Mike & Cathy organized their 4th Kingdom Graveleur. I had been following Mike's IG account kingdom_graveleur for awhile and based on that and his Strava account knew he was preparing for it. However I did not have the ride details, including when the event was going to take place.\

Kingdom Graveleur poster

Last Thursday at the NCC ride someone asked me if I was going to ride the Kingdom Graveleur ride. I was a bit suprised by the question, how did he know about the ride and how did he know I might be interested in gravel rides like that.  

When I came home decided to find out more about the ride and then saw on the Facebook page it was going the be held the Saturday in 2 days. After reading some more about it, got interested and after I reached out to Mike, he indicated there was still room for another rider.

Now came the logistics. The Kingdom Graveleur ride started on Saturday morning at 7am. Then there was also a Class IV road ride on Sunday which I signed up for as well. I ended up driving up Friday late afternoon with the Toyota Sienna,  installed our camping bed in it and brought all the camping gear for cooking. Turned out I had forgotten utencils.

I arrived Friday night just after 8pm, was a little worried finding Mike & Cathy's as it is relative remote. Fortunately the GPS instructions worked perfectly. I parked the car on a flat surface and after saying hello to everyone setup the car for sleep mode. Which basically means open the back of the car and hang a mosquito netting over it.

My sleep and eat setup

Then it was time for socializing with the folks how had already arrived. Besides Mike & Cathy saw familiar faces such as Torben and Colin. And met a number of new folks. A while later Kelly and Joe arrived and around 10-ish ppl started looking for their beds.

After some trouble falling a sleep, slept pretty well and then woke up at 5:30am. Making coffee, oatmeal and socializing brought us very quickly to the 7am start. Time to sign in. Mike & Cathy had created a whiteboard with names, which ride to do and start time and the idea was to signout when finished with the ride with your arrival time.

Signin whiteboard

There were 3 routes:

  • KG4.0aLite - The official Kingdom Graveleur KG4.0a Lite route. - 67.5 mi, +7630 ft.
  • KG4.0aBase - The official Kingdom Graveleur KG4.0a Base route. - 85.0 mi, +9035 ft.
  • KG4.0aEC - The official Kingdom Graveleur KG4.0a Extra Credit route. - 99.9 mi, +11414 ft.
Kingdom Graveleur elevation profile

The last option was the most popular option, which I decided to do too. I had calculated a 10hr ride considering the 11k+ feet of climbing. There were 3 stops in the ride.  One stop at mile 45, one at mile 60 and one 10 miles before the finish. The first 2 stops turned out to be a few miles later.

Cathy with some final instructions

After some last minute instructions the group of around 30 rides rolled out. We went up Kirby mountain road. I immediately felt my legs were tired and that it was going to be a long slow day. On top of that I lost my pump descending Victory rd and had go back to fetch it. At this point I was by myself.

Group still together just after the start

Then came the long false flat stretch up River road towards the Radar station on East mountain. Here I ran into Colin and Dave on their singlespeed bikes spinning out on the relatively flat road. I decided to ride with them. At the bottom of the climb they debated whether they would go up the last 2 mile steep section.

I decided to go ahead, quickly followed by Dave and Colin, on our way up the other riders started to come down, the group had already spread out. On the top of the climb there were low hanging clouds and was pretty chilly. So after quickly adjusting my brake pads for more braking power, we descended the steep road down.

Then we headed towards East Burke. I have been riding in this area multiple times but the route still had some new gravel roads for me. From there we rode to the first stop in Wheelock. It was around 11am and only had a coffee and an ice cream (also bought a bag of gummies). I also knew the steep Vertical Mile was waiting just around the corner.

The Vertical Mile road sign even has an angle

The singlespeeders were powering themselves up the steep Vertical Mile road with cadences lower than 50rpm. Even in my easiest gear 34/34 was hard to push the pedals around. Vertical mile was followed by two climbs: Stannard mountain and Round mountain where the 2nd stop was. This was at Mike's Uncle's cafe Top of the Mountain. I was close to bonking and had to eat a bunch of the gummies to keep the legs going.

The food at the cafe was great: I had a tuna sandwich, a hotdog roll, chips, cola and the home made lemonade. As a service our waterbottles were cleaned and refilled.

Second stop at the Top of the mountain cafe

After the stop we descended a class IV road which proofed to be challenging but exciting. More descending was followed by a majestic view all the way to the White mountains.

View of the White mountains

We then worked our way, fortunately mostly downhill, towards the third and last stop. On this section I had one scare where descending into a dark forest I suddenly saw a huge hole in the road. I panicked and jumped of my bike, magically landing on my feet and dragging my bike behind me. Could have been much worse. Later I heard a lot of riders were caught by surprise here. No accidents.

At the last control I had an icecream and we made ourselves ready for the last 11 miles. I thought we were going straight to Kirby rd, however Mike had a test of character build in the route a 4 miles detour up the sides of a hill towards Concord and than back to Kirby rd. We passed the test :-)

In the meantime it has started raining, which was nice to cool off. On the gravel of Kirby road it gave us a nice gray behind. At 5:20pm rolled up the steep driveway greeted by the other riders. Turned out we were the last finishers.

Gray race stripe

Then there was plenty of food and beer, I had brought some steak and Treehouse. That night slept like a baby. An after breakfast drove back to Conway, MA. I had decided to take some rest after the hard day of riding.

Definitely saw some (wet) gravel

Thanks to Mike and Cathy the Kingdom Graveleur was a big success.