Sunday, March 26, 2017

It Depends On The "How You Do It"

"Grinder Nationals" poster.

Many folks hear that, or read that, and the hair goes straight up on the neck and the claws come out. If you are one of those folks, I urge you to calm down and come back to this later. There isn't anything here to get upset about, really.

So, if you are still with me, there is going to be a Gravel Nationals, and there are going to be "National Championship" jerseys, and the whole deal is being done by the USECF which is a sanctioning body. Now, I'll admit, when I got wind of this, I was very skeptical. Who are these guys? I had never heard of this organization before.

Well, as it turns out, the reason why I had never heard about the organization was because the USECF is all about adventure racing. So, how in the world does this organization get into gravel event production?

Great question. I actually spoke with one of the board members of the USECF for the "Riding Gravel Radio Ranch" ( Click that link for the podcast) and I got a chance to hear firsthand about that. I encourage you to check it out and listen for yourself.

I'll just say that I was impressed by the similarities between the adventure racing community and the gravel racing community. The way the events are nurtured, the spirit behind what they do. It all hearkens to how I feel about and have experienced the gravel races I have been at and have facilitated. Once I knew "the how" of what the do, and why they wanted to keep things that way, I was 100% more comfortable with the whole idea of the USECF putting on a "Gravel Nationals".


phillip Cowan said...

There seems to be a grim determination to keep USA Cycling/UCI out of gravel. That's understandable with their stance on event insurance and maintaining a UCI licence. I just read about USECF yesterday on Gravel Cyclist. It seems like it could be a good thing, especially concerning event insurance. Hopefully it won't grow to a certain size and then get absorbed anyway by USA Cycling ala NORBA.

Smithhammer said...

I'd be the first to admit that when I hear the word "sanctioned event" these days, my skin crawls. I can't stand what certain organizations have done to the nature of cycling events. The people I know in the gravel scene definitely do not want to see things go the way of big money roadie circuses. They want gravel events to stay grassroots and fun, without a lot of unnecessary BS that may benefit the organizing body, but does nothing for the actual riders or the overall vibe.

So...I listened to the podcast with a bit of a skeptical ear. And I have to say, Troy's comments and perspective won me over. The guy gets it, understands the bigger picture and understands exactly what has turned so many other people off from the absurd nitpicking rules at typical sanctioned events these days. He also has a strong inclusionary vibe, and clearly respects the motivations ALL riders, entering for whatever their personal reasons may be.

This seems like it could be a healthy relationship, that could provide the benefits that an organizing body can bring to an event, while also keeping it grassroots and real. I sincerely hope it goes well.

Guitar Ted said...

@phillip Cowan- Give the podcast a listen, I think- like Smithhammer seems to have found- you will see that there appears to be no chances of what you mention happening. Troy gives off the feeling that they are much more rider oriented and not driven by "development" or making a profit. (Although I am sure they need to make the books balance out, which is understandable.)

@Smithhammer- First of all, thank you for listening to the podcast and giving the USECF and Troy a chance. I was just like you, I was very skeptical going in and when we interviewed Troy before going on the podcast I was very much relieved to hear what he had to say.

Robert Ellis said...

that's going to be a hot event!