Sunday, July 8, 2007

Stage Racing At The GDR?

As the final riders are making their last push for Antelope Wells, I have been thinking a lot about some of the things that have been different about this years GDR and what it means for next year and beyond. A comment was made that this year more people were treating it like a stage race. They stayed in big groups through out the day and shared motel rooms at night. This style of riding is not what I expect my experience to be like next year nor would I want it to be. But it brings another wrinkle into the question of what this race is supposed to be about and what things could deteriorate that ethos.
Now that we see many of those group riders finishing I think that it is apparent that the stage race theory does not help anyone finish quickly. Most racers will be sneaking in under the 25 day cut off. The argument against group riding would carry more weight if it appeared that it was an effective way to cut days off of your time.
Going back to John Stamsted's ride that established a record for the course, this event is an individual time trial. Stamsted's ride and the record breaking ride by Mike Curiak created an inspiring memory for many people and that inspiration is now drawing new racers to the solo, unsupported world. I have no interest in changing the GDR because I want to experience it the way John and Mike did. Talk of Satellite Phone GPS tracking and team tactics may capture the fascination of people but I would not apply them to this event.
I suspect that all of the scuttlebutt will eventually lead to a splintering of this splinter sect of cycling's small enduro mountain bike community. I just hope that the accelerated pace of change doesn't alter the purity of this solo, individual challenge before I can experience it.

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