|2016 saw me experiencing the Flint Hills in a totally different, and more fun,way.|
To my way of thinking, "fun" on a bicycle, as described above, is why I got hooked on bicycles in the first place. It wasn't about being faster than the next guy, it wasn't about the latest lightweight gizmo, and it certainly is not about gaining notoriety on social media. No! It was simply a joy in riding around, searching, looking, and experiencing the terrain and the things alive on it and in it. That pretty much sums things up in general terms for me.
Now, before I go any further, I want to explain very clearly that competition has its place. I even enjoy competing in events on occasion. But I also want to make it very clear that competition falls way down the ladder of reasons why I take to the gravel and ride. I also want it to be very clear that what I am about to share goes for me only. I don't speak for anyone else here, so please let that sink in a moment.
|Just sittin' around and having some fun out on a gravel ride this past Summer. From the GTDRI by Rob Evans|
Anyway, I feel that chasing races and somewhat manufactured experiences is getting kind of old. Not that I won't ever pin a number on one of my bicycles again, because I plan on doing that, but I won't do that a lot anymore. Why? Because I'd rather have more "fun". I'd rather do more rides like the GTDRI, the "Geezer Ride", 3GR, and whatever else others do out in the world that isn't about paying someone a bunch of cash and racing.
|Just being a bunch of Geezers in 2015.|
Then there is this whole thing about "getting the value for the dollar spent" , which from where I sit, has taken precedence over the "why I ride in the first place" aspect of gravel and gravel events. So, you know, if you spend this, in my opinion, exorbitant amount of money, the attitude seems to be getting to be, "what's in it for me besides the riding?" And to be honest, that's on us, the riders. I know it is really popular to blame the event promoters for "selling out the scene", but if people keep buying, who really should we be pointing our finger at? I say, look in the mirror.
And maybe that's okay with you. I get that. But again, it isn't why I am riding gravel.
That got a ton of responses. Some direct from Twitter, but I also was contacted by e-mail from a "like-minded" individual who shall remain nameless at this point. Needless to say, I felt that I was not the only person with feelings that the gravel scene, in particular, has been loosing its way when it comes to its "real reason to be", which isn't racing and a bunch of other hoo-ha attached with it.
Take the linked event in my Tweet, the SWIG Tour. You can ride it, you can race it, but the general vibe is that of a guy who wants to share in what he believes is a great place to ride. He feels the views and the roads are too good not to share. I can get behind an idea like that.
Then yesterday I Tweeted the following based upon responses I had gotten from the first Tweet and my further thinking about this:
So this Tweet got an even bigger response. Now as I stated at the top of this post, I am speaking here only for myself, but it is very clear that others out there are thinking along the same lines. How many folks are getting this vibe, I have no clear idea, but from where I sit, it is more than I thought. It's apparently more than a few of you out there.
So, as I say in the Tweet, I am not sure where this all is going, but it is going! Already there are plans for rides, special "stuff", and more surrounding this groundswell of "just riding". I know that as far as I am concerned I would like to recreate something like my "DK MY Way" ride out in Nebraska where "Odin's Revenge" used to be ridden. Probably as a long weekend, three day deal where we ride out and back to Gothenburg for three loops of the old courses we used to ride.
I want to get the old 3GR ride up and going again as a regular local gravel grind. I also want to do a Geezer Ride, or two, or three. But however it goes, I want to experience more places and people in casual riding atmospheres instead of every big ride being one of being under the gun to race and all that entails. We'll see how that turns out...
More on this subject later as things develop.