Cyclists Jess Cerra and Sam Boardman launch “The Last Best Ride,” a new gravel race set for August 22, 2021, in stunning Whitefish, Montana.
Montana native, Jess Cerra, and her partner, Sam Boardman, announce “The Last Best Ride,” a new gravel race that will showcase some of the state’s most spectacular outdoor offerings. Set for August 22, 2021, The Last Best Ride will explore Whitefish, views of Glacier National Park, and beyond over a short and long course. Routes will be announced later in the spring. Registration is open and will be $175.00 for the long course event and $145.00 for the short course, with discounted entries for collegiate riders.
In the spirit of Montana’s unofficial moniker, “The Last Best Place,” which stems from the 1988 bestselling book of the same name by Annick Smith and William Kittredge, Cerra and Boardman hope to capture the essence of Whitefish as an adventurer’s destination through a race experience. “After exploring the gravel roads of Whitefish all summer, we thought, ‘wow, this would seriously be one of the most beautiful gravel venues in the entire country,’” Boardman says. Racers can expect stunning mountain views, unique terrain, and test-your-mettle climbs throughout the course.
As professional cyclists who have raced all over the world, the organizers had a clear vision for what they pictured as the ideal race. “We believe that the spirit of the race itself is equally as important as the spirit of community,” Cerra says. “So we made the event all the things we wished races could be: challenging enough for top pros while still approachable enough for enthusiasts, inclusive to families, and supportive of the local community.” To that end, 20 percent of the proceeds will go to the race’s Champion Scholar Award, which will be given to one financially qualified Whitefish female student and one financially qualified local Native American student seeking post-secondary education. “My priority,” adds Cerra, “is activating underrepresented populations, specifically women, by creating a platform for a more inclusive start line.”
A casual pre-race happy hour and fundraiser will take place outdoors at a local eatery on Friday, August 20, 2021. On Saturday August 21, 2021, local bike shop, Great Northern Cycle & Ski, is hosting the race expo and block party—complete with food trucks and live music. Included in your race entry is a post-race celebration with fresh, locally cultivated fare, handcrafted huckleberry ice cream, and other only-in-Montana offerings.
Given that many athletes will want to extend their trips to explore the surrounding beauty of Northwest Montana, The Last Best Ride is intentionally family- and spectator-friendly. During the event, spectators can traverse to the top of the Whitefish Mountain Resort via scenic chairlift, riding, or hiking, to take in the grandeur of Glacier National Park while they wait for their racers to pass.
Jess Cerra, a Whitefish High School and University of Montana alumna. She is a former professional mountain-biker-turned-road-racer, private Chef and owner of the JoJé Bar.
Sam Boardman has raced professionally on the road for the past two years. When not racing, he works as a substitute teacher and special education resource aide in his local school district, and is completing a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education in order to become a full-time teacher.