Rule 43: Don’t be a Jackass

Rule 43: Don’t be a Jackass

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Not being a jackass seems simple enough in spirit but can be difficult to operationalize. Waving to another cyclist because they are on a bike and not ‘the right’ kind of bike reduces your jackassness. But what if that cyclist is clearly riding his daughter’s bike to work because he probably got a third DUI? Taking the time to at least say hello to, if not get to know, everyone in your Tuesday night group ride is another. Especially if you’re the guy who lays the group to waste. The one I struggle with is not escalating tiffs with jackass motorists.

And yet another is living La Vie Velominatus by organizing events, building community, and providing cyclists opportunities to do what they love, en masse, simply because you love it when people ride bikes. Chris Skogen, the organizer of Minnesota’s Almanzo 100, is such a Velominatus. I do not know Chris and only briefly met him and saw him in action this past weekend, but he’s the type of person who exudes stoke for cycling (especially Gravelling) as one of the ambassadors of the Midwest’s gravel scene. Along with the other organizers of the Ragnarok 105 and Heck of the North, Skogen, the lead on the Almanzo 100, Royal 162, and Gentleman’s Ride, is a key figure in an extraordinary series of races.

This year was my fist entry into the Almanzo. One thing that sets it apart from the Heck of the North is that entry is not limited by numbers of riders. It seems anybody who signs up via postcard between the specified dates gets a slot, whereas the Heck is limited by lottery. Planning and budgeting for this must be a challenge as the race is totally free. Yes, read it again, free. Free stuff is good but when stuff is free expectations have nowhere to go but up. What Skogen offers in terms of support, SWAG, and hospitality could easily come at a premium and often does at races. He has done a fantastic job garnering sponsors and community supporters who all make the racers feel welcomed and appreciated. I can only hope that other riders expressed their gratitude to the locals as well.

I’ll spare you a race/ride report. Instead, I’ll try to provide you with a sense of the place the race occurs. Imagine the farm fields of Flanders periodically dipping down into numerous pastoral river valleys. Add to that the white gravel roads of Tuscany raced over in Il Strada Bianche and you’re pretty much there. These are not intermittent sectors of gravel but a continuous network of crushed limestone endemic to the area that intertwine for what must be thousands of miles. Over the course of the race I’d estimate not more than 10k were ridden on tarmac. The deep little river valleys are beautiful and thrilling places to descend into and provide really challenging climbs as they peter out onto gently rolling farmland above. This is especially true given the loose gravel. Comfort climbing in the saddle is a prerequisite to prevent tire slippage. Furthermore, the rolling farm land was no respite from the steep little climbs on race day as the wind was blowing at a sustained 40kph and gusting to 55. I was pushing the 34-17 on my ALAN to go downhill at times and nearly blown over or off the road several times.

The gravel is loose and deep compared to the more compacted gravel I’m used to in the northern part of the state. This early in the season it has also been freshly graded and added to by the local municipalities after a punishing winter. I had arrived the night before the race with my lucky Open Pave’s from the Keepers Tour mounted to my cross bike. After the pre-race Spaghetti feed I decided to recon some of the local gravel. Thankfully I’d thrown my Michelin CX-Jet tires in at the last minute as skinny road tires were much less than confidence inspiring. Descending these roads at 50+ and cornering would be downright sketchy so I hurried to remount my “fatties” before dark. I heard several first time riders who’d ridden road tires after the race comment that they wouldn’t be doing that again.

But back to not being a Jackass. In addition to an extremely well organized and SWAG’d-out event, Skogen seemed to be everywhere. He greeted everyone at the door of the spaghetti feed, welcomed each rider to the start line (before leading the entire field in a chorus of Happy Birthday to his 6-year old son, Jack), was seen at numerous places on the course encouraging riders, and welcomed each of us to the finish line with a handshake and a smile. His countless army of red-shirted volunteers were warm of heart and always smiling. He commented to me before the start that he felt terribly that he’d only rented three porta-potties as we looked at the line of 50 or so waiting to relieve themselves pre-race. I laughed and said I’d just come from the line and heard nothing but easy banter and a laid-back aesthete. He walked over and apologized to everyone in line anyways. It was apparent to me that the Almanzo is truly a labor of love for Chris and he approached it and the riders with kindness and humility.

There are so many things that we can step back and say cycling is about. The Bike, Rule #5, tradition, culture, the list goes on.The Almanzo covers all these bases handily. I ‘d posit that perhaps, though, it is really about Rule #43. If we really want people to enjoy riding bikes let’s not start by telling them to Harden the Fuck Up, shave their guns, or remove that fugly YJA. They will choose that path for themselves in due time. Let’s start by not being a jackass. If being kind is too much for you, you can at least not be a jackass. We could stand to take a lesson from Chris Skogen and welcome all comers – hard or soft, shaved or hairy. We’re not telling you to go out and create a badass race requiring heaps of Rule #5 that attracts some pretty strong riders on cool-ass bikes. We’re just saying that however you engage with cycling – including on this site – don’t be a jackass.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/marko@velominati.com/Almanzo 2012/”/]

Here’s a link to some great photos of the race.

I Strava’d my ride but my phone battery shit the bed at Km 118. Have a look if you care to here.

 

// Racing // The Rides // The Rules

  1. A-Merckx to that Marko, nicely said. Great tan line too.

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  2. Looks sweet, I always wish there was gravel around here, the closest is usually something like, “Well this road was paved 50 years ago, so now it is mostly potholes, with some asphalt everynow and then.”

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  3. That looks like a very cool event indeed! Cheers, Marko.

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  4. Great photography, and perfect to ride it in the white kit!

    This year was my fist entry into the Almanzo.

    It sounds like you hurt it more than it hurt you!

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  5. Once again marko, awesome! One thing I noticed on my first go through that photo set was the wide variety of bikes being used and every one was having a blast.

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  6. Beautiful, Marko. Which leads me to my Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of The Rules: 1. Ride lots. 2. Look good doing it. 3. Don’t be a dick. To anybody. For any reason. Even if they deserve it.

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  7. That is a great post and point well made, thankyou. We could all do with a bit of #43 at times.

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  8. Great article Marko. Cheers. 1/. Ride lots and don’t crash 2/. Encourage others to do the same 3/. Leave your badass ego at the track

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  9. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    This leads me to my Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the Rules:

    1. Ride lots.2. Look good doing it.3. Don’t be a dick. To anybody. For any reason. Even if they deserve it.

    I really like (and struggle with) #3. Well said. Kudos, Marko! Bummer about the phone’s battery dying tho.

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  10. Thanx Marko. Will hope to meet Chris Skogen somehow. Some day. Good design with rules and cue sheet — the set.

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  11. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Beautiful, Marko.

    Which leads me to my Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of The Rules:

    1. Ride lots.

    2. Look good doing it.

    3. Don’t be a dick. To anybody. For any reason. Even if they deserve it.

    NICE! Great work Marko, spot on Jeff! As my friends encourage me when I get worked up, “Be nice…Be nice!” #3 is key: DbaD – Don’t be a Dick. Keep it cool, let them go off the rails, and keep your V Meter primed for the next ride.

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  12. Morten and Marko did a great job here. I’m gonna need a good, good camera.

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  13. Spot on Marko. Also @JiPM for your Cliff Notes version. We are all out there representing the Way of the Velominatus, and should strive to avoid bringing the Order into disrepute.

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  14. Well said Marko

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  15. Thanks Marko. Great article. Could gravel road racing be the perfect cycle sport? The style and relative cleanliness of road racing, the camaraderie and slick-surface fun of MTB, longer and less intense than cyclocross, cool variety of bikes, etc.

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  16. @versio not a new camera, but the ability to imagine new images

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  17. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Beautiful, Marko.

    Which leads me to my Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of The Rules:

    1. Ride lots.

    2. Look good doing it.

    3. Don’t be a dick. To anybody. For any reason. Even if they deserve it.

    As well as not being a dick, best not to call someone a dick, tempting though it may be. http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/10908/Cycling-Australia-gives-suspended-200-fine-to-Hosking-over-dick-comment.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+velonation_pro_cycling+%28Cycling+News+%26+Race+Results+|+VeloNation.com%29&utm_content=Google+Reader On another note, anyone doing the Wiggle Dragon Ride in a few weeks? Bit of a beast this year. I am no 2654 which gives you an idea of the size of the event. The Gran Fondo is 206km and 3,350m of climbing so quite a challenge.

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  18. That would be a cool race to do. Way to ride, way to write, Marko…

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  19. Much like branding or tattooing one’s self, sunburns are a great way to ensure compliance with Rule #7, but without the risk of infection from a needle or weeping blisters.

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  20. Nice job, Marko. Good read.

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  21. Wow, Marko! This looks & sounds like a really incredible event. I’d love to ride in this sort of race. Some gear questions – I’ve been wanting to try that tape. It’s the fi'zi:k logo tape? While I’m generally a fan of less commotion and more simplicity, I like it for some reason. (and the Prologo tape too) How’s it feel – like traditional cork or like the thin fi'zi:k stuff? What size tires did you go with? As for Rule #43 – yes, a big A-Merckx! I’m still learning far too much myself and developing in many ways as a cyclist to Be a Dick. I might adhere to the Rules and revere them but I’m never one to scoff at other cyclist because of something small. Maybe it’s because I do all sorts of riding, from road to cross to commuting to around town, that I don’t turn my nose at other cyclists for the small stuff. Two great experiences this past weekend along these lines. Saturday helped a dude repair a flat who admitted he was a rookie at it and didn’t know if his mini-pump even worked. I sorted him out, gave him a bunch of tips in a few minutes to make his life easier, didn’t do things like point out his triple, his cargo bag sized saddle bag or yell at him to clean his wheels so that my hands didn’t get dirty & then soil my virginal Leaders Tape. My V-jersey is on the way but such an interaction will be even more important when I get one and am wearing it. I want to be a good representative of the Velominati. Sure, a Rule Follower, but not a dick. Sunday reminded me to not judge the book by the cover. Showed up to ride with a few pals and there was a new guy. He was riding a very new, very rad aero road bike with Di2. He wasn’t really race fit either. “This guy doesn’t ride. He’s just got a pricey bike & he doesn’t ride it enough.” The guy then went out and lead a strong pace the entire way, pulling us along through the wind, keeping us working hard in a paceline, and generally Captain-ing the ride. Plus, he was a good dude who knew how to ride his bike and was strong as hell despite a bit of extra weight. Reminded me to not be too judgmental. Thanks for the write-up and the words of wisdom, Marko!! Nice one.

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  22. Talking of handlebar tape, I want some of this stuff a friend of mine just scored.

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  23. Sounds like a classy event. I have a long, gravel rail trail four doors from my house, which is a terrific entry point to all kinds of single-track riding (and, the other way, my commute to work). Limestone, too. I’d heard a few places, though, that limestone can be incredibly corrosive when left on bikes…

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  24. Nice ride Marko! Sounds like respect to all riders and behind the scenes. Nice vibe about the event.

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  25. @Oli Like the orange peeking through! You’ll need some nice bar end plugs to go with that tape! Maybe something like this?…..

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  26. @RedRanger There was quite a variety but I’d say a good 90% were CX bikes, then a few road bikes (again, riding 160k of that limestone gravel on anything skinnier than a 28 is hair raising) – some mountain bikes and those god-awful Pugslies. I saw two tandems and one unicycle. Tandems make great wheels to suck but can’t climb for shit. @G’rilla Not sure about that. I was squarely in the pain cave for the last 2 hours. The wind was absolutely like no other I’ve ridden in. Yes, I’ve ridden in strong winds but not that strong for that long. @versio This was something that really impressed me about the event. Skogen has a nice eye for design – from the post cards to t-shirt to website he puts together a really aesthetically pleasing “brand”. @Bianchi Denti Indeed I think it may be. You’re spot on about the style, the bikes (a proper CX or road bike with appropriate tires) is really all one needs, and the distances are all ideal. The scene here in the midwest is large as it’s probably the most interesting type of riding around here since we don’t have mountains or pave. The more I’ve been doing it the last four years or so the more I find myself gazing up gravel roads wondering where they lead, doing long recce rides on my moto to find new loops, and considering my gravel bike #1. In fact – I just recently decided to scrap a steel Colnago road build in favor of upgrading my ALAN and moving some gruppos/bro-sets around. @bugleboy21 thanks to some Aloe-vera it surprisingly didn’t hurt. @Ron We’d expect nothing less than a totally awesome fantastic enthusiastically cool roadside tire change lesson from you, Ron. Nice work. It is the soft touch fi'zi:k logo tape – leftovers from KT otherwise I may not have put it on. I really like the feel of it under hand. I’ve also become a huge fan of the fi'zi:k gel. Since applying it at KT I’ve also put it on my gravel bike. The gel provides a subtle just soft enough but not too soft feel. What I really like is the diameter increase. I’ll always ride it. @Oli That’s cool for the right bike. What is it? @all Thanks. Now get out there find some gravel and stop being jackasses!

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  27. I provide this for entertainment value only. Let commentary begin: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/video/2012/may/22/airbag-bicycle-helmet-video

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  28. @Marko Great article and timely reminder of Rule #43. Unfortunately we don’t have anything like your gravel tracks in the UK, it’s either full on tarmac or muddy farm tracks. There isn’t really anywhere you can go off road on a road bike. I’m also a convert to the fi'zi:k dual tape since putting it on for the KT. I like the regular stuff but doesn’t really work for me on longer rides or on the rollers where my hands go numb and it doesn’t grip well without gloves when sweaty. It’s sad that some of the worse jackassery on this site has coincided two of the most humbling and inspirational Guest Articles. @Ron is spot on with his post, the more cyclists the better even if only a few of them will ever find their way to following the rules. Encourage and help others but don’t denigrate them. The only person you should be concerned about beating is yourself*. *Unless you’re racing, of course.

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  29. Great write up and a timely reminder to us all. btw @Marko, that bike looks bloody huge!

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  30. @936adl It’s a big frame – 61. I’d not buy one that big again but got a screamin’ deal on it. It does fit in the traditional sense however and is very comfortable on long rough rides.

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  31. The more I read and hear how I have to wave at every schmuck riding on two wheels from the other direction, the less I do it. Im honking along in a paceline or alone at 23 MPH with a line of cars bearing dwon on me from behind and I have to sit up and wave at some cyclist coming the other way, lest I be considered a “jackass?” Give me a break.

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  32. @Chris your last paragraph echoes my thoughts exactly, the last few weeks seems to have featured a few internet hardmen popping up here & there. Although @Richie‘s comment seems to show that maybe the overall message from this post hasn’t quite hit home.

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  33. @Richie I think you may have misunderstood as nobody is telling you you “have to wave”, especially, as you point out, if you have a lot going on at the time. You’re also coming across as a jackass with the “Give me a break” editorial, which I’m sure is not the case.

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  34. Marko, nice read indeed. And timely as I just finished Bike Snob’s most recent book on that very subject, not being a jackass. Personally, being in a small town I do a lot of wrenching on department store bike shaped objects, which annoys me to no limit, but I always tell people when they walk into the garage and see thousands of dollars in veloart, “hey, the best bike is the one that gets ridden.” Makes people feel good even if they own a $99 junker from Walmart. I usually follow up with, “you’ll find youself on a better bike if you keep riding…” Oh yeah, I grew up in Manitoba and I ride the gravel here in Alberta on occassion, so its nice to see the old farm roads getting some props!

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  35. @Mikael Liddy Absolutely. Too few people seem to spend time getting a feel for the place before launching into someone for some sort of perceived slight against them or someone else. The whole thing with @Oli and @frank is case in point, most of us would’ve barely registered that had it not been for a couple of people who’d barely arrived getting their vaginas in a twizzle. By all means get involved with discussions but lick your finger and stick it in the air first. Or did you mean “Unless you’re racing, of course.” when you mentioned my last paragraph.

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  36. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @versio
    not a new camera, but the ability to imagine new images

    About to start documenting cycling, but need a camera first. No camera now.

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  37. @Richie @Marko

    The more I read and hear how I have to wave at every schmuck riding on two wheels from the other direction, the less I do it.

    Im honking along in a paceline or alone at 23 MPH with a line of cars bearing dwon on me from behind and I have to sit up and wave at some cyclist coming the other way, lest I be considered a “jackass?” Give me a break.

    My waving identifies me. I almost always throw up a wave, a gesture, a hail to cars just before coming around me, even hail to cars coming in the opposite lane. I’m sure that it’s an unexpected surprise when the first 8 riders in a pace-line do nothing, and then my arm crops out of the line. Waving to cars makes me more of a human than an obstacle. It is good training as there is always a lot going on, on the bike. I reach for bidons when I want, adjust the bike when needed, and gesture always (almost). But waving to other cyclist is to your credit. It’s part of your merit score. It’s like waving to a newcomer in the parking lot, when there’s a lot going on to get the bike and yourself ready. As Shakespeare says – Do’t.

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  38. Marko, nice, both the description of a great event and the point! In a Grand Fondo 2 weeks ago I was in a good group of mixed levels of skills but all going strong. There was an effort to get it more together with a coordinated pace line but the group was too diverse to make it happen without being a complete twatwaffle. Im in the back enjoying a great day and good pace not fussed that a better chase was not materializing and this total tool starts saying to me how these guys are pathetic and losers… I held it in and calmly told him that if he did not like it then he should get out. Later it was all I could do not to ride him into the woods when we argued about the merits of riding fixed in the city, something I have done (non skidder) for 30 odd years off and on. Finally had to tell him to drop it so that I did not do anything rash. He was dropped at the 2/3 point and I am glad to say never saw him again. I am not sure what his beef was and why if he was such a hot shot he was not up front and or not dropping from our group after so aggressively being a jerk. I was in the V kit and he did know the rules so maybe he will post up and explain his poor behavior or let me know why I pushed his buttons? P.S. to @Richie, if your having to sit up to wave and can’t handle the distraction it sounds like you should work on your skills?

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  39. @Jeff in PetroMetro If ever a post was worthy of a double-post, this one is it. +1.

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  40. @Bianchi Denti

    Thanks Marko. Great article.
    Could gravel road racing be the perfect cycle sport? The style and relative cleanliness of road racing, the camaraderie and slick-surface fun of MTB, longer and less intense than cyclocross, cool variety of bikes, etc.

    Yes! I completely agree and could get totally behind this, esp now that I have my 28 mm HED C2 Vit Pave’ tubs that run perfectly on my road Prophet. Could be a super combo. Man Marko, I REALLY want to do this ride next year. I will have to check the schedule and maybe take that “see the two sisters and their families that live in SE MN trip” next year around this time. I wonder if the Highland Falls/West Point NY has any “gravel” riding? Time to do a google search on that one. So inspired on many different fronts by your write-up. Chapeau!

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  41. @Oli: The end plugs! How can I get the end plugs?

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  42. Fun read, @Marko. Really enjoyed it. Spot on. I really dig this: “They will choose that path for themselves in due time.” And we’ll see you at the Seattle Summer Cogal 6/16? No gravel, but the price is right.

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  43. Speaking of jackasses and jackassery, I’ve read a few tweets that Team TIBCOs trailer was broken into last night in Boise. The Exergy Tour starts today. 14 Specialized Almira SL4 bikes and all their Reynolds wheels.

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  44. Waving to other cyclist is part of your merit score. As Shakespeare says – Do’t.

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  45. @niksch

    Speaking of jackasses and jackassery, I’ve read a few tweets that Team TIBCOs trailer was broken into last night in Boise. The Exergy Tour starts today. 14 Specialized Almira SL4 bikes and all their Reynolds wheels.

    I read this too, and in my estimation, the height of jackassery. OK, there are thieves out there, and I’m guessing they had no idea what dicks they were being. But stealing from a girl’s team, just before possibly the biggest race for them in north america? And maybe there’s some jackassery to be layed at the feet of the organizers for lack of security at this event as well. This whole deal sucks donkey balls. Sure hope the locals can get the ladies on some quality rides for the race. And hope they lay down some serious V. Hell hath no fire hot enough for the jackasses that pulled this.

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  46. That article almost makes me want to visit Minnesota. The strada bianche of the US, damn that is a great day on the cx bike, except for the wind. A huge turnout, a unicycle, a snow bike, free entry, swag, food, support, no cars, no hipsters, what the hell is going on up there? You damn kids with your utopian gravel bike lifestyle, that shit doesn’t work man, it’s 2012. Get with the program, FFS. Marko be warned, my wife, Beth (aka The Strava Dragon) was going to taunt you for how little climbing you do. She is a hard-ass. But she doesn’t know you are killing it on those beautiful quiet white gravel roads. I’m jealous and very impressed by the write up and the scene. grand chapeau

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  47. @eightzero There’s all kinds of gravel around the Seattle Summer Cogal route if you want to redraw it! Frank and I plan to ride 200km on gravel from Tolt to Snoqualmie falls later this Summer.

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  48. Thanks Marko for animating this rule so well. It may be down the list numerically, but if one can’t follow this rule, then I don’t want to hear how well you adhere to the others. Go do some humility repeats.

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