Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gravel Springing Through

Here comes the spring!
The speed at which gravel riding has and continues to be gaining in popularity is encouraging to us early adopters. The major manufacturers and custom builders are bringing forth many versions of gravel/all road/adventure/etc... machines in order to provide for this ever widening niche. I have seen TV commercials depicting gravel riders in the background while marketing some product (got involved in looking at the bike trying to figure out what they were riding and missed what it was trying to sell me).
R&D is causing production to retool in order to produce gravel specific tires and other components that will better suit the demands of these new (old) roads.
So now we're kind of a big deal.
So now should we worry?
I have a concern about these things becoming too big and at some point needing a governing body. Many of our events have started out like garage bands driven by the energy and pure enthusiasm of their creator. That spirit moved more people to participate and in turn multiplied to what we are seeing today, hundreds of riders arriving at start lines located on the edge of some Starbuck-less town racing through a countryside inhabited by farm dogs and pick up trucks. And we love it!
We must resist corporatization but we should also not be exclusive. Almanzo is still going after the retirement of it's creator. The committee run edition of it last year was highly successful and enthusiastically supported even though it may have lost a little bit of that self-supported individualist flavor. The bottom line to me is more people came out to participate and join our community.
We can be kind of a big deal without taking ourselves too seriously. All it takes is to continue to be there for our fellow gravelers when a hand, innertube, gelpack or encouragement is needed. It's not all about first, it's about finishing and sometimes it takes a village.