Gravel cycling brings new spirit to rural Vermont

Lyle Ellerbee

When professional athletes retire from their respective sports, their “prime” is usually behind them. But for Ted King, a former World Tour cyclist, his departure from road racing has blown a second wind into his athletic career.”I wanted to continue loving bike riding,” King said. “Gravel really allows that.”A booming subsection of bike racing, gravel cycling is taking off in Vermont due to the state’s sizeable amount of roads fit for competition. This inspired Middlebury alum King and his wife Laura to create a race to showcase the state’s beauty. Rooted Vermont is now peddling towards year three of competition, and while there are many gravel races popping up throughout the country, Richmond hosts one of the more unique events of the year.”Business in the front, party in the back,” is the slogan coined by Laura for the race’s mullet protocol.”It doesn’t matter what bike you ride or what clothes you are wearing,” said Rooted Vermont co-director Kristin Motley. “We’re all there enjoying the Vermont landscape together.”While the race is the hallmark of the event, the expo located at Cochran’s Ski Area will feature over 25 local vendors that anyone can come to visit during the three-day event from July 29 through July 31.”We have riders who are making a full vacation out of coming to Vermont,” Laura said. “We hope to showcase everything that makes Vermont really special.”The scope of the race is increasing in year three, with popularity growing to the point where King and Motley had to create a lottery system for entry. But it’s not just the sheer number of riders that matters, it’s the makeup of the field.Rooted Vermont is the first gravel race in the country to achieve 50/50 gender parity — a goal important to the organization’s mission.”Traditionally gravel cycling has been 20 percent on the female side,” Laura said. “It’s been really important for us to figure out how to invest in getting more women on bikes.”Through its lottery system, and other fundraisers, Rooted Vermont helped raise $20,000 in money that can go towards scholarships for those from historically underrepresented communities to participate. The money helps cover everything from the race entry fee, to travel accommodations for those who need it.It’s helped grow the sport even more, as it reaches new heights.”It’s a sense of adventure,” Laura said. “It’s not just about a bike event or race. It’s also about comradery with friends and a festival atmosphere.”Rooted Vermont kicks off on July 29 with a welcome party from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and events continue throughout the weekend with racing on Sunday starting at 7:30 a.m.

When professional athletes retire from their respective sports, their “prime” is usually behind them. But for Ted King, a former World Tour cyclist, his departure from road racing has blown a second wind into his athletic career.

“I wanted to continue loving bike riding,” King said. “Gravel really allows that.”

A booming subsection of bike racing, gravel cycling is taking off in Vermont due to the state’s sizeable amount of roads fit for competition. This inspired Middlebury alum King and his wife Laura to create a race to showcase the state’s beauty.

Rooted Vermont is now peddling towards year three of competition, and while there are many gravel races popping up throughout the country, Richmond hosts one of the more unique events of the year.

“Business in the front, party in the back,” is the slogan coined by Laura for the race’s mullet protocol.

“It doesn’t matter what bike you ride or what clothes you are wearing,” said Rooted Vermont co-director Kristin Motley. “We’re all there enjoying the Vermont landscape together.”

While the race is the hallmark of the event, the expo located at Cochran’s Ski Area will feature over 25 local vendors that anyone can come to visit during the three-day event from July 29 through July 31.

“We have riders who are making a full vacation out of coming to Vermont,” Laura said. “We hope to showcase everything that makes Vermont really special.”

The scope of the race is increasing in year three, with popularity growing to the point where King and Motley had to create a lottery system for entry. But it’s not just the sheer number of riders that matters, it’s the makeup of the field.

Rooted Vermont is the first gravel race in the country to achieve 50/50 gender parity — a goal important to the organization’s mission.

“Traditionally gravel cycling has been 20 percent on the female side,” Laura said. “It’s been really important for us to figure out how to invest in getting more women on bikes.”

Through its lottery system, and other fundraisers, Rooted Vermont helped raise $20,000 in money that can go towards scholarships for those from historically underrepresented communities to participate. The money helps cover everything from the race entry fee, to travel accommodations for those who need it.

It’s helped grow the sport even more, as it reaches new heights.

“It’s a sense of adventure,” Laura said. “It’s not just about a bike event or race. It’s also about comradery with friends and a festival atmosphere.”

Rooted Vermont kicks off on July 29 with a welcome party from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and events continue throughout the weekend with racing on Sunday starting at 7:30 a.m.

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