Monday, January 26, 2015

Gravel On The RAGBY

Did Steve Hed like gravel road riding.....?
The big RAGBRAI route announcement party happened over the weekend and normally I only cock an eye sideways at this deal, since where the route goes does affect me for several months. Close to home and we're busy, far from home......not so much. So, while I casually cruised social media to see where the route overnight towns might be, I was messaged by a fellow gravelist, ("gravelluer"?....hmm...), that the RAGBY was going to honor Steve Hed with an optional 15 mile gravel road route tacked on to the second day of the week's festivities.

"Okay, that's pretty cool", I think. Then I think...."There probably are not many typical RAGBY riders that even know why this loop was added on gravel."  Then I thought, "Only FIFTEEN miles!" Sheesh! Someone of Steve Hed's stature surely deserves a full day's gravel route option, doesn't he? If you knew that Steve was a big proponent of gravel/rural/backroad riding, then you'd probably agree. He was not only a lover of that sort of riding, but his company, HED Wheels, actively supported the gravel racing scene.

Just look at the sticker he had made for his own personal gravel sled shown at the 2013 Interbike trade show. It says, "Gravel Nation", a moniker I hadn't seen before until I saw Steve's bike. He obviously saw himself as a part of that sort of thing, and he was, in fact, a huge part of it, although most cyclists would probably have never pigeon-holed him as such a rider.

Obviously a lot of fancy-pants road bikes will be there at the RAGBY slinging HED wheels, which are coveted for their aerodynamic properties. However; while that's Steve Hed's legacy in cycling, it isn't where his heart was. (I know- he told me this himself.) He was an adventurer, raised on the dusty roads of Minnesota, and he still was looking forward to many more miles of gravel, dirt, chip seal, and wherever the path may have taken him on an adventure. Unfortunately, he left us behind on an adventure of a different kind.

The RAGBY route comes to our metro area this year, so I suppose I'll be busier than last year. I'll be stuck in the shop, cranking out repairs, I am sure. I hope to not be so busy that I can't get out and put in a good, adventurous gravel ride in the day of his memorial loop. I figure it's the right thing to do.


Roy Rhodes said...

According to the RAGBRAI director " the gravel loop is probably 11 miles of gravel and then a repeat of the 4-5 miles of the route. The gravel loop will pass through a town as well"

Nathan said...

I've been giving serious consideration to plotting a parallel gravel route for this year's RAGBRAI. Probably still hit the main meet up downs, try and more-or-less the same mileage. I'll put it on the Riding Gravel forum once I know the meet up towns.