Monday, January 13, 2020

Iowa Gravel Expo: Session #1 Report

Slippin' and slidin' on the Noble GX5
Last Wednesday N.Y. Roll and I held our first of four Iowa Gravel Expo sessions. This is the third year in a row that we've been doing this.

Actually, this isn't the first "gravel clinic" type deal I have been involved in. I held a couple of "Trans Iowa" clinics, back in 2013 and 2014, which were for all intents and purposes basically what we are doing now. The basic idea was to disseminate knowledge and wisdom gained by experienced riders to those just coming into the sport.

Back then this was a fairly novel idea, but nowadays it is common. I've noted several "clinics" for riders which are gravel-centric or purely about certain events happening all across the U.S. now. Some are low-key affairs, like ours is. Some are full blown "camps" with catered food, influencer-type riders, and cost over a thousand dollars to participate in. If I may be so bold- you aren't going to learn anything more about riding gravel and dirt roads by attending the super-spendy camps than you would by attending a simple formatted clinic at your LBS or bicycle club. But some folks like experiences, and value celebrity-staus riders over the nuts and bolts, practical knowledge given out by riders with years of gravel riding experience. No big deal. Do what feels right to you, but I find it a bit humorous.

Anyway.... Sorry for the distraction there!

Back to what we were up to.....  So, N.Y. Roll and I realized last year that having a one night affair was too much. Too many people wanted in the doors, there was too much to share in one sitting, and it was too crazy to satisfy everyone's needs in that format. So, we found a different venue in Second State Brewery which had a back-room we could use. Then we struck the single night format and decided to do targeted sessions focusing in on a group of related topics. Each session features a different Iowa event's race director or representative. So, last Wednesday was about maintenance of drive trains and the event was The Turds Of Misery. (Really! The event is named after a 70's era rock band. Yes- really!) Anyway....

More manageable audience and a cool venue.
Jen Reed of Healthy Habits bike shop in Bettendorf, Iowa came up to talk about her event and then it was my turn to gab about chain maintenance, lubrication, cleaning a bike, and a tiny bit at the end about tires and tire pressures.

N.Y. Roll and I held an unofficial over-under on attendance which I won, I believe. Anyway, it was the smaller crowd we had hoped for and with the sessions spread out over three more dates, we will see how things come along. We had riders from Des Moines come up and I know we have folks coming from the Iowa city area too to attend. Pretty cool!

Speaking of riding, there was some of that too. Before the event, I planned a 1:00pm ride, which I had hoped would be out on gravel, but this is January, after all! It was in the low 20's with a pretty stiff east wind which made the riding difficult. Added to this were the icy roads, especially East-West ones, and that made staying in town, out of the wind, a better idea. I tried going through Shirey Way, (icy in spots) and then on through Sherwood,  but we were stopped by icy patches and we ended up back on pavement after a three or four block ramble down an alley.

That ride was attended by four intrepid folks, plus myself, and we ended up riding about an hour and fifteen minutes, which, honestly, was all I wanted to do on a gravel road bike in those conditions. Glad I had on the Bike Iowa Pogie Lites! They saved my mitts from freezing! If  you haven't ever checked those handle bar covers out, please do! They are made by friends of mine and they are four-season worthy riding gear. They keep your hands warm in Winter, keep the wind off your hands in Spring and Fall, and can be a blessing in a Summer rain storm. Check 'em out!

Anyway! More distractions!

Look for the next Iowa Bike Expo session to happen Wednesday the 22nd of January. We have two dates in February too. Here's a link to the Facebook events page. Thanks again to sponsors Andy's Bike Shop and Second State Brewing.

No comments: