Some Real Talk on Inclusion in Cycling Events
We got to spend our first day exhibiting since before the lockdown this weekend. A world class event is taking shape at Ned Gravel here in our backyard and we couldn't be more pleased to be associated with such a wonderful event.
As I've mentioned before, I was on the receiving end of bicycle racer snobbery when I first came back to bicycle racing as an adult. (I was referred to as a wooly mammoth by fellow racers.) For that reason, inclusion is a very important topic to me. I consider it core to our survival as a species and it's certainly critical to the survival of cycling events and perhaps cycling as a growing activity and industry.
I could pull the bitter-man card on the industry and say they are only embracing inclusion because it helps the bottom line financially. And I wouldn't be wrong. Change may have been created from the inside by employees with the right idea or from the outside by motivated consumers, but at the end of the day that change was bounced against an MBA's spreadsheet and given the thumbs up in some board room after it cleared a hurdle analysis. And I guess that's OK. It's not ideal, but it's the right change, ultimately.
So it's common now to see industry events and brands promoting diversity and inclusion. (All bodies on bikes, sort of thing.) But it often lacks authenticity for me. Like it's a new way to make some more money, so we're down sort of thing. Jaded, I know. As a capitalist, I shouldn't be bothered by this, but inclusion has to be more than a money grab. It has to become core to who we are. It's certainly core to who I am and by extension what Dispatch is.
Ned Gravel gets it!
The race director at Ned Gravel, Gavin Coombs is clearly of the same mind. I was absolutely touched by the diversity of the racers and riders, the podium call outs, and the number of individuals I had the pleasure of hanging with at Ned Gravel.
Having been involved in racing and the bicycle industry in some way or another for almost 4 decades, I can say hand on heart, this was a different make up than any other event I've been a part of.
While I didn't get to race the event, I did leave with that same feeling of accomplishment you get after a hard day in the saddle racing the Rockies. Arguably with fresher legs, but a heart full of hope and happiness. Thank you to everyone that stopped by our tent to say hello and share your stories.
This is a growing event (I believe from 500 or so in year one to over 800 in year two), so the community is watching and they are investing in participation and hanging out to have a great day on a bicycle and getting to know one another as humans--individual humans. I suspect Ned Gravel goes on to must-make event status in year 3 and beyond.
Congrats to everyone that helped to make the day such a success. Directors, volunteers, police/sheriff, medical, exhibitors and of course, each and every individual that came out to share their love for some time outdoors on a bicycle.
Ride YOUR Ride!