|My husband and a good friend, about to ride their first gravel grinder.|
Riding gravel alone is fun sometimes, but for me, it's so much better with a group of kindred spirits. Gravel riding, which wasn't all that big just five years ago, has grown into a "movement". It didn't happen by accident. A few folks started doing it regularly, they pulled their friends in, everyone had a blast so those friends pulled in more friends...and so it goes. I can now proudly say I am no longer the "newbie" or "virgin" and I have done my part in introducing the joys of gravel to a few other friends.
Until this Spring, my husband was in the same boat I was a year and a half ago. He had no interest in riding gravel--mountain biking YES!, road riding YES!, gravel riding WHY? Living in Madison, we are surrounded by some of the best paved roads for cycling in the country--his thought was "why would I want to ride on bumpy, dirty roads for the same scenery when I can ride clean, smooth roads and not have to clean my bike after each ride?" He had a point--a point I so adamantly pointed out to the friends who got me into gravel riding. But I begged, pleaded and coerced, and somehow, I talked him into trying my favorite gravel event...the Dairy Roubaix.
|Dugway Hollow road. One of the many reasons I love riding gravel.|
|Would this be considered carb loading? Our pit stop had an Easter theme!|
Along with my husband, I somehow talked another cycling friend into experiencing what I have come to love. He too didn't understand the draw, and since he's not too fond of getting dirty and camping, I was so pleased when he signed on as well. He had intended on riding the Dairy Roubaix last year, but a minor physical road block stood in his way and it had to be set aside. I think I jumped up and down while clapping when he told me he was signing up again.
So this past Saturday, I stood next to my bike in Wyalusing state park, surrounded by so many wonderful cyclists I would consider family, ready to watch two adult men lose their virginity. To make the ambiance better, mother nature granted us sun and warmth--enough so we had to strip down just a few miles into the ride--a blessing after a long, grueling winter.
|Getting ready to roll out under sunny skies|
|Our quick pit stop half way through|
The miles ticked by, we turned onto so many beautiful "hollow" roads they all began to blend into each other, and we smiled. Oh did we smile! I was not about to be the only witness to their loss of virginity. Several other friends rode most or part way with us. There were brief moments when we all rode alone, and sometimes we'd ride next to a complete stranger which ended in becoming friends by the time we broke off. It was essentially like a traveling house party on wheels, and by the end, I think I had gotten two more souls hooked.
|Dan coming in strong!|
|Markham, my husband, was right behind him|
Thankfully, exact times weren't kept, and there was no seriousness to who won. I do, however, find it very amusing I was told I got third place women's for the second year in a row. Mind you this isn't saying much since gravel is still primarily a "guy's thing". I already have two female friends I'm trying to get to try this ride for next year...maybe they will bump me down to fifth place.
I won't go into the details about what happened at the Hugh Harper group camp--it's kinda like Vegas that way. I will say doing these types of events is like being a kid at summer camp all over again. The type of bonding which occurs could rarely happen at a road race. It is for this reason, I will always be drawn to riding gravel.
|Stew and Michelle|
If you'd like to read about my experience last year at Dairy Roubaix, here is a link.
|Getting ready to roll out|
|BJ and Kristin getting doing one last training ride before Trans Iowa|
|Back at the campground post ride|
|One of the coolest guys I know|
|Happy to be alive and to be on gravel|