While the relationship between ranchers and cyclists can be tenuous at times, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, SBT GRVL has worked closely with local ranchers to strengthen this relationship.
“You just dance up those climbs. It’s amazing to watch.”
These are some of the only words we’ve exchanged, despite riding together for the past ten hours. It’s a few more hours before I learn that his name is Dave. That’s ultra-endurance. Sometimes you talk and sometimes you don’t, but it’s still great to have company riding through the night. I later find out that Dave is in his 50s and from Wisconsin. He must outweigh me by a good 50-80lbs and most of it is muscle. He’s a powerhouse on the flats and I’m light up the climbs. He groans and says “shit” a lot, but when the lady at the gas station asks if we’re having fun, he says, “we’re having the time of our lives.” And we really are. It’s hot and humid and hard as hell, but there’s so much beauty out there. Beauty in the sunset and the sunrise and the warm night— the cows and the fields, the open expanses.
A week ago, 61 contestants battled it out over 4 stages through the Masai Mara wildlife reserve, during the inaugural Migration Gravel Race in Kenya. While an epic adventure in itself, there’s more to this race than meets the eye. The MGR is one of the prongs of the Amani project, aimed at creating more race opportunities for East African cyclists to measure themselves with the best on an international level.
What better way to do so than to bring in the very best? With the attendance of 2021 Unbound-winner Ian Boswell and runner-up Laurens ten Dam (who claimed the victory at MGR), the bar has been set for future editions. Sule Kangangi, Kenyan pro cyclist and coordinator of Amani’s activities in Kenya, and 2021 Unbound winner Ian Boswell share their thoughts on this unique first edition.
One of our contributors, Ryan Le Garrec, just took part in the Migration Gravel Race last week in Kenya. It is a 650 km off-road stage race with 8000 meters climbing in the Massai Mara. The grueling but rewarding course attracted lots of riders from all over the world. Among them was Unbound winner and second, Ian Boswell and Laurens Ten Dam. But more importantly, the race took pride in featuring local talents, riders from Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.
The race organization wants to have an impact on African cyclists representation in gravel and road races around the world.
With gravel races attracting more and more professional cyclists from road racing, being able to hold onto consecutive wins is becoming more and more difficult. Not for Lael Wilcox, however, who took on the XL at this year’s Unbound Gravel. The XL traverses 358 miles (576km) of the Flint Hills out of Emporia, Kansas, all self-supported and just as hard as years prior.
Go, Lael! GO!
It’s pretty common these days to see professional roadies make the transition into gravel. The racing and even the bikes are pretty similar, so it’s not a big stretch to make the leap. But what about coming to gravel from downhill? Now we’re talking about switching from races that are about 2-miles long with zero elevation gain to races that are 200-miles long with 10’000-feet of climbing. Race times go from a few minutes to hours…lots of hours. And that’s not even getting into how different the bikes are. The switch from downhill to gravel is way less common and a lot harder to wrap your head around…but let me introduce you to Kathy Pruitt.
I can tell you one thing; whenever someone tells me what I should do, I almost always do the opposite. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. In some psychology class years back, I learned about the theory of psychological reactance. It all boils down to an idea that people believe that they possess freedoms and the ability to participate in those free-behaviors. When those behaviors are threatened, something within us is sparked and we react. I find myself pretty apprehensive when it comes to telling anyone what they should be doing. For that matter, I mostly, don’t care what anyone else is doing. A person’s true character comes out regardless. You are what you do.
Some of our friends are petitioning Lifetime Sports to change the name of Dirty Kanza. This comes after DK founder Jim Cummins was let go from the race organization for making racist claims in support of the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks by police. The petition is as follows:
“#NameTheChange is a campaign to end the use of the slur “dirty Kanza” as the event name of DIRTY KANZA (DK) in Emporia, KS.
We, a united collective of Indigenous advocates, cyclists, people of Faith, educators, Elders, youth, local Kansas residents and builders of a Just world, ask that the name of the gravel event be changed to honor the dignity of the land and Indigenous people. The campaign calls upon the owners of the “DK”, organizers, and sponsors to do the right thing and bring an end to the use of the racial epithet.”
Read the full demands and sign the petition at Change.org.
We have a piece on the site this week that will dive deeper into this controversial subject, so stay tuned.