There’s just something beautiful about a rally. Take the race component out of a long-distance group ride, and what are you left with? Just a collection of people on bikes enjoying the scenery, the company, and the sheer joy of pedaling.
That’s the idea behind Rapha’s inaugural Yomp Rally: a 375-mile California gravel course that winds from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles starting on May 5, 2023.
“The concept is simple: complete the course in five days or fewer at your own pace, on your own or with your friends. Rapha provides the route, a celebratory send-off, one checkpoint, a bag transfer, and a warm welcome when you arrive in Los Angeles. The rest is up to you,” the company stated on the event’s web page.
Yomp Rally Course Design
60 percent of the Yomp Rally is on roads. For that reason, Rapha recommends a crossover, bikepacking-type build like a drop-bar gravel bike with good clearance, or a hardtail mountain bike with low-profile tires. In a similar vein, Rapha suggests gearing for long climbs while carrying loads. To complete the course in the required five days, you’ll need to average 75 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing per day.
Rapha athlete Dillion Osleger designed the course. Osleger is a scientist, environmental advocate, and trail builder in addition to the time he spends in the saddle. So rest assured, he paid close attention when dropping map pins.
“The route you will have traveled is not new. It is a reverse of the path the Spanish Padres took in 1769 to create the California Missions, which could have been noticed all along in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, New Cuyama, and Santa Paula. The ecosystems you traverse — desert and coastal sage, high pine forests, and mountain chaparral — can all be seen in the construction material of Chumash baskets and Catholic Churches across the central coast. Every inch of land once belonged to the Chumash Indians, and their influence is still felt in supporting many of the projects that steward these roads and trails. Sooner or later, everything old is new again,” he said.
Yomp Rally sign-up and logistics
Riders can expect cell coverage and resupply points over most of the route. But a few sections are more remote, including passages in the Sierra Madre mountains and the Los Padres National Forest. Be prepared for a 165-mile stretch where you’ll need to carry food and filter water. Rapha’s Ride with GPS map covers camping and resupply points and also provides some bail-out routes just in case. Rapha will shuttle one duffel or bike transfer case from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles.
The Yomp Rally is open to 100 riders. Applications are open now and close on Feb. 24. Rapha will notify accepted riders on March 3. Rapha says it’s fine if you want to sign up with your friends, but each rider has to apply individually. Sign-up is free and involves a few questions about your riding experience and skill level.
Sign up here!