Gravel Worlds is still a few weeks away, but last weekend, the Bohemian Alps of Nebraska were alive with the sound of gravel grinding and revelry at the 2019 Bohemian Sto Mill.
Based in, aptly, Prague, the name of the event also draws on Czech heritage—”Sto Mil” stands for 100 miles in Czech.
“We definitely wanted the name to harken to the Bohemian tradition of the area,” even co-director Russell Parde said. “We tossed around names like the Tour de Bohemian Alps and Bohemian Alps 100. Those names all sounded a little too generic, so we decided to translate 100 miles to Czech.”
Gravel Worlds turns 10 this year, but the Bohemian Sto Mil is a relatively new addition to the Nebraska gravel calendar. Ryan Albertson and Gina Kovanda are the other members of the team behind the race.
The idea for the event actually came from a bikepacking trip Albertson and Parde did a few years ago. Starting in Lincoln, they headed north to Czechland Lake, where the Sto Mil now starts.
“We loved the gravel and dirt roads we rode during the trip and on our way back to Lincoln, we started talking about hosting a ride that started from there,” Parde said. “It started to feel like a really special place to us and after enjoying the benefits of local races like Gravel Worlds for years, we saw this as a new way to give something back to the gravel community.”
In our gravel superlatives, Corey Godfrey cited the Sto Mil as a favorite event. The Sto Mil team returned the favor, pointing to the Pirate Cycling League that Godfrey is a part of as one of the inspirations for hosting a race of their own.
“What really makes Nebraska special is the community we’ve built. The Pirate Cycling League has been hosting rides like Gravel worlds for over a decade. They have been supportive of new riders and events. They have fostered a DIY spirit in the area,” Parde explained.
Organizers have changed the route for the Sto Mill every year, and this year’s route totaled exactly 100 miles. Riders rode south from Prague in a counterclockwise direction, heading back north after reaching Valparaiso, which was part of the 2018 Gravel Worlds route. Along the way, the total climbing checked in at around 6,000 feet.
“The Bohemian Alps are known for the never-ending rolling hills, and the relatively sparse population means the area has a lot of dirt roads as well,” Parde said. “We love rides that challenge us and the Bohemian Alps is the perfect setting for a challenging gravel ride.”
At this point in the gravel season, we have seen plenty of races embrace their names when it comes to podium prizes and giveaways. The Sto Mil is no different, going the route of the Belgian Waffle Ride in offering an on-brand breakfast. In the case of the Sto Mil, it was Czech kolaches.
“A kolache is a breakfast pastry similar to the more familiar Danish pastry with a fruit filling center surrounded by a sweet dough. It’s a specialty of the area and every small town seems to have a little bakery that sells them. We eat them all weekend and make sure to have some at support stops along the course,” Parde explained.
This year’s winners’ trophies were race-branded champagne bottles, and there was also a DFL prize similar to races such as the Land Run 100. This year’s DFL finisher was someone new to gravel who had only done one century before tackling the Sto Mil. You can bet there is a good chance that person will be back again for his 3rd century in 2020.
Organizers also focused on the under-represented community of women cyclists by offering a free 6-inch cake from Goldenrod Pastries to all female finishers.
Encouraging new riders and fostering a welcoming vibe is so important to the Bo Sto Mil team that they continue to make race entries free while raising money via the sale of race merch. They also keep the vibe fun with a short rule book just seven entries long. A few of those rules stand out as the most important.
“The two rules we take very seriously are do not litter and be a decent human being. If we found anyone throwing their trash on the road or not being kind to their fellow riders, volunteers or locals, they would be immediately disqualified and not welcomed back,” Parde said. “Thankfully we have not had to do that yet.”
2019 Bohemian Sto Mil Results
The 2019 Bohemian Sto Mil took place on Saturday, July 20.
The Women’s winner was Hailey Moore. Carly Thompson finished second and Carol Stauffer third.
Top Men’s honors went to Robb Finegan. Anton Krupicka took second and Josh Shear third.
Full results for the Open Women and Open Men races are below.
Open Women Results: 2019 Bohemian Sto Mil
Open Men Results: 2019 Bohemian Sto Mil
|26||Pinkston Jr, Ronald||10:24|
|DNF||St. Pierre, Chris|