Tuesday, August 24, 2021

GW '21: Old Friends

Ready for lift-off.
 Friday, August 20th: 

As it has happened now for several years before this in mid-August, I carted my stuff out of the house and onto my porch to await the arrival of my friend Tony. He and I have been coming to Gravel Worlds every year they've had the event since 2015. Tony showed up, we threw my stuff on the bike rack and in the cab of Tony's new Ford F-150,and off we went for the long drive from Waterloo to Lincoln, Nebraska. 

We got there around 1:30-2:00pm and checked in at the motel. Then we headed out to the SchillingBridge Cork and Tap where Gravel Worlds is headquartered for the event. 

There was to be another expo, sort of like they had in 2019, but with all the bike part shortages and hardly anything new for bikes available, it was pretty sparse pickings. The Shimano booth had a few interesting tidbits, but beyond that? There was really not a whole lot to get excited about. It was interesting to see nothing of SRAM there. The big reason for that probably has to do with SRAM dropping its representative network recently. They decided to go in a 'different direction', but as of yet, that has not manifested itself in any physical presence at an expo, and definitely not at Gravel Worlds. 

Tony checking out the Shimano booth where they showed this Carbon PRO Discover bar

I liked what I heard about the new PRO Discover Bar in carbon which was made up to exhibit more flex and vibration reduction and not so much to have a focus on weight reduction. This makes a ton of sense for gravel travel, and at about $250.00, it sounds like a good deal. 

A Cannondale Topstone Carbon with the Lefty Oliver. Full suspension gravel travel!

This super cool Falconer custom belonged to one of the Shimano reps.

We eventually were waved at by Steve Fuller who was in an area where several cars were parked on a grassy space. We hiked over a fence and joined him as Steve Sumpter of BikeIowa came up to chat. Steve is a well known Iowa cyclist and is a Trans Iowa veteran. Then we saw a few other folks I knew but when MG showed up, a crowd of folks soon surrounded his bike and we had a nice group-chat about his attempt at the 'Long Voyage', the 300 mile long course for Gravel Worlds. 

(L-R) MG, Steve Fuller, Tony

Probably my favorite thing about MG's bike. I tried to score one of these, but they were super-rare.

After this nice chat we had to let MG get ready to start the Long Voyage. I'm not going to claim that these things like the Unbound XL and the Long Voyage are inspired by what I did with Trans Iowa, (I'll let others figure that out), but it is kind of interesting to me to see how others interpret this 'idea' for a gravel grinder. But that is a discussion for another day....

Speaking of Trans Iowa, I saw a few old Trans Iowa friends, like Andy Stockman, who was a finisher of T.I.v5, and Derek Henry, who is a Trans Iowa vet. Then, in a big surprise to me, I ran across Warren Weibe, who is a Trans Iowa finisher and vet of the event as well. He was lined up to get into the Long Voyage and we had a nice, short chat. Then, as the announcer set the field off, led by a Dodge Viper convertible, Warren handed me his water bottle and said, "A man in a black t-shirt will come and get that from you." I was puzzled, and Warren was gone, so I could not ask for clarification. Tony looked at me dumbfounded as well. 

We stuck around until almost no one was left, and gave up. No one in a black t-shirt came to get Warren's bottle. Then, about three hours later, I suddenly thought that perhaps Warren was playing a bit with me. I had a black t-shirt on. Was the man who was to come- me? What a riddle! At any rate, I still have the bottle, Warren, if you want it! 

More former T.I. vets, all in the Long Voyage. (L-R) Jana Vavra, Scott Bigelow, MG

Warren Weibe with the bottle in question in his right hand.

While this is supposed to be about Gravel Worlds, I would be remiss if I did not mention all the people who stopped me to say that they read this blog daily, or that they recognized my voice from the Riding Gravel Radio Ranch. Shout out to the man from South Carolina who mentioned he was a long time blog reader to me at the start line for the 150. This was all very encouraging to me and I really appreciated all of the kind words people shared with me. 

Well, when the Long Voyagers were sent off, Tony and I set out afterward to find some dinner, and then it was off to bed for a 3:45am wake-up call. The next day was going to be a big day on the bike, and I needed all the rest I could get.  

Next: Things Didn't Start Out So Well


Rydn9ers said...

I may have and extra of those stickers or might be able to scrounge one up.

Guitar Ted said...

@Rydn9ers: Oh yeah? That'd be ace!

BenM said...

I've got a set of the Pro carbon discover bars on my rig currently. They are extremely harsh on the road, hard impacts seem to transfer straight through the bars into your hands. But on gravel they really hold their own and I find them to be much more comfortable there. The drops have a great shape to them as well with what I think is about the perfect amount of flare. I still haven't decided whether I'm going to keep them on my bike yet. With the large amount of road riding and minimal gravel we get here in southern WI I'm just not sure they're the right set up.

MG said...

It really did feel a lot like a Trans Iowa reunion at the start. Lots of super cool weirdos there!!