Trail Ramblings: Meet One Of The Founders Of Gravel Worlds, Craig Schmidt.

The following is excerpted from an article written by Katie Dolan for the Duncan Aviation newsletter.

As a founding member of the PCL (Pirate Cycling League), the Lincoln, Nebraska-based group of bicycle riders who also started Gravel Worlds ( 15 years ago, August is a big month for Craig from start to finish. 

The 14th Annual Garmin Gravel Worlds race featured between 2-3,000 cyclists and runners, who competed in steamy temperatures, pedaling various distances on gravel hills around Lancaster and Cass counties in Nebraska. Kick-off festivities started outside the Schillingbridge restaurant in Fallbrook on Thursday, August 24. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird welcomed the cyclists, runners, and their families and friends to Lincoln as she has the last several years. 

Among the many events were a concert featuring Duncan Aviation’s own Line Services Rep Lloyd McCarter and his band the Honky Tonk Revival on Thursday evening; a vendor Expo; numerous training rides; a 50k and a 10k run on Friday morning and a 300-mile Long Voyage gravel ride that started at 4pm Friday; and 3 distances of gravel rides on Saturday morning: The Gravel Worlds’ Cycling Championship of 150 miles, the Privateer of 75 miles, and the Buccaneer at 50k (roughly 33 miles). 

Blending Aviation & Gravel Cycling 

Because Craig is now working at Duncan Aviation, he knew that this year’s Garmin Gravel Worlds was the same weekend as the Lincoln Airshow. Because both are so important to Craig, hewanted a way to introduce more of his cycling community to Duncan Aviation, and introduce Duncan Aviation to Gravel Worlds. 

“I pitched the idea of honoring both to the PCL, and they loved it,” says Craig. “I talked to the designer at Screen Ink, Spencer Munson, about creating something that would honor both the cycling community and the aviation community, and he came up with a killer design.”

Local brewery Zipline always brews a special Kolsch in the style of October fest brew to commemorate Gravel Worlds, and they put Spencer’s design on the can. Spencer also printed 100 posters featuring the design, too. 

This year’s race featured riders from all 50 states, as well as from 14 countries. The cyclists and their families fill up hotels in Lincoln for the weekend, and the routes take riders through many local towns and communities outside of Lincoln. 

“We let proprietors in the area know when Gravel Worlds will take place so they can be ready. Every year, hundreds of riders stopping at the Malcolm General Store drive up sales to the point where it’s their best day of the entire year,” says Craig.

“We helped fund the new baseball fields in Malcolm, and because the folks in Valparaiso have always welcomed us and our riders, we gave them the money they needed for their Boy Scout troop’s annual trip. We funded and built the bike park in Van Dorn Park in Lincoln, and we’re the largest contributors for the Randy Gibson Memorial Fund.” 

Lincoln Parks Foundation raised funds to build a memorial shelter in Randy’s name at the trailhead that will eventually join the South Haymarket Park & Plaza to the Jamaica Trail.

“Randy was also a founder and member of the PCL and Gravel Worlds. He was a heck of a cyclist who participated in and volunteered at Gravel Worlds, too. In September 2016, he was hit and killed by a drunk driver while out riding his bicycle,” says Craig. “He was well-known and loved in the Lincoln cycling community, and his daughter Sofia is a member of the Gravel Worlds’ team. The memorial is a way for all of us to honor Randy’s memory.” 

Garmin Gravel Worlds is put on by the PCL and dozens of local volunteers. In addition to Garmin, Gravel Worlds enjoys the sponsorship and support of many other businesses, national and local. The trophies for the winners are actual swords designed and created by blacksmith Colton Bridger Arias, who has won the National Forged In Fire competition twice.

Additionally, Craig, known to most of his friends as Schmidty, is humble and would never say it, but there’s a section of a trail in Wilderness Park that he maintains, picking up trash and plant debris, clearing the trail of fallen limbs, and generally keeping it safe and accessible for the hikers, cyclists, and runners who frequent the park.

Now from your regular Trail Ramblings contributor: There’s much more that we could say about Craig. He’s always looking for ways for cycling to benefit small towns around Lincoln, and for ways to increase cyclist’s appreciation of small towns. This Saturday is Craig’s brainchild Legion Post 197 Gravel Mission, out of Eagle Ne. Not a race, your registration is a fundraiser to help send students to Girls State and Boys State. 30 and 65 mile distances. Look it up on Facebook for more information and a fun day.