The race formerly known as Gravel Grinder, Lost Elephant just as gruelling

“Where once there was The Kootenay Gravel Grinder now there is The Lost Elephant. Welcome aboard.”

So reads the about section on the website of an old race with a new name. The Kootenay Gravel Grinder was given a new moniker this year and has become the Lost Elephant Ultra Race and participants set out on it on July 21 at 7:00 a.m. The route is still the same, a gruelling 507 kilometres through the Kootenay Rockies with a total ascent of nearly 11,000 metres. This route was referred to as the Jumbo edition and a shorter route, nicknamed the Dumbo edition, was added.

READ MORE: The 2017 Kootenay Gravel Grinder

“The reason for the change was because the term gravel grinding within cycling really sort of took on a meaning that actually meant riding smoother gravel roads and so we realized that it was a bit of a misnomer for this event because this event is really rugged,” explained organizer Nathan Siemens. “Like you need a full on mountain bike for this one, so it’s not like road riding on gravel so we decided we needed to come up with a name.”

Anyone familiar with the lore of the City of Cranbrook may have already guessed how they landed on the name Lost Elephant.

“Thought that was a good one because essentially we were running around in the woods like old Cranbrook Ed was back in the day,” Siemens said.

This year they had just shy of 30 riders participate, though official numbers vary, according to Siemens, as a couple people started from Kimberley and weren’t tracking their progress.

“So essentially instead of starting in Cranbrook and finishing in Cranbrook they did the same route but they started in Kimberley and ended in Kimberley.”

The fastest on the Jumbo route was Rob Haine, who did the track in an astonishing 57 hours. Another rider of note is Eric Ross, who did the Jumbo in 65 hours, eight hours behind Haine yes, except Ross did the already challenging route on a single speed bike. The fastest on the Dumbo track was Ryan Hamilton, who did it in 17 hours. Many of these riders competed in the BC Epic 1000 just a few weeks ago.

“Because of the BC Epic both Ryan and I opted down to the Dumbo instead of the Jumbo. But Eric decided to take all the gears off his bike and do the Jumbo with no gears, so take that as you will for who’s toughest of the group,” Siemens said with a laugh.


The fact that this year they had 30 participants, up from 13 last year, highlights the positive feedback they received at last year’s Gravel Grinder, and the feedback this year was also overwhelmingly positive. They had riders from Calgary, Canmore, Montana, and numerous others from as far away as Michigan and Merritt, though some wound up backing out due to getting beaten down by the B.C. Epic.

“I just got off an email thread with the guy from Montana and he was just beyond pumped on the terrain,” said Siemens. “He did the Dumbo and he’s hoping to come back for the Jumbo next year. The Canmore and Calgary guys were really excited because it’s a lot more rugged of an event than the other endurance bike packing events that happen this area.”

Siemens said that some of the highlights included the Wild Horse pass, due to the phenomenal beauty at the top, however he added that one funny thing with this race that happened both this year and last was that it was “smoking hot” during the day and then their water bottles would freeze at night.

“The temperature variances are pretty intense up there,” he said. “The guy from Montana he tried to sleep at the summit and he just couldn’t do it, he had to keep going because he was just too cold. The BC Epic didn’t really get cold at night because you didn’t go that high, unless you camped at the top of Gray Creek pass, thats the interesting thing about these events, they’re not one in the same.”

Siemens said he is grateful to High Country Sports and Hot Shots Cafe who helped out quite a bit, with the former providing numerous prizes and the latter helping to cover some of the website costs.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay and Boundary farm advisors services extended through July 2021

KBFA has engaged with 850 producers from 563 farms since June of 2018

Mount Baker students support Spooner Park initiative

Outdoor Education and Geography students work with Mainstreams to clear weeds, support ecosystem

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Cranbrook and Kimberley Councils support initiative calling on BC Gov. to cover prescription contraception

On September 14, 2020, Cranbrook City Council unanimously passed a motion calling… Continue reading

Former MP Wayne Stetski running for BC NDP in Kootenay East

Former federal MP Wayne Stetski is running as the BC NDP candidate… Continue reading

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Most Read