Podcast: Dead Man Gravel – Efforts Towards Diversity & the Financial Investment to Launch an Event

podcast dead man gravel race colorado

Our partner in podcasting, The Gravel Ride Podcast, sits down this week with Gavin Coombs from Dead Man Gravel. We get into the details of this new July event in Colorado including conversation about the events’ efforts towards diversity and the financial investment it takes to get an event off the ground.

Dead Man Gravel Website

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Automatic Transcription by The Gravel Ride (please excuse all errors)

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: [00:00:00] \Hello and welcome to the gravel ride

[00:00:03] podcast i’m your host craig dalton on this week’s episode,

[00:00:07]We have Gavin Coombs, one of the founders of the dead man gravel event in Nederland, Colorado.

[00:00:15]The event is scheduled to take place on July 31st, 2021. Our conversation ranges from diversity and inclusion. To the economics of event production. And obviously the ins and outs of dead man gravel. Before we begin. I’d like to apologize for about a minute of poor quality audio. In the last episode, I only learned it after the fact.

[00:00:39]From a listener. In the ridership. I appreciated that feedback, but thank you for bearing with me. I apologize for that. I’d also like to say a big thank you to those of you have supported the podcast via buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. In particular, those of you who have chosen the membership option.

[00:01:00] Having a consistent baseline level of support from you? The community means a ton to me, more and more. I’m having to move things around in my life. In order to hustle to get these episodes out the door. But knowing that you’re counting on me, puts a little fire in my belly. When I first started the podcast, my intention was to cover an equal mix of athletes.

[00:01:22] Product designers and event organizers.

[00:01:26]As the COVID pandemic took hold in 2020. [00:01:30] It largely took events out of the equation for the podcast last year. So I’m happy to be slowly bringing them back into the fold. I’m cautiously optimistic that in the latter half of 2021. We will see events safely going off with riders and organizers, both sharing.

[00:01:47] In the responsibility of safety. I have a ton of respect for advent organizers as you’ll hear in my conversation with gavin even with a modest event size it often can carry significant expenses associated with it i hope you’ll walk away from this episode with a little bit better understanding of what organizers go through in order to give us these experiences in the gravel community With all that said let’s dive right in to my discussion with gavin about dead man’s gravel. Gavin, welcome to the show.

[00:02:21]Gavin Coombs: [00:02:21] Thanks Craig. Excited to be here.

[00:02:22] Craig Dalton: [00:02:22] Yeah. I’m excited to talk to you about dead man. Gravel. It ticks a couple things that I really like about events.

[00:02:30] It’s got a funny name and it looks really hard and adventurous.

[00:02:36] Gavin Coombs: [00:02:36] Yeah, definitely. We wanted to be a really fun event. And, I think the area that we live in up here in the mountains is a pretty special place. And yeah, it’s going to be a great event. I think

[00:02:47] Craig Dalton: [00:02:47] Before we get into the event, let’s learn a little bit about you and your background as a cyclist.

[00:02:52] And after that, I’d love to learn a little bit more about what inspired you to create an event.

[00:03:00] [00:03:00] Gavin Coombs: [00:03:00] Yeah. In all, honestly, I am a new cyclist and I know lot of people pretty new to gravel riding. I was a professional trail runner for a number of years and would occasionally ride as like cross training.

[00:03:13]I’ve been riding a bike, for a really long time. But just never in any kind of like structured or organized way. But it was always a runner and in my leader, Career was like a trail and ultra runner. And what really drew me to that is just the ability to be able to get out into the mountains and explore and just see just everything that.

[00:03:31]That all has to offer. And then recently I ended my running career and then had a a skiing accident where I messed up my knee. Pretty good. And after a couple of surgeries, I’ve gotten more into cycling and just as a way to, to continue to do the things I loved about trail running I was able to do on a bike as well.

[00:03:50] And was that’s what really drew me to, to gravel cycling and in terms of starting an event I’ve been wanting to do something like that. I operate another business that runs dead, man gravel called peak-to-peak endurance. And we do like retreats and camps, and then wanting to get into the event world for a while now.

[00:04:08] And saw this as an opportunity to create an event where there wasn’t one here in Boulder County, Colorado, there are a few bike races not. A ton of gravel, specific ones, there’s a couple races or one race in the winter. That’s a little kind of gravel bike. And then but there’s not a lot of races in this [00:04:30] area.

[00:04:30] And so we saw an opportunity and kinda just threw ourselves into it and just went after it. That’s

[00:04:36] Craig Dalton: [00:04:36] awesome. So I want to go back to something you said about how gravel cycling is ticking some of those same feelings you might have had of adventure. W when you were doing your ultra marathoning, it’d be, if you drill into that a little bit, do you feel like it has similar elements in how you feel after doing a big adventurous workout?

[00:04:56] Gavin Coombs: [00:04:56] Absolutely. Yeah. The similarities, on the surface, there can it’s easy to see some similarities between, gravel and trail running. And then as I’ve just gotten more into the gravel community, the similarities are just incredible. Just. Based on the community, everyone’s like super welcoming and that’s what drew me to trail running initially from the roads.

[00:05:18] And like just the fact that everything’s just super chill and people just want to have fun and adventure and explore. And the same thing I’ve found the exact same thing with gravel riding and that, it was just a huge draw for me. And And you can still do the same things.

[00:05:32]Obviously you can’t ride a gravel bike everywhere you can run, but you can still get a lot of, to a lot of really incredible places and can get, go a lot further, it’s yeah. It’s one thing to go run 50 miles. It’d be completely trashed, but you can go out and ride 50 miles and, be able to see, just as much or a lot of different stuff in, not it doesn’t totally destroy your body and Yeah know, so there’s just a lot of similarities there.

[00:05:56] Craig Dalton: [00:05:56] I didn’t draw it connection until this moment about the ultra running [00:06:00] community and the gravel cycling community, but that’s so spot on, I think, sport to sport. There’s those elements that you described of once you started running off road, it just became this different thing. It wasn’t about running a six minute mile.

[00:06:14] It was about covering this amazing mountainous terrain by any means necessary. And sometimes that meant walking. Sometimes it meant running all the time. It meant getting dirty. Oftentimes it meant getting bloody. But it was, just really about getting out there. And obviously there’s so many similarities from road cycling to gravel, cycling where all of a sudden a light bulb goes off and roadies are discovering, getting dirty and getting out there on these mountain roads that are right there in their community can be so much more rewarding than the same road routes they’ve been doing forever.

[00:06:50] Gavin Coombs: [00:06:50] Totally. Yeah. And I think you’re definitely seeing that in the industry. Obviously gravel is exploding and in a lot of that’s driven by new people getting into cycling because it is more approachable. I feel like. But you see a ton of people going from the roads to gravel because, honestly I think.

[00:07:05] That being like a former road runner. I know how exhausting that world can be. Yeah. Just mentally and physically to come to a place that is just so much more laid back. And it’s not about, like you said, it’s not about hitting a specific time or pace. It’s just about. The overall adventure. And, I think people are really drawn to that,

[00:07:25] Craig Dalton: [00:07:25] Not to drill too much into the ultra community. and I certainly won’t profess to be an active [00:07:30] member of it, but I do remember in the ultras I’ve done, there was just a creativity in the wardrobe and attitude of all the athletes. I remember going to an event and, seeing like tie, dye, tall socks, and people running in Hawaiian shirts and it just immediately broke down.

[00:07:47] Any kind of performance anxiety, because it just felt like we’re there for an experience. And whether you’re, this amazing 60 year old runner with a long white beard or, a new athlete in their twenties, like everybody just wanted to be part of this experience in the wilderness. Totally.

[00:08:09] Yeah. And then gravel’s obviously the same way. And I love that about it. I love, I think it’s just this great reminder. Anytime I see someone wearing a Hawaiian shirt or doing something goofy on the bike that, we’re just out there acting like kids and just, triggering that element of our psyche.

[00:08:26] Gavin Coombs: [00:08:26] Absolutely. Yeah.  It’s just fun, and. Obviously there’s becoming as with anything the more popular it gets a level of professionalization that’s happening which has bound to happen. And I don’t think it’s bad for the sport because I think ultimately people are still the majority of people out there riding gravel and doing a lot of these events are just having fun with it.

[00:08:43]Like wearing jorts and like you said, like Hawaiian shirts and it’s just about having fun, and that’s the most important thing.

[00:08:49] Craig Dalton: [00:08:49] So that obviously plays a role in any event design, just to set the stage for everybody listening, who may not be familiar with Colorado.

[00:08:58] Can you just talk [00:09:00] about where the event is located and maybe a little bit about what the terrain looks like?

[00:09:06] Gavin Coombs: [00:09:06] Totally. Yeah. Generally we’re in the, what’s considered the front range of the Rocky mountains, which is the Eastern edge of the Rockies. And most people are at least familiar with Boulder.

[00:09:16]We are about 15 ish miles West of Boulder and about 3000 feet higher. The race. Is all at elevation starts about 8,200 feet. Never goes below 8,000 tops out at about 10,300 hundred feet. And so it’s hilly, there’s there’s, you’re up and down the whole time. There’s not really any flight section whatsoever, and that’s just kind of part of the geographic nature of where we live.

[00:09:41] It’s. It is mountainous. We’re at the base here at 8,000 feet. We’re at the base of a whole string of 12,000, 13,000 foot mountains. We see, right out our front door and that you get to look at pretty much the entire course, you get The views are just incredible.

[00:09:57] You never get up like about treeline or anything, but it’s just pretty incredible views. And but it’s not in terms of setting the like elevation and the altitude aside, it’s really not that much different than what you could find in gravel roads anywhere. Most of the roads are really well-maintained County roads.

[00:10:17] And the kind of our long course, which is about 66 miles is about 70% gravel. And so those are just really nice, normal dirt roads that, nothing special about there are a couple of County roads that are a little bit [00:10:30] further out that are a little bit Rocky.

[00:10:32]Some kind of like baby head kind of staff and but are easy to To maneuver through definitely it’s all very much gravel bike friendly. You certainly wouldn’t need a mountain bike or a hardtail mountain bike to do anything that, that th these courses offer

[00:10:46] Craig Dalton: [00:10:46] Do you think that terrain is going to be ultimately what, or the climbing is ultimately what breaks up this race?

[00:10:52] Is it the type of event that riders can likely stay together from a technical perspective, but ultimately it’s going to come down to horsepower.

[00:11:00] Gavin Coombs: [00:11:00] I think so. Yeah. There’s not really any sections where that are going to favor someone with more technical bike handling skills.

[00:11:07]Are like I was saying our, I guess we were considered like the premier race, the, we call it our tungsten course. Cause tungsten was a mineral that is, and it was mine out here. And it’s also. The hardest mineral that’s mined. And that’s what we’re calling our hardest course.

[00:11:20] And like I said, 66 miles with about 8,300 feet of climbing so pretty stout. And there are a few. Big climbs. And so I think that’s really ultimately, what’s going to end up separating people and who can adjust to the altitude to, coming someone coming from sea level is going to, have a little bit harder time.

[00:11:37] Craig Dalton: [00:11:37] Yeah. I was going to say it’s it’s always been one thing for me to be in Boulder at 5,000 feet coming up from sea level. But getting up to 8,000 feet is definitely, it definitely has a huge effect physiologically on me.

[00:11:50] Gavin Coombs: [00:11:50] Yeah. And it does honestly, with people From Boulder to, it’s the the effects of altitude are not like in a linear way.

[00:11:56] It’s ex it’s exponential. So like coming from Boulder to up to [00:12:00] here is about the same from going from sea level to Boulder. And for those who don’t know, Boulder sits about 50. Three 5,400 feet. But

[00:12:07] Craig Dalton: [00:12:07] yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. So that’s definitely going to play a role in it. Why don’t we look? Course, by course, and I think it’s, always like to tease out as an event organizer, how you thought about creating these routes and what type of challenge did you want to create with each route?

[00:12:25] Gavin Coombs: [00:12:25] Yeah. So we really set out when creating these routes when we wanted to keep it’s simple, we didn’t want to make it overly complicated with more turns than were necessary. And we wanted to highlight, some cool features. So one, we wanted to make sure we got some really Yeah, Epic views in there.

[00:12:41]Highlight a couple of the big climbs in the area. And then there’s just some cool historical stuff, there’s a ghost town that you go through that’s been abandoned for. Oh, I don’t know about a hundred years or so. And so there are just some cool historical features and some just interesting areas that we wanted to highlight.

[00:12:59]And so breaking it down by, we have. Breaking it down course. By course we have three course offerings. We call them our tungsten course, our gold course and our silver course which were all minerals, mined in this area. And the gold course and the tungsten course start and they share the same first 20 miles or so.

[00:13:18]And They both hit, that really big the first, really big, long climb. It’s about five miles with 1500 feet of climbing. That’s pretty Rocky. You need to, pay attention to pay attention when climbing it for sure. And then they [00:13:30] diverge in the tungsten course continues on and hits another big climb before coming back into town and doing another loop that all describe it a second, but, and then the gold course continues on, in a different direction, which stays on the road a little bit more.

[00:13:43] So the gold course, if someone’s coming in and wanted more of a like a bit more, maybe coming from road background or, is not Feeling like super strong at altitude or something. The gold course is a really good option just because it does have a little bit more pavement to it.

[00:13:57]Takes out one major climb. And so that’s at 40 miles with just under 5,000 feet of climbing. Yeah, there’s just a little bit more approachable. And then we have our will, we’re really pushing as like our, or really beginner friendly course. And I think we’ll get to this a little bit later, but the.

[00:14:12]We wanted to have a course that was really approachable to anyone who maybe had just an interesting gravel if they had never done a race before. And it’s about, it’s just about 20 miles. Just just over 2000 feet of climbing. So it’s still a challenge, but it’s about 50, 50 pavement to road pavement to gravel.

[00:14:31] And so it’s just a much more approachable. Approachable kind of course. There’s no technical sections. You could probably do it on a road bike and be just fine. Tire size and selection, isn’t that big of a deal. And I’m sure we’ll even have probably some people do it on a mountain bike and that’s great too.

[00:14:46]It was just a really Beginner friendly course, to get your feet wet with some gravel riding.

[00:14:51] Craig Dalton: [00:14:51] Yeah, I think it’s so important. You want people to be able to hop into a course and get the thrill and invigoration of being out there in the [00:15:00] woods and get the feel and sense of gravel without putting them in a situation where.

[00:15:05]They’re going to come home crying because it was a horrible, too difficult experience. And, I think it’s great when race organizers are able to embrace that and be inviting into the community.

[00:15:15] Gavin Coombs: [00:15:15] Yeah, totally. And, we’ve scaled back and we may end up doing, in and then next year, or, maybe a following year, more like an adventure style race where, it gets.

[00:15:24] It gets pretty gnarly and really pushes your bike to the limit. We didn’t want to do that this year just because we wanted everyone to come away from this race, having a really good experienced that’s one reason why, like all of our courses have a downhill finish. They all start and finish in the same spot, which is right in the town of Nederland.

[00:15:38]But so they all have a downhill finish, which we felt like. No one wants to finish a hard race on an uphill climb. And we made sure that, the last few miles are going to be really fun. And so it kinda end with, that, that good feeling, and at the front of your mind.

[00:15:52] And and so we did we authored the courses quite a bit before we ended up on a final final course. And we just wanted to make sure that, regardless of which course you choose. You’re not going to walk away from it with any bad feelings. Obviously there’s always the chance you could wreck or, flat out a bunch of times and, we have hopefully the support for that, but we want everyone to have a good time with it.

[00:16:12] Craig Dalton: [00:16:12] It sounds like there’s a solid chance. We’ll all be gasping for air, but besides that it’ll be a lot,

[00:16:16]Gavin Coombs: [00:16:16] definitely. Yes, for sure. Everyone will be struggling for air at one point or another.

[00:16:22] Craig Dalton: [00:16:22] You’ve also put a stake in the ground about your desire to be super inclusive for the race. Do you want to talk about that [00:16:30] kind of value and what it means to you?

[00:16:32] Gavin Coombs: [00:16:32] Absolutely. Obviously, and I feel like there’s slowly but surely beginning to be a change in the general cycling world. And I think he’s see that very specifically in the gravel world. And we, me as the race director and also the team that I have around me recognize that we have a certain level of.

[00:16:52] Of privileged that we can, just decide to start an event like this. And that we have a certain platform that comes with that. And so from the very beginning I wanted to use that platform that we have to try to lift other people up and and not exclude anybody, we don’t want we don’t want our race.

[00:17:12] To be a part of the problem that is the kind of homogenous. And typically at least on the surface appears to be, exclusionary world of that road cycling has that connotation too. Yeah. Yeah. No, I’m not, I guess I certainly would not make that broad statement to everyone who rode rides on the roads or anyone who rides a bike is just a middle-aged white man that doesn’t care about anybody else.

[00:17:35] But but there is that sort of that perception in the world of cycling and so we wanted to be very conscious of that and do what we can in our own small way, realizing that we’re not a huge race and we’re not going to have, Just, hopefully we’ll have a big impact in our local community.

[00:17:51]Colorado is not exactly known as the most diverse place in the world and but we want to do what we can to help other people Experienced [00:18:00] new things, find a new passion have a chance to express that passion that they have. And and so we felt this is a perfect kind of vehicle to be able to do that with.

[00:18:08] Craig Dalton: [00:18:08] Are you, if you, are you making any sort of adjustments in the way, the number of slots that are available for particular gender?

[00:18:15]Gavin Coombs: [00:18:15] Yeah, so we are. First off, the one thing that we’re doing, which is just an easy, thing that we felt like we could do right away is our first week of registration is going to be open for people who identify as female or by Bach.

[00:18:29] And That is just one way. So like they get first dibs on all the spots and so if it sells out in that first week and all of our women, all of our writers are women or athletes of color that then that’s great. And so we didn’t, we don’t necessarily have a set number of spots set aside, but we are trying to create opportunity where If you want to be able to register, you should have hopefully that time to be able to do we are, I guess I shouldn’t say we aren’t setting aside any spots because we are also partnering with a couple of organizations. One of which is an organization based here in Denver called ride for racial justice. And we have a number of Athletes from them that are coming, that we’ve committed to and helping provide resources for to get to get them to come to our race and just be able to participate in something like this.

[00:19:11] And there’s that, and we’re working with a couple of local, like women’s teams to provide spots for. And we really just want to create. A space where people feel welcome and are able to to join, if they still want.

[00:19:25] Craig Dalton: [00:19:25] Yeah. I think it’s just important to model that I often find myself lacking [00:19:30] the right words.

[00:19:31] I have the sentiment and the feeling, but I often find that I struggle with how to make the sport more inclusive, but it all starts with efforts like this, where you’re just opening your arms and saying, Hey, we can’t solve a lot of the problems that make cycling a difficult sport to get into.

[00:19:47] I E like affording equipment, et cetera. But what we can do is say, if you can get over that hurdle in some way, Everybody’s welcome.

[00:19:56] Gavin Coombs: [00:19:56] Yeah, definitely. And that’s part of the reason too. Why lie? We wanted to. We’re trying to set up our race and the feel of our race, and try to toe that line between like just recognize yes, they were high level professional athletes that were probably be at our race and that’s great.

[00:20:10] And we want to encourage that and we think that’s good for the sport, but we also want to be able to create a space where people can just come and have fun and enjoy their time out in the mountains, push themselves and challenge themselves. But they can also do it on. Whatever bike they don’t need, a $6,000 gravel bike.

[00:20:27]They can come on, there are some bikes we would probably discourage, but you don’t need to gravel specific bike and necessarily and we don’t want it to, we wanted to create just the whole event, have a feel of. It was just open and welcoming to whoever wanted to come and do it.

[00:20:41] Craig Dalton: [00:20:41] Yeah. It’s important to just with gravel ride, what you’ve got, find out if that sport is something you’re interested in. If you have an old mountain bike or even a road bike, you may have some issues here and there, but just go for it. The community and the infrastructure of these events are going to try to support you with whatever bike you show up on.

[00:20:57] Gavin Coombs: [00:20:57] Totally. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:21:00] [00:20:59] Craig Dalton: [00:20:59] So the other big issue with an event, your events, July 31st, 2021 is obviously COVID safety. We don’t know where we’re going to be as a society or where Colorado is going to be as a state. At that point, obviously things are trending in the right direction and I probably wouldn’t have had this conversation if your event was in.

[00:21:20] June, or certainly may, because I really have strong concerns that those events just aren’t going to be in the best interests of our country. But why don’t you talk about how you’re going to approach COVID safety and what it’s going to be like during the race?

[00:21:34] Gavin Coombs: [00:21:34] Yeah, absolutely. So that is obviously our number one concern.

[00:21:38]We wouldn’t in your you’re, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if our race was any earlier, we. We feel like we’re going to be, we’re positioned that to be in a really good space. I think in terms of vaccinations, just on a national level we’re really optimistic that things are looking are trending in the right direction, at least.

[00:21:57]And so we feel good about it. We are very confident that our event is going to go off in person. And that, it’s going to resemble. A quote unquote, normal bike race. Now that being said, there are certainly going to be some changes. There are a lot of local restrictions that we have to abide by.

[00:22:18]Probably the biggest one is just going to be limiting the size of the event based on the town that we’re in and the, just the general area. We’re never going to be, several thousand people we don’t have that desire to have, a [00:22:30] 3000 person race. But I think we will be probably limited a little bit more and the numbers that we’re going to be able to have and, the powers that be aren’t even giving me a number yet.

[00:22:39] So I don’t know exactly what that, that. Final number is going to be a registered, but so that’s going to be the number one thing is just going to be, it’s going to be a smaller event. We’re not going to have a mass start, so it’s not going to be all two or 300 people or whatever.

[00:22:52]On the start line at once, we’re probably going to be starting in waves rolling out waves every minute or two for probably a couple of hours, honestly. Everyone will be required to wear a face mask which, makes sense. Unfortunately, if they feel like most people are used to now and not during the race, but while they’re at the start finish area at aid stations when you’re, in line for the port-a-potties or whatever, like you have to have a face mask on.

[00:23:15]And fortunately we don’t have to require that while riding which is a big plus and so that’s a pretty common thing. And then and we’re going to be doing all this social distancing stuff and having, hand sanitizing stations and, a ton of porta-potties that we’ll be rotating through.

[00:23:28] So there they stay clean and just even for, we think we’re still going to be able to have like our vendors and sponsors have tents set up we’re going to have a one-way traffic flow and, in. Yeah, Mark. And that’s six foot social distancing, kind of guidance.

[00:23:41] And so we still feel like, because we’re because of the timing we’re going to have, it’s going to resemble, a typical bike race with kind of the same stuff that people are getting used to now, at least with the face masks and the hand sanitizing and, keeping your distance from each other.

[00:23:54] Craig Dalton: [00:23:54] Yeah. I think that makes sense. A lot of times when I talked to race organizers, I’m sympathetic because a lot of the [00:24:00] responsibility actually is down to the writers because you can set the stage. You can provide all the materials and hand sanitizer stations and rules, but writers really need to take to heart that if we’re going to continue to have these events, we just need to be buttoned up.

[00:24:15] When we’re in the start finish area, we need to take. Maybe be overly precautious, just to make sure that events can be successful and are pointed to as, a super spreader event. God forbid.

[00:24:28] Gavin Coombs: [00:24:28] Yeah, definitely. And, like just start finished areas as clearly the easiest example of what’s going to feel a little bit different.

[00:24:36] And so ours will look like we’ll have, cones on the ground that are spaced six feet front and back and side to side. And you got to stay at your cone with your mask on. And then we’re gonna, shuffle people from, One group will go off and then we’ll move that the next group up.

[00:24:48] And so it’ll be, logistically it’s not super easy and it’s going to feel a little weird probably for most of the writers but it’s something I think that it’s worth it. I think, people are excited to get back out there. Yeah, we’ve seen that with other events and  Steamboat gravel is sold out in two hours in lie.

[00:25:04]People are excited to get back out and, participate in these events again.

[00:25:08] Craig Dalton: [00:25:08] And yeah  at the end of the day, I think the start line experience is such a minimal part of the overall day. I will say, I think we are all missing that finish line, have a beer and taco kind of experience that.

[00:25:22] Yeah. Yeah. It’ll be back. It may be different this go around, I think we’ll get there and hopefully sooner rather than later.

[00:25:30] [00:25:29] Gavin Coombs: [00:25:29] Yeah. We’re still have. Some festivities, most of our post race activities will take place actually at a brewery in town. That’s separate from the start finish area.

[00:25:39] And that it will still be all outside and plenty of space, at that specific location. And unfortunately you’re right. Like we’re not going to be able to, to. Even, we still haven’t even fully decided what an award ceremony is going to look like.

[00:25:52] And just because we can’t really have people gathering and that makes sense. Yeah. So some of those logistics are still, we’re still waiting to hear, to get some more guidance and, there’s even different guidance from County to County and, we’re just Trying to figure all that out with everybody else.

[00:26:05] Everyone’s trying to figure it all out.

[00:26:07] Craig Dalton: [00:26:07] Yeah. And then it definitely. So just so that when we send this out to your registration, registered riders, they get a little bit more detail on equipment. Can you drill into it? You’ve you mentioned it a little bit, that you felt like some of the sections could require, a pretty lightweight gravel bike, but others are more intense.

[00:26:25] Where do you find the sweet spot would be for tire size, for example?

[00:26:30] Gavin Coombs: [00:26:30] Yeah. We definitely have some of that drilled into a little bit on our website. So anyone who wants to check out Dedman gravel, we do have some equipment recommended. We strongly disagree, courage like a gravel slick.

[00:26:42]I think you got to have something with some tread on it is definitely going to be beneficial. We’re recommending A minimum tire width of about 35 which is certainly on the small end of gravel tires, nowadays. And that would be, I know people who have written parts of our course with a tire size like that.

[00:26:58]And it’s not always the most [00:27:00] comfortable, obviously the bigger tire you have, the more comfortable a ride you’re going to have. And like we talked a little bit about before it’s not. This is not like an all-out speed kind of race. Having it better, having a little bit larger tire, that’s going to give you a little bit better traction and stability and some, some little rougher areas.

[00:27:19] It’s probably going to be beneficial. Even if you lose a tiny bit of, top end speed, because you, there, aren’t going to be many sections where we will have a lot of top end speed. And just having something a little bit bigger is probably better. We’re not going to be out there measuring tire sizes.

[00:27:34] And if you choose to run yeah. 35 something smaller than a 35 a slick kind of road tire and you flat five times, like that’s on you, we want you to be safe and be smart about it. But we’re not going to also can’t really be out logistically.

[00:27:48] Can’t really be out there policing everyone’s tired choices.

[00:27:51] Craig Dalton: [00:27:51] Yeah. Not at all. There’s guaranteed to be some good ones and some bad ones. Now, in talking to you, it sounds like when you started this event, you had a multi-year horizon and vision for the event. I know for a lot of listeners and people have pinged me on just understanding as a, kind of a, someone who created an event financially, how much do you need to put on the line to get an event off the ground?

[00:28:17] Gavin Coombs: [00:28:17] Yeah. So that’s a great question. And that can, that varies. To a huge degree. And it really, I think ultimately you got to start with what type of event do you want to have? So are you looking [00:28:30] more at a grassroots local sort of just fun event or are you looking to put on like a, world-class like.

[00:28:37] Big time event and super professional or whatever because there’s probably, a hundred thousand dollar difference in there. And yeah we’re a little bit in the middle, we want to certainly have that hometown feel, but also put on a really high level event to give everyone, an idea and to be totally transparent our budget’s going to be around $50,000 which is not like.

[00:28:57]No, certainly I don’t want just have $50,000 laying around myself. There’s been some financial commitment from us personally to get the ball rolling and so we feel like and from what I’ve heard from other race directors that I’ve talked to, you could probably bet on somewhere between 40,000 and $60,000 as like a for a small to medium-size event.

[00:29:18]It would be about what your budget is.

[00:29:21] Craig Dalton: [00:29:21] And do you, and is there a vision as a race organizer that, perhaps it’s obviously not year one, but over time that you can break even with event registration fees, et cetera.

[00:29:32] Gavin Coombs: [00:29:32] Yeah. So certainly, it’s a fine balance of. We wanted to price our event in a way that was not exclusionary for anyone.

[00:29:41]But obviously we still have to cover our costs in order to continue to be an event. And so we, we feel like we struck a pretty good balance between, sponsorships that we were able to bring in. Plus registration fees that we are, we’re expecting. And as of now, I can say we’re looking pretty good and at least [00:30:00] staying in the black a little bit for our first year, which can, which I know is hard for a lot of first year events than so I feel like because of that, I feel like we’ve struck a good balance between registration fee prices and sponsorship dollars that we were able to bring in.

[00:30:14] And obviously the better we do, the better event we can put on next year and,  continues to build on itself.

[00:30:19] Craig Dalton: [00:30:19] Yeah, I appreciate, I appreciate you being transparent on that because I, putting some real numbers against it, it starts to make a lot of sense. I think for athletes coming in right.

[00:30:26] It’s pretty easy. And I haven’t looked at what your event registration fees are, but just for simple math, if it’s a hundred dollars registration fee and you have 300 riders, you can then generate $30,000, which still hasn’t taken care of all the expenses, so to speak for the event.

[00:30:42] And that’s maybe at the outside, that might be hard for a rider to recognize, like how much is actually on the line to put off a great event.

[00:30:51] Gavin Coombs: [00:30:51] Yeah, absolutely. And, you definitely you’re a hundred percent, and it is hard. It’s obviously sponsorship dollars come into play in that and help make up that difference.

[00:30:59]And and it’s not, we’re not really making a lot of money, no one at least at races, like our size, no, one’s like getting rich off of this, we’re doing it because one, we love it. I love doing this stuff. It’s super stressful. It takes up a ton of time and work, but we love it.

[00:31:13] And so that’s why we’re doing it. But almost all of our money goes to Paine police officers to be out on the course and providing food for the athletes. And there’s a lot of things that cost a fair bit of money.  And so it’s not that like we’re making a ton of money on it?

[00:31:28] Craig Dalton: [00:31:28] No, exactly. Like I imagine [00:31:30] when you chop up that hundred dollar entry fee, and again that’s just my made up number. You’re talking about 85, 90% of that likely going to just overhead costs that have already been spent and day of event, experiential things like, food and safety things like the police officers.

[00:31:47]Gavin Coombs: [00:31:47] Yeah, totally. The margins are pretty low. And it does, and we want to put on a good event and so we want to make sure everyone’s having fun and and all of that, but, we also don’t want our entry fees and just so you know, you’re so our. Our long course that are 60 mile course is is a hundred dollars starting off with, for registration.

[00:32:05] And then our gold course, which is like a medium distance is 80. And then the short course is 35. And so we try to keep our. Yeah, price is reasonable and approachable. While still being able to, cover the bills. And that’s why I think too, when you know, so many races being canceled and obviously certainly no one anticipated COVID just decimating the race season.

[00:32:26] And I it’s I’ve certainly gathered a new appreciation for race directors, like not being able to give back a hundred percent of the money, cause so much money is spent upfront that, most of your registration fee is already spent, months before the race.

[00:32:39] And so it is hard for, especially for a new or small race, we rely on those, that money each year. We don’t have a huge, war, chest of money sitting around that we can survive another year without.

[00:32:51] Craig Dalton: [00:32:51] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You wouldn’t fall to any event organizer who lost a ton of money in 2020 for not [00:33:00] wanting to get back in the game.

[00:33:01] So I, I think it’s always been part of my mission at the gravel ride podcast to interview race and event organizers, because I think. You guys are definitely putting yourselves on the line every year to put these events, whether it’s financially, emotionally, and certainly all your time and dedication that it’s important for athletes to understand and just give a socially distance high five to the next event organizer you get in front of them.

[00:33:26] Gavin Coombs: [00:33:26] Totally. Yeah. And it’s actually, I feel like driven more of a comradery even between, event organizers is, there’s, I know there’s a couple of groups of, some events that are really large in Colorado that are working together to even help, lobby the state in their local municipalities to like, let’s get some clear coverage on this and so everyone’s trying to, everyone’s trying to work together because ultimately, people realize that.

[00:33:47]If we can work together as race directors and not as competitors necessarily, then you know, it’s going to be better for everyone.

[00:33:53] Craig Dalton: [00:33:53] Yeah. And at a statewide level, just being able to provide economic opportunity for these rural communities, I think is a very noble and important thing to be doing.

[00:34:03] Gavin Coombs: [00:34:03] Yeah, absolutely.

[00:34:05] Craig Dalton: [00:34:05] Yeah. Gavin, thank you so much for giving the overview of dead man. Gravel I’ll have links to the event and your social media handles in the show notes. And it sounds exciting. I can’t wait to continue following it.

[00:34:17] Gavin Coombs: [00:34:17] Yeah, thank you for having me and for giving us the opportunity to share about our race.

[00:34:22] Craig Dalton: [00:34:22] My pleasure.

[00:34:22]Big, thanks to Gavin for joining the show this week.

[00:34:26]I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the [00:34:30] dead man gravel event. And in particular, I hope you walked away with a little bit better understanding about both the time and financial commitment. These event organizers have to go through in order to bring you to these types of events. Next time you get in front of an event, organizer, give them a high five.

[00:34:48] Let them know that in addition to paying for the event. You really recognize the amount of effort they put in

[00:34:55] Because for most organizers, these clearly aren’t big money-making events.

[00:35:00]So that’s it for this week’s episode of the podcast. I appreciate you joining us. If you’re a new listener. Welcome. If you’re a frequent listener thank you it’s great to be part of your life each week If you’re not already a subscriber please go ahead and hit the subscribe button that’s a big deal for us in the podcast community as it’s really a big signal that what we’re doing is taking hold.

[00:35:24] Until next time here’s to finding some dirt onto your wheels.

Craig
The Gravel Ride Podcast