Ben Berden was looking chipper at the starting line. Amy Dykema

Ben Berden was looking chipper at the starting line. © Amy Dykema

Gravel Metric is a ride that often turns competitive (at least in the lead group), and this year was no different, especially with legendary cyclocrosser Ben Berden taking to the starting line. Amy Dykema was there capturing some great images and caught up with a few of the riders to hear their thoughts on the course and the day.

by Amy Dykema

Here is what Brad Keyes (CarboRocket) was thinking after he finished:

  1. Exquisitely painful.
  2. The longest 3 hrs I’ve ever spent on a bike; I’ve done 9 hr races that were shorter.
  3. No way that was only 62.5 mi.
  4. Frozen water bottles in my jersey pockets, pure genius.
  5. I really did need an odometer to go with that cue sheet.
  6. Gravel is the future of bike racing.

Here’s what the first finisher, Mike Hemme of Half Acre Cycling (from Chicago), had to say:

“I was really looking forward to the ride. Any event where you can put in a solid few hours of punishment with your friends without the race pressure and stop for a handful of gummy bears and watermelon is a good day in the saddle. NCC, Half Acre, and all the volunteers and sponsors really made the event, especially with the brutal 100 degree temps this year. They stood out in the heat helping hundreds of riders with water, snacks and that little bit of motivation to get through it. Clement coming to the ride and bringing Ben Berden out was fantastic; it’s nice to see they are dedicated to supporting not only elite races, but getting out there to support grass roots events like this.

As for me … I came into cycling riding mountain bikes with my uncle and then with high school friends out East. After moving to Chicago from the East coast I really fell in love with racing CX and the community here. Though I’ve gotten to travel to some events around the country, some of our local races are still my favorites. I love riding/racing mountain and cross, but with a little more limited access to trails in the area its great to mix it up with some gravel races and events like the Leland Kermesse, Barry Roubaix, and Gravel Metric. It helps mix up the riding and training and getting prepped for the cyclocross season. Nothing wrong with some time on the road, but adding a little dirt and gravel just makes it better. ”

Some thoughts on Gravel Metric Ride from Paul Swinand, of Chicago Masters/club bicicletta, who was the second person to finish the ride. Paul has been riding bikes and racing road, track and cyclocross for many years.

“Gravel racing is really a whole new category for the sport: it’s hard to pedal and hard to draft so it’s the closest you can get to doing something like Paris Roubaix, or the Strade Bianche in Italy. The Dekalb event is one of the best races/rides I’ve every done. Hard, but fun. It challenged all dimensions of biking abilities.”