Start and finish at the Rood Center in Nevada City.
Heart of Gold Gravel explores remote roads north and east of Nevada City, California. The course features a mix of pavement, smooth and rough gravel roads, ripping descents and prolonged, steady climbs. You will cross the Yuba River twice, and make your way through historic parks and tiny hamlets like North Bloomfield and Washington. Topping it all off, the course features ribbons of singletrack before making your way back to Nevada City.
The route starts out with an early descent on gravel to the Yuba River. Because you'll all be close together, we need this descent to be taken seriously, and with care. Early morning light, coupled with dust from riders ahead of you will lower visibility. So please take your time getting down to the river. The race will not be won with a fast, early descent... but it can surely be lost.
Once you've reached the Yuba River at mile 6.5, you begin your first major ascent -- an immediate reversal of the gravitational effects of earth's core will exert itself as you regain a thousand feet over the next two miles of gravel. Top off here with some support from our aid station.
Some relief comes in the form of a 5 mile paved section of roadway before giving way to more rugged gravel roads. At mile 15 you'll begin a mixed terrain approach to historic Malakoff Diggins State Park. We'll have a second aid station here.
Over the next 10 miles you'll crest the first major summit of the race around 4,000' before making your way all the way back to the Yuba River at 2,600', and the town of Washington where we'll have another aid station.
What comes next is a massive 2,000' climb on pavement to Highway 20. The views are pretty epic.
You'll ride along Highway 20 for a short period of time before making an attentive left-hand turn across the road at mile 39. Traffic travels fast on highway 20, and left-handers are always something you need to take your time with. We'll have a CHP presence to help create awareness, but you do not have the right-of-way. Please ride with caution. If you need to, just pull over to the shoulder for a few seconds until it's safe to cross.
Time for some singletrack as you make your way back to Nevada City with one more Highway 20 crossing. This one is perpendicular to the flow of traffic. Look both ways and cross only when it is clear to do so. Signage and volunteers will be present.
You finish the race with a paved roller back into the north end of Nevada City. The placement of the finish line is TBD at the time of this writing. When that detail materializes, this description will be updated.