RUSA's Gravel Initiative

The Gravel Initiative promotes riding on routes that are wholly or partially unpaved - whether dirt, sand, gravel, etc.


gravel photo 1

RUSA's desire gravel initiative is motivated by the following:

  • generally safer than being on paved roads with traffic
  • something new to try for existing members, to keep things fresh
  • a possible entrée for new members 
  • RUSA members are already riding more unpaved distance, whether on permanents, their own rides, or non-RUSA gravel events



gravel photo 3

Unpaved Credit - towards gravel awards and recognition - is currently given only for ACP brevets, RUSA brevets and populaires, UAF brevets, RM grand randonnées, and Permanents (including SR 600). Team events not currently included.

Extra Time Allowance - The organizer can allow extra time allowance (only) for RUSA brevets and populaires; the extra time allowance to finish is 1 minute per unpaved km. A 200km RUSA brevet with 20km of gravel would have a cutoff time of 13:50 (rather than 13:30 for a totally paved route). Non-SR600 Permanents allow extra time per the same formula.

Intermediate Checkpoints - On RUSA brevets and populaires where the organizer is allowing extra time for unpaved distance, intermediate checkpoints are untimed. The types of proof of passage can remain the same, but the checkpoints have no open / closing times.

Surface Quality - Unpaved credit (and, for RUSA events, extra time allowance) is the same whether the surface is smooth packed earth, rutted single track with roots and boulders, sand, loose gravel, washboard, etc. Surface quality is tricky to evaluate, and can change from day to day depending on weather and road/trail maintenance. Organizers will naturally bear this in mind when creating their routes.

"Gravel Events" - There is no notion of a "gravel event" as a separate type of event.

2022 Launch - Unpaved distance credit is not retroactive. The program start date is for events calendared on or after 1/1/2022. Credit and extra time for Permanents is for rides on or after February 1, 2024.

Rules and Provisions Summary - can be found on the Rules for Unpaved Distance page.


Awards and Recognition

gravel photo 2

Tally of Unpaved Kms - Rider results displays the annual and lifetime tallies of unpaved kms ridden in RUSA rides that credit them.

Gravel Awards - Awards based on unpaved distance accumulated over a period of riding are in planning.



Display of Unpaved Distance - Aside from riders' results tallies of unpaved distance, unpaved distance is displayed for brevet routes (when search for brevet routes, or clicking on the Route link for an event), and for events.

Search for Unpaved Distance - Search for Routes has a checkbox to search (only) for routes that contain unpaved distance.

► See screenshots below which illustrate these points.


Brevet Route Unpaved Distance - To allow riders credit for unpaved distance and to allow extra time to finish RUSA brevets and populaires, the route assigned to the event must have correct unpaved distance. This is a new field on the application form. For existing routes, organizers can submit an update specifying the unpaved distance. 

Event and Result Unpaved Distance - The unpaved distance credit to the event is the unpaved distance of the route assigned to it. The unpaved distance credit to the result is the unpaved distance of the assigned brevet route when results are submitted. (Should the route's unpaved distance change in the future, it will not affect past results, or events for which results have been submitted.)

Extra Time Allowance Option - The organizer can choose when calendaring a RUSA brevet or populaire whether to allow extra time based on unpaved distance (whether or not a route has been assigned yet). Jake Kassen's "Calculate Times with Unpaved Allowance Option" tool will calculate the finishing time for an event that has unpaved distance.

Determining and Managing Unpaved Distance with RideWithGPS - Route submitters can determine unpaved distance by looking at the figure calculated by RideWithGPS. But sometimes segments are erroneously classified as unpaved when paved or vice versa. Consult the RideWithGPS website for instructions on how to change the surface of a segment manually.

More Details on Perms with Gravel

You can find more info in our Perms Gravel Guide.


For questions on the Gravel Initiative, its provisions, and future plans, contact the RUSA Gravel Committee.  Here are the current Gravel Committee members.



Brevet Route Search showing the filter for routes containing unpaved sections:

route search

Route Search Results showing unpaved distance:

route search results


Calendaring RUSAB or RUSAP event with unpaved distance - selecting whether to use gravel rules

calendar an event


Event with unpaved distance on Search for Rides results

event with unpaved distance


Rider results with event unpaved distance and annual tally of unpaved distance

rider results