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Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help.
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I live in New Paltz, NY, Home of the SOS Triathlon and the AmZof Duathlon. With the explosion of partially (fondues, gravel enduros, Enduro World Series MTB events) and non-competitive (gravel rides you have to pay for, supported century rides, and the like) that seem to proliferate cycling, I wonder if there is a market for an event like this. We have the SOS Triathlon- a fascinating event of general badassery- that starts right here in town, but there are pretty significant limits on field size due to the natural resources the race is committed to protecting.

I guess i'm wondering about the appeal of a gravel triathlon or stage race. It sounds cool, but how many "Gravel people" are also "triathlon people" and also want to do a non-branded, off distance event? I'm not sure about where the sport is going, but seeing how much some of these 7 day stage races are charging- after a brief discussion with Heath Dotson on twitter- I think that this could be done in a place like New Paltz for far cheaper.

I think the idea of a triathlon on CX/Gravel bikes would be fascinating. As a former triathlete, I don't often want to get back into the sport, as the endless equipment discussions and excuses are very annoying- but a triathlon on my CX bike, with a low entry fee and no need for road closures, seems cool. I really like the idea of a "Competitive" event, and less of a "completitive" event, but maybe i'm totally off on what the market might be looking for.

Please poke holes in this theory and tell me why I'm an idiot. Fellow hudson valley people, if you have any ideas, let me know.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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I think its a great idea.

But, just so you don't get stuck in a rules thicket, don't restrict the types of bikes allowed. Just set up the gravel course, let participants know in advance how bad the surfaces are/will be, and then let them make the choice on the best equipment to survive the bike course conditions. And tell 'em to bring lots of spare tubes !

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Last edited by: DarkSpeedWorks: Dec 7, 17 8:17
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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I love fondues.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [jimatbeyond] [ In reply to ]
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Glad you caught that. I grew up in north jersey, and when I was a younger, fitter lad, I used to ride on 9w in a T shirt that said 'grand fondue this way.' I refuse to let that joke, or attitude, die.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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Personally I love AmZof and trail running is fine with me in a tri/du. I have no desire to buy another bike, so I would not sign up for a race with a "non-road" ride.

Not sure what you mean by stage race, but if it take more than about 3 hours - I'd pass.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [B.McMaster] [ In reply to ]
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Great example is there is a local to me yearly gravel grinder in Umstead park. I didn't have a bike for it this year and didn't want to rent, so didn't do it. But there are great off road running in there, and a little lake there. It'd be a crappy swim, probably short and not a nice lake/pond, but you could definitely do a duathlon on the gravel there.

I'd do it.

I'm not that attracted to spending $300 for branded events. Keeping it within a gravel/park area means no need for road closures. That would keep logistics and cost much easier.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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I think the size of your market is relatively small.
As your post says, most people want branded, specific distances.
Equipment is a big issue. How many triathletes who have invested heavily in a tri or road bike, also own a gravel ready bike?
I would do your event, but I'm an outlier. I do triathlon, road/gravel/CX racing, kayak racing, ultra running, etc...

All that said, it's time we put the multi back into multisport.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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Great idea. I did a gravel grinder in Delaware County (western Catskills) a couple of years ago that was really awesome. Tons of great roads with really hard climbs there. I think the event was about 60 miles. About 2:15 drive from north Jersey/NYC.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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That's my feeling. I'm tired of triathlon begin about spandex and race plans. Maybe Xterra already exists for this purpose, but an event like this couldn't hurt.

I was thinking-
-one transition, start/finish in the same spot. I'm not dealing with a damn pack of burroughs to transport stuff between two places.
-800-1200m swim, preferably two loops with a beach turnaround between each lap. This is good for the spectator and allows us to use a small body of water. minnewaska would be pretty ideal.
-25-30k bike- Theres a solid loop here that we could do that has a road descent so people would remain alive, and a brutal 25min dirt/rocky climb up the back. If you've ridden aumick rd, you don't fucking forget it. You wouldn't need a gravel bike, or a mountain bike, but you'd want one, just for traction on the climb. the loop is probably 50/50. road/dirt, and could be adjusted for more if necessary. The bike might take 75ish minutes for the front guys, double that for BOP? great views on this.
7-8k challenging gravel/doubletrack/singletrack run, with a few significant climbs and beautiful views

The total event would be maybe 2:30 for the winner, with maybe a 4hr cutoff.

I had considered a morning swim race of like 1500m, a big breakfast, a TT start gravel ride at noon, a light lunch and like a concert, and a run right before a big BBQ with another concert and a big expo. Its everything I hate about full-day race festivals and such, but maybe it's what the people want.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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I live in New Paltz, NY, Home of the SOS Triathlon and the AmZof Duathlon. With the explosion of partially (fondues, gravel enduros, Enduro World Series MTB events) and non-competitive (gravel rides you have to pay for, supported century rides, and the like) that seem to proliferate cycling, I wonder if there is a market for an event like this.


There is and there is not.

Bare with me for a minute.

Triathlon headed down a road, from the get go where few if any swim/bike/run for the heck of it. Triathletes ONLY option for some kind of an event to go to has been a RACE - where times are taken, results calculated, and awards handed out. Thus a triathlon can't be anything else.

Cycling by contrast has always had a large group of people who ride, but never actually pin on a bib number and really RACE. For them, century rides, sportifs, charity rides and even gran fondos* have been something that they have been happy to sign up for and come out and participate in. Triathlon to day really has not had the equivalent of this. The closest you get is some very informal organized training days, that I know some coaches put on, that has a day of swimming/cycling/running all organized and laid out.

Now I'm bound to rankle a few people here with what I'm about to say next, so I apologize ahead of time. When you look at the race field for a large 1/2 IM or full IM race, it's clear that somewhere in the race field (note I'm calling it a "race"), you can draw a line and, really people are not racing so much, they are going to finish and complete the distance. They have more in common with the sportif or century ride, rider than someone who ie really and truly racing that distance of triathlon. But if you called it the, say the Whistler Triathlon Sportif, and not IRONMAN Canada, you might have 20 people sign up!

*Gran Fondos fall into a bit of a grey area. Some are like a race, and some are completely non-competitive. Orginally, they were meant to be competitive and some still believe strongly that this is the case. - with times, places and awards, but the line has been blurred.


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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This is the issue I have with this type of event- I'm not sure it caters to a group of people who really exist, rather it caters to a group of people who i believe (and maybe hope) exist. I am one of these guys- former tri guy, like to ride on dirt, like running on dirt, wish this race existed so I would have a reason to get back in the pool. I'm just not sure how many other people share my sentiment or have the financial means to equip themselves for this.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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I never thought about the "triathlon sportif" angle.
So true. Triathlons are ALWAYS a competition.

Makes me want to go do Hydrosloths informal Ironman Canada Redux in Penticton this year.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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It’s an interesting idea but a niche market within a niche market. I have been focusing on triathlons the last few years and am transitioning to gravel and mountain bike races... part of the reason is that I can’t justify the time and expense of swimming and I have never really enjoyed running. An added benefit is that I can sign up for a dozen races and spend less than I would on one Ironman race. With that being said and as someone who is probably your target market, I don’t think I would have any interest in a gravel tri. Just my two cents.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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Well, grab you a fat bike (4" minimum tires) and head down to NC for the fat bike triathlon (held near Wilmington), this year. I was out of the country when it was held, this year. I'll be there, this year.

The whole thing never leaves the beach. Swim the surf....bike and run the beach.

I think they even had more than 20 people, this year. Not sure how many, though.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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This is the issue I have with this type of event- I'm not sure it caters to a group of people who really exist, rather it caters to a group of people who i believe (and maybe hope) exist.


Indeed. If you are a triathlete, you are "in" the sport and signing up and doing "races". It's been that way since Day-1. There is really no other category. I can't think of one person that I know, that swim/bike/runs for the heck of it! They are putting that all together, doing the the training for all three, to get ready to go and enter a race!

I ride with a pretty fit group of masters level cyclists on Thursday nights and sometimes on weekends. Some of these guys really do race and are very good, and some of us do not (although we are fit and strong enough that we could race and acquit ourselves well in races if we did race). It's that latter group that does not exist in triathlon!


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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Fleck wrote:
This is the issue I have with this type of event- I'm not sure it caters to a group of people who really exist, rather it caters to a group of people who i believe (and maybe hope) exist.


Indeed. If you are a triathlete, you are "in" the sport and signing up and doing "races". It's been that way since Day-1. There is really no other category. I can't think of one person that I know, that swim/bike/runs for the heck of it! They are putting that all together, doing the the training for all three, to get ready to go and enter a race!

I ride with a pretty fit group of masters level cyclists on Thursday nights and sometimes on weekends. Some of these guys really do race and are very good, and some of us do not (although we are fit and strong enough that we could race and acquit ourselves well in races if we did race). It's that latter group that does not exist in triathlon!

I agree. Everyone I know who's training sbr is doing so for a race(s) coming up. When they take a break from racing triathlons, they usually fall back to one, or maybe two of their favorite sbr activities to keep in shape and enjoyment purposes.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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Fleck wrote:

I ride with a pretty fit group of masters level cyclists on Thursday nights and sometimes on weekends. Some of these guys really do race and are very good, and some of us do not (although we are fit and strong enough that we could race and acquit ourselves well in races if we did race). It's that latter group that does not exist in triathlon!


Don't you "race" in the Thursday night world championships? I know the serious group ride in my town feels like a race each week. That's certainly an advantage of cycling. Much harder to "race" that way when you have to combine SBR, thus nearly all triathletes are training for a race where they need to have a number and pay an entry fee.
Last edited by: Mark Lemmon: Dec 7, 17 19:30
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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tweickelberg wrote:
a morning swim race of like 1500m, a big breakfast, a TT start gravel ride at noon, a light lunch and like a concert, and a run right before a big BBQ with another concert and a big expo.
Sounds like the Turducken of races.
"Honey, I have an event on Saturday.. I'll be home right after the expo, after the concert after the BBQ after the run after the other concert after the light lunch after we gravel ride after our big breakfast after we swim."
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [DarkSpeedWorks] [ In reply to ]
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DarkSpeedWorks wrote:
I think its a great idea.

But, just so you don't get stuck in a rules thicket, don't restrict the types of bikes allowed. Just set up the gravel course, let participants know in advance how bad the surfaces are/will be, and then let them make the choice on the best equipment to survive the bike course conditions. And tell 'em to bring lots of spare tubes !

This

WTB: TriRig Omega SV (not x). PM me if you have one :)
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [Mark Lemmon] [ In reply to ]
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Don't you "race" in the Thursday night world championships?


Of course. It's the, "world championships"!

In late spring and summer, for me this is by far the hardest ride of the week. Just hanging in the group is often a challenge - but that IS my motivation - to stay in the group and NOT get dropped!


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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I think you have a good idea. There is a need out there for something different. I think your idea is too close to tri though. There are lots of people that have to retire from the traditional run/jump sports that are looking for something. That is the only reason I am into endurance sports now. I actually run/bike/swim for exercise. I also do running & cycling events as well. When I combine the 3 though, those are the most boring, dull events that I have done. At least with a sprint, there is the pedal to the metal/go for broke attitude. Adding distance just makes it slower and more boring. It is like the difference between a crit bike race and an ITT. The crit is mostly exciting and unpredictable. While the TT is all planned out and boring. The results at the end might not be, but the actual event is to me.

By far the most fun I have had in an endurance event was the Urbanathlon I used to do in Chicago before my brother moved from there. It was also dropped from Chicago. Now I don't want to spend the money to go to New York or the West coast. Show up, take off and hope you have what it take to get to the finish. The event I am looking for now does not exist. I'm looking for an event that combines everything. Triathlon, OCR, Crossfit, CX you name it. Combine it all and go at it. Every year during one of the LOTR TV marathons I tell my wife, "That is what I am looking for right there! Give me an event like that." It has most everything in it. Distance, all out sprinting, jumping, climbing, etc, etc, etc. Best part is that it is random so you can't plan your race out. I want stoppers on the course. By stoppers I mean obtacles/barriers/situations that stop you from advancing if you don't have the required athleticism to get past it. All you get before the race is maybe a total distance with the distances of each of the bike/swim/run/etc. But those distances may be split up and out of order. Anything to keep me guessing/adapting and overcoming so that when I cross the line I have earned it. If I come around a corner and there is a dragon to slay, so be it. Just give me a sword and a shield so I can get to it. If I can't get past it, then I was not worthy. Mostly what I am looking for is a spontaneous adventure that will test every part of my athletic ability. It doesn't really matter what kind of time I get or even if I don't finish. At least I will have fun which is more than I can say for the tris I have entered.

For all of you movie buffs, give me something with a little bit of LOTR, Running Man, Tron and The Warriors all in one. That is what I am looking for. I think there are a lot more out there like me.

I apologize for the rant.
Last edited by: Cmore: Dec 8, 17 8:14
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [Cmore] [ In reply to ]
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I think you have a good idea. There is a need out there for something different. I think your idea is too close to tri though. There are lots of people that have to retire from the traditional run/jump sports that are looking for something. That is the only reason I am into endurance sports now. I actually run/bike/swim for exercise. I also do running & cycling events as well. When I combine the 3 though, those are the most boring, dull events that I have done. At least with a sprint, there is the pedal to the metal/go for broke attitude. Adding distance just makes it slower and more boring. It is like the difference between a crit bike race and an ITT. The crit is mostly exciting and unpredictable. While the TT is all planned out and boring. The results at the end might not be, but the actual event is to me.


Believe me there are those in the business, that want to go there - where you are talking about going above - short, interesting, challenging.

Almost 4 years ago now, Simon Whitfield convened a group of top people and leaders from triathlon, marketing and media in Canada for a full day conference to come up with a new model of triathlon. The version of the sport we came up with was as you had laid out - short, interesting, challenging but also very accessible!

HOWEVER, we also came to the conclusion, that in some or many respects the sport of triathlon was not ready for this, that a vast majority of active modern triathletes, were too obsessed with longer racing and IRONMAN in particular. It may take a few years for this to catch on.


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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I'd say I'm one of those people in a half or full and I am not offended at all.

Life is full of froth and trouble, two things stand in stone
Kindness in another's troubles, courage in one's own
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [DarkSpeedWorks] [ In reply to ]
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DarkSpeedWorks wrote:
I think its a great idea.

But, just so you don't get stuck in a rules thicket, don't restrict the types of bikes allowed. Just set up the gravel course, let participants know in advance how bad the surfaces are/will be, and then let them make the choice on the best equipment to survive the bike course conditions. And tell 'em to bring lots of spare tubes !

This. I wish Xterra would eliminate the restriction on drop-bar bikes.
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Re: Fondo triathlons? Gravel Triathlons? An idea, but I need your help. [tweickelberg] [ In reply to ]
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you are not alone in the universe. gerard vroomen and i talk roughly weekly, planning our futures as producers of gravel events, mostly triathlons, tho both of us are not really stoked about the term gravel.

you should absolutely expect triathlons in your near future with the gravel bike as the vehicle. i promise you that whatever i'm involved in producing will:

1. have very few rules
2. the one ironclad rule is you have to do the whole bike ride on the same bike
3. please put me out of my misery if you ever see me produce an event that has a distance you recognize, or if any two events i produce are of the same distances. the one exception is the swim, where it's likely to be a mile, half-mile, 1km, or something like that.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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