A relatively new event, unPaved of the Susquehanna River Valley from GRO Races has gained rapid popularity attracting hundreds of riders who loved the routes and the weekend festival atmosphere in Lewisburg, PA. Each route showcases some of the best gravel riding Pennsylvania offers and has become one of the Best Gravel Events in the Mid-Atlantic for 2023, as rated by Strambecco.
This event is not just a race but a raw road adventure, promising participants a challenging yet exhilarating experience through some of the most scenic landscapes this region has to offer. The uniqueness of unPAved lies in its adaptability to choose-as-you-ride lengths and start times, as well as an overnight option. Whether you’re an elite gravel racer gunning for the title or a casual rider looking for some weekend fun, unPAved welcomes all.
Event & Course Info
The unPaved of the Susquehanna River Valley routes showcase exceptional gravel, challenging ascents, exhilarating descents, lush scenery, and well-stocked aid stations. This year, the courses have been updated:
The Full-120 is a rugged challenge of stamina and skills. A whopping 10,000′ climb awaits riders, complete with 4 timed segments that could earn one the title of “Champion of the Whoopie Pies”. The course now introduces “The Different Difference”, eliminating super-chunky roads but maintaining its challenging essence.
The Plenty-90 mile course circumvents the “Different Difference”, and riders will experience a 7,000′ climb and an extended route down south.
Proper-50 mile is remaining unchanged for its near-perfection – this route offers a large climb, two descents, and two vistas to savor.
The 30-mile route, commencing and concluding at R.B. Winter State Park, is now an all-gravel ride, presenting riders with a 3,000′ climb and scenic gravel roads.
For the crazy ones craving more mileage and challenges, the Big Lick 200 is a 200 mile route with a climb of 18,311 ft – however, participation in this insane event is limited to 30 riders and is based on an application process.
The best part about unPaved of the Susquehanna River Valley is the freedom to decide. Start times are flexible, ranging from 6:30–9:00 am, and “Big Lick 200”, riders can begin between 5 AM – 6 AM. The courses are interlinked, allowing you to decide your distance while you’re in the midst of your ride (for most course options but not all!). Ambitious riders can explore extra sections if they arrive on time, casual riders can opt for quicker returns to the post-event party. You can event turn your unPAved experience into a full weekend escapade by setting up camp at RB Winter State Parkfor the unPAved SlumberPArty. Located snugly in the northeast quadrant of the Bald Eagle State Forest, and just off State Rte. 192, it offers a laid-back approach to tackle the 90 or 125-mile routes alongside both old pals and newfound companions, allowing you to choose your pace for either the 90 or 125-mile journey.
While many of the course’s gravel paths surpass the condition of asphalt roads, the term “unpaved” occasionally hints at rougher and unpredictable terrains. Ensure you equip your bike with quality tires, for instance, a 700×35-40 tubeless configuration with newly applied Stan’s NoTubes sealant at 30-45psi. Also, come prepared with essential tools and equipment to address any flat tires or mechanical issues.
Listen in for a sneak peak of the 2023 event. Visit local bike shops Earl’s Bicycle Store or Brookside Bikes for any mechanical support, and if all of this sounds too much, enjoy the funPAved group ride the day before where the motto is to ride, relax, and revel in post-ride beers with friends.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
There is good fun to be had the entire weekend in Lewisburg at unPaved of the Susquehanna River Valley. There is a Fall festival on Saturday and a DONEpaved party following the ride. The Susquehanna River Valley presents a genuine slice of rural Pennsylvania, blending its finest elements: from craft breweries and top-tier wineries to invigorating outdoor activities, family entertainment, rich wildlife, delightful dining, and warm hospitality. The region’s rugged terrains, verdant hills, and thick forests promise to push your physical limits, assess your gear, and undoubtedly, brighten your day.
The official host hotel is the Fairfield Inn & Suites while other options are the historic Lewisburg Hotel and the Pineapple Inn B&B. For those looking for a more home-like experience, there are vacation rentals in the area that suit a variety of needs from apartments to homes.
Lewisburg, PA boasts a vibrant culinary scene that merges historic charm with contemporary flavors, offering a diverse range of eateries from quaint cafés and gourmet bistros to international cuisine, all set within the town’s picturesque backdrop. This culinary diversity is complemented by local farm-to-table practices, ensuring fresh and authentic dining experiences. Local favorites include Elizabeth’s, Gram’s Eatery, and Amami.
Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania, Lewisburg boasts not just historical charm and a vibrant cultural scene, but also a plethora of outdoor activities. A hidden gem in the Susquehanna River Valley, the Dale’s Ridge Trail offers a unique blend of natural beauty and history to be enjoyed hiking. Spanning over 4 miles, the trail showcases a mix of woodlands, meadows, and breathtaking views of the river. The trail also features interpretive signs detailing the region’s history, geology, and ecology. While the hike is moderate, the inclines and varying terrains provide a good workout. After reaching the top, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views that are especially stunning during the fall.
The Susquehanna River, one of the oldest rivers in the world, offers a serene kayaking experience in October. The calm waters make it suitable for both beginners and experienced kayakers. As you paddle along, you’ll witness the rocky slopes and dense woodlands of the Susquehanna River Valley bathed in autumn colors. Wildlife enthusiasts may spot bald eagles, river otters, and a variety of waterfowl. For those looking for a longer adventure, there are several islands that you can explore or even camp on. Several local outfitters offer kayak rentals and guided tours, ensuring a safe and informative journey.
Finally, the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail is a 9-mile trail that connects Lewisburg to Mifflinburg and is perfect for cyclists looking for a less intense yet equally picturesque ride. Once a functioning railway, this trail has been beautifully repurposed into a multi-use path for cycling, walking, and jogging. The trail offers a combination of beautiful landscapes, ranging from agricultural fields to serene woodlands. While it may not have the ruggedness of unPAved, the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail is flat and well-maintained, making it accessible for cyclists of all skill levels. It’s also family-friendly, so if you’re traveling with younger ones or those new to cycling at unPaved of the Susquehanna River Valley, it’s a perfect fit.
GRO Races also produces the True Grit Epic MTB (one of the top MTB events in the Mid Atlantic) and True Grit Gravel Epic on consecutive weekends in March in Utah. They also produce 25 Hours in Frog Hollow (one of the best in the Southwest and part of the N24 Series), as well as a new event in Iceland, HRing. Other top rated gravel events that take place in Pennsylvania include Tour de Shunk as well as Trans-Sylvania Gravel Epic from Trans-Sylvania Productions – each have a sister event Tour de Shunk Road and Trans-Sylvania MTB Epic which are both considered to be some of the best road and mountain biking events in the region.
For the multi-sport athlete out there, Pennsylvania has no shortage of best in class trail running events to consider, from the Hyner View Trail Challenge which is part of the PA Triple Crown, to the epic Eastern States 100, a UTMB and Western States Qualifier.