Tribute to the 2020 North American Spring Classics
The 75th edition of Omloop Het Niewsblad on February 29th 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 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, some these events are very challenging.
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.
About the North American Spring Classics
Barry-Roubaix in Michigan is by far the largest Gravel Race in North America, featuring around 3,500 riders.
Paris to Ancaster, "Canada's Spring Cycling Classic", is a 70km ride that does everything it can to pump up the hardness factor to Paris-Roubaix levels. There are a number of mud sections that see most riders shoulder their bikes and celebrates it's 27th edition this year. Other hellish rides in Canada are Hell and Heck of the North and Steaming Nostril
The 17th edition of the "Queen of the Classics" Tour of Battenkill Gran Fondo in upstate New York allows amateur cyclists to experience the 75 miles of rolling terrain on both dirt and paved roads as they travel through the world famous Battenkill Valley. Set in early spring, the race starts and finishes in the scenic village of Cambridge, New York and courses through covered bridges, family farms, and rural villages along the many challenging backcountry roads that traverse Southern Washington County, New York.
The Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride, in California, is "the most unique one day cycling event in the country", was created as an homage to the storied history of bike racing in Belgium—a wonderful country considered to be the epicenter of the hardest one-day bike races in the world. “A tribute to the beautiful—and equally grueling—races staged in Belgium during the early spring, this year’s route will once again be different than all of the previous years with some new and sinuous gravel, dirt, and rocky sections, and more climbing than rural Belgium could offer, promising more fun, more pain and more opportunity for excuses than ever before. Each year the course changes it's likely to 13 categorized climbs and more than 13,000 feet of climbing and headwinds no matter which direction you ride.
One ride that is due to sell out the moment it opens on January 1st is Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo which traverses the Endless Mountains region of Northeastern Pennsylvania that has grown to be a must do event for all cyclists in the Eastern United States.
The Rasputitsa Spring Classic, Rasputitsa is Russian for “mud season", which gives you a pretty accurate preview of this 45-mile race for bragging rights in northern Vermont. In keeping with the Russian theme, the highlight of the course is “Cyberia,” a Class IV road that a former race participant described as “a scary backwoods where at any time a Yeti or Bengal tiger may jump out of the woods, bludgeon you with a blunt object, and either leave you for dead or drag you back into the woods for a nice little Saturday brunch.” It features Yeti's, maple syrup shots and, of course, Cyberia.
Remember gravel and dirt roads are not all created equally and each places very different demands on equipment.
Whatever you do, make sure you add at least one of these classics to your Bucket List next spring.
For a comprehensive, up to date and continually growing calendar of events througout the year, please visit:
2020 U.S. Gran Fondo Calendar
2020 Canadian Gran Fondo Calendar
2020 North American Gran Fondo Calendar
2020 U.S. Century Rides Calendar
2020 U.S. Gravel Fondo Calendar
The above list represents, to the best of our knowledge, The North American Spring Classics in the North America in 2020.
The above events are very challenging are suited to experienced cyclists who can ride all day, over long very distances and mountainous terrain, typically unsupported. For less experienced riders or beginners, we have a full comprehensive list of 2020 Gravel Grinders across North America. Some of the dates for 2019 events have not yet been confirmed, hence their exclusion. If you know that some of the above details are incorrect, please let us know. If you are an organizer or an experienced Gravel Grinder and you feel an event should be included, please let us know.