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.


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 ❤, 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 ❤ 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.

2014-05-25 08.58.50


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.

2014-05-25 12.45.01

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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One Response to The (perfect) Gravel Metric

  1. Thank you Tobie, Axeltree and Robots < 3 for all the hard work behind the entire organization. My first gravel ride and it delivered: tough but excellent event. We had fun ( ) and hope to be back! Thank you again.

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