Situated 30 minutes northeast of Kansas City, Missouri, the roads of Excelsior Springs give quick access to a huge network of gravel roads winding through the hilly countryside. The views give way to towering hills, tree lined roads, streams, farmland and river flats. Both the 52-mile and 100-mile courses follow challenging routes that will leave you with an appreciation of the area.
Sometimes you have to find an old gravel road and see where it takes you...
Gravel grinding enthusiasts take note: The Opal Wapoo Gravel Grinder combines the best of both worlds - a challenging, scenic gravel route that starts and ends in a town full of hospitality (and free beer at the finish!), Excelsior Springs. The race starts and ends during the Waterfest, an annual festival celebrating Excelsior Springs' mineral water heritage. You will be led out of town by a 1953 Johnny Popper (John Deere) tractor, and within a few miles you will leave pavement and hit the gravel roads and journey through the Missouri countryside. You will travel down hilly, curvy, flat, tree-lined roads, past streams, possibly through streams in a low-water crossing, in an area where the terrain is ever-changing. Cars are few and far between, and folks will wave at your from their fields as you ride by. You will ride through the Crooked Creek Conservation area. Just as you get used to the rolling hills on the 100-mile course, the course will take you through the river bottoms as you ride past corn fields, down gravel that looks like it touches the horizon. As you ride back into town, the party will be waiting for you at the finish in the middle of the Waterfest, an annual festival in Excelsior Springs. The finish line will receive you with a free beer and a bite to eat provided by local businesses. This of course will only wet your appetite for all the live music, great food and hospitality that Excelsior Springs and its annual Waterfest have to offer.
Be prepared to be challenged - you will ride hills, hills and more hills! There is 7,000+ feet of climb on the 100-mile Wapoo race and around 5,500+ feet of climb on the 52-mile Opal race. These gravel routes mix in long, gradual hills with short, steep hills. But what goes up must come down, with an almost equal amount of descent! Discover the hidden gems in the gravel roads of Ray County, which twist and curve their ways through classic midwest countryside. If you plan to ride the 100-mile route, don’t take for granted the 20+ miles of flats in the Missouri river bottoms! It may give you a rest from the hills, but they became a bit notorious for their unexpected challenge.
The Opal Wapoo will start and finish in the middle of the Waterfest, an annual festival in Excelsior Springs celebrating the town's mineral water heritage. This challenging new race helps showcase the hospitality in the small town of Excelsior Springs.
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