Friday, June 02, 2023

Country Views: Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame Ride

Escape Route: 18th Ave NW, Emporia, Kansas
The Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame Ride was one of the things I most looked forward to about our trip. It is the reason we left to get to Emporia, (Mrs. Guitar Ted and I) on Tuesday. I won't bore you with the trip down details. It was a mundane 6.5 hr drive. I tell ya this much - I'm getting to the point where I don't like sitting in a car for that long. 

But I did it for this, and I am really happy about that. I saw a lot of folks I haven't seen in a long time. Some for a really long time. 

So, anyway, the ride! It was a ride that was kind of a strange one in that we were to meet a ride in progress and escort those riders back to Emporia. That ride we were to meet, loosely known as the "Gravitude Ride", started in Lawrence Kansas at Sunflower Bikes, led by their owner, Hall of Famer, (or "GCHoF'er - pronounced "geechoff'er" ) Dan Hughes. 

The ride was to start out for me in front of Merchant Cycles, (formerly Gravel City Adventures), at 11:00am. I figured that if I left my motel room, which was at the far Northwestern part of Emporia, at 10:00am or slightly afterward, I would have plenty of time to get there. I took the pink BMC for this one, and wore a Summertime kit which was appropriate for the high 80's-low 90's that was forecast for the ride. 

I arrived in front of the bike shop and saw someone I have not seen in probably more than a decade.

A clue as to who I saw.....

My Trans Iowa co-founder! Jeff Kerkove!

So, Jeff was in town for the big gravel expo and the event. He was pretty sure he was doing the 200, but.... If it rains..... (And it appears that will be the case.) Maybe not, but we will see. Anyway, that was the least of our concerns at the time. I had a nice long chat before the start of the event, and I actually spent some time chatting on the road with him as well. What a great surprise! I could have left and gone home with that being enough, but there was more!

Gravel Worlds promoter and GCHoF Board member, Jason Strobehn was the ride leader.

Riding out on Commercial Street.

My brother from another mother, MG was there too! I haven't seen him in so long! This was already an awesome ride and we hadn't even left town yet! Well, that time came, finally, and after Gravel Worlds and "geechof" board member Jason Strobehn called us to order, we rolled out of town on Commercial Street.

I got early twenty-teens DK200 vibes as the 50-ish riders rolled out down the street. I remember the first year the DK did this and while it would have been darker, with less cars around, I felt like I was rolling back in time a bit there. Especially with Corey, "Cornbread" Godfrey rolling along beside me, just like in 2010! I couldn't believe it. Yeah, I was having a good time already.

MAJOR props to this duo who did the entire ride.

What a wonderful sight to behold.

I had no idea where we were headed, but it was relayed to us at the start that the planned meet-up with the other riders was now not happening. They had planned to overnight at a campground near a lake Northwest of Emporia, but that evening it rained so hard that their encampment was flooded out and they all bailed out of the place and roomed up in Emporia instead. So they joined us for the ride and the distance was cut short accordingly. The route? Not even some of the ride leaders knew where we were going! 

I think that's awesome in these days of pre-planned, curated, GPS filed routes. We just had to trust to whomever had the "plan" and our job was just to stay upright and have fun.

I took this blind, over the shoulder shot, and look at who was sucking my wheel!

That's MG in the PCL jersey to the right there.

We stopped at Rocky Ford Bridge, or "Bird Bridge" as it is known by some. It is on one of the old DK200 "Route Challenge" routes and is a "beginner level" route. I didn't know this until we stopped at the bridge for a photo op with new GCHoF'ers, Allison Tetrick and Yuri Hauswald. There was some chatter about "murder ordained" and then I vaguely recalled the route being named something like that from years past. But that wasn't a big deal. It was just fun to stop and celebrate the new GCHoF members and then we were off again. 

2023 GCHoF inductees Yuri Hauswald (L) and Allison Tetrick (R)

The Flint Hills are all about cattle and feeding them the rich prairie grasses.

Leaving the bridge provided the only real climbing in this route and it wasn't too much of a burden to keep up even though we don't have that steep of a climb near where I live in Waterloo in the country. I'd have to go to Tama County for that. I gotta get down that way soon...

Of course there was a minimum maintenance road on the route!

The ride ended by coming back into Emporia on the road it left for the ride on. In all, it was a 13 mile loop, plus whatever I rode to get down there. When I was finished I chatted with a few folks, including the "Bike Monkey", who I know from Twitter, and Mike "Kid" Reimer from Salsa Cycles. 

Then I got ahold of Mrs. Guitar Ted, and we went and got some lunch. We chilled out for a bit and then we got dressed up for a night out at the GCHoF inductions ceremonies and after party. 

Stay tuned for that report next......


MG said...

It was so awesome to see you and Phyllis down there. I only wish we had more time together!!

Love ya, Brother!!


Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Amen to that!