The Earth Day Gravel Grinder was way beyond what we thought it could be!!!! -Kathleen Sprole, Team Road Life

All photos courtesy of Carlos Sabillón of Sabi Photography.

When Kathleen Sprole, Beth Walser, and Aleasha Markley came together to go on Climate Ride Iceland, they knew they were facing a big challenge. They each committed to fundraising $4,000 in order to participate in the ride. To make it happen, they had to pull together as a team. In addition to reaching out to friends and family, they decided to go all in on hosting a group ride that would both provide them a venue reach out to people in their community about fighting for the planet and help to raise the funds to do it.

They sat down together to look for a great day for the event and realized that Earth Day happened to fall on a Sunday. They decided it would be cool to have a gravel ride that day! They wanted to make sure it was fun and family friendly so chose to do a group ride instead of a race. Aleasha lives in Northfield, MN, about 45 minutes outside of the Twin Cities, a town known for its awesome gravel, the perfect town for such a ride. They reached out to Imminent Brewing, a local brewery in town to host the start and end of the ride, and Earth Day Gravel Grinder was born.

Hard Work for the Movement

Over the next couple of months, the team met regularly to plan, recruit volunteers, get the word out, partner with local businesses and organizations, and plan out three separate routes to make sure everyone felt capable of doing the ride. The Mighty Oak Route was about 51 miles and 2,600 feet of elevation gain for experienced riders. The Pleasant Pine Route ran roughly 26 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain for folks who wanted a fun yet challenging day ride. Finally, the Sweet Sapling Route was for beginning riders and families, but still a solid ride at 13 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain.

Minnesota had a pretty brutal winter leading up to the event that didn’t want to end. Just a week prior to the ride, they received over 12 inches of snow! As the snow kept following the team got a little nervous. But the forecast for the week looked like it would be warm enough to at least melt some of the massive snow pile, so they decided to take their chances. Sunday came with a sunny 60 degrees and it was perfect. Beth felt like “Mother Nature must have been watching over us.”

Host It and They Will Come

The day of the event, they were amazed to have over 220 riders and raise over $4,700 for Climate Ride between rider donations (they asked for a suggested donation of $5 a rider), and Imminent Brewery giving 10% of their sales for the day. They also arranged an awesome silent auction chock full of goodies from sponsors and an organization (JCI Shakopee) that matched their event fundraising up to a certain amount. They could not have asked for better hosts than Imminent Brewing and were amazed by the swell of support from their community.

They had riders of all ages, experienced gravel riders, and newbies. Beth summed the day up like this:

“To say we felt overwhelmed by the number of riders and the positive feedback we received about the ride is an understatement. I’m pretty sure Kat, Aleasha and I are all still riding a high from Sunday. It was a ton of work but also a TON of fun, we could not have done it without the support of our awesome community of friends, riders, volunteers and sponsors. And we wouldn’t have done it had it not been for the Climate Ride!!”

You can see what the event was like thanks to the great photos from Carlos Sabillón of Sabi Photography and others who were on the ride that day here.

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