The town of Steamboat Springs uniquely melds Colorado mountain town culture with the ambiance and warmth that only a ranching community can offer. Couple that unique atmosphere with the region’s physical attributes, like altitude and hundreds of miles of scenic, gravel county roads. With this formula, it was only a matter of time for cycling’s newest and fastest-growing discipline – gravel riding – to find a home in Routt County, Colorado.
And find a home it did. The weekend of Aug. 17-18, 1,500 gravel cyclists hailing from seven countries and all 50 of the United States converged on Steamboat for the inaugural SBT GRVL event, presented by Canyon Bicycles. Three course distances – 141-, 100- and 37-miles – were offered to riders and racers of all ability levels, ages and genders.
“Every single rider signed up for the event sight unseen back in December 2018,” said Mark Satkiewicz, co-founder of SBT GRVL. “SBT GRVL was sold out in an unprecedented six days, and from all we keep hearing, we delivered the memorable experience our founding riders were hoping for.”
The success of the event was multi-faceted. It can be partially attributed to the family-friendly hospitality of the community, as well as the beauty of Steamboat Springs. Discovery of the region’s hundreds of miles of gravel roads was certainly a factor. But in the fast-growing world of gravel riding and racing, SBT GRVL was considered to be a must-ride from the start because it truly honored the spirit of this new discipline of cycling.
“One of the best aspects of gravel is that everyone is welcome. It’s not run by teams, marketing or profits. It’s pure and open for anyone interested in having an adventurous ride, and we wanted to uphold that from day one of SBT GRVL,” said Satkiewicz.
SBT GRVL also launched with a commitment to parity, inclusivity and equality for all riders – no matter their ability level, their race or their gender. This commitment is what fueled the race to re-open three months after registration was at capacity, to offer 200 more spots for female riders. As a result, 400 women showed up to ride on Sunday, just under 30-percent of the field. The founders are working to achieve a 50-50 ratio of male/female riders in the coming years.
The success of the event was also due, in part, to the start list of professional cyclists of multiple disciplines who signed up to compete. World Tour road riders, marathon mountain bike riders and up-and-coming gravel racing stars lined up shoulder to shoulder at the start. Gravel cycling isn’t sanctioned or regulated, which made the multi-faceted pro field possible. And there was a sizeable prize purse – $28,000 – that was divided equally among men and women.
Brodie Chapman, of Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank Pro Women’s road-racing team, took the top step of the women’s podium. For the men, it was former world-tour road cycling pro Ted King, the 2018 winner of the 2018 Dirty Kanza 200 gravel race, who took the win.
Throughout the weekend riders praised the beauty of the rural gravel roads and mountain backdrops and exchanged wildlife and livestock stories from encounters on the course. Participants shared that this was one of the most well organized cycling events they’d done to date, and also commented on the welcoming vibe from the friendly community of Steamboat Springs.
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Verde Brand Communications
About SBT GRVL: SBT GRVL launched August 2019 as a world-class gravel bike experience committed to Beauty, Inclusivity, Family, Challenge, and Fun. The event enables gravel fans of all ability levels to experience the unmatched gravel roads winding around and through the iconic, beautiful mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colo. Riders are invited to push their abilities on three-course distances ranging from 37 miles to 141 miles. Those seeking the ultimate challenge can saddle up to 9,000 feet of climbing on the Black 141-mile racecourse destined to become a highly sought-after title for endurance gravel pros. The Blue Course is a ‘best-of-Steamboat’ experience wrapped up in 100 miles and the Green Course is a 37-mile introduction to the area’s unrivaled gravel roads. Come experience high-altitude gravel, a weekend full of events for the whole family and ranch-town hospitality at SBT GRVL.