Gravel Grinder News: Almanzo Becomes “The Heywood Ride”

Gravel Grinder News: Almanzo Becomes “The Heywood Ride” – by Guitar Ted

This morning Riding Gravel discovered on social media that the former Almanzo event, possibly the most famous free, grassroots gravel event in the World, was to become “The Heywood Ride”. This news points to a new beginning for the Northfield, Minnesota based gravel grinder which last Spring was still called the Almanzo 100.

Scene showing Cherry Grove checkpoint from Almanzo 100, 2018
Riding Gravel supported the third checkpoint at the Almanzo 100 from 2016-2018.

The Almanzo events, including the Royal 165, and the ultra-distance 380+ mile Alexander, had gone through some surprising twists and turns in the last 15 months or so. In the end, these changes eventually resulted in the end of those seminal events as most knew them.

These events included the surprising return of the Almanzo 100’s founder, Chris Skogen, after having been out of the event for several years. Then Skogen had the venue changed from Spring Valley, Minnesota to Northfield, Minnesota, causing the event to have three completely new courses. Finally, the format was changed as well on the eve of the event last Spring. Another surprise then came as Skogen left the events again for the second time, turning them over to their new caretakers, Marty Larson and Ben Witt. Then shortly afterward Mr. Skogen, “retired the name” Almanzo. The now unnamed event going forward was said to be scheduled for the same traditional Almanzo 100 date, which has been the third weekend in May for over a decade.

That name has now been revealed by Marty Larson, and he posted to Riding Gravel’s Facebook page the following:

We have some final behind the scene’s type work to polish up, but Ben Witt and I are producing an event that will take the fabled Almanzo heritage and create a good ride day for all who participate.

What format The Heywood Ride will be held under, or whether there will be multiple distance options, is not known at this time. Riding Gravel hopes to get the details of The Heywood Ride, and we will share that news when it becomes available.

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6 Responses to Gravel Grinder News: Almanzo Becomes “The Heywood Ride”

  1. phaty November 23, 2019 at 7:03 am #

    the lack of american flags in this picture is alarming

    • Guitar Ted November 23, 2019 at 10:53 am #

      @phaty- #ironydetected

      • Steve November 23, 2019 at 9:39 pm #

        Sad that Skogen chose to “retire” the Almanzo name. Naming/Branding of these events seems to be crucial to drawing and keeping participants or event staff. Is this Skogen pulling a schoolyard prank of taking his ball and going home? Seems petty.

        • Guitar Ted November 24, 2019 at 6:49 am #

          @Steve- That’s a valid take and certainly one could look at it that way. One could also say that with a new venue, new directors, and possibly new formatting, that The Heywood Ride is better off leaving the history of Almanzo behind them.

          In my opinion it is a shocking and fascinating story since the Almanzo 100 was definitely one of the most popular and well known gravel grinders from about 2010 until 2019. I think that “equity”, that history – more than just branding – is what seems to be the greatest loss here.

          In case you were not aware, Spring Valley, where the Almanzo was held out of for years, had an event on the old Almanzo course last Spring. No word on whether or not that might happen again, but if that were to be revived it probably would hold a bit more sentimentality for riders that had done the old course. Perhaps “saving” a taste of what the mighty Almanzo once was? Hard to say. But as I said, it is a fascinating story.

  2. Andrew November 24, 2019 at 7:28 am #

    Drew”s event in Spring Valley this year was embraced by the town. It was smaller than Almanzo, but we all had a good time and the slightly modified course was excellent. I’m not privy to exactly what went down between Skogen and SV, but as an observer I don’t think it was because SV didn’t want to have it. I’d love to see both events happening, going forward.

    • Mason December 6, 2019 at 11:53 am #

      Yeah, I rode in the Spring Valley ride this year and the town had bent over backwards to accommodate the event.

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by Riding Gravel 2014