Minnesota’s Spring Classics - Free to All
While there are many reasons to fall in love with my adopted hometown of Minneapolis, around this time of year my affection turns to the Spring Classics. No, not the European Monuments, but the myriad free long distance gravel events that pervade the early season calendar in the Upper Midwest.
Last weekend I road the amazing Ragnarok 105 (8300 feet of climbing, who says we don't have hills), this weekend I'm off to race Lakeville-Milltown-Lakeville (80 miles), I'm going to miss the Dickie Scramble (75 miles) while on a roadtrip for the brand, but luckily there's a bunch of races when I get back and it's all building up to the grandaddy of them all, the Almanzo 100.
The best part.... It's alll free racing. By the people for the people.
Yeah, you read that right. FREE.
No governing bodies, no safety nets, just a few hundred folks (or in the case of Almanzo, 1400), a route, and a whole bunch of self sufficiency. No money, no bullshit, no bad attidudes, just cycling at it's finest and most challenging.
I have to give a giant shout out to Chris Skogen founder of the Almanzo 100 for setting the standard for this type of event, and for popularizing the "free to all" ethos that permeates the platform, sets the tone for the racers attitudes, and ensures that this type of event stays firmly in the D-I-Y camp. He and his ilk, continue to put on world class events for no other reason than to show off the beauty of their local area and for the love of cycling.
It's a beautiful thing...
I hope all of you out there take the opportunity to participate in your own local gravel races, and if you don't have them in your area, perhaps it's time to step up and make it happen for your hometown. Thank you to all the organizers who make these events happen, and thank you to the racers who show up and ride their hearts out.
See you on the starting line.