Monday, August 23, 2021

GW '21: Introduction

 Welcome to my recap of my 2021 Gravel Worlds experience. Here I will share some of the sights and people associated with my personal 'gravel journey', my race report, and my take on where Gravel Worlds is and where it seems to be headed into the future. 

First, a spoiler alert! Don't read the folowing paragraph unless you want to know what happened with me and that's it.

I went 116 miles plus a little. 

Okay, with that said, if you don't want to know anything else about my weekend, then plan on skipping the next four days of blog posts here because- more than likely- I'll be writing everyday about Gravel Worlds all this week. So, now you know what to expect! 

This is a big turning point for this event, in my opinion. There was Gravel Worlds up to 2019, and with the 2021 version, things have taken a big swing toward what I would say is "big production, big Pro focus racing". I know that may seem like a hot take on Gravel Worlds, but this event, which I felt had the perfect balance of grassroots feel and competitive racing, has now seen a shift toward the competitive racing side and is leaving certain elements behind which were the defining characteristics of Gravel Worlds. 

In this report I hope to illuminate the things I saw and felt at the 2021 Gravel Worlds and portray why I feel the way that I do about this event. Keeping in mind that I have seen- first hand- the evolution of this event from a pure, grassroots event, to what it has become in 2021. I can comment with first hand witness where this event has evolved and changed to the point that it no longer resembles what it was. 

And here's another 'hot take': What Gravel Worlds is today is right up the alley of what most folks seem to want in gravel events. Yep. You can cry foul all you want, but almost everyone at the 2021 Gravel Worlds does not have any other reference point to judge the event by. It is what it is now, and whatever 'grassroots' is, most of the folks at Gravel Worlds have no clue about that era of the event. They never knew any better. So, it is hard to get that point across to those who attend now, and what's more, they probably don't care either. 

Now I will get into more of this philosophical meandering after my report, but for now, settle in and stay tuned. I'll have more on what I experienced starting tomorrow.

Next: Old Friends


MG said...

Thanks for coming out and giving it your best shot, Brother. I’m proud of you.

I agree that Gravel Worlds this year took a big step up in production. Whether that’s a good or bad thing probably has a lot to do with which event you participated in, and ultimately what you’re looking for in an event.

During the Long Voyage, as we were riding into the darkness Friday night, several other riders and I were talking about how a lot of ‘old school’ gravel riders are gravitating toward the longer events, simply because there are fewer people. I have to admit that the appeal of a smaller field was strong with me, and while I’m still hurting from the effort, the experience was well worth the work.

As a Long Voyage competitor, a lot of the side show was lost on me, since I started riding on Friday and finished after nearly all of the 150-mile (and other) competitors had already cleared out. It felt small, intimate and very personal.

BTW, thanks for hanging around for my finish… That means a lot to me, even if we didn’t get to talk that much.

I look forward to your perspective in the installments to come!

Guitar Ted said...

@MG- Thanks Brother!! I really appreciate your perspective on the event and sharing with me how some of the others in the Long Voyage feel about these big fields and productions.

I wouldn’t have missed your arrival at Fallbrook for the world! Both Tony and I are very proud of you and your accomplishment. Simply amazing.

Love ya!

Unknown said...

For me I feel like 2018 is when gravel worlds started shifting to a more professional production. (also I feel the route difficulty increased quite a bit, I miss doing a loop around lincoln)

This year I did the 75 miles just due to not feeling up for the 150. I was surprised to find quite a few of my friends that did the 150 courses from 2014-2019 did the 75 mile course this year.

I also felt the 75 had a much more mellow start compared to the last couple of years 150 mile starts. I'm curious if there will be a trend of the veteran riders ether moving to the 300 or the 75 to avoid the craziness of the 150.

S Sprague said...

Ahh GT, sorry about not finishing the 150! I look forward to reading about your journey and your thoughts on the event.

Guitar Ted said...

@S Sprague - Thanks but no need to feel sorry for my results. I am actually pretty stoked on the outcome, but you’ll see why later in the report.

I do appreciate that you cared to make that comment though. Thank you!

S.Fuller said...

Mopac Trail, lottery tickets, and waiting for the next drawing to see if we had a big pile of booty to split. :)

Guitar Ted said...

@S Fuller - Yass! It is hard to explain those days to those who missed out. Like I say- Not better or worse, but not the same either.