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The Grind: Give the gift of a big, dumb ride

How many adventures have you been on because of a friend's suggestion? Pay it forward in 2021.

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The Grind is a weekly column on all things gravel.

Some 10 hours into the ride, we were pedaling into a rather hefty — and very well-forecasted — headwind. In the dark. It had been a great day, and one that had started with a simple text from my friend Chris:

“Crazy ride idea for Dec. 20 (shortest weekend day of the year): sunrise to sunset. About 9.5 hours. I thought it would be cool to do the ‘longest ride on the shortest day’ type thing. Interested?”

I’m a sucker for dumb ride ideas. Especially if there’s a good title involved. And today I’m here on your screen to pitch you on the merit of pitching your friends dumb ideas.


A major draw of gravel races, in my estimation, is how the simple act of putting something — anything! — on the calendar cascades into a range of positive repercussions: motivation for training, exploration of new routes and areas, connections with new or familiar friends, daydreaming about the future, an excuse to get more gear…

Big gravel events are largely still on pause, of course, and I know that you and your buddies are champing at the bit for something to point your handlebars at.

Chances are, you’ve done at least a couple of big adventure rides in the past that served as de facto events for the simple reason that someone cooked up a harebrained idea and invited you along.

In the spirit of holiday giving, I’m here to challenge you to cook up a harebrained ride idea, map it out, and invite a few friends along. Obviously, there are varying degrees of comfort level around group rides right now, but even the most cautious could suggest a route that people could ride independently and then digitally share tales and times and photos.

Here’s my winter challenge: Be your own (micro) event promoter. Photo: Chris Case

To help kickstart the brainstorming, here are some ideas:

Do an “Ode to the … (fill in event here).”

FasCat Coaching‘s Frank Overton created a bunch of these themed around canceled gravel races this year.

Do a food theme

I’m partial to cookies, myself, having done a Biscochito Ride on New Year’s Day for several years. Enticing people with sweets is effective.

Do an aggressive distance, time, or net elevation

You know, a stretch goal. No one is going to get excited about an invitation to pedal around the block four times.

Do a fundraiser

My friend Chris did his big ride this past Sunday as a fundraiser for the Rocky Mountain Institute. And December 30th, Kieran Ronan, Michael Ziock, and Steve Cambria are doing a 500km ride as a fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief. Inside. If that doesn’t count as a big, dumb ride, I don’t know what does. (As I said above, I’m a sucker for such things, so I’m in.)

Former VeloNews‘er and longtime Fast Talk podcast cohost Chris Case is all about the themed rides. Photo: Ben Delaney

We’ve got one more Wednesday and thus one more iteration of The Grind on tap for 2020. Next week I’ll roll out my ‘best of 2020 gravel’ bits. But in the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from VeloNews. Photo: Ben Delaney