The #BTriders Crush Almanzo




The #BTriders Crush Almanzo

Posted By: Ben McCoy
Posted In: BT Cycling Club

#BTriders at Almanzo imageWe’re proud to report that of the 14 Bicycle Theory Cycling Club riders that started the Almanzo 100 or The Royal 162 this past Saturday, 12 of them successfully crossed the finish line. And at least one of them – “Buffalo” Dave Knox – recorded a personal best century, completing the 100 in approximately 6 hours and 45 minutes – which is even more remarkable considering that (1) it was on gravel and (2) it included over 6,500 feet of climbing.


The Experience

With good reason, Almanzo defines and inspires the burgeoning gravel scene. Still free, it attracted over 1,500 riders to participate in 3 bike races – the Almanzo 100, The Royal 162, and the Alexander (380 miles across 3 states). So just participating felt awesome – and a bit nerve racking.

Sleep was allusive the night before, but when the morning came, I peeled back the curtains of our hotel room to see bright, glorious sunshine. For those that know Almanzo’s weather history over the past few years, we totally lucked out – 60s in the, 80s by late afternoon, and low humidity. Jackpot.

The hallways of our hotel were quickly a buzz with bikes and riders getting ready for the big day. As we tried to fill our nervous stomachs with food and Peace Coffee cold press, we double and triple-checked our bags to make sure we didn’t forget anything.

As the clock ticked 8, we packed up the car and headed to the parking lot to meet up with some other #BTriders, un-rack our bikes, load them up with gear, and ride off to the start. We then found the rest of our group rocking their new Podiumwear jerseys near the Penn Cycle tent, threw some love fives with the Banjo Brothers, took some pictures of our Speedhound bikes, and made our way to starting line.


Race Summary

After some moving race announcements and the singing Happy Birthday to the race organizer’s son, the clock struck 9 and we were off.

It was all smiles and excitement off the start, just as it always is. But 100+ miles of gravel will beat the giggles out of you and it wasn’t long before some of the biggest hills most of us had ever climbed were upon us.

Now, we’re not talking about one or two monster hills at the end. These bad boys could be found all throughout the course. In fact, some of them were so tall, steep, long, and winding that it was faster to walk up than ride – especially on weary legs.

Additionally, we all go to participate in some Cyclocross-style river crossings due to road construction. In fact, one of them ended up warranting an additional detour after the water became too deep and the current too strong to safely carry a bike across.

It may sound like I’m complaining about killer hills and river fording might sound horrible; but I am not. They were amazing. And suffering is good for the soul.

The summit views overlooking the hills and valleys of Southeaster Minnesota were breathtaking. The screaming speeds you could achieve on the descents would leave your knuckles white, but put a huge smile on your face. And nothing feels better on a warm, dusty gravel road than cool, wet feet.

Plus, when you spend that much time on a bike, you’re bound to play leapfrog with other people going your own speed and make some new friends along the way.

And after slugging through 100+ miles of gravel, the feeling of rejuvenated spirits and the small rush of adrenaline you receive from simply crossing the finish line to the cheers of other cyclists, family members, and friends was all the reward you could want or ask for.

Ok, maybe not all the reward you could ask for. What the Pizza Ranch in Stewartville lacks in quality, they make up for in quantity!


Thank You

Thank you to Chris Skogen for his vision and his method. In the growing age of “presented by” events, the amount of time, money, and personal being that you’ve invested to share that vision with others – at no cost to them – is astounding.

Thank you to all of the Almanzo volunteers that make Chris’ vision possible. It may be a cliché, but none of it could happen without your time and attention.

Thank you to the sponsors for helping to keep Almanzo free. Your time and financial contributions are invaluable.

Thank you to the city of Spring Valley for your hospitality. You have a nice little home on the prairie.

A personal thanks to my fellow #BTriders. You guys blew me (and others) away with your great spirits and really hard work. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m totally inspired by you all.

Finally, thank you to our kind and generous Bicycle Theory Cycling Club sponsors. Your support has been huge and we look forward to representing you again at The Westside Dirty Benjamin.

And now beers.



Bicycle Theory is a brand marketing company located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN. Bicycle Theory provides strategic and tactical brand marketing services, including Web design and development, Internet marketing, brand strategy, and identity building.

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