YOLOmites5000 – The Ultimate Cycling Adventure
Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to climb 5,000-plus meters on small country roads in less than 120 kilometers?
Some call it fun. Some call it torture. Igor Tavella, Ashley Norris Gruber, and Jered Gruber jump at the chance to ride the #YOLOmites5000 every year in September. An all-day adventure along the flanks of the Dolomites with a mix of gravel, dirt and asphalt. Not a flat road in sight, and packed full of adventure.
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?
We met up with Igor and Jered less than 10 hours before the start of the 2018 edition of the YOLOmites5000.
“I wondered if it would be possible to do 5,000 meters of climbing on all the little roads in less than 100 kilometers. Igor laughed – of course! At that moment, an idea was born,” said Jered.
“This is not for everyone. If you can’t stand the idea of walking your bike or maybe getting muddy or banging down a steep gravel descent, don’t even think of coming. It’s possible to ride everything, but I’m guessing 99 percent of participants will walk their bikes at some point. Even Igor has to walk every once in a while,” said Jered, glancing at Igor with a big grin.
Igor rides a 34×25 on this stuff, but Jered thinks he’s insane and commented that he loves his 34×42. There will be sections of road in the neighborhood of 30 percent, but expect most climbing to be in the 10 percent range – for around 5,000 meters of total elevation gain. It’s hard work, but worth it.
The YOLOmites5000 is a ride anyone can join. It’s not timed, and those who participate will get a big taste of Igor’s backyard and his secret roads – paved and dirt, but all doable on a road, cross or gravel bike with 25-millimeter tires, 28s, 33s or 40s. You don’t need knobby tires unless you want to impress the group for about 1 percent of the ride. So as long as you’re OK with gradients that are always above 10 percent and you aren’t scared of some dirt roads and a bit of amazing singletrack, you’ll be fine.
The ride is based out of Igor Tavella’s hotel, the Ustaria Posta in Badia. Riders who have had their fill at any point can cut it short whenever they want – the route will never be more than 20 kilometers from the start at the Ustaria Posta. The total distance of the 2018 ride was 129 kilometers, with 5,015 meters of vertical ascent, covered in 8 hours and 40 minutes of riding time. The group left the Usteria Posta at 7:20 a.m. and was back 11 hours later.
The original idea was to do 100 kilometers and 5,000 meters, but Igor and Jered also didn’t want to sacrifice quality for a silly number. “This is supposed to be a dream ride – an amazing, challenging adventure like nothing else,” said Igor.
“The vast majority of the ride is paved. It was never intended to be an epic gravel ride. That’s for another time. This is mainly a road ride with a few dirt/gravel/singletrack connectors to put us on the absolute best roads,” said Jered.