In Late 2019 I decided I wanted to host a gravel ride in my hometown. I posted everything on March 9th with “uncomfortable excitement”. Then, everything started closing down just a week later. Fortunately, the first Glenwood Gravel was scheduled for September and it gave me plenty of time to talk to county officials, see what other races and rides were doing, and to create a plan. We moved to a group time-trial model for the 2020 Glenwood ride and as of the date this post was made we’ve not heard of anyone contracting COVID-19 from that ride. We plan to keep that record for the 2021 Iowa Gravel Series. Here’s what we’re doing…
Work with professionals
As cyclists, you know there is an inherent risk when getting on the bike, but the key to success is managing that risk carefully. We aim to do the same with the COVID-19 epidemic.
For 2021 we’re holding races in Mills (Silver City & Glenwood), Fremont (Glenwood), Harrison (Pisgah), Allamakee (Waukon), and Monroe (Albia) counties. Each has its own challenges, but thankfully share a lot of the same policies from the State of Iowa. We’re working with public health leaders in each location to ensure we are doing the best possible to keep people safe.
To make sure we do our best by you, each race will have isntruction provide in as timely a manner as possible. We also might ask the following:
- Wear a mask when approaching registration areas, aid stations, or speaking directly with race officials.
- Maintain distance from other people and group. The average bicycle is about 6ft long, stay one bike length away from folks.
- Use hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies provided by race volunteers.
- Follow all directions from the restaurant hosting the post-ride meal. Most of us are guests in the communities we visit. Let’s make sure we’re representing the cycling community well when we come into these Iowa towns.
- In some cases, post-ride meals might need to be carry-out due to space restrictions. Please be patient as we work with restaurant owners on logistics of 100+ grabbing a to-go order.
- If you have any symptoms, please reach out to the race director through BikeReg. We’ll work with you to get you in a future ride when you are good to ride with others.
There might be other items that are added to this list. Just know we’ll try and keep you well informed through the process.
One of the benefits of smaller grassroots racing is that we can be adjust quickly. While we do plan to have a group start for most rides, we have two contingency plans.
- Individual or small group time trial start. By breaking the 100 or so people up into small groups, we were successful in maintaining social distancing on previous rides. This works best when you self-select who you want to be with. In the past, we’ve asked people to coordinate riding with a team of about 6 riders. While this isn’t required, it makes it easier for everyone to have the experience they’d like for the ride.
- Virtual race. This isn’t something we’ve done before, but we’re prepared to do it. During a virtual race, we provide the GPX file for the route and each rider completes the race on their own. Instead of providing an aid station, we mail you your ride t-shirt and instruction on how to redeem your lunch at the race location. It’s not as fun without the group riding together, but it does allow you flexibility on when and how you race. It also lets you explore some of the amazing areas we’ve scouted for the Iowa Gravel Series.
Give people choice
In addition to the options above, if you sign up for a ride and we have to make adjustments or you need to make adjustment, you can apply the value of the race you’ve signed up for to another race. Let’s say you sign-up for one of the races in May, but aren’t feeling ready or something has changed, up until race day you can move your registration to another race as long as there are open spots or you can apply to the waitlist. There’s no guarantee you will get into a race from the waitlist, but we do our best to get people into races when there is room.