On the Road

by Wayne Whitesides

I’m finally in the passenger seat, 4,247 miles into an epic Montana road trip, with nearly a third of the drive still ahead of me. It’s the conclusion of a family vacation born of a dad’s wish for one last father-daughter adventure before she heads off to the University of Georgia this fall.

These hours in the car have given me plenty of time to reflect on cycling, Spin the District, and this blog.

The Spin the District event series was created to highlight the greatness of the ATL Airport District through the lens of a cyclist. To be successful, we need to give every cyclist and cycling fan—from the seasoned to the newly initiated—a truly fantastic Spin experience. We can do a lot on the day, like providing flawless organization, great support, and an excellent neighborhood party, but for everyone to get the most out of the event, we also need to do a little preparation in advance: for cyclists, we can help keep you focused on training, discipline, and what to expect; for spectators, we need to provide a rudimentary education in the art of cycling and the rules of engagement. For new and aspiring riders, we can do a little of both.

So let’s not dilly-dally. Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er. 

Start at the beginning: get out and ride!

I love riding my bike, any bike; road, gravel, track, mountain, it doesn’t matter. I even have a bike just for beer runs, complete with a front rack to handily hold a case of my favorite frosty beverages from Beer Girl or Arches Brewing. Each outing is an adventure, and I love riding one mile just as much as I love riding hundreds.

I want you to experience that feeling, too. If you’re not sure how to make cycling part of your life or get back into it, your first step is to choose your bike (or dust off the one way back in the corner) and decide where to go. 

A young woman in a Union City Fondo jersey looks out over the expansive Montana landscape.

Set your sights

Everyone needs goals. Without them, it’s hard to stay motivated, and excuses are more likely to take over.

The trip that I’m currently on has provided my family with months of motivation. We’d already ridden across Iowa a couple of times, and my daughter rode her first century (100-mile ride) on the back of our tandem when she was 11. So I knew we needed something big to motivate us both.

It started in the middle of last winter with a question. “Would you like to do one last epic thing with your old man before he loses control of your life?”

“Dad, that’ll never happen! I’ll always have time for you,” she replied, as I heard Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” over and over in my head.

Choked up, tears in my eyes, the research began. With COVID still devastating the country and all 2020 events canceled, we knew we’d need some backup options, and that choosing a super popular event might not be a great idea. That took a few bucket-list events like Vermont Overland or the Belgian Waffle Race in San Diego out of the running. After scouring the interwebs, we decided on the Gold Rush 110-mile gravel race in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the long months of training began.

Long story short, she crushed it, and more importantly, she’s still talking to me!

So choose your adventure—any adventure. Think about what excites you. For us, it was riding in a part of the country we’ve never been to, with enough mileage and elevation gain to make us work for it. But you know you best, and your ideal ride may be completely different.

If you’re new or getting back into cycling, keep your goals simple and attainable but worth the effort, like Spin the District’s 30-mile road ride in October. Or think big, like our 100-mile mixed surface ToughSkin Open.

Of course, while we’d love for you to choose any of our events, the important thing is just to choose something and make it happen. If time and resources are limited, find something local. Whatever it is, put it on your calendar, tell your family, friends and co-workers, and get going. 

If you’re hell bent on going from the couch to a century ride, look for events at least six months out, if not more, to give yourself time to train. But we’d recommend keeping it real with a 10-mile ride first, or heading over to your local mountain bike course and finding the beginner loop. Then find a 30-miler or an intermediate trail and go for that. Keep leveling up until you’re unstoppable.

If you’re already in peak condition, raise your game. Go for a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles). Compete in your first (beginner) criterium race. If you’re lucky enough to have a velodrome in your area, take a beginner class and learn to ride a fixed gear. Or, better yet, plan your own road trip around an awesome event series, perhaps in the ATL Airport District.

This is just the start of a new series on this blog that will cover getting started, getting back into the saddle, training, nutrition, and day-of dos and don’ts. We’ll be back with some training tips next week, but for now, start scouring the web for the experience that gets you going. A great place to start is granfondoguide.com, which happens to be featuring our Union City Road and Gravel Fondo. Or register for a Spin event now and start training for your adventure. 

100 Free Entries. Because, why not?

by Wayne Whitesides – All things SPIN

Spin the District’s Union City Gravel Gran Fondo is offering free entry to its 100- or 150- mile gravel races! The first 100 men and 100 women who have placed in the top 5 of ANY +50-mile gravel race between September 22, 2019 and September 16, 2020 are invited to register free of cost. Are we crazy? What’s gotten into us? It’s simple. We want this year’s Gravel Gran Fondo to be the toughest yet. The more tough competitors, the tougher the race. It makes sense to us.

If you’re sold and ready to blaze a trail on our course, you can email us now if you’re a Top 5 rider to get your code, and we’ll see you in a few months. (Don’t forget to show us where we can find your results) If you still think we’re nuts, read on for a personal explanation from one of the founders Wayne Whitesides, pictured below (left). (right) Madeline Larsen Pearce – 2019 Toughskin150 winner

Spin the District Gravel Race Free Entry

It’s more than just a gimmick.

I think fellow promoters can agree: gravel riding has officially exploded in the U.S.! It’s happened to such a degree that cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, recently announced they have their “eye” on gravel. In other words, they want to standardize gravel riding events for their profit—and could inevitably ruin them in the process. Overregulation will make gravel events sterile and bland. Yet it is the lack of rules and the uniqueness of rides/events that has always attracted riders to gravel. People ride for the experience and plan their year around specific, story-worthy rides. Those seeking the “path less traveled” do not want cookie-cutter gravel rides that blend together.

The best of the best???

When your event sells out in minutes or becomes so popular that you have to pick random people out of a hat, you are bound to leave quality riders sitting on the sidelines. These riders are left to choose a new path. In doing so, you’re limiting the quality of your field and defining the experience people have. (unless you’re just wanting to ride to ride, we’re not here to judge how you ride the event) Not to mention, lotteries give riders anxiety. ‘Did I get in?’ ‘Did my buddies who were going to split travel costs with me get in?’ ‘Do I need to start scouring the web to buy someone’s golden ticket who can’t go after all?’ It’s a risky line in the sand that promoters are willing to make in order to sell out. Of course, we want to break registration records, but not at the expense of race quality.

Our free entry helps address this potential problem. We want you to know who else got in, and to know you will be standing shoulder to shoulder with the legends of this sport. This is all in an effort to launch your experience to the stars! You spent a lot of money and made a big commitment so it makes sense you want to ride with the best. Even if you are a “Fred” like me just hoping to finish before the time cut, riding with quality riders elevates the experience. Last year at DirtyKanza, lining up next to people I fanboy over and then reading about their epic race battle for days to come is something I will never forget. Just breathing the same rarefied air as female champ Lael Wilcox, or Stentina Howes, and eventual men’s winner Colin Strickland made my 19-hour journey through hell worth every second. Did we mention we already have Ashton Lambie qualified – duh – and signed up to race the Toughskin150? He’s coming with our 2019 Velodrome Champ, John Croom, who’s out to prove he’s got the brass to win our Big A$$ Belt.

Spin the District Gran Fondo Belt Polyester100
While Goliath believes he’s a giant and ruler of the office, he’s no match for the belt.

Long story short: It’s part of our trifecta experience

We’re offering free registration to a fourth of our fields for the best of the best to ensure that the quality of our Gravel Gran Fondo is nothing short of primo. Of course, it’s only a portion of your overall experience. Our courses are as tough as nails and guaranteed to challenge anyone, and our weekend experience is second to none. In an ever-crowding market, you have to stand out. We want to stand out with the best and make your Spin the District experience the trip of the year, or dare we say, lifetime!!! 

Are you a top 5 rider? Please email us with at least one top 5 placing from September 19, 2019 through September 20, 2020, and let’s get you on the list. 

Do you want to ride against the best? Let’s get you over to registration (opening February 28). 

Spin the District Husky100 Winners

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