Five of the best US gravel bike events to ride in 2023

the mid south gravel racers covered in red clay
(Image credit: Paul Brett)

Are you looking to take your gravel riding to the next level in 2023, try some gravel racing, explore some of the wilder parts of the USA or just be part of the awesome gravel community, we've found some of the best events across the USA for the coming year.

The choice is huge and ever-expanding with fully supported events that are timed and numbered and others being self-sufficient and remote. Make your choice and get your best gravel bike ready for your own adventure in 2023.

Bobby Wintle from Mid South gravel preparing the riders

Bobby Wintle leads the stoke at Mid South (Image credit: Paul Brett)

The Mid South

The Mid South, from its beginnings in 2011 with just 121 riders braving the course to its 2022 running where the event attracted more than 3,000 entries, Mid South continues to grow and has reached a legendary status with places snapped up quicker than a shoe disappearing into the red Oklahoma gloop. In 2023 Mid South has stepped up again with a host of new events and the addition of the Get Here Grant, which covers the travel costs for inspirational applicants.

Held in Stillwater, Oklahoma the weather has always been the defining characteristic of the event, wet or dry it will redefine what you thought possible as a rider. When the rain falls at Mid South, the roads become unforgiving, in some cases, unrideable. You'll add to the stories of ruined derailleurs, lost kit, and long sections of hike-a-bike. If it's dry the Oklahoma gravel is a leg-scorching, hard-packed, dusty and fast test of your mental toughness.

If you survive the unpredictable 100 miles and make it back to downtown Stillwater, you are rewarded with a wild crowd and a finish-line embrace from the event's talisman and enthusiastic promoter Bobby Wintle. Rain or shine, Bobby will be there to welcome you and every rider home with a beer and a well-done hug. 

Riders in the mud at Mid South gravel race

Your biggest competition at Mid South is the weather (Image credit: Paul Brett)
  • When: 9th March to 11th March 2023.
  • Where: Stillwater, OK, USA
  • Format: Timed and un-supported with neutral halfway feed stations.
  • Route: Around 100 miles. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: From $110 with various options/packages Enter here (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
  • Navigation: The route is supplied before the event. The course is marked and tracked via GPS.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes.
  • Terrain: Gravel roads and tarmac.

Riders tackle the snowy gravel roads at Barry - Roubaix

The Barry-Roubaix traverses the scenic and occasionally snowy gravel of Barry County, Michigan (Image credit: Rob Meendering)

Barry - Roubaix

The Barry-Roubaix is one of the longest-running gravel races in the US and around the globe and started before gravel was even a thing. Held in Hastings, Barry County, Michigan it's often a sub-zero freezing ride that awaits the riders participating in this gravel beauty that is named after the European spring classic Paris-Roubaix.

The event has grown from local mountain bikers being unable to ride the frozen trails due to the extremely cold winters in Michigan and finding alternatives in the dirt and gravel roads and now attracts over 4,000 cyclists tackling the rolling Michigan terrain.

With four distances available the marquee 62-mile route with 3,800 feet of climbing. A 100-miler “Psycho Killer” with over 7,000 feet of ascent and two slightly easier distances of 36 and 18 miles with varying ascent but all routes promise to test riders on a variety of surfaces including gravel roads, pavement, sand, and mud. With the possible addition of snow and ice thrown in on whatever route you choose.

If you survive the brutal cold there are $40,000 in awards, cash, and prizes. With a huge Barry County afterparty for all. 

The Wall at Barry-Roubaix gravel race

The legendary Barry- Roubaix afterparty awaits for riders completing Barry-Roubaix (Image credit: Rob Meendering)
  • When: 15th April 2023.
  • Where: Hastings, Barry County, MI, USA
  • Format: Timed and un-supported with neutral halfway feed stations.
  • Route: Four routes to choose up to 100 miles. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: From $60 with various options/packages Enter here (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
  • Navigation: The route is supplied before the event. The course is marked apart from 100 mile which is tracked via GPS.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes and mountain bikes.
  • Terrain: Gravel roads and tarmac.

Riders on the gravel goodness of Unbound

Unbound gravel promises a life-enriching experience (Image credit: Unbound )

Unbound Gravel

Considered one of the world's premier gravel events and now in its 15th year, Unbound Gravel has grown from a startline of just 34 riders back in 2006 to over 4,000 riders lining up in 2022 alongside World Tour roadies, gravel privateers, and professional mountain bikers for this hilly, tire-shredding, sun-baked gravel grinder through the Flint Hills, Kansas.

While the 200-mile course is perhaps the most famous, the 100-miler has grown increasingly competitive, attracting a host of big names that in 2022 included three times World Champion Peter Sagan and his teammate Daniel Oss to the start line. With World Champion track rider Ashton Lambie, WorldTour roadie Lauren Stephens, and Rebecca "the Queen of Pain" Rusch all taking the top step of the podium at past events.

As gravel racing has evolved at pace, Unbound has also grown and developed their product for riders coming to Emporia, with a host of distances from 25 up to 350 miles. The 200-miler is the marquee event but whatever distance you choose, Unbound still prides itself on retaining the “grassroots” feel and promises a life-enriching experience beyond just a gravel bike race.

Gravel riders in the Unbound gravel race

The Flint Hills, Kansas offer some of the worlds finest gravel riding (Image credit: Unbound)
  • When: 3rd June 2023.
  • Where: Emporia, KS, USA
  • Format: Timed and un-supported.
  • Route: Six distances up to 350 miles. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: Enter the lottery for a place from 5th January 2023 Enter here (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
  • Navigation: The route is supplied before the event.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes.
  • Terrain: Gravel, dirt and tarmac.

Gravel rider at Grinduro California

Grinduro is located in what considered one of the last frontiers in California (Image credit: Grinduro)

Grinduro

Grinduro boasts a winning formula with a global following, that makes the word Grinduro a rallying cry for adventure gravel cyclists. Their 2023 event schedule is scattered around the globe with six amazing locations including Germany, California, Pennsylvania, Wales, Italy, and Japan.

At its heart, the unique format of Grinduro combines the best elements of a mountain bike enduro with a gravel grinder-style road race and promises the perfect party-to-race ratio. The event magic happens when you add great food, art and bike festivals, high-quality music, and camping in an epic location.

The California edition is based in the Mt. Shasta and the Eddy Mountain Range and features nearly 60 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation over gravel roads and sometimes sketchy singletrack trails. The organizers crown the winner based on performance on four shorter, timed segments within the ride. So, you can stop and grab your Instagram shots of the stunning views on the route and relax and enjoy all the food and beverages at the aid stations before giving it your all in the timed sections.

Though this is billed as a gravel race, the course goes through the Gateway Trail network which is a popular mountain biking destination in the area. So you’ll find yourself on singletrack with berms and slightly techy rock gardens. If you love ripping singletrack on drop-bar bikes, this event is for you.

Stunning views at Grinduro California

Grinduro, California has it's fair share of epic views (Image credit: Grinduro)
  • When: 19th May to 21st May 2023.
  • Where: Mt. Shasta, CA, USA
  • Format: Timed, un-supported with feed stations.
  • Route: 60 miles. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: Registration opens early 2023 Enter here (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
  • Navigation: The route is supplied before the event.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes and mountain bikes.
  • Terrain: Gravel, dirt and tarmac.

Riders at the Ochoco Gravel Grinder event

You'll see more deer and elk than cars in this remote part of Oregon (Image credit: Ochoco Gravel Grinder)

Ochoco Gravel Grinder

Held deep in the dense pines of the Ochoco National Forest, just two hours east of Bend, Oregon. The Ochoco Gravel Grinder is a one-day gravel event that showcases the region’s rich geology, including mountain streams, high prairies, and stunning views of the Cascades. It’s not uncommon to see herds of elk and antelope or even wild horses. 

The terrain is challenging in that there is a lot of climbing, both short and punchy and long and sustained, but the gravel surface itself is known for being hardpacked and fast-rolling. The weather is also generally favorable with low humidity, warm days, and cool nights.

With three distances to choose from, there is something for every gravel rider from the small grinder covering 50 miles, with 4000 feet of ascent and 90 percent gravel. To the big grinder and 100 miles with 6000 feet of ascent and 92 percent gravel. With a medium option somewhere in between both.

Whatever distance you choose the event includes the Ochoco Gravel Festival with a beer and whiskey bar, meals, music, and entertainment.

Gravel rider in the Ochoco National Forest

Ochoco National Forest features remote beautiful gravel riding (Image credit: Ochoco Gravel Grinder)
  • When: 8th July 2023.
  • Where: Ochoco National Forest, Prineville, OR, USA
  • Format: Timed, un-supported with feed stations.
  • Route: From 50 miles. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: Registration opens early 2023 Enter here (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
  • Navigation: The route is supplied before the event.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes and mountain bikes.
  • Terrain: Gravel and dirt 
Paul Brett
Staff writer

Based in Edinburgh, Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.


An award-winning photographer, when not riding a bike, he can be found at the side of a cyclocross track or a downhill mountain bike world championship shooting the action. Paul has been the founder, editor and senior writer for Proper Cycling magazine that has seen him travel the world interviewing some of the biggest names in mountain biking and writing about some of the biggest cycling brands.


Rides: Scott Spark RC Team Issue, Bergamont Grandurance Elite, Standert Kreissäge Team Edition


Height: 176cm


Weight: 85kg