Rooted Vermont: A Brand-Spankin' New Gravel Race... fit for Kings
It was only a matter of time. I knew that Laura and Ted would want to create a gravel race after they moved to Vermont and what they have planned so far sounds amazing. The dirt roads winding south from Richmond are out of this world and there’s no doubt in my mind that this event will be a success. Mark those calendars, folks! Below are some questions I asked Laura King in anticipation of registration opening:
How long has hosting an event been on your mind? Will this be your first experience promoting a gravel race? And who is taking on the brunt of the organization, you or Ted?
The idea to host an event has been percolating as soon as we found a sense of “home” in Vermont having moved here last summer. The initial spark came when we received a lot of messages from the cycling community asking when we were going to create a gravel event. We took months to really think it through and knew that if we made the commitment, we’d pour our full effort into making it the best kind of race we could imagine. Having had the opportunity to travel to many events and races around the country we pulled the elements that excite us the most and that would be the most real to us.
On top of that, I’ve had a desire to create something from scratch. With event and marketing experience throughout my career in the bike/outdoor industry to my current consulting work where I facilitate cycling events, I think spearheading this project is a natural extension of my skill set. Most importantly though, Ted and I are genuinely passionate about the sport, the community and bringing people together.
Is it a race or a ride? What will the ride format look like?
All participants will don a number, so yes, it will be a competitive event whether you’re racing your fellow riders or racing your own limits. To illustrate that, we've created our "mullet protocol" illustration: business in the front, party in the back. We see it as a race to the after-party which will epitomize a summer New England celebration. There will be authentic Vermont prizes, but no prize purse. Our slogan, “return to gravel” is a reminder of the roots feel that has drawn us to this type of racing. We want to see gravel flourish but maintain its grassroots feel.
Rooted Vermont. It’s a cool name. What’s your inspiration behind the event name?
Rooted Vermont came about as we kept searching for the right word to describe the feeling that life in Vermont has brought us. Yes, Vermont is an outdoor lover’s playground, especially for cyclists, but it was the community who made us feel so welcome: a feeling of connectedness or rootedness.
Vermont espouses a “the way things used to be” vibe. While the cell reception may be challenging at times, the slower pace of life, a high regard for neighbor helping neighbor and the value of hard work and play has been refreshing. Our life can be fast-paced with a taxing travel schedule, but returning home offers such an immediate sense of relief and overall calm.
What is the course like? Can you give us a sneak peek?
We’ll definitely keep it spicy! For a state with more dirt roads than paved, we’d be foolish not to have a huge variety of terrain. From Class 4 to fully buffed gravel highways, with a few spurts of pavement linking it together, Rooted will have as much challenging terrain as it offers a scenic reward.
The course shows off two important aspects to our lives: Richmond, our hometown as well the birthplace of UnTapped Maple and Slopeside Syrup. It then travels south to Ripton where Ted found cycling while in college at Middlebury.
What would you say is the ideal bike setup for your ride? Give us some specifics...
We say “run whatcha brung” because… yeaabikes! The mix of speed, comfort, and agility lets you opt for a few different combinations. Tubeless 30c tires and disc brakes on a road bike could be possible, but you might enjoy the ride a bit more aboard a ‘cross or gravel bike paired with 40c tires with a bit of knobs. Whatever you decide, there’ll be advantages in different sections throughout the course.
What are your long term goals for the event?
A portion of the proceeds from this ride will go to Cochrans Ski Area; new beginner mountain bike trails are being built there this summer! Cochrans already boasts a vast network of single-track, but their mission goes beyond just hosting recreation. Their motto is “to provide area youth and families with affordable skiing and snowboarding, lessons and race training, in the Cochran tradition” and this extends to two wheels as they further develop the land for kids of all ages.
With that, our long term goals are to support efforts that encourage more kids and more women to ride bikes.
We've already begun a weekly women's gravel ride out of Cochran's Ski Area to encourage women on dirt. We have some plans for clinics in the future as well. Putting this ride out to the public has resulted in a flood of women reaching out offering ideas and ways they can help and offering to lead these clinics and rides. Amazing.
Plans for the post-race party?
Vermont in the summer is the definition of down-home goodness. We’re highlighting the best elements: the best food, the best beer, and definitely the best maple creemees. Live music, a swimming hole option, there’ll be plenty more fun and surprises in store.
When will registration open and where can people find out more info?
Registration opens 4/1, and it’ll be a limited field for our inaugural year — Head to www.rootedvermont.com for all the details.
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