Saturday, October 27, 2012

A History Lesson

The Wisconsin Gravel Syndicate is coming up on its first anniversary, and I see that we've rounded up over 140 hapless souls over the last however many months. Not sure how people found this group? Some were added by friends, others sought us out. Either way, the presumption is that the underlying thread shared by our members is a deep-rooted desire to CRUSH GRAVEL. And not just for an hour or so every other weekend, but in a BIG way by taking part in epic events like The Almonzo, The Dirty Kanza 200, and The World Gravel Championships.
Hapless Soul Crushing Gravel

Not coincidentally, the WGS had its origins in that same desire. I recall reading an article two years ago in Dirt Rag about a 200 mile gravel road race in Kansas.  At the time I thought to myself "My God, that's insane! I would LOVE to try something like that!" Then, I promptly forgot about it. Until, about a year ago around this time when the shuffle setting in my head retrieved that scrap. I sat down and Googled "200 mile gravel race in Kansas", and up popped a link to the Dirty Kanza 200 web page.  Like we all do, I immersed myself in the details of the event: the audaciousness of it, the distance, the weather, the rider's stories.  All the while weighing my odds of racing it, completing it, surviving it...
Sunrise on the Dirty Kanza 200

At the same time, it occurred to me that there must be others out there who might also share my new-found passion for all things gravel.  This thought, and my unrequited desire to be part of a community of like-minded people led me to create the WGS Facebook group.

Slowly at first, then with more regularity, people began to find the group, often bringing along their friends.  I began posting content, scheduling training rides, and recruiting team mates for the 2012 Dirty Kanza 200, which at the time was still many months away.  And although I didn't end up with the mob that I'd envisioned to accompany me to the race and join in the experience, I did end up pulling together two other serious riders and an amazing crew person to travel to Kansas for the race - and we had a BLAST!  So in that regard, it was mission accomplished.

In retrospect, I've found this process to be both rewarding and instructive.  I have much more to say in this respect, but this post is becoming voluminous so I'll cease and desist here with one final comment: The WGS will be going through a change of focus shortly. I've got lots of half-baked ideas floating around in my head, so stay tuned for future posts.