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May 28, 2019

A conversation with Chad Sperry, organizer of the 5-Day Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder (June 19-23, 2019).

Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder Website

Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder Instagram

Automagical transcription, please excuse all errors:

Chad, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Craig. Appreciate being here.

Let's start off by learning a little bit about your background as a cyclist and how you started thinking about gravel.

Yeah, you bet. Yes. I started cycling back in 91 92, um, came out of triathlon and uh, with triathlon my a strong fiscal, it was the bike and really love the, uh, kind of the strategy in the end, the game game and ship that happens in cycling compared to trapline is where I consider it the like the big grunt effort. You just kind of go from the start and, and peg your, uh, your lactic acid throughout the whole event. So it was really intriguing with me and I raced a competitively for 15 years on a, on the road traveling all over and, and doing a number of one day races as well as state races.

Awesome. And then how, when, when did gravel come into your life where you riding your road, bike off road and then the equipment just caught up to your interests? Or is it something newer than that?

No, gravel? That's a great question. Gravel Kinda was a, uh, an interesting thing, both from my professional life as a, as a race promoter, as well as my personal life. The area that I grew up in and a, and, and trained for those 15 years when I was competitively racing on the roads is a, a rural area that's east of the cascades, um, called the Dalles Oregon. And the, the area that we lived in there, the county that we lived in, Wasco County, uh, had the majority of the roads were actually gravel, like a 60 to 70% of the all roads in Wasco county. Our gravel, it's a high agricultural area with a, with wheat and a cherry orchards. And so what we, what we found, and this was back in the early nineties, is that if you, uh, if you wanted to do some really big cool loops and training rides, uh, the only way to do that would be to basically, uh, go, uh, from the pavement onto a, onto gravel for say, a five mile, 10 mile segment.

And then it would connect you into another paved road. There's a lot of being in the gorge, there's a lot of uh, drainage's and, and basically, uh, paved roads that would go up some canyon or some, some, uh, some creek and it would get in and gravel. But if you continue to on it, you could, uh, you could take the gravel road up and over the ridge line and into another drainage or creek basin and then connecting to a pavement. So out of boredom and out of a interest in trying to find something new, we, uh, we started actually going out and, um, and using our little 25 millimeters skinny tire caliper road bikes and actually ride in the gravel. And it also really taught you how to, how to be a, a great, uh, you know, um, technician because you've got such skinny tires and it's almost like you're kind of like riding on marbles per se.

Yeah, amazing. I think that's a common story with a lot of athletes who live in more rural areas where the, it just, it was a necessity that you started riding on gravel roads and it just became more and more fun. And, and obviously the terrain options became more varied once the bikes caught up with what you were doing already.

Absolutely. And then then on the professional side of things, you know, we'd been, um, when I, uh, we've got to the point where I was kind of aging out of the racing feed and had a family and a mortgage to cover and what not. I started, I took, I was, I came from an operations background professionally and so started to apply that, uh, and put on a different bike races starting back in 2001 up in around the northwest. And we build our filter company breakaway promotions, uh, to a very large one of the artists in the country actually running events like the cascade siding, classic Mt. Hood side, Classic tour of Utah as well as, uh, we put on a 20 plus national championship events for a, for USA cycling. And so, you know, we, we developed that on the road side of things, but I still love doing events in that little home town that I grew up in.

And so eight years ago we started thinking about, hey, what if the initial idea was to start it as a role based style race, meaning it wasn't like a full blown gravel race. It would be something where there's paved, uh, um, sections of paved as well as gravel sectors. Um, that we, uh, we have, um, but in between the different placements and so forth. Um, so we would pull that stuff together and it was more of a kind of a payroll bay. We actually call it the gorge Real Bay, and it was more of a, uh, uh, kind of, uh, uh, a play on Perry row bay kind of thing. So the gravel sections, we're generally, you know, anywhere from four to five to six miles, uh, per section. And then you'd have like 10 miles of pavement in between that and that, that, uh, that that took off. Like people were super excited about that format. And then within two years or about six years ago, um, we actually went to a full on gravel ride as people were asking for more and more of the gravel and less and less of the pavement.

Yeah, it's funny that first race you were describing was the first one that caught my eye here down in northern California and it just looked really exciting. I had just gotten the proper equipment. I got my first closet, I gravel bike and I was like, that looks like a hell of a lot of fun. And as I mentioned to you, it took me a few years after that before I actually got up there and did one of your events. But it was very telling and interesting to me. I had done three events that year and the course we wrote at the high desert gravel grinder was more pavement than dirt. And then I did a few others that were more dirt with pain vent. And it really set me down this thought process of thinking about how as a course designer you can really influence the choice of equipment and how good or bad a particular tire is going to perform throughout the day. Can you talk about how you sort of have evolved your thinking about how the courses should be laid out and how modern equipment influenced that?

Absolutely. And it has truly, uh, significantly changed, I would even say in the last three to four years, you know, that high desert, the course that you talked about, definitely a higher percentage of pavements and saved their gorge gravel grinder that we've been running up in the gorge for a number of years. And I'm, and I had a number of people come in and complained to me that there was too much, um, too much pavement on it. And I even had a few that questioned whether I knew what I was doing. And, and rightfully so, I, I, I took that, that information in that criticism. Um, and what I decided to do is basically just go full blown gravel, as much gravel as I could. At the same time, you know, three and four years ago is when we really saw that every bike manufacturer was now making it gravel specific bike.

Um, you know, the whole a disc brake movement was basically on everything. Tires were getting the standing and performance. So we've, so, so the technology as well as, you know, kind of the feedback from the riders. We all have our stuff now. We have a three race series a, we have a one day, a three day, uh, so one day with the gorge gravel grinder, a three day ride omnium one of the first omnium if not the first omnium in the country. Um, it's a three day event in bend called the cascade gravel grinder, which used to be the high desert, then morphed into the cascade ground writer. And then we have our big five day, a point to point, which again is a first in the country for gravel. I'm coming up in June, but, but I went and I looked and I wanted to basically do every course we had had to have at least 80% gravel, if not 90% gravel. Um, that the, that the writers are doing because the bike technology and the speeds that they're at, which they're writing now, we are so much faster and so much, um, so much better. And there's, which helps reduce the fatigue rate as well. So, you know, used to throw in some asphalt just so the people could get a little bit of a break and a reprieve. But now, um, the bike technology has allowed for a much more efficient a ride on gravel.

Yeah, I think you're right. That's a good point. I am super excited to talk to you about the Oregon trail and gravel grinder, the five day event because I think it is the first of its kind. Can you tell us a little bit about that? It's a big adventure.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I, I try to be a little bit cautious on, on how I described this because, um, our company break, wait promotions is actually been running the operations for Rebecca Russian and Rebecca's private Idaho. And she actually had an actual stage race, um, last year, a three day event there. So when I tell people it's going to be the first, uh, point to point overnight camping, uh, event of its kind on the gravel side. Mountain bike is, had it been going on with BC race and, and um, and Breck epic and a number of other super cool, uh, mountain bike stage racism. Then of course we got the road stage races. They typically don't have the camping element, um, but they're multi day. Um, and they can even be point to point, but, but nothing in the gravel sector has, uh, has come to fruition in this, uh, in this regard.

Um, I am based out of bend, Oregon and we have just an almost limitless supply of gravel roads. So, so it was the hardest part in developing this five day, uh, gravel event was to literally find the best roads that we could use. Not because there were scarce, but because there was such an, a massive inventory of roads. And so we took, it took us weeks of, uh, of going deep deep into the Deschutes national forest and we'll amet national forests, um, driving roads, spending, I can't believe how many hours on 'em and ride with gps and Google maps. So our eyes were crossed looking at routes and so forth. Um, and we've, we feel like we've developed one of the most amazing five day, uh, events that, that anybody will ever see it. And, and the, the other beauty of this event is that because you're in central Oregon and western Oregon, the diversity and change that you'll see each and every day is just mind blowing.

Like I can give you an example of day one. We started in what's considered, you know, the kind of the high desert area just north of bend out little community of sisters. And you start off and kind of more your sage brush in and um, and Ponderosa pine type of a seven Forrest. And then as you start to gain elevation, that turns into for, and then you go into an Alpine forest. And then when you cross over the, the true cascade mountain range at like 5,000, 6,000 feet of elevation, um, when you're doing it on day one, you're crossing, you're crossing the range on the old historic fan iam wagon trail road, that, that was an operation during the mid 18 hundreds to late 18 hundreds and that road been, connects you into the, over over the cascades into the western side and the Willamette national forest where you trade all the high desert elements into a moss covered trees.

We, we have some areas we found that they missed somehow they missed in their early logging operations with old growth forest stands and beautiful creeks. And, and uh, and, and that time of year, there's a lot of the Alpine flowers and Rhododendrons and that are in bloom. So it just has this unbelievable feel even in, in a, in a single day. Um, you'll change through several different climates in several different environments and vegetation when you're going from point a to point B. And it just keeps going like that for the next four days until you get back to a, we do one big loop and it takes you back to sisters, Oregon.

Amazing. You definitely have some incredible terrain. As you said, it's so diverse up there. I spent some time bike packing on the Oregon timber trail last year and it was just phenomenal. The changes that we went through when you went over a different ridge, how different the terrain felt, which is going to make it really exciting.

Absolutely. Absolutely. I, I, I really think that there's something for everybody as they, as they do this and it, our staff, you know, we, like I said, we come from a very strong operations background, having run so many major national and professional cycling events. And, uh, and so we've got, I've, I'm, I'm fortunate in that I have just an outstanding crew that we can put towards this event. You know, my, my uh, people like Brad Ross, uh, that ran for National Championships in Oh, in the cross crusade a soccer crosses is my right, right hand person for setting camps up and, and helping with support there. I've got my, uh, uh, good friend Jeff Lorenzen. It was technical director two or Utah and cascade side class. They can always pro events for the last 15 years. And I could just, I could name a whole list of people that have a decade plus of experience operating at the, at the highest level.

So, so what we look, we look to do is to provide all this amazing courses in scenery, but then make sure that everybody is completely taken care of every single day and maximize their experience along the way. Cause it's, it is truly going to be con. Absolutely. It's one of those, those events where you know, you have all those single day one day road races that you do and, and 10 years from now you forget it. This is one of those things that I truly believe for many will be a lifetime memory because of the diversity. And the challenge and, and the experience that they'll have.

It said to nail the point home just because many of my listeners are regardless. He quite familiar with one day racism, what that experience looks like. So you're out on the trail for five days. What are you doing at night? What's happening during the day from a logistics perspective?

Yeah, and that's a great uh, great question. So when a, you're just telling you a little snapshot of what riders can expect when they roll into camp and in each of the days that were camping, we've got beautiful, you know, forest one areas, you know, we're a mixture between city parks, community centers and um, and uh, um, and even some of the high schools, a little, little, little tiny high schools that are embedded out in the cascade mountain ranges in these remote areas. Um, they're just beautiful sceneries in quiet areas that were setting up camp. But as writers, Rollie, and the first thing they're going to do is we've got food for them to get snacks and food for them to kind of rehydrate, to kind of fuel up. Then we actually have a, we work with a caterer that we'll be doing the food service for the entire five days and it's not cheap, you know, um, you know, burgers and that kind of stuff if things like salmon and tri tip and, and a barbecue chicken and you know, we really want to make sure that this is a high level event.

So this catering companies thing catering at a port Lily's been working with for a number of years, um, delivers unbelievable, uh, meals and, and has experience working with large events like cycle Oregon and, and some of the larger events out there running events. We, they do a lot of our running events with 2000 plus runners coming through and doing a full catered high, high level a meal for them. So they'll be on, on, on point. And then when they're done with their meal and they've had their hot shower and so forth, we will have a nightly different game, competitions and tournaments, things like corn hole, a horse, you, um, we're going to be doing a, a poker night. Uh, we've got live music on, on three of the, the nights that we have the event, we're going to have a, a western movies playing. So it's, it's not that you're going to go there and you're going to basically hold up in your tent and you're just going to sleep and wait until the next day. We've got entertainment planned throughout the entire course of the evening. And um, and then again, when the morning, uh, morning comes, we'll be there with our staff to load up your equipment and gear and a and get you guys supported and, and saddened and ready to go for the next day's events.

So in the morning I grab some breakfast, I pack my bag up, get my bike ready, and then your team takes care of the logistics of moving all my gear from point to point.

Absolutely. So what we do is we have, um, we have a system where everybody is, is checked out at a massive, a a plastic tub. It'll have their, their big number printed on the side of it and that's their tub there travel case to use throughout the, uh, the course of the week. We use a hard shell tub. I know there's a number of, of, uh, of races. Where are they? You just basically bring your own duffle bag and um, and you throw it in there. We want to make sure that everybody's equipment stays protected and stays organized over the course of the entire week. So the tubs we give them or are pretty sure are really strong so they won't, you won't get stuff. You can throw stuff in there and doesn't get damaged. It's easy to keep everything contained. Um, it's easy for us to transport it from point a to point B.

So what we'll do is we'll, the writers will come, they'll grab their bikes though. They'll check their up, their tub and um, with all their equipment, each rider gets an extra set of wheels to take along with them and they'll check that in and then we'll actually take that and have it waiting for them when they arrive at the finish line at, uh, at that day stage. If, if a writer needs to abandoned for whatever reason, they're injured, they're sick. Um, they've got time constraints. They can only do three of the five days or four of the five days. We actually have a nightly shuttle setup, um, that will take them from the finish line on that days stage back to the start in sisters. And we were calling it effectually the shuttle of shame. And, um, and, and what, what, uh, as a little token or gesture, everybody that gets on the shuttle of shame and gets delivered back early, uh, gets a complimentary tee shirt, um, with, uh, with the old Oregon trail video game and the oxen and the, and the, the wagon cart is pulling on the front of the t shirt and then below it it says you've died of dysentery.

And, um, and then they'll get a, a little, uh, um, uh, credit towards next year hoping they'll come back to finish what they started on this epic journey.

Say a little benefit in your shame I guess.


Yeah. It's something worth noting to people who haven't done these type of stage races with camping before. There's something, there's something amazing about packing up that crate in the morning, passing it off and not having to do anything but ride your bike all day.

And that's truly an art focus. I mean, that's a great point Craig. It's uh, we just, we want you to not have to worry about anything with logistics. We want you to literally focus on your ride and your in, you know, we're finding this is the first year of the event and were just blown away at how wide of a reach in it's very first year. We are seeing people signed up from all over the country that are coming and uh, and flying in and traveling to a, to experience this event. And our goal is, is that your focus is 100% on, on pushing those pedals as well as just enjoying the moment. I mean, you're going to be cycling through truly some of the most beautiful and on spiring terrain you will find anywhere in this country. And it's, uh, it's important for us that you're not thinking about anything but, um, that event and your time on the bike and your experience there.

So, you know, we'll have incredibly stocked well-stocked aid stations. We have a very large medical team and mechanic team that we'll be rolling on motorbikes and a and four by four rigs along the course to make sure that anybody that has an issue is taken care of. And basically we just want you to focus on the ride, will take care of everything else, breakfast, lunch, dinner, uh, your, your, if you've got a bike issue we can fix it for you and, and just literally lets you experience in the moment this, uh, this tremendous, uh, adventure.

Yeah. Now as you mentioned earlier, prior to recording, there's just something really special about finishing the day at a camp site. Having a communal meal with everybody, gives you a great opportunity to meet people from all over the country or all over the world and just share war stories from the day.

It really is. And you know, it the thing that really fits well and I think that's why these of the, you know, the, the five day event is going to be something that I really think in a couple of years could, could take off and be very, very large is this is from my experience. Um, you know, years of experience working with gravel writers, they, they're a different mentality than what you would see on a mountain bike. Um, but especially what you'd see on a, on a road bike. You know, coming from a road background, it was all about the competition. You know, you didn't, you didn't lift your head, you didn't look around. You are watching your watch, you're watching your, your heart rate. You are, you are attacking you or you know, you, you, it was all about the race of travel. Writers are a fee for the most part are a very wide demographic.

We have folks coming in that are truly just wanting to finish the day and have a great ride with their friends, have a beer and a barbecue afterwards. And then we have those, there are literally some of the top pros in the country that are there to race it in and, and have a great time. But even I've noticed that the folks that come from road backgrounds, they, it's almost like they just take a deep breath and they just like, we're just out here to have a great time and have fun. There's not the pressure that you see on the, on the roadside for placings and competition and sprinting and that kind of stuff. And so that's something that's been a huge joy for my crew and I in, in operating this is it just more of a, a fun and party type atmosphere? There's definitely some competition involved. Um, but, but it, it, it brings in such a wide demographic and wide range of people and, and, and they're all there to just have a wonderful time and experience.

Yeah, I think you're right. I mean, obviously it plays out in the one day environment, but in the multiday environment when the pro athletes or camping just alongside everybody else even further enhances that opportunity to grab a beer or have a meal with a pro athlete that you were no where near during the day, but you all went through the same terrain. You did the river crossings, you hopped over down trees, whatever was in front of you, you did together and you had that shared experience. I think it's a, it's a huge opportunity on the multiday front.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, you see these, uh, these pro athletes, first off, the pro athletes we have coming are all just, they're just class a people. They're just great, wonderful personalities. They're great people. Um, and you know, you look on the, on the roadside or even to some extent the mountain bike side, when they're done with their thing and they're, they're, they're, they're finding their, their, uh, um, team manager and support staff and they're holed up in their team tent and then they all jump in their van and they go back to the hotel. We're here. There's all, there's going to be a tremendous access to these athletes who are going to be out there enjoying those games and fun with everybody else. It's going to be everybody together in this community type atmosphere for five days. And I, I think that's what I really enjoy, probably almost the most on this, on the side from the beautiful scenery that we get to work in.

Is it just the fact that we're, we're one community moving through these five days together and tackling these challenges and meeting up every night in camp to swap those stories that you talked about and uh, and, and, or even strategize for the next day. Hey, we're kind of tires, are you using, what's your plan? You know, where do you think you're going to go hard? And the one thing I do need to make sure that everybody, anybody that's considering this a realizes number one, we are there to support you. So if for some reason you're just having an off day and it is not in the cards for you, um, we have the support shuttles and crew to transport you, pick you up, off course transports you to the finish. And yes, you can start the next day. It's not like a road stage race where you're disqualified. You can start the next day.

Now granted you're not in the, in the results and you're not in the competition. But just being able to ride these courses is in my mind, the biggest benefit of doing this event. So we have the support in place. And, and so if you have a, you know, somebody who's like, oh, five days, I'm not sure I can do it. Well, you know what, if you can't make it one day, we'll get you shuttled to the finish or get you fed, we'll get you arrested and you can take a crack at the next day and, uh, and, and, and continue to finish your journey along the way. And so, so that's, that's the other element that I really am kind of enjoying on this is that there's, there's that pressure of I've got to, I got to finish, I got to finish in this time where I'll be cut is not there because it's a big investment for folks for time and money to come in and do this. But you know, we want to make sure that they go feeling that they got every dime was well worth it. Um, they spend it every minute and planning the logistics to get here was well worth it.

Yeah. I think that's one of the interesting things about this format. And as you mentioned earlier, the mountain bike world has had a history of these events to kind of have set the stage. I do think it's this huge opportunity because many athletes, you know, whether regardless of where they are in the country, look at Oregon and say, hey, that would be a great place to ride. And the fact that you guys have so meticulously chosen the roots and handled the logistics, you sign up for this for being a week long vacation and whatever that adventure may lead lead you to.

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, it's one of the, we're fortunate where we're located in the courses that we were able to develop and I can't stress to people enough how deep into the forest and how remote these roads are. When we were scouting this, uh, these courses last year, we went out the exact same week. We're planning on running the event this year and drove him off. We wanted to see things like snow pack. Uh, we wanted to see what, uh, with the bug factor was what if, see what the road conditions work. Most importantly, we wanted to see what the traffic load was on these particular roads. We had no idea. And, um, and I know some people think, I probably exaggerate this, but this is, this is absolutely the truth in a, we, it took us two full days in the truck driving 12 hours per day.

So 24 hours of driving to cover all 350 miles of the course because it might pickup truck. There's a lot of times where I'm not going a lot faster than what the cyclists would be as I'm going in negotiating these super windy gravel roads and whatnot. And when we did that entire scouting over the course of 24 hours in two days time, we literally passed a total of six vehicles on the roads out there. Of those six vehicles, three of them were forest service rigs. And it's just so it's one of those things, it's very, very unique. You know, you in a world that's so busy and so congested, there are very few areas where you can truly, uh, get lost or get out there where you're like, I mean it was to the point where you're out there driving and you're writing and you see another vehicle and you're almost excited cause you're like, wow, somebody else's actually out here. You know, I wonder what they're doing, wonder where they're going kind of thing. Cause it's such an anomaly and unique experience. But for the cyclist, it makes it so that they're not having to concentrate on anything but the scenery and the beautiful roads and they don't have to worry about just constant traffic coming yet coming their way.

Yeah. So great from a writer's perspective to be able to go to a course that was designed by someone who was super passionate about their area and really just excited to expose the rider to something new and unexpected.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I really feel that, that confidence that this is this, this ride has something for everybody. And that's, I guess that's the other thing that I really enjoy about the gravel sector is, um, and I think, I think this is exactly what cycling needed is as we see a fairly hefty decline on, on the road side of things, especially the competitive road, um, in other areas of cycling. Um, I, I, I see, I see gravel for lack of a better term, um, almost kind of being the half marathon, 10 k of the cycling world. And what I mean by that and we, our company, half of our events are cycling events. We also own and operate a number of marathons, half marathons, running events as well. We try to be fairly diversified in our portfolio. But it's one of those things where again, you'll see everything from some of the fastest providers in the country down to people that are just literally wanting to finish their total weekend warriors.

They've got a, they've got, you know, responsibilities and families and kids and, and things like that. And that's the beauty of it is, is that it's such a diverse, um, group of people that come out to enjoy this. And I honestly think that that's what the sport of cycling needs is that diversity and that experience from a wide demographic. Cause that's, that's where you get the numbers and that's where you get the most interest from. The general population is feeding it through that. And maybe gravel is the gateway to, you know, things like mountain biking or to road or something else as they venture out into some, some other disciplines and so forth. But we're just seeing such a cool movement in gravel right now. And I, I expect to see it continue to build and grow for years to come just because of the, the nature of being able to find quiet, um, venues where there's not just cars whizzing by you at 55, 60 miles an hour left and right all day or all through your rides.

Yeah. One word in your comments that just jumped out at me. It was experience. And I think that's the hallmark of a great event, is that it's just this amazing experience from soup to nuts. And that may be something that's lacking in traditional road racing, right? If you get chucked off the back, it's just simply not fun. It's not all inspiring, but it doesn't typically matter where you are at the front end of the spear or the back and a gravel grinder because the experience is there for everybody.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that is, you can't lose on these things. I mean, typically, typically fine with the gravel that you're there with a friend or you end up joining up with some buddies and you're not trying to drop them. You're, you're literally, you know, if you're not competitive, you're, you're towards the back of the field of the pack. You're finding other folks the ride and you're experiencing this together. You're not, you're not, you know, writing and then trying to drop the guy next to you just as quickly as you can and, and so it makes it fun. It makes it fun no matter what's going on, whether you're in the points competition or, or results or you're just trying to finish that day. There's something for everybody. And that, uh, that community and camaraderie, you know, that extends, extends not just each night, but then all the way through the ride as well.

Yeah. I feel like there's something, there's a phenomenon in mountain biking where you're riding with your friends and you'd do a section that's so much fun. You stop at the bottom and you just wait for everybody to give high fives and have a good laugh. And that may not be present in road athletes' lives. They may not have sort of really been familiar with something like that. And with gravel, I think there's a component of that as well. It's like, holy crap, I can't believe we just navigated that section and we all survived. You got a big smile on your face, you regroup and then you, you cruise along together as the terrain permits.

Yeah, absolutely. And I even see, you know, I never, the folks that aren't really in it for the race components are in it more for the adventure. There are so many crazy beautiful, uh, pullouts in vistas along the way. I'm, I'm talking here, you'll be riding through the forest, like the Willamette national forest on the west side of the cascades. You'll come around some quarter and all, it'll be open. And all of a sudden, like, there's the three sisters mountains, like, Eh, they're so close. You literally think you can reach out and touch them. I mean, they're right there. And so there's, there's so many elements like that where you just, you're so much more aware of your, of your surroundings and, and, uh, and uh, and the beauty of the scenery that you, it's encompassing around you that, that people are just gonna be blown away.

And I, again, it's just some of these roads. I, I just scratch my head that they, that, you know, back in the fifties and sixties, I guess that was kind of when lumber was king, even in the resources that they had to, to build these roads. I can remember on one particular scouting trip between two communities, um, Mckinsey and Oakridge, I've been driving for about three hours scouting and I'm thinking I've, I, I'd left Mckinsey that morning and uh, it was, was headed to Oak Ridge after about three hours of like, I've gotta be getting close to Oakridge. And I'd been on, I had not seen a soul out there for three hours, not a single car, none them are gravel roads that I come crest up over this ridge and come into a four way intersection. And it was one of the few times where there's actually a legitimate sign. They're showing, you know, directions and mileage to different points. And it said, uh, 35 miles back to Mckinsey, which I had just come and I still have 30 miles to go to get to Oak Ridge. And I'm like, where in the world am I? You know, I mean there's 30 plus miles to the nearest paved road or, or any kind of civilization is it just, it just boggles the mind that there are still areas out there that are that under undeveloped and just, uh, just wild and beautiful.

Yeah. Well, I am really excited for this event. I'm really appreciative that you've put it together. I think it's going to be a great sort of landmark event for others to copy in different parts of the country. I encourage everybody to go to the website and check out the both the terrain, the video, the elevation gain and loss. This is going to be a massive adventure that is going to be something that you talk about for years to come. So Chad, thanks for telling us all about the event. I hope it's a great success and I can't wait to get up there again one of these days.

Sounds good. Great. Thank you very much for the time this morning.