The only thing better than the personal triumph of completing a gravel event is completing that personal triumph for a good cause. In recent weeks, we have seen the Great Gator Gravel Grinder, Rasputitsa and La Grind all donate part or all of their proceeds to charity.

Last weekend, British Columbia’s Ride for Water joined them in raising money for a good cause. Saturday’s event helped provide funding for clean water projects in Ethiopia.

The event might be new, but the organization behind it is not. Before there was a Ride for Water, there was a Run for Water. Two years ago, some folks wanted to help the charity, but did not necessarily want to run long distances.

“In 2017 a local development firm, Diverse Properties, approached us and really wanted to support our charity and our work that is being done in Ethiopia,” event director Matt Scott said. “But they were not runners. They were cyclists and suggested we look at hosting a road cycling event.”

British Columbia has plenty of mountain biking and road fondo events, so those were off the table for the folks from Run for Water. There was, however, a discipline growing in popularity in North America.

“Around this time, there was a strong core group of local cyclists who were already riding gravel. With the Fraser Valley being home to hundreds of kilometers of logging roads, old-growth forestry roads and access to the Trans Canada Trail network, a gravel race in 2018 was just a logical step for us,” Scott explained.

THe Ride for Water course featured trails of all kinss. 2019 Ride for Water. © Liam Dueck

The Ride for Water course featured trails of all kinss. 2019 Ride for Water. © Liam Dueck

“This year’s Ride for Water registrations raised $38,000 for clean water projects in the Bekyye region in Ethiopia. Hundreds of families will now have clean water for the first time in their lives because of our event. To date, the Run for Water charity has raised over $3 million for our clean water projects in Ethiopia and has drilled over 60 wells.”

Support for the Ride for Water also came from Easton Cycling. The company put up all the money for payouts to the Elite riders. Winners of both the Women and Men’s races took home $1,000 for their day of gravel work.

“Easton’s support for gravel racing has been amazing,” Scott said. “They’re really getting behind the growth of the gravel scene, and in particular our Ride for Water. We saw a definite increase in the number of elite riders this year over last. And being able to offer equal prize money for the Women’s field was important to us.”

This year’s impressive support from sponsors comes to an event that has grown quickly. Last year, we did a quick hit on the first Ride for Water. Scott said the event was a big success.

“We knew we had an amazing route and backdrop for a gravel event but we weren’t sure if there were enough local gravel riders to support a large scale race. Luckily for us, there was,” he said. “Based on last year’s turnout, we knew we were on to something and going in the right direction.”

This year, the Ride for Water offered three distances: a 27km Intro to Gravel, 85km Medio and 130km Epic. It was the Epic, with 2,200 meters of climbing, that offered the chance to race for cash.

Unlike spring classics such as the Belgian Waffle Ride, the Ride for Water was very much a gravel gravel race, with 80% of the course rolling on gravel, doubletrack or even singletrack. This year’s course swapped some flatter riding along dikes in the Fraser Valley for trails that make up the Trans Canada Trail network. Those trails are old-growth forest logging roads, so you know they got gnarly at times.

“We have a lot of mountains, a lot of forestry roads climbs and trails in our region. For us, gravel riding is everything from our house to the mountain vistas,” Scott said about the course. “To take full advantage of what our region has to offer, you’re going to have to climb.”

There were mountains to be seen at the Ride for Water.  2019 Ride for Water. © Liam Dueck

There were mountains to be seen at the Ride for Water. 2019 Ride for Water. © Liam Dueck

The Race

An impressive race calls for impressive fields.

Last month, we chatted with Courtenay McFadden about her first gravel experience. The cyclocross star was back at it in British Columbia, and she took home the win and $1,000 for her efforts. Morgan Cabot finished second and Dierdre Douglas took third. Suzanne Foster and Stephanie Jensen rounded out the wide-angle podium.

The Women's podium finishers took home a nice pay day. 2019 Ride for Water. © Liam Dueck

The Women’s podium finishers took home a nice pay day. 2019 Ride for Water. © Liam Dueck

For the Men, it was Spencer Paxson taking the win. Garrett Mcleod took second and Michael van den Ham third. Carsten Ivany and Craig Richey rounded out the top five.

Full results for the 130km Epic are below. Results for all races are available here.

Women's Results: 2019 Ride for Water

1Courtenay McFadden05:49:54.90
2Morgan Cabot06:12:36.20
3Dierdre Douglas06:55:31.40
4Suzanne Foster07:12:51.80
5Stephanie Jansen07:25:48.80
6Sofia Bayfield07:33:46.80
7Sarah Carter07:48:21.50
8Diella Siemens07:51:16.40
9Crystal Lambert07:58:25.70
10Jane Weller08:12:06.00
11Juschka Clarke08:30:36.90
12Kristen Meindertsma08:30:39.10
13Chelsey Cooley09:09:22.20

Men's Results: 2019 Ride for Water

1Spencer Paxson05:13:22.40
2Garrett Mcleod05:14:57.90
3Michael Van Den Ham05:22:32.80
4Carsten Ivany05:22:45.40
5Craig Richey05:28:20.10
6Nick Geddes05:37:44.00
7Nic Tickner05:38:03.30
8Christopher Bradbury05:39:58.30
9Steve Devantier05:44:42.10
10Connor Wolff05:48:03.10
11Nathan Killam05:48:42.40
12Marc Edwards05:50:32.60
13Kalum Utley05:51:36.60
14John Lackey05:54:12.70
15Dan Schmit05:54:15.60
16Ben Shaklee05:55:33.60
17Greg Timewell05:58:09.30
18Lucas Gallagher06:01:25.90
19Simon Blythe06:02:22.60
20Warren Cornwall06:03:10.00
21Dean Reimer06:05:08.30
22Phil Smith06:05:10.70
23Quinn Anderson06:06:24.00
24Jason Harris06:09:24.20
25Nico Petch06:13:04.60
26Colin Schlosser06:13:08.70
27James Funk06:17:44.60
28David Gillam06:24:12.40
29Chris Bozman06:24:48.30
30Maxwell Kelsch06:27:31.10
31James Kirker06:36:23.90
32Andrea Carrino06:36:26.70
33Kevin Nemethy06:36:31.20
34Etienne Hossack06:36:32.50
35Neil Winkelmann06:37:18.40
36Alexander Morgan06:38:30.00
37Stefan Feldmann06:38:31.90
38Jordan Behan06:41:30.00
39Gearld Sawatzky06:41:34.20
40Martin Bayly06:41:36.50
41Uli Mayer06:41:44.90
42Geordan Hankinson06:41:54.10
43Jim Zimmerman06:41:55.50
44Graham Lade06:42:19.00
45Bruce McLean06:43:05.50
46Colin Smith06:45:22.50
47Bert Sandie06:49:07.90
48Blair Benjamin06:49:08.70
49Gord Dickson06:51:14.60
50P.L. Meindertsma06:51:15.60
51Brian Anderson06:54:38.80
52Keith Tolhurst06:56:20.50
53David Price06:57:28.40
54Paul Palfreyman07:03:44.70
55Devin Knopf07:06:30.20
56Jonathan Schwarz07:07:25.20
57Jakub Wasiela07:08:17.30
58Charlie Secretan07:08:18.40
59TRAVIS SCHISLER07:11:35.30
60Sean McLean07:11:37.10
61Matthew Friesen07:15:49.00
62Jason Wutke07:16:16.40
63Jakub Kania07:18:43.50
64Mike Richards07:20:35.70
65Bert Griffioen07:22:05.20
66Nils Kuerten07:26:03.40
67Tom Baker07:27:10.00
68Peter Kobzar07:33:43.10
69Bob Helgason07:33:47.40
70Alejandro Morales07:33:53.00
71Ted Hobby07:34:24.60
72Mike Coulter07:34:30.70
73Matt Skinner07:34:34.70
74Denis Ross07:34:41.30
75Jason Rhodes07:34:53.70
76Liam Rourke07:34:56.20
77Matthew Hendriks07:35:03.40
78Milos Kalanovic07:44:30.50
79Alex Wren07:46:30.70
80Joe Viel07:51:23.90
81Craig McGarry07:52:12.50
82Justin Turcotte07:52:15.70
83Tom Walz07:52:16.70
84Paul Mc Carthy07:52:26.90
85Justin Payeur07:53:13.30
86Jack MacDonald07:53:16.00
87Erick Wong07:54:59.50
88Shawn Von Diebitsch07:56:09.40
89Brian Evans07:56:57.20
90Dwight Sick07:57:09.30
91Derek Slykerman07:57:38.60
92Tom Ryall07:58:22.50
93Ian Prinsloo08:13:01.10
94Martin Kastelein08:32:37.70
95Dan Buhler08:49:34.20
96Warren Taylor09:04:22.30
97Graeme Ahokas09:04:25.20
98Rafael Muneton09:06:28.90
99John Swarbrick09:27:24.10
100Eric Unrau09:27:24.80
DNFMatt Church
DNFAndrew Falk
DNFBrandon Jones
DNFTrevor Klaudt
DNFDrummond Lawson
DNFCurtis Oakes
DNFBjoern Ossenbrink
DNFMatthew Strand
DNFGraham Tutti
DNFDominic Walsh
DNFWayen Wiebe