Saturday morning was the first edition of the Gravelicious Gravel Grinder in Platte City, Missouri – about 25 miles northwest of Kansas City. Chamois Butt'r was on site and ready to go! The start finish location was the parking lot of the Jowler Creek Winery, who were very gracious to let us use their space on a busy autumn weekend. We can’t thank them enough for having us. Check out their website for upcoming events and buy some wine!
The event consisted of two separate loops both starting and finishing at the winery. The first was a 58 mile loop with 6,500 feet of climbing. The second was a slightly flatter 53 mile loop with 3,500 feet of climbing. There were a couple short paved sections, but for the most part all 111 miles were on gravel. 49 cyclists started the first loop, and 6 finished the entire race. The event was put on by our own Chamois Butt’r Cycling Team member Timothy Place. Tim is a gravel connoisseur and no stranger to long, long, long days in the saddle. It is not uncommon for Tim to get up on a Saturday or Sunday and eat 130 miles of gravel for breakfast, solo. There is a reason Tim chose to ride for the Chamois Butt’r Cycling Team!
I sat down with Tim this morning to chat about the race and find out what inspired him to trade his bicycle helmet for a promoter’s cap.
CB: What inspired you to put on this cycling event Tim?
Tim: I had a couple of things motivating me. First, I wanted a longish hard gravel event in the autumn to race myself -- and there aren't many, especially in this area. Second, the roads we ride on in Northwest Missouri are breathtakingly beautiful and brutally hilly, but no one knows about them! Finally, I have benefited from the efforts of others putting on gravel cycling events such as Dirty Kanza 200, Tour of Hermann, and Gravel Worlds. I thought it was time for me to stop being just a taker and try to give something back to the gravel community.
CB: What was your goal when designing the course?
Tim: I more or less copied the logistical handling and cue sheet format from Gravel Worlds and the course layout from Tour of Hermann. Both Corey Godfrey and Jeff Yielding were extremely helpful and happy to let me steal their best ideas!
Tour of Hermann is organized as a series of loops all starting and ending at Stone Hill Winery. I observed that this was ideal for allowing folks take as much or as little of the challenge as they could handle and it made the event more attractive to a larger number of people. It also provided a hub for community and camaraderie throughout the day.
With that format as the starting point, I basically designed a course that I'd like to challenge myself on. Then when I thought of others riding it and started feeling like I'd be responsible for them I got really stressed out. I'd be thinking about where there are dogs on the course, how do I make sure everyone is going downhill on those parts? How do you maximize the ratio of gravel roads to paved sections? How do I avoid dangerous intersections? How long can I make the event and still be reasonably assured everyone is in before dark? In the end I had to leave out some of my favorite hills. I guess that leaves something for next year!
CB: Speaking of next year, do you have any specific plans? Most of us will need to start training today – Saturday was an extremely challenging course!
Tim: I don't know details yet. I was surprised how much fun it was to organize and direct the event when I wasn't actually riding myself! I was also surprised by the huge range of cyclists, from Cat 1 road racers on one extreme to a guy whose New Year's resolution was to ride his first 50-miler this year. After working at it all year he accomplished his goal at the Gravelicious, doing it the hard way! It was so gratifying to see people at the end hanging-out with a bottle of wine and the homemade pumpkin pies feeling like they'd really accomplished something. How could you not want more of that? All of the feedback has been extremely positive. I'd really like to do it again!
I couldn't have done it without Chamois Butt'r! If I didn't have the support of Chamois Butt'r when I first asked about putting on the event, then I most likely would have thrown in the towel and not even tried. So thank you for the support and making it happen!!!
We had a fantastic time with 3 Chamois Butt’r employees, Curt Shelman COO, Colin Shelman Accountant and myself (Ben Woodbury) in addition to 4 other Chamois Butt’r Team riders. Tim did an amazing job putting on his first event. The course was challenging but safe, the weather was perfect, and the pumpkin pie was out of this world! We look forward to seeing what Tim comes up with next!
See you on the road!