Every grinder has his goals. (Photo, Tracy Hoffman)
My son’s a freshman at Lincoln Southeast. He’s gotten into gravel riding this spring, and is off to a far better start in the sport than I experienced. (He won his first race. Me? I wrecked, overheated and DNFed.)
As a result, Marcus sees possibilities that probably would have seemed absurd to me when I started. It took me a while to believe I could even finish a gravel race, let alone do well in one. But Marcus—he can picture himself directing races. I like that.
In his introduction to business class, students had to propose events and build business plans to support them. These events wouldn’t be held, but they’d be graded on their planning and feasibility.
Marcus proposed a gravel century race. He designed his course, which started and finished at Method Cycles and Craft House, a place where racers could have a coffee at the start, a beer at the finish and fix whatever busted in between.
Bikes, coffee, beer, this tasty-looking concoction… What’s not to like? (Photo, Method)
He ran his 100-mile course through some serious hills near Denton, because if it’s not challenging, why bother? He set his registration fee, had a plan for reaching out to sponsors and some ideas for promoting his event. The kid did good.
His teacher did find one area, however, where his plan was lacking—one flaw that drew the feasibility of his entire event into question.
Once Marcus’s course left Lincoln, it took racers into the remote Nebraska countryside. His teacher pointed out that racers wouldn’t see a town larger than Denton (population: 190) or Bennet (population 719) for the full 100 miles. Where would these people find hotel accommodations for the first night of their race?
Denton has a nice seminary, but no hotel. (Photo, Our Lady of Guadalupe)
Marcus was bemused. “Hotels? Dad, we know like 20 guys who can probably do this in under six hours.”
We had a good laugh. But my point here isn’t to ridicule a good teacher. My point is to gain some perspective on the wildness and weirdness of this way we spend our weekends.
Marcus’s teacher is right. This whole gravel racing thing—it isn’t feasible. It’s an absurdity. Normal people don’t do this. A lot of normal people can’t.
I believe it’s helpful for us to remember the infeasibility of all of this. When we beat ourselves up over the details—when our weight is too high, our FTP too low, our bike too aluminum, our body too old, our High-intensity Interval Training not intense enough—remember this: The simple act of setting out on a challenging ride like Gravel Worlds is in itself a remarkable absurdity.
Just toe the line, and you’ve already entered the world of crazy talk. Roll out and you’re a gritty part of something normal people won’t even try. Enjoy that. Roll around in your gravelly unusualness. You’re a card-carrying member of Crazy Town, with the dirt tan to prove it. You’re a Pirate, damn it! Quit grading yourself so hard and go enjoy your bike.
That’s the spirit! (Photo, Tracy Hoffman)