It could go either way. You are given a number and timed, so it might be a race. With three stunning routes and plenty of well-stocked aid stations, it could be a ride.
Is it a challenge to find the perfect bike, or a challenge to be the most under-biked?
Be ready to push your bike to the limit. The grit course will make you question the line between gravel riding and mountain biking, and find the balance between comfort and speed.
With years of experience running the Tour of Walla Walla stage race, Michael and Kathryn Austin have taken to the gravel race scene like ducks to water. With a route co-designed by Matt Faunt, you're (almost) guaranteed to have a good time.
Except if you're Matt. Sorry Matt :D
Paved: 27.5 miles
Unpaved: 17 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,407 ft
Max Grade: 12.1%
Recomended tire size: 40 mm
Aid stations at miles 17.7, 30.7
Registration Fee: $75
Paved: 31.6 miles
Unpaved: 33.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,846 ft
Max Grade: 12.4 %
Recomended tire size: 40 mm
Aid stations at miles 17.7, 31.5, 51.5
Registration Fee: $85
Paved: 34 miles
Unpaved: 61.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 9,777 ft
Max Grade: 13.2%
Recomended tire size: 42 - 50mm
Aid stations at miles 17.7, 31.5, 42, 66.5
Registration Fee: $95
WIDER TIRES+BETTER GEARING+TUBELESS
While there are steeper gravel climbs in the Walla Walla valley, all three grit courses take you over the Cottonwood Creek climb.
Chunky, dusty and loose, the road is less of a gravel road, and more of a rock garden at +10% gradients.
There is no shame in walking.
RWGPS and STRAVA routing software rely on their estimate of the route, and have been known to give deceiving turn-by-turn navigation or off-course warnings.
Use your best judgement on navigation, keeping an eye out for course markers -- sometimes the 'road' is not really a road, but two shrubberies with a little path running down the middle.
In early September, Walla Walla will either be hot and dusty, cold and raining, or something in between.
Road conditions vary drastically; rocky peanut butter mud and ten inches of fine powder 'moon dust' have both featured in past editions. Check the forecast and come prepared!
While we've had mountain bikes, gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes, touring bikes and even a few knobby-tire road bikes finish the course, a gravel bike with 40mm+ tires and better than 1:1 gearing will feel the most comfortable. Visit your local bike shop for any bike upgrades!
As for the fastest bike, it comes down to technical skills, fitness and luck. Winners have historically ridden gravel/cyclocross bikes with 35mm - 42mm tires to victory.
Only you know the type of food and amount of water needed to get through the course, and only hindsight knows how many flat repairs you'll need.
Have enough food, water and bike tools to last between aid stations. Bring plenty of flat repairs, a derailleur hanger if it's muddy, or extra sunscreen if it's hot.
Pre Race: Two bathrooms at Quirk open at 5 am. Short course riders can enjoy coffee at WW Roastery starting at 8 AM.
Mid Race: Five curated aid stations, stocked with food, water, bike pumps and a limited amount of tools. There will be a bathroom at the 3rd aid station (mile 42) on the long course.
Post race: Enjoy a beer and food truck fare at one of the best race finish lines in Washington: Quirk Brewery!
*All specifications are subject to change without notice
WE SUPPORT YOU
But all good things must come to an end. Our aid stations will close at predetermined times, check here for updates.
Aid station volunteers have been instructed to let riders know when they are cutting it close and may not make the next aid station's cut off, and offer alternative routes. At this point, expect to pack enough food, water and bike repair supplies to finish the ride.
Experience the 2021 Edition of the walla walla grit
Experience the 2022 Edition of the walla walla grit
Since BikeReg offers third party registration insurance, the Walla Walla Grit will not offer any full refunds. Registered riders unable to participate due to injury, schedule conflicts, bike malfunctions, etc, may receive a 50% refund, defer their registration 100% to 2024, or transfer their registration to another rider. Riders looking to transfer registration or switch courses can do so via email up to early-bird packet pick-up on September 9th. Riders switching to a shorter course mid-ride will be given a ride time, but will not receive a placement in their new course category.
Unfortunately, Walla Walla is subject to Wildfire Smoke blowing into the valley.
The following Air Quality Policy was modeled after Whitefish Montana's TLBR: