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How many times have we all gone to an event and, without much thought as to what goes on behind the scenes, ride, have a post-race drink, and head home without thought of what it takes for you to enjoy your day? We’re guessing the answer for most of us might be ‘rarely’, but in reality, it can take an army behind the scenes, especially when we’re talking about a multi-day gravel race in remote mountain terrain.


Enter Oregon Trail, now in its 5th year and part of the Gravel Earth Series, the 5-day gravel race bringing adventure, comradery, and a ride you’ll remember for the rest of your life. As the only true point to point gravel stage race in North America, the Grand Tour of Gravel takes riders through a multitude of different environments, climates, and scenery.

From high desert to lush green forests, OR Trail utilizes vast networks of old logging roads which take riders deep into the backcountry. It’s beauty, although only four years old, is legendary, but what most riders don’t give much consideration to is the monumental task the race operations team encounters each year. In short, it’s a LOT.
The 350 miles of forest service roads, which are modified every year, are so remote that during last year’s event, race director Chad Sperry passed only 11 vehicles while following the pro field during the 5-days of racing.

But with solitude oftentimes comes maintenance, and the biggest task each year is not picking the route but clearing the route, which falls squarely on Chad and his crew, better known as Team Breakaway.
crew photo starting line


With many of the roads inaccessible until late in the spring due to snow, the mad dash to remove snow usually begins in mid-May, 6 weeks prior to the race start in late June.
For this year’s race, massive wind and ice storms have left a record number of downed trees, and in the first 4 weeks of clearing the Team has already removed over 300 trees, with plenty of work to clear the rest in the final week before the race begins.
The other major obstacle of course prep is snow removal: it’s not uncommon to need to plow 20+ miles of road drifts measuring 7 feet in depth, and costs for snow removal alone can exceed $20,000.
The fine balance which the team faces each year is somewhat ironic: schedule the race earlier and the cost and work to remove snow could be astronomical and unfeasible but wait too late in the summer and face the risk of forest fires, smoke, and heat.


While crews battle mother nature to free up the courses, they are also having the monumental task of organizing a moving race with daily set up and tear down, meals, showers, medical support, mechanical support, entertainment, and transporting each rider’s equipment and setting up camping areas…no detail is over looked, and the Team works tirelessly to ensure that rider focus can remain entirely on riding their bikes.
Group biking through snow


While trail clearing and repairing benefits all user groups in the forest, Breakaway also offers a volunteer grant program that in the past 4 years has donated over $100,000 to local schools and non-profits.
Team Breakaway’s philosophy is to leave it better than they got it. So, after every stage and every event they send a team out to not only make sure all trash is picked up from the race but also any trash left by other users as well. That is 350 miles adopt a road commitment that Team Breakaway shoulders to ensure they are supporting the region.


Castelli is proud to be a partner of the Oregon Gravel Grinder series and will be in the remote forests of Oregon next week, supporting and cheering on all riders. Make sure to come by and say hello, but most importantly, make sure to be appreciative and thank the volunteers and folks who bring these amazing events to life.
Women s Podium
Overhead Group Shot
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