Gravel biking's origins rooted in Iowa
Iowans are trendsetters, didn't you know?
- Gravel biking is the fastest-growing cycling sport right now, and you can thank some kooky Iowans for helping modernize it.
How it started: We all know about RAGBRAI. But what if you could ride across Iowa in just one day? And only on the state's plentiful gravel roads?
- That's the challenge Jeff Kerkove and Mark Stevenson created while working at Europa Cycle and Ski in Cedar Falls.
In 2004, they created TransIowa — a 24-hour, self-supported race across Iowa's gravel roads.
- Kerkove and Stevenson created the routes and rules — giving riders cue sheets to follow twists and turns in the dead of night.
- Back then, there was no such thing as a gravel bike. People hauled out their old Schwinn's, mountain bikes and single speeds, Stevenson told Linh. The average mileage was 320-340 miles.
The intrigue: Because it was one of the first major gravel rides shared online, it went "viral."
- Across the Midwest, people — including organizers from now-famous rides like Unbound in Kansas — took inspiration from TransIowa to run their own races.
What's next: While TransIowa is no more, you can test your perseverance at Iowa Wind and Rock — a 340-mile race starting in Winterset. Woof.
Go deeper: Global Cycling Network featured gravel biking (and Iowa!) in a YouTube video exploring its origins.
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