Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Reactions Part 1

 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Yesterday was a busy day on social media for those interested in gravel events. The announcement that the DK 200 had aligned itself with Life Time, an events promotions company that owns the Leadville 100/Trail races, the Chequamegon 40 event, among others, provoked a lot of reactions.

There were very negative reactions and some so-so all the way to "Meh!", and everything in between. I would say most folks are either okay with it or are taking a wait-and-see approach to this news. I know that these sorts of changes really challenge our beliefs and foundations when it comes to things we are passionate about. You just have to take things at face value and see where your values line up with what you actually know. Because, well.......assumptions abound. As I stated here yesterday, Jim Cummins says to expect the same sort of Dirty Kanza we have come to know. I am willing to bet that will be the case this coming year, at least.

What I wanted to discuss today was what this announcement provoked as far as gravel events in general. What makes gravel events fun, challenging, and what attracts us to them. Several things cropped up yesterday that were very interesting.

The reaction to the DK200 announcement from the Almanzo 100 (Chris Skogen)
Somehow or another, since 2010 the DK200 has been accused of "selling out". That's something that started being heard 8 years ago, so it begs the question, "How can it be so? Once you've sold out, you' know, sold out!" You cannot really do that every year. The fact of the matter is that this accusation of "selling out" is nothing but a cover for someone's negativity. The DK 200 never "sold out" though. Not in the terms people accuse them of that with. The reality is that the riders have spoken with their attendance and their dollars to make the DK 200 what it is today. What it has become would be a very successful event which is loved, literally, by thousands of people.

Reactions like the one posted by Almanzo 100's social media page just insult those people who pay for the DK 200, (and other gravel events), because they want to do so. They aren't being coerced to spend their bucks on the DK 200, they willingly do it because they like it. Conversely, folks go to the Almanzo because they like it. It just so happens that it is a free event. It is a different experience. Probably, most likely, people would not pay to do Almanzo if it were a DK200 clone. It's good to have different events. That's what's great about gravel grinding.

Conversations yesterday were being sparked and included ideas being discussed about creating new events. More diversity! More new ways and new places to do a gravel/back road events is what is going to keep the whole genre' alive and kicking into the 2020's and beyond. Once events become codified, generic, and a large dose of "sameness" happens, the whole scene will begin to contract. I don't want more Almanzos just as much as I don't want more DK 200's. We have both, and they both are great. Let's just keep being creative and keep having fun. Whether or not you decide to charge an entry fee or not.

One such idea was something I thought might be brilliant, and if someone could find an effective way to organize such a beast, I'd be all about going. The idea was to do a multi-day, multi course/distance gravel event. Not Tour Divide, not necessarily "bikepacking" either. I know a few folks have bandied about the idea of going to the old Odin's Revenge stomping grounds and to do a multi-day ride there.

Casual riding, socializing at night. Sounds good to me! But however you slice it, gravel grinding has become what it has become because people are inclusive, creative with event production, and provide experiences both challenging and socially exciting around riding bicycles on gravel. Whether or not you "sell gravel" is not the point at all. So, the future looks good, right? We have a diversity of events and lots of those events all across the country at all times of the year. What's the problem?

Well, tomorrow I will delve into my "crystal ball" and give my take on what might be the future of gravel riding and back road wanderings based upon observations I am making today. In other words, a bunch of foolish speculation will be engaged in tomorrow. Stay tuned for part two.......


CrossTrail said...

For a big production, go to a Broadway musical. To share your family or friends performance, go to a community or school play. And there is lots in between from which to choose. What a great time and place to be a cyclist!

IMG said...

Hear-hear... obviously people enjoy the Dirty Kanza, even in its "sold out" state. I don't know why people feel the need to bag on them.

Want a free, fully self-supported race in the Flint Hills area? Put one on! Or just sign up for the events that do exist that meet your expectations for how an event should run and lose the attitude.