Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Regard To The "Gravel Triple Crown"

Dan Hughes coming across the line at T.I.v13
Since Trans Iowa v13 happened I have seen a few folks reference a concept known as the "Triple Crown". I have a "horse in this race", and I also have the history on this concept, so I figured I would set the record straight publicly before the myth gets out of hand. Grab yer favorite beverage and get ready for the true story.

I think it would be prudent to go back a bit and give you all the back story first. But before I even go there, let me make something very clear up front......

I never have, nor ever will I say that Trans Iowa is a "premier event", a "gravel classic", or "the grandfather of all gravel races". These are  things which I have had other people tell me (and more) when they think about Trans Iowa. However; this sort of talk isn't coming from me or any of my Trans Iowa production efforts. Trans Iowa is "Trans Iowa". Period. Nothing more than that.

However; since the beginnings of the modern gravel road riding movement, there have been ideas bandied about. One of those was the idea that there could be a "Triple Crown" of gravel events which would help determine the best gravel racer. This idea was first presented to Jeff and I right after we had put on the first Trans Iowa, so probably sometime in 2005. Let's put that in context, shall we?

In 2005 there was no Almanzo 100, no Barry-Roubaix, and no Gravel Worlds. We had never heard about Paris-Ancaster, nor about any other long running, big mileage, classic gravel event which may have been going on before we got started. We knew about the Flint Hills Death Ride, (70 miles), and the Colesburg Classic, (40 miles), but there just were no other events like Trans Iowa, and the planned Dirty Kanza 200. The idea that any other events could even be considered for a "triple crown" just was not possible at that time.

My shot that I took at the first DK200 of winner Dan Hughes and Doug Long, a volunteer that year.
We were in contact with Jim Cummings and Joel Dyke as they made their plans for their gravel event. In fact, it was Jim Cummings that first broached the subject of a possibility of a triple crown with me in an e-mail. There were rumblings of a big mileage event in Nebraska, according to Jim, and if any of that materialized, we should consider a "Gravel Triple Crown". In fact, the mere thought of another event coming on with big mileage actually was an influence on the dates for the DK200 and Trans Iowa.

Some time passed and the gravel event which was going to be in Nebraska was a complete mystery to me. With time I had heard about an event planned by Skip Cronin, who was known as the "Endurosnob", which was the moniker of his blog as well. That event was a "one and done" deal, so the gap in the "Triple Crown" was still needing to be filled. That seemed to be possible when I heard about the efforts of the Pirate Cycling League to bring a long gravel event to the table.

The PCL was a loosely knit group of gravel riding enthusiasts from the Lincoln Nebraska area and one of their group, Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey, had some e-mail discussions about this Triple Crown idea. The way that I remember it being left was that we, (the DK200, the new Nebraska event which became the Good Life Gravel Adventure and eventually Gravel Worlds, and Trans Iowa), were all separate events with our own ways of doing things. This might be hard to reconcile in to a "series" which could result in a legitimate "Triple Crown" of gravel.* Plus, the whole idea of a "series" wasn't what Cornbread and I wanted. So, that was the end of that. Or so we thought.......

At the start of the 2015 DK200- The DK200 has become a "big time event" these days.
Moving onward through time, the DK200 became a much larger, more polished, and more mainstream event with chip timing, big start and finish line hoopla, podiums, prizes, and now spreads out over four days time to take in. The Good Life Gravel Adventure became the Gravel Worlds, a tongue in cheek take on Pro World Championship racing with a grassroots, down home feel. It has its own "rainbow jersey" for different categories of "Gravel World Champions". It is also a much bigger affair than it used to be.

Trans Iowa? Not so much. It hasn't changed much in years. It isn't on the same playing field as these other events these days when it comes to the mainstream idea of an "event". It doesn't have the same cache', nor does it have the same high profile outside of the gravel community that the other two events do. I kind of scoff at the idea that it would even be considered in the same conversation as those two events when it comes to talk of a series of events worthy of a "Triple Crown". But that all didn't matter for years, since the idea was dead, or so I thought. The idea of a "Triple Crown" would not even enter most of our minds again until this year.

Dan Hughes had a specific goal coming in to the Trans Iowa v13. He wanted to be known as the winner of the Dirty Kanza (four times), Gravel Worlds, (once), and Trans Iowa. He may or may not have been aware of the whole triple crown thing back in the day, but Dan brought it back when he started talking this goal up post Trans Iowa this year. I was aware of a comment made by Rebecca Rusch concerning Dan's use of the term, but I figured that it was friendly banter that would go away after a while.

But it seems that the idea of the "Triple Crown" of gravel is gaining some steam since I have noted that the term is being used by some on social media. That has prompted me to get the story out, and straightened out, before it gets murky and twisted by anyone else who doesn't know what they are talking about. The story above is the true history behind the term in regard to Trans Iowa and is accurate as far as I can remember. 

That's the story of the mythical "Gravel Triple Crown". Now you know.......

*I found a post from 2009 mentioning the "Triple Crown of Gravel"  and which corroborates the story here. Click HERE to see that post. 


Rob E said...

Great history lesson, kept expecting Paul Harvey to chime in with his famous line, "and now you know the rest of the story".

Jroo98 said...

"Simply put, you can’t consider yourself a gravel racer if you haven’t toed the line at Trans-Iowa and even though I’ve had success at events like Dirty Kanza and Gravel Worlds, the opportunity to test myself at the grandfather of all these gravel grinders was too great to ignore. Moreover, there was the tongue-in-cheek “gravel triple crown”, of winning a DK, a Gravel Worlds, and a T-I to consider. And with my advancing age, time was running out for more epic adventures."

Seems pretty obvious that Dan was being facetious.

Guitar Ted said...

@Jroo98- Maybe it is obvious to you, however; comments made by others regarding this concept, are what motivated me to write the post. As I said in the post above:

"But it seems that the idea of the "Triple Crown" of gravel is gaining some steam since I have noted that the term is being used by some on social media."

So, it wasn't Dan's "tongue in cheek" remark that motivated me to write this. That was certainly an obvious, (to me and apparently to you), comment made in jest. But that's not how others are interpreting it. Had it ended there with Dan's comment, you wouldn't have seen this post.

Make sense?