Destination Tucson: The best gravel roads in the USA?

Inspired by rumours of gravel riches, Ollie Bridgewood and James 'Hank' Lowsley-Williams embarked on an adventure in the small town of Patagonia

Clock09:26, Monday 18th December 2023

Nestled in the far south-western corner of the USA, Tucson, Arizona is home to some of the best cycling in the country. GCN’s Ollie Bridgewood and James ‘Hank’ Lowsley-Williams recently experienced this first hand when they took on the El Tour de Tucson, the largest cycling race in the country.

Every year, nearly 7,000 cyclists flock to the city to experience the 102-mile epic, with the best riders completing it in less than four hours. That was Hank and Ollie’s target on their recent visit, but while they were there, they also diverted from the smooth tarmac roads to experience some of the local gravel routes, inspired by rumours that the area was home to some of the best gravel riding in the US.

To discover a promised world of gravel riches, our duo headed south to the small town of Patagonia - no to be confused by the region in South America - which is nestled inside the Sonoran desert.

Their mission was simple: survive the desert landscape that dominates this part of the world, avoid the many snakes and cacti that also call it home and, most importantly of all, find out if this area of the world really is home to some of the best gravel roads on the planet.

Of course, we couldn’t simply throw Hank and Ollie out into the hostile desert landscape alone, so we recruited the help of Zander Ault as a guide. A local legend, Zander, along with his wife Heidi, runs a bike shop, bar and hotel within the small town which is only home to less than 1,000 people.

Together, they also organise the Spirit World 100 event which explores the local area, along with a shorter 50-mile route, and it was the latter that Zander decided Ollie and Hank should tackle.

There was no one better to help our presenters to unlock the region’s full gravel potential but did our presenters discover some of the best gravel roads in the country and, just as importantly, avoid the snakes and cacti? Watch the full video at the top of this page to find out.

Discover more of our challenges and adventures on the 'Lifestyle' section of the GCN website, linked here.

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