Odin's Revenge is the brainchild of a motley group of local Gothenburg cyclists known as Team DSG, an acronym with a story for them to tell. The prior year, 28 cyclists embarked on an unmarked, unsupported course of 170 rough, hilly miles through remote backcountry in the heat of summer. Six finished. There's a challenge. And the vibe feels legit. Post card entry mailed.
Mid-afternoon Friday, I pull into the campground serving as the start/finish/gathering place and immediately see that the people here make the race special. The proprietors are immigrants from Great Britain, bringing a fun, friendly mix of sights, sounds and tastes of the British Isles to middle America. Even with their campground bustling with typical mid-summer tourists, Gwen and Barry cheerfully carve out some space to stage a Friday evening pre-race gathering, as well as a Start/Finish area. Off to a rousing start.
|Guitar Ted and Paul Siebert kick off the pre-race party at Odin's Revenge 2013. (photo by Odin's Revenge)
Wandering over to the pre-race meeting, we find an enthusiastic group gathering, with local musician Paul Siebert playing a variety of instruments and Mark Stevenson himself, Guitar Ted of TransIowa and Gravel Grinder News fame, joining in. Microbrews and other sports drinks flow, as folks meet and reconnect. Eventually, Chad Quigley and Matt Bergen of Team DSG describe the course, walk through opportunities for water and supplies, explain emergency and bail out procedures, identify check points, point out particular highlights and hazards, and answer questions. The evening is ripe with anticipation.
|Spinning into the hills at the start of Odin's Revenge 2013. (photo by Mark Stevenson)
There are no strangers in this peloton, only kindred spirits now connecting. I enjoy the company of many, but seem to leap frog repeatedly with Mark Stevenson, grizzled old timer of the gravel scene. He's the real deal. Even to this new comer, he is genuine, encouraging, open, and chatty to the point of loquacious. It's a real treat to share some early miles with him.
|Mark Stevenson pacing me up the final climb to Check Point 1 at Odin's Revenge 2013. (photo by Odin's Revenge)
|Up another dirt road at the 2013 Odin's Revenge. (photo by Mark Stevenson)
What an experience. I'll do this again.
Addendum. For a detailed race report on the 2013 Odin's Revenge, here are links to Mark Stevenson's five posts on his blog. GT-Odin 2013-1; GT-Odin 2013-2; GT-Odin 2013-3; GT-Odin 2013-4; GT-Odin 2013-5.