Tour of Montana and the Montana Gravel Series
When the Tour of Montana idea was hatched in 2014, the idea was to bring world class bicycle racing to Montana with an event in Missoula and a women’s recreational ride in Whitefish. Summer of 2015 saw the first femme VÉLO event in Whitefish and the Tour of Montana Hip Strip Criterium & BIG Ride Gran Fondo in Missoula. In 2016, femme VÉLO continued in Whitefish with an all women’s ride consisting of three distances. There were no racing events in 2016. During this same time femme VÉLO was transitioned into an apparel line with less focus on the fV event.
After surveying the bike racing climate in the US and with the benefit of hindsight, 2014 was almost directly at the center of a general decline of bicycle racing events in the US and at the same time the rise of participation type events like The BIG Ride and femme VÉLO. Even more popular than these type of events are Gravel Rides or Gravel Grinders, “road” style events that mostly take place on gravel and dirt roads instead of pavement.
The plan for 2017 was to transition the Tour of Montana into the Montana Gravel Series and create the first two Gravel events in Whitefish and Butte. The Tour of Montana partnership needed to continue as I am based in California and still needed my partner in Montana with “feet on the ground”. Unfortunately the partnership dissolved and the possibility of the Montana Gravel Series as planned dissolved along with it.
My idea for Gourmet Gravel was also hatched in 2014, however it was dormant until late 2016 as the pieces of the puzzle came together regarding the ToMT and MT Gravel Series. I moved forward with the Gourmet Gravel event concept and spent countless hours and resources exploring, scouting and mapping the perfect routes in Whitefish and Butte to create a true Montana Gravel experience that would also showcase the local communities, businesses and merchants in each location. During this same time I was able to continue relationships in Whitefish and build new ones in Butte, key to the success of both new events.
Additionally in 2016 and early 2017 I began exploring the possibility of taking my Gourmet Gravel brand & concept to my current hometown of Nevada City as well as my original hometown of Santa Barbara. Having my own feet on the ground in both locations allowed these events to progress at a much faster rate than the Montana venues, even though I had spent much more time in Montana focusing on events.
I know that the routes and venues I have chosen in Montana will make for truly unique events, however I do not have the time or resources to produce events in those locations in 2017. My focus will be on the California events with the long term goal to bring the Gourmet Gravel template to Montana and other venues in the future.
I do thank every one of you who have been involved along this journey as it has evolved and look forward to seeing you at a Gourmet Gravel event in the future.
Founder, Gourmet Gravel