Last weekend I didn't get to scope the full route for R2G2 due to some mechanical issues in the car. But I did get to scope the first leg - it's pretty damn awesome and I'm very excited about it. I've thought of doing a shorter version to attract more folks, but with Dirty Kanza coming up I had another idea, and I'd love some feedback.
The gravel race scene is exploding. There must be over 100 events now. The thing is, most of them are in the Midwest and remarkably similar in style and length. I love riding among the cows and farms, but the stuff I saw on the SPDF and in my R2G2 scouting trip is radically different; it's really something special. I'm also seeing that big and gonzo attracts a certain crowd, but those events with the most mystique are in Kansas/Iowa/Minnesota. Why not have something truly incredible here? Something that's an enormous challenge. Something very different from the gravel on DK200, Almanzo, Trans Iowa etc. Something that's worthy of the name "epic" - a true test of endurance that will attract a wider crowd willing to test their mettle. It's not to say that these events aren't great, but the point is rather to say, "Hey, thanks for the inspiration. You've got some great stuff there. We do too, and it's pretty different. Are you up to testing yourself on our alpine gravel?"
Right now the R2G2 is 170 miles, which is a big day. But for some reason we're attracted to numbers and 200 has a more worthy sound to it. Add in that it would be mostly over 8000ft and include probably around 18k of gain and the list of folks for whom this is a reasonable route dwindles; for the rest of us this would be a massive challenge.
To this end I present the routes I've developed:
*all of these are likely UNDER estimated.
These are all solid. Barring a forest fire they are all on open, maintained roads. I am trying to contact some private land owners so that I can run the route past the Bucksnort Saloon, which is simply a cool place along a pretty amazing road. I'm not sure if this year is or is not the best time to do this. I'd do the 200 starting at 4am and expect to finish around midnight (my own personal time estimate) - that's a lot of night riding in late September. End of June might be preferred. Of course late Sep means all the Aspen are changing (bonus) and the dark would add to the challenge - a la Vaportrail 125. This could go under the Endurance series heading, but I could see this also being something a bit different at some point. I'd also kinda want to change the name a bit. Something that throws down the gauntlet. Perhaps the Rocky Mountain High Gravel Challenge. One option is to have all these as options - another is to only have the 200 (my preference).
So this is where my brain is going... Any thoughts, opinions? Think I'd get folks to do this? September vs June? Do it this year?