Over the past ten years I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with bicycle road racing. I love the camaraderie, the thrill and the on the edge of your physical limit intensity of the sport, but what I hate is the built-in duplicity.
There’s a saying in bicycle racing “don’t work harder, work smarter.” In other words, let someone else do the work and then screw ‘em at the finish line. Certain personalities thrive in that environment; me I could never really get on board.
I come from a mountaineering background and the ethos of me and my climbing buddies was we all work together, and we make it to the summit together. This ethic of teamwork has carried over into my cycling.
My recent experience on the Bremerton Gravel Grinder highlighted the difference between the gravel and the road experience. My buddies and I started as a team, rode as a team and finished as a team. I’m sure that some of my teammates could have ridden the course faster, but they didn’t go it alone, instead we all stuck together and, in my opinion, had a richer experience.
I worry that gravel racing will dilute gravel riding. I fear that the ethos of every man for himself will rise to the top. I typically train alone, and I understand the simplicity and peace of going solo, but when it comes to big goals and adventure I prefer to venture out as a team. I think I’ll keep my bicycle and gravel riding lives separate. For me gravel riding is the search of adventure and challenge with friends; it isn’t chasing a spot on some podium.
On the BGG the weather was good, the route was great, but the highlight of my day was kicking back on the return ferry with my friends knowing that we’d done something cool and that we’d done it together.