ADVANCE WINTER RIDING CAMP

December 4-7, 2024

JOIN OUR LIST & BE THE FIRST TO KNOW WHEN REGISTRATION OPENS
Each month Serena shares tips, recipes, upcoming events, and great gravel routes to keep you inspired year-round.

ABOUT WINTER RIDING CAMP

​At Special Blend Gravel Winter Riding Camp, we'll spend three days riding through the Sky Islands that surround Patagonia, AZ. These roads of remote, beautiful, and full of wonder. We'll finish each day at the Gravel House Hotel, where we will recover, relax, enjoy shared meals, drink good coffee, and share knowledge and experiences.

Can you think of a better way to spend the first week of December than pedaling bikes, among friends, in an awe-inspiring landscape?

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • 3.5 days of riding, food, community, and coaching
  • World-class gravel routes, complete aid stations, and mechanical support
  • Small group sizes/instruction with awesome professional coaches
  • Dinner Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
  • Breakfast Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
  • Lunch/Recovery Bar Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
  • Various lodging options
  • Awesome goodie bag!
PRICE: $1600 + lodging option at The Gravel House
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.

THE RIDING

The McKenzie River Canyon is majestic; the light, the forest, the wildlife, the amazing network of forest roads, all combine with Horse Creek Lodge make this the ideal place for gravel camp.

While there is some flat terrain in the canyon itself, we won't spend much time there; bring your climbing legs to camp because we'll head for the hills and tackle some big climbs. They may feel never-ending as they wind their way up to vistas that provide sweeping views of the Cascade Range and the McKenzie River Canyon below.

Yep, it will be hard, but the views, and snacks at the top, will be worth it.

WHAT MAKES THIS AN ADVANCED CAMP?

Our Patagonia Winter Camp is focused on more advanced riders with the desire to log longer miles at a steady pace. We will ride an estimated total of 200 miles (mostly on gravel) over three days, at an average pace of XXX miles per hour.

During your rides, our professional coaches will provide feedback and direction to help you hone your confidence and skills, including pace lining, body positioning, cornering, braking, climbing and descending, and riding technical gravel terrain.
Campers sitting around a campfire chatting.

ALL THE EXTRAS

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 meals, top-notch aid stations, mechanical support, a recovery lounge, and lots of snacks, and beverages.

We take over the entire Gravel House, so we have space to spread out, relax, and feel comfortable.

There will be time to check out the Lumber Yard, local food trucks, and Patagonia's quaint main street.

THE LODGING

Lodging options are shared, meaning you can bunk with an old friend, or be paired with a new one. Campers will reserve a room or cabin and share it with other campers. Only one person in a group will need to add on the room to their registration and all others in the group will just need to pay the base camp registration fee. You can figure out the money for each person in the room between your group. Make your lodging plan early, so when registration opens, you can book it quickly.

Camp registration does not include lodging, however, you must all purchase a lodging option to attend camp.

Email hello@specialblendgravel.com with questions or to be paired with another camper. We will work to ensure this process is easy and stress free. To learn more about the lodging options at McKenzie Bridge, please visit our lodging page HERE.
Campers sitting around the lodge eating breakfast

CAMP SCHEDULE

WEDNESDAY
Arrive at The Gravel House for social hour and to 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.

THURSDAY
Following breakfast and our pre-ride briefing, we'll head up into the Willamette National Forest for an amazing ride. Today’s ride will focus a bit on riding in a group, but mainly climbing, braking efficiencies and line choice.

Plan for 4-5 hours on the bike before we return to Horse Creek Lodge for Lunch/Recovery Bar and a bit of downtime before the afternoon’s education session. We cap the day off with dinner and good conversation around the campfire.

Example ride: 44 miles, 5,000 ft of elevation

FRIDAY
Following breakfast and our pre-ride briefing, we'll head out 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, and coaches Q&As. We cap the day off with dinner and good conversation. Looking forward to the final ride tomorrow!

Example ride: 50 miles, 4,000 ft of elevation

SATURDAY
Following breakfast and our pre-ride briefing, we'll head out 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: 28 miles, 2,400 ft of elevation
illustration of the logo, coffee cups, trees, and bicycles

OUR COACHES & STAFF

We bring together the country's best cyclists and support staff to instruct, encourage, and support our campers.
  • Annick Chalier
    • Professional Cycling Coach
    • Lover of all things bikes
    • Companion to Monkey Face
    Annick has been a cyclist since 2014, earning her way into the UCI professional ranks on the road in 2020. Since moving to the Columbia River Gorge, Annick has shifted her focus to gravel in order to take advantage of all of the terrain types this area has to offer. In addition to training and racing, Annick is a head coach with both Brave Endeavors and Ladies AllRide and finds incredible joy supporting others as they build their bike handling skill set, grow their confidence on the bike (and in life), and develop new ways to have fun in the woods!
  • CLAIRE REINERT
    • Seeker of challenge & adventure
    • Lover of the all night ride
    • Walter is her sidekick
    Claire's love of sport and movement started young and was channeled into soccer, where she found success at the collegiate level. After hanging up her cleats, Claire's love for riding bikes, especially gravel bike, over very long distances, began to blossom. She believes that to embrace gravel, it is necessary to "get comfortable with being uncomfortable and embrace the opportunity for growth", something that holds true on and off the bike. Claire has completed, among a myriad of other grueling races, the Unbound XL, Gravel Worlds Long Voyage three times.
  • 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.
  • HENRY HORROCKS
    • Hates waking up early, except to fish
    • Pizza & Beer connoisseur
    • Trail Builder
    Henry will make you laugh, smile, and love riding your bike even more, as he helps you sort out the mysteries of tire choice and setup. He raced XC mountain bikes professionally before turning to the 24hr solo discipline, where he placed 6th in the 2004 World Championships. He is passionate about building and maintaining trails, riding bikes, and fishing; and in his spare time, he golfs, spends time in the backcountry on his split board, and rides dirt bikes and snowmobiles. Henry lives in Sisters, OR with his wife of 26 years, Jen and their two pups, Stella and Starsky.
  • Serena Bishop Gordon
    • Camp co-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!
  • Colleen Quindlen, Director of Logistics
    • Logistics Wizard
    • Champion for women in sport
    • Dog-mom to Tukka and Mr. Bobo
    For over a decade, Colleen Quindlen has played a pivotal role in the country's most significant cycling races. She spent seven years overseeing logistics and operations for Rebecca’s Private Idaho before transitioning to Breakaway Promotions in 2022, where she assumed the role of Director of Operations. In her current position, she manages the logistics and operations of major cycling events across North America, including the Oregon Trail, Gorge, Cascade, Lost and Found Gravel, and the Downieville Classic MTB Festival.
    Colleen's unwavering commitment to increasing women's participation in cycling is evident through her advocacy and implementation of various programs and opportunities catering to riders of all abilities and backgrounds. Her dedication to Special Blend Gravel is unmatched, and camp would not be possible without her.
    Colleen resides in Hailey, Idaho, with her husband Billy Cook and their two adorable dogs, Tukka and Mr. Bobo.
  • THE BREAKAWAY PROMOTIONS TEAM
    • Up before dawn, the last ones to bed
    • A well-oiled machine
    • Always there to support
    Breakaway Promotions has a 20-year track record of executing national-level cycling events and has established itself as the most experienced cycling event company in North America. With over 200 events and 500 event days to their credit, they have unparalleled expertise in managing cycling competitions. Breakaway has run more USA Cycling  National Championship events than any other company, including XCO Mountain Bike, Mountain Bike Marathon, Fat Bike, Masters Road, Junior Road, Collegiate Road, and Amateur Road.
    Among their notable events, Breakaway Promotions currently owns and operates the challenging Oregon Trail gravel stage race, solidifying their reputation for hosting some of the most demanding races in the U.S.
    Their extensive knowledge of logistics and unwavering commitment to customer service ensures that every Special Blend camper is well supported.

OUR PARTNERS

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

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We acknowledge Special Blend Gravel Camp, held in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, within the Willamette National Forest, is situated on the traditional lands of the Kalapuya, Molalla, Chinook, 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 Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Confederated Tribes of the 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.