No offense to my Midwestern friends, but it’s not often that I’m jealous of those that live in that area of the US. Sure, I’ve enjoyed the little bit of time that I’ve spent in that area of the world but I think I’ve been spoiled by the variety of things I get to experience here in California: mountains, deserts, coastline. We’ve got it all out here and then some. I’ll gloss over the Golden State’s pollution, traffic and overcrowding for the moment as I don’t want to spoil the mood.
What we generally don’t have in California is miles and miles of beautiful gravel roads to ride like they do in the Midwest. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you might not have noticed that a whole new form of riding and racing has evolved in the Midwest and has spilled out into the rest of the country: gravel grinding. Take a look at Gravel Grinder News if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Of course this might be a relatively “new” phenomenon to many, but the roots of gravel grinding are old. Just watch some footage from the old days of the Tour de France to see the mud and dust encrusted faces of the pioneers of today’s civilized multimillion dollar Tour and you’ll see what I mean. This is the way cycling used to be before we (collectively, not me or anyone else who read this blog – we’re salt of the earth types, right?) started looking down the nosepieces of our fabulously expensive sunglasses from the perches of our gleaming bikes and decided that our trails needed to be groomed and our roads needed to be smooth. Perhaps this resurgence of dirt road racing is a return to a more innocent time, a time when the sport was less of a marketing exercise and more of an adventure?
For years I’ve been itching to join one of the rides like Trans Iowa or Dirty Kanza but have never quite made the commitment to head to the Midwest to experience one of these events. So in the interest of creating an event closer to home I’ve gone ahead and started to organize my own free, self-supported, mixed-surface event that will take place this Fall here in the mountains of San Diego county. The route takes advantage of the forgotten roads that exist in the area and includes many quality dirt roads as well as a ton of climbing. Take a look here if you think you might be interested: The Palomar Puzzler 150.
If anyone needs me I’ll be out riding my bike, I have a Puzzler to prepare for.