Gravel fondos are all the rage these days. But it looks like the new Jeroboam Challenge might just take the prize for the most ambitious new gravel event in Europe. Kicking off just under a month’s time on the evening of May 20 and into the next day, this new gravel grinder in northern Italy will see riders of the longest 300km route pedaling through the night to see who will make it through the vineyards, over the foothills of the Alps in the north of Lombardy, and first back to the finish on the square in Erbusco. There are shorter options too, but do you have what it takes for the full Jeroboam?
With different distances named after varying wine bottle sizes the longest is the 300km Jeroboam (after the 3l bottle). More manageable 150km Magnum (1.5l bottle) and 75km Standard (typical 0.75l bottle) are also available for those who don’t feel like riding through the night.
That’s right. The full Jeroboam 300 is sure to be an epic in its maiden running and is expected to take so long that riders have to start at 4pm on Saturday in order to make it in by the official 4pm cutoff on Sunday. With 5000m of climbing through over gravel & rough dirt tracks, some of which the organizers warn “may be barely rideable”, it is surely not for the faint of heart. They estimate a 15km/h average for most riders, which doesn’t give much rest time. Of course your going to need some lights to make it through the night (at least 6 hours of run time). But anyone who has done a 24hr race would know that it should be worth it for that sunrise on empty gravel roads, and still time to party with plenty of food and wine at the finish.
For each of the different lengths, there are aid stations along the way, but you pretty much need to be self-sufficient. The Jeroboam is being put on by local shop Giangi’s Bike, the local municipality, and by 3T who are looking to expand the number of gravel events in their homeland following the introduction of their Exploro frameset and the popularity of the Xpdtn3.club adventures.
For those slightly less insane, the Magnum 150 takes in a lot of the same terrain, just leaving out the big mountains at the northwest end of the loop. It still has a few decent climbs though.
Without as much extended climbing, the Standard 75 winds through the same tough and picturesque gravel roads of the Franciacorta vineyards. Plus this short route is a proper race, so the competition (and average speeds) will heat up a bunch more than the other distances where surviving will be marked as a win.
Entry for each distance is the same at 45€. Registration spots are limited, but there are still openings as of going to press. Let’s just hope they don’t add a 600km Methuselah option next year… although maybe why not?