The (perfect) Gravel Metric

You know, the “P” word is a dangerous word. To call something perfect is to say it can’t be improved upon. It lacks every flaw. It is the spotless example of that thing.

It’s unrealistic to call any event “perfect” but I’m going to stick with my original assessment – this year was the perfect Gravel Metric.

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It’s not to say there weren’t things we can change or improve – and I can point out more than a couple flaws. But the GM this year was a perfect example of the type of event we’re shooting for. It was tough, but not too tough. It was fun. It was inclusive. It built relationships. It tested people. It raised money and awareness for advocacy. It was perfect. And I don’t think we’re alone in thinking thusly.

(For reference: When I say “I”, I’m writing as me, Tobie. When I say, “We”, I’m writing as Axletree)

The very first thing I want to do is thank our partners and sponsors. If I put this at the end, no one will stick around to read it, so I’m putting it here at the top. The Gravel Metric is a simple beast: Here’s a route, show up, ride it, hang out after. But the amount of preparation that goes into even a simple event can be staggering. We could not have done it without a few very key people. Dean Frieders made magic happen with numerous permits and permissions this year. Hosting the post-ride event ourselves added a huge layer of complication, and Dean bore the brunt of the work in making it happen. He may say he’s a lawyer, but he’s a wizard in my book. We’d like to offer a huge thanks to Mike Pittsley and Christine Lagatolla for making the beer garden become a reality. They’re generosity in helping supply tents, tables, and chairs truly made the event a success for Axletree. Mike’s solid “you need this, I’ve got that,” attitude was a huge asset this year. Thanks, Pitts.

We had a number of sweet volunteers from the Bonebell, Robots <3, NCC, and Axletree that served in the setup, takedown, and support duties during the weekend that were invaluable. Thanks to Paolo and Amy from the Bonebell for coming out and running the checkpoint. (And taking pictures!) Thanks to Beth for her amazing Elvis bars, and thanks to the whole Robots <3 bake sale crew. Thanks to Chad Gregory for the amazing signs (worth stealing).

A huge thanks to the Stagecoach Theater for letting us hang out in your backyard!

Thank you to the City of DeKalb for their permitting of the event and the wonderful police escort.

And, last, but far from least, we’d like to thank Moots and Clement for being such incredible supporters of our little event here in the middle of nowhere. It’s an amazing honor to have such great companies have a physical presence at the Gravel Metric. Thanks to Jason from Moots for coming out early to show of amazing bikes and for being such a good friend.

Donn at Clement has been a supporter of the GM for three years now, and every year, we’re humbled and amazed he takes the time and spends the money to bring Ben and other riders to the event. Donn is one of the finest guys in our industry, and we are flattered he even knows where DeKalb is.

Donn is so nice. Pic by Amy Dykema.

Donn is so nice. Pic by Amy Dykema.

Thanks for making great product and bringing such incredible riders every year. A special thanks to Ben Berden and Jamey Driscoll for coming out and strutting your strength and savvy. Great work on the win, Jamey!

And, finally, thank YOU, all of YOU, for coming out and riding, buying Axletree goods, and hanging out with us. We appreciate your attendance and support. You looked great out there, keep it up!

Now, moving on…

This year was something else.

We were totally unprepared for the massive jump in attendance this year. We had a 40% increase in riders this year; over 370 riders. I didn’t expect that. In the days leading up to the event, I started to feel we’d see an increase, but not that much.

To be honest, I was expecting either the same as last year or just a few more. I figured we’d lose a number of the gravel riders to the many new and many more interesting gravel events in the midwest these days. A few years ago, the GM was a lot more unique than it is now. Now there are gravel events, longer and shorter, filling the calendar from April to November. I assumed riders who’ve ridden the GM before might skip it this year to ride something else longer or different; especially since we published the route beforehand and let people know it was the same as last year. We knew we’d see new riders – we had invested time and energy into promoting the GM locally and encouraged new riders to train with us on the GM Training Riders. We promoted the event solely on social media, but we didn’t advertise the event to new audiences. It was word of mouth. Lots of mouths, I guess.

From where I stood on the morning of the GM, it looked like an swarm of locusts coming in – cyclists rolling in and walking in from every direction. They just kept coming, too. The reg process was super simple this year, so we never had a huge crowd at once (thankfully), but we could sense the masses because people just kept coming. The merch table was a success – we were happy to raise a good amount of money for Axletree over the course of the day. We know, they were white shirts, we know. It was intentional – no one does white shirts anymore – so we did white shirts.

We’re selling the leftover GM/MOOTS Purist bottles at our webstore, so if you missed out, or if you want more, jump over there and buy some. They’re great.

The rollout was a sight to behold. I was truly jealous. At that moment, I regretted volunteering to stay back and make sure the post-party setup went smoothly. I’m glad I did, but at that moment, everyone was riding their bikes and I was not.

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The swarm poured out of the lot for multiple minutes. I’d never seen that many riders in DeKalb. It was amazing. We had a few talented people on the course taking pictures, namely Seth Deming and Chad Gregory. They’re uploading pics this week, so there will be more, but Chad has some of the pics up on his There a bunch of gems on there, but this series of Robots’ and Comrade comrade Steve Parkes is pretty great.

14287119104_d6485a6497_zAnd pretty man Dan.

14284186051_d570763518_bAnd this is the just precious:

14275635751_ae59f17754_bThere will be more pictures! Stay tuned.

The day got hot! People were pretty torched as they rolled in. The Clement boys rolled in just over 3.5 hours after they began. They made their move at the creek crossing (remember that!). They were all smiles at the finish line. Jamey rolled over the line two inches in front of Ben. This is the first time we’ve had Jamey at the GM. It must be a pre-requisite for that team to be a genuinely nice person. Everyone Donn has brought to DeKalb has been super cool.

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The riders finished over the next few hours and enjoyed the post ride beer garden. We loved having this feature this year. The community vibe was much stronger.

2014-05-25 14.04.02The lanternes rouge rolled in around 4:30. We were proud of them – it was their longest gravel ride… by 100%. There was also a gentleman who rode a tandem with his 8 year-old, and a viking who rode a big dummy with a dog on the back. We love these people.

Stay tuned for more recaps soon.

Our goal in raising money is not simply to perpetuate our own events, but to raise money for local advocacy projects. We had a successful day in that regard, and we’ll be sharing soon how we can put that money to good use.

Thanks again everyone, for a perfect Gravel Metric.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last blasts – Crucial info, Elvis muffins, and beer tickets.

okeedokee.

Be sure to arrive as early as possible. Park in the right place.

GM PARKING 2014Sign a waiver, grab a cue sheet, buy some rad goods. Gravel Metric goods and Axletree goods will be for sale outside (first come, first served)(please bring cash) and NCC will be open for business starting at 7am.

Please watch for traffic as you register and get ready. We’ll be exiting the south end of the Staging lot at 9am. We’ll have a police escort out of town. (Thank you, City of DeKalb).

Please check out the route. Come prepared. Have a ton of fun.

You’ll want to mind the out-and-back on Woodlawn (go south from Houghtby, even if you see riders going north) and hit the Bonebell Checkpoint to get your wristband punched. All riders with a punched wristband get a beer ticket at the after-party.

Axletree and Robots <3 will be hosting a BAKE SALE (BOOYAH) at the infamous creek crossing. Bring a few bucks! Our very own Beth Oftenbaker will be preparing her incredible ELVIS Bars (Bacon, Chocolate, Banana, Amazing) (GF) (Vegan version available) and Cran-Orange bars. $1ea. Seriously, they’re incredible.

BAKE SALEFinish the course, sprint for the blue sign on Rt 23 (even if you’re alone), cool down on the way into town, and arrive safely at the starting line.

After you’ve put your bike down and used the Big John, please join us in the Gravel Metric Beer Garden. You’ll need an ID. Show ID and a punched wristband at the door and get your free beer ticket. Once you’re in, we’ll have beer and food available.

We’re asking for a $12+ donation for food. Axletree is footing the bill for the catering to keep our permits straight, so we’re hoping you’ll help us cover and exceed the costs of the day. Cash is best, again. If you’re interested in more beers, those will be available as well. Donate as you wish for the drinks. (Do not exit the beer garden with alcohol. For the sake of all future Gravel Metrics.)

We’ll hang out until the food and drink run out (which they will) and then we’ll accept any willing hand in the tear down process.

That about wraps it up! Come have fun! and bring cash, if you could be so kind.

If you have any questions, please email tobie@gravelmetric.com

 

 

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Gravel Metric 2014 Route Map

Here’s the route.

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If you click on the map, you’ll find the beautiful interactive map Axletree friend Timothy Hodson put together for us. Be sure to bookmark the page if you’re not planning to use a GPS – it could be useful in a pinch. You can access it on your phone and see where you are on the course (given that you allow it to know your location).

The full course info is available on RidewithGPS here. You can download your own cue sheet if you’d like. The GPX file is available on the RidewithGPS page under the “Export” tab. We’ll have paper cue sheets at the start (printed in illegibly tiny text) and stylish Gravel Metric Cue Bandanas for sale.

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Please read this important note on the FINISH LINE:

In years prior, the end of the event has been ambiguous. The cues end at the start, putting the finish line on a residential street in town. It’s beyond tempting to blast through stoplights, stop signs, and traffic in order to be the first one back, or beat your friends, or simply get the ride over with, so we’re establishing a finish line at the city limits. There are two yellow signs and then a blue highway sign before the train tracks coming into town on Rt 23. The BLUE sign is the finish line. We’ll have someone there to validate the first riders to cross the line and reminding everyone to cool their jets on the way into town.

This is what it will look like. This is the glorious end.

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Mind the tracks! As soon as you pass the blue sign, you’ll cross the tracks, so be ready.
After that, sit up, cool down, and ride kindly back to the start line where food, drink, and rest await you.

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We love Robots <3.

ROBOTS ShirtI brainlessly sent our t-shirts to the printer without an important logo. They arrived without the above logo, so please print this and iron it onto your t-shirt. Any t-shirt. Because Robots Powered by Love are rad/is rad.

 

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Intensity in tent city! Axletree to host the post-ride shindig.

Srsly, we’ll have a bunch of tents at the finish line. And food. And drinks.

It will look just like this, except without the lights, the nice chairs, the tablecloths, and the ambiance. And the tent will be smaller.

It will look just like this, except without the lights, the nice chairs, the tablecloths, and the ambiance. And the tent will be smaller.

After four years of hosting the post-ride party at local restaurants, we’re going to change it up and host it ourselves this year.

It’s not about the money, it’s about the vibe. We’re excited to have a more festive, positive vibe at the end of the road. It’s always nice to have some hollerers hollering hollers at you when you’re exhausted, right? We think so.

We’ve been given permission by our gracious city and the kind folks at Stagecoach theater behind NCC to set up some big tents in the gravel lot at the corner of 5th and Grove right by the start/finish line.

After much deliberation, and a rapid education in local food/drink ordinances, Axletree is going to foot the bill for all the food and beer for the event. It’s the most simple and direct way for us to host this kind of event where we want to. We’re trusting in the goodness of people to donate and help us cover the costs.

Please bring some cash to toss in our bucket!

Cold beer, good friends, numb brain conversation, and squinty faces.

Cold beer, good friends, numb brain conversation, and squinty faces.

Historically, we’ve provided one well-earned post-ride beer for all riders. This is true for this year as well. We have a couple batches of custom beer on the way from a local brewer. There are few things better than a really cold beer after a hard ride with your friends.

We are going to post a suggested donation that will cover our costs for the food and beer. We hope to come out on top, considering you are all generous and admirable folks. After all, our goal with Axletree is not simply to perpetuate our events, but to raise money for local advocacy.

If the weather is bad, we’ll either wall the tent or cram everyone into the bike shop.

Some very specific things to remember (putting on serious face):

FitchcopNO BEER OUTSIDE THE FENCE. Seriously. We’re taking a huge risk hosting the shindig like this, and it would be sad to cancel all future Gravel Metrics because you couldn’t set your beer down to hit the Big John. Everyone will be carded at the entrance – anyone drinking under age or helping serve a minor will be arrested.

BE COOL. We’re not going to be able to make everyone happy with our limited menu and resources. Please remember this is something we’re all doing for fun and for a good cause. Please be kind to the volunteers, use the trash cans, use the Big Johns, and be liberal in your donations.

 

 

 

 

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Parking! for cars! for free!

GM PARKING 2014

Our parking situation is the same this year. We humbly request you park in the green lots and stage yourself in the “Staging” lot after registering right behind NCC. We’ll have Big John potty-houselets on site.

We’ll be hosting the post-ride eats n’ drinks at the finish line this year. We’re excited about this for many reasons. We hope you are, too. We’ll have some custom beers brewed for the occasion and a caterer onsite (probably).

 

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Things are getting ttlly srs – MOOTS, POTTIES, ETC.

The Gravel Metric is coming up quick.

Some announcements:

MOOTS, the legendary and wonderful maker of bikes and times, has taken over the lead sponsor role of the Gravel Metric this year. Our beloved Salsa Cycles has shifted their avuncular love and attention to the TEN THOUSAND this summer, and MOOTS wanted to come ride the GM, so we are making our relationship Facebook official as of today.

Mr.Moots_Moots Logo

It’s an honor to partner with them. They’ll be here on Saturday, the 24th, with a truck full of titanium goodness to show off, so come and check it out.

Otherwise, we’re just getting some last details wrapped up. We’re maintaining the same route as last year, with some minor changes in course marking – we’re going from two markings to about seven course markings. Our goal is to get everyone through the grass maze in Shabbona without any keystone cops action.

We know things are getting close, because we just got off the phone with BIG JOHN.

whiteunit

In other news, the GM Training Rides have been a blast. We’ve been seeing 40+ riders at each ride, despite pretty ugly weather conditions. We’re planning snow for this year’s Metric, so it’s good prep. The next ride is Saturday, May 3rd at 8am, departing from NCC. Be there.

 

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