By Dave Iltis — The Dirty Dino Gravel Grinder is a new event starting in Vernal, Utah on June 18, 2022. The beautiful courses ride through the Uinta Mountains and Dinosaur National Monument. We asked race director Breanne Nalder Harward about the ride and courses.
Cycling West: This is an exciting new event. Is it a race or a ride or both? Can anyone participate?
Gravel Dino: We are thrilled to bring a new gravel event to a part of Utah that has so much to explore on bike! Of course, anyone is welcome to take part. While we have categories with podiums and prizes, we consider this a fun ride as much as a race. The goal is to include everyone and have a blast!
CW: Tell us about the course. What are the roads and trails like? What’s the best type of bike for the event? What about the distances and climbing?
GD: There are 3 options of courses. The main route is the Dino-Mite and is 106 miles and gains 9400 ft with the highest point at 11,000 feet. The middle-distance route is the Dino-Bite which is 59 miles and 5350 ft elevation gain total. The friendliest route is the Dino-Lite which is an out and back on Dry Fork Canyon covering a total of 32 miles and 2000 ft of vertical.
All courses feature dirt and asphalt and endless breathtaking views. Honestly, you could ride anything from a gravel bike to a cross bike to a full squish MTB. Most riders will be on gravel-specific bikes as that will be the most comfortable for all the terrain. You’ll definitely want knobby tires at least, though the gravel sections are not super technical.
CW: The event takes place in the Uinta Mountains. Can you tell us a little about the history of the area?
GD: Vernal, Utah is most known for its incredible amount of dinosaur fossils, footprints, and other prehistoric sites. Features on course include the famous Highline Trail and picturesque Dry Fork Canyon, full of monolith rock formations. This is Dinosaurland. So much of the course rolls through the terrain where the Fremont Indians — and of course the dinosaurs — roamed!
CW: Where can people stay when they come to Vernal? Is there camping nearby?
GD: The website has links to all the hotels offering discounts to Dirty Dino participants. There are plenty of great places to stay in town, or anyone is welcome to camp and make an adventure out of the weekend. There are multiple sites and areas to explore. Bring the family and make a full weekend out of it!
CW: What are some things that families can do when they are not racing?
GD: If I haven’t said it enough, there is much adventuring to do in Vernal and right outside. Make sure to visit fossil sites and go on hikes throughout Dinosaurland. In town, visit the museums and restaurants, particularly the Vernal Brewing Company. They are sponsoring the event and have tons of fun food and drinks for everyone to enjoy.
CW: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
GD: Honestly, I just want to emphasize how special this event is going to be. I took on the director role because what I’ve always loved about gravel races is the community aspect, the mass starts, conquering challenging terrain with all types of riders on course together, and of course the after parties make gravel rides so fun. This is definitely a grassroots style event and we have amazing sponsors and partners that are going to make it so rad: a shakeout ride with Ventum (they are giving away a bike frame too!), unique swag from DNA Cycling, nutrition support from First Endurance, ride support from local Grail Cycles, and so much more. We hope you’ll join us and help make this event a regular MUST on the annual calendar!
Event Info: June 18, 2022 — Dirty Dino Gravel Grinder. Vernal, UT. Register on BikeReg for 105-, 65-, or 32-mile courses. Breanne Nalder Harward, [email protected], gravel-dino.com, facebook.com/Dirty-Dino-Gravel-Grinder-103665632203894