Nederland, the Place to Race Bikes, Trail Run and Uphill Ski Race? Gavin Coombs Thinks So

By Bill Plock
February 9, 2023–As we have seen gravel bike events redefine towns and attract new tourists, the town of Nederland located 17 miles and almost 3,000 feet higher from Boulder has not only embraced gravel riding but will host new events in 2023. Thanks to Gavin Coombs and his non-profit Peak to Peak Endurance, Nederland will see more from the annual Ned Gravel race, and they will add energy to the 40-year-old trail running race, the Ned Ned Trail Fest and starting February 15th there is a new uphill ski race series, the Morning Grind at Eldora. 
We caught up with Gavin to dig a little deeper into his passion and vision about what’s happening in Nederland and what the future of his non-profit is all about.

Gavin Coombs

1. What drew you to the Nederland area? 
Nederland is such a great little community. We moved here in 2019 and love it! My wife and I both grew up in small, rural communities and wanted that for our kids but we also love the mountains and the convenience of only being 20 minutes from Boulder. We were also up here all the time running and hiking and so it just made sense that when a house we could afford came up we jumped on it. You really can’t beat it for access to trails, skiing, and world-class riding.
2. Why Ned Gravel?
Ned Gravel came about out of a passion I have for connecting with people and bringing people together that haven’t been traditionally welcomed to be a part of sports. I also couldn’t believe that there weren’t currently any events up here. With all the amazing gravel and trails I knew the right event could be successful. We started planning Ned Gravel in early 2020 and then when everything shut down we ended up having 18 months to really plan and get everything set. We were also one of the first events to come back in 2021 as gravel riding was really starting to explode.
3. How has the event grown and changed?
This is only our third year of the event and I don’t think the race has changed a ton but it has certainly grown and matured. Ned Gravel was the first event I directed and I had never even done a bike race before! So we have learned a lot in the last few years. We also have learned how to better engage with the people that we want to create a welcoming space for. We have worked hard to make it a welcoming and encouraging space and I think groups and brands are seeing that we are doing our best to help lift people up. The event has organically grown from 700 riders our first year to hopefully 900 this year. But that is not necessarily our goal, we just want people to come and have a good time and that won’t change.
4. What do you personally love the best about Ned Gravel, and its future?
The number one thing I love most about Ned Gravel (and the gravel community) is the people. Having not come from a cycling background, I understand how intimidating races/group rides/all the spandex can be. But the gravel community has been incredibly welcoming and encouraging. What most people don’t know is that Ned Gravel has always been (and will always be) advised by a diverse group of people from both in and out of the cycling industry. I am just blown away that three years ago I literally knew none of the people who sit on our board now but they have all become good friends and trusted advisors. Ned Gravel is only a success because of the people behind the scenes and the community that supports it. The thing about the future I am most excited about is getting to meet and know more people!
5. Why did you change to a non-profit? Who are the beneficiaries?
I started Peak to Peak Endurance as the parent company behind Ned Gravel. Originally it was started as an LLC to show a proof of concept that people would actually come to Nederland for a gravel race. It was always my intention to have it be a 501c3 non-profit because I wanted to be engaged in the Nederland Community and be able to give back in a direct and tangible way.  Being a mission-driven organization gives us a direct purpose and also helps potential sponsors and participants know that their dollars are impactful to the community. Even though the majority of profits go back to support the Peak to Peak Endurance mission (which is to support and fund youth organizations in the Peak to Peak region for the long-term sustainability of our youth community), we do still support partner organizations as well.
6. What other events are you adding to your portfolio?
For 2023 we added the Ned Ned Trail Fest (a 40-year-old trail running event), and we also helped to start the Eldora Morning Grind uphill ski race series. We are launching a new race in Longmont this fall and an in-school MTB program at Nederland Elementary. You can check out to stay up to date on these events and many more to come!
7. Talk about the pressures and challenges in a town like Nederland? Frozen Dead guy days left, not sure that paints a positive picture, how do you help the town and the surrounding areas? 
There are a lot of pressures and challenges for Nederland. We are in Boulder County but Nederland (and the other mountain communities) are a world apart from the towns down the hill. Ned Gravel has just about maxed out on how big we can get due to the parking and land constraints up here. And, speaking of Frozen Dead Guy Days, a festival with 20,000 people completely overwhelms the town and causes more harm than good. With everything that happened with FDGD, the previous owners tried to control the narrative and threw the town under the bus. It was a lot more complicated than what was in the news. Nederland is not a free for all like was 10+ years ago but now being the largest in town, we have had nothing but really positive interactions with Town Staff. Nederland is slowly reinventing itself and there are a lot of really positive things happening, and I am proud that Ned Gravel is a part of that positivity, both monetarily for the town and as an example of positive, family-friendly, events. Certainly, having an event like ours, there are some disruptions for locals, but we also have a ton of local support both in participation and just coming out to cheer and encourage the riders. Ned Gravel will always be proudly from Nederland.
8. As a race director what do you find most fulfilling
There are so many things! I truly love bringing people together and I get to do that every day. There are definitely more lucrative jobs out there (understatement of the year!) but I love what I do and I get to provide an opportunity for other people to come together, achieve a goal and find community. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

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