jayhughes12
I have been a gravel cycling fanatic for many years now. I have watched the sport grow and read everything I could find on the subject. As I became immersed in the gravel culture I tried reaching out to some of the top athletes in the sport for tidbits of wisdom and started following their feeds. None of these ambassadors for the sport even acknowledged anything that I asked or commented on anything that me or others posted on Facebook, Twitter or Strava. It wasn't until I called a few of them out that they suddenly were concerned what a mere mortal had to say. This year I was finally able to attend my first Dirty Kanza. Wow, that is one hell of an experience!! The people in and around Emporia are the nicest, most generous people I have ever met. It felt more like home than home. I got to meet Jim Cummins and Guitar Ted...that was awesome. Both of these guys are the nicest people I have ever met. As I drove through Emporia one morning before the race there were gravel bikes taking up both lanes of travel in one direction and several of the riders were flipping off motorists...not a nice way to promote gravel cyclists to a city that opens there arms to you each year. I did meet lots of gravel cyclists who were as excited as me and loved sharing stories. I also met an two accomplished cyclists, one who has many DK videos online and one who is part of another gravel website. Neither of them really gave me the time of day and acted like they gave a damn about anything I had to say or asked. They didn't even stop for a brief second to talk, they just kept walking. Wow, I was excited to meet them at first but after that I could care less for them or their accomplishments or their opinions. Later this year I actually reached out to another female athlete who was doing the Crusher in the Tushar race. She actually responded back. I though this was awesome. Didn't bug her but asked how the race went the following day. I congratulated her on her placing and throughout the conversation I never even got a thanks or anything. It was all me, me me and never even acted like she read what I said to her. Okay, I've learned my lesson. Do not look up to or expect anything from others who should be promoting the sport or helping the newer riders. The upper echelon of gravel cycling does not have time for you. They don't care what you do or want your admiration. They are out for themselves and what they can get, nothing else. It's really a shame that the actions of a few can really spoil the gravel cycling environment . End of rant.
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GravelDoc
Though I've never been a bicycle racer of any type, I enjoy reading about gravel cycling in it's many forms.  Maybe because I'm surrounded by gravel roads where I live and enjoy rambling around on them from time to time.  Hopefully, your words will be read by those who need to read them and take them to heart.   I  have some friends who own and operate a bike shop with an emphasis on gravel cycling.  They both ride in the DK 200 and seem to really enjoy talking about their experiences.  As gravel cycling was beginning to catch on around the country, one of the big attractions seemed to be the "grass roots" and friendly feel of the events with folks looking out for and helping each other.  That was the "soul" of gravel cycling.  May gravel cycling never lose it's soul!
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GHC
The actions of a few "roadies" (as defined by gravel riders = relax, simply riding on pavement 90% of the time doesn't make you a "roadie") don't define me or the rest of us, but I hear you.  None of these roadie types will keep me from having a good time pretty much racing against myself and happily suffering with others doing the same.  Sorry to hear you ran into some of them.... you will find a few of them anywhere...throughout the running order....anywhere there is a group of riders generally.   Agree, there are a few "writers/reviewers" who are definitely more interested in attracting manufacturers attention than making friends with folks buying the product...again, I get it, and why. Such is life. Top to bottom, I am still generally proud to suffer with the majority of gravel riders (including those that also sneak off to the dark side from time to time to ride on pavement, but aren't roadies = smile).  

I too continue to witness that the "feel" of gravel cycling that attracted a lot of us initially is changing, particularly at some/not all large events, and it will continue to.   I also continue to feel like there's still a growing number of grass root styled events will continue to provide ample opportunities to find a feel that suits.  Beyond that .... we all spend more time training/attempting to stay or get fit ... then we do at events.   IMO, that's were the joy is....ride with people you enjoy, live and let live, we are gravel riders.

All that typed ....while I don't know her personally, I have run into Alison Tetrick before and after events a few times......trust me, she has absolutely no reason to maintain a conversation with me lol .... but she has, and she does stuff that promotes the sport (and yes, herself....she seems to understand the game), while generally maintaining the appearance of having fun doing it (which has to be work at times).....and hopefully her approach continues to inspire more women to ride gravel ... gosh knows we need more lol.   Some of the top dudes are also playing the game the way I would like to see them playing it if I were sponsoring them....still have to win or ride up front though, I would want to sell product, and performance sells.  Others are solely focused on their own pre race prep and race, that's fine.  Simply being good at something doesn't make someone a good person, myself included.






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jayhughes12
Thank you both for your replies! I do wish that the people who need to read this would read it and understand that small actions on their part make a huge difference. I understand that they are on a totally different level and have different priorities, but ignoring others praises or good wishes is just inconsiderate and wrong. As a sponsored athlete they definitely are expected to perform and win, I get it.

I too do my own thing at gravel events and enjoy being around and suffering with others like me. I love the environment and give and receive encouragement throughout the event. It makes you feel like you're part of a family and looking out for one another is part of what makes gravel cycling wonderful. I will continue to enjoy my rides and interactions with others at events, but will no longer waste my time trying to interact with the elitists of the sport. I am there to have fun, soak in the atmosphere and push myself on the course.
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Zurichman
I get where you are coming from. I have been to 9-10 gravel bike rides/races so far. I see a big difference on what I call grass roots type of rides compared to the larger rides where riders are getting paid money or there is sponsorship bragging rights up for grab. I guess the way to get around that is to just go ride mainly grass roots type of rides. One I would recommend from my end was the Pony Express 120 in Marysville Kansas that was early Sept. That is the one that has stood out at my end. The kicker for me is I live on the East Coast instead of the Midwest where the real gravel riding is done. Most of my rides on the East Coast are 50/50 gravel/macadam or if you are lucky 60/40. I will keep looking for the small grass roots rides at my end and maybe try a few of the bigger races this year. Glad to hear that you like the Dirty Kanza ride as that was low on my list but might move up now. The toughest most gravel ride I have done so far on the East Coast was a couple of weekends ago. Ride the Ridges @ Cabot VT. which was about 85% gravel and was 7000 ft of climbing for me in 58 miles.


Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Noonievut
I think it would be an interesting experiment if while at these races you reached out to the average Joe/Jill cyclist, to get their story. You would probably make their day! I find their experience much more interesting than a seasoned veteran. Someone overweight, out of their league on a sub-$1k bike doing 200 miles would be a great story! Also the volunteers would be great to speak with. I don’t look up to pro cyclists at all. They’re just another rider, no better than you or I in life.
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jayhughes12
I agree, the smaller grassroots events have a different vibe completely. I forgot about the Pony Express event completely. I still want to do the Land Run 100 and the Hilly Billy Roubaix in West Virginia. That looks like a hoot!! I should be moving to Ohio next year and look forward to doing some of the events closer to that area.
Hoping to go back to the DK this year and ride the 50 on a tandem with my wife...fingers crossed! You should do the DK at least once, I was pleasantly surprised with the locals especially.

I agree that interviewing the average joe/Jane or volunteer would really show what an average person can accomplish. You don't need the cutting edge equipment to do these events, just the desire and some training. I think the non-professional riders are the true heroes anyway. They don't have coaches or sponsors to help them succeed, they get there through sheer desire and trial and error.
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JMosey
Noonievut wrote:
I think it would be an interesting experiment if while at these races you reached out to the average Joe/Jill cyclist, to get their story. You would probably make their day! I find their experience much more interesting than a seasoned veteran. Someone overweight, out of their league on a sub-$1k bike doing 200 miles would be a great story! Also the volunteers would be great to speak with. I don’t look up to pro cyclists at all. They’re just another rider, no better than you or I in life.


Well that describes me! 40# overweight, undertrained, and on a 2011 CX bike but I finished MI Coast 2 Coast (212 miles).

Maybe I’m spoiled living in W. Michigan but I seem to have a great experience at every race, group ride, etc. I’m textbook back of the pack yet when I run into someone like Matt Acker (won DK XL, second at Marji) he remembers my name and is more than willing to share his experiences, discuss equipment. The laid back nature of gravel racing is what drew me to the sport. I love hanging out after a race like Barry Roubaix. Great people, amazing beer, and a fun atmosphere. Much more enjoyable than the triathlon background I come from. Of course, like I said, I’m in West Michigan... most people here seem to be genuinely nice. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing?

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Shaun McNally
jayhughes12 wrote:
I did meet lots of gravel cyclists who were as excited as me and loved sharing stories. I also met an two accomplished cyclists, one who has many DK videos online and one who is part of another gravel website. Neither of them really gave me the time of day and acted like they gave a damn about anything I had to say or asked. They didn't even stop for a brief second to talk, they just kept walking. Wow, I was excited to meet them at first but after that I could care less for them or their accomplishments or their opinions. Later this year I actually reached out to another female athlete who was doing the Crusher in the Tushar race. She actually responded back. I though this was awesome. Didn't bug her but asked how the race went the following day. I congratulated her on her placing and throughout the conversation I never even got a thanks or anything. It was all me, me me and never even acted like she read what I said to her. Okay, I've learned my lesson. Do not look up to or expect anything from others who should be promoting the sport or helping the newer riders. The upper echelon of gravel cycling does not have time for you. They don't care what you do or want your admiration. They are out for themselves and what they can get, nothing else. It's really a shame that the actions of a few can really spoil the gravel cycling environment . End of rant.


I think it's kind of funny that even the "upper echelon" riders in the gravel world are unknown to 99% of the cycling world.....They would do well to remember that. I bet even Ted King, 2X DK winner and former Euro pro doesn't get recognized by anyone when he's not at a race surrounded by his people.

I've noticed by doing some gravel races around MN that each state or region has it's studs that show up for every event. I call them the barnstormers. Show up, sweep the podium and go home. When I did the Filthy 50 last year everyone in the crowd was talking about "the bunch of Cat 1 racers from the Cities (Mpls/St. Paul) who decided to show up at the last minute"

I don't have that problem of people blowing me off because I'm such an introvert....I don't go up to people to make conversation 😉 and by the time I finish a century, the winners have already packed up and left. 
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Noonievut
That's what I love about YouTube these days...I can watch average riders (sometimes with awesome video skills, but still fine if that's average) out there enjoying their local surroundings.  There are a few channels with a good amount of gravel rides (Dustin Klein for one), and some great bike touring adventures on and off road in countries I would love to visit.  I choose this over most tv and sports these days...and I REALLY hope this is the future of television/online 'entertainment' (you just have to comb through the junk!).
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Zurichman
jayhughes12 wrote:
I agree, the smaller grassroots events have a different vibe completely. I forgot about the Pony Express event completely. I still want to do the Land Run 100 and the Hilly Billy Roubaix in West Virginia. That looks like a hoot!! I should be moving to Ohio next year and look forward to doing some of the events closer to that area.
Hoping to go back to the DK this year and ride the 50 on a tandem with my wife...fingers crossed! You should do the DK at least once, I was pleasantly surprised with the locals especially.

I agree that interviewing the average joe/Jane or volunteer would really show what an average person can accomplish. You don't need the cutting edge equipment to do these events, just the desire and some training. I think the non-professional riders are the true heroes anyway. They don't have coaches or sponsors to help them succeed, they get there through sheer desire and trial and error.


Living in Pa. and traveling some can give you some suggestions of rides that might interest you.

Ohio Funks Bottom Little Prairie June

WV GRUSK Gravel race up Spruce Knob(Circleville WV). In the boonies great ride Stay in the dorms and buy the food package as it is good and no food places anywhere close. I have heard Hilly Billy Roubaix is kind of techy and I am not there yet.

New York Farmer's Daughter Chatham New York.

Zman


If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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