Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder: the pros attend a summer camp unlike any other

Villafañe, Blevins win the five-day stage race in the Cascade Mountains

Scenes from the 2022 Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder
(Image credit: Wil Matthews / OTGG)

Now in its third year, the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder (OTGG) in unlike any other stage race you’ll have heard of. Part stage race, part summer camp, it became an instant favorite among amateur and pro off-road racers alike. 

Taking place in the beautiful Cascade Mountains near Bend, Oregon, the five-day, four-night event offers a true glamp vibe. There are catered meals, hot showers, charging stations for electronics, people to carry your gear and set up your tents, massages, and plenty of post-race beers. 

There’s also bike racing. Very. Hard. Racing. Over the course of five stages, the racers traversed across 361.7 miles (582 kms) of high desert trails with some 33,400 feet (10,180 metres) of climbing.

This year’s race drew some of the biggest names in gravel, cyclocross and XC mountain bike racing. Fresh off her Unbound win, Sofia Gomez Villafañe headed to Oregon to seek a new challenge against returning OTGG champion Sarah Sturm and the likes of Belgian Waffle Race Asheville winner Sarah Max, cyclocrosser Becca Fahringer, triathlete Heather Jackson and local pro Serena Bishop Gordon. 

On the men’s side, WorldTour roadie turned gravel privateer Pete Stetina took up the challenge against pro cyclocrosser Kerry Werner, former off-road pro Barry Wicks, XC pros Christopher Blevins and Carl Decker, and off-road specialist Edward Anderson (Alpecin-Fenix).

After 5 days of hard racing and evenings spent cooling the legs in a river and singing songs by a campfire, it was  Sofia Gomez Villafañe who took home the women’s title and Christopher Blevins the men’s. 

But whether contesting the pro win or riding to finish, the unanimous experience for everyone was best described by Sofia Gomez Villafañe: “Suffered like a dog…and we had a blast!”

Results

Men’s Top 5

1. Christopher Blevins (Specialized Off-Road)

2. Pete Stetina (Summercamp, Canyon)

3. Howard Grotts (Specialized Off-Road)

4. Russel Finsterwald (Specialized Off-Road)

5. Edward Anderson (Alpecin-Fenix)

Women’s Top 5

1. Sofia Gomez Villafañe (Specialized Off-Road)

2. Sarah Max (Argonaut Cycles)

3. Sarah Sturm (Specialized Rapha Sram Velocio)

4. Heather Jackson (Waterfall Bank.)

5. Caroline Dezendorf (Easton Overland // Cervelo)

Scenes from the OTGG: pros living their best gavel lives

Riders start to line up for the first of 5 stages

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Pete Stetina reviewing the route one last time, no doubt scooping out the best places to attack his competition.

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Gordon and Sturm all smiles at the start. These smiles would turn to grimaces and 100-mile stares before long. 

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Edward Anderson smiling his way through a beautiful day in Oregon's high desert country

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Pack riding, breakaways, solo attacks. There was plenty of fierce racing. 

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Mountain bike pro Sofia Gomez Villafañe found her rhythm halfway through the first stage and took control of the race.

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Sturm grinding up yet another climb

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Up high in the Cascade Mountains

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

There was even some snow still

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

And obstacles of all kinds

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

That post-race 100-mile stare

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

That post-race face

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

It got hot out there

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Riders sought relief any way they could

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Cooling down with a view

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Camp vibes

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

Scenes from the 2022 Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder

Edward Anderson serenading the camp post-stage

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

(Image credit: Will Matthews / OTGG)

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