Friday, February 5, 2016

AntiEpic Gravel Grinder

RMCC made its foray into the gravel scene in 2016 by taking over the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, carrying on a tradition started by gravel aficionado, Ben Welnak. In 2019, the AntiEpic remains on the Colorado Triple Crown ride calendar.(Photo: Ben Welnak)

Since the inaugural Dirty Kanza 200 in 2006, the popularity of "gravel grinders" has exploded in the U.S. and is the now the most rapidly growing genre in cycling. The inaugural Dirty Kanza 200 in Emporia, Kansas had only 34 participants. Fast-forward 10 years and the DK200 now attracts over 1,600 participants from all over the U.S.! In addition to Dirty Kanza, dozens of endurance gravel events have popped up throughout the country over the past decade, including the Almanzo 100, Trans Iowa (RIP!), Crushar in the Tushar, and Gravel Worlds, just to name a few. It's clear that endurance gravel riding is here to stay!

A rider travels one of many sections of washboard during the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder (Photo: Ben Welnap)
The AntiEpic Gravel Grinder was created by gravel aficionado and founder, Ben Welnak, in 2012. This event rapidly gained popularity in Colorado as many Front Range riders used it as preparation for the DK200, which is still considered the "grand daddy" of endurance gravel events. The AntiEpic gravel grinder explores some of the rural dirt and gravel roads to the east of Monument and Castle Rock. Not surprisingly, these serene prairie roads are some of Colorado's lesser traveled thoroughfares. The AntiEpic is not classic, "epic" Colorado riding.....hence the name! There are no epic high altitude climbs or jaw-dropping alpine vistas, which is what Colorado is best known for. In spite of this fact, the AntiEpic course is never short on beautiful, panoramic views of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains to the west. And the AntiEpic course instills participants with a different appreciation for the beauty of riding in rural eastern Colorado.

Unfortunately for us, life's opportunities forced Ben to relocate to North Dakota early in 2015, forcing him to leave behind the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, which is perhaps Colorado's most challenging endurance gravel cycling event and its best preparatory ride for the Dirty Kanza 200. In 2016, Ben gave the RMCC permission to carry on the tradition of the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder in its previous timed, semi-competitive format. In 2017, the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder gained double century status to join the Colorado Triple Crown. So please join us in 2020 as we continue our foray in the endurance gravel scene!

Gravel roads with open vistas certainly have an anti-epic nature to them! (Photo: Ben Welnap)

Like other RMCC Challenge Series events, the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder is a grass roots event, organized by members of the RMCC who are passionate about cycling and epic cycling adventures. These events are created for the purpose of providing life-enriching cycling experiences for our club members.  So come out and challenge yourself! I think you'll find the AntiEpic gravel experience more EPIC than its name could ever imply!

For more information about the original AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, please check out AntiEpic 160

Chris Case is the managing editor for Velo News. Check out his experience with the 2013 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder: A Case for Suffering: When Epic Isn't Enough

Please check out our video slide show from the 2017 event: 2017 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder and
2018 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder

The dreaded, extremely challenging B-road, Co Rd 98, with areas of snow and mud (Photo: Ben Welnap)

2020 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder

Date: Saturday, April 25, 2020

It's April..and it's Colorado! So please expect sunshine, rain, snow, wind, cold, and mud! Please bring the appropriate riding gear, a good attitude, and a smile!

Course: AntiEpic Long Course: 206 miles. 11,000 feet
  • Course Notes:
    • The AntiEpic Gravel Grinder starts and ends in Monument, Colorado, traveling northeast along undulating country roads through the town of Elbert en route to Deer Trail just off of I-70. The course then makes the challenging return to Monument via a different route, gaining a majority of its 11,000 feet of climbing en route back to Monument.
    • The 2020 Long Course is essentially the same course used during the AntiEpic from 2012 - 2016 (168 miles + an extra 32+ miles out-and-back through Castlewood Canyon State Park). The course no longer includes the nasty B-Road, County Road 98, due to permanent closure of this road to traffic. 
    • As in previous years, the course will be unmarked. Riders are responsible for navigating the course using either the official cue sheet (which will be e-mailed to pre-registered riders during the week prior to the event) OR the Garmin file, which can be downloaded from the links above.
Start/End location: Pikes Peak Brewery, 1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive, Monument, CO 80132

Start time:
  • Tortoises: Start: 4:00 AM. Hares: Start: 5:00 AM.
This event is a timed, minimally supported, single-day tour on dirt and gravel roads. Results will be posted in order of finishing time. Riders must successfully complete the course that they have signed up in the time limit listed below to be listed as an official finisher. Riders who deviate from their selected course will not receive an official finishing time. There are no prizes or awards for top finishers...only the bragging rights and the life-enriching experience of completing an AntiEpic day on the bike! 

Time limit:
  • AntiEpic Long Course: 21 hours

Notes about registration:
  1. This event will have a $25 cost-recovery fee.
  2. RMCC membership is required to participate. RMCC membership is $25/year fee and gives members access to other club events, including the challenging Colorado Triple Crown Series and the Colorado Brevet Series. For more information: RMCC membership.
  3. Pre-registration is required to participate in this event. Pre-registration closes on 4/23/20.
Bike selection:
You can ride whatever bike you would like: gravel-specific, mountain, or road. But please choose wisely! Some of these roads are extremely difficult to navigate on a road bike!

  1. The 2020 version of the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder will be unsupported! Participants need to be prepared to ride up to 75 miles without support. However, if someone is desperately interested in volunteering for this event, however, I will not turn it down. 
  2. Outside support is not allowed. Riders who have personal support will be disqualified. 
  3. Riders may cache water and other supplies along the course prior to the start of the ride.
Post-ride festivities:
Please join your friends at the Pikes Peak Brewery for some lunch or dinner after the ride. Riders will be trickling in all afternoon and evening after 4 pm. 

Questions? Please contact event coordinator, Mark Lowe, e-mail:

Riders en route to Deer Trail (Photo: Ben Welnap)
AntiEpic scenery makes for an EPIC day on the bike! (Photo: Ben Welnap)