Saturday, August 23, 2014

2014 Inspiration 100: Schedule

TWO WEEKS! There are two weeks until you depart from the start line. You probably want to know where you need to go and when you need to be there. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Race cues and waivers will be available to download and print at  You must have a signed waiver to register and get your race packet. Do this from the comfort of your own home, or use your employer's office supplies. 

Friday, September 5, 2014
EARLY REGISTRATION at Jake's Bikes (6:30 PM - 9:00 PM): Bring a signed waiver to get your race packet. If you ordered a t-shirt, please bring $20 cash so you can take delivery.

Jake is offering a 10% storewide discount during early registration, so maybe bring your bike wish list and make something happen.

Saturday, September 6, 2014
All of the following will take place at the Garfield Elementary School parking lot in Garfield, MN.

  • REGISTRATION (6:00 AM - 7:45 AM): Bring a signed waiver to get your race packet. If you ordered a t-shirt, please bring $20 cash so you can take delivery. If you are registering on Saturday morning, please be early, which will save you and us a lot of last-minute stress.
  • STAGING (7:45 AM - 8:00 AM): We line you up, say a few words, and get ready for the lead-out.
  • RACE (8:00 AM - 8:00 PM): Achieve transcendence over 105 miles of gravel.
  • FOOD/DRINK (1:00 PM - ???):  Post-race recovery will be waiting for you at the finish.

Facilities: The race will start and finish at the Garfield Elementary school in Garfield, MN. Parking will be in and along a grass playground next to the school. There will be no running water in the parking and staging area, so make sure you arrive at the start with everything you need. Garfield does have a convenience store that is just a few minutes away if want to purchase your water/food as close to the start as possible, or if you need any last minute items.

We will have 2-3 portable toilets in the staging area, but if you can take care of business beforehand, that would probably be best.

There will be volunteers on hand, so if you have any questions flag one of them down.

Once the race starts, there will be a controlled roll-out from town for just under two miles. Everyone will have jitters and adrenaline, so ride carefully. After that, you hit gravel and are off, on your own on the open public roads. We will see you at the finish!

What You Need: This list is cribbed straight from the Almanzo web site, and it works for getting your stuff together before any gravel century, so I am going to just give it to you straight from the source, with edits where applicable:

  • Yourself.
  • A bicycle in good working order.
  • An extra tube, some way to inflate it and some tools to make the job easier.
  • Enough food and water for at least 50 miles.
  • A cell phone for emergencies or to report that you will not finish.
  • Cash, a credit card, and an ID (in case of emergencies).
  • Appropriate clothing (check the forecast).
  • A helmet.
  • A signed release form.
  • Cue sheets (available for download the week of the event).
  • A way to hold your cue sheets.
  • Front and rear flashers if it is going to be rainy, or if you are planning for DFL.

The above checklist should get you to the start as ready as you are going to be.

I think that is everything. If you still have questions, please let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, keep riding and we will see you in two weeks!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Safety First, and Taking Care of Yourself

We are less than a month from the Inspiration 100! It is time for your annual reminder of how to stay safe and ride self-supported over the 105 miles of gravel, dirt, two-track and pavement that make up the Inspiration course.

Safety First: You will be riding open public roads, so you will be responsible for following all applicable traffic laws. Stay to the right, obey all traffic signs, be aware and alert of others on the road. You may not encounter much traffic, but what you do encounter will not be looking for you, so watch yourself.

The Inspiration course has many blind turns, corners and climbs. Stay to the right, follow the rules of the road, and you will eliminate much of the risk inherent in riding these gravel roads.

I know, you are an experienced rider and can handle yourself, but if it can happen to the organizer of Trans-Iowa, it can happen to you. BE SAFE!

Take Care of Yourself: The Inspiration 100 is a self-supported ride. Once the race begins, you may use only those resources that are available to everyone on the course. The convenience store at mile 50 and the bar around mile 75 have fluids and food. Plan accordingly.

You may offer and accept assistance from other riders. Help your fellow riders!  Having been on both sides of that equation, it feels good to both get and give assistance. You may be the difference between someone ending their day early or continuing to ride.

There is no SAG wagon. Please have a bail-out ride arranged in case you end your day early.

In addition to the above, be respectful to the land and people in the area. Don't litter, be discrete when heeding nature's call, wave to the locals. The people I have encountered along the course have all been extremely kind. Let's not give them a reason to change their opinion of cyclists.

We are all grown ups, and trust that you will follow these very simple rules. The challenge comes from completing the course under your own power. Accept that challenge!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Inspiration 100 T-Shirts

We are selling Inspiration 100 shirts this year. If you want one, this is what you need to do:
  1. Click the link below
  2. Enter your size, name and email address
  3. Do all of the above before noon on August 19th
  4. We will submit the order and get the shirts the week of the race
  5. Bring cash dollars to registration. 
  6. You will get your shirt with your registration packet.
The shirts will cost $20-25. The more we order, the less they will cost.

We will NOT have t-shirts for sale at the race.

This requires a bit of effort on your part, but this way we are not out on a limb guessing at sizes, quantity and whatever else.

This is an American Apparel t-shirt, and the finished product should look and fit very nice. All proceeds will go to support the race. Thanks!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Registration Update and Course Recon Report

Registration Update
There is just under two weeks left to register for the Inspiration 100. The field is shaping up nicely, with a good mix of course veterans and new riders. On the fast side, the entire men's podium, two-thirds of the female podium, and the singlespeed champion from last year are all coming back. It should be a very competitive field for those looking to race their respective faces off.

If you are thinking about riding, please get your card in the mail ASAP. If you are new to this gravel century scene, we like to think our course is a good introduction to self-supported events. Please come and find out! Follow this link for registration details.

Confirmation emails will be coming this week, so keep an eye on your inbox. If you sent a postcard and don't get a confirmation email by next Monday, please let me know via email.

Course Recon Report
Last week my schedule and the forecast aligned for me to ride the new and (hopefully) improved Inspiration 100 course. The additional miles are all in the front half, with cuts being made after that point to keep the total distance at a respectable but not onerous 105 miles. The second half of the course feels more streamlined and, dare I say, a bit faster. Prove me wrong on race day.

The wet Minnesota spring has been tough on the two feature sections of our course. The grass two-track section is very wet in the low areas. I went down when my front tire caught the edge of a deep, farm-implement created rut that lay hidden in the tall, dense grass. At that point, rather than fight the intersecting ruts and puddles, I shouldered my bike and hiked out to higher ground. This should improve by race day, but please proceed with caution in this section. The grass hides rocks, puddles, ruts, and the occasional lazy raccoon, all of which would be more than sufficient to take you down.

My friend Jeff on the right bike for the grass two-track section
Unfortunately, the Minimum Maintenance Road (MMR) section also suffered this spring. When I rode it in April, it was deeply rutted and washed out. Last week I discovered that Otter Tail County did some minimum maintenance on the road by using fine white sand to fill in all the eroded and rutted areas. That makes it much less of a ripping section and a bit more of a grind. However, if you pick your line carefully, you should still be able to make the most of that section and have a good time.

Overall, the course is in great shape and I was again reminded of how much I love riding around Inspiration Peak.  Along the way I saw swans, deer, turtles, countless migratory birds, and two fisher kits playing in the middle of the road. While you are riding and following all applicable traffic laws, please look around when possible. It is a very scenic area abundant with lakes, trees, and wildlife.

Swans to the left of me
Fisher kits in front of me
The gravel is still that sandy mix of non-uniform lake rock that can be heroic or punishing, depending on how recently it was laid down. Many hills within the moraines look easier than they are, and this gravel will suck all your momentum in the rollers. The course doesn't have a huge elevation profile, or any singular notable climbs, but the repeated short, punchy hills will take their toll by the end of the day.

A sample of Otter Tail County gravel
With the extra miles in the front half, the convenience store in Clitherall is now at mile 50, and the Millerville Bar is at mile 76. If you had religious objections to doing our event in the past because of Our Lady of the Hills being at mile 66.6, you are in luck. She is now at mile 73.

I think she is smiling at me
We are excited for you to ride this year's version of the Inspiration 100 course. If you haven't already, please get your postcard in the mail and come join us on September 6.


Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Inspiration 100 - Registration Opens Tomorrow (07/01)

It is almost time! Tomorrow (07/01) is the first day of registration for the 2014 Inspiration 100. A brief overview of the registration process:
  1. Get a postcard.
  2. Write your name, email address, gender (optional) and open or singlespeed on the card.
  3. Send card to the address listed below.
  4. Hope your card is one of the first 135 I receive (that is the cutoff).
  5. Hope the card arrives no sooner than July 1 or has a July postmark if received after the last day of July.
  6. Prepare for at least 105 miles of self-supported gravel, grass two-track, rocky MMR, a little pavement, and refreshments and brats at the finish.
The race will start at 8:00 AM on Saturday, September 6. Both the start and finish will be in Garfield, MN.

Send postcards here:

Inspiration 100
c/o Derek Chinn
115 Willimantic Drive
Alexandria, MN 56308

I will have more details on the course in the coming weeks. Plan on at least 105 miles, and maybe up to 107 miles. The opportunity for resupply around miles 50 and 80. 

I look forward to hearing from you. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Good luck!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Inspiration 100 - Registration, Course Update, and Slogan

Greetings! It is almost time to register for this year's Inspiration 100. How do you do that? Keep reading.

Registration:  Opens on July 1, 2014 via postcard. The first 135 entrants are in the race. Entries must be received on or after July 1 or be postmarked no later than July 31 to be valid. 

Send postcards here:,
Inspiration 100 
c/o Derek Chinn
115 Willimantic Drive NW
Alexandria, MN 56308 

Did I mention it is FREE FREE FREE? It is. 

The race will start at 8:00 AM on Saturday, September 6, 2014, in Garfield, MN.

Inspiration 100 Course Grows Up: The Inspiration 100 course from the last two years is just a shade under 100 miles, even with last year's small addition near the end. We have heard the complaints about how short the course is, we have seen you doing post-race hot laps in the parking area to get your odometer to hit triple digits, and we are sick of it. SICK OF IT. 

This year, plan on a course that is at least 105 miles, and may be up to 109 miles. We found moar gravel, and will add moar gravel, but we are still determining how to make moar gravel fit into the course without it being too much moar gravel. The signature Inspiration course moments that you know and begrudgingly love will remain unchanged, but there may be a few discrete edits along the way to keep it in the ballpark of a race billed as "100". 

Inspiration 100 - "Not All Gravel is Created Equal": Not long after completing last year's brutally hot race, Paul Buchanan was doing the Almanzo Gent's Ride and came up with a great slogan that, in his words, "Captures the race, the route and the roads" of the Inspiration 100. We couldn't agree more. Thanks, Paul! 

Let us know your thoughts about any of the above in the comments. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 Inspiration 100 - Wrap Up

It is hard to believe the race is already over a week behind us. We had a great day on Saturday, September 7, and hope that you did as well. One of the many great things about gravel racing is how different the same course can be from year to year. Last year it was predominantly hardscrabble, washboard gravel on a relatively cool and breezy day. This year it was mostly slushy, soft dusty gravel on an oppressively hot and windless day. Same course (save for that right turn up Lees Circle around mile 97), but a much different experience. We look forward to what next year will bring us.

One thing that is consistent is the quality of people who volunteer and participate at the event. We are very fortunate to have generous family and friends who donate their time, prizes or whatever to help us put on the race. The gravel racing community has also been great. We have enjoyed hosting all of you, and you have made it a very rewarding experience. Thank you to everyone involved.

Congratulations to everyone who lined up and took on the challenge of the race. It was hot! We are pleased everyone made it safely back to the finish. You self-supported riders know how to take care of yourselves, and sometimes that means calling it a day. That is one of the other great things about gravel racing. So many variables need to coalesce for a successful finish. A lot can happen over 100 miles, and it takes a certain something (grit, insanity...) to line-up at the start. Many of you finished your first gravel century under less than optimal conditions, and for that we salute you, along with all finishers!

Special recognition to our "podium" finishers. All of the top 3 male and female finishers had a time that eclipsed last year's first place finishers. It was a much swifter race this year for the fast riders. You can see the full results here.

Top 3 Male

  1. Nick Vetter (5:25)
  2. Adam Bergman (5:25)
  3. Charlie Schad (5:39)

Top 3 Female

  1. Monika Sattler (4th overall) (5:55)
  2. Bianca Bergman (6:48)
  3. Julia Jenkins (7:24)

Singlespeed winner - Todd Hale (7:42)

Thank You - Sponsors

  • Eye Associates of Alexandria: Donating the sunglasses that were the first place price for top male and female finishers. Like an idiot, I forgot to hand these our during the awards ceremony, but I did get them mailed to Nick and Monika last week. 
  • Jake's Bikes: Helping us use the parking lot for registration and offering a discount to all riders, Jake's Oasis, and many other things that helped us put on the race.
  • Blue Ox Timber Frames: Donating the wood for the awards. 
  • Zorbaz: Donating ice. A helluva lot of ice.
  • Millerville Liquor and Ron's Ready Mart: Keeping the bottles full and the riders cool (particularly the Liquor Store). 
  • Fresh Start: Rider Sam St. Pierre donated all Fresh Start products that were out at the finish. Thank you Sam!
  • Donors: We collected $800 in donations, which is an incredible amount. Thanks to all who were able to contribute. It was a little less than the cost of the race, but the loss definitely falls within the acceptable range. Fantastic!
  • Photography: Tim Hardie for taking all the pictures, and Lars Fredrickson for the use of his equipment.
  • Garfield Elementary School: For letting us use the grounds for the start/finish area. It is perfect, and we appreciate being able to use that space.
I am sure I am forgetting something, and will most likely be editing this in the near future.

If you are so inclined, you can see all 600+ photos taken on Saturday.

See you next year! The race will be on September 6, 2014.