|Inspiration 100- a new event|
The latest to hit the dusty scene is a west-central Minnesota event called "Inspiration 100". This is a free event, entry by postcard, self supported, and has some interesting rural points to check out along the way.
In many ways, this new event falls in line with most of what is going on in the "world of gravel riding", if I can even say that. (Some folks think this gravel stuff is small potatoes, nothing noteworthy.) However you see it, the point is that many, if not most, gravel events are low-key, free affairs that eschew any of the trappings of what normally goes for racing these days on two wheeled, human powered contraptions.
But not all gravel events are this way. Some are getting bigger, and bigger, and really starting to become something beyond a gravel road event. One such event is the Dirty Kanza 200. It has been slowly getting bigger every year for the last four or five years to the point where they had 400 riders on the start line this year. But that is going to look like small potatoes if the event directors goals for 2013 come to reality.
Listening to a few recent podcasts with Jim Cummings, one of the promoters, and racer Tim Ek, it is apparent that the DK is going to become "a really big deal" if it continues to grow at the rate the directors want. Is that a bad thing? Who knows. All I can say is it is amazing to see.
Another facet brought up in these podcasts was how the "feel" of these gravel events is changing. Racers are getting faster, competition more fierce, and the "laid back" feel is fading. Maybe it is. But as they say, everything changes, so maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised. Maybe it is good, or maybe not. My view is that there are so many events now that if you don't like the intensity of one event, there are probably five others that are more about an adventure and a good time to choose from out there. Pick yer poison.
Gravel road racing and riding is becoming a big deal, more popular, and has gone way beyond anything I would have guessed in 2004 when Trans Iowa was cooked up, that's for sure!