By : Michael McColgan
Once a year, two really cool cats, Scott Redd and Pell DuVall, organize a night gravel get together called the GONG Ride(Greater Omaha Night Gravel) Ride. This is an event that makes everybody remember it’s just fun to get together and ride. No trophies, no entry fees, just go explore some gravel under the light of the moon and maybe help support the local barley pop economy.
Meeting up at a park just outside Omaha, the guys remind everyone that if you drove here, you better be parked outside the park, since it gets locked up at sunset, so park somewhere else or be ready for a nap by the side of the road til the park opens up. As people roll in, they check in and bang the gong, because Scott and Pell realized there’s no point in having a cool acronym if you don’t have an actual gong.
Heading out onto the gravel you’ve got a few miles to decide if you want to do the full 50 or the 25. The course is marked with stakes that have a reflective gong sticker posted on the side of the road indicating where to turn. If it’s on the left, turn left; on the right, turn right. The only thing to remember was if you’re doing the 25 you had to make a slight detour to get to the bar, and that’s a turn we would not miss.
Now gravel might not be what some people consider fatbike/plusbike territory. Personally I love the comfort the 29+ tires on the Krampus give me on gravel, and I like the idea of having a bike that I can truly explore on. Mi amigo Dale is even more utilitarian than I and likes a bike that can do it all, which is why he decided to roll out on the Ice Cream Truck. Soft patches of gravel, minimum maintenance roads, zombies…..we were ready for anything!
About halfway through the 25, we’ve made the appropriate detour for a little barley pop at Heron Bay, a nice little watering hole right on the Platte River. You know it’s a bike friendly place when nobody bats an eye when you practically ride to your table. Cool night breeze, a full moon, and a couple beers on the river; this nighttime gravel riding might have to be more than an annual ride!
Fully rehydrated, it was time to head to the finish. This year’s course took us right through a carnival, and while the beer tent and the smells of carnival food tempted us to veer off course, but the long line for beer and the fact that our finish was a bar, kept us on the path back to home base.
Back at the last bar before home, we texted Scott that we were done and safe (this is the only real rule of the ride, unless you want a call at 6AM to see if you’re alive) and sat back and did what most of us do after a nice long ride, rehydrated and tried to figure out what rides/adventures are coming next. For me, it’s a journey north for GnomeFest! I Hope to see some of you there!
And if you’re travels are taking you through the center of America and you’re looking where to shred a fatty, just call ahead to the Fat-bike.com radio show and we’ll make sure you get the skinny on some fun fat!
Editor’s Note : We asked all of our Bike Black Ribbon Test Pilots to put together a little photo essay about what they’re up to these ‘dog days’ of summer. Michael has been part of out test crew for over a year and is an excellent photographer. He studies Kung Fu and has been known to enter the octagon as a mixed martial artist. ~gomez~