Group camper photo with everyone sitting outside the Balch Hotel

ABOUT SPRING CAMP: April 11 - 14, 2024

At Special Blend Gravel Spring Camp, we'll spend three days riding amazing gravel roads on the Columbia Plateau, with just enough climbing to wake up the legs and just enough to hone your skills. We'll finish each day at the Balch Hotel, where we will recover, relax, enjoy catered meals, drink good coffee, and sit around the parlor to share knowledge and experiences.

During camp, we will ride many of the same roads used for the Gorge Gravel Grinder course, providing a “race preview” (and free entry) for those planning to race, and helping to prepare you for the gravel season ahead, whether that includes racing the entire Oregon Gravel Series, Lost & Found, Unbound, STB GRVL, The Last Best Ride, Spirit World, a bike packing trip, or big adventures with friends.



  • 3.5 days of riding, education, and community
  • World-class gravel routes, complete aid stations, and mechanical support
  • Small group sizes/instruction with awesome professional coaches
  • Daily education and Q&A sessions
  • Recovery lounge
  • Dinner Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
  • Breakfast Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
  • Lunch/Recovery Bar Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
  • 3 nights at the Balch Hotel in Dufur, OR; private room
  • Awesome goodie bag!
  • Registration for Gorge Gravel Grinder included
  • 25% discount on all Oregon Gravel Series Races
  • VIP post-race tent after Gorge Gravel Grinder
We want to create an immersive experience for all campers, one where we are all as present as we can be. In this effort, we ask that you leave your non-camper friends, partners, kiddos, and pets at home.
Riders getting ready to ride beside Schwalbe tent
Cyclists rounding a corner on a gravel road


Dufur, Oregon, situated on the Columbia Plateau, is center to an amazing network of gravel roads, winding through orchards and wheat fields with sweeping views of the Cascades. We include just enough climbing to bring your legs out of winter hibrination. These gravel roads are well-maintained and recieve a lot of sun exposure, making this the ideal spot for early season riding.

During camp, we will ride many of the same roads used for the Gorge Gravel Grinder course, providing a “race preview” (and free entry) for those planning to race, and helping to prepare you for the gravel season ahead whether that includes racing, a bike packing trip, or adventures with friends.


During your rides, our professional coaches will help you improve your skills, including group riding, body positioning, cornering, braking, climbing and descending, and riding over washboard. As the ride progresses, we will naturally break into pace groups, each with a coach, and we promise, you will never be the last one on the road.

We also host afternoon education sessions covering nutrition, tire choice, PSI selection, basic bike maintenance, and how to use your cycling computer.
A coach instructing two riders as they prepare to corner a gravel road
Riders enjoying an aid station along a gravel road


We want your experience at Special Blend Gravel Camp to push you just a little out of your comfort zone (because that is where the growth happens), and we also want it to be a time you can tune out of all of “life’s” responsibilities and you can just focus on you and riding your bike.

Once you arrive at camp, your only job is to eat, sleep and ride. We provide catered meals, top-notch aid stations, mechanical support, a recovery lounge, lots of snacks, beverages, and even an afternoon of massages.

We take over the entire Balch Hotel, so we have space to spread out, relax, and feel comfortable.
Work hard, recover better!


Camp is based out of the historic Balch Hotel. We take over the whole place, so we can spread out and relax.

Everyone will have a private, however, most rooms have shared baths. You can select an upgrade option when registering if you would rather have a private bath. We also offer camping at the Dufur City Park, right around the corner.

Lodging options at the Balch Hotel:
  • ​Queen bed, shared bathroom, included
  • ​Queen bed, private bathroom, upgrade option, limited
  • ​King bed, private bathroom, upgrade option, limited
  • Camping in Dufur City Park (1/4 mile from Balch Hotel), reduced camp price

Email with questions about lodging options. We will work to ensure this process is easy and stress free.
Three women standing with their bikes outside the Balch Hotel
  • Sarah
    Spring 2023

    Over the course of the weekend, I was able to fine tune my skills but also came away with a sense of gratuity for the amazing community fostered by Serena. It is empowering to be around a group of strong women who share a passion. I would 100% recommend Special Blend Gravel Camp!

  • Coach Sarah Max
    Spring 2023

    Coaching at Special Blend Gravel Camp this spring was one of the highlights of my year. Though most of the women didn't know each other, they became fast friends—something that was evident when the sound of their laughter and animated conversation. It was amazing to everyone pick up so many new skills and confidence in just a few days.

  • Lisa
    Spring 2023

    Attending camp has been a life-changing experience for me! I not only went from being intensely afraid of descending on gravel to being excited about and crushing descents, but I have also made incredible friendships with coaches and participants that now extend beyond cycling. There isn’t a more supportive, open, well-organized environment for learning gravel skills and building community! I love camp so much, I haven’t missed one yet!


Arrive at the Balch Hotel; Social hour and settle in. We’ll kick things off with a welcome to camp and what-to-expect intro session followed by dinner. Before we hit the hay, we’ll prep you for tomorrow’s ride and answer any questions.

Following breakfast and our pre-ride briefing, we'll head out into the Gorge for the day’s amazing ride. Today’s ride will focus on riding in a group, climbing and braking efficiencies and line choice.

Plan for 3-4 hours on the bike before we return to the Balch hotel for Lunch/Recovery Bar and a bit of downtime before the afternoon’s education session. We cap the day off with dinner, good conversation, and of course dark chocolate in the recovery lounge.

Example ride: 45 miles, 3,500 ft of elevation

Following breakfast and our pre-ride briefing, we'll head out into the Gorge for our longest ride of camp. We’ll dial in our skills on some tricky corners and fast descents.

Lunch/Recovery Bar upon our return, followed by education sessions, massages, education sessions, and coaches Q&As. We cap the day off with dinner and good conversation. Looking forward to the final ride tomorrow!

Example ride: 52 mils, 4,300 ft of elevation

Following breakfast and our pre-ride briefing, we'll head out into the Gorge for the last ride of camp and a chance to “put it all together”.

Lunch/Recovery Bar upon our return, followed by good-bye high-fives and hugs.

Example ride: 31 miles, 2,800 ft of elevation
illustration of the camp logo, bicycles, trees, coffee cups, and suns

Our Coaches

We bring together some of the best cyclists in the country to instruct, push, and cheer on our campers.
  • Sarah Max
    • Professional cyclist
    • Smart on and off the bike
    • Journalist, mother of twins
    Sarah is a professional cyclist, journalist, and mother of twins. After a successful career as a world-class nordic racer, Sarah turned her athletic sights on gravel cycling and took the racing community by storm. She has been taken top honors at BWR, podiumed at Unbound, Oregon Travel Gravel Grinder, and Steamboat Gravel, among many other national level races. This year she is racing the LifeTime Grand Prix and is sure to turn heads! In addition to cycling, Sarah works at Morgan Stanley Research, helping analysts, strategists, and economists share their ideas with a global audience.
  • Janel Spilker
    • Recovering professional roadie
    • Adventure seeker
    • Liv Cycling Ambassador
    Janel is a recovering world tour professional road racer who knows a thing or two about racing gravel as well, having won Crusher in the Tushar and stood on the podium at Unbound. Working closely with Liv and Giant, as well as organizations such as the Michael P. Nosco Foundation and COTA, Janel hopes to help more people fall in love with bikes. Janel brings the stoke to every party and never leaves home without her infectious smile.
  • Yuri Hauswald
    • Gravel Hall of Fame
    • Elite Athlete Manager for GU Energy
    • Wander & gravel racer
    After a successful collegiate career playing lacrosse for UC Berkeley, and armed with a degree in American Literature, Yuri discovered the joys of mountain biking while teaching English at a prep school in Pennsylvania, and hasn't looked back. He's two-time solo winner of the 24-Hours of Adrenaline and 9th place finisher at the 2006 24-Hour World Championships. He turned pro at the tender age of 36, won the 2015 Unbound when he was 44, and is currently obsessed with everything gravel.
  • Sean Cochran
    • Tire enthusiast
    • Coffee connoisseur
    • Always with snacks
    Don’t let Sean’s IG handle fool you, he is anything but a spectator. Sean plays so many invaluable roles to so many; quietly, and behind the scenes, he makes magic happen. Sean’s love of life and compassionate, encouraging and thoughtful demeanor elevates those around him to bring their best self and to find their hidden motivation that just needed some unlocking. Sean is also the Marketing Manager for Schwalbe North America and our in-house tire guru.
  • Sarah Sturm
    • Bike rider
    • Racer & adventurer
    • Living in the mountains of Southwest Colorado
    Sarah is a bike rider, racer, and adventurer who brings joy to everyone she meets. She has been on the top step of the podium of BWR and Leadboat, and took the win at the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder in 2021. She has also had podium finishes at Unbound, The Traka 360, Crusher in the Tushar, The Rift, Leadville 100 MTB. In addition to coaching, mentoring, and shredding around town with my dog Norman, she works to balance the outdoor activities with a side career in art and design. Most importantly though, Sarah is an amazing human being. She has also been known to finish an entire package of Oreos in one sitting.
  • Serena Bishop Gordon
    • Camp founder
    • Off-road adventurer
    • Lover of coffee and chocolate
    Serena has been racing professionally for more than a decade, specializing in mountain bikes and gravel. She is a great descender and understands the importance of the details when it comes to off-road performance.
    Serena lives in Bend with her husband, Ben, and medium-sized pup, Piper, and loves her morning coffee almost as much as she loves riding her bike. She is stoked to share what she knows with others and elevate women in the sport of gravel racing!



A huge thank you to our sponsors.
Breakaway Promotions logo
Castelli logo
Schwalbe logo
Lisa Congdon art and illustration logo
Fierce Hazel logo
GU logo


We acknowledge Special Blend Gravel Camp held in Dufur, Oregon, is situated on the traditional lands of the Wasco, Paiute, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and other Indigenous Peoples. As we immerse ourselves in the beauty of this region, we recognize the historical and ongoing impact of colonization on Indigenous communities. We express gratitude to the Wasco, Paiute, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and all Indigenous Peoples who have stewarded these lands.

During our time here, we commit to being respectful stewards, fostering unity, inclusivity, and gratitude for the diverse Indigenous cultures that have shaped this land.