Event Report: Grasshopper Adventures Super Sweetwater

Adventure, explore, shred–that’s what the Grasshopper Adventure Series is all about. Less about the race and more about the experience to be had at any of the seven events in this series from January to May each year in Northern California’s Wine Country.

Each one features a different mix of terrain, some heavier on the road than dirt and vice-versa, but all featuring jaw-dropping descents in the mountains just north of San Francisco, hugging the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino County coastlines. Lung busting tests of endurance, with wicked fast singletrack, creek crossings and gear grinding steep pitches are notoriously around every bend in a Grasshopper. This past month’s Super Sweetwater was no different.


With two event options this year, one with mixed terrain and some serious adventure at 70 miles with 9,000 feet of climbing or option two with 100% pavé boasting 78 miles and 7,163 feet worth of ascent, riders were left hurting, but as always, wanting more. Quite simply, the Super Sweetwater was a ton of fun packed into a not-so-huge ride.

What is the Super Sweetwater? Take their Old Caz Grasshopper, then bookend it with the steep side of Sweetwater to the West and the dreaded Fort Ross climb to the East, with a wicked fast descent down Myers Grade onto Hwy 1 and a leg-searing finish atop the infamous Coleman Valley Road. If these names don’t ring a bell, then you need to make a visit to the land of bike plenty. What you end up with is 70-ish miles featuring some of the hardest and most beautiful terrain you can find anywhere in the world–the ultimate Sonoma County adventure loop.


What about the bike setup? Some superb bike handlers can sneak by on their road bikes with 28c tires (hopefully set-up tubeless), but the safe and more comfortable bet is to ride a gravel bike with 30-38c treads. Ultimately, that’s what makes these rides so fun: there is no right bike. Ride what you brung or something like that. There is no better two-wheeled adventure out there.

How about the main goals for the day? The easiest way to score points in this category is to have as much fun and get as muddy as possible.

With MTB legends Geoff Kabush, Katerina Nash, Carl Decker and Barry Wicks in attendance for the 2018 edition, the Super Sweetwater delivers on all fronts.


And what about those rest stops? Filled with Osmo, GU energy gels, an assortment of bars and other snacks for those of us in the back of the pack who like calorie positive adventures, our hearts were filled to their content.

Yeah, there’s still cash prizes for the top three female and male finishers, but the real winners are those stopping for jaw-dropping Pacific Ocean coastline pictures and rolling into the finish line feeling ready for more. More awesome food that is with the right kind of recovery hydration in the form of local Sebastopol-based Woodfour Brewing Company. Of course, all while sharing the memories made on the bike that day and keeping the dirty chamois on for at least a couple extra hours.

Didn’t get enough? The Grasshopper Adventure Series is just heating up, with Lake Sonoma planned for April 21st, Skaggs on May 5th and the grand finale, the King Ridge Dirt Supreme on May 19th. If you’re heading to the Bay Area in the next couple months, these are events you want to check out without a doubt!



Donnelly Cycling expands 650b range of gravel tires

Donnelly, formerly known as Clement, is rolling out its 650b range. Building off its popular X’PLOR series, Donnelly has begun releasing several sizes and treads to accommodate the growing demand for the alternative gravel wheel size.

The X’PLOR Strada USH is a 650b x 42 available in a 60 tpi wire and folding bead; and tubeless ready. The Strada USH is both an adventure and all-commuter tread, a combination of the road Strada LGG and the X’PLOR series commuter and gravel tire, the USH. The Strada USH combines a fast rolling center track and scaled up herringbone tread for traction in the turns. The 650b x 42 tubeless ready retails for $67.00 and is equivalent to a 700c x 23 in diameter. Donnelly also offers this tire in a 650b x 50 size.

Donnelly X'PLOR Strada USH 650bx50

Donnelly X’PLOR Strada USH 650bx50

The X’PLOR MSO 650b x 36 is also available now, and in the pipeline and soon to follow is its big brother the X’PLOR MSO 650b x 50, a tire that is equivalent to a 700c x 32 tire in diameter. Both of these models retail for $67.00 and both are tubeless ready.

According to Donnelly, “The X’PLOR MSO tread is a serious adventure tire that was designed from the ground-up for multiple conditions and is a distinct Donnelly tread pattern of both polygonal and hexagonal shapes, smooth-rolling center knobs and aggressive shoulder lugs for cornering control. The soft rubber compound for extra grip and shock absorption combined with the tightly packed center knobs and aggressive shoulder lugs provides great traction and durability.

Though the X’PLOR MSO has been a go-to tire for hardcore endurance gravel racers it is also the perfect tread over pavement. Riders opting to use their 27.5 mountain bike for commuting or urban riding sessions may well find this to be the perfect companion for getting from A to B with a bit more speed, style and finesse.”

“With the growth of the gravel category comes an increased need for additional sizes for both our OE customers and for the aftermarket,” said Donn Kellogg. “We’ve developed this 650b range in reaction to the market’s demand for more universal platforms. Several brands have created models where one can use a 700c wheel for faster, less aggressive road riding, where a 650b wheel and larger volume tire can be used for exploring off the beaten path.”

Donnelly XPLOR MSO 650bx42

Donnelly X’PLOR MSO 650bx42

Also in stock is a 650b x 33 MXP, a tread that was originally developed specifically for cyclocross but is also ready and able to tackle loose dirt, sand and moderate mud, hard pack and pavement – just the conditions you might find cruising out of town to a spring adventure ride.

MXP_650x33_34 D10244

Donnelly MXP 650bx33

Find out more at https://www.donnellycycling.com.


Bicycle Times Adventure Fest Presented by Trek: 18-Mile Experience Ride

BTAF 18-Mile Mixed Surface Teaser

This 18-mile mixed surface ride epitomizes the Adventure Fest experience. A lakeside fire road with gorgeous views rolls right out of Lake Raystown Resort, our home base for the weekend. Just shy of the 6-mile mark, the route turns to pavement for a mellow cruise through beautiful farmland as the route loops back to the Resort.

BTAF Photo Selects—WEB (37 of 49)

If you’re looking for a fun, accessible and scenic route, this is your ticket. Be sure to check out all of the other Adventure Fest routes here.


Climb Details

Rating Start/End Points Length Start/End Elevation Avg Grade
Cat 5 1.19 mi/2.50 mi 1.31 mi 953 ft/1,277 ft 4.7%
Cat 3 5.31 mi/10.37 mi 5.06 mi 879 ft/1,466 ft 2.2%
Cat 4 12.00 mi/13.50 mi 1.50 mi 1,211 ft/1,655 ft 5.6%




Bicycle Times Adventure Fest Presented by Trek: 38-Mile Mixed Surface Ride

BTAF 42-Mile Mixed Surface Teaser

We’re striving to offer something for everyone at Adventure Fest, no matter what style and length of ride you’re looking for. This 38-mile mixed surface ride is quite a bit more accessible than the 70-mile mixed surface ride we featured earlier. But, it’s still an adventure with 4,000 feet of total elevation gain.

BTAF Photo Selects—WEB (7 of 49)

Mixed surface rides traverse everything from graded gravel roads to snowmobile trails to forest roads and even a bit of pavement to link it all together. While a skilled rider will be able to complete these rides without issue on a skinny-tire road bike, a bike with 28 mm or larger tires will be more comfortable and less likely to flat.

BTAF Photo Selects—WEB (8 of 49) BTAF Photo Selects—WEB (10 of 49)

Of course, Adventure Fest is about more than just riding. Plan to take your time and enjoy some of the beautiful terrain you’ll be passing through. Bring your friends and enjoy a relaxing weekend of riding amongst friends.

BTAF Photo Selects—WEB (5 of 49)

Check out all the Adventure Fest details here, or sign up via BikeReg.


Climb Details

Rating Start/End Points Length Start/End Elevation Avg Grade
Cat 5 1.12 mi/2.43 mi 1.31 mi 951 ft/1,277 ft 4.7%
Cat 3 5.29 mi/10.34 mi 5.04 mi 878 ft/1,469 ft 2.2%
Cat 4 11.89 mi/13.51 mi 1.62 mi 1,216 ft/1,661 ft 5.2%
Cat 4 30.14 mi/33.62 mi 3.49 mi 1,399 ft/1,825 ft 2.3%
Cat 5 37.61 mi/39.41 mi 1.81 mi 892 ft/1,124 ft


Bicycle Times Magazine celebrates your everyday cycling adventure. That’s why we’re bringing cyclists together to share an adventurous weekend of riding under a canopy of spectacular fall foliage for Bicycle Times Adventure Fest Presented by Trek Bikes at Lake Raystown Resort in Entriken, Pennsylvania, the weekend of October 9-11, 2015.

At Adventure Fest, you choose your own adventure and ride your own pace. All routes will be signed and mapped. Just grab your crew, a map and cue sheet and hit the road. All rides will have aid stations and sag support should you need it. Otherwise, start when you want, ride your pace and finish when you want. Join us!

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