Tribute to the 2018 North American Spring Classics
The 73rd edition of Omloop Het Niewsblad on February 24th marks the start of the European Spring Classics, and North America hosts a plethora of events that pay homage to the cobbles and dirt tracks of Northern France and Belgium
The brutal but legendary one-day races including the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Strade Bianche draw huge crowds and audiences to watch the hardest Pros do battle over famous or infamous cobbles and climbs, often in the most terrible weather conditions imaginable.
Every year, across North America, dozens of events pay tribute to the European Spring Classics. There's no need to cross the Atlantic, when you can enjoy Beer and Frites (French Fries) with Mayo in your own back garden.
Luckily, North America has over a 1.4 million miles of gravel and dirt roads that host some of the most unique challenges in the form of the Gravel Grinder.
A lot of these races can be tackled on a range of bikes, but Gravel Fondo specific bikes are fast becoming the norm, with clearance for wider tires and disc brakes that can handle 650 and 700 wheel sets. Gravel bikes have blurred the lines between traditional road (Gran Fondo) and off-road (Gravel Fondo) riding, and so have many events that now feature large sections of both tarmac, gravel and even worse terrain, where shouldering your bike on some parts, is all part of the early season "fun".
North America invented the Gravel Grinding genre, which is catching on fast around the world. As Europe and North America, Gran Fondo and Gravel collide - a new buzzword has emerged - "the Gravel Fondo". Think big fun, lots of gravel, endurance, good bike handling skills, self reliance and lots of beer afterwards!
For those riders looking to start training or hone their form before the Road and Gravel season gets into full swing, these events can kick-start your season.