11/08/2018, SBT GRVL P/B Canyon
Colorado High: Introducing SBT GRVL Presented by Canyon
Grab your Grail: three distances, one epic location
The gravel segment is no longer a curiosity; it’s a real thing. A real fun thing. Seemingly overnight, the thrill of riders enjoy the freedom of road bikes—off road—and back on road, and on singletrack and really anywhere you want to take it, has taken shape, and created a new culture of riders. It also spawned a whole new segment of bikes, and with it came the birth of the Grail, Canyon’s centerpiece gravel bike.
The variety of events popping up across America has been impressive. We’ve seen a proliferation of short, hard rides, as well as long epics. Each seems to speak to the extremes, requiring extra gears, a kercheif for the dust and a handful of tubes….but doesn’t necessarilty exist to getting new riders into gravel.
Enter the debut of SBT GRVL presented by Canyon. The debut event already has an edge; rather than being in the far-flung reaches of Kansas or in forest hinterlands, it’s centered in the famed ski town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and held in the summer warmth of mid-August. Instantly, gravel has become a family event.
So, why Steamboat Springs?
“We started this because we came to the fruition that there wasn't a place in the Rocky Mountain region to race in the summertime. We thought Steamboat would just be an amazing place for this event,” says event founder Mark Satkiewicz. “It’s a place where racers can bring family and friends, because it’s an enjoyable place to spend three or four days and turn it into a little family vacation. We're really proud of the town and our communited, and want gravel fans to see it.”
That’s just one element that Satkiewicz uncovered in his quest to create a wildly unique gravel event. That's because, yes, there’s gonna be hard race, a prize purse and, beyond the mass out simply aiming to complete the event, a race at the front. Per Steamboat’s ski history, the event employs ski trail ratings over its distance. Appropriately, SBT GRVL’s epic 141-mile loop is its “black” course. “Steamboat’s all-around beauty is matched by the challenge of the course,” Satkiewicz says. “Especially with the 141-mile course. We wanted to be sure the gravel community in Colorado had a great place to race.”
But fear not; to make it an inclusive event for gravel riders not ready to take that big a bite, he decided to offer more two more options: a more manageable 100-mile “blue” course, and a beginner-friendly “green” course of 37 miles. That, Satkiewicz says, is the rider they're excited to bring to Steamboat Springs.
“In our point of view, the SBT GRVL green course is as important as—if not more important than—our black course. The black course will get the press and prize purse, but the green course is the one that will alow anyone that wants to participate, and you certainly don’t need a grave bike for it,” Satkiewicz says. “If people have been thinking about it, saying to themselves ‘where does that road go,’ this is their chance to figure it out and see it. The green course is the one we hope will get people into gravel riding, and get into it for a long time. That’s a huge part of it or us.”
The event was announced just a week ago, but the word-of-mouth response from event organizers to the debut has been staggering. With events selling out across the country, they're starting to feel a similar pinch. Not bad for a first-year event.
“It’s been really powerful, to be honest,” Satkiewicz says. “We think the race is gonna exceed expectation in attendance. And we want to see those racers get that expectation on service.”