Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Has Gravel Outgrown Its Britches

Saturday Peter Sagan and Specialized announced that he will be at Unbound Gravel
 When I was a kid, hanging out with my  relatives who were mostly farmers, they would often admonish me with this maxim when I was getting a little bit too proud or self-assured in a bad way. It was this, "You're gettin a little too big fer yer britches, young man!

Maybe that was old parlance for "Stay in your lane", or something, but it stuck with me and I think about this when things that started out simple, and easy to understand become more complicated, bloated, and over-the-top. 

And I think the whole gravel scene has gotten there. I mean, Pro riders coming to a lottery based event which is almost impossible for the average 'Pete' to get into and if they do, it costs an arm and a leg to do the event? When that happens? Yeah... I'll circle back to this later.

And yes- you can even argue that having a Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame adds to this image of gravel cycling getting too big fer its britches.  Although I'd argue that if it is kept to being a historical/influencer/documentation resource that it isn't out of line to have such an organization. If it gets to be a popularity contest, then yeah....it's lost its relevance. 

The recently announced Warbird AXS Rival bike costs $7999.00 Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles
But more than that, the price to get into cycling has skyrocketed. It doesn't help matters when media pushes the bling out into our faces and makes us feel as though you have to have an eight thousand dollar bike, or shoes that cost hundreds of dollars, and power meters, or an expensive navigation device, or you will be off the back when you come to your local gravel event. 

It doesn't help matters when you go all 'ga-ga' when a former World Champion Pro road cyclist comes to a Kansas gravel event. It's as if your masses of riders who make up 99% of the field don't matter a whit.  Kudos to Gravel Worlds, and unPAved by the way, who are leading the way with social media to turn the tide in these matters. To be fair: Unbound has promoted a couple of average racer Instagram posts in the last week, but you don't see cycling media showing that.

And all of that highly visible narrative just flies in the face of the social missions many gravel events proclaim to be behind. Inclusive? Not much by the signs we see from cycling media, especially. Events and media could do well to damp the high-end, Pro racer, big-ticket items, 'suffer-fest' narratives, and focus on budget priced, average persons stories, and maybe how small businesses in these big event venues are benefiting from said big events. I dunno..... I'm just spit-ballin' here. There are plenty of great human interest stories in gravel. We don't need to recreate the Pro Road racing scene in gravel more than it has been so far. In fact, we need to back far away from that. 

In a bit of a satirical ranting I did along with N.Y. Roll, I suggested that we start another event, have a single category: "Human", and stipulate that the bike/gear used in the event has to cost less than 2G. And there is no entry fee, and if anyone doesn't have a bike, or means to get to the event, they get a free bike and travel/lodging. Inclusive? That's how I would do it. 

But I'm retired from event promoting, so someone else can take that idea and claim it as their own. And remember, that's a bit of satire there, so don't get all wound up about it. 

A Quick Note: I will be gone tomorrow, (Wednesday) and Thursday for the induction ceremonies for the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. I have scheduled posts for both days ahead of time. I'll have a special report on the ceremonies, the trip in general, and perhaps some items seen at the "All Things Gravel Expo", which I hope to run through on Thursday morning before I peel out for home. 

That will likely take over the space normally reserved for the weekly "FN&V" post. Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions! 

1 comment:

MG said...

Have fun in Emporia, Brother. Cheers!!!