"In the wake of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation, many folks in this remote and rural Eastern Oregon community sought to show the country that there was more to this rugged landscape than civil unrest. The only issue was, how do you get folks to visit - what many would consider - the absolute middle of nowhere?
The answer, it seems, is straightforward: execute the most grueling single-day endurance gravel grind in the country. Create a route so stunning in its beauty and demanding in its topography that anybody who’s anybody in the gravel cycling community has to take note."
"With 'Skull' event, Burns stakes a claim as America's best gravel riding destination!"
"A demanding, epic, amazing, scenic, tough, well-planned ride on the edge of nowhere."
~ Seth Patla, Multi-Year Sea Otter Champion
"Let me tell you, this is probably the hardest / most epic / well organized gravel race I have ever done. 127 miles and 12k' of climbing, river crossings, fire roads, MTB trails, stocked aid stations... even a hot shower at the end. Mark your calendar for next year!!"
~ Charles Christiansen (@notchas), Professional Cyclist & Rider for Zipp
"One of the hardest one day rides in North America... something every endurance cyclist should have in their bucket list."
~ Mark Hall, Owner Mahall Bikeworks
~ Andrew, Comment on Online Cycling Forum
"Equal parts challenging and beautiful, the long route was 126 miles and nearly 11,000 feet of climbing. And that doesn’t even begin to tell the tale. A whopping 80 percent was unpaved. With lots of big, sharp rocks, narrow double-tracks, and even some cow paths, there were scant free miles. You could never really relax. When you did get something smooth, the wind would be blowing at or across you. Or in the case of a spectacular stretch of red cinder road, its sandy softness sapped the precious power from your legs. Yet unlike other epic rides I’ve done, I was never bored or miserable. I spent just under 10 hours on my saddle in near constant amazement at the diversity of terrain and magnificence of the pristine environments we rolled through."
~ Jonathan Maus, Cycling Journalist
"An instant classic, no part of the route is impossible but it is challenging for hours on end. The course is rough and rugged enough to make traditional road bikes with rim brakes a non-starter but fast and varied enough to make squishy mountain bikes equally inappropriate."
~ Eric Herboth, Owner REN Cycles
"Purists will rejoice that the routes of both the 120 mile epic and a shorter (but no gentler) 60 mile route contain plenty of the stereotypical grey rock roadbed, but there are also long stretches of rutted ranch path, cinder strewn dirt, rock slabs, and sections of trail that qualify as XC mountain bike courses."
"Grant & Harney Counties in Eastern Oregon are home to - bar none - the best gravel cycling I've ever ridden in North America."
The Skull 120 highlights some of this region's spectacular gravel. If you make the trek all the way out to this remote part of the country, be sure to add a few days to your adventure so you can cycle some of the other great rides in the area as well."
"East of Bend toward Burns the riding gets much better (i.e. climby and technical) as the terrain changes from a handful of old shield volcanoes into rocky, broken terrain and mountains. Glad to see they’re putting together events out there – it’s a massively under appreciated part of Oregon and those towns are full of great people that could really use the economic boost (maybe another Oakridge will appear there)."
~ Brad, Cyclist from Bend, OR
"The whole concept of the event and everything we are trying to do really revolves around adventure, rugged individualism, go big or go home, big wide-open spaces and there will be no one serving you shrimp scampi, champagne and fluffing your pillow after the race. This area is rugged, remote and very rural and our thought is that the Skull 120 should reflect that."
"Literally the hardest gravel ride I've done so far."
~ @Adventuring.Bike, IG Comment
"An epic one-day grind that will get you way out there to test your mettle. Difficulty: EXTREME."
"While it was tough to look up from the trail to take in our surroundings, I tried to do so whenever possible. There were the most amazingly beautiful little valleys, with streams and green grass.
At one point in the afternoon, the temperature dropped to 38 degrees, and a somewhat expected thunderstorm rolled in. I spent the next 40 minutes getting rained, snowed, and hailed on, as well as watching riders who weren’t prepared for the weather drop out."