Crushing Gravel - An Interview With Chris Skogen [Salsa Cycles]

Chris Skogen is the founder and race director of the Almanzo 100. Each May, hundreds of cyclists take part in what has become Minnesota's most celebrated gravel race. Entry in the event is free, but the reward is priceless. Salsa is proud to be a sponsor of the 2013 Almanzo 100.
We took a few moments of his time to talk bikes, gravel, and the Almanzo.
Tell us how you became a cyclist?
My arrival at cycling is probably not unlike that of too many others. I got my first bike when I was pretty young. It gave me freedom. It gave me a release from the world I knew that was available by foot.
As I got older, the bicycle never changed for me. Sure the responsibilities in my life changed and my world "available by foot" expanded, but my time on the bike didn't change. It is still about freedom. In fact, I might argue that riding a bike these days allows me time to slow down. When I'm on the bike these days I often find myself listening to the things around me; birds chirping, dogs barking, kids laughing. I enjoy the opportunity riding a bike gives me to see the world around me. It's as much about freedom today as it was thirty years ago.
I should mention too, that every time I roll out of my driveway I feel exactly the same as I did when I rolled down the driveway on my very first bike.
Tell us how the Almanzo 100 came to be?
At the time, I was involved with some really grassroots racing here in Southern Minnesota. I was also taking another crack at attending college and bartending full time. The reason I mention the college thing is because I was taking a Sociology course at the time and it really got me thinking about communities and how people interact; especially my role as an "average" guy serving drinks to "above average" folks in a fancy restaurant.
Long story longer, I took what I came across in the college course, combined it with my ever-growing interest in different people (tending the bar helped fuel this part), my narrow background in art and my love for the bicycle and voila, a 100-mile, free-to-enter, self-supported bicycle race was born.