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8 Big Changes for Gray Duck Grit III Over Labor Day Weekend 2024


Looking to add Gray Duck Grit III to your 2024 gravel list? For their 3rd year, they're doubling down on the race experience and making a ton of improvements to welcome an even bigger gravel community gathering this labor day weekend

For more info visit Grady Duck Grit.


Words by Gray Duck Grit Co-Founder & Co-Race Director Mark Jesse


Gray Duck Grit is back for year three of good times, gnarly challenges, and driftless adventure. It’s safe to say more has changed about Gray Duck Grit (GDG) III than has remained the same.


One item, however, that hasn’t changed is our core value to do more and give back. GDG organizers are thrilled, once again, to be donating a portion of our proceeds to Fraser of MN who continues to make a major impact in the lives of those with autism and others battling mental health issues. With the help of our cyclists and partners, we donated $3,100.00 to Fraser last year. We would love nothing more than to double it in 2024. Check out Fraser.org for more info.


Also returning in 2024 is GDG’s mantra: RIDE YOUR RIDE. This ethos is as simple as it sounds and speaks for itself, but it shines through in every decision made and conversation had regarding GDG since day one. It’s a pick YOUR ride (distance) and ride it the way YOU want-approach our participants sincerely appreciate.


8 New Features for Gray Duck Grit III:

1. New Community: Cannon Falls

Cannon Falls is home to some established MN landmarks such as Cannon Valley Trail, Cannon River Winery, Pachyderm Recording Studios, John Burch ballpark, and Cannon Valley Fairgrounds.


At about 4,200 residents, it’s the epitome of small town Minnesota. Full disclosure, Cannon Falls was one of our original considerations on our short list of towns since day one of GDG, but after two successful years in Northfield, we saw much more long term potential in Cannon Falls. This also meant we’d be even closer in proximity to driftless gravel region while still being just minutes away from the Twin Cities straight south on MN-Highway 52.



2. A New Nest at the Fairgounds

Cannon Valley Fairgrounds (CVF) is a much larger footprint for GDG with acres of space allowing for plenty of growth for years to come. It’s essentially a cyclist’s playground already equipped with permanent structures like restrooms and barns for our volunteers and cyclists to use throughout the weekend. What's more, it comes with a half-mile dirt track and grandstands that’ll be incorporated into the start and finish of all distances. Greg Kurts, CVF President, and the Cannon Falls community has welcomed us with open arms and is thrilled to have an event that is much different than what people typically see held at the fairgrounds. Diversity is a good.


3. New Weekend

In 2024, GDG III will be held over Labor Day weekend, more than a month earlier. Most of us love a challenge and many of us thrive on being pushed to our absolute mental and physical limits. That said, a theoretical warming up of GDG III a few degrees by holding it earlier in the season removes an obstacle for those considering signing up and will help to get a few more cyclists across the finish line safely. Safety is priority number one. We never want to see any of our cyclists going home any other way than with a smile on their faces or sense of accomplishment in their hearts.


4. New Distance: 50 Miles

This 3rd edition of GDG has a brand new 50 mile route in its quiver of options for cyclists. We’re keeping our 69, 111, 222, & 333 mile options, but now you can expect new versions of these already beautiful routes. This means they’ll also be closer in proximity to the driftless region of MN.


We’ll be cementing these routes for future years with only minor changes to make room for occasional surprises and, of course, necessary construction or weather-related detours. Unlike before, we’ll also be releasing route navigation files ahead of time beginning this spring and summer so people have more time to plan their adventure. Note: Timing chips will still be used and all cyclists will need to finish by 7:00pm on Sunday.



5. New Start & Finish Line Experience

At the Cannon Valley Fairgrounds, cyclists will experience a start and finish like no one has ever before experienced. (We don’t want to spoil all the surprises in advance, so don’t expect to see many of the details prior to race day) the organizers are going to be keeping this hush-hush until the cyclists return to the grounds where they’ll be in for some adventure and a lot of fun. It’ll be a legit one-of-a-kind journey from the start all the way through the “last mile” and that’s all we can say for now.


6. We're Adding a Cyclocross Event

Moving forward, we want cyclists and spectators to come and celebrate various disciplines of cycling. Cyclocross experienced a boon last year in MN and this year GDG III will be an early event on the local CX calendar to help kick off the season to match this momentum. Working with some local CX experts and the Minnesota Cycling Federation, we are thrilled to be able to use the CVF space to create a unique playground for newbies and advanced CX’ers alike.


7. Free Camping

With all the challenges GDG III presents, we hope lodging isn’t one of them, especially for those traveling from out of town. With the space available at CVF we’re able to offer camping spots at no cost at all. In order to reserve a free spot, simply go to BikeReg.com during registration and the spot is all yours (100 spots max).


Bring your tent, RV, or van, and save some dough in lodging. Then all you need to do is ride your ride and enjoy the good times all weekend long.


8. Fairground Vibes

In an effort to continuously improve GDG, we poll our cyclists after each year’s event and truly value their feedback. What we hear repeated most is how our passion for our cyclists and what they’re attempting to do shines through with every aspect and detail of GDG.


We want to expand these vibes and create a festival-themed cycling experience with music, refreshments, bonfires, smores, weenie roasts, cornhole bags, and more. We expect to improve upon the post-ride atmosphere cyclists enjoyed during our first two years.


Join the Fun: Labor Day Weekend 2024

At the end of the day, our group of volunteers love all types of cycling and all types of cyclists. The group takes on the “more the merrier” mentality because…why the heck not? We pride ourselves on building and expanding our GDG family by celebrating everything and everyone involved with bikes. None of us are strangers if we like the same band. THIS is what we’re all about!


Don’t wait, register today & come see yourself this Labor Day weekend!


For more info visit Grady Duck Grit.

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