Dirty Intel - Cascade Gravel Grinder - Day 3: Three Creeks

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.

CASCADE GRAVEL GRINDER

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 3: Three Creeks Small Grinder

Ride Distance 45 mi Total Gravel 90% Total Elevation 4000 ft


Big Grinder

Ride Distance 75 mi Total Gravel 90% Total Elevation 6000 ft


  • Tire Recommendation: 45 mm or larger.

  • Gearing: .9 or less

  • If I was doing this, I would ride my Salsa Warbird on 45 mm tires, with a .8 gearing ratio.

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


The surface textures today are a lot like that described for Day 2 - red cinder and dirt Forest Service roads. Some sections of the course will be loose, rocky and rutted. Overall, more of the day will be rugged than smooth and fast. Today's timed courses are nearly 100% unpaved and with the same or more climbing than on Day 2. And the climbs are more punchy, steep and demanding then on Day 2.


The crux to racing this will be keeping with the group to the top of the climb at mile 17. You do not want to get dropped in these first 17 miles. After that, it will be a slug fest on each and every remaining climb. I would look for a group to work with after mile 17 and try to make a decisive move on the last major climb.


Good luck!


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