Featured Event: Muddy Onion Spring Classic Dirt Road Ride

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Featured Event: Muddy Onion Spring Classic Dirt Road Ride

Editor’s Note: The RidingGravel.com calendar is chock full of great gravel events from which to chose from. The choices have grown to include several varieties of events and number over 400 as of this writing. That’s a far cry from the small handful of events I first listed in 2008! With so many events listed we wanted to help put the spotlight on a few upcoming events we think are unique and interesting. This time we’re heading out East to take a look at one of Vermont’s early season classic events, the Muddy Onion. This time we will get a report from last year’s event from David Alden but first a bit about this year’s details from Tristan Von Duntz……..


Four years ago we started the Muddy Onion as an early season shop ride in spring to get our legs back in shape after a long winter.  Today, this event has reached incredible popularity among riders with a wide range of abilities and sure counts as a staple in the Vermont Spring Gravel Grinders (such as Rasputitsa, Vermont Overland and others). We had almost 500 riders last year and are expecting 600.

On April 29th, 2017, the Muddy Onion starts and finishes right at Onion River Sports in downtown Montpelier and heads out onto 34 miles of beautiful, hilly dirt roads and is a fully supported ride with aid stations along the way.  Our famous post-ride BBQ, as well as some great local beer breweries and other local sponsors, are what makes this event so attractive to 450+  bike-enthusiastic locals and out of state riders alike. The 2017 Muddy Onion for sure will have a little something for any rider who cares to test their legs early in the season and experience an incredible ride followed by a great party! See the Muddy Onion website for more.

Now on to a report about last year’s event as promised from David Alden. All images used here are David’s as well.

Muddy Onion

The 2016 Muddy Onion Ride Report- Words and Images by David Alden

Jean and I had ridden in an event in Montpelier a few years ago, and we still talk about the great dirt roads, awesome views, and killer climbs. We were registered for the Central Vermont Cycling Tour last year, but that got rained out. We’ve been eager to get back up to the Montpelier area so when I saw that Onion River Sports was hosting an early season gravel ride, I signed us up. Thirty four miles, a few thousand feet of climbing and chocolate covered bacon… take my money!

Muddy OnionWeather in Vermont can be fickle any time of the year, and April could bring snow or temps in the 70’s. On Friday, the day before the ride, temps were in fact in the low 70’s with some rain. Saturday morning, the temp had gone down to the low to mid 40’s, but fortunately with no rain. The sky LOOKED like it wanted to rain all morning, but that never happened.

Jean wasn’t going to start as she had been sick for almost two months and hadn’t been on the bike, but she caught some of my pre-ride excitement and was at the start line with me, our friends Jason, Megan, and David, and several hundred other people. But where was Glen?

Anyway, with several hundred people at the start line, there were several hundred different rider styles and bikes, from full-on touring fat bikes, to cargo bikes, to full suspension mountain bikes, to hybrids to “Bicycle Industry Approved” Gravel Bikes(R). Because, you know, only certain bikes have been designed and tested to be ridden on gravel.

We finally got the “go,” and en mass, we rolled out through downtown Montpelier to the hills. In fact, there wasn’t much of a “warm up,” as the first four miles were essentially up hill. In summary, I loved it.

Muddy OnionThings leveled off a bit, but the remainder of the ride was a mix of steep up hills, fast downhills and beautiful scenery. At the 13 mile point there was a food oasis with the previously mentioned chocolate covered bacon, pickles, grilled PB&J sandwiches, and so much more, even some PBR for hipsters who ironically drink crappy beer.
The whole ride was well marked and very well supported. While there was only the one food stop, there was a constant flow of support vehicles driving back and forth checking on people. It would seem that they were ready to help at any step of the ride. Some more mile markers (there were 2 or 3 I think), or maybe some mileage info on the cue sheet might have been nice, but that’s the only thing that I think was lacking. I was just too lazy to look at my phone to check Strava.
All the climbing was rewarded with about a 4 mile downhill finish in to town followed by a massive barbecue. Your race number got you in and the food was delicious. I gorged on veggie burgers and chips (my salt stores must have been diminished because I was CRAVING salt), and there were hot dogs, burgers, and all sorts of treats, including a beverage known as “beer.” I had heard of this beer beverage and it was delightful. I’ve got to thank Harpoon for their support.
Muddy Onion
Before taking off, Jean had us tour several of the local books stores, kitchen stores and antique stores to further support the local economy, but finally it was time for hot showers and photo editing (not at the same time).
Muddy Onion
2016 course profile

We had a great time, and Onion River Sports did an amazing job. We’ll definitely be back next year, and we’ll be back in the area this summer as we try for the Central Vermont Cycling Tour again… See ya then!

The 2017 Muddy Onion: Celebrate early spring in true Vermont style and come explore New England’s most beautiful, scenic and iconic dirt roads at this 34-mile fully-supported gravel ride. Then stick around afterwards for our famous post-ride barbecue—complimentary with registration! As for the ride itself, expect no less than chocolate-covered bacon, maple syrup shots, early season burning legs, and a little gravel magic along the way…see you all Saturday, April 29th!
Registration for the 2017 Muddy Onion can be found HERE.
For more details, see the Muddy Onion site: http://www.onionriver.com/muddy-onion/
RidingGravel.com would like to thank David Alden and Tristan Von Duntz for this contribution to the site of their words and images. All material and images used in this post may not be reproduced without prior consent. RidingGravel.com would also like to remind you that this event and more like it can be found on our Events Calendar: http://ridinggravel.com/event

Discuss and share your questions or thoughts about gravel bikes, gear, events and anything else on the Riding Gravel Forum.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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