1500 feet. This climb is long, 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.
If you are still in a group, miles 37 to 42 is where you need to power off the front and create separation. It will still roll a bit and not be easy.
At mile 42 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
Miles 3 to 17 are all downhill and on the pavement. Find a big gear, pedal, and enjoy. If you want to be a bit spunky, you can do it here.
Miles 17 to 30 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?). You will also start getting some of the riders from the medium and long courses passing by. You may want to give it a go and try to hang for a bit. Some of them may have gone out too hard and fast and now be a perfect match as a riding partner.
Miles 30 to 37 is the climb proper. Find a gear that you can 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 37 to 42, you will have somebody to work with. It is rolling terrain and at this point, you may feel a bit 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.