At ENVE, we’re fortunate to have experienced some of the very best gravel events on the calendar over the past decade. From Kansas to California to Iceland to Girona, and yes, even Holland. The Netherlands might not be the European location you think of when it comes to gravel riding, but take our word for it, it stacks up against some of the best spots we’ve laid tire to.
After a direct flight from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam, then a short drive to Amersfoort, we arrived at Rock City Brewing for the 4th Annual Rock Solid gravel event. Rock Solid and Rock City Brewing have become synonymous, both growing together in popularity from humble beginnings. Rock City Brewing has become a popular brewery and BBQ establishment, well-known outside the old city walls of the town having won several brewing awards Internationally. As hosts of the Rock Solid gravel event, they’ve helped elevate it to the point where the 230 entries sell out in a matter of a couple days.
Even though warm weather is never anything you’ll have to worry about in The Netherlands on a November morning, event day greeted us with below freezing temps and clear morning skies. Undeterred, riders signed in at Rock City and received their event maps with instructions to gather stamps at four locations around the main 95km loop with the chance to win some cool prizes at the raffle later in the evening during the post-ride feast at Rock City. With a choice between 95, 120 and 150 kilometer routes that all included coffee stops, soup stops, and fresh goodies, not even the cold weather put a damper on the full field rolling out at the start.
The region of Amersfoort is also known as the flatlands of Holland, which would leave one thinking that riding here would be, well, flat. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Small hills composed of old sand dunes hide a wealth of dirt and gravel roads, and the region is riddled with world class singletrack that has been built over the past few years by a small group of dedicated trail builders. Flowy, almost pumptrack style trails are fast and fun on any bike, and even more so mounted up on a gravel steed.
As riders made their way back to Rock Solid Brewing after tackling one of three routes, they quickly transitioned from their cold riding gear into something warmer to settle in and begin enjoying the post-ride festivities that included specialty beers on tap and plates of BBQ. The stoke was high as evident by the many smiling faces, conversations and high fives abound, and for one lucky participant, even more so after winning a set of ENVE wheels.
Rock Solid is not a race, not even an epic adventure, what it is, is the soul of gravel riding. A group of people, much like the hunter gatherers from the Mesolithic period in the region, gathering treasures that can only be discovered with kindred souls on bikes in the wilds of this northern land.