Sunday, March 28, 2010
Gravel Grinder News: Thoughts On: Popularity
So what's the deal? Why now and why gravel/ultra-endurance? I've been asking that question of a lot of people and so far it seems that shrugged shoulders and quizzical looks are all that can be proffered as answers. One thing for sure and this seems unanimous across everyone I've asked- No one saw this coming.
Sure, folks figured on growth, to be sure. Dirty Kanza 200 promoters Jim Cummings and Joel Dyke were thinking that their expansion from 100 to 150 riders would be more than enough to cover any demand increases. They were floored to find out that the event sold out in 14 hours and that they have a waiting list of riders nearing 100. That event isn't the only one seeing this sort of demand either.
The Almanzo 100, which is a May event up in Minnesota, is a free, no roster limit event. In the past they have drawn in the neighborhood of 100 participants, more or less. This year the roster soared to 450 riders. The Barry-Roubaix, which was run yesterday, had a roster of just over 200 for the 2009 running. Yesterday they saw over 500 take the start. (Picture on today's post courtesy of Barry-Roubaix's site)
Not only have established events seen growth, but the genre' as a whole is expanding. More events are cropping up, and gravel road and "back road" events seem to be striking a nerve amongst cyclists all over North America. Speculations on the reasons why this is run from the economy's status to cyclists annoyance with high entry fees. Bigger challenges are another reason stated for these increases we are seeing. Whatever the reasons, it is a good time to be a gravel grinding freak!