A long-distance gravel bike race is going to take place in Southern Alberta later this month.

Since 2021, The Gravel Experience bike race has taken over gravel roads from Claresholm to Porcupine Hills and will be returning this July.

One of the races that day is over 100km long and is known as The Range.

"The race starts and finishes in Claresholm at Centennial Park," explains the event organizer Garth Stotts. "It goes out, kind of one way through the Willow Creek M.D. gravel roads out to the West. And then it goes onto a couple private ranches. One of them is Burke Creek Ranch. And then it climbs up into the Porcupine Hills and then it comes down the Porcupine Hills. It goes back across the ranches again, and then it comes back into Claresholm on the North side of Willow Creek M.D."

The Range spans 122 km, with 1600 meters of climbing, and is almost entirely on gravel roads

Stotts says that gravel races have become quite popular in the last several years.

"So, I thought the area was really ideal for that style of event," Stotts says. "It was designed to take advantage of the terrain and the beautiful natural landscapes out there."

Gravel bike races, according to Stotts, are appealing because there are generally fewer vehicles on the roads, there is a sense of adventure, and gravel bikers are often able to go where vehicles and road bikes aren't able to.

"You're just out there in nature. The events are more recreational, typically, although there is a competitive edge to them. There is a lot of fast racers that come to them, but they are generally more recreational, in a sense that people are out there for an adventure and out there to challenge themselves and work at getting together."

Stotts says they generally get a mix of people who have either a mountain biking background or a road biking background entering these events.

During this event, people will race on gravel bikes, which generally look like road bikes, but are built specifically for riding on gravel roads.

On top of the 122 km race, the Gravel Experience is hosting two more races that day that people can sign up for if they don't want to bike triple digits in one day.

There is also the Rustler, which is an 86 km race, and the Rode, which is 59 km long.

In total, 300 people are signed up to take part in these races, which will take place on July 20th.

The race begins at 9 a.m. and will be done by 5 p.m., regardless of if everyone has crossed the finish line or not.

There is a $150 entry fee, but that money goes towards covering the costs of the race.

On top of people getting a t-shirt, a poster, a burger, and a drink for everyone, Stotts says there will be a prize for the top men and women in a few different categories.

 Anyone can enter into the races, as long as there are enough spaces left.

To learn more about the races and to see a map, click here.