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How to create your own gravel event?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

How to create your own gravel event?

Old 01-05-17, 06:41 PM
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How to create your own gravel event?

Anyone know what's involved if I wanted to start my own gravel race and tried to build an annual tradition? Here in SW Iowa there is nothing. I think I live in a perfect area to host an event. Lots of hills and wide gravel roads, and plenty of level b roads. Plus it would bring a little traffic to our dying little town. I have wanted to start something like this since last year at this time. I am unsure of legalities and how long to plan and advertise ahead? I know most events have their own websites as well. Prizes or money for top finishers? Sponsors needed? In a nutshell I don't know if it's as simple as creating an event and getting fliers out and on social media too or if lawyers have to get involved etc. I figure it would start out small but hopefully grow every year. If it is a simple process I might start planning some routes for this year but maybe I should spend over a year getting ready and shoot for 2018? Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 01-05-17, 06:44 PM
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Any local cycling clubs that would be interested?

Our local group/club has a "century ride" which is a major fundraiser for them.
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Old 01-05-17, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Any local cycling clubs that would be interested?

Our local group/club has a "century ride" which is a major fundraiser for them.
I could talk to my bike shop that I do business with but it's an hour and a half south of me in st. Joe Missouri. I live in the middle of nowhere and all the bike shops are over an hour from me. I thought about a bike shop setting up a booth in the city park where the start could be but I wasn't sure if there were permits that needed to be purchased to do something like that

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Old 01-05-17, 06:55 PM
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One other thing, I figured to really get the word out I would hit every bike store up with a phone call and ask if I emailed them a flyer if they would post it for me but how many would want to do that if it wad sponsored by another bike shop?
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Old 01-05-17, 07:04 PM
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It looks like there are quite a few Iowa cycling clubs.

Bicycle Clubs & Teams | Iowa Bicycle Coalition
Iowa Cycling Clubs for group bike rides and racing

Is BikeIowa state sponsored?
https://www.bikeiowa.com/

They might also be a good resource.

If I was you, start laying out a route for 2017, and see if you can create an informal ride, then build from there. Decide if you wish to use the same route every year, or vary the routes.

Does it have to be a race, or is a "ride" OK?

Up in Portland there are a couple of informal hill climb rides. RideWithGPS maps. Volunteers apparently mark the routes, then people just show up for the ride. No sign-in. I think all refreshments were also ad-hoc organized.



I suppose one could track down who created the web pages and RWGPS routes, but there is not expectation of liability, or really even of organization.

RondePDX

Anyway... perhaps that would at least get you on the road. You could try to formalize later, although there may be an expectation of continuing a "free" event.
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Old 01-05-17, 07:19 PM
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I am all about free and a ride instead of a race. I want to create an event that draws plenty of participants and I wasn't sure if a race wouldn't draw more than a casual ride would? I am not trying to compete with other events. You have multiple races in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa but none in this area of Iowa. And we got such a perfect hilly environment for gravel grinding. For example one of my personal favorite gravel rides that I created and rode one Sunday morning was 52 miles and 4885 feet of elevation. To the north west of me a few hours you got "24 hours of cumming" (a 24 hour gravel race that starts and ends in cumming Iowa). Further east you got the famous Trans Iowa. I thought it would be nice to have a race that started in this town and ended here. Maybe a 50 mile race and a century and you could sign up for one or the other. The problem with Trans Iowa and the dirty kanza (from my perspective) is ordinary Joe's (like myself) who have families and are busy with the typical crap like: sports, kids going to or getting ready for college, working and earning a living, and the other extra curricular activities that you are bombarded with in every day life, don't have the time or resources to train for these other events. There are plenty of other gravel grinds that are more suited for people like myself but what I am saying is that is the kind of event I would create. One that has both options for experienced athletes and every day Joe's as well.
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Old 01-05-17, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
I am all about free and a ride instead of a race. I want to create an event that draws plenty of participants and I wasn't sure if a race wouldn't draw more than a casual ride would? I am not trying to compete with other events. You have multiple races in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa but none in this area of Iowa. And we got such a perfect hilly environment for gravel grinding. For example one of my personal favorite gravel rides that I created and rode one Sunday morning was 52 miles and 4885 feet of elevation. To the north west of me a few hours you got "24 hours of cumming" (a 24 hour gravel race that starts and ends in cumming Iowa). Further east you got the famous Trans Iowa. I thought it would be nice to have a race that started in this town and ended here. Maybe a 50 mile race and a century and you could sign up for one or the other. The problem with Trans Iowa and the dirty kanza (from my perspective) is ordinary Joe's (like myself) who have families and are busy with the typical crap like: sports, kids going to or getting ready for college, working and earning a living, and the other extra curricular activities that you are bombarded with in every day life, don't have the time or resources to train for these other events. There are plenty of other gravel grinds that are more suited for people like myself but what I am saying is that is the kind of event I would create. One that has both options for experienced athletes and every day Joe's as well.
Interesting. I'm in SWIA too and have all the same thoughts.
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Old 01-05-17, 07:32 PM
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Water stops are nice. But, if you keep it under 50 miles or so, people could go mostly self-supported.

Although a sag wagon/sweeper might be nice.

Perhaps a free event draws different crowds than paid events. But, if you bill it as a big annual event, people will come... if you get the word out. Especially if it offers something special.

I hit 2 free events + 1 paid event last year. The paid event had great snacks, but the free events were immensely popular. One was in a big city... the other was in the middle of nowhere (well... almost nowhere).
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Old 01-05-17, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ckindt
Interesting. I'm in SWIA too and have all the same thoughts.
Villisca here. U?
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Old 01-05-17, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Water stops are nice. But, if you keep it under 50 miles or so, people could go mostly self-supported.

Although a sag wagon/sweeper might be nice.

Perhaps a free event draws different crowds than paid events. But, if you bill it as a big annual event, people will come... if you get the word out. Especially if it offers something special.

I hit 2 free events + 1 paid event last year. The paid event had great snacks, but the free events were immensely popular. One was in a big city... the other was in the middle of nowhere (well... almost nowhere).
I like a free event myself.
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Old 01-05-17, 09:37 PM
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Post the event here- Submit an Event

And post it here- https://www.bikeiowa.com

Pick a date where there arent major events(both pavement and gravel) in Omaha or Des Moines.

Get details. I wouldnt drive to an inaugural event where the route and plans arent set well before.
Mapmyride/strava the route so its known before. Have plans formparking and where tonget water or if there wont be any.
Or just provide the route and make it known riders are on their own. Riders can then figure out water etc.

Look up the buffalo105. Bikemig and i did that in the fall and it was a blast. The route was provided on paper (emailed) and available on tracking sites for free. Registration was free, they just asked for food donations for the local pantry.



The area around the murder house is a fantastic location for sure...just gotta get people there.
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Old 01-05-17, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
Post the event here- Submit an Event

And post it here- https://www.bikeiowa.com

Pick a date where there arent major events(both pavement and gravel) in Omaha or Des Moines.

Get details. I wouldnt drive to an inaugural event where the route and plans arent set well before.
Mapmyride/strava the route so its known before. Have plans formparking and where tonget water or if there wont be any.
Or just provide the route and make it known riders are on their own. Riders can then figure out water etc.

Look up the buffalo105. Bikemig and i did that in the fall and it was a blast. The route was provided on paper (emailed) and available on tracking sites for free. Registration was free, they just asked for food donations for the local pantry.



The area around the murder house is a fantastic location for sure...just gotta get people there.
Ummmmm..... most of us locals are sick of the publicity that murder house has brought. anyways thanks for the info.
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Old 01-05-17, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
Ummmmm..... most of us locals are sick of the publicity that murder house has brought. anyways thanks for the info.
I mean the area is a fantastic location for gravel riding.
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Old 01-06-17, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
Villisca here. U?
I'm just a short ride away in RO.
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Old 01-06-17, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ckindt
I'm just a short ride away in RO.
Well then we need to get together sometime! I got an awesome group I ride with but nobody likes gravel cept me lol
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Old 01-06-17, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
Well then we need to get together sometime! I got an awesome group I ride with but nobody likes gravel cept me lol
Definitely. I like gravel and have no group to ride with.
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Old 01-06-17, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey
Maybe a 50 mile race and a century and you could sign up for one or the other. The problem with Trans Iowa and the dirty kanza (from my perspective) is ordinary Joe's (like myself) who have families and are busy with the typical crap like: sports, kids going to or getting ready for college, working and earning a living, and the other extra curricular activities that you are bombarded with in every day life, don't have the time or resources to train for these other events. There are plenty of other gravel grinds that are more suited for people like myself but what I am saying is that is the kind of event I would create. One that has both options for experienced athletes and every day Joe's as well.
For these exact reasons, in the Wichita area, a couple of guys started the Rage Against the Chainring series (check out the Facebook page).

It's a 4 race gravel series, taking place over about a 2 month period, but the principle would work for a single race: Each race consists of a 25 mile loop, where the "race" option consists of two loops (50 miles) but there is also a "tour" option of just one loop. It works well because 25 miles draws newer riders (not to mention spouses/children of racers) while 50 miles is long enough to be a challenging race without trashing you completely or monopolizing your entire weekend. Logistically, it is convenient because the only rest stop is the end of each 25 mile loop (where the race also begins/ends).

Anyway, Its a fairly small event, maybe 100 riders each race... I think this is year 3 for them doing the series, so it might be worth getting in touch with guys that run it, I'm sure they could offer some tips for getting started.
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Old 01-06-17, 02:51 PM
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A race needs a lot more work than a ride. For a race, you don't want riders shortcutting or cheating in other ways. And you need numbers, timers, etc.

I've done an annual local cycle club road ride that's $5, which gets you a map and a choice of marked course options from 20 miles to 100 miles. Water and food is available in the small towns along the way. I liked it. They had maybe 200 riders that day.

For typical one-day event rides, anywhere from $35 to $50 or more, I'd expect stops with water and food and portable toilets every 20 miles, a choice of route distances, well marked roads, and sag drivers picking up riders with broken bikes or just too tired to complete. Usually there's lunch or something after the ride. The ride organizers need to be able to handle problems like running low on food or water at a stop, etc. And the routes should be checked the day before for any last minute problems (including vandals removing or altering the route markers!)

I think you'd get more riders if you have some rest stops (or just route through a town with a store), so they don't need to carry extra water or food, and get a chance to socialize at the stops. Have an easier, shorter course, and extend longer optional loops off of that.

Gravel Ride Difficulty

I now have a gravel bike, and checked some of the gravel rides last year. It was hard for me to get a feel for the ride difficulty--would I actually finish? On road rides, I can just see the distance and the bigger climbs, and know if it's something I could do.

But on gravel, it can be rough or graded smooth, firm or muddy/sandy, technical steep climbs and descents or easy grades. Do I need more of a mountain bike to handle it, or a cross/gravel bike? Do I need knobs or smoother tread? Are flats likely or rare? Are my gears low enough?

Deciding to travel to the ride

I've been checking regional rides that I find out about, including a few new-this-year rides. I skipped most of those, since I couldn't find enough details about the event. I want to see the routes in ridewithgps so I can preview the ride scenery and difficulty. But the ride web pages tended to just say the ride was "great", and were quite low on the specifics.

So, I'd want: route maps, directions to the starting location, photos along the route. Are there sag drivers to pick up riders, or are we on our own?

Insurance
My local cycle club has supplementary insurance through the League of American Bicyclists.

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Old 01-06-17, 05:56 PM
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I would look at the Gravel Cyclist site and some of the rides posted, or even better yet the reports. Many of the "rides" they report on are not "races" although that can end up happening with any ride. The distances vary and the support does as well. As others have suggested starting it out as a planned ride can draw a good initial crowd and word of mouth and social media can make it grow quickly. Many of the rides they report on are also free, but many times a business may sponsor the event to help provide support, and gets advertising for relatively cheap. I have read about so many events it is boggling to learn how many are free, other than the trip to get there.
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Old 01-06-17, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee
For these exact reasons, in the Wichita area, a couple of guys started the Rage Against the Chainring series (check out the Facebook page).

It's a 4 race gravel series, taking place over about a 2 month period, but the principle would work for a single race: Each race consists of a 25 mile loop, where the "race" option consists of two loops (50 miles) but there is also a "tour" option of just one loop. It works well because 25 miles draws newer riders (not to mention spouses/children of racers) while 50 miles is long enough to be a challenging race without trashing you completely or monopolizing your entire weekend. Logistically, it is convenient because the only rest stop is the end of each 25 mile loop (where the race also begins/ends).

Anyway, Its a fairly small event, maybe 100 riders each race... I think this is year 3 for them doing the series, so it might be worth getting in touch with guys that run it, I'm sure they could offer some tips for getting started.
I actually have been looking at that race and may sign up this year.
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Old 01-06-17, 10:06 PM
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As far as sag vehicle, I am not sure I would have the resources for that. Porta potties neither. But I would try to route through several communities. I may start working on it. I got some nice routes already created on ride with gps that I have already ridden. I would be trying to build an annual ride. One that becomes a tradition. Maybe some of my smoking buddies could fire up their smokers and cook some food for after the event. Insurance ain't gonna be part of the plan. I would probably have everyone sign a waiver so everyone knows the risks and releases the event sponsors or myself from any liability
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Old 01-06-17, 10:21 PM
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Question.......would an event on Memorial day weekend be good since most people have 3 day weekends or bad since it's a holiday weekend?
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Old 01-06-17, 10:25 PM
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Its an Iowa gravel event. No need for SAG or restroom logistics. There are cornfields all over the place for the latter.
Unsupported races are incredibly common. Wanna ride?...then be ready to do it on your own or with the generosity of others. Thats the sum of most all rides/races ive read about around here.
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Old 01-06-17, 10:48 PM
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Most of these events are charity sponsored benefit rides/races (or both). Maybe get with several of the shops (realizing you are in the MONW) and also speak with some of the charities you are interested in. There is breast cancer/cancer, autism, Human Society, DNC, MS and many other worthy groups. Local churches could sponsor a couple of watering/snack points or rest stops. Just depends upon how motivated you are to make it happen.
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Old 01-09-17, 07:50 AM
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Well with the help of fellow members here at bikeforums.com, I have finally created an event and posted it. The first annual Southwest Iowa Gravel Tour, or S.W.I.G. Tour for short, will be saturday June 24th. It is a recreational, non supported group ride with no registration fee. The listings and .gpx files can be found at the various links:

https://www.bikeiowa.com/Event/11269...wa-gravel-tour

SWIG Tour (South West Iowa Gravel Tour) -

https://www.facebook.com/events/584743828398010/
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