The return of Ltd Gravel Raid after two years of absence felt like a homecoming. Shimano Gravel Alliance rider Erwin Sikkens reports back from the fun and the festivities of this year’s event.
It felt like the return of Paris-Roubaix after missing it for two years. You think you can maybe live without it, but after a while it starts to itch. The bigger the event, the bigger the black hole they leave behind when they’re suddenly not there anymore, and this certainly applies to a big gravel party like the Gravel Raid. The return of the event was like the big bell that sounded the end of all covid related restrictions. Gravel parties were back!
LtD Gravel Raid, with LtD standing for Laurens ten Dam, the former pro peloton rider who is these days a famous face in the world of gravel riding, is one of the O.G. gravel events of the European gravel calendar. It was Laurens who, during his pro career, took a break from the European peloton to move to the United States for a couple of years. While he was there, he discovered gravel races and the gravel culture that was already booming in the States and took it upon himself to bring back with him this (then) new subculture in cycling. The plan of organising the Gravel Raid was born.
Now in September 2021 I found myself at the start of the third edition, after a lost 2020 edition due to known circumstances. LtD Gravel Raid gives the rider everything she/he/they might expect visiting a gravel event, but bigger and better. The event took place in the hilly and extremely gravelly German Eifel area, around the town of Hellenthal to be precise. At the campsite, that was also the festival area, I found myself drinking a beer by the campfire directly after arriving. The tone was set straight away.
On Saturday the Raid took riders around the most beautiful of Eifel gravel trails in two loops. In the morning, riders could choose to ride either a short or long loop, with both ending back at the festival site afterwards for lunch. In the afternoon we could choose to go for a second loop, long or short, or stick to drinking beers, eating burgers and dancing by the fire. I think this setup makes the Gravel Raid the perfect “go to” gravel event for the whole family.
Ride fast or slow. Ride a short distance or ride all day - the choice was yours.
In the evening the true gravel party started when the music played and stories were shared by the many happy faces gathered at the multiple campfires. On Sunday you could choose to ride the hangover ride, which was for many a genuine hangover ride ;-)
A weekend away from home, riding the best of Eifel gravel with like-minded cyclists. LtD Gravel Raid was back, and with it - hopefully - the return of the full gravel calendar.