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The Gravel Growlers

More Than Just A Bike Race

 

February 6, 2020

Countywide & Sun/Jacob Factor

Cyclists and runners have a choice of an 85-mile endurance course, a short 35-mile course, a 35-mile running course, and a 17-mile running course. Additional photos can be found under the photo tab at the top of the screen.

By JACOB FACTOR

450 bicycle racers. 85 miles.

No, it's not the Tour de France. It's the Oklahoma Gravel Growler.

The Gravel Growler is an early season gravel bicycle race hosted by Craig MacIntyre of spOKeLAHOMA Bike Shop on Bell Street in Downtown Shawnee.

The race consists of several courses, an 85-mile endurance course, a short 35-mile course, a 35-mile running course, and a 17-mile running course.

"Our goal is to put on an event that makes people want to come to Shawnee, makes people want to ride their bikes, and give money back to the community," MacIntyre said.

At this year's race held on February 1, the Gravel Growler accomplished all of that.

Racers from all over the U.S., and even other countries, came to Shawnee to participate.

MacIntyre said professional cyclists who have competed in huge races like the Tour of Spain, and even a U.S. Olympic team member, participated.

"From beginners to world class pros. It's just amazing they came to Shawnee to do this," he said.

The Gravel Growler this year also accomplished MacIntyre's goal of giving money back to the community.

The race raised over $3,600 dollars to donate to Friendship House, a service of Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County.

Friendship House offers after-school programs, adult education classes, and skill-building workshops, and more, according to their website.

MacIntyre said part of the donation money comes from a portion of the racers' entry fees, and the other part is donations.

"So, the people who came to Shawnee to race actually donated additional money (to go to Friendship House)," MacIntyre said. "To me, that's huge. Over the last few years we've gotten to know the people over there and the work they do is important to us."

It wasn't just the racers giving to the community; the community also gave to them.

Businesses that normally aren't open on weekends opened their doors bright and early to give the racers a fresh start to their day.

"The businesses downtown jumped on board," MacIntyre said. "Boomerang opened early; Coffee and Crafts opened early and had specials for the racers. Coney Island is never open on weekends, but they did and sold out of food Saturday. Theopolis got a permit to sell beer at the event and sold out twice."

Other groups also participated: Vyve Broadband provided free WiFi downtown during the race; Several police and fire departments provided road blocks and escorts.

Countywide & Sun/Jacob Factor

There was also a big group of about 50 volunteers working the event, from registration, to set up, to aid stations, to Jeep patrols for picking up racers who needed help.

"We had an amazing group of people from the community come to volunteer," MacIntyre said.

MacIntyre said seeing all the community involvement made him proud to be a part of the community.

"It was like the community reached out and realized that we're having an event which would normally never happen in Shawnee," he said. "To have this high-end (world class) event centered around a healthy lifestyle come to a community where traditionally that's not what drives the community, It made me feel proud that people recognized that it was a big deal."

 

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