The results for the 2022 Silver City 100K and 50K race are live and we’re more than just a little excited! It might seem like a small thing, but to get here we had to do a fair amount of research and a lot learning and even a few calls to tech support to make sure we got everything right. And, we still messed up a few things, so if you see an issue with your timing, please reach out and we’ll see if we can fix it or at least explain what’s going on.
Going through this timing system process has got me thinking about the history and future of the Iowa Gravel Series, so I thought I would write some of these ideas down while they’re still fresh in my head. If you’re not interested in the history or vision here of timing for the series, you can just click the link above. But, if you like to geek out on stuff like this, read along for a few thought I have on timing and what we might do and some questions for you, our dear racers.
There are a lot of feelings and philosophies about timing, but I think we can all agree that a race needs a few things:
- The time it took to win
- Bonus – people watching and cheering on the racers
Let’s look at each of these briefly… Like I said, it kind of helps me describe where the Iowa Gravel Series was, where it is, and where it’s going.
People love to compete! Card games, number of likes on Instagram, passing people in traffic, you name it. We (for whatever reason) love to compete. There’s something very visceral about knowing where we stand in comparison with others. It drives us. It can motivates us and if you’ve ever played a game of Monopoly or UNO with the McQueen family… it can bring us to tears. 😭
Winning is a fantastic feeling, but it’s limited to the elite. In the most limited way of thinking of winning, there is only one winner in a race. That’s it. Great for the winner, too bad for everyone else. Now, I don’t buy into the “everyone’s a winner” philosophy. I think it diminishes the hard work and effort of those that give it their all to prepare and plan and strive to win a race. So, in the Iowa Gravel Series I don’t give out medals, not even to the winners. I might change my mind on that so that people can have a physical reminder of a “great day in the saddle”, but for now we don’t do medals.
We do give winners a jersey. BikeRags, our premiere sponsor, makes these jerseys available and we think it’s a great way to recognize the winners. The jerseys are unique, they’re useful, have killer designs, and hopefully every time a podium winner puts that jersey on they can remember how great a day it was for them and take a bit of that feeling out with them on the next training ride or even on another race. I think recognizing winners is important and we’ll keep doing it and inviting winners to come back and race with us again.
BikeRags donated over 30 jerseys to the Iowa Gravel Series in 2021 and it is my favorite email to send out to folks. We’ve heard lots of compliments on the cut and design and I hope more and more people are looking to get themselves into one of these jerseys in the future. It’s worth it.
The time it took to win
This is where we are now, implementing an accurate and fair timing system has been a goal for the Iowa Gravel Series since day one. Knowing how long it took to complete a race is such an important and reflective process. When we think about sports and fitness we’re often looking at the numbers. We have Strava, Woop, Wahoo, RideWithGPS, and a whole host of other apps and sites that help us track and look at the numbers we’re producing when we go out and ride. It’s a uniquely human desire to review the data and find meaning in the information. For me, this is the type of competition that I really value and think everyone can participate in.
If there’s one place where “everyone’s a winner” if can be with the numbers and the data. We all have room for improvement. We can push a little harder. We can train a little more consistently. We can acknowledge how much someone else has improved and ask them for advice. With the data and numbers we can start having interesting conversations with ourselves and others and I think that’s pretty cool. It can be intimidating as well, but I don’t think anyone needs to be concerned about their numbers. It’s just a number. It only has as much meaning as you put into it, so put happy and kind meaning into it.
If I could wave a magic wand, I would have everyone install one app and use one platform and press the start button on their device at the same time and we could all look at the numbers together and talk about it. Unfortunately, it’s not yet that easy. Everyone doesn’t have or want a GPS device. Some folks aren’t interested in sharing the numbers and I respect that as well. What I can do is provide an event with a great course and invite everyone to join in the fun. Adding a timing system that is fair and accurate and unbiased just gives us one more way to see our progress and hopefully envision a future of possibility that drives us to try something new and push ourselves a little further to improve.
People watching and cheering
We’re acknowledging our winners, we’re giving data to everyone to reflect and learn from, the next step will be getting more people watching and cheering on these brave souls that are out on the gravel roads. Now, I don’t think everyone wants or needs an audience, but I do think people need to see what’s going on out in the roads. I have a hopeful belief that if we make cycling more visible we’ll see more respect for the racers out on the roads. We’ll have fewer people in cycle+vehicle accidents and we’ll all be more aware of the different ways to travel. This is definitely an ambitious view of the future, but it’s something I’m interested in pursuing in the Iowa Gravel Series as we grow and invite more people to race and participating in racing events.
So what next?
This is the question I have for you. We have some numbers in a table on the website now, but what are you interested in since we’re gathering this data? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments below. Tell me what you think will make this series special and great for you!
I don’t think there’s just one way to make an event fun, so I’m interested in all the diverse ways we can bring each other together and enjoy this thing we call gravel cycling. So, let me hear it and we’ll see what we can do to try it out or our make it happen.