From 2012-2016, Odin's Revenge threw down an annual 180 mile remote road bicycle race that captured the very essence of the storied midwestern gravel scene. For those magical five years, self-supported cyclists braved a beautiful, mysterious course on primo rolling gravel connected by deeply rutted, washed out, powdered dirt near-roads into steep ravines. Mid-summer midwestern heat and humidity, whipped up by persistent, unbridled wind, piled on. It was a brutal race, just brutal.
Team DSG, a small group of local cyclists, envisioned, created, and nurtured this unique event for 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, was remarkable.
|Chad Quigley, Race Director for Odin's Revenge, surveys his domain.|
(photo by Wally Kilburg)
A very few, very fortunate cyclists found their way to the Odin's Revenge starting line near the small town of Gothenberg, Nebraska and only a very few of those found their way to the finish. For example, 28 started and 6 finished in the first race in 2012, while 25 started and 10 finished in the final race in 2016. It was that kind of event.
I loved Odin's Revenge, the people who made it happen, and the people drawn to it. But it was hard. I cranked, pushed, and dragged my bike almost sixty-eight hours of official race time to reach four finish lines. That left a mark. So, when Team DSG announced the end of Odin's Revenge, this grateful cyclist wrote a retrospective. When that just didn't seem enough, I wrote a post for each of the five races, with official results, links to all the race reports and pictures I could find, and my race reports. Here they are.
The vibe generated at Odin's Revenge reverberated throughout the gravel scene and through all those privileged to participate.
Experiences shared. Friendships forged. Futures shaped.
Those endure. Thank you.
If not me, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?
I posted last month on the end of Odin's Revenge, but it just doesn't seem enough. That was a special event, created and nurtured by special people. It deserves more.
Here's this rider's take on the inaugural Odin's Revenge in 2012. Although I wasn't even there, it made a lasting impression.
This week's Ode to Odin's Revenge harkens to 2013, its second year.
The strophe reveals a "Rest of the Story" tale of my fortuitous encounter with some precocious kids walking their fancy geared bikes up a little hill.
The epode features a link to a photo album by renowned gravel photographer Scott "JackRabbit" Redd and a retrospective post by me, followed by the official race results.
Go Forth and Ride!
The Mud Year. Ah, man. The Mud Year.
Twenty-seven intrepid souls plunge into the murky depths of a particularly treacherous Odin's Revenge in 2014. Practically unrideable gravel. Practically unwalkable dirt. All who weathered the 2014 Odin's Revenge carry whispered tales of that day.
This post links race reports by overall winner Sarah Cooper, gravel guru Mark Stevenson and Colorado frame builder Mark Pfister, photo albums by Odin's Revenge, gravel photojournalist Scott Redd and Odin's veteran Kevin Fox, a local newspaper interview of head honcho Chad Quigley, a video by Ryan Trullinger, my race report and the official race results.
That's a lot. But all that barely begins the story of the Mud Year.
One year post Mud Year, almost half the starting field return in 2015 to challenge Odin's Revenge, come what may. About two dozen new pilgrims experience it first hand.
Alas, the legendary rains do not fall. The gravel roads are hard and fast, unless of course they are soft and slow. But at least they aren't wet, sloppy peanut butter. The dirt roads, on the other hand, remain non-maintained, so last year's rains live on in erratic, deep channels eroded into every incline. It's a whole new ball game.
The race could not be more different from the Mud Year. Yet its core remains the same. The hills, the heat, the winds, the distance. The scenery, the solitude, the vibe. And especially the people. Odin's Revenge lives on.
Back in the saddle at Odin's Revenge. 180 miles of the toughest gravel and dirt roads winding through the rolling hills and steep ravines of remote ranch country in central Nebraska.
Relishing a return for the fourth time, this year I carry the unfamiliar weight of a DNF ("did not finish") from the 210 mile Gold Rush Mother Lode, just two weeks ago. In addition to the emotional baggage, I know there's a physical one, as well. I still have not recovered from the heat of the Mother Lode. Not sure Odin's Revenge is the place to do that.
Seductive whispers to drop down to the 60 mile "short course" creep into my thoughts during the six hour drive. Such a decision would be easy to rationalize, but hard to live with. I know, when it comes right down to it, I'm all-in for the full 180 mile course. #OdinsRevenge2016
Had I known that 2016 would be the final Odin's Revenge, would I have done anything differently? I don't know.
I just hope that Team DSG know how much their service to the cycling community is appreciated by those privileged to participate. And I hope that others understand the impact of such an event on those who experience it and, by extension, on the gravel scene itself.
This post republishes Team DSG's reports of the 2012 Odin's Revenge, which show the love poured into this event. And the collection of photographs show the fun they had doing it. It also links my 2015 Thanksgiving post entitled "Thankful for Volunteers," inspired by Team DSG.