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As GRVL DRMA gears up for year 3, they nixed the river crossing into Minnesota and have perfected the goal of extreme hilliness in the Driftless region of Wisconsin. In this interview, we talk about the name, route updates, and hills.

GRVL DRMA takes place on May 14, 2022 in Bay City, Wisconsin. The route is 120 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing. For more info and to register, visit their website.

Interview with Ben from GRVL DRMA:

What's the story behind the name GRVL DRMA?

I've been around gravel races for a long time and there's always some sort of drama happening at the races.

Generally it has to do with people arguing about their interpretation of unwritten rules aka "the spirit of gravel". This can be things like "attacking in the feed zone", "stashing a bottle of pickle juice on the course", and everybody's favorite "aero bars".

Also, bike racing seems to be allergic to vowels. So the name GRVL DRMA is an homage to that.

What inspired you to do this in the first place?

Minnesota has a rich history of free, grassroots gravel events like the original Almanzo, Ragnarok 105, and Dickie Scramble. I was inspired by them to create one of my own.


What are your favorite spots on the route?

The highlight of the route is that it crosses several trout streams on a lovely, winding road through dense woodlands.

My other favorite part is the gas station in Plum City.

It is next to a shelter with picnic tables and a pond filled with wildlife. It's the perfect spot to stop and have some root beer with your friends.

Why Bay City; what's good there?

We chose Bay City as the start because it is close to the Twin Cities and still has access to the hills and gravel of Western Wisconsin.

This is the third year we've done this race.

The first two years the route went to the Minnesota side of the river as well, but there were way too many cars and dangerous bridge crossings on that route, so I switched it to be only Wisconsin and have no major roads.

The original route was 180 miles with 15,000' of climbing, and honestly it was too hard. I want to have fun out there.

Isn't this Laura Ingalls Wilder's stomping ground? What's so special about biking it?

I love climbing! My friends and I were tired of gravel races on flat, windy roads.

I decided to find the hilliest possible route that was still within an easy drive of the metro area. The route is a mix of quiet paved and gravel roads, with an emphasis on gravel.

It is extremely hilly, you'll climb over 11,000 feet in 120 miles.

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