The Bovine Classic is a relatively new event billed tongue in cheek as "America's 4th Hardest, Cow-Themed, Wine Country Experience", and an event that our team at Strambecco considers one of the Best Gravel Cycling Events in the Southwest and California. The event occurs in the Paso Robles wine region, a great, albeit under-the-radar, cycling region, and is co-produced by Bike Monkey and Locomotiv Performance Coaching. Bike Monkey, in particular is behind many great events in the greater NorCal region, and participants in its inaugural event gave rave reviews, many going so far as saying it's the best gravel event/race they've ever participated in. One rider shared, “Couldn’t have asked for a better event and late season race! …. Thanks for the rad weekend everyone!!! Definitely an event to add to the list next year!!!” That's saying something, given the riders' experience that Bike Monkey events attract.
What makes this event truly distinct are its creatively planned courses with provisioned aid stations, ensuring riders are well taken care of throughout the journey, and the post-ride celebration brimming with beer, lunch, live music, and a DJ, offering a vibrant atmosphere for participants to unwind and rejoice. The weekend is dotted with pre-rides, such as the Sponsored Pre-Ride in Paso Robles and the unique "Fried Pickle" Pre-Ride at The LongBranch Saloon. The Bovine Classic benefits Operation Surf, which creates healing and recovery surfing programs for injured veterans.
Event & Course Info
The Bovine Classic, known for its mass-start rollout, unfolds on four stunning mixed-surface course options, presenting a divergent range of scenic beauty and challenges. This iconic event is not just a race but an eclectic experience of riding on extraordinary surfaces in breathtaking locales, albeit with some speed! Multiple timed segments peppered across the courses provide cyclists the chance to compete for podium prizes, awarded to overall segment winners. There are four courses to challenge every level of mixed-surface cycling enthusiast, and each course includes a healthy dose of dirt and asphalt riding.
Labelled as a ‘beefy burger’ of a ride, the Big Bovine route incorporates about 40+ miles of dirt over a 100 mile course. Riders will navigate long climbs, numerous Belgian-style rollers, and an invigorating 1-mile stretch of single track with a total elevation gain of nearly 9,400ft. For fields with over 30 riders, the top five cyclists by category will be awarded prizes.
The Feisty Bovine route follows much of the Big Bovine course but avoids the single-track out to Creston. Characterized as ‘feisty,’ this calf has significant climbing, promising a ride with a kick! The course totals 73 miles with almost 7,400 ft of climbing.
A novelty from 2022, the Happy Bovine introduces riders to the 1.5-mile single-track stampede out to Creston, ensuring a stop at Long Branch Saloon. This route changes the game, offering all participants a taste of this new terrain and experiences over 64 miles with 5,000+ ft. of elevation gain.
For those who fancy a beautiful, less intense ride, Baby Bovine is a treasure with a course boasting 37 miles and over 3,100 ft. of climbing. Featuring one long climb up Kiler Canyon, followed by a picturesque jaunt under a sprawling oak canopy, it's a serene journey. It allows participants to finish early but stick around for the party starting at 1 pm.
Each course is fortified with unique and well-stocked aid stations, along with on-course support including SAG vehicles, motos, and ride marshals, ensuring that riders' needs are addressed promptly. The focus is on providing an uninterrupted and smooth cycling experience.
Post-ride festivities kick off with a lively party complete with refreshing beer, a scrumptious lunch, and engaging music by a DJ and live band, setting the perfect backdrop for riders to relax and revel. The timed segments across the routes hold the key to cyclists' final positions, with the best overall segment time determining the winner in all fields.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
The Atascadero and Paso Robles area is one to be enjoyed over a long weekend, and the official lodging partners for the The Bovine Classic include Historic Carlton Hotel Atascadero, SpringHill Suites, Oxford Suites, and Best Western. There are also some wonderful vacation rentals in the area to suit a variety of needs from guesthouses to homes perfect for a group (organizers offer a registration discount for groups of 3 or more!). For those who appreciate camping, Santa Margarita Lake is a great option while there are also plenty of one of a kind camping locations in the area as well.
The culinary scene in Atascadero & Paso Robles is a diverse and vibrant amalgamation of flavors, featuring a range of restaurants offering everything from sophisticated wine-country cuisine to casual comfort foods. From cozy cafes serving fresh, locally-sourced dishes to bustling eateries offering a taste of international flavors, Atascadero provides a rich and varied dining experience for food lovers exploring this picturesque region. Check out the foodie's guide to Paso/Atascadero restaurants.
With its varied terrain and scenic landscapes, Atascadero offers a plethora of activities for athletes to indulge in. For those with a penchant for adrenaline and speed, mountain biking in the diverse terrains of Pine Mountain is a must. This destination offers a network of trails catering to various skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Late October brings cooler temperatures and a sprinkling of fall foliage, creating a breathtaking backdrop for bikers. The undulating hills, challenging climbs, and swift descents will test the mettle of even the most seasoned bikers, making it a thrilling experience for all who venture here.
Stadium Park in Atascadero is a sanctuary for hikers, where myriad trails wind through the serene landscapes and rolling hills dotted with oak trees. The trails vary in difficulty, allowing both seasoned hikers and novices to find their preferred route. The panoramic views of Atascadero from the higher trails are breathtaking and well worth the ascent.
For water enthusiasts, kayaking in the placid waters of Atascadero Lake is a refreshing endeavor. The serene environment, coupled with the mild weather of late October, makes it an ideal time for athletes to explore the lake’s nooks and crannies. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, the calm waters of Atascadero Lake offer a pleasant experience.
Bike Monkey one of the producing partners of The Bovine Classic is a well known professional events management and services company specialized in cycling events, primarily in Northern California and Nevada. Their gravel cycling events consistently make our list of the Best Gravel Cycling Events in California, the Southwest and the Northwest and include events like Heart of Gold Gravel, The Hammer Road Rally, Rebecca's Private Idaho, The Bovine Classic, Fish Rock, Stetina’s Paydirt, Truckee Tahoe Gravel. They also produce Boggs MTB one of the best MTB events in the Northwest, and Levi’s Gran Fondo, one of the Best Road Cycling Events in California and the Northwest.
For multi-sport endurance athletes looking for other events in the state of California and broader Northwest/Southwest region, be sure to check out our full list of Strambecco Best in Class road, mountain biking and trail running events.