THE HELLHOLE GRAVEL GRIND STAGE RACE & 1-DAY GRAVEL FONDO
The Hellhole Gravel Grind features a weekend of gravel and offers multiple events geared toward riders of all abilities held entirely within the confines of the Francis Marion National Forest near Charleston, SC.
The pinnacle event, a three-day stage, is the first and longest running gravel stage race in the United States. Featuring nearly 150 miles of gravel, the race begins with a one-of-a-kind night-time prologue showcasing competitors under the twilight of the forest canopy. The weekend also features 42 and 75-mile gravel fondo options for those inclined.
Despite being pancake flat, this unique event will test riders' physical and mental toughness. The hundreds of miles roads of the Francis Marion are mostly hard-packed gravel, with some grassy doubletrack, Roubaix-rated trail sections along the Palmetto Trail and megafauna such as bear, snakes, boar (and chupacabra…).
The event is promoted by Mt. Pleasant Velo and has been featured in Cyclocross Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, Mens Journal, and Gravel Cyclist. The event is quickly becoming a marquee gravel event and should be on any gravel enthusiast's bucket list!
Race Notes and Information
The Hellhole Gravel Grind Prologue, 2-Day Stage Race and 1-Day Gravel Fondos take place on the gravel roads in and around Hellhole Swamp in the Francis Marion National Forest just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The forest is named for the revolutionary war hero Francis Marion, who was known to the British as the Swamp Fox. He used these swamps, creeks and forest areas to ambush and hide from the British and was depicted in the movie “The Patriot”.
Event Schedule: (all stages begin at Witherbee Ranger Station)
Friday (September 25, 2020)
The Friday evening Prologue will be an optional, time bonus event on an all gravel 6 mile loop around the Witherbee Ranger Station. The time trial style event will begin at just before sunset (6:30 PM) so headlights and tail lights will be required. Riders will go off at 30 second intervals. YOU MUST ARRIVE TO PICK-UP YOUR NUMBER BETWEEN 5-6:15 PM. Number pickup at these times are for prologue competitors only.
Saturday (September 26, 2020)
Stage Race and Gravel Fondo (all distances)
Number pickup and rider check-in begins at 7:00 AM
MANDATORY all-rider meeting at 8:45 AM
Start Time 9:00 AM (all distances, groups will be staggered)
Podiums will be presented approximately 20 minutes after each race.
6:30 PM - Mid-race gathering at Commonhouse Aleworks
Sunday (September 27, 2019)
Stage 2 start time 9:00 AM
Podiums will be presented approximately 20 minutes after the race.
2-Day Stage Race
The 2-Day Stage Race will be approximately 75 miles each day and will feature a different course each day. The courses will be ~90% of unpaved roads and trails (single and double track). This is a true stage race with the lowest cumulative time over the two days determining the overall winner.
1-Day Gravel Fondos
For those less ambitious, there will be a 1-Day 75 mile, long course and 42 mile, short course ride on the first day of the Stage Race. The 75 mile course will be the same as the first stage of the stage race. The 42 mile ride will feature approximately 35 miles of the 75 mile course before splitting off and returning to the start/finish area. The 42 mile ride will be timed.
Stocked aid stations will be available on each day’s course and limited support will be provided along the courses. To say this area is remote is an understatement. Bring with you what you think you may need for before, during, and after the race.
Stage Race - Riders must reach the mid-point aid station within 3.5 hours and must complete each day’s stage within 7 hours from the start of the race.
75 Mile Fondo - Riders must reach the mid-point aid station within 3.5 hours and must complete the course within 7 hours from the start the race.
42 Mile Fondo - Riders must complete the 42 miles within 5 hours from the start of the race.
Categories: (for all events)
Men Open Men Open 40+ Women Open Mens 50+
Nature Adventures Outfitters (21 miles from start)
Camping Communal Cabins
KOA Kampground (23 miles from start)
3157 Highway 17 North
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466
Contact the Francis Marion National Forest
Wyndham Garden Inn Mount Pleasant
1330 Stuart Engals Blvd.
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Awards/Medals/Prizes will be given to the top 3 finishers in each category of the stage race. All participants who finish will receive a Hellhole Gravel Grind Finishers Award.
Rules and General Information:
Helmets MUST be worn and fastened at all times while on the bike.
The course and all roads are open to traffic. ALL racers MUST obey all rules of the road along the course, at intersections and road crossings. Racers should yield to all traffic and should stop at all road crossings where traffic is present. There will be several highway and road crossings with heavy car and truck traffic. There may be an area of the course where the racers will share the road with car and truck traffic. Please keep to the right and ride single file except where passing. Following the rules of the road is for your own safety.
Traffic in the National Forest includes horses. Horseback riders have the right of way on trails. Please ask the rider what to do if you encounter a horse on the trail.
Though there will be an aid station and limited support on the course, racers should carry with them what they need including tools, parts and nutrition.
Course cue sheets will be distributed to all riders at packet pickup and the course download will be available for navigation systems. Additional cue sheets will be available at the start-finish area and at the mid-point aid station. The courses will be marked with signage.
Cyclocross, Gravel, Mountain and Road bikes will be allowed and can be used. The best choice would be a cyclocross or gravel grind bike. A minimum of 28c wide tires with tread is recommended. Gravel can be very hard on tires and pot holes are numerous. Don’t ruin your race by cutting an expensive tubular in the first mile.
Support crews are not permitted to help racers on the course except for the aid station. No motor pacing, no pacing from a rider not in the race, no external support. Limited SAG will be available and a sweep will be made of the course according to the appropriate cutoff time.
Please let the staff know if you leave the race. We want to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for at the end of the day.
Absolutely no littering on the course. Littering on course will result in disqualification. It is vital we leave the forest as we found it.
The Hellhole Gravel Grind is being held under a special use permit issued by the Francis Marion National Forest.