Rene Herse × Gravel Unravel RacesJan Heine
Rene Herse Cycles is excited to team up with the Peninsula Adventure Sports as a sponsor of the Gravel Unravel race series. The Pacific Northwest has some of the best gravel roads in the world, yet there aren’t many well-known gravel races in the region. When I heard that there is a series of races over Bon Jon Pass and at the foot of Humptulips Ridge—on some of my favorite gravel roads—I wanted to find out more.
So I entered the Bon Jon Pass Out race this year, and I loved it. There was just the right combination of professional organization and down-to-earth vibe. It felt like racing way back, when cycling was a tiny sport, and you just assumed that anybody showing up was a friend, or would become one. And the course: I’d been up Bon Jon Pass a few times, but the race took us on some side tracks that even I didn’t know. It was hard—as second half of the name suggests—and it was fun. I made it up Bon Jon Pass twice, and didn’t pass out. At the finish, I got to meet the organizers, Lorrie and Buck. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and we decided to work together.
For Rene Herse Cycles, it’s a way of giving back to the vibrant cycling community in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, and to get involved into something that’s really fun. I plan to do as many of the races as I can. When I told Ted King about the gravel race that climbs a real mountain pass not just once, but twice, he was excited: “That sounds right up my alley.” He’s planning to fit the Bon Jon Pass Out race into his 2024 schedule.
Registration has just opened for the series. Each race is limited to 400 riders—sign up now to secure your spot. You won’t regret it! At the front, the racing is fast and competitive (above Frances Sun on the way to 2nd place this year). There are also plenty of riders who are just out there to have a good time. Each event has courses that vary in length and difficulty. There is enough support to make the rides accessible, but not so much that it detracts from the adventure. These races bring together a wonderful community of diverse people who have one thing in common: They enjoy riding their bikes off the beaten path.
Here is a little more about the three races:
- Gamble Graveller: April 20, 2024. 20 to 60 miles. This race takes place in the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, a huge forest reserve, with a combination of gravel roads and singletrack. Port Gamble is a historic town on the water that’s worth a visit by itself. Best of all, it’s only a short ferry ride and ride/drive from Seattle. (Gamble Graveller is organized by Night Owl Cycling.)
- Bon Jon Pass Out: June 15, 2024. 32 to 80 miles. Bon Jon Pass is a 3,000 ft (900 m) climb, and you get to do it twice during the 80-mile race. You’ll ride on some of the most spectacular gravel roads anywhere. The race starts in the wonderful town of Quilcene, an easy drive from Seattle.
- Why-Not-Chee: July 20, 2024. 17 to 78 miles. Wynoochee Lake is a hidden gem on the southern edge of the Olympic Mountains, at the foot of Humptulips Ridge on Chehalis ancestral lands. There are a variety of course options with this race, too. All will take you through old-growth forest, past the beautiful lake, and up and down lonesome gravel roads. Lake Wynoochee is a bit more remote than the other two race venues, but there’s excellent camping right at the lake. And the riding around Humptulips Ridge is truly special!
Click on the links above for more information and to register. See you next year!