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"Team Tactics" are starting to happen on Gravel Races

scott43

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I think the rides continue. And even at that, I've participated in a lot of "races" that really, only the top 50 folks have any prospect of winning..and everyone else just shows up for the fun, the swag and the hero badge for finishing. There are still fondos and enduros.

I can remember being a consistent 23m 5k run guy..no prospect of ever winning..EVER..and my brother would ask, why do you even bother? You're not even competitive! And that's a good point. However, lots of people sign up for 5k's knowing they aren't going to be competitive just so they can be a part of something. So I think pro races will be limited to pros..but there'll be lots of rides still that appear to be "races" but really...they're rides, right?
 

cantunamunch

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.but there'll be lots of rides still that appear to be "races" but really...they're rides, right?

This is the net-positive scenario I also envision - in sum, having an all pro, regulatable, team tactics tier of gravel race events allows SQA gravel rides to continue much as before.






I am just not certain that will be made to happen fast enough, net positive enough, without explicit badness like multi-ambo crash scenes at SQA gravel events and massive legal fights.
 

scott43

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I dunno..we've been doing the Paris-Ancaster "race" up here for years...it's a mess of easy singeltrack, doubletrack and gravel roads..run in April..which is a sloppy month here. It's great fun (except for the terrible fitness level in spring..) and it's a sort of race/not-race. Mind you, it's Canada..so maybe less litigation..

Check out the 15-16 min mark..ugh...
 

scott43

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Now you're just trying to tempt me up for the 2022 version :D
Well yeah, and the question is, gravel bike or mountain bike??!?!? :ogbiggrin: Only one way to find out!

 

cantunamunch

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Well yeah, and the question is, gravel bike or mountain bike??!?!? :ogbiggrin: Only one way to find out!

On that? I'd run my hardtail unless I had a 50mm+ capable long-chainstay (~440mm+) gr frame - like that Koga Beachracer or maybe a Bivi Bunker. I'd run the Tannus inserts for certain sure - they kick ass crossing unsteerable mud patches just like that.
 

scott43

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The majority is on dirt or paved road so that's why you see a lot of CX/Road bikes. By default I'd be on the 29er hardtail. See comment on not being competitive..ever.... :ogbiggrin:
 

Tony Storaro

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Next thing you know-UCI steps in and starts banning stuff left, right and centre.
 

cantunamunch

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BUMP because this Friday is the deadline for online entry to Rasputica:

1649692028174.png
 

arkay

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It is certainly divisive, reminding me of the early days of MTB racing where there were mass starts at the local level races here in the U.S. These were the early NORBA days before USA Cycling and UCI sucked the life out of the sport (IMHO) and made it super corporate.

I think it is an unfair advantage for one of the women competing to have a phalanx of elite male riders at her beck and call, providing a draft, making the stops for bidon refills and such. It's a new phenomenon and to be honest it's highly unlikely that Lauren De Crescenzo would've won like she did at Unbound or Steamboat. Sure, she may have still been in the mix but it would've been a real scrum to the line instead of huge leads going into the finish.

And now Tom Danielson has taken his foot and inserted it squarely into his mouth by openly defending the Cinch Cycling (i.e. De Crescenzo's team) tactic by making it about himself. The video he posted is a disjointed rant (Tommy D, please don't go into PR or broadcasting) and makes a truly poor argument for the approach used by his team at Unbound, SBT, and other events. Cyclingnews' article/editorial on this rant is a good summary.

As far as e-bikes being in the mix, as long as they're in a different class I don't see a big issue with it. At the distance being raced by the elites (typically in the 80+ mile range) the batteries won't last too long and the e-assist needs to be used judiciously to be of any meaningful effect. After all, it's not like battery hand-ups are a thing - you'd need to carry a spare if the e-assist is in frequent use. If including an e-bike category means that more riders get to enjoy the event, why not? As long as gravel is still an evolving sport (and I certainly hope it doesn't come under the auspices of UCI or USA Cycling as they tend to ruin anything with a bit of soul) let's keep it fun.

And the Cinch Cycling approach is decidedly not fun for those who compete against their athletes. It's like having teams go full tactical war in a Cat 5 road race: it's mean spirited and not good for building the sport.
I heard that interview with Danielson. Cringeworthy for sure. That dude just doesn't get it.

The roadies ruined mountain biking. Now they want to ruin gravel. That's my take.

And no, there shouldn't be a podium at Rasputitsa. I was glad to witness most finishers not paying the least bit of attention to who "won" the ride. Most were getting lunch, a beer, hanging out with a friend.
 

arkay

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I think the rides continue. And even at that, I've participated in a lot of "races" that really, only the top 50 folks have any prospect of winning..and everyone else just shows up for the fun, the swag and the hero badge for finishing. There are still fondos and enduros.

I can remember being a consistent 23m 5k run guy..no prospect of ever winning..EVER..and my brother would ask, why do you even bother? You're not even competitive! And that's a good point. However, lots of people sign up for 5k's knowing they aren't going to be competitive just so they can be a part of something. So I think pro races will be limited to pros..but there'll be lots of rides still that appear to be "races" but really...they're rides, right?
Yes, just rides. The racing part is for people who are desperate for attention.

As for 5ks, I do them, too. 24 mins was last race time. I like it because I do run harder and get a decent workout. My pace is higher than training and occasionally I surprise myself and place sort of well.
 

crosscountry

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What am I missing? Tempest in a tea cup?

Boston Marathon, New York Marathon... 10's of thousand participant! How many of them even know which of the pro's won? At the same time, the pro's are doing it for real, seriously. World class marathon runners from Africa, Europe plan their training to peak at these races, flies over to duel it out.

Party? You want to talk about partying instead of "racing"? The whole city of NY/Boston turns into a city-wide block party! Every resident plan their day ahead of time, either be IN it, or be AWAY from it...

I just don't see why having pro's racing would "ruin" the fun of the non-racing "just finish" participants.

(actually, I should know the answer. I dabbled in both. Marathon runners run against the clock, aka themselves. Bike riders, even when they are on supposedly "cooperative" club rides, are always racing against the next rider)
 

arkay

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What am I missing? Tempest in a tea cup?

Boston Marathon, New York Marathon... 10's of thousand participant! How many of them even know which of the pro's won? At the same time, the pro's are doing it for real, seriously. World class marathon runners from Africa, Europe plan their training to peak at these races, flies over to duel it out.

Party? You want to talk about partying instead of "racing"? The whole city of NY/Boston turns into a city-wide block party! Every resident plan their day ahead of time, either be IN it, or be AWAY from it...

I just don't see why having pro's racing would "ruin" the fun of the non-racing "just finish" participants.

(actually, I should know the answer. I dabbled in both. Marathon runners run against the clock, aka themselves. Bike riders, even when they are on supposedly "cooperative" club rides, are always racing against the next rider)
My point is that gravel is for participants, not pros. There is no money in US cycling. There never has been. And certainly no money in gravel. Sure, ride hard, perhaps you're in the front group. That should be enough for you. But to have a podium at a "gravel" event is ridiculous. No one cares. And what do you get? A saddle bag? A medal? Is the point of the event to celebrate the winner? Or is it to encourage cyclists to ride, ride together, get fit, enjoy the scenery. Perservere if its cold, rainy, hot, windy.
And don't go to these events to party. In fact, the alcohol culture is too strong at these events. Too many photos of people drinking. Beer sponsors. Alcohol culture where there is no place for it. Alcohol doesn't serve you well. Doesn't need to be glorified.
The point of these events is to get fit and challenge yourself. Feel the effects of heightened fitness for days and weeks after. The intensity builds wellness. We are lucky to be able to do it, and so we do it. It's a gift.
The reward is accomplishing something difficult. And some food afterward.
 

wooglin

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My point is that gravel is for participants, not pros. There is no money in US cycling. There never has been. And certainly no money in gravel. Sure, ride hard, perhaps you're in the front group. That should be enough for you. But to have a podium at a "gravel" event is ridiculous. No one cares. And what do you get? A saddle bag? A medal? Is the point of the event to celebrate the winner? Or is it to encourage cyclists to ride, ride together, get fit, enjoy the scenery. Perservere if its cold, rainy, hot, windy.
And don't go to these events to party. In fact, the alcohol culture is too strong at these events. Too many photos of people drinking. Beer sponsors. Alcohol culture where there is no place for it. Alcohol doesn't serve you well. Doesn't need to be glorified.
The point of these events is to get fit and challenge yourself. Feel the effects of heightened fitness for days and weeks after. The intensity builds wellness. We are lucky to be able to do it, and so we do it. It's a gift.
The reward is accomplishing something difficult. And some food afterward.
Maybe untimed is a better model. Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee and Peacham Fall Fondo come to mind. I've had much more fun JRA at them, even fast, than at any gravel race.
 

scott43

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What am I missing? Tempest in a tea cup?

Boston Marathon, New York Marathon... 10's of thousand participant! How many of them even know which of the pro's won? At the same time, the pro's are doing it for real, seriously. World class marathon runners from Africa, Europe plan their training to peak at these races, flies over to duel it out.

Party? You want to talk about partying instead of "racing"? The whole city of NY/Boston turns into a city-wide block party! Every resident plan their day ahead of time, either be IN it, or be AWAY from it...

I just don't see why having pro's racing would "ruin" the fun of the non-racing "just finish" participants.

(actually, I should know the answer. I dabbled in both. Marathon runners run against the clock, aka themselves. Bike riders, even when they are on supposedly "cooperative" club rides, are always racing against the next rider)
A bunch I know who did the New York Marathon had scotch and cigars at the halfway point..
 

crosscountry

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Yes, just rides. The racing part is for people who are desperate for attention.

As for 5ks, I do them, too. 24 mins was last race time. I like it because I do run harder and get a decent workout. My pace is higher than training and occasionally I surprise myself and place sort of well.
Wait, so you're saying you're one of those "who are desperate for attention"?
 

arkay

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Wait, so you're saying you're one of those "who are desperate for attention"?
No. It's for myself. Running races are different, IMO. So many of them and it is a way to challenge yourself. Cycling is such a great sport with so many people drawn to the experience. The point of gravel (dirt road) riding is to find a safer place to ride. The roads are dangerous....
 

Crank

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I don't know jack about gravel riding. If it's anything like road riding or like mountain biking... and it is because you are sitting on a bike pushing pedals, there are plenty of group rides around. The few MTB rides I have participated in are split into faster and slower groups including "no drop social paced groups. Races are races and have categories ranging from elite to beginner. Why should gravel not have this?
 

cantunamunch

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I don't know jack about gravel riding. If it's anything like road riding or like mountain biking... and it is because you are sitting on a bike pushing pedals, there are plenty of group rides around. The few MTB rides I have participated in are split into faster and slower groups including "no drop social paced groups.

All of that does exist in gravel - because of course it does.

Races are races and have categories ranging from elite to beginner. Why should gravel not have this?

Because early adopters had romantic notions of doing an end-around existing rule making organizations, tiered competition and fun-sucking tactics by expounding on the 'newness' and 'down to earth' of the subsport. And that got picked up by event marketing - there is no gravel event anywhere that doesn't have populist promotion.

And so this thread is really about how much growth-related cancer gravel events can sustain without being forced drop the populist pretense, without rulesing up and without strictly enforced category/tier/qualifier splits.

My point is that gravel is for participants, not pros. There is no money in US cycling. There never has been. And certainly no money in gravel. Sure, ride hard, perhaps you're in the front group. That should be enough for you. But to have a podium at a "gravel" event is ridiculous. No one cares. And what do you get? A saddle bag? A medal? Is the point of the event to celebrate the winner? Or is it to encourage cyclists to ride, ride together, get fit, enjoy the scenery. Perservere if its cold, rainy, hot, windy.

With you thus far.

And don't go to these events to party. In fact, the alcohol culture is too strong at these events. Too many photos of people drinking. Beer sponsors. Alcohol culture where there is no place for it. Alcohol doesn't serve you well. Doesn't need to be glorified.

Yep, lost me right there :)


 

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