The Wild West Gravel Fest came back for a second year and will start early on Saturday, Oct. 9. The fest will include four races this year and a concert night on Friday including The Box Turtles from Manhattan.
The races included this year will be 200 km starting at 7 a.m., 100 km starting at 10 a.m., 50 km starting at 11 a.m. and 5 km starting at noon.
All riders will be required to pre-registered, be wearing a proper biking helmet and bikes with back lights.
The Wild West Gravel Fest became a tradition last year in Abilene, after a group of friends desired to create a local bike race when races across the state closed due to Covid-19.
“We started this last year and with Covid they were cancelling bike races, left and right,” Wild West Gravel Fest Founder John Kolhoff said. “A couple of my friends were all trained up to do like three or four bike races for the year and just one after the next were cancelled. So, we decided that the only way we’re gonna have a bike race would be to put one on ourselves.”
Kolhoff, one of the ride founders and self proclaimed “Chief Instigator” of the fest, helped start the race with no experience in cycling competitions.
“I have essentially no background with competitive cycling,” Kolhoff said. “In fact, at the time, I decided we were going to have this race, I had never been in a bike race before in my life.”
When creating the ride’s map, Kolhoff wanted riders to experience the history of Abilene.
“I kind of feel like that kind of emphasis of what it is to be in Abilene or certainly captures the history of Abilene,” John Kolhoff said.
“I think it’s really important for Abilene to just get as many people into town as we can and have them stay a night or two, if we can hopefully be a good thing for the economy as well as some of those local attractions.”
While the route does take riders through less populated streets, Kolhoff did want to share a reminder to any drivers passing by riders during the race.
“So don’t think they’ll hear you coming up due to the wind going over our ears while we ride,” Kolhoff said. “So, I would just recommend going as slowly as possible. The cyclists are supposed to go over to the far right of the road as much as possible. Another thing I would ask is if you are going through gravel roads, don’t kick up too much dirt, because we get to breath all that in when you are driving pass.”