Scott Olsen and James Armstead of the Phoenix Syndicate team in Des Moines, Iowa found a creative way to bring back racing during the coronavirus shutdown.

For bicycle racers in greater Des Moines, Iowa, the first weekend in April presents an early opportunity to test one’s legs and lungs at the Gents Race, a 65-mile (or so) gravel team time trial that starts and finishes at the Nite Hawk Bar and Grille in Slater, just west of the city.

As April’s opening weekend approached this year, local rider Scott Olsen lamented the loss of the Gents Race and the other cycling events on Iowa’s racing calendar due to the coronavirus shutdown. Olsen missed the race and the physical challenge it presented — what he missed most, however, was the camaraderie at the post-race party.

“It starts and ends at this bar, and there are 500 people sitting around drinking beer and eating pizza and talking about the race and having a great time,” Olsen toldVeloNews.“I thought about it and was like, ‘This sucks — I’m ready to have beers and hang out and have fun like that again.'”

What made the event special was the community, the challenge, and the way it provided a much-needed business boost to the bar. Could these elements of the Gents Race be recreated during the coronavirus shutdown? Olsen posed the question to James Armstead, his brother-in-law and teammate on the local Phoenix Syndicate racing team.

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