In just four years and three in-person races, SBT GRVL has grown into a major event with riders representing all 50 states and 24 countries.
About 3,000 participants lined up on Sunday, August 14, spread over four courses ranging from the 142-mile black course to the 37-mile green course.
Gravel racing attracts everyone from expert riders to beginners and even professional athletes.
Formula 1’s Valtteri Bottas took advantage of a four-week break in the F1 calendar to race in SBT GRVL for his second time.
Bottas was inspired by racing and decided to team up with SBT GRVL and host a gravel race overseas in his home country of Finland.
“I spoke with the SBT organizers after last year’s event and just hinted that it might be something we could do together in Finland and then we joined forces,” said Boots.
Bottas and SBT GRVL plan to build on what worked so well at Steamboat for the new race and capitalize on both the region’s similarities and differences.
“We basically want to spread the good atmosphere that we have here in Finland and it’s a different atmosphere obviously, it’s a different continent, a different country and a different type of landscape, but what is common is beautiful. , it’s the gravel roads,” Bottas said.
The inaugural FNLD GRVL race will take place in June 2023, with the exact date pending next year’s F1 calendar.
SBT GRVL has long-term plans to expand its gravel racing to other countries and saw Bottas’ passion as the perfect avenue to bring it to Europe.
SBT GRVL team member Chris Lyman is excited about the global expansion and thinks Europe, and Finland in particular, is the perfect place to start that growth.
“Europe is a bit behind the United States with the gravel but it’s starting to get there so we want to get there early and take what we know here and team up with Valtteri because he grew up there, and so he knows all about it,” Lyman said.
This year’s SBT GRVL race was another big success. Keegan Swenson claimed first place on the Black Course with a time of 6:16:57, edging out Freddy Ovett and Payson McElveen by just one and two seconds respectively.
Lyman emphasized that this event is more than just a race, it’s a complete weekend experience.
It’s almost as if a brotherhood is formed between all the riders over the weekend and it’s what has caused a major boom in gravel riding more recently.
“Why is gravel so popular right now? Lyman said. “Because it’s a community of people who love to ride dirt bikes and so it’s grown exponentially and Steamboat is, depending on who you ask, the best gravel race in the world. Certainly in North America.
Lyman explains that SBT GRVL has found 3,000 as the perfect number of participants for their race as it becomes more globally recognized.
There aren’t many places in the world that can host this event like Steamboat does, and SBT thinks the scenery is second to none.
“It’s a big event. I did it last year for the first time and just enjoyed the whole weekend as an experience, especially this Sunday,” Bottas said. “The driving here is great, the weather is great and I love the mountain air and the whole atmosphere of the event.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.