The Highlands Gravel Classic started last year to rave reviews and features the beautiful Boston Mountains range of the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas – known as the Highlands! The event has been selected for the Trek UCI Gravel World Series, an Official UCI qualifying event for October 2023 UCI Gravel World Championships in Veneto, Italy. Strambecco rates Highlands as one of the best gravel events in the South-Central region.
This is the REAL World Championships with ~20 UCI Gravel World Series qualifiers in Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America, and only 2 in North America. Participants compete in their respective age categories. The top 25% of each age category qualify for the World Championships in their age group. If only a few riders are in a given division, the top 3 of that age division also automatically qualify. Highlands Gravel Classic has been selected because of the event producers’ knowledge and experience organizing world-class cycling events as the hosts of 5 prior UCI Cyclo-cross World Cups.
The Highlands Gravel Classic will have two courses; both contested on 95% gravel! The long course, 70 miles, is the qualifier for younger riders, and the shorter course, 52 miles, is the qualifier for the older age categories. The course varies from an elevation of 1,200 ft. (365m). It progresses to an elevation of 2,200 ft. (670m), the day’s highest point reached along a sprawling ridgeline after 33 miles with views of the Ozarks Mountains rolling across the skyline. The long course has a total elevation of 6,150 ft. (1,875m) and will challenge riders with rolling hills combined with scenic vistas and streams to keep the competitors on their toes. The shorter distance has just over 4,600 ft. (1,414m). Both courses are challenging, with moderate to steep elevations on undulating gravel roads.
Fayetteville, Arkansas, offers guests a multitude of experiences. Here, culture and nature meet, and free spirits thrive. It’s rich in arts, history, and entertainment. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Fayetteville is a nature lover’s dream. The vibrant local culture gives this community its flavor, and there’s always something exciting happening. The city’s mountain biking trails are handmade by local experts. Fayetteville is one of only 41 certified IMBA Ride Centers in the world. Kessler Mountain and Centennial Park at Millsap Mountain, located minutes from downtown, feature miles of technical, rocky singletrack in an old-growth forest. Additionally, Fayetteville is the first city in the United States to be awarded the designation of ‘Bike City’ by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
Centrally located, Fayetteville is just a day’s drive from several major metropolitan areas, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and St. Louis. If flying, the XNA National Airport offers 19 direct flights from cities around the country and from coast to coast.
The UCI Gravel World Series is a global race series for gravel cycling. The series consists of 12-15 events held across different countries and continents, and participants compete in various categories based on age and gender. The races cover long distances and often feature challenging terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. The UCI Gravel World Series attracts a diverse range of riders, from professional athletes to amateurs, and has gained popularity in recent years as gravel cycling has grown worldwide. In addition to Highlands, the only other North American UCI Gravel World Series event is the Blue Mountains Gravel Fondo in June in Ontario, CN.