Big Red Gravel Run
W “e have this part in the ride called the Oasis,” said Martin Rancourt, co-founder of the Big Red Gravel Run. “We send people into a forested area, usually on singletrack, very technical. We’ll plug it into a section of the race where people aren’t expecting it. They will find themselves in the Oasis, but it’s not really an oasis. It’s sort of like hell. It equals out the mountain bikers, the road riders and all-terrain riders.”
While the Oasis may make Rancourt and his fellow organizers seem a little cruel, they are actually trying to build a fun experience, combining riding, some adventure and good food. The Big Red Gravel Run started as an event for 40 people in 2017. It grew to 70 this past year. The “winner” was given a small trophy from a thrift store. The lanterne rouge got a Camelbak vest with a large water reservoir.
In 2019, 150 riders can participate in one of two routes: 60 km and 130 km, which is 90 per cent gravel. Rancourt recommends a wider tire because riders will face sand, the red gravel by the river and singletrack. “You need a bit of stud on your tire,” Rancourt said. “This is not like a Land Run or Dirty Kanza that have long straights for miles at a time. This is a funkier event.”
The twisty roads are in Harrington, Que., 130 km from Montreal and about the same distance from Ottawa. Participants can opt to camp in the area the night before the event. They should definitely stay over after the event so they can enjoy the catered barbecue, beer from a local microbrewery and each other’s stories from a big day of riding. That might be the Big Red Gravel Run’s real Oasis. ( bigredgravelrun.squarespace.com)— MP