“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”  – Hunter S. Thompson

I signed up for my first gravel race this past weekend.  Got my money in just in time.   Steamboat Gravel sold out in six days.   1,000 slots…140 miles…9,000 feet of climbing.  Sounds like my idea of heaven.

I’m 59 years old and although I haven’t missed a day on the bike in almost two years,  I’ve only ridden two organized cycling events in my life.  Both were epic experiences. The first was the Tour of the Moon in October, 2016.  That was all about climbing and the breathtaking scenery of the Colorado National Monument.  It was a memorable day.


Where I ride. Miles and miles of central Iowa gravel and not a car in sight.

Then, last summer, I rode the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.   That’s 205 miles in one day.  It starts in downtown Seattle and finishes in downtown Portland.  I finished in about 12 hours. Moving time was about a half hour shorter.  I felt pretty good, too.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed I could go that fast for that long, but I did.

So now I want to feel that feeling again.  That’s why I want to ride Steamboat Gravel.  As I said, it will be my first go on gravel and it will be my first race.  Here in Iowa, gravel is everywhere and so I have pretty much unfettered access.  The more I ride it, the more I like it.  Gravel is pure and clean and simple…the very essence of cycling.

But it probably won’t be for long.   Already, the gravel scene is starting to change.  Dirty Kanza, gravel’s largest and most recognized event, has gone corporate with new ownership.  When the big money steps in, all the good stuff slowly gets relegated to the sidelines.

Steamboat Gravel may turn out to be the next big thing or it may turn out to be a one hit wonder.  Heaven knows the history of Colorado is littered with events that never gained traction, and so it’s hard to say which this one will be.  I’m looking at it like this.  140 miles with 9,000 vertical feet through desolate and empty Routt County sounds like one hell of a good time to me.  It’s also going to be a bit of a test.  If I pass that test, I’ll turn my sights to DK200 in June of 2020.  I’ll be sixty years old then.  It would be a good present to myself.  That’s a long way off, though.  First things first.