|Chad Quigley, the dastardly mastermind behind Odin's Revenge, surveys his far-flung realm,|
the breadth and depth into which he dispatched willing subjects eager for adventure. (photo by Wally Kilburg)
Then the weather chips in. Mid-summer midwestern heat and humidity, whipped up by persistent, unbridled winds, extract every ounce of fluid from the body and dare you to think a positive thought. But you do, because that's what you do and because anything less dooms the day.
If, by some Norse god treachery, those powdery near-roads turn to mud, forget about riding and maybe forget about some of your expensive bike parts. Listen to any survivor of the 2014 Odin's Revenge, the infamous Mud Year. Here's one story, just a flashing moment of my 21 hour day that year. On a particularly steep, rutted, muddy descent, I actually slid down sideways. Yes, my bike was perpendicular to my direction of travel as I feebly maneuvered between wheel-gobbling ruts. Only the bottom of the hill stopped me. That kept the heart rate up.
The conditions vary from hero gravel to ghastly, and you never know how long a particular elixir or witches brew of conditions will last. The DSG crew change the course every year and divulge it only by paper cue sheets at the start and at a half way checkpoint, if you somehow survive to make it that far and on time. The mystery and eventual discovery of the route are all part of the allure. What form of beauty or beast, or both, lies in wait around the next bend or over the next rise?
More amazing than the Odin's Revenge race course, however, are the friendly folks behind it. Chad and Merrie Quigley, Matt Bergen, Bob Wieck, Garrett Olson, Kyle Vincent, Nate Bell and Paul Siebert. They envisioned, created and nurtured a unique, home-spun event for everyone to enjoy. They cater to the adventuresome spirit, with a focused guidance for everyone to share the experience with each other and to take care of each other, all in the context of an unsupported, remote road bicycle race. To put all that together, and keep it together, is a remarkable achievement.
People responded. They sure did, from all corners of the cycling world, from the fastest to the slowest, the expert to the novice. They ventured to a speck on the map of flyover country for Odin's Revenge. This eclectic assortment of certifiable bike geeks breathed life into the communal experience envisioned by the DSG crew. Together, everyone at Odin's Revenge demonstrated that a bike race can be more. So much more.
The vibe generated at Odin's Revenge reverberated throughout the gravel scene and through all those who were privileged to participate.
Experiences shared. Friendships forged. Relationships strengthened. Futures shaped.