Former Tour de France rider was winner of 2nd annual Gravel Hugger

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
Riders during the Shasta Gravel Hugger race on Saturday.

A well known cyclist who has competed in the Tour de France was the overall winner of Saturday's 100-mile Gravel Hugger Race, which began and ended in Montague.

Pete Stetina, who competes in gravel and endurance mountain bike racing as a privateer finished the 100-mile race in first place with a time of 4:44:38.4, said race organizer Ben Brainard. He said it's "an honor" to have someone like Stetina compete, in addition to other famous gravel racers, including Clara Honsinger and Jacob Rathe.

Winter weather conditions did not deter riders from jumping on their bikes for the second annual Gravel Hugger Race, which featured 100-mile and 62-miles races and breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta.

Like last year, the day of the race was wintry. Several inches of snow were on the ground in the early morning, Brainard said. Fortunately, the roads cleared up by race time and the racers were "a hardy group." And the snow made the scenery "simply breathtaking" with snow covering the mountains and hills of the Shasta Valley.

A total of 374 riders signed up, compared to 128 in its inaugural year, although Brainard estimated around 50 riders didn't show. He said the wintery conditions likely played a factor in that.

People came to the race from all over the region, said Brainard, from Portland, Ore. to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. He hopes the event will gain in popularity over the next few years and people from around the country and world will travel to take part.  

Finishing after Stetina in the 100-mile race was Jonathan Baker in second with a time of 4:49:58.9. Luke Lamperti was third with a time of 5:02.:23.8. 

Brainard said the women’s 100-mile race was exciting, with only seconds separating the top three finishers. Maude Farrell was first with a time of  5:26:10.9. Moriah Wilson was second with a time of 5:26:11.7. Clara Honsinger was third with a time of 5:26:11.8.

In the men’s 62-mile race, Lance Heppler was first with a time of 3:31:54.8. Only seconds behind was Matt Russell, who finished with a time of3:31.56.2. Close behind was third place finisher, John Craft who had a time of 3:32:17.4. 

In the women’s 62-mile race, Laura Coombs was first with a time of 4:07:24.2. Second went to Chanda Willse with a time of 4:08:43.3. Third was Ryan Levering who had a time of 4:11:19.1. 

Brainard said each route has breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta and consists of about 50/50 gravel and pavement. The fast pavement sectors connect the 10 challenging gravel sectors, including the infamous "Jeep Road." The race is built like a spring classic, he said, with sectors of Northern California gravel in place of European cobblestones. This course stands out with its rolling wide open roads and two major climbs totaling 4,700 feet of climbing.  

The race had a staggered start with waves of around 50 riders each. Face coverings were required from the start, until riders reached the first gravel sector (about six miles in). They were also asked to use masks any time appropriate social distancing could not be maintained.  

Brainard thanked the city of Montague for helping make the Gravel Hugger such a success. 

“They have given us so much support to bring this event to Siskiyou County,” he said. “They have been really helpful. I'm so grateful for all they have done for us.” 

For more information and complete race results, go to https://www.gravelhugger.com/