Oregon Trail Gravel Stage Race in Pictures

From the moment it first appeared, December-last in a thread on the Slowtwitch Reader Forum the adventurous wing of our community was all-in.

This was a 5-day stage race, a big circle proximate to Bend, Oregon that more or less followed the historic Oregon Trail.

Day-1 was 77 miles, with almost 80% of the route on gravel and a total elevation gain of 6352 feet.

Day-2 was 66 and-a-half miles, 80% of it on gravel, with 6348 feet of climbing.

On Day-3 riders traversed 76 miles and climbed 9309 feet. This was billed as a very hard day, with 77% of the road surface gravel.

The 4th day was only 58 miles, and featured only 2273 feet of climbing, but riders commented that this was a pretty hard day nonetheless, because of the softness of the road surface. Many were not aboard the fatter tires that would've made some sections easier; 87% was gravel.

The final day covered 71 miles, 4403 feet of elevation, half gravel.

The race featured the Explorer and the Adventurer routes, the Explorer being the tougher of the two. But if you looked at the courses and profiles, Adventurers didn't appear to have it much easier.

Contestants could feed and sag themselves, or they could pay a bit extra for VIP tent services. This meant a tent city was erected at each route start/finish.

More about this event can be found here. I spoke to Slowtwitcher and ex-pro triathlete Matt Lieto, who helped organize the event.

Matt said that the big West Coast winter meant the snow stuck around a little longer than usual. But that's climate change for you. In Europe, racers in Nice and Frankfurt just weathered 100F heat for their Ironmans.

It doesn't look like it's going to end well for the rider in second position.

Sure enough! The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.

But here's the same rider (3rd position) a little further on, jersey dirt testifying to her earlier spill, but a smile on her face as she faced another weather related feature.

There were technical sections for sure.

But then, can it be overwhelmingly technical if...

I got calls, in the evening after the first day, from competitors who said it was all worth it just for the chance to ride this terrain, with this scenery, in this part of the country.

Part of the reason the views were so panoramic is that you earned the view through some pretty arduous ascending.

There was a front pack at the start of every stage.

But there was a lot of opportunity for solitude if you let that pack go.

Slowtwitchers who took part in this year's inaurgural event wrote about it on the Forum.

Rob Bell wrote, "It was the most fun cycling event I can remember taking part in, and I average about 30 or so races per year."

[PHOTOS: Adam LaPierre]