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Gravel warriors: Local cyclists take on challenge of The Rift 200K race in Iceland

Gravel warriors: Local cyclists take on challenge of The Rift 200K race in Iceland

Matt Tanner rides out in front of this pack at The Rift Gravel Race. (Photo courtesy of Matt Tanner) A competitive cyclist for approximately 25…

Tuesday, Oct 18

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Matt Tanner rides out in front of this pack at The Rift Gravel Race. (Photo courtesy of Matt Tanner) A competitive cyclist for approximately 25 years, Matt Tanner started racing on gravel in the fall of 2021.

By July, the 48-year-old Carmel resident had competed in one of the most challenging and grueling races, The Rift Gravel Race in Iceland, a 200 kilometer, or 125-mile, race.

Tanner said much of the attraction of The Rift was the destination. Tanner saw a YouTube documentary on the event, which started in 2019.

“A buddy and I were blown away,” Tanner said. “That’s the coolest event I’ve seen in my life. There was a lottery to do it.”

Rob Herzog, left, and Matt Tanner compete in the The Rift in Iceland. (Photo courtesy of Matt Tanner)

In 2020, the race was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Tanner wasn’t able to get in. This year, Tanner and two of his Rollfast Cycling Club teammates, Steve Hershberger of Carmel, and Rob Herzog of Westfield, successfully earned spots.

“It was really just to do an event that was on volcanoes and glaciers, stuff you can’t do anywhere else in the world,” Tanner said. “When you race gravel, especially those that are 100 miles or more, it really comes down to who’s the best at handling their bike and those kinds of skills,” Tanner said. “Then who is the strongest, and the third thing is who has the most luck. There is always a pretty good possibility you’ll get […]

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