Sweat, dirt, and heart
Heidi Myers and Anthony Moccia are no strangers to gravel grinders. Since 2013 they have been organizing races such as the legendary Rasputitsa, The Dirty 40, and the “laid back” non-racing event (depending on who you ask) Rogue Ride. Each of these gravel grinders explores some of Vermont’s most scenic and challenging dirt roads.
On September 1, 2018, Heidi and Anthony hosted the first ever Redemption Gravel Race. With the event kicking off from The Old Stone House Museum in Brownington, Vermont, there was no shortage of breathtaking views, challenging climbs, excellent food and entertainment, and good company.
This event was pure enjoyment, beginning the evening before with a social at the Garneau Outlet in Derby, Vermont, where participants socialized, shopped the outlet, and enjoyed local beer from Hill Farmstead Brewery. This was a great opportunity to network and meet others in the ever-growing gravel community. When Duby and I arrived, the late afternoon sun was streaming through Garneau’s big plate glass windows and riders were clustered in groups of twos and threes, gabbing about the race and bikes in general. The pre-race vibe was relaxed and friendly.
After we picked up our race numbers and bought a Garneau tumbler that the bartender filled with a tasty IPA, Duby and I chatted briefly with Anthony about the upcoming race. Later, a conversation with Heidi confirmed their intention for Redemption 2019, a 3-day, 4-stage race including a circuit race, a time trial, cyclocross, and the Redemption Ride. Participants may choose to race all stages or just Redemption. This year’s race was a test run, as they want to be sure to have every aspect dialed in before launching the stage race in 2019. According to Heidi, they want to “do it right the first time.” If their previous races and events are any indication, there is no doubt they will pull it off.
Following the social, Specialized Bicycles presented the Ride-In Outdoor Movie Theater with an exclusive showing of Project Y, a science documentary made by The Corps of Discovery aka Yonder Projects which answers the question, “What’s the deal with endeavors and sports and activities commonly referred to as Type 2 or ‘Latent Fun™’?” This documentary followed five test subjects as they trained and prepared for what is considered the world’s most difficult gravel race, The Dirty Kanza, hoping to learn why humans—Subject Athletes— are compelled to push their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional limits without causation.
The night before Redemption, camping was available for those who wished to sleep under the stars. Campers were asked to respectfully observe quiet hours from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am, keep dogs leashed, and dispose of waste properly. The opportunity to camp will be available again next year.
The course selections for Redemption were stellar. Scenic views around every corner, sprawling farms and fields, pavé sectors, and plenty of good ol’ Vermont gravel. With 50-mile and 100-mile options, there was something for every gravel grinding enthusiast. (Let it be noted that gravel grinding is not for the faint of heart. Both courses were challenging...as they should be!)
As with most gravel grinders, the Redemption Gravel Race can be a race or a ride. The choice is up to the participant. Attracting athletes of all abilities, this event has an energy that is all-inclusive and welcoming, making it a light-hearted and fun time for all. Where else can you participate in an event with professional athletes like Ted King and Lyne Bessette as well as a group of 15- to 18-year-old girls on mountain bikes who graduated from the Little Bellas program?
Heidi and Anthony can also be commended for making this a zero-waste event, with each participant receiving a plate, aluminum bottle, and glass for the after-party, a tradition they intend to continue with each race they establish.
Heidi and Anthony have a guiding principle that they call the Three C’s: Cycling, Community, Charity.
Charity has always been a driver for Heidi and Anthony. Being able to give back to the sport of cycling as well as bring economic growth to rural Vermont is important to them. Just as Rasputitsa has benefited Little Bellas, so too will Redemption give back. In 2019, proceeds from Redemption will go to the Davis Phinney Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping people with Parkinson’s to live well with the disease.
Community is evident throughout the Redemption experience, from the relaxed pre-race social on Friday, through the race itself, to the after-party. In can be observed by the support provided from others in the industry, including Peter Vollers, organizer of The Vermont Overland, Arlon Chaffee of Raid Lamoille, Ansel Dickey of Vermont Social with a camera strapped to his side as he rode, and others including 100b7, and Gretchen Kaija of Peacham Fall Fondo.
A tent promoting and selling Untapped athletic fuel was manned by Ted King himself. About Gladys, a high-energy rock and funk band (whose lead guitarist also happens to own Paradise Sports bike and ski shop in Windsor, Vermont) brought the groove. For the Love of Food offered amazingly delicious vegan burritos and Buddha bowls out of their food truck. Hill Farmstead beer served up in Mason Jars stamped with the Redemption logo was on tap. And let’s not forget homemade pie and whipped cream! With jovial recounts of the event being shared among participants, delicious food being devoured by hungry post-racers, talking, laughing, kids jumping on parents, race-friends reuniting, local police and volunteers helping with parking and road safety, community was happening right before our eyes.
This is where Heidi and Anthony shine, providing a venue for like-minded people to gather and enjoy what they love doing: Having a bit of Latent Fun™ the best possible way, with lots of dirt, food, and beer! If you are one of those people who have talked yourself out of doing a Rasputitsa event, know this: You are missing all the fun. It’s time to stop thinking about it and just do it! No one has ever said, “I wish I hadn’t done Rasputitsa.”