Tuesday, February 10, 2015


The start of things to come. T.I.V1, 2005 (Image by Dave Kerkove)
There are stories about riding back roads and....dare I say the word...gravel roads, popping up a lot these days. I just read this great piece relating an experience in California recently. The "Hopper Series" has been around for 17 years or so, (according to what I can read here), which is awesome. Those "all-roaders" are out there all over the place, and have been for years in their small enclaves. Take Paris Ancaster, as an example, which has happened in Canada every year for 22 years running. There really isn't anything new here about the adventurous side of cycling, on whatever kind of bicycle you want to talk about here.

However; there was something that happened back ten years ago or so that was like these older events, but was different too. There was that adventure thing, for sure, that was really part of it, but there was another thing. I feel it was happening at a time when many at a grassroots level were starting to fall away from the hope that they had wrapped up in watching racing at the Pro levels. There had already been a great deal of doping scandals by 2005, and the doubts about a certain Texan were on the rise as well. There was a tiredness with short lap racing, no matter how long the events took to complete, and the fees for doing those things were outrageous.

Something about this and the way it is done tripped a trigger. Image by Waly Kilburg
I don't know why, for certain, but when Jeff Kerkove and I announced Trans Iowa in late 2004, something happened out there, and a lot of folks followed that "something". We called it "gravel grinding" because that was the term that was given to us for it, ironically by road cyclists, the very same sort who today disparage anything attached to gravel grinders or the equipment used for it. Well, maybe not so much by the cyclists themselves, but certainly by the pundits, the "writers of note", who never miss the chance to diss gravel road riding whenever this subject comes up.

Hey, that's fine, ya know, because if something ruffles some feathers, or causes the established media and industry wonks to disparage it, well, there must be something to it that is real. Otherwise, why would they bother to mention it at all? Maybe they just need to rouse the rabble to accumulate more hits to satisfy the advertisers. "Whatevs", as one writer would say........

Yeah, that's what many say. In the face of literally thousands of riders that take to the start line of events like Barry-Roubaix, the Dirty Kanza 200, and the Almanzo 100, all events that draw riders from all corners of the nation, and even internationally. That's what the pundits say in the face of people attending over 200 unique events every year held on gravel roads and dirt roads across North America. But ya know..........whatevs, right? 

That's okay though, 'cause it isn't like we are looking for validation from anyone to #unlearnpavement, have some fun on dirt roads, or gravel grind. There will be those that thumb their noses at us, but I say "Come on in, the water's fine!" We're just riding bicycles in a way that is fun, challenging, and adventurous. We call it gravel grinding, and dirt road riding, and "all-road", but we are not going to apologize for the names and we aren't going away.


Ari said...

"Come on in, said the Spider to the Fly"

MG said...

Amen, Brother!!

Michael Lemberger said...

"I wish there were more events like the Trans-Iowa and the Alaskan race. Most of these so called “adventure races” are really nothing more than serious endurance contests. Don’t get me wrong, I am in awe of the athleticism and mental toughness inherent within these guys that can go for incredibly long periods of time in constant and fast movement. [...] Adventure racings needs to be differentiated from endurance racing. A true adventure requires complete self-sufficiency, serious commitment, and a high degree of personal resourcefulness, along side or combined with a test of endurance."

-Charlie Farrow

Honestly, I could give a shit less what "writers of note" think. I'd rather read what you guys write.
Way more interesting.