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Dirty Intel - 2022 Cascade Gravel Grinder - Day 2: Bust Your Butte

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.


The Cascade Gravel Grinder is a truly unique event in that you have the option to ride or race one, two, or three days of gravel greatness. While the courses are more technical than the Gorge Gravel Grinder, they offer a Small Grinder and Big Grinder distance option on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a fun (and again, technical) 5.5 mile gravel time trail on Friday evening. Participants can join us for any of the days or get the best deal around and a full weekend of gravel by entering the Omnium. Registration WILL SELL OUT . We currently have spots, so don't delay- Register now.

From Kevin English-

As I write this, we are coming off one of the most intense April snow storms in recent history. The courses, at this time, are under a foot to more of snow. Thus, my report is based on riding in this area for the last 20+ years, not on first-hand recon from this year.

In my recommendations for tire size and gearing, please keep in mind I am in my late 50s, fit and have placed on the podium in my age group at races like the Breck Epic. But I am not nearly as strong as I was at 40. Thus, adjust my recommendations accordingly.


DAY 2: Bust Your Butte Small Grinder (not part of 2023)

Ride Distance 49 mi Total Gravel 70% Total Elevation 4000 ft

Big Grinder

Ride Distance 60 mi Total Gravel 79% Total Elevation 4700 ft

  • Tire Recommendation: 45 mm or larger, (Unless conditions are perfect, 40 mm).

  • Gearing: .9, strong riders may want to go with 1:1

  • If I was doing this, I would ride my Salsa Cutthroat on 2.1” tires, with .9 gearing ratio.

  • NO aero bars are allowed on this in any event the Oregon Gravel Grinder Series.

These courses (the timed portions) are 75% or more dirt Forest Service roads, not gravel roads like those found in Dufur for the Gorge Gravel Grinder. Expect loose red cinder and brown dirt. There is little clay within the soil, so if the next month is dry, the courses could almost be sandy. If it is a wet month, the courses can have a power-sucking peanut butter feel. And … if the rest of April is wet and May dries out it could be terrific!

The courses are very undulating staying between 4400 feet and 5800 feet, but with total elevation gains of 4000 to 5000 feet. The longest climb is a gain of 1400 feet which comes near the end of the race. Most of the uphill gradients are between 4 to 6%.

If I was doing this, I would ride my Salsa Warbird on 45 mm tires, with a .9 gearing ratio.

Good luck!

Check out more racing and riding advice on the other distances and Oregon Gravel Series events on the Dirty Intel page here.


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