We’ve been so busy that we neglected to recap the High Desert Gravel Grind so here’s a belated post about it.


Brad and Travis got up at 430am to head over to Tumalo for the HDGG.  The day actually started with Travis driving halfway towards Brads house and running into him coming his way on his bike.  We got a kick out of our 5am communications.  It was funny.  Nevertheless, we loaded the bike and gear and headed out.

The trip over was uneventful other than there was snow, yet again as we crested santiam summit.  The duo debated their kit choice to no end.  Brad was fairly confident he would just wear his cold weather bibs, sans knee warmers + arm warmers while Travis was left thinking he’d just freeze until it got warm.  A beet scramble was eaten 3 hrs out from race time…it wasn’t too bad but was a bold move from the typical oatmeal and honey with eggs that Travis typically eats before long days in the saddle.  Nothing like mixing the diet up before a 6 hour race!

They arrived on time, checked in and started race prep.  Number pinning, bathroom, kit donning, bike setup, bathroom again.  Spin, brrrrr, bathroom and then to the start.  They made an effort to get to the front at the start this time and it paid off with us standing amongst the other fast dudes 2nd or 3rd wave from front.

Bonk at the front


Neutral rollout was faster than anticipated and the race was on.  I won’t bore you with the entire race but some highlights.


  • Kesselman got unlucky and took a big gash on his tire and flatted.


  • Crash at the dam, less than 5 miles into the race.  Travis got caught up on it as he was on the right side heading into the dam section.


Dirt Naps
  • Brad was unscathed and ended up on the crazy double-track with the lead group.  While Travis was stuck working his way through people, with the leaders out of site.


  • First climb was long but Brad hung in while Travis went back and forth with a group that formed around him. 3rd group on road?


  • In typical fashion, Travis’ power meter was giving funky readings but he was pretty sure he was NOT doing 340NP for the first hour.  In fact the first few hours were so hard that he considered taking the short route at mile 40.


  • Short route actually ended up being more like mile 32, and neither Brad or Travis took it.  Brad remained at the front with the thinning group.


  • Another few climbs and a super chunky descent had Brad worried about his tire selection but he remained fairly close to the front of the race.
Epic Scenery on Chunky Gravel Descent
  • Travis is caught on descent by Wade Goff and holds his wheel up hwy 242 ascent but Wade chooses to bypass the aid station and Travis never sees him again.


  • The loop out and back to Black Butte is a horrible time.  The sand saps all the strength from the legs.


  • Brad settles in with two others and is racing for 3rd in the final hour while Travis consolidates his position against people arriving at aid stations when he leaves.


  • Rough descent ejects both of Travis’ bottles but he’s not caught.


  • Brad tips off his competitors of the early finish (IE, not at mile 90 like we all thought) but then gets out sprinted for 3rd.  He finishes 4th in men 18-39, about 18 minutes off the leader, Matt Lieto who finished in 4:52.


  • Travis caught a few masters in the last hour to the finish, and crossed the line 5th in men 18-39, 48min back from Lieto.  “It was hard”.


All in all, it was a great day for the Bonk Collective.  18 min back from the leader and mere seconds from a podium spot is a great day for Brad and neither of them suffered mechanicals on their journey over 90 of the roughest miles they’ve ever endured.  This was a seriously epic ride that will surely become a fixture in the early northwest gravel race calendar.  In 2017 the race contained a lot of roads, while this year 90% of the race was over gravel!


Congrats to the team for a great day of racing.

Solo riding to finish

All pics courtesy of Adam Lapeirre / Oregon Gravel Grind  See them all here!

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