Could it be that many of you are remembering what happened in XC racing? Perhaps many of you just cannot believe that something so cool could last without somebody screwing it all up? I don't know for sure what exactly prompts this sort of reaction. I can say this; if there is money to be made, then the focus will come off of the ride and the riders, and it will instead be on the product. In other words, marketers will get a hold of this sport, legitimize it in the minds of the elite by imposing a governing body on it, and then tweak it so as to attract as many folks as possible to spend their money on it.And this.....
At least some of you out there have also commented that the smaller, grassroots events.....are events that you expect will survive. Well, as a promoter myself, I can say that it won't last because of the money! Most of these events are fueled by pure passion for the experience. Once that burns itself out, and inevitably it will, either some other passionate folks must pick up the batons, or these events will fade into history. Perhaps they will be replaced by other, more exciting, challenging, and nutty events, I don't know! All I can say is that I don't mean to sound like an alarmist, just a realist.So, the first quoted paragraph is what many fear what will, and maybe is happening, to gravel racing. Maybe we are half way there, with only the "governing body" part missing at this stage of the game. Well, there are rumblings that the USA Cycling organization is trying to reach out to gravel event promoters and trying to get their foot in the door to sell insurance to these promoters. USA Cycling has also been reported to have had a dramatic drop in income to the tune of one million dollars. It doesn't take too much to make the leap that USA Cycling sees gravel rides as a source of new income, or a recovery of lost income, depending upon your viewpoint.
The second quoted paragraph is something I have seen happen already with gravel events. The races and rides come and go depending upon the endurance of those behind the scenes to put the rides and races on. The Almanzo 100 and its related events being maybe the most prominent of those and perhaps the only one to change leadership and retain its feel.......so far. Others have morphed from the grassroots, laid back atmosphere they began with to turn into massive, money making ventures that support livelihoods. While others have just grown beyond the capabilities of the founders to keep them free and have started morphing into more traditional looking events. The point is, just like I said ten years ago, passion takes you only so far, and many do not toe the line of their original visions for very long before they start seeing dollar signs. Maybe others find a way out of the event promoting/organizing game altogether.
Anyway, I found it interesting to see the similarities there.