Nick Legan’s new book, Gravel Cycling: The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking, shares everything you need to know to enjoy gravel cycling and bikepacking. From event profiles to dream bike set up, route planning to gear selection, Legan brings his experience as a ProTour bike mechanic and dedicated gravel junkie to this guide. Filled with beautiful photographs that will inspire you to ride unpaved, Gravel Cycling is your best resource for gravel grinders and multi-day adventures.
Enjoy Nick’s profile of the Grasshopper Adventure Series, one of the 18 gravel events featured in the book.
Grasshopper Adventure Series
Sonoma County, California | January–June
For almost two decades, Miguel Crawford has organized his Grasshopper Adventure Series in Sonoma County, California. While not technically races, these events, usually six per year, are extremely challenging and require participants to choose their bikes, tires, and gearing carefully. Born out of a desire to explore the rarely used roads and trails of Northern California, Crawford and his group of cohorts pieced together the hardest rides they could imagine.
As word spread, the events grew; they are now well-attended rides that host legendary exploits. Crawford’s event names—Old Caz, Super Sweetwater, Super Skaggs Gravel, and King Ridge Dirt Supreme—inspire joy and fear in the hearts of riders. But they also give cyclists an opportunity to test their mettle in Sonoma County.
- Home to some of California’s best vineyards; extending your trip to sample the area’s food and drink is worthwhile.
- The series offers a wide variety of road conditions and climbing.
- A relaxed atmosphere encourages riders to ride as hard as they like.
- Hard to nail this down, as the courses vary a lot, but low gears and good brakes always help.
- Carry sufficient spare inner tubes, a multi-tool, and a reliable pump.
The course shown here is Old Caz from 2017.
Advice from the Pros
Miguel Crawford, Grasshopper Series promoter
“General fitness and bike handling are important. You also nee
d to learn to take care of yourself at races, even if you have support. A big part of cycling’s appeal to me was learning to fix things on my own.”
“Old Caz has been won [by Geoff Kabush] on a mountain bike with full knobbies. It was also won by a guy named Justin Morgan on a road bike with 25mm tires. It’s been won numerous times on cross bike setups. Ultimately, it comes down to the rider.”
Ted King, Past winner of King Ridge Dirt Supreme
“Starting in the town of Occidental, a hippie town in western Sonoma, I rode a Cannondale Slate stock with fat, slick tires. The event starts with a big descent, and I thought I was on the wrong bike. But thankfully, it regrouped, and I felt better about my bike choice. On a fire road climb, I put in an attack and managed to win.”
“No bike is perfect. And no matter what you’re on, you’ll question your decision at some point.”
“I was with people who knew the course well, and the course is pretty well marked without being obnoxious. There was chalk on the road.”
“You’re supposed to pay $20 for SAG support. I thought that was crazy. But in the end, it was the best $20 I’ve spent.”
“It’s short enough that you want to go self-supported. At the finish, there are coolers of beer, potato chips, and mixed nuts. It was awesome.”
“Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. But you’re not far from help if you do have a catastrophic meltdown.”
“For gearing, I think the Slate is awesome, stock with a 44 up front and a 10–42 cassette in the rear. It’s perfect for the Grasshopper Series.”
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