Saturday, June 03, 2023

GCHoF 2023: Inductees & Comments

The Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame ceremonies were held at the Grenada Theater.
 Last year I reported on the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame ceremonies and gave my commentary on the deal from my personal perspective. (See that HERE) this time I am going to give my take on each inductee's speech and maybe give some thoughts on their importance to the Hall. 

This will not be a critique of how they gave their speech, although there may be a little of that, but more so I wanted to touch upon the theme and message that each person had to share, which is important for many reasons. I also feel that beyond the walls of the Grenada Theater you won't hear much about those messages, so this factors into why I wanted to write this post. These messages were too good not to share. 

I will cover each person and the THING in the order that they were presented May 31st, 2023 at the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame ceremony. 

Miguel Crawford: The Influencer:

Miguel Crawford, who was the creator of the Grasshopper events in the 1990's, was up first. I was a bit disappointed that he wasn't there as I was wanting to meet him, but at least we got a digital message to take in. 

Miguel's message was one of historical importance to the Northern California cycling scene and how his events disseminated an idea that adventure, fun, challenge, and inclusiveness was important and these ideals ended up being picked up and further refined by cyclists like Yuri Hauswald who attended the very first "Hopper", as they came to be known. The Hoppers are still going on 25+ years afterward and are still influencing gravel culture to this day. The way that Miguel's events have molded what many outside of the Mid-West see as 'gravel' is inestimable. 

Michelle Davis, Joel Dyke's widow, shares her views upon Joel's induction to the Hall.

Joel "Big Grin" Dyke: The Man With The Plan For All The Wack-A-Doodles Out There:

 Joel Dyke, if you are not aware, is one of the co-founders of what became UNBOUND, which is happening today. His place in the history of gravel cycling is therefore cemented in place beyond argument based upon that alone, but Joel represents so much more than that.

In my opinion, his widow, Michelle Davis, nailed Joel's subversive character, and his motivations to get more people on bicycles to have fun, perfectly. Calling those Joel influenced "wack-a-doodles", Michelle helped us understand that Joel is responsible for the participation of many cyclists who wanted to see just how far they could really go, because Joel thought up ways to allow them to do just that, and invited them in with enthusiasm and joy.

Michelle rightly suggested that, had Joel still been alive, that he may not have attended the ceremony, or wanted to accept such an accolade. However; I would like to think otherwise, only because Joel is the perfect representative of the common gravel rider, the "outsider", the under-represented, and the people who wouldn't consider themselves "racers". It is my belief that Joel would have been a champion for these sorts of people and causes mostly based upon his encouragements to me after he stepped away from the promotions of the DK200. 

But we'll never know that, and for that, I am eternally saddened. After the ceremonies, I had a chance to speak with, and really, mostly just listen to, Michelle as she shared her thoughts and feelings on the evening. With her were her two children she had with Joel. It was heart-wrenching for me to look into their bright eyes and see the reflection of their father whom they will never have the chance to know.  This makes me so blessed and honored to have known Joel the little bit that I did and to know that he is forever enshrined for his efforts in the sphere of gravel cycling. 

Yuri Hauswald: He Raced For Her:

Yuri Hauswald, as mentioned previously in Miguel Crawford's story, was a participant in the first Hopper event and came from a background of mountain biking. However; in 2013 he discovered the DK200 and won the event in the legendary "Mud Year" of 2015. His finishline interview that year was a heartfelt tribute to his wife who was battling stage four colon cancer at the time. Amazingly, she has survived and was at the ceremonies to see her husband enshrined. 

Of course, there is much more to Yuri's story with gravel. Overall, I would say that Yuri's story is also one of influence, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes, which has spurred the gravel movement forward with each effort he made. 

To say that Yuri's fingerprints are all over the gravel world is not an overstatement. I won't get into all those details here, but he certainly has the qualities that make a Hall of Fame worthy inductee. Both from an athletic perspective and from the influencer side. And most importantly, Yuri isn't done yet. I cannot wait to see how he helps push the category forward in the future. 

Allison Tetrick: She Found Her Home:

Allison Tetrick's speech was about as long as the UNBOUND 200, but it embodied her expressiveness and her personality which was formed early on by her parents and especially her "Grampy" who was the main influence for her to get on the bike and compete. 

Searching for the "certain something" that was missing she went from a full scholarship tennis player to, briefly, a triathlete, then to a Pro road cyclist. After she experienced several setbacks and struggles she found herself trying out this weird thing in Kansas called a gravel event. Well, she won it. That would have been the DK200, by the way. 

Allison went on to become a three-time Gravel Worlds champion and has cemented herself in as a top female influencer in the gravel arena as well. She continues to champion female participation in the sport and she still competes at a high level in the sport. But from what I gathered upon listening to her at the GCHoF induction, it is that she finally has found her "home" in gravel cycling and its people. 

The Chaise Lounge: Keeping Gravel "Real" One Photo Op At A Time:

In a surprise announcement, GCHoF Board member LeLan Dains announced that there would be a new category for "things" which were influential to the gravel scene. The first inductee had a nomination written so convincingly that the Board felt that a new category was necessary. So, we got the Chaise Lounge from Salsa Cycles as the first in the category. 

Okay.... So that's weird, but listen, if you took anything at all away from Wednesday evening's speeches, what Mike Reimer said "on behalf the the Chaise" is worth remembering. 

Essentially, the message was directed at an imaginary field of riders.The "fast folks" were reminded to remember that the mid-to-back-of-the field racers were enduring for longer and that their efforts were worthy as any winner's were. That the fast folks needed to stick around to cheer on those folks and be invested in their experiences after the event.

Conversely, the mid-to-back-of-the field riders were reminded that the fast folks were people who were working hard, had sacrificed a lot to be where they are at, and that this deserved respect as well. We were reminded to celebrate their accomplishments and remember that many of them are there to make a living, and are not just riding for fun. 

And then we are all to respect and honor those who are less represented and under-privileged as well, lifting them up and celebrating them for who they are and what their accomplishments are also. 

Oh! We all got these sweet vests also.

More Thoughts On The Ceremonies: 

 The ceremonies were a bit different than last year's.  This time recipients were given more freedom to express themselves. There also was more integration of video as well as the speeches themselves. Joel Dyke's video featured the People's Punk Band's song called "Big Grin" along with a montage of Joel doing what he did best, including flipping the bird! 

The surprise category is something I had no idea about at all, but as it was announced, the electors will elect subsequent entries to that category in the future. I think it is appropriate given that certain elements of the early gravel scene, like post card entries and cue sheets, are probably little known to today's gravel freaks. 

Of course, the hardware innovations could be a part of that category as well, and I fully expect to see things like tires and bicycles introduced in the future as being "hall worthy". But I am only one guy speculating on that.

The ceremonies were capped off by the after-party which was well attended and which was held in the Merchant Cycles space, same as last year, only then it was known as Gravel City Adventure and Supply. The name change reflects a change in ownership. Now Bobby Wintle, Yuri Hauswald, and Tim and Kristi Mohn own the shop and LeLan Dains has stepped out of his role as an owner selling his part of the business. 

The ceremonies themselves were better attended. I saw a pretty full house downstairs and it looked pretty good up in the balcony as well. Much better than last year's event. So, that was nice to see. I think the promotions leading up to the event were better, more consistent, and that this brought in a lot more folks. 

In fact, I and the rest of the first class were asked to do little promos, which I did. Interestingly, Chris Skogen's was kind of an overall ambivalent effort which I noted wasn't used by the GCHoF account. But that's a Mr. Skogen thing, which didn't surprise anyone at the GCHoF. It was pointed out to me that Mr. Skogen had mentioned he had written two acceptance speeches last year, a negative one and a positive one, and he gave the positive one. Then he stepped out of the building, walked across the street to a tatoo business, and got "HoF" engraved into his arm, so......

Anyway, good times. I was glad that I attended. 

Next: A Photo Dump from the trip.......


DT said...

My favorite Chris Skogen story comes from the directors at Rasputitsa a year or two ago. Apparently he drove from MN to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont the night before the race, talked with the event directors and possibly some participants, and then left to drive home the next day without staying to watch the event. Legend. I wish I had more details on that one, but the messages out of Rasputitsa can be kind of vaugely buried at times.

Guitar Ted said...

@DT _ That's a great story. I think Mr. Skogen had an interest in seeing if something passed his litmus test for an event or a personality. I say that because of what happened at Trans Iowa v8.

Mr. Skogen signed up for and ran a bit of that Trans Iowa. He showed up to the pre-race meeting keeping mostly to himself wearing a full-on coonskin cap. During the event, after the first Level B Road, he was spotted in the ditch alongside my photographer for the event. Later on, that photographer asked me if I knew this "Skogen character". I admitted that I knew of him. The photographer said he saw him ride up to him, dismount, grab a cigarette out of his pack, and light up. He then said something about how this event was "pretty legit", and then he disappeared, and no one else saw him the rest of that day or the next. I assume he rode back to Grinnell and went home.

My photographer was flabbergasted by that! I'll never forget him telling me that story.