TRINIDAD, Colo. — Gravel grinding is taking off in Trinidad. The sport provides a great middle ground between road and mountain biking.

Las Animas is the largest county in Colorado, which means there are a ton of gravel roads. Trinidad has become a destination for cyclists wanting to explore the Spanish Peaks.

“As the word has gotten out, people are coming to check out our gravel,” City of Trinidad Outdoor Recreation Director Jared Chatterley said. “A lot of people hear gravel grinding and they think, well, I might have to do like, making rocks, but gravel grinding is an up-and-coming sport. It’s really big in Europe. It’s starting to take on even more here in the United States.”

“Typically a gravel bike would be similar to a road bike in appearance where it has the drop bars in the front, but it has much more room for larger tires,” Tarantula Cycles Co-Owner Joe Kozlowicz said. “So you have more traction, you have more comfort. The geometry of the bike is a little bit more upright. So you get those nice long days in the saddle out riding county roads.”

The area surrounding Trinidad has a plethora of gravel.

“We have about 1,500 miles of County Road and the majority of that is gravel. We also have a very low population,” Kozlowicz explained. “There are about 15,000 people in the whole county and so you can kind of take your pick, ride in any direction and you’ll run out of pavement pretty much immediately.”

“Rather than the flat Kansas, you know, corn field look, you gravel grind in some beautiful country out here in the mountains,” Chatterley said.

This attracted the fitness company Life Time to host an annual event called ‘The Rad Dirt Fest’ presented by Wahoo in Trinidad. They expect a thousand people from all over the country to ride in Trinidad.

“We had a lot of folks that just walked away from the event, just totally enamored with the area because of how beautiful the Spanish Peaks were and how smooth the gravel roads were and just the views along the way,” Life Time Events Off-road Cycling & Trail Running Senior Marketing Manager Ryan Cross said.

There are three different bike courses for gravel grinders to compete in. This year the event will be on October 8, 2022. You can sign up here. They say if you haven’t tried it, jump in and see for yourself because it’s going to be RAD.

“We always say that we have more completers than competers and that’s just a common thread that we see in gravel more than any other discipline of the sport is that it’s very welcoming and communities like Trinidad just totally embody that welcoming spirit that we see across the sport of gravel,” Cross added. “It’s really whatever you want to make of it. The experience is fun or competitive or challenging or, you know, just a day out with your friends.”

Las Animas County also has other bike races throughout the year like Pony Xpress Gravel 160 and the Purgatory 4 Adventure Relay. The Pony Xpress takes place annually in Cokedale, Colorado which is just west of Trinidad. Less than 20 kilometers of the course is paved, making it ideal for gravel enthusiasts. This race offers riders the chance to discover the challenges Pony Express riders faced in the 1860s.

The Purgatory 4 Adventure Relay challenges competitors to run through the rugged terrain of Sugarite Canyon State Park, paddle a course on Lake Maloya, bike up over San Francisco Pass into Southern Colorado, and prove your prowess on a shotgun shooting course.

For maps, routes on the go, and more information about gravel cycling in Trinidad check out this website.