The Filthy is a sellout gravel biking event in beautiful Lanesboro, Minnesota. Today we talk with co-organizer Trenton Raygor about October snow, the move to Lanesboro, and why the heck it fills up so stinking fast.
The sold-out Filthy is a Minnesota gravel race on October 8. To learn more about the event and to make sure to get a spot next year, check out their website and give 'em a follow on Insta.
Interview with Trenton Raygor:
You have some of the filthiest photos I've ever seen from gravel racing. What's the story behind the name and do you hope for nasty weather?
For those who ride gravel, you know that we ride whatever the weather. Sure, we enjoy a fair weather day like anyone else, but those aren’t usually the days that we end up talking about for years to come. If it’s hot, hydrate and dress light. If it’s cold, put on more clothes. If it’s raining, wear some rain gear and clip a fender onto your bike…oh, and you’re gonna get some grit in yer teeth.
From our first year in 2013 through 2017 we had incredibly pleasant weather. Strangely enough, our riders began to expect it…like we had control over it. Several riders jokingly thanked me for selling my soul to Mother Nature year after year. Others would take jabs at the name, suggesting a potential change to “The Dusty 50”. Then 2018 arrived. I remember dad waking me up at 5am and informing me that it was snowing. It wasn’t supposed to snow, but it was coming down. Temperatures were hovering around freezing so it was really more of a “wintery mix”. We didn’t know if anyone would show up that year, but more than 500 hearty souls toed the line. It truly was the worst possible riding weather, but it definitely earned us back our name and it gave each of our riders one hell of a story.
We had a near repeat of that in 2019. Though we never hope for nasty weather, we do know that it has the potential to challenge our riders in different ways and help them find something in themselves that they never knew existed.
“Mother Nature is an old lady with few suitors these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.” - Tim Krabbe
You moved the event to Lanesboro in 2019. What's the town, gravel, and landscape like there?
Lanesboro, Minnesota is a fairytale-like place in the southeastern part of the state tucked away down in a valley and surrounded by bluffs. The town is filled with shops, places to eat and drink, and showcases a vibrant arts scene. The culture there is built around the bicycle and other outdoor activities, making it the perfect home for The Filthy. The gravel is all limestone based and of all of the places in the United States that I’ve had the opportunity to ride, it’s my favorite.
This is a key feature of the Driftless region and I think that the ancient limestone is one of components that makes riding gravel in the Driftless so special. In addition to the gravel, the landscapes are beautiful and dramatic. There are a lot of fresh water streams, waterfalls, cliffs, and scenic vistas. By definition, the Driftless region is not flat, so our riders get to do some climbing to earn those fall color views.
This is your 9th year and you've really been doing this since before gravel exploded and everybody started doing it. What did you want this event to become?
It’s hard to believe that we have been doing this for as long as we have. The Filthy was initially just supposed to be a backyard BBQ and gravel ride out of my folks place, but after 300 riders signed up, we knew we had to change those plans. Mom and dad were concerned that we might destroy their house and I’m over here thinking that ‘Risky Business’ could have been a way more interesting movie. Our first year quickly changed into learning how to logistically turn a 30 person event into a 300 person event, and also how much effort is required to pull off an event like The Filthy.
The effort didn’t seem to be a problem as friends and family all stepped up. They wanted to do this. They wanted to contribute to something each felt was extremely positive. Each year after our first year we’ve continued to evolve. Foundationally, The Filthy is still the same in our ninth year as it was that first year. If it wasn’t, I don’t think we would still be doing it. Our family wanted to create a fun and inclusive space that would challenge veterans and introduce rookies to something potentially transformative. In my book, there’s no way better than a beautiful fall gravel ride in the Driftless. I still can’t believe that next year is going to be our tenth. We are going to have to celebrate big!
1,000 people signed up in one week. What's so special about The Filthy?
This always blows my mind. Year after year we fill up so fast and there’s always speculation as to why. I think that there are many reasons. Many of them are reasons that we’ve already talked about, but if I were to focus on one, it would be “community”. Lanesboro and the surrounding Bluff Country Community is incredibly welcoming to all. Our volunteers and sponsors are comprised of family and friends who truly love being there and contributing in ways that make the rider experience unforgettable.
Lastly, our riders are simply the best. They are kind, encouraging, accepting, and supportive of every single person they line up with. They’ve really embraced the inclusive and welcoming nature of the Filthy. No matter who you are or the reason you’re riding, you’ll find what you’re looking for. I think that makes folks want to come back.
Will you have the crapper on the course again this year?
For those wondering what the hell we’re talking about here, The Filthy is a gravel ride and gravel rides are classy. Often on a gravel ride, one might find discarded and out-of-place objects along the side of the road. On our gravel rides we’ve found treadmills, wheelchairs, mattresses, toilets, etc. In 2018, we put a toilet in the middle of the road and our riders posed for photos with it. It was such a memorable and silly thing, we brought it back in 2021 for a much cleaner reprise. Will it be back this year? There are always surprises on The Filthy course. You’ll have to ride it and find out.