Life Time Grand Prix unveils its 'wild card' event, the Rad Dirt Fest

The Colorado event will challenge series athletes with a 110-mile 'fun and fast' gravel course

The start line of the 2022 Rad Firt Fest
(Image credit: Linda Guerrette)

The Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda adventure race series today unveiled its 'wild card' event: The Rad Dirt Fest.

Held in Trinidad, Colorado on September 30th, the Rad Dirt Fest will challenge the 70 series contestants with a 110-mile "fun and fast" gravel course.

Still a grassroots event, the Rad Dirt Fest was launched by Life Time in 2021. Organizers state that the gravel weekend was selected to be part of the Grand Prix in order to give series athletes a new and 'relaxed' event to participate in while also given Life Time the opportunity to showcase Trinidad as a bike destination and, of course, promote a newer event. 

Trinidad is located in southern Colorado, just 13 miles north of New Mexico. Starting at just above 6,025 feet (1,836 metres) of elevation, the Rad Dirt Fest offers smooth and fast "champagne" gravel with views of the Spanish Peaks mountains of southwestern Colorado.

The 2023 event will sport all new courses for the three distances on offer. The 110-mile "Stubborn Delores" sports 10,000 feet of climbing and will be contested by  Grand Prix athletes and other registrants side by side. There's also a 70-mile "Anteloop" course and a 40-mile short course called "The Frijole". 

Similar to Unbound Gravel, Life Time will be switching up the course every two years to reduce impact on local farmers, ranchers, and hunters. 

The winners of Stubborn Delores will be awarded with a hand painted guitar, and other awards in the past have consisted of painted vinyl records and mini wooden instruments all created by local artists. Registrants do not have to be part of the Grand Prix series in order to compete and the winner may very well not be a Grand Prix athletes as the series is scored separately. 

Introduced with success in 2022, the Life Time Grand Prix is a season-long gravel and XC mountain bike race series in which a cast of handpicked competitors compete at some of the best off-road events in the United States in pursuit of a $250,000 prize purse.

The series’ goal is to increase cycling fandom in the U.S. and to showcase some of the best and unique off-road events throughout the country. With the extreme distances, challenging terrain, high altitudes, and a variety of racing disciplines to master, those who’ll emerge as the winners will have to be very well-rounded cyclists. The 2022 series was won by three-time national mountain bike champion turned endurance cyclist, Keegan Swenson, and Canadian Olympian, Haley Smith. 

In 2023, the cast will once again include former WorldTour roadies, gravel pros, mountain bike olympians, cyclocross champions and pro triathletes alike.

Returning contestants include Unbound winner Sofia Gomez Villafañe, recent WordTour abandonee Emily Newsom, Ruth Winder, Sarah Strum, former WorldTour roadies Peter StetinaAlexey Vermeulen, Alex Howes, Kiel Reijnen and Lachlan Morton

New challengers include cyclocross pros Eric Brunner, Caroline Mani and Raylyn Nussformer rower Brennan Wertz, South African mountain biker Matt Beers, as well as former Unbound and Tour of the Gila winner Lauren De Crescenzo

Returning contestants include Unbound winner Sofia Gomez Villafañe, recent WordTour abandonee Emily Newsom, Ruth Winder, Sarah Strum, former WorldTour roadies Peter StetinaAlexey Vermeulen, Alex Howes, Kiel Reijnen and Lachlan Morton

The series kicks of at the Sea Otter Classic's Fuego XL race on April 22nd and run through October with seven events in total, including the prestigious 200-mile Unbound gravel race and the infamous, high altitude, Leadville 100-mile XC mountain bike challenge. 

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Anne-Marije Rook
North American Editor

Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.

Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist.