As the sun starts to rise a little later and the mornings cool, you might be forgiven for thinking the peak cycling event season has passed.
Rejoice friend. There’s still plenty of racing and riding left in the season. You might even say it’s the best part of the year for longer events, as warmer conditions and predictably volatile weather patterns give way to cooler and calmer days.
Here’s a list of our favorite end-of-season events you might consider before turning your attention to turkey dinners and loosening belts.
Hop Head Hundred
When: September 17, 2023
Where: Independence, OR
What: The "Hop Head Hundred" commences and concludes in Independence, Oregon, once the "Hop Capital of the World." Routes wind through hinterland roads, offering consistent vistas of the Coast and Cascades mountains. Amidst supported aid stations, you'll cycle by live hop farms that made this region famous. All routes feature a dramatic Willamette River crossing using the iconic Buena Vista Ferry. Choose from three distances and have all the fun you should on two wheels in an idyllic setting. The kicker: You might leave the event having won not only an amazing time, but also a custom bicycle from famed bicycle builder Ira Ryan. Now that's an amazing day that'll last a lifetime.
More info & registration at https://www.hopheadhundred.com
When: August 25, 2023
Where: Lincoln, NE
What: Not just four gravel routes to choose from, but if you’re feeling particularly frisky, a run on the Friday of the event weekend up to 50k. This is the event for gravel pirates from around the world. Keeping with the ethos of fully self-supported cycling, Gravel Worlds allows no outside support, provides minimal support at checkpoints and expects you to race/ride your own event. No pacing. No support crews. Just good old grassroots you and the bicycle making it happen. Now in its 13th year, your event captain is a first-ballot Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame — so you know it’s gonna be good stuff. If you’ve never ridden the plains of the U.S. this is a great experience to treat yourself to. Many think it’s a flat world in the plains, but there’s plenty of rolling terrain to add up to a decent amount of elevation gain ranging from 2,000 feet (30.8 mile ride) to 17,000 feet (303.4 mile race).
More info & registration at https://www.gravel-worlds.com
Grass Roots Gravel
When: October 14, 2023
Where: Pueblo, CO
What: Epic. Diverse. Amazing. Pueblo Colorado is another one of these amazing gems of trail and roads many have yet to experience—but should. World Tour pros praise Pueblo's gravel routes. Choose from four different routes from 15-110 miles in distance. This event aims to be a ride for everyone (and even has an e-bike category), so come one, come all. Run what you brung. If it has two wheels and it rolls roughly straight, there’s a place for you at Grass Roots Gravel. Ride it this year and say you were there for the inaugural event. Full support: aid stations, SAG on all routes. Dispatch will be there enjoying the day and cheering you on.
More info & registration at https://www.grassrootsgravel.com
Big Sugar Classic
When: MTB - October 15, 2022, Gravel - October 21, 2023
Where: Northwest Arkansas, Ozark Mountains
What: Few places in the U.S. are enjoying as much growth fueled by cycling than NW Arkansas. A substantial investment of capital and political capital are turning this into a destination for cyclists around the world. If you haven’t been, you owe it to yourself to pack up and head out. Featuring two separate weekends of events (mountain bike and gravel), this is an ideal time of the year to get your miles in and enjoy a new experience in Arkansas.
Mountain bikers will experience a great day that starts in Bentonville, heading north through Bella Vista, traversing Little Sugar and Back 40's hollers and ravines. Experience bluff lines, caves, waterfalls, and the iconic Ledges in the Ozarks.
Trail systems here offer challenging climbs interspersed with fast descents. Despite the remote feel, you'll connect to Slaughter Pen while returning home—an urban trail system featuring flow lines, rock features, and a view of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Gravel cyclists will be treated to the remote Ozark Mountain highlands in Northwest Arkansas and Southern Missouri on canopy-covered gravel roads. Navigate alongside Sugar Creek, through bluffs, hollers, and vibrant fall foliage.
Anticipate demanding courses with rugged, rarely maintained gravel roads, occasional pavement, water crossings, and bridges. For dirt enthusiasts seeking camaraderie and stunning landscapes, this is your event. Choose from 50 or 100-mile distances.
More info & registration at https://www.bigsugarclassic.com/gravel/
The Rad Dirt Fest
When: September 30, 2023
Where: Trinidad, CO
What: If you’ve never visited Trinidad, you’re in for a real treat. In the Southern Colorado plateau, lies a pristine abundance of distinctive gravel. Against the backdrop of towering Spanish Peaks and vast mesas, 'Rad Dirt Fest' offers three unique courses. These routes, comprising over 90% well-kept gravel roads, feature rolling terrain and breathtaking scenery unique to the region. Despite the scenic beauty, the elevation and climbs, particularly on the longer ride, will test your mettle. Prepare to connect with nature, witness diverse wildlife, and experience the 'Rad' adventure firsthand.
More info & registration at https://www.theraddirt.com
While you're here, don't forget to get yourself a little motivational gear for your bicycle for these events. While they're all beautiful places and great events, you'll have to dig deep to get it done.