|Next in Life Time Fitness' attempt at world gravel domination.|
You may have some strongly held opinions and beliefs concerning that, but it doesn't matter. Economics and people's desires to 'do the stuff' have been bottled up for too long and now the genie (the hope placed in the vaccine's help) is out of the bottle. There is no putting it back in, apparently. And in that vein, concerning gravel based events, an explosion of new events along with the traditional dates being announced have appeared as if from a fog to try to gain our attention.
One of the big movers and shakers, pre-pandemic, was Life Time Fitness, who had been rumored to have a goal of six major gravel events spread across the calendar year. They started out by buying the DK200, which due to some turmoil ended up becoming the new event called the Unbound Gravel, which will run for the first time this June. Then they also had planned on another new event dubbed the Big Sugar NWA, to be held in Arkansas late in October. Life Time also acquired the Tushar in the Crushar, a July event. Now they have just announced a new event which they plan on having this year in Trinidad, Colorado, dubbed "The'Rad".
Another announcement was made recently concerning the "Jingle Cross" gravel event, which started out as a ride, but now will become a full-on competitive event. Now dubbed the Jingle Cross Gravel GX, it will happen on Saturday October 16th. Which is right in the heart of corn harvesting season. Hmm..... Hopefully that won't tic off the farming community!
I also know of several smaller gravel events kicking off for the first time in 2021, like a new series I heard about in Washington, and a revival of a series in Oregon. So, there is a lot of new gravel activity happening out there. I suspect that there is a lot more I am not hearing about as well.
Comments: "Corporate Gravel®" will be a big deal going forward. Curated event experiences will be packaged and sold as "adventure" for the masses which will all be scrambling to get out and do things now and going forward. Only a rise in COVID cases would stop this in its tracks, or perhaps rising travel costs, which we are starting to see as well.
I like to see the smaller, local flavor events with a more 'homemade' atmosphere myself. Not having the rider's every need catered to allows for unique experiences, which cannot happen if more things are 'controlled'. Also, I'm not a huge fan of pre-packaged anything, so whatever these 'big time' events have in store doesn't really speak to me personally. So, I have a bit of a bias to overcome there. I admit that. But live and let live.....
I will always call out crazy marketing claims though. And some of these bigger events have done some ridiculous marketing in the past. Some claiming to be "World Class events" before they had ever run the event a single time. It used to be that a person, or an event, had to earn that kind of respect. Now they claim it before they even run the event, or have only one or two runnings under their belt. I don't know about you, but that raises some red flags for me.