Sunday, September 25, 2022

The GTDRI Stories: Take A Load Off

The blog header for the second GTDRI by Jeff Kerkove.
  "The GTDRI Stories" is a series telling the history, untold tales, and showing the sights from the run of Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals. This series will run on Sundays. Thanks for reading!

The 2006 season was a big season of change for me. In less than one year, I went from being pretty much anonymous to having a blog following, industry people haunting my blog for what I would say next, and to having my name on the internet sites for 29"er bike and parts reviews and news in two places. I went to Interbike for the first time in a decade, and I was running a gravel event or two. Basically, I went from 'zero to sixty' in such a short span that my life did not resemble anything I had known before May of 2005 when this blog started.  

In retrospect, it was too much too soon. I had two young children and a wife whom I had just married eight years previous. I had a busy schedule taking care of those people, plus a job which now demanded more of me than ever since Jeff had departed the shop and had started with Ergon.

To add to this miserable situation, I had let myself get talked into putting on a 29"er MTB festival in Decorah, Iowa. While the idea wasn't bad, (it was actually pretty cool), it wasn't what I needed to be doing. It was just another brick on my back and I was getting pretty loaded down. I needed to jettison something and initially, Trans Iowa was it. However; a very important email from a friend changed all of that, and Trans Iowa was back on. 

David Pals bike seen on a recon of the T.I.v6 course. He did a lot of recon by bike for the second GTDRI as well.

 In the meantime, that friend I mentioned who went with me to the first DK200, David Pals, and who had come along for the inaugural GTDRI, was communicating with me about what the next GTDRI might look like. He was excited to show off some roads in his neck of the woods, which for him at the time was Marengo, Iowa. We mutually agreed that David should take over the route planing of the next GTDRI, which I was glad to have off my plate at the time. 

I guess I should point out that while I was feeling overwhelmed on one end, I was also feeling extremely blessed on the other hand. I had several new friends and acquaintances. I had industry support, mentoring in the area of writing, and opportunities galore for consideration. So, I don't mean to make this seem as though this was a dark, gloomy, unwanted burden in terms of the happenings of those days. It's just that I should have been wiser and more judicious as to what I allowed myself to get wrapped up into. 

Jeff Kerkove at Europa Cycle and ski circa 2006.

I can say on one hand that "I wish I'd never had done that!", and then on the other hand I can see where all of it led me to where I am now, and without those questionable decisions, I may not have landed where I am today, which is a pretty good place, if I am honest.

Back then though, I was dealing with an increased workload, as Jeff had vacated the mechanic job at the bike shop we worked at together and his replacement, a young man who's name I do not recall now, left the job in June, right as the workload ramped up. I was inundated with repairs and working my tail off. 

So, having David step in to take care of the second route for the GTDRI was a huge blessing. He would email me updates on occasion and let me know how things were progressing as the Summer of 2007 went along. Since I was keen not to be gone during the lead-up to RAGBRAI, the second GTDRI was scheduled for August 4th. This wasn't done so much out of consideration for the endurance freaks as it had been the year previous. As you may recall,  they were not wanting my event to happen during the 24hr Nationals event in Wisconsin, which was earlier in the Summer. But by now I knew that gravel riders and endurance MTB people were two different groups. I just decided that we had carved out a space in August and that was pretty much the reason the ride ended up around this time period afterword. Keep in mind that Gravel Worlds was not a thing yet, and the Good Life Gravel Adventure, which Gravel Worlds sprang from, wouldn't happen for the first time until a year after the second GTDRI. So, at this point, August was wide open.

While I was glad that David could be relied upon to do some of the course finding, and allow me to focus on the festival, review work, and the shop, I was missing riding out in the countryside badly. Suffice it then to say that one of my bigger regrets is that I let work and this other business I detailed earlier take me away from the nascent gravel scene. That would be a big internal issue for me from this time until about 2014. But getting back to this story, I was eager to see where David would take this idea, and we ended up having a few interesting recon rides, and a GTDRI in 2007 which was very memorable for me. 

Next: How The Second One Came Together

1 comment:

john said...

Yeah, ride that bike