Organizers of the Mt. Lemmon Gravel Grinder announced Tuesday that Pinal County will be the event’s new title sponsor. The new partnership is a three-year commitment that provides financial, infrastructure, and marketing support for the event that draws hundreds of cycling enthusiasts to southern Arizona every year.
“By supporting the Mt. Lemmon Gravel Grinder, Pinal County is recognizing Oracle as a destination cycling community for outdoor enthusiasts,” said race organizer John McCarrell. “Their support will help grow the MLGG into one of Arizona’s premier cycling events and foster wider participation so everyone can experience the area’s natural beauty and Oracle’s small-town charm.”
Tim Kanavel, Pinal County’s Economic Development Director, said the Mt. Lemmon Gravel Grinder “perfectly aligns with our vision of Oracle as an adventure corridor. It’s going to be the bike racing capital of the state. We are going to have all kinds of bike races here.”
“We’re proud to sponsor the Mt. Lemmon Gravel Grinder,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to really highlight an amazing part of the county.”
Founded in 2016, the Mt. Lemmon Gravel Grinder has brought more than 1,000 participants to the region over the past four years. The MLGG offers main event distances of 60-, 50- and 40-miles that take participants through the lush, semi-desert landscape that skirts the lower elevations of the Santa Catalina Mountains and leads the way to the main climb up the “backside” northern slopes of Mt. Lemmon.
Other ride options include a 13-mile Family Fun Ride and Free Kids Race/Ride for ages 12 and under. Last year in 2019, the event attracted 422 riders from across the country, Canada and Mexico. The free kids race attracted 38 participants.
Registration begins April 1 for the two-day event and festivities begin Friday, Oct. 30 with the ride taking place on Saturday, Oct. 31. The main event distances are limited to 550 riders.
The event leverages the 3C Ranch to provide a family-friendly experience. Attendees enjoy the area for event activities and live music, on-site camping, accommodations, campground games, a communal campfire and more.
The 3C Ranch also offers a restaurant and lounge, and other amenities for riders and visitors to enjoy. Adjacent is the Hay Creek Ranch RV Park for those seeking to bring their own accommodations. Nearby attractions include Peppersauce Campground and Peppersauce Cave, Arizona Zipline Adventures, the Arizona National Scenic Trail, Oracle State Park, Biosphere 2, Galiuro Mountain Range and the San Pedro River Valley.
“The 3C Ranch and support from Pinal County are really going to help us thrive,” McCarrell said. He expects over 500 participants this year, and hundreds more to enjoy the two-day festival.
For Pinal County, the event is an opportunity to show off one of Arizona’s undiscovered gems.
“I think it opens a lot of people’s eyes to what we have,” Kanavel said. He envisions the area as an adventure hot spot that attracts millennials who like its natural beauty and year-round outdoor activities.
“There is so much to do and so much to see. It’s an ideal place to work and play. We want them to stay in our county,” he said. “We are very excited about growing Oracle’s active lifestyle culture.”