brought to you by Seven Spokes Racer Amy Schwarz – thank you Amy!!!
“Biking on gravel is like biking on paved roads twice,” my best friend’s dad told me 20 some years ago. My friend lived on a farm and we occasionally biked on the gravel road around her family farm. I had not thought about his comment until I decided to participate in my first gravel bike race. This astute observation rang true as I biked 22 miles on gravel for the first time in 20 years in 85-degree weather.
What was I doing biking on gravel roads? I was encouraged to sign up for Riot Gravel by my Seven Spokes Racing teammates. I signed up on a whim with high hopes of doing several gravel rides in advance to prepare. That plan of several rides resulted in one practice run the Thursday before the gravel race. I found a gravel road near Stillwater and biked 9 miles on my own. It was loud, bumpy, hot, and indeed twice as hard as biking on the paved road I have become accustomed to, but I loved the scenery and discovering a spot in Minnesota that I would have never otherwise found. Only 25 or so miles from my city home and I was surrounded by tree-lined roads, horse farms and wetlands.
When Saturday arrived, I planned on only biking 10 miles for Riot gravel since it was my first gravel race, but I was encouraged by teammates to bike the 22-mile route. My teammates, one who I had not yet met, the other who had I met only once, were accommodating, encouraging and just plain fun to hang out with. We enjoyed the scenery and gently challenged each other on different parts of the course. I enjoyed spending my morning on country roads that I would have never explored otherwise and with great women who were welcoming and fun to be around. I will plan on another gravel race in the future, especially since it is indeed twice as hard as biking on paved roads and I’m up for the challenge.