Competition pushes us to find new limits inside ourselves. As Randy often said, "All you need are two cyclists pointed in the same direction and you've got a race." No matter how fast you are the best races are those between two evenly matched competitors. That opportunity does not often present itself day to day. So on these special days, where we all get together and point in the same direction, everyone is far more likely to find that person who is your exact equal on the day. Sometimes your pushing each other to "beat" one another. Other times you are helping each other to just finish. Fast is completely relative. To some it's a podium to many more its just finishing before the sun fades and the checkpoints close. On that day we are all pushing ourselves so RIDE FAST!
We have all seen it out on the road. The radom bottle, the empty beer cans, the bags of household trash, tires, couches or other trash(ahem, gel packets) littering the gravel roads we ride down. Not many of us are going to note the trash location, hop in our cars and go back out to pick it up. Neither are we going to stuff our jersey pockets with garbage and haul it back with us. We probably have all dropped a wrapper or two without knowing it as well. So in putting on the series we decided to do something that helps everyone out and put in the effort to clean up the roads we enjoy. And not just the accidental litter from the events, all the trash. It's a huge undertaking but it's worth at least trying.
Our goal is to work towards doing clean up along all routes, for all events, that are part of the series. That's over 1000 miles of gravel roads per year. We are still working out how to get this done.
Organizations like Keep Nebraska Beautiful have been helpful in providing guidance and the possibility of physical and financial support directly and through their partners.
For 2019 we are doing 3 different clean up events. The first is a cyclist lead clean up event with participants doing spotting, collection and hauling by bike, as part of the Trash Time Trial the RRR point series opener. This will provide data and feedback for future planning and let us know how deep we got ourselves in.
The second event will be at the Solstice 100 Gravel Grinder. This event will be testing out various logistical methods and doing a "dress rehearsal" for the final event of the series, Gravel Worlds. We are exploring many scenarios incorporating the possible ranges of volunteer support we are able to attract. The goal is to leave the courses we travel on these days cleaner than we found them. So participants who see trash on course can be happy knowing that their participation helped to clean up that trash they saw.
Eventually we hope to foster a positive image for gravel riding in the eye of the community at large,thereby making it easier for new and existing events to garner support at city council meetings and county boards. Hopefully we can learn enough about how to get this done efficiently so that we can share the template with other events.
If you know of a way you can help or you have zero ideas but are willing to put your back into it, please reach out. We need all the help we can get to pull this off.
In addition to our trash collection mission, we will be donating any proceeds to Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness. The Gibson family has been deeply affected by this condition, which Christy has suffered from for many years. Our goal is to bring awareness and understanding to an invisible condition that affects so many. You can also donate directly at www.facingfacialpain.org
Tailwinds, 70 degrees, sun and fresh legs are seldom the conditions we get. When we do it's easy to have a fun day in the saddle: type 1 fun. When you start flipping those good condition switches to the off position then it's a lot harder to keep that smile going. To anyone who has done these types of events they will know the term "type 2 fun". For those who are new to endurance sport the term refers to the feeling when you look back on a particularly hard day and it's only fun in hindsight. Not necessarily while you're doing it. In fact type 2 fun experiences can downright suck when you are in the middle of them. Every day on the bike is different. So whatever the type of fun you have, just make sure it's fun, or you won't come back. And we really want you to come back.