Thursday, May 30, 2024

Notes From The Road

These snippets of information are place keepers for me and a way to fill in a post for today. In no particular order....

More Gravel Beef: Besides the grousing the Pro women riders are voicing concerning the mixing of the Women and Men Pro fields, now there appears to be an issue with the number plates. 

Last week, Unbound sent out a missive to all the registered riders proclaiming that any modifications to the number plates was strictly forbidden including bending the plates for an aero advantage. According to the notice, the chip timers can be damaged by doing any bending to the plates and disqualification for riders can result if plates are modified in any way.

GRX Pedal: Didn't know this existed until I saw it on Shimano's Instagram. I need to find out more about these. If you haven't seen them they look like fairly standard SPD's with GRX badging, but I imagine there is more to it than that. Or not..... I see some folks are saying they are re-badged XT pedals. Maybe I can get to the bottom of it....

GRX pedals. (Image courtesy of Shimano Instagram.

End Of An Era: This isn't related to my trip, but I learned this week that Craig Cooper has sold Bikes To You, the shop we used for Trans Iowa and started the event in front of for nine years. 

Craig was a huge supporter of myself and Trans Iowa. I cannot list or even remember all the selfless acts of kindness Craig performed over the course of those years for Trans Iowa, the racers, my volunteers, and myself. 

All the best to Craig going forward. I'll likely have a special post concerning this and Trans Iowa later. 

Perspectives: The Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame purports itself as a placeholder for gravel cycling history. I'm not convinced of that.....yet. But I did see another solid reason why it should be exactly that. That is very well illustrated in a thread I was reading concerning gravel cycling on Facebook. One of the commenters mentioned that "the gravel bros were doing that 5-7 years ago..." referencing how the 'old school' of gravel cycling had been doing something in an old school way, using a year range that, I suppose, sounded righteous to the author, and it was not challenged. 

This, in my opinion, is what the majority of gravel riders think. They see gravel "history" starting around 2017. A decade-plus after the genre got its start in reality. As we go on, that "5 to 7" year range will slide forward a bit. Mark my words. People will think "old school gravel" was when there wasn't a UCI Gravel World Championships (started in 2022, by the way) 

Spirit of Gravel: Another train wreck of a post from "Cycling News" on  the "Spirit of Gravel" was noted on Tuesday of this week. Every time I see one of these the author tries to equate the "spirit" with a "style of competition" or the hardware used in competition. In my opinion this totally misses the mark. Anyway, the author tries to make the case that Pro level racing enhances the "Spirit of Gravel".  Whatever dude.....

More Spirit of Gravel: This topic was a main theme during the induction ceremony. And not amazingly, the inductees that addressed this nailed it  more on that in my report  

The first class of inductees to the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. Image by Crystal Wintle.

Chaos Ensues: Upon reaching Emporia a stop at the local Mall Wart was in order. I was there maybe thirty seconds and I heard, “Is that Guitar Ted?”  It was Joe Reed, owner of Mulready’s bar on Commercial Street. He told me that the community was expecting 25,000 additional people in town for Unbound  Twice the city’s population . He was expecting chaos to ensue . The local residents seem a bit uneasy about how this will go  

Hall of Famers: The Hall of Fame group ride was pretty well attended. Got a chance to chat up Allison Tetrick, Jay Petervary, Dan Hughes, and finally got to meet Miguel who was inducted last year  

Pinion Box: I saw the Viral Bikes Pinion gear box bike and talked with Steve Domahidy quite a while about it  

Much more to come….


S.Fuller said...

Not bending plates with chips has been a thing for years. No one has a leg to stand on about that as long as it's equally enforced across all entrants. Give 'em paper plates and time them with an old hand wound stop watch. :D

Sad to see Craig retire and sell the shop, but I'm happy it's in good hands and he has another venture to work on. He's a great guy.

NY Roll said...

The plate discussion and rule is only effective if enforced. Unbound could change to the seat post marking like UCI or Tris use?
Bikes to You: Craig even helped out with housing a few folks for the COG in 2019 if I recall.
Gravel History: All one can do is inform others and use actual facts. History is always changing, and in 2124, no one will care about 1998 to 2024 gravel, it will still be 100 years ago, and advancements being made. It reminds me of the Mighty Boosh skit.

Vince: …because I started my day with this. [pulls a cassette tape from his pocket] Check this out. [Put tape in player and new-wave electro music comes out. Vince starts dancing.]
Howard: That is just making me feel physically sick. [Takes tape out of player and throws it on the ground] What is that gloomy racket?
Vince: [In absolute disbelief] That’s the Human League!
Howard: That is electro nonsense.
Vince: They’re electro pioneers! They invented music!
Howard: Invented music?
Vince: Yeah!
Howard: What happened before them, then?
Vince: It was just tuning up before then.

IMG said...

As a curmudgeonly race director whose race hasn't changed ever (15 years? 17 years? who knows at this point) the number plate thing gets me every time.

We don't have fancy timing chips... we just have 1-2 people at a checkpoint trying to keep track of everything. If we say, don't trim your plate and that it needs to be on the handlebars (not plastered around the head tube) that is what we mean... and it's not because we want to make you work harder.

Don't get me started on blowing through checkpoints...

A-A-Ron said...

G-Ted - now here is something we can agree on. Unbound for better or worse, is literally the biggest bike race in America from a eyeballs point of view if not a participant point of view. And along with 4000 racers comes family, support crews, journalists, industry folks, etc. When I was last there in 2019, I already felt the town was overrun and also felt gouged by the price of it all. At what point does Lifetime have to move the event to a bigger city with more infrastructure?

MG said...

Yeah, I read that Cyclingnews opinion piece on the “Spirit of Gravel”. I’m not gonna say he’s wrong, because he’s entitled to his opinion, however that’s not how I see it whatsoever. The spirit of gravel, if that’s what you want to call it, is an inclusive community that simply likes to ride bikes, have fun, and be up for whatever’s coming up. No more, no less. It’s not ‘pro’, and in the early days (2005-7) there were no ‘pros’ racing gravel. Just folks that liked to ride bikes and have a fun adventure.

Heck, everyone that grew up on a farm riding bikes was a ‘gravel pioneer’. And that wasn’t about being ‘pro’ at all. It was life.

S.Fuller said...


IMO, if it moves, it ceases to be Unbound/DK and then loses its importance and appeal to competitors and sponsors. It's not the same event if it moves to KC or Topeka.

Guitar Ted said...

@N.Y. Roll - Both viewpoints from your "sketch" are valid. If you want to understand history, you should have that resource. If you think it is hogwash, then that's your prerogative, but the consequences of a lack of understanding whatever 'the perception is of the history' at the time is often times negative and sometimes dangerous.

Guitar Ted said...

@IMG - Keeping it real and real simple. Works with a certain sized crowd, but when you are talking the super-sized, Unbound type events? That's where ya gotta lean on the technology to even pull that sort of thing off.

Guitar Ted said...

@ A-A-Ron - Funny you should bring that subject of "too big" up. I hadn't been in Emporia for more than fifteen minutes before I ran into Joe Reed, the owner of Mulready's Pub, an establishment on Commercial Street there. You may know of it.

Joe told me, with palpable trepidation, that the town was planning on an extra twenty five THOUSAND people to descend upon Emporia over the course of the Unbound week. He said that it was going to be "chaos", (his words).

I'll have a bit more to say about this in my report.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Yeah, it's more "click-bait", and it stinks.

You saw the induction speeches live-streamed, yes? I hope so. You would have no doubt noted the correct views on the Spirit of Gravel as stated by some of the inductees that evening.

teamdarb said...

Craig is a stand up guy. I was put up in his Airb&b for the COG. Not only that, he held onto the bike I rode in the event for years. For those who don't know- I am a forever traveler. I have many bikes across America. Several years later, I call him up asking if he still had the bike for which I suggested giving to a deserving person. He did and refused to let me pay for the shipping. I just swapped that very bike for another to ride trails.

Guitar Ted said...

@teamdarb - Thank you for those anecdotes on Craig. I agree, he is a stand-up guy.