It’s an Honor Just to Be Nominating: Emporia to host new Gravel Hall of Fame

The latest thing in gravel racing is all about honoring the earliest things in gravel racing.

This week, we learned that a new Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame is coming to Emporia, Kan. And its first crop of inductees will come from your nominations.

(Image, gravelcyclinghof.com)

The hall’s organizers are seeking nominees in several broad categories. (Refreshingly, the human ability to make a bicycle go fast matters in just one of them.)

  • Promoters
  • Athletes
  • Innovators
  • Volunteers
  • Routeurs (course designers)
  • Storytellers

A panel of 40-ish respected folks from across the riding community is set to review nominations and select gravel’s inaugural inductees this spring.

I imagine the cool thing to do here would be to act aloof about this development. Maybe I could crack wise about the irony of gravel’s outsider misfits coming together by committee to christen an approved class of insiders. But I just can’t do it.

I think this hall of fame idea is lovely. And its timing is excellent.

There’s been more than a little anxiety in recent years over where gravel cycling is headed. Has it become too corporate? Are pro tactics hurting the minimalistic, don’t-be-a-dick ethos of our sport? Is the UCI about to ruin everything?

When we’re uncertain about our future, I find reassurance in taking a good look at where we’ve been. And this new hall of fame gives us a good opportunity to do that.

Now, I can understand why Rockwell and others might roll their eyes. They snag on the word “fame” and hear pretension. Because, let’s be real: Nobody’s famous out here. It’s not like Ted King needs a disguise to go buy groceries.

The “gravel famous” Ted King (Photo, saris.com)

Instead of a hall of fame, had they announced a gravel racing achievement and service award series, I doubt anybody would’ve batted an eye. And of all the controversies gravel racing has had over its names in the last few years, I’m least concerned about what we choose to call this hall. Because I’m convinced the intent here isn’t pretentious.

Their clear interest in non-athletes shows me their desire to celebrate our community-builders and volunteers—the people who make our sport fun. I’m eager to see the class they put together, and I’m excited about the role we get to play in shaping it.

What do you love about how gravel got here? What is it about our gritty past that you’d like to keep on cheering? And who are the people who epitomize that gnarly spirit for you? Who are the people we should never forget?

The unforgettable Kae Takeshita and Mike Marchand (Photo, Kae Takeshita)

By god, nominate those dirt-tanned bastards!

As gravel racing continues to grow and change, I hope its grassroots heart and its come-as-you-are attitude keep their seats at the table. They don’t need to have all the seats. Everybody’s welcome here. All are invited to come change our sport—and be changed by it.

But as more and more of us arrive, as our diversity grows, it’ll be nice to point everyone down the same hall and say: This is our shared story. This is the no-quit attitude. This is the dirt-wearing, community-loving spirit that holds us together.

When those stories are shared, and when that community is celebrated, our uncertain future starts to look brighter and brighter.


2 thoughts on “It’s an Honor Just to Be Nominating: Emporia to host new Gravel Hall of Fame

  1. I agree with you. Having lived in the Bay Area where the MTB Hall of Fame is, I strongly believe that honoring a broad swath of people who made gravel what it is makes perfect sense. I also can’t wait to see who they pick.

    Liked by 2 people

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