I haven’t participated in many races or events since finishing the Tour Divide last summer, due to a combination of burn-out and brokeness. The next several months should be a most welcome return to the fold, as my calendar is quickly filling up! Here are some upcoming races that I’m looking forward to being a part of:
Last year the Rok fell on my 26th birthday, and riding it made for one of the best birthdays I’ve had in the last several years. The race takes place on gravel roads surrounding Red Wing and the 105+ mile course contains a lot of climbing for southern Minnesota. In addition to a challenging course and beautiful scenery, last year’s edition even featured an impromptu support station dispensing artisan cheeses and San Pellegrino at the top of a particularly challenging climb! I’m excited to kick off the 2012 gravel season with this race, although I do plan on bashing its organizers on the internet if there aren’t any fancy snacks this year.
To say that I’m looking forward to this race isn’t totally accurate. Instead, I’m approaching it with a mix of awe and trepidation that seems appropriate for a three hundred mile race that claims one of the highest attrition rates of any race out there. I intend to post a lot more about my preparation for this race and my thoughts concerning it, but for now I’ll just say that I consider it to be the most intimidating ride that I’ve attempted and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
This is the longer version of the Almanzo 100, aka THE gravel event of the year. It’s just two weeks after Trans Iowa, so I considered just signing up for the hundo this year. Maybe its a sign of gravel hubris, but when registration rolled around I felt compelled to go for the Royal again this year. After riding last year in some of the shittiest weather I’ve ever experienced, I’m looking forward to a (hopefully) more pleasant race this year. I’m also excited that this year the Almanzo weekend will include running events, and Alex will be coming down to Spring Valley with me to run her first 25K. The Almanzo is a big part of what makes being a cyclist in Minnesota so great, and It’s awesome to see the event growing and evolving again this year.
This year will be by first Dirty Benjamin, another gravel century that takes place in Carver and Winsted counties, just west of the Twin Cities metro. Obviously I’m a big proponent of this race based on its name, but other then that I don’t really know what to expect. In any event, the fact there’s a gravel event so close to Minneapolis is pretty sweet.
This is an actual mountain bike event held in the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin. This should be a nice change of pace from the gravel scene, and hopefully a good incentive to start doing longer ‘real’ mountain bike rides in preparation for some of my future goals.
For now, that’s it. For anyone reading this who isn’t already familiar with these events, I want to point out that all of these races are grassroots organized and free to enter. As someone who has only been participating in these things for a few years, its easy for me to take that fact for granted and forget that free races aren’t nearly this common in most other parts of the country. I really appreciate the hard work that all of the organizers put into these races, and I consider myself incredibly lucky for the opportunity to be a part of them.