Cover image of The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast

The Gravel Ride. A cycling podcast

The Gravel Ride is a cycling podcast where we discuss the people, places and products that define modern gravel cycling. We will be interviewing athletes, course designers and product designers who are influencing the sport. We will be providing information on where to ride, what to ride and how to stay stoked on gravel riding.

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Moriah Wilson - Rest in Peace

This past weekend in Texas, Moriah Wilson was killed by gunshot. Moriah was a rising star of the gravel community and an amazing person. In tribute, I’m reposting my interview with Mo from earlier in the year. My heart is broken for Mo’s family and everyone she touched.


17 May 2022

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Greg Willimas - Lost and Found Gravel Festival

This week we sit down with Greg Williams from the Lost and Found Gravel Festival and Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship to hear about this years festival and the work SBTS does in the Lost Sierra. Episode Sponsor: The Feed Lost and Found Gravel Festival Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Lost and Found [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. Yeah. This week on the podcast, we have Greg Williams from the lost and found gravel festival and Sierra Buttes trail stewardship organization. Talking about the lost and found gravel event coming up this June in California. And all the great work that his nonprofit does to make the trails in the Los Sierra, an amazing place to visit. Before we jump in we need to thank this Week's sponsor the feed. The feed is the largest online marketplace for sports nutrition. They've got all your favorite sports, nutrition brands in one place. If you've developed an affinity like I have for certain brands. You can hop on over to the feed and mix and match. So you get everything you need in one delivery. If you're a frequent listener, you've probably heard me talk about the feed formula. The feed formula is a customizable nutritional supplement package. Available only from the feed. Feed formulas were developed in conjunction with Dr. Kevin Sprouse. Of the EDF pro cycling team. And uses the same techniques he uses with top athletes. Ensuring they have all their nutritional needs covered. You can customize each packet from a base formula. And add on specific formulas for recovery, for aging, a bunch of different things. If you're not already taking a supplement in your daily routine to support your gravel cycling career. I encourage you to take a look at these. They provide a convenient way in individually wrapped pouches to remember to take all the supplements you need to keep your body operating in tip top shape. Podcast listeners can get 50% off their first order of feed formula by visiting the feed.com/the gravel ride. Remember that's 50% off your first order of the feed formula, simply visit. The feed. Dot com slash the gravel ride. Would that business behind us let's jump right into this week's episode with greg williams Hey, Greg, welcome to the show. [00:02:26] Greg Williams: Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm excited. [00:02:28] Craig Dalton: I am T a man. , we're going to talk about the lost and found gravel grinder a little bit later in the broadcast. And it's a, it's an event that I've wanted to talk about for a couple of years now, actually probably four years, maybe because everybody who ever came back from it was like, this is an amazing event. Let's table that for a minute, because I really want to just start with you and just get a little bit about your background and how you ended up in the region. And then let's talk about the nonprofit, because I think everything you do up there is so intertwined with the gravel event and why it's so special that I think it's important to start. [00:03:02] Greg Williams: Yeah. A little bit of my background. My heritage is Milwaukee Indian up in the Northern Sierra and Nevada city region. And my, my tribe, was displaced almost overnight and my grand great grandfather went he ended up in Downieville actually during the gold rush and. Met this family called the Shaughnessy's, who had, they were opening a supply shop. So shovels and food in town. And my grandfather started building trails and Downieville and running pack meals to the minds. And growing up, it was always, the story that my dad would tell me about Downieville and and it didn't really matter until I got into mountain biking as a teenager and started riding Downieville and I was like, okay, this is it, man. This is my spot. This is, this is what I want to do. And as a teenager, I started guiding a mountain bikes, up in the region and then started running shuttles as well. I opened a bike shop in town 1991, and then started an event that was called the coyote classic in 1995. And now that's the Downieville classic. Downieville has been, a part of my heritage, part of my. My personal economy, part of my survival story. And the town was really starting to transition. I would say, it was a mining town primarily when I got there a lot of dredging on the rivers. And then when that became illegal in California, a lot of the miners in the family started to leave. And about that same time, a lot of the loggers were starting to leave as well. Recreation working with the chamber of commerce and the county kind of became this thing of Hey, will this work here in Downieville? And I think it has, Downieville is a, an international destination. The motels and restaurants, all depend on mountain bike, recreation and tourism. So I think it's a great model of like how recreation can keep a town alive that was, could potentially, have burned out the economy was not doing well. [00:04:59] Craig Dalton: It's so interesting. We often hear about how gravel cycling events have played that same role in rural communities. So it's interesting to hear you reference it back as to how mountain biking was playing that role back in the day for Downieville. Can you just for the listener who may be elsewhere outside of the state of California, can you position their minds as to where Downieville is located? [00:05:23] Greg Williams: Yeah. So Downieville this region, we call it the Los Sierra, and it's basically north of Truckee and north Northwest of Reno. We're about two hours. Like in a car from Sacramento or like 45 minutes from Truckee an hour from Reno like an hour and a half to Chico. So this is zone up here. We call it the Los Sierra. And it was really, there was a mail route back in the gold mining days. And the mailman would ski from Downieville up towards Quincy. And I think got lost a few times. And so it's a name we've stuck with. And part of it's loss of opportunities, loss of revenue. Loss of pride. But we're bringing it back through trying to keep it up, keep it a positive, and that's part of lost and found was, come and find yourself up here. [00:06:07] Craig Dalton: Yeah, amazing. So for the listener, who's obviously like my listener has a gravel orientation. The mountain biking in and around Downieville is absolutely exceptional. And as you mentioned, it's it's got a world renowned ship at this point. People from around the world have heard of Downieville and aspire to ride their bikes there. What makes the trail system so special? [00:06:28] Greg Williams: I think the fact that it Was built during the gold rush. There's a lot and there's a lot of trails, but these trails are like our super rowdy and steep, that's, the character of Downieville is like going fast through the rocks on a cliff. Being scared and then going for a swim and having a cold beer afterwards, so like for us as a trail stewardship, it's really important that we maintain the character of those trails. They were built for mules to go from point a to point B. There was no sustainable running grade. There was no thought of people like enjoying themselves on these trials, or certainly wasn't, they weren't thinking mountain bikes would be on them, but They have the character that people love. And so when we do all of our trail work, we're working really closely with the hydrologist to make sure that these trails are sustainable. They're not putting sediment into the creeks. Our region delivers a lot of clean drinking water to California, 65% between the Yuba and feather. Water's a big thing for us up here. And so as a rough and rowdy trails, so we're striking the balance in Downieville. You can't build those kinds of trails today. The forest service would just say out of spec, but the trails we build, today are just different. They're still as fun and enjoyable. They just, they're just more sustainable. [00:07:44] Craig Dalton: Was it that the fact that. Technically you already existed as mutual paths that you were able to get them effectively grandfathered in the format that they already existed in. [00:07:54] Greg Williams: For sure. And these trails, like in. the seventies, the forest service started to take them into their system. And at the time they were there, their solutions, these trails are open the motorcycles too. So you could ride motorcycles. You could ride e-bikes mountain bikes, hike, equestrian. So a trail for everyone. Those are the best. Those are the trails we like up here. Cause we're not, densely populated. We don't have high use necessarily. A lot of these trails are directional and in a sense that, just how people use them. So it all works really well together. Yeah just historic and some prehistoric from the native folks that were here. [00:08:34] Craig Dalton: You mentioned the Sierra Buttes trail stewardship organization. Can you just talk about the origins of that and what the journey has been like over the time it's existed? [00:08:45] Greg Williams: Yeah. Basically like we, we needed tools to put in people's hands. We were doing trail work days. And those started like with, a group of 10 and everybody had fun. And then the next time we'd have one, there'd be 20 people. And so we were getting these like work parties to where, there was like a hundred people showing up and this was before we had our nonprofit. And so we were. We are struggling to put tools in people's hands. We're good at putting a beer in their hands, on a burger at a barbecue, but we were like, man, we need tools. And we formed our nonprofit status in 2003. And the first grants we wrote were really just to buy tools. And so we started tooling up and then We started hiring folks. Henry O'Donnell who grew up in Downieville. He's our trail boss now. He's been working with us for 16 years and is built, probably a hundred miles of trail with his crews alone. As much as it was about taking care of the trails, it became about taking care of each other and the people and the communities. We like to say we're in the business of revitalizing mountain communities and we use trails as the tool to do it. So we're surrounded by national forest up here. And there's, the jobs traditionally have come from logging and mining. So we see recreation as being sustainable and a chance like for us to be more resilient and retain working families and put kids to work and really educate people on the importance of this place so that they can come up. And join us as land stewards or what the next time there's a bill to vote on for land or water issues, maybe they'll vote. Yes. Because they care about a place. [00:10:18] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. It's quite impressive. The scale of the organization at this point, imagining you starting it, it's quite straightforward to start a nonprofit, but it's quite difficult to generate a significant amount of donations or grants or funding. What did that path look like to obtain this type of scale, where you're able to meaningfully hire people in the community and do a huge amount of work in the last year? [00:10:44] Greg Williams: Yeah. I think one of the early keys and we didn't realize it at the time was just not being. Like, we could have easily said, Hey, we're Downieville mountain bike organization. Cause we were all mountain bikers. We rode dirt bikes, we all hiked. But because we really landed on trail stewardship and we're more inclusive. I think that was a real gift that we gave ourselves early on. Cause in this whole region we work we work in wilderness areas. We maintain huge chunks of the Pacific crest trail associate. Pacific crest trail. We put outdoor classroom and trail on every school campus and Plumas and Sierra county for the kids to get a trail experience and outdoor classroom. And then we build dirt bike trails, we build mountain bike trails. So if there's a trail in our region, like we want to be able to help. We want to be able to maintain it, build it and engage. Any type of recreate or we can become to come join in. So I think that's been a real key to our success. And then also I think, for me, like just growing up a young entrepreneur, like always having to make my own money not, having a big like support system. Get to be like a survivor, and scrappy and your heads up. And, you're just like, okay, what's the next thing. And we've just honestly had that approach with grants and projects, knowing what key projects to take and not take on too much. And and then in times, like with the pandemic and the big fires we've had up here is to really be able. Quickly react and a thoughtful way, like not just panic and not start down a road or a trail, that's like going to be the wrong one, and if it feels wrong in the beginning, we're like, Hey, what are we doing here? Do we have to do this like quick analysis? Like check-ins And so we've just, I think that's just like part of the nature of being up here. If you're raising your family up here and you've been here For generations, you just know like how it is, and it's, it takes everything sometimes. [00:12:38] Craig Dalton: For the listener who wants to support the organization? Do you accept direct donations or is it all grant based? How do you fund it? [00:12:45] Greg Williams: So we fund it. It's interesting. Cause like in 2019, I would say. Okay. Here's how we fund ourselves. We had lost and found we had the Downieville classic. We had grind Duro. We had a UBA expeditions, which is our guide outfitter business and shuttles like shuttling, almost 9,000 people up the hill. That was like 30% actually Yuba was like 28% of our gross revenue and events were up around like 35%. And and then the pandemic hit and took away all of our events took away our shuttles for a whole year limited our operations as a guide service, and then also took away barbecues and volunteer big days. So we got hit really hard. And during that time, We were like, man, what are we going to do? How do we bring up like donations, like to a higher level without events. And so in 21 when that year closed out, our donations were 38% of our gross. When they were at 3% in 2019, we still had no event. Income. Grants are running a right around 40% of our gross. Basically, we have we have public funding, like through grants and programs. We have private funding, we have foundations and then we have Yuba and we're bringing lost and found back on. So really trying to strengthen all the different, legs of the organization. So that. We're more, we can react more. We can be survivors. Like we want this to be A hundred year organization. And like those two years are just really just a little blip, but but at the same time, like when you're in the middle of it, it's like a big mountain in front of you, and so I think just, we've learned so much, we've learned like what we're made of, we know we know how to better support each other as staff and families. So there's really we're pretty confident in that we just need, honestly, we need an investment up here. We have some big projects. We need people sign up for lost and found whether they're going to come and race, or they're going to come and ride and enjoy the aid stations, or they just want to come help volunteer, just like just help us. And that. [00:14:53] Craig Dalton: percent. Yeah. I hope, I hope for any non-profit that's suffered with the elimination of in-person events over the last couple of years, that as you mentioned, just like stepping up their constituents, willingness to donate directly. And hopefully that can become habitualized. So you keep that 30 odd percent of direct donations. Plus you've got event revenue and all the other in-person things you were talking about and you come out of this even stronger than when you began. [00:15:23] Greg Williams: Yeah. That's certainly the goal and like this year we've we're looking at like peer-to-peer crowdfunding. It is one of the components to folks that are lining up or volunteering. But I think it's new, for people they're like, what do I do? How do I do it? Like my son has type one diabetes. And so I do a ride that benefits. It's totally built in, right? Like you're like, oh Yeah. of course this is what you do. This is how you do it. And so we want to get there with each one of our events and have the funding, help us with our operational costs, help us match up grants, no grant is free. It always costs whether it's time or money or volunteers, there's always a cost. So that's like we want, and we want people to be aware, like not just come do the race and be like, Yeah. that was awesome. But really. Have some ownership and some pride and help us like move this, these communities forward a little bit, [00:16:15] Craig Dalton: yeah. Yeah. I think anybody, you put some rubber on the road or on the trail in the Los Sierra comes away knowing it's a really special area. I'm sure as we get more people up there, they're gonna have a similar love for it and loyalty to it. One of the things that I saw mentioned and saw a couple of friends in the gravel community talking about where was the connected community project. Can you talk about what that's all about? [00:16:40] Greg Williams: Yeah connected communities is really, it's a project that the trails master plan got funded through Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which is a state agency. And and I got invited to, to talk at this mountain venture summit. And I was like, okay, I can just talk about all this stuff like we're doing or the normal stuff, but let's do something cool. And our board president Greg Carter, and I got together and we just had this huge regional map and we just started like laying out sticky notes about each of the towns. And how man, could we connect these with trails? And at the same time, like they're already connected with dirt roads, but how do we promote this? How do we make it to where people can look at a map that's readable? Cause there is 10,000 miles of dirt roads in those regions. So trying to plan a trip is holy crap. I don't even know where to start. There's so many roads. So a big effort is we're going to map out all the high quality gravel, dirt road. At linking the towns so people can start, doing bike packing. Part of our Yuba expeditions guide service will be what we're calling a mountain mule, which is basically hauling your gear from point to point which would be a combination of like overnight camping and then getting you into a town and do some accommodations and restaurants. And then we're going to build 620 miles of single track to connect these towns. part of that's already in the works. Some of it exists already. Some of it's been planned out for a long time. And we're in construction, like connecting Quincy to Taylorsville the next town over. So we have this big project and. It's rolling. It's not, we're not just waiting for the plan to be done. We're actually implementing parts of it. Some of it's an environmental review, so heritage botany, wildlife hydrology surveys are being done. We have two crews that are out ground-truthing all the mapping to ensure that those trails are in the optimum location. But when it's done 15 mountain towns, including Reno and Truckee will be connected all throughout the Los Sierra region was single track. All the dirt roads will be mapped out in such a way that you can plan your adventures. And also know what kind of services each of the town has. And then another component of this is to look at the potential overnight hot locations. But really we want to drive people riding with the main street of the downtown, with their credit card. To patronize these businesses because outside of Reno and Truckee, all these communities are severely disadvantaged economically. So everybody's struggling. And some of these businesses are just hanging on. So this is an opportunity to drive an economy into the region. That's going to last for generations. [00:19:14] Craig Dalton: Yeah, amazing. I love it. I love it so much adventuring to be had in the Los Sierra. No question about. [00:19:22] Greg Williams: Absolutely. We have plenty of room for everybody. [00:19:23] Craig Dalton: Let's move on and let's talk about the lost and found gravel festival. It's coming up here in June, and there's still some slots available. So I want to make sure that people walk away knowing what's the festival all about what's the vibe let's get into it. And I'll ask you some questions to just to figure it all out. [00:19:39] Greg Williams: Yeah. This is an interesting one. And just in terms of how we got into this, and we'd been doing Downieville for a long time and Chris McGovern who's a frame builder. And who also grew up in Nevada city, went to the same high school as I did. I ran into him at Interbike in 2013, and he's dude, you need to do a gravel event. And I'm like, What is that? And And I, and it was just like, man, this is what we used to do when we were kids like ride all these dirt roads, it's oh, that's a thing now. And Chris put this bug in my ear, we started talking more, doing some mapping, invited him and Cameron falconer. Up and we just started like testing routes, like those guys are both super fit. I'm like, I'll drive the support vehicle and meet you guys, here's the map. And so we just started really laying out this course, it started just north of Portola and like Davis and and we got the permits pretty quickly working with the Plumas national forest. And the first year we had around 290 racers and [00:20:37] Craig Dalton: What year was that? Greg? [00:20:38] Greg Williams: I was in 2014. [00:20:40] Craig Dalton: Okay. [00:20:41] Greg Williams: Yeah. And we had great folks like Paul components and WTB who were like, we're doing an aid station. That's going to be a party of its own, and so we had these perfect elements to pull this gravel event off. And then, the second year we doubled the entries the next year, we doubled that again. And like in 2019 we had around 1700 people signed up, we were going to cap it at 2000. And I think just the recipe of like how we do these events, we make them super fun. The courses are great. The aid stations are suburb, just an overall great experience camping live music, all the stuff that we like. And then at the same time, how do we introduce people to this whole new area, and bring them into zones that they wouldn't otherwise get out. So really showcases this region as we're calling it the gravel capital of the west. And that's because it has 10,000 miles of dirt roads. Like you can't find that anywhere in the U S and and there's, great rivers, there's great lakes. There's a fire lookouts. You can visit some of them you can rent for overnight stays. So this is it. This is the gravel capital of the west. [00:21:50] Craig Dalton: I love it. Put a stake in the ground there. What community is Los and fountain based out of. [00:21:55] Greg Williams: It's it starts in the city of Portola, which is right on the headwaters of the middle fork of. the feather river next to the Sierra valley, which is the largest Alpine valley in north America sits around 5,000 feet of elevation with a great big mountain right behind it called Beckworth peak. And right from there, you can hit all these roads, just right off the main paved road. It's perfect. [00:22:18] Craig Dalton: Are you offering multiple course distances? [00:22:21] Greg Williams: Yeah, we have a 35 mile course that has two flagship aid stations on it. And then we have a 60 mile course. That has four aid stations on it. And then we have the hundred that has six aid stations on it. They overlap for the start. Everybody does the first 10 and a half miles, which is a climb up to 7,000 feet. Those are essential in any event is to have a big climb that, that separates people, [00:22:46] Craig Dalton: Yeah, for [00:22:47] Greg Williams: And so those Are elements we learned throughout this. Cause we've had different courses over the years. Some of them were great. Some were like, oh man, don't do that again. [00:22:55] Craig Dalton: Are they what's the starting elevation up there in Portola. [00:22:58] Greg Williams: Yeah. It's I want to say the town is like 5,100. [00:23:02] Craig Dalton: Okay. So starting at 5,100, going up to 7,000 with that first climb, I agree. I feel like back when the events were smaller, it was okay to start off on some single track or something like that. But in this day and age, when you've got a thousand people on a course, definitely great to break it up and to have people find their own, their own tribe in the event. [00:23:21] Greg Williams: Yeah, and we have, we have a great relationship with city of Portola. Going into this year, we were hesitant of man, we don't want to, the last thing we want to do is have to cancel another event. And COVID was still a thing. So we got a late start on this thing, like we're really looking at this as like a rebuild year. We realized like, Hey, we're late to the table here. We also conflict with the Kansas ride. So there's a couple of things like working against us, but at the same time This is going to be a hell of a party. Like we're throwing everything we have at this thing to make sure everybody has a great time and comes back, brings friends the next year. And it, like I said, it was important to city of Portola. They approached us and they were like, Hey stewardship, like we need this event. We just went through two years. Our businesses are hurting. The city helps provide a lot of the camping and infrastructure in the town. So they were a real true partner. And then the Plumas national forest has road crews out there right now, like dialing in all these roads. And what we're hoping is developed, like what we're calling a signature route to where every year the road crew has priorities to take care of on the lost and found routes. So it's every year it's just dial Primo. [00:24:30] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's one of those events, I didn't realize actually it had been around as long as it has, but that makes sense because I feel like at least in the bay area and Marin county, like you talk about gravel riding and. Lost and found, always comes up and it always comes up with two thumbs up saying oh, you gotta do it. It's great. Riding just a great overall community vibe in a sport that is maybe changing a bit to say the least in terms of the amount of resources and the amount of professional athletes coming into it. I think events that just maintain that community vibe are always going to be the ones that are in people's hearts and that they want to do. [00:25:10] Greg Williams: Yeah. And we, we realized like we get top athletes that come here to put it to each other, but the majority of people are here to just go on a bike ride with their buddies, have the aid stations be able to camp out, have the music like that festival atmosphere. That's where we're really trying to position ourselves as Hey, if you want it. There, there is alternatives if you're just purely eraser, but if you want to come and ride like one of the best courses in the world and have some top brands like cater to you throughout the course that their aid stations, like this is where you want to come. And if you want to help support a community recover after, the wildfires and the pandemic and help an organization. With the, with a grand project, a legacy project, like this is the spot like everybody's welcome. And whether you're writing a check or picking up a shovel your help is welcome. [00:26:01] Craig Dalton: Amazing. You talked about a little bit more about from a mountain bike perspective, the type of terrain that's up there for the gravel course, for those who are coming from outside the area. What type of equipment is important to have underneath you to be successful at lost and found [00:26:17] Greg Williams: Yeah, big tires. I think that's the number one thing is the first year we had people like on road bikes because people didn't really know it. Like gravel racing was anyway. They're like, oh, it's this thing. But these you're in the Sierra Nevada up here and it's, there's spots where man, you're like, it's rough. I think like one year, like Carl Decker rode a hard tail man. Fully rigid. So it's just kinda like a mix. And I think, the course that we have this year, I would say you're totally dialed on a gravel bike, but you're going to want like a 40 C tire maybe with a little thicker casing. Just so you're not flattened. [00:26:53] Craig Dalton: Yep. Are you staying primarily on fire roads through the mountains? There are you getting off into this single track? [00:26:59] Greg Williams: We're at, this is a no single track right ride, but some of the roads have single track? lines, right? Like you want to be, you want your head up, you want to be paying attention. There's ruts there's rocks. There's a smoother line, especially on a gravel bike. You don't want to give yourself a whiplash or, too much excitement. But I would say you're paying attention the whole time. You're not, zoning out because the road is just smooth and you gotta pay attention, plus it's so beautiful out here. Like the wild flowers are gonna be coming out. The rivers are flowing the mountain stuff, snow on them. People will be looking around, but they really need to pay attention. [00:27:35] Craig Dalton: once you get a top that first climb, are you doing a commiserate elevation drop? Is it a big descent? [00:27:41] Greg Williams: It's a sweet so the roads were using too are like some of the better system roads, like we've taken people in some pretty primitive back country roads, and there is a mix of this, but this particular road is one of the nicer maintain. Like around a set, like a price of 5% running grade. So you're able to just like big ring paddle through like really big sweeper turns super enjoyable. And then you have another climb that's around 700 feet, another like descent of a thousand. And then a lot of rolling train. Cause you're connecting all these Alpine valleys as you go. And then for the final you come down like the smoothest road in Plumas county. And and then into this tube that goes under the highway. That's a we negotiate this deal with the landowner there. It's a handshake deal, Hey, races are going to be coming through here, your insured. He's great. I'll have my lawn chair and a cooler of beer here to watch, and that's part of what makes the specialty, right? It's just all the community coming together and people working together and allowing stuff like that riders to come through private property, like ordinarily the guy would not allow that, [00:28:45] Craig Dalton: Yeah, you mentioned you've got ample camping situations up there for athletes and families coming up. Are there also other accommodation possibilities? [00:28:54] Greg Williams: Yeah. There's resorts up here. There's motels. there's a ton of camping, honestly, there's forest service camping around like Davis and some of the valleys that the ride's going to be going through. And then city of Portola they have a city park. That's all grass that has like baseball, baseball, diamonds, a swimming pool, the showers are open. And then there's camping all along the middle fork of the feather river, right in downtown. So the idea is get people to stay in town and then they can just ride their bike to the coffee shop or, head over to the pizza place. So that's part of the reason we moved the race down from starting at lake Davis was like, let's get people downtown. Plus, when the lakes full the amount of land we have to work with, decreases quite a bit. It worked great the first year with 200 riders, but now that we're up around 1200 to 2000, we need more. And this park really allows people to spread out. And then we have a little amphitheater for the music and and then there's nothing like just starting in the middle of a downtown, and then finishing at the same place coming through town. [00:29:54] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I had one final question on finishing. So I've been out there on a great adventure on my gravel bike all day. I crossed the finish line. What's the vibe. What's the scene. When I crossed the finish line at last. [00:30:05] Greg Williams: Yeah. So you're going to get greeted by our local bike team, the Los Sierra composite team. They're gonna, they'll take your bike. They'll wash it. They'll put the, lock it up and the tennis courts. So like a fully secured bike zone. And you're going to walk over and grab a cold Sierra Nevada beer. And then we hire this, like top-notch catering company and mountain magic to do like a top quality meal for ya. Then you're gonna pull up a chair in the park, enjoy a beer, enjoy some live music, eat some food, tell some stories, and then if you have it in you, like the music goes and you can dance all night. [00:30:41] Craig Dalton: I love it, Greg. I think that's an amazing point to end on, and I hope everybody's as stoked about this event as I am. And as stoked about the work that you're doing in the Los Sierra, it really is a special part of California. And I hope everybody clicks on the links in the show notes and goes and checks out the Los and found gravel grinder festival as well as the work you're doing at Sierra. [00:31:04] Greg Williams: Yeah, come on up and play with us. [00:31:06] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. I hope you enjoyed that episode with Greg Williams, be sure to check out the lost and found gravel festival. It's definitely going to be an amazing event this year. I've heard only good things about it. So I encourage you to check it out. And grab one of those last available slots. Huge, thanks to our sponsor, the feed. Make sure to go check out the feed formulas to get 15% off. Just visit the feed.com/the gravel ride. If you're interested in connecting with me, I encourage you to join the ridership@wwwdottheridership.com. And if you have an opportunity, please leave a rating or review or visit me@buymeacoffee.com slash the growl ride to support the podcast. Until next time here's to finding some dirt under your wheels


10 May 2022

Rank #2

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Payson McElveen - Professional gravel racer, podcaster and adventurer

This week we sit down with professional gravel racer, podcaster and adventurer, Payson McElveen. We learn about his path to the sport, his drive for adventure and his plans for the Life Time Grand Prix and the rest of the races on his calendar. Episode sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (promo code: THEGRAVELRIDE) Payson McElveen Web / Instagram Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Payson McElveen [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. This week on the podcast. We welcome pacing. McKelvin pacing. As you may know, is a gravel racer, a mountain bike racer. A podcaster, a red bull athlete. And in all around adventurer. I've wanted to have pacing on the podcast for quite some time. I'm an avid listener of his podcast, but moreover, I'm a fan. And that probably comes through in this episode. I'm a fan of pace. And as he's every bit as approachable in real life, as he comes across in social media, He not only races at the front end of the gravel races on the calendar. But even more importantly, I feel like he's out there in the community and he's always after some great adventures. You can see him crisscrossing the country of Iceland. You can see him setting FK teas. You can see them getting brutalized on the Colorado trail and one of his first bike packing expeditions, he's just a hell of a lot of fun and a hell of a great guy. So I look forward to listening to this episode. Of the gravel ride podcast. Before we jump in, we need to thank this week. Sponsor the hammerhead crew to computer. The hammerhead crew to is actually the computer that pacing uses. So you may hear them talk about it, both on his podcast and in social media. His experiences are quite similar to mine. The Karoo two is a revolutionary GPS device that offers the rider. A whole bunch of customizability that really translates to giving you the information you need. When you need it in the format that you need it. I've mentioned before. A few of the things that I really love about the career too, are one, the climber feature. I've become addicted to the climber feature. It's quite amazing. Every time you approach a climb. The crew too, is going to display in graphical format in color coded format. The gradient. The length to the top and the amount of elevation you need to gain. I find that really useful in terms of pacing and it's fascinating. I've always been fascinated by grade. So seeing that great in front of me on the computer, I've started to really understand where my sweet spot is. I know that I'm quite good in the six to say 12% range, but north of 12%, I start to suffer. So it's quite interesting looking at that. The second thing I wanted to highlight is hammerheads bi-weekly software updates with new feature releases. That are unmatched by the competition. So unlike other head units, your crew to continues to evolve and improve. With each ride being better than the last you can seamlessly import routes from Strava commute and more. Route and reroute and create pin drop rooting on the fly. All available with turn by turn. Directions and upcoming elevation changes. The crew two's touchscreen displays, intuitive, responsive, and in full color. So your navigation experience is more like a smartphone than a GPS. You'll see your data more clearly than ever while also withstanding rugged conditions since it's water and scratch resistant. Tens of thousands of cyclists have chosen the crew to you as their trusted riding companion. Including this week's guest pace and mckelvin and another fan favorite amanda naaman. For a limited time, our listeners can get a free custom color kit and an exclusive premium water bottle with the purchase of a hammerhead crew to. Simply visit hammerhead dot. I owe right now and use the promo code, the gravel ride at checkout to get yours today. This is an exclusive limited time offer only for our podcast listeners. So don't forget that promo code, the gravel ride. After you put a custom color kit and premium water bottle in your cart. The code will be applied Would that business out of the way, let's dive right into my interview with pace and McKellen. Payson. Welcome to the show. [00:04:11] Payson McElveen: Thank you happy to be here. [00:04:13] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's good to finally get you on. I feel like I've been wanting to get you on since back in 2019 and the mid south gravel race. [00:04:21] Payson McElveen: Yeah. Yeah, that was that wasn't my first foray into gravel, but one of the first [00:04:28] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And I think it was one of those moments that it was, you know, there was very much a different style between you and Pete when racing in those adverse conditions, all the mud and whatnot, and how you [00:04:38] Payson McElveen: Oh, 2020. Yeah. [00:04:40] Craig Dalton: 20, 20. Yeah. So babying the bike and. [00:04:44] Payson McElveen: yeah. [00:04:45] Craig Dalton: being a little bit rougher on the bike and you know, both you guys smashed into pedals and I, it's funny, cause I'd heard you interviewed after the fact about that race and I'll refer to the listener back to some coverage there, but you were being, you were very conscious of what mud could have done to your bike. And that was clear in the way you were taking care of it. And I had that thought while I was watching the coverage, like that's smart, dipping it in the water, clearing it out, just being conscious of what is going to do the driver. [00:05:12] Payson McElveen: Yeah. Yeah, that was a boy. That was, I mean, gravel racing is always a dynamic thing and I feel like to varying degrees, just emission of damage control even on dry days. But Yeah. That was such a dynamic damn. Early on even. I mean, I thought my race was over 20 miles in when literally right as I think it was Pete might have been summer hill, actually Danny Summerhill was just absolutely on a mission early in that race too. But someone putting in a attack around mile 20 kind of first narrow section, and literally at the same moment, I got a big stick jammed in my rear wheel and had to stop. Pull it out. And yeah. because that selection was made and I ended up in like the third or fourth group that wasn't moving as quickly right off the bat. I think I had like a minute and a half deficit to to the lead group of P call and, you know, all the usual suspects. And it was pretty convinced that the day was over at that point. But also over the years, I've learned. Gravel racing or not kind of, regardless of the style bike racing when you don't give up good things tend to happen, no matter how dire it seems. And I was fortunate enough to ride back into the first chase group with my teammate at the time Dennis van Wenden, who spent many years on the world tour with Rabobank and Belkin and Israel startup nation, bunch of good teams. And. During that day, there wasn't a whole lot of drafting that was going on. Cause the surface was so slow and there was so much mud and you were just kind of weaving around picking your line, but it was really pivotal to have him to kind of join forces with him there. Because he really quieted me down mentally and he was like, Hey man, if you want to try to get back into this race, you need to do it gradually. Like don't panic, chase, you know, A minute gap. We could probably bring back and 25, 30 minutes, but if you do it over the course of an hour more you know, you can stay below threshold and that'll really pay dividends late. So long story short, I was really grateful to have his kind of Sage wisdom and sure enough, we got back into the group right before the aid station there at mile 50 ish. And I was surprised we got back. Pete and Collin and everybody else was even more surprised to see us come out of the mud from behind. But yeah, that was a member of that was a memorable day and in a weird way, I think getting having that setback so early on almost kind of calibrated my mind for the survival contest that it was going to be all day so that when the shit really hit the fan there and the last 30 miles, I was kind of already mentally prepared to roll with the punches. [00:07:52] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think there's some good points there. I'll, you know, it's always interesting to me talking to elite level athletes and, you know, with most of my listeners, presumably being like myself, mid-pack racers, the same rules apply, right. Should always breaks down for everybody. And you can have a really bad moment in one of these long gravel events and come back as long as you do the right things, right. If you're. If you haven't eaten enough, you haven't drinking drank enough. You just got to get back on top of it and the day will come around and more likely than not the field in front of you is going to experience the same problems. Just a generic initially to yourself. [00:08:28] Payson McElveen: For sure. And I know we're going to get into the grand Prix, but I think that's one of the things that makes the grand Prix so fascinating, especially when combined with the pretty unusual point structure, I think it's just going to be so topsy, turvy and tumultuous and. You know, obviously we saw two, two of the favorites, you know, most people's picks for the overall in Keegan and Mo already take the lead. But I would be shocked if they maintain that lead, you know, all the way through the next five rounds, just because of the nature of gravel racing. Weirdly, I think the mountain bike events will be the least least selective in a way. [00:09:06] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. It's going to be interesting. Well, let's take a step back pace and I know, you know, I feel like I've gotten to know you through the course of your podcast, the adventure stash, but for our listeners, I want to just talk about how you got into the sport of cycling and we'll get to how you arrived at the gravel side of things. [00:09:24] Payson McElveen: Yeah, sounds good. [00:09:26] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So where'd you grow up? Where, when did you start riding? What was the first kind of race experience you had and how did you sort of develop the vision that you could be a professional athlete? [00:09:37] Payson McElveen: Yeah. So I grew up in a very small town, about 20 minutes outside of Austin, Texas. The rural Texas hill country. I'm fortunate enough to grow up on a little I don't know, hippie farm hippie ranch with my parents. You know, we had chickens and dogs and 18 acres couldn't see any houses from our house, which is something I, you know, in hindsight really appreciate pretty cool environment to grow up in. And I played pretty traditional sports growing up basketball ran track and field. Well, that sort of thing. But bike, riding and racing was always a little bit of the back of my mind because my dad did it some off and on while I was growing up. And then also Lance was winning all the tours during that time. And actually live just 15 minutes away from us. So he was a little bit of a hometown hero and all that was always front of mind. Freshman year of high school. I want to say I kind of had this recurring knee injury from playing basketball and that nudged me towards cycling a bit more. And I just started riding more and getting more interested in mountain biking in general. And there was this really cool mountain bike film, one of the early kind of. Shred it mountain bike. Documentary's called Rome that was playing in a bike shop and I just totally was transfixed one day. And that summer just kind of went all in. Building trails on the property and mountain biking and trying to learn more skills. And through a little bit of, a little bit of coaxing from my dad, I decided to, to line up for a mountain bike race, a local Texas mountain bike race when I was 14. And got absolutely. But for whatever reason, just it hooked me and that fall after getting absolutely destroyed by all the local, Texas kiddos. I just really dedicated myself to training and developing skills and came back that following spring as a 15 year old. And I don't think I lost a race in Texas that year and it sort of solidified. This idea of putting work in and getting a significant reward. And I'm not really sure why that never clicked with other sports. I was, you know, I guess had had a little bit of talent for basketball, maybe definitely talent for track And field, but I never dedicated myself to them from a work ethic standpoint, but for whatever reason, I was really motivated to do that for cycling and. Yeah, it just became a fan of the sport student of the sport, followed it like crazy. You got to know the pros, the U S pros and saw the Durango was really kind of the hotbed for domestic mountain bikers. And one thing led to the other. And now here I am still chasing the dream. [00:12:25] Craig Dalton: And did you end up going to college in Durango? Is that what I recall? [00:12:28] Payson McElveen: Huh. Yeah. So went to Fort Lewis college. That was also a big selling point. I ended up going to Europe with the national team as a 17 year old with USA cycling. And the one of the USA cycling coaches there for that trip was Matt Shriver, who happened to be one of the coaches at Fort Lewis college at the time also. And he sort of, you know, did a little bit of recruiting work with those of us there that. camp and a few of us actually ended up going to Fort Lewis, but yeah, boy, Durango's incredible. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to come here and then call it home for [00:13:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah there, the riding and mentorship in that communities. [00:13:10] Payson McElveen: It is. It is it's it's pretty incredible that the town is so small and so. Isolated in the scheme of things like it's pretty hard to get here. It's a long drive from anywhere and it's a kind of pain in the ass flight from everywhere. Also. We found that out on the way home from sea Otter when it took extra, but Yeah. I'm a small town hard to get to. And yet it's just this ridiculous hotbed of talent, you know, talent that's developed here, but then also talent that moves here. And one other thing I really appreciate is it isn't super like pro dominated. Like there's a very healthy grassroots contingent of cyclists here that. Frankly, do not care what's happening in pro bike racing whatsoever. And that's actually quite refreshing. When you spend a lot of your time at big race weekends, and you're getting asked 25 times a day, what tire pressure you're running, it's really nice to come back to Durango and, you know, just go shred some single track with someone that's wearing jorts and grab a beer afterward. [00:14:11] Craig Dalton: I bet. When you graduated from college and decided to go pro, was there a particular style of mountain bike racing that you were, you had in your head? This is what I want to pursue. [00:14:22] Payson McElveen: Man, this is where it gets pretty complicated. This is where it's very hard to make the story short, but I'll be as succinct as I can. So moving to Durango I had my. Sites, very firmly set on world cup XCO and the Olympics. I'd had some successes of junior and making the national team each year and doing some world cups and going to, you know, selection for Pan-Am games and all that sort of thing, podiums at junior nationals, all that sort of thing. But what I wasn't familiar with yet obviously is most. Teenagers or not is the economics of professional cycling, especially on the dirt side, on the roadside, it's pretty pretty cut and dried. There's almost a league obviously, and there's a fairly well-worn pipeline to the highest ranks of the sport. But in mountain biking, there's just really. Isn't that USA cycling tries, but it's there's such a high barrier of entry for a kid that doesn't live in Europe to go over to Europe, learn that style racing in a foreign land. And you know, it's very cost prohibitive. The writing style is completely different. It's not a mainstream sport. So their talent pools inevitably are just so much more vast than ours because of. that there are more kids that are just interested in being high-level cyclists, where most of our, you know, kiddos are interested in being NBA players or NFL players. So it's, I mean, it's a well-known story that it's very hard to break through at that level. And then there's the other component, which I don't think is talked about as much, which is just you start with the handicaps of inexperience. Obviously fitness, if you're a younger writer and then just start position. And I mean, it's, it is. So it's such a wild setup where you have to be so much stronger to break through and start earning results where your start position improves that just everything is stacked against you. So I had a few what I'd call kind of flash in the pan results enough to not give up on it, but not enough to really. Make it feel like it was a foregone conclusion. So I felt very fortunate to be in college and getting exposed to other styles of cycling as collegiate cycling frequently, you know, allows for. But going into senior year, I was kind of looking down the barrel of having to make some tough decisions. Cause I was making. Money racing professionally, but it was like serious poverty line sort of situation. And you know, finishing seventh or eighth at pro XC nets as a 23 year old is cool. But it's not going to give you an illustrious career. And so late late summer, early fall I just started kind of. Looking outside the bounds of this very narrow lane of focus that most folks my age were focused on, which was XCO mountain biking and the Olympics. And the other thing kind of to notice that one thing that strikes me frequently is that in mountain biking there are just fewer jobs of value in a way, if that makes sense, like on the roadside, if your [00:17:40] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:17:42] Payson McElveen: strongest on a world tour, You can still have a very fruitful position that is valued. I mean, if there's 400, some people in the world tour Peloton, I don't know what the number is exactly, but if you're 350 strongest, you're still a very valued member. If you line up at a world cup and there's 200 guys on the start line and you finish even 80th, like what's the value of that? There's [00:18:09] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:18:13] Payson McElveen: You're the backdrop for the folks that are at the top to anyway sort of digressing, but point being, I started looking around the sport and. I'd had some offers and opportunities to try racing on the road, but culturally, it just didn't quite jive for me. And then, you know, I started kind of looking at some of the folks that have, that had created their own paths, folks like Rebecca Rush Lil Wilcox hadn't really rose risen to prominence yet, but those sorts of people and I thought, you know what maybe I'll just go try. Something a little bit more adventure oriented. Just for fun. Like I don't know that I'm going to have the opportunity to dedicate as much time to cycling in the future as I am now. So maybe I'll go on an adventure. And sort of around the same time weirdly, I got a message from this race promoter, Italian guy that was putting on a race in Mongolia called the Mongolia bike challenge. And I still don't exactly know how that came about or why he reached out to me. But sure. You know, I'll come try, erase. And he said if I could get myself over there, he'd cover all of my expenses when I was there. And that said, you know, a flight to Mongolia, I think was like 25, 20 $600, something like that. And I had maybe $3,500 to my name as a senior in college. And I was like, well, you know, I just have this sneaking suspicion that this style of racing might be more my cup of tea. Obviously the Xes. I'm falling out of love with that. So I drained my bank accounts flew over there, had an amazing experience. That's a whole other story. [00:19:50] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's such an amazing country. I had the good fortune of going there and I had previously raised a couple of the trans racist and trans Rockies up in Canada and had friends who had done the. The ones that were over in Europe. And I caught wind of that Mongolia one after visiting Mongolia on a hiking trip. And I was like, that must have been at epic. [00:20:07] Payson McElveen: It was super epic. And you know, it was, I think it was eight days, seven, eight days, the stages where there's one TT day, that was like an hour and 15, but most of the day. Five to four to five and a half hours. And there was some good races there. You know, Corey Wallace was there. He'd won, I think, Canadian marathon nasty year before. And he'd won the Mongolia bike challenge the year before. There was also this Italian world cup guy there, who I'd never been able to be close to at world cup events. And then all of a sudden found myself going shoulder to shoulder with these guys and just feeling way more capable as an athlete and ended up winning that series outside magazine did a little interview and like photo epic on the wind. And that's I found out later kind of what put me on red bull's radar, but that was the thing that really set the hook for me, where I thought, you know what? This was way more fun. I got to see an amazing part of the world. The media cared way more about. Like way more media interest than I'd ever received. And I was just way better suited to it. I had no experience had barely been doing five-hour training. I'd never done a five hour training ride and yet was able to kind of rise to the occasion and do five-hour race days and back it up day after day. So after that point, I started kind of dedicating a little bit more time to to that style. And then consequently one Pro marathon NATS the following year. And that's, that was those two things were kind of the inflection point, I would say. So around 27. [00:21:34] Craig Dalton: and was that, had you joined the orange seal team? [00:21:38] Payson McElveen: So I had been on the rebranded show air team for anyone that remembers the Scott Tedros show our teams. It was called ride biker that year. And it was sort of like a collection of private tiers. It seems like there are some equivalents these days, like, I think the shoot what's it called? Eastern Overland. I want to say they run something similar to that. And then. As far as I can tell that new jukebox program seems to have a bit of a similar setup. So it was kind of set up that way. So I was able to start to pull together some of my own sponsors. And then once I started to get that media interest, the outside interview was kind of the biggest thing. I was able to parlay that into better support or SEL came on board as one of my bigger sponsors, but I hadn't that the team didn't exist yet. And then when. NATS. That's kind of when orange seal and track are like, Hey, what if we like made a team? Like rather than this being a private tier thing, what if we kind of took some ownership and let you just race? And we set up more of a team. So that's how that worked. [00:22:43] Craig Dalton: And you mentioned getting on red bull's radar. When did you end up becoming a red bull athlete? [00:22:47] Payson McElveen: Let's see, I guess 2018, early 2018. Does that, is that right? 2018? [00:22:56] Craig Dalton: The [00:22:57] Payson McElveen: I can't remember. I think [00:22:58] Craig Dalton: timeline sounds right. And did it change your perspective of yourself as an athlete, as you got exposed to the red bull family and other red bull athletes? [00:23:09] Payson McElveen: Oh Yeah. Enormously. I mean, it changed everything and it's funny because when I say. Started communicating with them. At first, it was just like this childhood euphoria of, or my God. This is the most sought after prized sponsorship in adventure, sports outdoor sports. Like this is, I can't believe they're interested, but this is incredible. And you start getting so fixated on the potential of it. for anyone that's familiar with their process they'll know that it's not fast. So basically they were doing background on me for a year. And then for two more years, we communicated. Dated almost you could say decided to figure out how much commitment, mutual commitment there wanted to be. Obviously I was very interested in commitment, but, and then came the phase where it looked like it was going to happen. And all of a sudden you start feeling the pressure and you start questioning. Am I worthy? What is this, what does this mean? What's going to be asked of me, how do I need to rise to the occasion? And I'd say even after I signed for a solid year, that was kind of my mindset. Like, oh man, need to not screw this up. I need to prove that I'm worthy. I need to do innovative things. But one thing that's interesting is that they red bull never. Puts any pressure on you and they really drive home the fact that they want to partner with you because of who you already are and who you can become the potential that they think they see. And they really like to bring people on board before they've reached. They're their prime, their best. They want to help you be a part of that growth process. So once I was able to gradually shift my mindset and realize that this was more of an opportunity and less of an obligation, that's where I think mentally and emotionally, I was kinda able to free up free myself up a little bit race with more race with a sense of opportunity and joy. And then also start to kind of tap into. Creative aspect that I've really started to lean into over the last few years that I've come to realize is like very necessary just for my happiness and sense of fulfillment. And I think that's really where there's most significant interest came from. And it was also just great timing. You know, they wanted someone in this endurance, mass participation sort of arena. That's also why they brought a in, around a similar time. And so, yeah, like, like any success timing was a massive part of the opportunity as well. [00:25:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I feel like in some way and correct me if I'm wrong, your relationship with red bull for a few years prior to the pandemic left you very well-suited to whether the pandemic and the lack of racing, meaning you had a wider view of yourself as an athlete and the things you could do. [00:26:13] Payson McElveen: Yeah. And you know, I over the years I've questioned kind of this all of these extracurriculars that, that I'm interested in. Whether it be the podcast or some of the films we do, or some of the, you know, crazy routes, I like to try to tackle Question, you know, how much does that detract from more traditional racing cars like riding across Iceland three weeks before the Australis off-road isn't, you know, stellar prep, but But by the same token, you know, I've really tried to zoom out over the last handful of years and think about how will I look back on this time when I'm 45, 50, 55, whatever. And really, it kind of goes back to Mongolia, you know, T deciding to take that red pill rather than blue pill spend most of the money. I had to go on a crazy adventure halfway around the world by myself as a 23 or. With no experience, you know, I'll never forget that experience the people I met over in Mongolia. And ultimately I think going through life experiencing as much as the world, both interpersonally and just travel wise as you can is a good way to do it. And I've had many mentors over the years who have raised at the highest level, kind of. Persistently remind me that the, what they remember or the things between the actual races and to make sure that, you know, if you go to all-star Germany for the world cup, do everything you can to make sure you don't only see the inside of your hotel room and the three kilometer race course. So that's kind of why. More and more ambitiously gravitated towards some of these more adventure oriented things. And ultimately from a professional standpoint, getting back to your point, it really does, you know, the way I look at it as sort of like a diversified portfolio, there are athletes that only hold one kind of stock, you know, maybe your stock is awesome. Maybe you have a bunch of shares of apple, but you know what happens if for whatever reason, apple tanks. Similarly to the stock market. You know, you want to have a diversified portfolio when we're operating in this space that doesn't have a league. It doesn't have a bunch of structure. And there is a lot of room for creativity. So, it's a personal need, but also it's worked out professionally as well. [00:28:28] Craig Dalton: yeah, I think as a fan of the sport, when you're out there doing those adventures, and obviously you do a lot of filming around these adventures. We just feel closer to you as an athlete. So when you line up at some gravel race, like we're rooting for you because we've seen you struggle. Like any one of us might struggle on it. Adventure. [00:28:46] Payson McElveen: Yeah. that's interesting. I mean, that's good to hear. It makes sense, you know, anytime, you know, I think about I'm, I mean, I'm a massive mainstream sports fan, so I'm always comparing. Our little cycling sport to these mainstream sports. And it's interesting to look at something like say basketball versus football, the NFL versus the NBA and in the NFL, there's massive athlete turnover because of injuries. And also everyone's wearing loads of protective equipment, you know, helmets, pads, all that sort of thing. So you very rarely do you actually see the athletes. They're just these incredible people. Rip it around on the field, hitting each other. With basketball, you see all the writers, interesting hairstyles, writers, basketball players, interesting hairstyles, you know, the way they react to like a bad call, the way they're talking to each other on the bench. Usually they're, they feel more comfortable, you know, giving more flamboyant post-game interviews. And so it feels like the. Collectively like the fan base for individual players in the NBA is so much more engaged than in the NFL. Like fans are with the exception of folks like maybe Tom Brady or like people that have been around forever. Folks of the NFL are fans of the game, fans of teams. And on the NBA side of things frequently, they're fans of the individuals because they feel like they know the individuals. And so I think the same can kind of be said for cycling. And interestingly, I think that. This is a whole other conversation, but I think it's one of the reasons we're seeing such amazing professional opportunities for folks outside the world tour. Now, obviously the most money bar, none is still in the world tour, but there's so much less freedom for personal expression for frankly, like having. Personality. I mean, look at guys like Laughlin that are like redefining the sport and all they had to do was get out of the world tour and do what they wanted to do. And I think that's really interesting and I feel fortunate to be in a part of the sport where that's more celebrated for sure. [00:30:48] Craig Dalton: Yeah, absolutely. So chronologically on the journey, we're back at 2018, you've won your second XC marathon title. Had you started to dabble in gravel in 2018. [00:31:04] Payson McElveen: yeah, I think that was 2018. I did Unbound. Yeah, I guess that would have been 2018 and that was a hundred percent due to sponsors requesting it. I was not interested. And I had a whole mess of mechanicals and actually didn't finish. And I think that might be the. That might be the most recent race I haven't finished maybe besides, well, that's not true. Mid south just happened, but yeah, I was, I didn't get it in 2018. I was like, man, this is carnage. People are flatting everywhere. Why are we out here for so long? This is so [00:31:41] Craig Dalton: It does seem like a Rite of passage to get abused by your first unmanned professional experience. [00:31:47] Payson McElveen: Do it for sure. And Amanda Naaman loves to make fun of me about this cause like I really not publicly, but I was fairly outspoken to some people about how I just didn't understand gravel after that experience. And then I ended up going to mid south in 20, 19 two weeks before the white rim, fastest known time. And I was planning to use it as like. Training effort for the white rim fastest load time. And I ended up winning that mid south race. And then I was like, oh, gravel is sweet. Everyone cares so much about this when Getting loads of interviews, like A massive bump in social media followership, like, wait, maybe there is something to the Scrabble. It Amanda's always like, Yeah. The only reason you fell in love with gravel is because you were fortunate enough to win a race early on, which, you know, might be kind of true, but long story short, it was not love at first sight with gravel, but that's obviously since changed. [00:32:40] Craig Dalton: And you were, are you still kind of in the sort of, I guess 20, 20 season where you still doing XC marathon style racing in conjunction with gravel 2020 is probably a bad example because that was the pandemic year. But in the, in that period, were you doing both still. [00:32:56] Payson McElveen: Yup. Yup. Yeah. And you know, the funny thing is I still. see myself primarily as a mountain biker and there are people who, you know, question, you know, how. I define myself as a racer at this point, but I don't even really feel the need to define what Sal racer you are, because I'm just interested in the biggest races in the country. The, and really, you know, at this point, it's kind of becoming the biggest mass participation, non UCI events in the world. And it's I look at it as a spectrum. You know, if you kind of go down the list of. How do you define these races on one end of the spectrum? You've got something like, you know, BWR San Diego, which in my mind is just kind of like a funky sketchy road race. I don't know that you're allowed to call it a gravel race. If everyone is on road bikes with 20 eights and thirties narrower tires, then the people use a rebate. But and then on the other end of the spectrum, you have something like. I don't know, an epic rides event or, you know, even like the Leadville 100 that really blurs the lines like is that you could for sure. Raise the Leadville 100 on a drop bar, gobbled bike, because as Corey Wallace did last year and you've got everything in between. So, you know, you've got grind. Durose where some people are on mountain bikes. Some people are on gravel bikes, you've got the grasshoppers same. So I look at it as much more of a spectrum, and I think we're just in this incredible golden age of. Grassroot grassroots is such a misnomer, but just like mass participation, non spectator, primary races. And I'm just, I'm here for all of it. It's all. [00:34:38] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, it's super exciting. And I think the event organizers have just a ton of freedom of how they want. Design the race courses. You know, if I think about the difference between the LA GRA Villa event at this past weekend, which was probably 75% single track, it was the, basically the 40 K MTB course, super single track, heavy required, a pretty hefty skillset. I know a lot of quote, unquote gravel riders were scratching their heads. After that one, thinking they were definitely under. And then the other end of the spectrum, you have something like BWR, as you mentioned, or even SBT gravel. It doesn't require a lot of technical skillset to be competitive in those races. So I find it fascinating. And I think that even goes down to where you ride and where you live. Like my gravel here in Marine county as the listener. Well, nose is quite a bit different than Midwest gravel. Not better, not worse, you know, just depends on what's your company. [00:35:36] Payson McElveen: For sure. And I mean, here in Durango, our best road rides our gravel road rides, and we've been riding road bikes on them for ages. When I first moved here, you know, every, so we have a Tuesday night world's group ride, which for what it's worth is still the hardest group I've ever done anywhere in the country by a lot. But Frequently, you know, every third week or so the route that we'll do is majority dirt and everyone's on road bikes. And up until a couple of years ago, everyone was on 26 or 20 eights. And you know, they're fairly smooth gravel roads, but pretty much if you ask anyone locally, our best road rides are half dirt roads. So when this whole gravel movements start. I know I was one of many that was, we were kind of scratching our heads a little bit about, well, isn't this just bike riding, but I understand the industry has needed to kind of define and brand things, but Yeah, it's it's interesting. [00:36:30] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's interesting as we were talking about your career in this sort of transition, a transition, but just as melding of your love of ECC and this new level of gravel low and behold in 2022 lifetime announces the grand Prix half mountain bike races, half gravel races. How excited were you around that announcement? [00:36:50] Payson McElveen: who very excited. Yeah I'd had some conversations with lifetime in the year or so prior kind of generally talking about structure and what events might make the most sense and all that sort of thing. But It was a little bit ambiguous about whether it was going to happen and to what degree and what it would all look like. So when the announcement? came out I was sort of primed for it, but I was also surprised by quite a few things. And that certainly. You know, increase the excitement too. As I read through the proposed rules and the points structure and the events they decided on and all that sort of thing. But yeah, I mean, it feels just like an enormous opportunity and I think it feels like an enormous opportunity. Personally because of the events, obviously, but I think it's an enormous opportunity for north American cycling as a whole, because there are so many aspects of the series that are completely different than any other series we've seen. I mean, in the United States with the exception of, you know, the heyday of mountain biking in the eighties and nineties, we haven't seen. Cycling massively successful really as a spectator sport or as a televised sport. Because there's always been this goal of making it a spectator sport, but I don't think in the United States, that's really ever going to be a spectator sport. The key in my mind is that it's a participation sport in this country, and that's what these huge grassroots mass participation events have really tapped into. And made them so successful. And so when you combine that with, you know, a year long points, chase, maybe all of a sudden that is the secret sauce for making it more spectator friendly, even if it's more of this kind of modern age of spectating, where it's very, online-based, there's lots of social media coverage. There's, you know, maybe a live stream there's, you know, Really cool. Like drive to survive, TVC series type things coming out of it. I mean that actually drive to survive as a great example. Like look what drive to survive has done for F1 in the United States virtually no one cared about F1 until that series came out. And now, you know, people are talking about peer gasoline and Daniel, Ricardo, like, you know, [00:39:04] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:39:05] Payson McElveen: You know, Kevin Duran or Tom Brady. So, it's a very interesting time and I just feel fortunate to kind of be reaching my peak career years right now as it's happening. [00:39:15] Craig Dalton: Yeah, to your point earlier, I think it just creates this great opportunity for storytelling throughout the season. And this idea of, you know, some courses are gonna be more favorable to mountain bike athletes. Others are going to be more favorable to traditional gravel athletes and just seeing how it all plays out and having the points across the season, as something as a fan that's in the back of your mind. I just think it's going to be a lot of fun and great for this. [00:39:41] Payson McElveen: Yeah. I think so too. I really hope so. And the thing that I really hope, I think what can truly set it apart and almost guarantee its success is if they're able to. Lean into those personal storylines, kind of like we were talking about earlier, the things that I think really makes a fan base fall in love with following a league or a sport, which is the individual stories. You know, like I hope there's all kinds of awesome coverage of Aaron Huck making this return to racing, following pregnancy, or you know, there's so many. Incredible individual storylines that can be told. And I hope that's really seen as an asset and taken advantage of. [00:40:26] Craig Dalton: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I have a. You can look at like Amber and Nevin and her experience, just like sort of getting a little bit crushed, still getting in the points at , but having a really rough day out there, that's the kind of narrative like you're looking for somebody who's coming way outside of their comfort zone to race this entire series. And unsurprisingly like a mountain bike style race was super challenging for. But it's going to be fascinating to see like how she bounces back for Unbound, which is this other radically different experience in my mind at 200 miles. [00:41:00] Payson McElveen: For sure. Yeah. I think we're going to learn a lot over this first year and I hope we get a couple of years at it because I think there will be lots of adjusting along the way. Lots of cool ideas and yeah, I think there's just massive potential and I hope everyone's able to hang in there for a few years to figure out what that potential actually. [00:41:22] Craig Dalton: Agreed. Unfortunately, you have to drop this race due to your injury at mid south, but I'm curious, like, as you looked at the arc and the style of racing that you were going to experience in the grand Prix, does that alter how you're training do you sort of do one thing for Otter? Morph dramatically into something else for a 200 mile Unbound, which is the next race on the calendar for the grand Prix series. [00:41:45] Payson McElveen: Yeah. I mean, training Is definitely different. Just physiologically. I kind of gravitate towards those long slow burn events more easily anyway. So preparing for something like sea Otter, where, you know, the, I mean the average speed, I think Keegan said his average speed was like 17.8 miles an hour. Schwamm against average speed. I did it two years and we averaged over 19 miles an hour, both times. Ironically these mountain bike events and Leadville, you know, despite all of its climbing and high elevation, that average speed is almost 17 miles an hour. So these mountain bike events are very much gravel style, mountain bike events. It would be pretty funny. To see this field, you know, line up for something like the grand junction. Off-road where you're lucky to crack nine and a half mile per hour, average speed. And everyone's running one 20 bikes and two, four tires. But yeah. In terms of training those faster kind of leg speed high-end events are ones that I have to train a little bit. I have to like tune up some speed a little bit more for, so for example, I'll attend the Tuesday night. Group right here in Durango almost every week in the month, leading up to that sort of event I'll get in some good motor pacing sessions still, you know, log some good five-hour rides just because that's what helps me be at my fittest, but not worry about a six and a half, seven hour ride with Unbound. I will notch, you know, some good six plus hour rides. And a lot of it is also just about. Practicing, like practicing your fueling practicing with the equipment you want to use doing some heat acclimation and then just doing massive amounts of sub threshold work. So, you know, I'll do rides, you know, like a six hour ride and do three tempo, three, one hour tempo blocks in there Just like an insane amount of. KJS I'm just trying to get your body used to being efficient really. I mean, that's kind of what it comes down to and being efficient under duress. So being efficient when it's 90 degrees out and your stomach, maybe isn't feeling amazing and you're pinging off rocks and. You know, trying to navigate a big budge. So there are some different things that I do overall training is pretty simple. You know, on the XC world cup, it training gets a lot more complicated, I think. But for these longer distance events training, actually, isn't terribly complicated at all. [00:44:16] Craig Dalton: Is there any one in particular that you're super excited about? [00:44:20] Payson McElveen: In the series [00:44:22] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:44:24] Payson McElveen: probably Leadville. I've been consistently good at Leadville. I've never had a 100% clean run at it. But I've been third twice, fourth last year. That's one that I would love to win before I retire. You know, if there's one race I could pick. Before I get too old to be competitive. I think Leadville is probably it. It's tricky though, because we've got these two guys that are just sensational, you know, generational talents and Keegan and Howard, both of them grew up at very high elevation. They're small guys. And they just go uphill like nobody's business and you know, they're hard to beat. They're definitely hard to be so. Every year, you know, I look towards Leadville. I would love to love for everything to come together for me there. But you know, all of these races are really competitive, but if I had to pick one, that's probably the one I'm most looking forward to. [00:45:19] Craig Dalton: Got it. And is there any room in your calendar for a pace and adventure this year? [00:45:25] Payson McElveen: Yeah. Good question, boy. That's kind of the trade-off of the grand Prix, you know, it's really consuming said, I know that I always perform better off of big training blocks. So I've pulled back on race days pretty significantly. So I have some really big breaks in my schedule. I'm probably going to go do this four day GB Duro style stage race in Iceland. That is the route that We bike tour last year around the west fjords it's 450 mile days. Give her. Which would be a fun adventure. But in terms of like, whoa here's a crazy idea. No, one's done yet type thing. I have a pretty significant list of those. We'll see where they fit in. I'm going to do another trail town for sure. I really enjoyed that project of Ben last year and the storytelling aspect of that and the big gear giveaway we got to do and kind of the. The community that we developed online there that was really successful. So I'll do another one of those. There's also going to be another matchstick productions film coming up, which is really good for the sport. You know, really high profile, high production value, feature, length film that typically, you know, features a lot of backflips in three sixties and in Virgin, Utah, and. endurance riding as much, but they've been really cool about working more of that in, so I'm looking forward to filming for that again this year, their next one. Probably in terms of like a big crossing or, you know, massive MKT of some kind. I have a big scouting mission that I'll be doing in the fall, but it it'll be by far and away. The biggest one I've tried, not in terms of huh. Kind of distance too, but mostly just like it's extremely audacious and not the sort of thing where I can just go in blind. So I'm going to go in and do a lot of scouting for that and probably knock that out. Summer of 23. [00:47:18] Craig Dalton: Well, I mean, for the listener, Payson's always an exciting person to follow and your creativity. It's just fun watching how your mind works and the things you want to tackle. And it's just a lot of fun to watch what you're doing. I know we got to get you out on a training ride, but one final question. I just wanted to talk about your change in sponsorship this year, in terms of the bike you're riding. Do you want to talk a little bit about that? [00:47:39] Payson McElveen: Yeah, I mean, I don't know. There's a lot of drip, a lot of directions we could go there, but that was What are the scarier professional periods I've had thus far? I obviously had to two really great options and went back and forth between the two for months. I was very fortunate to have the support of an agent that I've come to lean on very significantly over the last couple of years, not sure where I'd be without him, but Yeah. I mean, that was a, that was another sort of like red pill, blue pill moment where the logical thing would be to stay with the brand that you've been with for seven years and is the big juggernaut and the proven, you know, you can be a reliable cog in a big machine type sort of situation. But I've always had. Kind of entrepreneurial drive. That's really hard to ignore sometimes. And there was a whole lot of upside with joining allied and they're doing some really industry defining things that other brands don't have, the ability or confidence or ambition to do. You know, they're 100% made in the U S. Component is really incredible. And that affords all sorts of things from a quality standpoint, a product development standpoint, and just social issue, standpoint and environmental aspects standpoint things that? felt very good. Morally in a way. But ultimately I just want it to be on the bikes that I thought I could win on. And Allied's bikes are just unbelievable. I mean, the quality and the care. Their process for product development and their willingness to kind of ignore industry trends in favor of just making the fastest, most badass bike possible was very intriguing and enticing. And I did go back and forth many times for awhile. But once I finally made the decision, I just it felt like a massive relief, a huge amount of excitement. And Yeah. in hindsight, I'd make that decision. 10 out of 10 times again, [00:49:44] Craig Dalton: Right on presumably you've got both an allied echo and an allied. What's the other one with the enable in your quiver, are you using the echo as your road bike or using one of their pure road machines? [00:49:56] Payson McElveen: so we were, we've been waiting on parts for the echo. I've had an echo frame for a good bit. Parts just showed up last week. So I'll be getting that echo built up. Probably over the weekend. I've test written one but I haven't put huge miles on an echo yet. It's a really, I mean, just a classic example of a brilliant idea from the incredible mind that is Sam Pikmin there, their head of product, but I'll definitely be racing the echo at things like Steamboat where, you know, aerodynamics and weight and more of a road style bike really would pay dividends. The ABL is just awesome. I was absolutely mind boggled by how light it was. I mean, it's over a pound lighter than the gravel bike I was raised in the previous year, which frankly I didn't really expect. So that's been great. And then Yeah. I'm also on an alpha, which is. They're road bike, just super Zippy snappy road bike, and has a really cool, almost a little bit old school aesthetic with the level top tube that has this really cool classic look. [00:50:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah, for sure. I'll refer in the show notes. I'm the listener to my interview with Sam and I've had allied on a couple of different times, so great product, super I'm super jazzed when anybody's making anything in the USA. And as you said, it's just fun as an athlete. I'm sure to be able to go to the factory and see the layups and talk to them to the craftsmen that are working on the. [00:51:17] Payson McElveen: Yeah, And just to have a lot of input, you know, just to be able to say, Hey, I'm interested in running my bike this way. Is that possible? And then go to the factory five days later and they've literally like machined the part already and run all the kinematics in the way. Let's pop it in, like what [00:51:35] Craig Dalton: let's do it. [00:51:36] Payson McElveen: that would have taken two years at a big bike brand. That's insane. [00:51:41] Craig Dalton: So true. So true. All right, dude. Well, I'm going to let you go. I appreciate all the time. It's been great to finally get you on the mic and talk about your career. I'm going to be looking forward to your comeback for the, for Unbound and throughout the rest of the series. We'll be rooting for you. [00:51:55] Payson McElveen: awesome. Thanks Greg. It was great to finally get on and chat with you and Yeah, keep up the good work quality podcasts are hard work and few and far between. So, nice job. And yeah, keep up the good work. [00:52:07] Craig Dalton: Thanks. I appreciate that. [00:52:09] Payson McElveen: Cool man. [00:52:10] Craig Dalton: Big, thanks to pay some for joining the podcast this week. I hope you enjoyed the conversation and huge thanks to hammerhead and the crew to computer for sponsoring this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Remember head on over to hammerhead.io. Use the promo code, the gravel ride for that free custom color kit. And premium water bottle. If you're looking to provide a little feedback, I encourage you to join the ridership. It's our free global cycling community. Just visit www.theridership.com. You can always find me in that group. And I welcome your episode suggestions. If you're able to financially support the show, please visit www dot. Buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Any contribution to the show is hugely appreciated. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels


3 May 2022

Rank #3

Podcast cover

Nick Taylor - Sculptor and Trail Builder

This week Randall Jacobs sits down with Fort Bragg, CA Sculptor and trail builder Nick Taylor to discuss the intersection of cycling and art.  Episode Sponsor: The Feed Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Nick Taylor [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. This week, I'm going to kick it back over to my co-host Randall Jacobs for a little something different for ya. Randall's interviewing sculptor trail builder and Mendocino cycling stalwart, Nick Taylor in an exploration on how the bike became interwoven in one artist's life Before I pass the mic over to Randall. I need to thank this. Week's sponsor the feed. The feed is the largest online marketplace for sports nutrition. They've got all your favorite sports, nutrition brands in one place. If you've developed an affinity like I have for certain brands. You can hop on over to the feed and mix and match. So you get everything you need in one delivery. I was just visiting the feed.com before recording this intro and I remembered in addition to all the nutritional brands that they carry, they also carry a wide variety of training gear. You might remember a couple episodes back when we were focusing on recovery. We talked about foam rollers. We talked about Sarah guns. We talked about pneumatic leg compression tools. I think we talked about the power dot, actually all these things are available@thefeed.com. So in addition to getting your nutrition handled, You can work on your recovery. Like I've been doing. And finally I wanted to mention again, the feed formulas. The feed formulas are the world's first daily supplement pouch for athletes created in conjunction with Dr. Kevin Sprouse from the ETF pro cycling team. They feature best in class, branded supplements, never generics. You get personalized recommendation based on your needs as an athlete, and they're all delivered in a convenient daily pouch. We've got a limited time special offer of 50% off on your first order of the feed formula by simply going to the feed.com/the gravel ride. Remember that's the feed.com/the gravel ride With that said, I'm going to hand it over to my co-host Randall Jacobs and his interview with Nick Taylor. [00:02:26] Randall: Nick, I've been looking forward to this conversation for some time welcome to the podcast. [00:02:31] Nick: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me on Randall. [00:02:34] Randall: So before we dive in, let's give listeners a bit of background. Who are you, where are you from? What matters to you? [00:02:40] Nick: My name's Nick Taylor. I'm up here in Fort Bragg, California. That's about 180 miles north of San Francisco along the coast, fairly remote area. I'm a sculptor and a big bike bicycle advocate, as well as running a trail crew building trails out here in the Mendocino coast. [00:03:00] Randall: Yeah. And as somebody who has been to your workshop, I can say well, one, the area is quite beautiful and to the space in which you create some of the things that we'll be talking about and linking to in the notes. So it's a pretty special place. So tell us a bit about your, relationship to the bicycle. How did it get started? How has it evolved over time? [00:03:20] Nick: Well, you know, I think we all probably started riding Pikes when we were kids. And I certainly did that on a gravel road and in rural Ohio. So I had some experience as a kid and there was a big lapse and it wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I picked the bicycle back up and started to use it again. And that was a. I had, I don't know what really, what the impetus was for getting back on a bike, but I wanted to do some exploring and I guess that just seemed like a good way to go about it. And I bought myself a an old Schwinn Latour for 80 bucks and a. I was staying with my grandmother at that point up in Ohio. And I started doing some riding in the rides, you know, slowly became longer and longer. And I, I decided, well, you know what, I want to go do some tour. And so that led to a bit, a little, a little bit of touring on that the tour prior to graduate school, back in the early eighties. [00:04:15] Randall: So tell us about some of the early tours. What was that like? [00:04:18] Nick: Well, it was prepping to go to graduate school and really wanted to get out in between visiting one school and another, and I bought a gray ham pass. It was good for 30 days and pulled the map of the U S out and closed my eyes. And. Put my finger down on wherever it game. And, and the first place was I got out in south Kadoka, South Dakota at a midnight at a gas station and you know, road the next day through, you know, from Kadoka through the Badlands and into a rapid city. And I didn't have a particularly good experience in rapid city. So I pulled the map out again, close my eyes and finger another place on the map. Got out and Shelby Montana and had a great time from there. So, you know, a ride from Shelby across the Rocky mountains and through glacier national park, which was just extraordinary. And then down to Spokane Washington, at which point I had to create my bike up and had had to Davis, California to go look at the school there. [00:05:23] Randall: Oh, wow. So that was essentially coming off after a month of kind of dirt bagging camping out, or what were your, what were your accommodations along the route? [00:05:33] Nick: I mean, everything. Everything I needed was on the bike, [00:05:37] Randall: so, you found a shower before you had your interview. [00:05:40] Nick: Yup. Knock some of the stink off. [00:05:43] Randall: So now you're in Davis and this is a program in what area? [00:05:48] Nick: So it was a MFA program, for a master of fine arts graduate school. It was back in the early eighties and I don't know where it is now, but, it was a leading school for the arts. It rivaled Dal our graduate department. And so it was, I got there and they had a very open format, which I much enjoyed everything I was looking at on the east coast was a very structured format. And I was done with that. I'd had five years of that at the university of Tennessee. And I was mostly just looking for studio. And that's what I got in Davis. And I also got to be around people that were pretty well renowned, you know, which was a new experience for me. I mean, I had people like manual Neary and Robert artisan and Wayne Tebow and Roy deforest were all teaching there. So I got exposure to all these professional artists that I had experienced before. [00:06:43] Randall: And was the writing community as developed then as it is now, right now, Davis is very much known as having great bike infrastructure. And UC Davis has a top cycling team and so on. [00:06:54] Nick: It was definitely a big thing there. Vibe culture was big and Davis and. And that was a new thing too. I mean, most people, certainly all the students. And I think back then there were 16,000 students, they were getting around and bikes. And that was very cool. And there was a lot of road biking going on out there too, which I participated in, you know, I got myself a Miata. I forget what model it was. It was there a touring bike, which is a pretty nice bike though. When I was buying it, it was the first new bike I'd ever had. And the guys kept telling me it was too big. A frame is too big, a frame it's like, I, I didn't listen to them. Should have, but you know, I wrote it for a number, number of years Anthony. Okay. But I realized in hindsight it was, it was too big. From there. I moved to the east bay and lived in Oakland and point Richmond primarily. I mean, there were the little stints in San Francisco and Berkeley, but primary residents were in point Richmond and Oakland. [00:07:52] Randall: what was it like back then versus what it's like at this time, [00:07:56] Nick: Well, there weren't as many people and it was a little cheaper to live, you know, and as an artist, you're always trying to live on the cheap, right. So, I mean, your goal is to, to be in your studio as much as you can and work as you have to, to cover your bills. So it was cheaper, you know, it wasn't, it wasn't as a fluid as it is now. You know, riding, riding, you know, it was entirely different than it was. And in Davis, everything out in Davis is flat land. The only thing you really had to contend with there was the wind which could be quite daunting at times though. Anytime you had the wind at your back If the conditions were just right, you'd be in this little envelope, this little bubble with the windier bath, where there was absolutely no resistance. And it was a remarkable thing to experience because the only thing you would hear is the pedaling, the chain moving through the cracks and across the cassette. And, and other than that, and there was no, no resistance. It just like you just flew across the landscape. And that was pretty extreme. didn't get to experience that when you were in Oakland, I mean, you had the Hills contend with and climbing up to, to a skyline drive and running her, riding the Ridge along through there, and certainly more traffic. [00:09:05] Randall: So, I recall you mentioning like over a decade in the bay area, [00:09:10] Nick: 20 years. Yeah. Was in the, in the, in the bay area for 20 years, it was a good experience. We had, when I was in point Richmond, we had a wonderful studio out there that was a live works situation. It was a, it was an illegal live in, you know, it. We're it was, it was such a stunning location. I mean, you were a seven acre parcel, surrounded by park on the San Francisco bay. That it was pretty extraordinary. It's just the kind of place you don't typically see in this day and age, you know, everything's been developed now, [00:09:44] Randall: Yeah. Hi, high end condos and lofts, [00:09:47] Nick: Yup. And so, you know, we, we lived there. It was one of my last places to stay. And the property was sold. The park system bought the property that we were living in and they wanted to incorporate it to the rest of the park. So we all got the boot and I didn't want it to be a renter anymore. I wanted to buy something. So threw a bit of searching. We found this place up here in Fort Bragg and made the move, even though we didn't know anybody. Yeah. [00:10:12] Randall: And that was just a parcel of land at the time, right? [00:10:15] Nick: That's true. It's it was small parcel, just over two and a half acres, fully wooded, which is what I really wanted to avoid. I really wanted to buy something I could remodel and at least have utilities in, you know, water and power, but we had nothing. It was a fully wooded property lot. And so amy, my wife and I, we spent a year of weekends coming up to the property from the bay area and logging the property ourself cleared about 200 trees. And some of these are pretty good sized trees. And we did that with an old forklift that I bought in an old international harvester that I had with a big PTO winch on the front. So we spent a year clearing clearing the land Then it's then it went idle for a little bit of the work. What idle for a little bit, as I was involved in a project down in the bay area that kept me, kept me tied up for a number of years. [00:11:05] Randall: Well, and that that's not just any project. So maybe give listeners a little bit of a background on that, on what that project was and your involvement with it. [00:11:13] Nick: This was this was a cloud gate. It's more commonly known as the bean. It's a big piece of sculpture in the city of Chicago. Which is now part of, part of their landscape icon to the city. It's a, it's a 60 foot long, roughly 35 foot high, 45 foot wide, perfectly smooth mirror finish sculpture that's in the shape of a bean or something like a beam. And that's, it's a pretty remarkable thing. So. I was involved with that for four and a half years first working on that on equipment we had to build for fabricating it and then doing some of the prototyping and then a lot of the fabrication of it. And then eventually back in Chicago for almost a year to see its installation and finish. [00:11:59] Randall: And for anyone who hasn't seen it, I strongly recommend that you use. Look it up. For me, it's just this really surreal thing, just plopped in this park in Chicago, reflecting the skyline. It almost looks like CGI because it's too perfect. Given the scale of the thing. And you and I have talked about the tolerances involved and so on and like, think about just the weight of it and how that dis wants to distort the structure and the material. What was your role specifically? You were the crew lead or the project lead? [00:12:27] Nick: Onsite, I would have been the supervisor overseeing all of its installation and it was working in Chicago with the local iron workers ironworker 63, local 63, which is great group of fellows. I very much enjoyed working with them. And you know, this, the bean was, was a prototype. It was like nobody had ever had ever built anything like that. And it was a combination of old world in hands-on kind of technology and computer generated. Imagery, you know, it's just like, you couldn't do it without being able to work with the hands, but you couldn't have done it without a computer because of all the tolerances that were involved. I mean, we had to have a computer set up a piece of equipment that would scan each piece and make sure it was. tolerance of what the computer model was and the tolerance for each piece is like a 32nd vintage. So, you know, and then you have 168 of those to put together and, the tolerances are, are no less stringent. [00:13:24] Randall: Well, and you have this thing that's mirror polished. So It doesn't just have to look good on its own. This mirror Polish is going to reveal any sort of imperfection in the surface whatsoever and distort the image. [00:13:35] Nick: It absolutely does, and reflecting the skyline the city scape, you know, with all the structures that are running plumbing, horizontal that grid work shows up shows any sort of mistake in the reflection on the piece. [00:13:50] Randall: I hope to make it out there in person at some point before, too long to, to check it out, but just seeing the imagery in some videos of it, it's it's quite an achievement, I mean, it's one thing to design such a thing and imagine such a thing, but, this So. much about the execution of that, that is really a wonder, so well done there. And that's not the only large scale sculpture you've been involved with. That is a, probably a pretty well-known there's, there's another one that was outside the mountain bike hall of fame for some time. You know, I talk about that and how that came about. [00:14:20] Nick: Sure. So that's still there and that's, that's something that's sort of. You know, back in 2011, up here on the coast, we were trying to have a little put together a little fat tire festival to sort of open up the area to people from surrounding areas. Let them know that we have some trail riding up here. There was some stuff happening in the way of mountain biking and. Someone asked me to build some signage for this, for, you know, to put out there to advertise this. And you know, I'm a sculptor, right. I don't do flat stuff. So I've sort of scratched my head for a few days and wandered around the property. And, you know, I realized I had these two big tractor tires sitting here off of a John Deere tractor. And I thought, you know what? I'll just make a big bike. I mean, that, that works is advertising as well as anything. And at that point, I was riding, riding, riding Ibis mojo when their carbon full suspension bikes. And I thought I just modeled well model the big one after that. So, you know, I, I I took a photo of the bike and put it on an opaque projector. Proper scale on the walls here and to lay out of the frame and transferred that to a piece of plywood and cut that out and started building to that frame. And slowly went at it. So, and it was through working on this thing, you know, and I got to know many of the people over at Ibis and my wife, again, Amy, my wife, she contacted Scott nickel. And send him some photos, which I knew he was like, great. I got some bone heads out here in the woods that think they're making sort of an Ibis bike. Right. And because a photo shows two big tractor tires will apply with cutout out the frame and it's like, okay, what are these knuckle heads up to? And but she continued to communicate with them and, you know, send them photos as updates and, and you know, as I. Nearing completion in this thing, he thought, okay, maybe this is actually going to turn out to be something kind of cool and tail end of me working on. And it's called Ibis Maximus tail end of working on IVIS Maximus. Scott asked me one day, it's like, so Nick, what's your day job that, you know, you're able to do this. And at that point I just sent him a photo of the bean and he's like, oh, Okay, carry on. So anyhow, it was through making this big bike that I got to know Scott, and then then many of the other partners down there in Ibis, in Santa Cruz. So all of which are a great bunch of people. So I've been very fortunate to get to know them. [00:17:03] Randall: And how did it end up at the mountain bike hall of fame in fairfax, California. [00:17:07] Nick: were trying to figure out where to put it. It must've been Scott cause IVIS eventually bought it, cause it was sitting up here, not really doing anything. It was sort of lawn art and I believe it was probably Scott that was looking to place it. And, of course he knows all the old guard down there and, and Fairfax and. Joe breeze who runs the place is, you know, he, I believe he mentored Scott for a little while, early on, so they, they know one another. And so I think Scott set this up and, then segwayed over to Joe breeze. [00:17:41] Randall: So, as somebody who runs a small bicycle brand, I can just say like what a cool, that must be to actually have one of your bikes, especially something very iconic. Like that's a very distinctive looking frame. If some bozo in the woods, up in Mendocino county ever wants to make a, make a giant version of one of our bikes. I'd be happy to oblige, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, [00:18:04] Nick: Okay. I'll keep that mind. [00:18:06] Randall: So, all right, so now you're, you're in Mendocino. You've come back from doing the bean. You've cleared your lands. What'd you end up doing from there? [00:18:14] Nick: So back from Chicago foundations in, from the house by then, I mean, it'd been in maybe a couple of years by that point, came back and, and started building our house and studio and earnest. And our house and studio are actually two old temper frame barns that we dismantled back in Ohio. There were a hundred plus years old. They're all Morrison, tenon, wooden pegs, holding them together. Something we had. Going back in 2000 and dismantled in Ohio. [00:18:43] Randall: And when you say we, you mean like you and your family? Yeah. [00:18:46] Nick: yeah, Amy and my kids who were 12 and 14 at that point. And, and then Amy's parents and her brother came out for a week and I had a good friend of mine. That came out with his new girlfriend from Manhattan to kind a hand for a week. And then I had a buddy that, that we paid to come out there for the three weeks that it actually took us to dismantle this. So that was a great project. I had a lot of fun and for my kids, it was the first time for them being back in the Midwest and it's sort of familiar stomping grounds to me, you know, I'm not from that particular. We, where we dismantled the Barnes, but I am from Northeast Ohio and the lightening bugs were all off familiar. My kids got to see that sort of stuff and they got to play with fireworks for the first time. [00:19:29] Randall: And again you know, the space up there is one of the more special spaces I've ever visited. You have me up there, I think three, four years ago. And. The home is beautiful and that's one of the bonds. Right. And then the back section of the workshop it makes me think of Craig Cathy's. South of Santa Cruz or in the Santa Cruz area it's another one of these places where you just have tools and projects everywhere and it has a certain degree of organization, but a sufficient amount of, of, of chaos. And you can tell it's, it's like a place where a lot of experimentation happens. A lot of creativity happens. And just the number of specialized tools that you have many of which you've made, it's really, really cool to see. And you occasionally hold exhibits up there too, right? [00:20:10] Nick: Open studio from time to time. And I'm hoping to do that again this year. If COVID actually is settling down, you're going to open the place back up again. So got lots of new work going on and it's good to invite people in, let them see the work that I'm working on, but also let them see the space that it's actually created in too, because I think that that puts a different spin on things and it gives people a little more insight to what's going on. [00:20:34] Randall: Yeah. And in fact, there's a, you have a video on. your website now, remind me the URL for your. [00:20:40] Nick: So website is jnicktaylor.com. Instagram is a good place to see what's what's current and it's the same, same J Nick Taylor. [00:20:49] Randall: Well, the website does have this really nice video that shows you and your studio working on some of your pieces. And then there's a number of your pieces. Put on a. Pan so that you can get a 3d view of it and you work in different various materials, metal, and wood. You work on things that can fit. What are your smaller pieces and what are your bigger pieces and talk actually, lets you do that. Talk a bit about like the type of work that you do and the inspiration for it. [00:21:17] Nick: So I'm working in metal or wood. I rarely combined the two materials. So my studio is kind of divided up in half. One, ended up doing metalwork on the other end. I'm doing woodwork in all the pieces. These days are pretty much inspired by nature. You know, my act or environment, they don't necessarily make reference to any one, given any one given thing. But probably a lot of different elements of what one might experience if they were out in nature. So the work is pretty organic. The metal work I'm, I'm doing a lot of welding forging grinding to get the shapes. Their scale can range anywhere from about two feet in height to I'm working on something right now it's about seven feet. So some, you know, some stuff's tabletop and size. So other pieces are certainly floor standing pieces. Larger, you know, largest wood pieces. I mean, what pieces. I'll tend to be a little larger. You know, they stand for, you know, maybe four feet up to about nine feet. They also are very organic, but some of them are carved from single pieces of wood. And other pieces are a composite of pieces that are glued up and then carved back into. So all of them are very in a hands-on very labor intensive. I'm getting three to four pieces done a year, a larger piece, whether it be metal or wood can take me 10 months to a year alone to work on so that a lot of hand work. And I've just, haven't figured out a way to expedite that. You know, I keep looking, keep trying to figure out ways to move faster, but it always seems to come back to hand work. [00:22:56] Randall: Well, And just looking on some of the imagery, I've seen a few of these pieces in person, and there are pieces that are very clearly flowing with the contours of the wood that you're working with, but then there's also some vision that's imposed on it to some degree as well. Some of your metalwork, there's pieces that for me, looked like, contorted musical instruments and every angle tells a different story and evokes a different set of feelings and images . It's very abstract. And very interesting. Looking at your work, it really draws one in to explore it from different angles. [00:23:30] Nick: And that's really important. You know, when I was a kid and in school art school, one of the things that was hammered into me was, any given piece of sculpture should invite you to walk all the way around it and explore it. You shouldn't be able to stand on one side of it and know what's happening on the other side. So it should shift and change and draw you in and draw you around the given piece. [00:23:53] Randall: So let's bring the bike back into the conversation. How does the bike fit into your process or your day to day or week to week routine? [00:24:04] Nick: So, these days unfortunate enough to be in the studio four days a week, full time on interrupted. But I can only be in the studio for those four days. And then I'm like maxed out, I can't put any more time in, I've got to put my head in a different space. And so I spent two days on the bike, out in the woods. So here in Fort Bragg Mendocino area, we've got, we've got really nice trail system. And then we also have unlimited number of gravel roads. I mean, much of our mountain biking is in Jackson demonstration, state forest. If I'm not mistaken, they have a minimum of 300 miles of gravel road in there. Right. And then there are all these entities that bought up against Jackson's demonstration state forest. You have big river state park, you've got conservation fund. And then north of Jackson, you have lime timber now, lime timber and conservation fund land. You have to have permission to be on their property. But I think, conservation fund certainly gives that pretty readily and I've never heard of anybody having an issue on online timber and lime timber is 150,000 acres. Right? Jackson demonstrations state forest is, is just under 50,000 acres, big river state park is like 7,500 acres and conservation fund. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I think there are 30 to 40,000 acres. In all of these places have gravel roads running around on them. Right. I'm sure you could chain this stuff all together and, and get up into use hall, which is about an hour north of here. And, and, you've got unlimited resource up there for variety and gravel roads as well. [00:25:43] Randall: And you're involved in a lot of the trail building up there as well. [00:25:46] Nick: That's my, the form of sculpting. Sculpting the landscape since I've been a little kid was a little kid and working out doors it's part of my core as part of what I really love doing. So I it's like I run a trail crew up here work in, and we're building, maintaining and building trails and Jackson demonstration, state forest. And we're doing that in conjunction with Cal fire and Cal fire are the Stewart's the managers of the forest. So we've got a 10 year relationship that we've developed with them and And it's going strong. You know, we've currently got some projects going. Everything these days is being hand dug though. Two years ago we had had a new experience with getting some trails machine belt and we got to two and a quarter mile trail machine built that we were able to lay out and, and. Through a sponsor, a one track mind, better known as OTM who funded it. We were able to build this new trail that connected a bunch of other stuff together and made for a better trail system. [00:26:46] Randall: So, for listeners, you want to explore this area, want to learn more about it and get a toe in the water, what resources are available, what clubs are available to get a handle on what you're describing, which is this massive amount of space that you could very easily get lost in and not necessarily find the best trails [00:27:05] Nick: So the trail work that I'm doing is, is under or with Mendocino coast, cyclists, where the local cycle group. I could be contacted through them or the club president, Dan sweet could be contacted and we can set you up, we can be found on Facebook under Mendocino coast, cyclists. That's probably the easiest way. I'm sort of thinking this through. I'm thinking out loud. And we have group rides, so that have been closed during COVID, but I think they're beginning to open those back up and people can join these group rides and they typically are happening three times a week, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. But we also, there's a list serve if you're a club member, this is probably the best way to get any sort of information is if you join the club you can get on a listserv and you can get all the chatter that's going on and you get notifications of rides. You can ask questions if you're trying to find, find your way around for the first time. [00:27:58] Randall: Very cool. so before we finish up, you've mentioned your wife, Amy and, you know, sounds like a pretty extraordinary woman to have supported, everything from buying a plot of land in the middle of nowhere, well, not the middle of nowhere in a very beautiful area, but, a good distance from the city to going out with you and the kids and, tearing down some barns and so on. Tell us about that dynamic. [00:28:21] Nick: Well, Amy's a pretty extraordinary person and she's been game to go on a lot of adventures, and are adventures that we've developed together. She's a brilliant person. She's very capable. She tolerates me. She has her own business, a land use permit agent up here on the coast. She's the go-to person. If you wanted to develop anything in the coastal zone [00:28:43] Randall: Clearly cares about the work that you do in doing things like, reaching out to people like Scott Nichols over at IBUs to get attention on your projects and so on. [00:28:51] Nick: Yep. [00:28:52] Randall: Well, is there anything else that you'd like to discuss while we're on the pod today? [00:28:55] Nick: I think that pretty well, does it, I mean, please, please visit the website and Instagram and let me know what you think. And if you happen to be up this way and Mendocino Fort Bragg area, give a shout out. So we love showing people around and the riding up here is pretty extraordinary. And if you want to, you know, if you like being out in the woods, doing mountain biking, you can, you can go for all day rides and not see anybody up here at all. You know, if you're riding during the week, which is pretty extraordinary to have the woods to yourself. [00:29:25] Randall: Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. Well, we will be sure to get some links in the show notes for this episode, for anyone looking to connect with you or to learn more about the Mendocino trail network. Nick, it's been great catching up with you. It's been some time and as I mentioned, I had been looking forward to it for quite a while and really appreciate you joining us. [00:29:45] Nick: Well, thank you very much for having me on Randall. And it says really nice and it's good to spend a little time with you as well. Don't see you often enough these days. [00:29:54] Randall: we'll try to rectify that later on this year, make a trip up the coast. [00:29:58] Nick: Alrighty you take care of man. [00:30:00] Randall: Be well be well [00:30:01] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Thank you for joining us. I hope you enjoyed that interview. Between Randall and Nick Taylor. Be sure to check out Nick's extraordinary work@jnicktaylor.com. Or on Instagram at Jane, Nick Taylor. We'll have links for these as well as the IVIS Maximus and cloud gate in the show notes. If you're interested in connecting with myself or Randall, please visit us@theridership.com. That's www.theridership.com. Join our global cycling community. Everything's free. And I'm sure you'll get a lot out of the interactions with your fellow gravel athletes and also your hosts here at the gravel ride podcast. If you're interested in supporting the podcast, you can visit us@buymeacoffee.com slash the gravel ride. Additionally ratings and reviews are hugely helpful. And with that until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels


26 Apr 2022

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Michelle Duffy Life Time Grand Prix

Recorded live at the Life Time Sea Otter Classic, we sit down with Michelle Duffy to discuss the 2022 Life Time Grand Prix. One race down, five to go in this season long series across XC MTB Races and Gravel Races.  It will be exciting to see how it unfolds.  Episode Sponsor: The Feed (50% off your first order of The Feed Formula) Life Time Grand Prix Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Michelle Duffy Lifetime [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. This week on the podcast. We're once again, live at the lifetime seawater classic. We're joined by Michelle Duffy. Who's the director of events, brand and content strategy at lifetime, and has been intimately involved in the lifetime grand Prix series. The grand Prix is a season long event series comprising of six lifetime events. Equally spread between mountain and gravel events that allow professional gravel athletes to battle it out over the year in a unique point series. I think it's going to be a lot of fun to watch and i wanted to make sure that we got michelle on just to talk about the ins and outs of the series and what she's excited about Before we jump in, we need to thank this week. Sponsor the feed. The feed is the largest online marketplace for your sports nutrition, offering the brands, you know, and love from scratch labs, Clif bar to Martine. Plus their athlete, customized supplements called the feed formula. Feed formulas. As I mentioned before, it's a daily formula individually wrapped that you have in a little box. She'd take out every day. And it gives you kind of the supplements you need as an athlete. The feed formulas are personalized supplements for athletes developed in part with Dr. Kevin Sprouse from EDF pro cycling team. He's the team doctor over there and it's following the same protocols that top athletes use. What I love about it is if you go over to the feed.com/the gravel ride, you can customize the individual supplements in your pill pack every day. So if you're needing a little extra recovery, or if you're an aging athlete, you can customize these for your needs in any given month. Right now gravel ride podcast listeners can get 50% off your first feed formula order. Just visit the feed.com/the gravel ride. These are best in class. Branded supplements, never generics. You get personalized recommendations based on your needs as an athlete. And it's all put together in a convenient daily pouch. So no more messy bottles on the counter. You can just grab a bag and go every morning. So I recommend you take a look at the feed. It's become my go-to source for all my hydration and gel needs. It's nice to have a single marketplace. That's really focused. On sports, nutrition. I often find myself in places where I'm just not really getting that focused offering. So I'm super comfortable recommending the feed.com for all your nutritional needs. Would that message behind us? Let's dive right into my interview with Michelle Duffy . At the lifetime seattle classic Michelle welcome back to the show. [00:03:07] Michelle Duffy: thank you, Craig. It's been a while. Yeah. [00:03:08] Craig Dalton: It's great to see you here at the sea Otter classic [00:03:11] Michelle Duffy: as well. And the flash is [00:03:13] Craig Dalton: this the kickoff to the lifetime sort of, I know it's the kickoff to the lifetime grand Prix. Is that your first event [00:03:18] Michelle Duffy: of the year? We've had a few road running events, but this is the first cycling event off-road event of [00:03:23] Craig Dalton: the season. And it's so exciting. Is this the biggest event in the calendar in terms of participation? [00:03:29] Michelle Duffy: Definitely. Yes. You know, we have. Sorry. We have road running events that are 15,000 athletes, but in terms of scale, 74,000 attendees here, 500 exhibitors, there's nothing compares to that. What year of [00:03:44] Craig Dalton: this yacht or classic is [00:03:45] Michelle Duffy: this? It started in 1991. So, [00:03:48] Craig Dalton: so I, I remember doing some of the races here, back in the mid nineties, on my [00:03:53] Michelle Duffy: mountain bike. Oh, I've heard some fascinating stories in those [00:03:57] Craig Dalton: days. Now the festival, I mean, Just this fascinating intersection of all the disciplines of cycling. It's hard to describe. I mean, if you, you name it, if it's on a bike, it's probably has an event here. [00:04:11] Michelle Duffy: Absolutely. I mean anything from e-bikes to gravel cross-country mountain bike, dual slalom, downhill and Duro. You name it. It's here. Kids races. We have a little bit of it all here. It's hard to tie it all together. Yeah. [00:04:23] Craig Dalton: Super cool. Watching the kids on the pump track, and it's just such a good family atmosphere here. [00:04:28] Michelle Duffy: And I think that was Frank Yohannan's goal. When he started the event really was how are we bringing families? And bike together. So often these bike races, it's hard to integrate your family into that experience, but here you can camp with your family. You can attend the festival, they can learn how to ride a mountain bike on the pump track, and you can participate in a race yourself. So I think. That's really how this started and what's made it so successful. We have families that have been here since 1991, and now they're taking their kids here and we were going to take their kids here. [00:05:02] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And the how many booths are here? The festival atmosphere. It's so unusual for consumers to get in front of so many manufacturers from the bike industry. Yeah. And [00:05:12] Michelle Duffy: vice versa for the, for the brands to have this many consumers here and there's over 500 brands. [00:05:18] Craig Dalton: That's amazing. Yeah. It's probably took me two days to kind of visit everybody across the booth [00:05:23] Michelle Duffy: after, and even still, like, you probably didn't get a chance to engage with them all. Yeah, [00:05:28] Craig Dalton: that's absolutely right. Interestingly, I talked to a couple of riders who were doing multiple events. They brought a couple bikes down, different disciplines, really making the most of their time here in [00:05:38] Michelle Duffy: Monterrey. Athletes. I heard some names today in the gravel event that participated in cross-country yesterday. We even have some pretty legit riders that took place in the e-bike race. So it's, it's always fun to talk to them and see what bikes they chose. Yeah. Uh, I participated [00:05:54] Craig Dalton: in am I, if I'm going to say it correctly, log Villa. Yeah, I, I should apologize in advance if I'm in articulate. Cause my brain is still rattled. [00:06:02] Michelle Duffy: I'm with you. It's been a long few days here, fun few days, but definitely zaps the brain. [00:06:08] Craig Dalton: It was definitely a fun event. And I would say I would characterize it as a bit unusual for the gravel races I've done because it was very single-track heavy, which I appreciated as someone, you know, obviously the lifetime produces a lot of events in a lot of different stuff. Was that intentional to kind of make it a little bit of a different type of event than some of the other events [00:06:27] Michelle Duffy: on the calendar. Thai the event, the overall experience of seawater. And it's important to us that all of our events around the country feel unique and also important us that all of our events here at seawater have their differentiators. So definitely was intentional. I know not all gravel cyclists have the best bike handling myself included. But it keeps it interesting. [00:06:50] Craig Dalton: Yeah. A hundred percent. So for the listener, it's very single track heavy course. Stunning views across the corridor. [00:06:56] Michelle Duffy: It's absolutely beautiful here. And after holding the event in October, in the fall, it was amazing to have everyone back together, but being back on the calendar at this time of year, when everything is green, the birds are chirping. The sun shining. Yeah, it's [00:07:10] Craig Dalton: stunning. Yeah. You get on these Ridge lines and despite how much my back was hurting, I was still appreciating it and enjoy it. Yeah. [00:07:18] Michelle Duffy: Yeah. It's it's great. [00:07:20] Craig Dalton: So I wanted to talk to you about the lifetime grand Prix. We haven't had anybody on the show talking about it yet. It's the inaugural race. Can you just give us an overview of the series and then we'll get into some more detailed questions? Yeah, [00:07:31] Michelle Duffy: absolutely. So the lifetime grand Prix comprise is of six of our events. Off-road events. Multidiscipline so, you know, cross country this weekend and we'll be doing. Out in Emporia next. We selected 60 athletes, so 30 men, 30 women who are competing for a quarter million dollar prize purse across the season. And the breakdown is we'll take their best five of six scores so they can choose to attend only five and assume the risk of finishing the others or we'll drop their lowest score. The point system's pretty. Easy to understand. And it's a sliding scale, 30 points to first place, one point to 30th place, and we'll score it that way across the season. [00:08:22] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. So many questions. W how, what was the decision-making process look like to decide, to have cross country mountain bike racing and gravel racing in the same series? [00:08:32] Michelle Duffy: I think it's just totally unique. There's Def there's mountain bike series. There's road. Series. I don't know if we've, well, we're starting to see, you know, the UCI coming out with the gravel series and that's not lifetime events are unique in that. They're all different. But we're seeing the same elite riders that are wanting to attend a mountain bike race, and a gravel event. And it's not for everyone. Some, some gravel riders are not interested in riding a mountain bike and they're going to come to our gravel events and they'll purchase participate. Those are scored the same way and all of our athletes will be treated in the same fashion. But when we look at our portfolio, it's like, wow, we, how lucky are we that we have the sea Otter classic and Unbound gravel and the Leadville trail, 100 mountain bike, race, and crushing the Tuscher in Toronto again in big sugar, gravel. And it goes on. And when we looked at our portfolio, we've been talking about this for a few years and I don't know if the timing was right. As we've seen more and more elites coming it's we've paused and been thinking like we're seeing mass participation grow. We're seeing these former world tour riders, former world champion mountain bike racers coming and participating in our events. And they're participating in our events because they want to stand on the same start line as the mass participant. It's good for them and their brand to connect with the consumers. They're enjoying the experience of standing on the same start line as the everyday rider and walking through an expo. These are things that they don't get to do in Europe. And, but what's missing is, you know, a few, a few decades ago, he lost a lot of faith in road cycling and that impacted fandom is the term that we're using internally of, of professional cycling in the U S. People don't care about those professional athletes, but in mass, we're not talking about cycling on ESPN on a regular basis. And I don't know if we'll get there, but we hope to we hope that this series helps north America reconnect with elite cyclists and these athletes start to become household names. And this is. I don't know, league of sorts. [00:10:45] Craig Dalton: I think it's a lot of fun. I mean, I think it pushes the rider's technical abilities. I've always been sort of griping about the ratification of gravel. So I love that these athletes are just going to have to find a different skill set, develop a different skill, set, understand how to ride a different bike. It's fun. Yeah. [00:11:04] Michelle Duffy: I mean, if you look at our. The crusher and the Tuscher is a gravel race, but the top riders wanted on a mountain bike last year. Right. So there, I think ratification can happen a little bit, especially when there's more elite riders. So there's more group riding. But the, the technicality of a lot of our courses it varies and it does require a different skillset [00:11:30] Craig Dalton: for the athletes who require. Just a lot of thought about the season, right? Preparing for an event like seawater and the cross-country style, mountain bike race is quite different than Unbound at 200 miles. [00:11:41] Michelle Duffy: Absolutely. And I think we saw a lot of our, you know, more traditional gravel cyclist road cyclist came here and they didn't come off the line the way a Keegan Swenson did. He was a man with a plan. Like he was out there to win that event and get his 30 points. But we did see a lot of other athletes. Came out here and we didn't have all 30 men and all 30 women. So they scored a few points, even if it was a, it was just survival. Consistency is going to be key throughout the season. And it was definitely fun to see some of our athletes that were really stretching themselves in a single track cross country event coming out. And they took the challenge on and I think that's really cool. It's they, they're not shying away from the challenge. Some falls out there yesterday, but that was part of it. And if any of these athletes knew what they were getting into, and I think it's something that excites them, the energy was really high. [00:12:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's super cool. I didn't get a chance to see the coverage yet from yesterday. I know who the winner is. I'm not going to put you on the spot for race commentary, but how would you characterize, like how the race unfolded? I know in a lot of mountain bike races, you got to get to that single track [00:12:46] Michelle Duffy: first. Yeah. What's funny, is that both the men's and women's race unfolded almost identically within the top three. So coming off the line, they they're on this racetrack Laguna Seca, and they hop on. Pretty wide dirt fire road and climb a hill. And it's just under a mile before they hit double track. So you could see I was in the lead out Mazda vehicle. You could see them fighting for position, especially the traditional mountain bikers. They wanted to get to the single track first, knowing that their bike handling skills were better. And they, they rode, it was pretty decided who was going to be. In contention about 10 riders deep yesterday on both the men's and women's side. It worked its way down to three writers, deep on both sides with only maybe six miles to go. The women definitely had a bigger group of five there that it was anybody's day. And then Mo Wilson put it down, climbing a hill and it was a risky move for her, but she. Came you just kind of watched everyone else come apart. And she was the strongest woman out there yesterday. [00:13:58] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I talked to her a little bit yesterday and she said that last hill made her, made the race for her. [00:14:02] Michelle Duffy: Yeah, it definitely did. And it was kind of amazing. We have flow bikes doing live coverage and they got it all on drone on the broadcast. And you could just see the race coming apart and the men's men's wear the same. It was, I don't know if you've talked to Keegan. But as he hit that climb, he went and Russell, Vince or Wilde said the same thing. He just, he gave it his all, but he couldn't stay with Keegan on that, [00:14:22] Craig Dalton: that, that climb has been part of this Jada classic for 30. As I approached it, I remembered it from decades [00:14:29] Michelle Duffy: ago. Well, w R M cross country mountain bike race was UCI sanctioned before this year and it, but it wasn't prior to that. And it used to be a longer loop cross-country style, mountain bike, race, and we wanted to get back to that. Let them let the riders see beautiful Salinas valley. And I think that. They got to experience a little bit more of that and got those traditional climbs in those traditional views. And we only saw them, it was a two lap race. So we just saw them at the halfway [00:15:00] Craig Dalton: point. Yeah. Yeah. No, I think it was a really fun course too. Yeah. [00:15:04] Michelle Duffy: As the writers. Yeah. Loose and loose at times, but overall and fairly good. [00:15:11] Craig Dalton: There's a lot of people hitting the whoops and saying, wow, that kind of stuff, which is great to see. Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about the selection process. Not necessarily like how it went down, but you seem to have selected a lot of diverse writers. I know we've got former Olympians on the women's side. Like Andrew and Amber Neven who know, not known for mountain biking or gravel racing at all, but [00:15:38] Michelle Duffy: coming right [00:15:38] Craig Dalton: off the Olympics. Yeah. Yeah. Which clearly, like she's a phenomenal talent. And then as I know, you've got some track people on the men's side as well, some of the traditional mountain bikers, some gravel riders. So what, what did that look like? And it must have been fun, hard, but. [00:15:54] Michelle Duffy: It was hard but fun. That's a good way to describe it. We weren't sure what was going to happen in the inaugural year. Like, are we going to get enough writers to fill the field? Is it going to be fast amateur riders and just hitting the refresh button on the application and watching the names that float in. We had over 200. Elite professional cyclists, that applied to be a part of the lifetime grand Prix that does make the selection process really challenging. And I mean, we're learning a lot, but this felt like the best way for us to do it this year with no year over a year learnings, yet to do an application, let's find out who is interested, who is telling us that they want to take on this challenge. They want to. Our goal again, is to grow cycling. Who's going to be a great ambassador for that. And we looked at race resume and those that we thought would be really competitive, like who truly has a challenge, a chance to be in the top 10 throughout the season was really important. And then just who is going to inspire people to follow the sport. But I think we have a lot of really amazing humans that do a lot of amazing things off the bike to. [00:17:07] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think it's going to be really fun. It's so cool that you have flow bikes doing the live coverage. So regardless of where you are, get on flow bikes, you can watch the series unfold. And I think we're going to see some of those just human interest stories about, you know, who's skilled on the mountain bike who hate, you know, who's having counseling and I [00:17:23] Michelle Duffy: hated mountain bikers had their day. And, and that was amazing to see. I mean, some of the lesser talked about names within the lifetime grandpa. We're finishing in the top five. And I loved to see that. I don't think there was that many surprises in the top three. But, but there also, there was no one's been talking about Alex wild and he's been due to have his day and it came for him yesterday. He wrote an amazing event. Like I loved seeing that. I loved seeing Evelyn dong, who finished in fifth on the women's side. She hasn't really been talked about as a favorite of the lifetime grand Prix. And she was up there with the women all day. Yep. [00:17:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I think it's going to be interesting transitioning eight weeks from now to Unbound 200 mile race. Definitely different skillset. But I imagine if you've got a top five here at. You've got a little extra motivation in you. Maybe like you didn't feel like you could be competitive at the 200 mile, but now you're saying, well, I've got a bunch of points in the bank and I got to go [00:18:16] Michelle Duffy: for it. Exactly. And we think, I think there's consistency is really going to be important. And as long as you score a bunch of points at the front, Showing up and Unbound is so interesting because the finisher rate is low. But I think now what's going to make that event interesting is there's more motivation to finish. So you might be having the heck of a day out there and normally pull the plug. But getting to the finish line is super important for you because you can still finish in the top 20, because inevitably we're going to have some writers that are going to DNF, and we do have some writers that are opting out of it. Yeah. [00:18:58] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's really interesting. I imagined as a professional athlete, just trying to figure out how to manage the diversity of races that you have to tackle. And I don't know if we mentioned this on air, but you can drop one, one event through the season. [00:19:10] Michelle Duffy: Some, some athletes are choosing to drop one event. Some actually were injured leading into sea Otter. And so that's their drop of this season. And. Then some are going to do all six and they get to drop their lowest performance. You have Pete Stenton unfortunately broke his wrist yesterday and he rode, he finished it in 21st, yesterday. So he got some points and he's hoping that this is the event that he can drop. Definitely equipped to be a top contender throughout the season, but it was to his benefit that he attended the event yesterday and still got something. Yeah. And [00:19:45] Craig Dalton: the, the Leadville 100 is on the docket as well. Right. So another just sort of unique, you know, has its own skillset required. High, high elevation. [00:19:57] Michelle Duffy: Yeah. One could argue. That Unbound gravel 200 is the most intimidating event because of the mileage. But then you look at an event like the Leadville trail, 100 mountain bike race, which is at high elevation and requires a ton of climbing. Yep. [00:20:11] Craig Dalton: Super intimidating for any athlete tackling that [00:20:13] Michelle Duffy: one. Although it's interesting because crushing the Tuscher is the event prior to that. And there's a lot of climbing at that event and it is also at elevations. It's kind of a good prep leading in crushers, the only mountain top finish in gravel and there they spend most of their day climbing at that race. [00:20:31] Craig Dalton: That's what I've heard. What's the, what's the time difference a gap between those two events and it's exactly a month. Okay. Yeah. And lentils after [00:20:40] Michelle Duffy: crusher. Yeah. So the order seawater obviously is this weekend. First or second weekend in April and we have eight weeks until Unbound, gravel and Emporia. And then after that we have six weeks, so crusher four weeks, and then we get on this four week cadence. [00:20:57] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's going to be interesting to see the climbers, how they fair and Leadville versus Unbound. Just fascinating to me the whole thing. [00:21:06] Michelle Duffy: Yeah. I, I'm really excited to see some individuals that are just so. Talented within their discipline, have the opportunity to rise and have an amazing day like we saw yesterday, but then also excited for these athletes that are just going to be chipping away every week, landing themselves in the top 10. And and who that will be like, who from yesterday are going to be consistently in the top 10 for the rest of the [00:21:32] Craig Dalton: season. Yeah. And I think that the existence of this series and all the capital on the line. Is also providing a lot of motivation for athletes that didn't get selected this year to show themselves and say, Hey, you missed out on me. Yeah. Look at me. [00:21:44] Michelle Duffy: And, and I, I love that. I mean, it's, it was really hard to make the decision and especially knowing, you know, you have to put your business hat on because we are hearing from some athletes that this has changed their year. I mean, it's, we're occupying a lot of their schedule, but. They've been able to sign sponsors that they hadn't prior. And we've gotten that feedback from multiple athletes, which was part of, part of the goal is to help them be able to do this as a full-time job, but as we're making the selection, you know, that those that you're not selecting are not getting that opportunity. And we had do have a handful of athletes that are going to be showing up at a lot of these events and saying, Hey, actually I did deserve to be here. I'm finishing in the top 30. All of the events within the lifetime grand Prix. And that's amazing because this is not a one-year activation for us. This is a long-term long-term things. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, [00:22:40] Craig Dalton: I mean, you still have the opportunity to win any one of these races, regardless of whether you're selected for the lifetime [00:22:45] Michelle Duffy: grand Prairie. Exactly. Yesterday, it just so happened that the top three were all also lifetime grand Prix athletes, but I don't foresee that happening at Unbound gravel. I mean, you have someone like Ian Boswell, the raining. And Lauren D crescendo. They're not doing the lifetime grand Prix. But I expect to see them performing really well at Unbound gravel. Yeah. You've [00:23:07] Craig Dalton: got people who focus on the Leadville 100 as their jam. That's the [00:23:11] Michelle Duffy: one they want to win. But I think that's, that's, what's going to help keep it really honest because there's going to be varying goals at these big events. So. We've started to see lots of front of pack riding in a pack and coming down to a sprint finish, which is also amazing because this gravel community is about building community and comradery. And, but now that we have both all this money on the line, do the lifetime grand Prix and other athletes that are not participating and maybe have their own incentives with their separate brands. Seeing how the races unfold this year. I, I am predicting will be different because every point matters for the grand Prix athletes and those that aren't in the grand Prix. I have something to prove. And so I don't know. I don't know if we'll see as much. PAC riding sleep miles [00:24:06] Craig Dalton: in the days, coming up to the event here, you signed up a pretty big sponsor. [00:24:11] Michelle Duffy: Yes. We now have a presenting sponsor in Mazda. They we've been talking with them since late fall of last year and they just launched an off-road vehicle, the Mazda CX 50. And as they were doing their research, they, they view the cyclist as a target consumer for them. Okay. They also just, I mentioned earlier, amazing humans doing amazing things. That's what we've been spending all of our time, talking to Mazda about that's something that they want to be a part of. They're not interested in the super salesy tactics. They're more interested in like content reconnecting and connecting with, with this consumer base. And they're really passionate about the outdoors. And [00:24:51] Craig Dalton: is it a sponsorship just for the [00:24:53] Michelle Duffy: season? They are the presenting sponsor of big sugar gravel now. They're signing. It's a two or three-year deal. I shouldn't know that, but my brain's not firing, but they're on for multiple years with us. And then they've also become official sponsors of all of the events that are in the lifetime grant. But yeah, that's [00:25:09] Craig Dalton: super exciting. Yeah. It's just great to see money coming into the sport to support a series of this [00:25:14] Michelle Duffy: nature. If you read any interviews from chemo, Seymour, our president of events early on, he actually called out auto is one of the industries. Departed from supporting cycling. After just, you know, a few decades ago of a lot of brands are moving themselves from this sport and Mazda has done some things locally in California in a smaller scale. Just I think outside of that region, people weren't really aware that they've been slowly starting to get their feet wet in dirt and mountain biking. And to see an automobile company come back and believe in us and believe in this series. It says a lot for us as well. Like this is, we're doing it. Like this is going to be big. We have a really big brand that believes in us, our events, our athletes, our participants, our community. Yeah. It's super [00:26:06] Craig Dalton: validating and great to see. Thank you so much for all the time. I know it's been a [00:26:10] Michelle Duffy: super long week. Thank you. I'm glad we could connect and chat and talk in person better than zoom. [00:26:17] Craig Dalton: Yeah, absolutely. And I look forward to just watching the series on full. Again, a reminder to the listener. You can watch these events on flow bikes. You can follow them on social media. There's all kinds of great way to get access to what I think is going to be a great journey and a lot of fun stories throughout the year. Particularly as we have two or three events behind us, we're going to see who's in the lead who needs to catch up. Does it change their race tactics to try to get a win when they're behind? Yes, [00:26:45] Michelle Duffy: so much fun. I'm excited to see how everything [00:26:49] Craig Dalton: unfolds. I, for one hope that it comes down to big sugar. I [00:26:53] Michelle Duffy: do too. Let's keep it. Interesting. Amazing. [00:26:57] Craig Dalton: All right. Get some rest. Good to [00:26:58] Michelle Duffy: talk to you. Thank you. Thanks Greg. [00:27:01] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. I hope you enjoyed learning more about the lifetime grand Prix series from Michelle. I know as a fan of the sport, I'm excited to just watch and see how it unfolds. Next up for racing is Unbound. And I think that's about seven weeks out. At this point and you can go over to lifetime's grand Prix website to see the current standings of athletes and see what's coming up next in the calendar beyond Unbound big, thanks to our friends at the feed for sponsoring this week's episode of the gravel rod podcast. If you're interested in connecting with me, encourage you to join the ridership, just visit www.theridership.com. That's our free global cycling community. You can connect with myself and hundreds of other athletes from around the world and just. Chat about your love of gravel cycling and all things bikes. If you're interested in supporting the podcast, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated as well as any financial contributions via buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels


19 Apr 2022

Rank #5

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Life Time Sea Otter Classic Gravel Round Up 2022

We spent the last weekend at Life Time’s Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA catching up with industry friends and athletes from around the world. We captured a dozen mini-interviews to give you a feel of the event. Episode Sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (code TheGravelRide) Episode includes: Fox, Classified, WolfTooth/Otso, Blackheard, Finishline, Fat Chance, Vitus, Kav Helmets, Surley, Enduro Bearings, Redshift, Transrockies Gravel Royale and Corvus.  Support the Podcast Join The Ridership 


12 Apr 2022

Rank #6

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In the Dirt #29 - Custom frame design

This week Craig and Randall continue the discussion on the considerations for Craig’s custom gravel frame build. We dig into the history of Reach and Stack, the meaning of BB drop and how different materials afford different options and considerations for construction. Episode sponsor: Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: In the Dirt #29 [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to in the dirt from the gravel ride podcast. My name's Craig Dalton. I'm your host. And I'm going to be joined shortly by my cohost Randall Jacobs. In the, in the dirt episodes, Randall and I take an opportunity catch up on everything going on in gravel, cycling. Uh, Everything you need to know in between our long form interviews on the gravel ride podcast This week's broadcast is brought to you by thera body. You may remember thera body from the thera gun massage gun that really revolutionized recovery for gravel cyclists. But this week, we're here to talk to you about something completely next level. We're talking about their body's revolutionary new recovery air jet boots. If you're like me over the years, you've seen these pneumatic compression boots. Underneath pro cyclists after stages of the tour de france or big gravel events and i've always been curious what that experience would be like But every time I looked into them, they seemed not only expensive, but incredibly. Overbuilt, they're attached to sort of something that looked like a car battery. You had wires everywhere. It just seemed overly complicated. As you know, on the podcast, we've been talking about recovery quite a bit lately, and it's driven by my own personal need. I found as, as I get older as an athlete, I just can't recover as quickly. And I need to basically do everything I can to make sure my body's in tip top shape and able to get back out on the bike. So it was super curious when therapy body came out with the recovery air jet boots. It's quite a bit more affordable than the original pneumatic compression boots that were out on the market And in a form factor that can't be beat. Recovery, our jet boots of the world's most advanced pneumatic compression system ever created. For years runners and gravel, cyclists, and everyone who spends hours on their feet. Have had to suffer through leg pains and aches after a hard day. Clinically proven treatments like the compression boots per athletes have always been using, have always been out of reach. Recovery era is a groundbreaking pressure massage system for everybody. Anywhere. With their body's exclusive fast flush technology, recovery air flushes out metabolic waste more fully, and brings back fresh blood to your legs. Three times faster than the speed of competition. Faster cycles means faster recovery. So you don't have to wait for the legs to feel great. There are bodies. Recovery are jet boots are first of its kind. They're truly wireless for anywhere on the go recovery boosting circulation and radically reducing muscle soreness. And thanks to recovery are super intuitive, easy to use one touch controls. Recovering faster as .a breeze. I had a couple of recovery sessions with the jet boots already. And I'm trying to figure out what's the right way to describe it to the listener. You've got an individual boot on each leg that goes all the way up to your upper thigh. As the pneumatic air moves through each boot, you feel your leg kind of compressed tightly, like a nice massage. As it rolls through a process you can set through multiple time sessions, how long you want to be in the product, how long you have for recovery. But I got out of it after a 20 minute session and the legs felt good. So I'm looking forward to doing more punishing rides coming back and getting these jet boots on my body. To find out more, just visit thera body.com/the gravel ride. You can get thera body recovery air today starting at just $699. Or as low as $59 a month with a firm. Plus with recovery, our 60 day money back guarantee and free shipping. There's absolutely no risk to giving it a try at home. Again, that's their body.com/the gravel ride. Would that business out of the way, let's jump into this week's episode [00:03:46] Craig: Hey Randall, how you doing? [00:03:49] Randall: Well, a little bit under the weather here in Boston, but hopefully we'll be recovered before I head out your way in a couple of days. Are you? [00:03:57] Craig: to see you got to get over this cold. [00:03:59] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm actually hoping to see a lot of or at least a few of our listeners as well. We got Seattle coming up. [00:04:07] Craig: Yeah, that's a good place to start. Yeah, so we're, we're getting we're both of us are going to be at Seattle this year, which is exciting. I think we did sea Otter together two years ago. That's on, [00:04:16] Randall: Two or three years ago. Yeah. Whenever you know, and that, that, that innocent pre COVID era [00:04:23] Craig: That's [00:04:23] Randall: when I was still living in the bay area. [00:04:26] Craig: For the listener that may not be in the region or may not have heard of seawater. It's actually an event that's been going on in the Monterey bay peninsula area since 1991 mountain bike started out at because a mountain bike festival had added on road racing criteriums. They had a cyclocross race at one point observed trials. Like you name it. If it's done on two wheels, they've been doing it at the sea Otter classic for you. [00:04:53] Randall: it's also, become I believe the, the most important trade show in north America with the, you know, with the folding of the M oh, Interbike. Yeah. And in fact I've always felt that it was a much more enjoyable experience than Interbike because you have this kind of festival environment. So people are there. You have general audience general riders who were there to participate in the events and to, you know, meet up with each other and to walk around and see the booze and so much more you know, rider friendly and so on. So I'm excited to get out there. it's been a long time. [00:05:23] Craig: it's also really interesting to me to see the merging of all the different cycling cultures, because you've got a big downhill contingent and dual slalom contingent with their slam seats and 10 inch travel bikes and full face helmets. And then you've got like the Legion criterium squad rolling around doing the CRA you know, the circuit. [00:05:44] Randall: Yeah. and I, I'm not sure. I would imagine the, the UCI cross-country race is still going on there. That was the only time I ever lied up at a, at a UCI level race, which was a cool experience. So you get to see some of the international level pros. [00:05:58] Craig: Yep. Yeah. And it's it's right at the Laguna Saker Raceway. So it, some of the, I think a lot of the courses finish on the car racing, motorcycle racing track, which is kind of a cool. [00:06:09] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. [00:06:10] Craig: Yeah. And this year they've added this is the kickoff of the lifetime grand Prix, which is a six or eight race series with a $250,000 prize. So I know a lot of professional athletes are sort of jazzed and keying in on this, and it's a, don't need to get into the series and I'll get someone from lifetime on to talk about it. If you haven't heard about it already. But what's interesting to me is they're doing mountain bike racing and gravel racing as part of the same series. So it's really, I, in my mind, ideally pushing athletes to have capabilities in both domains. [00:06:45] Randall: I mean, there does seem to be a very natural kind of merging of these two disciplines in that gravel bikes have gotten evermore capable. And cross-country bikes have actually gotten radically more capable to we've transitioned to down country. Cross country courses have gotten more technical. And so, you know, everything is kind of shifting a little bit. I certainly love the, the Mo the underbite mountain bike experience on the gravel bike. [00:07:07] Craig: they haven't made this rule, but I would kind of love it if they force the athletes to race one bike. So pick your poison, gravel bike on the CrossCountry courses, cross country bike on the gravel courses. You got to decide at the beginning of the season. [00:07:22] Randall: I mean, honestly, I remember I've done seawater twice and I remember one year they had the long course and on the long course, it was only one section that I recall. Even really requiring suspension. And so if I had had a gravel bike at the time, I probably would have crushed it. Everyone was riding flat bar, you know, suspended mountain bikes. And there was this one kind of breaking bump challengers section that I recall. And then the other year they had it such that it went through Laguna Saika like five or six times. They were trying to make it very spectator friendly. And in that case even more so, cause there's just, you know, you're spending so much time on the road that whatever time you lose on that, Slightly Chandra resection. You're more than making up for. [00:08:04] Craig: Yeah, that might've been my jam as well. Cause my Achilles heel was always climbing. I could never climb with the best of them. I'm a decent descender. So yeah, the gravel bike probably would have helped me stay closer to the front of those races. [00:08:16] Randall: so, and you're going to be doing the, the NV sponsored gravel ride on Saturday, right? [00:08:21] Craig: Yeah on Saturday. Yeah. So there's a couple for anybody in attendance. There's a few gravel like casual gravel rides, and there's also a gravel event on Sunday. So definitely bring your bike and enjoy some of that gravel. [00:08:36] Randall: So let's talk about the event that we're getting together. [00:08:39] Craig: Yeah. So we're excited. Yeah. We're going to get together the ridership community and the gravel ride podcast community and the thesis by community, along with our friends over at scratch. So scratch has got a booth and we'll get we'll. We're meeting up over there at 3:00 PM on Saturday, April 9th. [00:08:57] Randall: We'll probably be hanging out there for awhile. So if you can't get there right at three definitely stop by later the day, but we'll have some, some beverages, some music we'll have some special guests, a few athletes. The famed rice cake maker Allen Lim he was on the podcast before, [00:09:11] Craig: That's right. Dr. Alan Lamb, one of his threads of fame is rice cake cooker. [00:09:16] Randall: I think he also has been involved in training some, some elite athletes and he might've started scratch as well, but definitely rice cake makers probably is his biggest claim to fame there. And then we'll have a raffle and an exciting product line. Which I'll just leave it at that. At this point. Anyone who's in the ridership will probably know what I'm talking about here. Cause I've dropped a few hints there. But it'll be really excited to get the, do the first pre-launch reveal of this new line that we've been working on for some time. [00:09:42] Craig: Yeah, I'm excited for you to talk about that publicly as someone who's sort of been in the background, just hearing whispers of what you're doing, and then starting to hear more specifics from you directly. It's super exciting. And like, I appreciate how much you put into the space and how. I thought you put into these products that you bring to the world. [00:10:01] Randall: Thanks bud. Yeah. and I definitely feel grateful to have kind of the one, like the supportive a community. They provided an immense amount of very useful feedback in, in the development and validation process. And then also just really great team and business partners. And so on that we've been co-developing this with so more on this in future episodes. We'll do a one-on-one episode where we nerd out about how things are developed. But Yeah. come visit us at three o'clock on Saturday at the scratch labs with [00:10:29] Craig: Super excited to run into any listeners and ridership members out there really like it's I feel like it's been a long time coming for us to do a little get together and hopefully if trends continue, we can start doing some of the ridership group rides around the world. [00:10:44] Randall: Exactly. Yeah I'll be starting some in the new England area and I'm looking forward to flying out again to the bay area, to do a big event with you. Maybe sometime. [00:10:53] Craig: Yeah, that [00:10:53] Randall: Right around Mount mountain, where we used to ride together so much. [00:10:56] Craig: A hundred percent. So the last episode in the dirt, we were talking very specifically about a new custom bike project that I've been working on for the listener. Just to bring you up to speed. I got to fit in January and it's just started to highlight some of the things. Some of the challenges I've been having with my boss. In riding the bike, and this is not something new I've I sort of experienced this early on in my cycling career. And at one point I had a custom Brent Steelman road bike made for me. He's a pretty storied Northern California builder, probably best known for his cyclocross work. But anyway, I had the custom bike experience, but it was, it was kind of. At that time, the one thing that nagged me and I realize now that this is sort of not the right way to even be thinking about this particular problem, but every road bike I ever got in front of what's a 56, 56. So 56 CT of 56, top two. And the one thing that felt to me like it didn't fit well. Was that 56 top tube. So I said, Do whatever you want. I just want a 55 centimeter talked to, and it did solve the problem to a degree, but it wasn't really the solution to the problem, but it did feel amazing to get on that bike for the first time. [00:12:12] Randall: When you also kind of hearkening back to the days when, when we talked about, you know, seat tubes and top tubes as a primary you know, driver of, of frame fit, because they were always coming in at roughly the same angles versus nowadays they're coming in at all different sorts of angles with compact geos and so on. So, but the gist of like your bike was too long, you're, you're a pretty leggy guy. [00:12:34] Craig: So that's, that's really interesting. You say that. So was it not, not the fact that I'm a lucky guy and thanks for noticing that, but more about the sort of, are you saying the story of that geometry back in that era or where the tubes were coming in there just wasn't a lot of variability. So the concepts of stack and reach weren't necessarily in bike design for an Acular. [00:12:56] Randall: Correct. Yeah. Yeah. So you'd generally the top tube would be, you know, relatively. And then, you know, at some point you started seeing more compact geos where that top tube is sloped and that had various various benefits in terms of stand over height and you know, potentially, you know, frame stiffness and so on. But it also meant that, you know, your seat tube and your top tube were not really particularly good proxies for how the bike would fit. And so we need a new proxy and that's where stacking reach came into play. [00:13:22] Craig: Okay. Yeah. And I mean, you can imagine like, obviously like with mountain bikes, having super slipping top tubes and all kinds of things like that, but stacking reach, like you had to come up with some sort of measurement that people could hang their hat on. [00:13:35] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So with the bike that, where we've designed for you now, I mean, you have, remind me you're just 5, 9, 5, 10. [00:13:44] Craig: Yeah. Just five, nine and a half. [00:13:46] Randall: Five nine and a half, and I'm five 11 and you and I run the same satellite and I run a pretty high and forward satellite too. And so you were on the medium our, our medium, I ride our, our large OB one. And one of the things that you, that, you know, I always noticed with you is you always had your, your stem. As high as possible and flipped upward and so on. And so this new build is going to really address, you know, first and foremost is stack issues. You've won a higher bar for some time. [00:14:13] Craig: Yeah, exactly. I mean, that, that was the most sort of visceral. The thing I had after this fit. And it's something that was very, it was known to me and my body. Like I've, I've lost flexibility. I never had a ton of flexibility. And the fitter said, well, you've, you know, the position of your saddle height versus your bar height is that of a pro tour road cyclist. And I had this like, The eight millimeter drop or something, and he's like, we really want to get you more around four. So it was, it was interesting. And I encourage people to go back to episode 28, if you're interested. And I don't purport to believe that you care about my personal fit, but I'm trying to eat this out with Randall and both these two episodes, just to give the listener something to think about as they go forward in their cycling career, because there's, there's tons of things you can do around your existing bike to modify them. I came to some limitations because I'd already configured my thesis. I'd already cut the steer to buy the fork. I couldn't bring the bars up any further unless I had an obnoxious, jacked up stem. So I came to the conclusion. Hey, given this opportunity, why don't we, why don't I look at fabricating a bike specific to my needs? So we had episode 28, which is the last in the dirt episode, and we talked a little bit about bike geo calculator, and it was pretty easy. Like it's a great tool. And I saw lines where the new frame would be an and I looked at that, that stack height and the higher head tube, and I was like, great, this is going to fit. But then as we worked with the building, And got into CAD. There was all these things that have just taken a lot of time to muddle through. And part of it is fabricating with metal versus carbon. Part of it is like things that, all things aren't equal. You really have to think about what, what is your north star in the fit and work around that versus what is any particular tube length or dimension? [00:16:12] Randall: And then you have parts availability, right? So you want to achieve something, but the, you can't find a part that allows you to achieve it, even though it exists, it doesn't exist in the timeframe that you need it. [00:16:22] Craig: Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. So I mean, a couple of the areas we've been keying in on, I mentioned, I think in the last episode, like I had this desire to be able to accommodate as big attire as possible. But then when, when you talk about the practicality of welding, the rear end, all of a sudden, a bunch of things come into play because you can have a really long stay to accommodate that. But I didn't really want a really long stay. I've been pretty darn comfortable on my last two bikes with a 420 20 millimeter seat stay. And like the idea of going out to 4 45 or something like that, just didn't sit well with me. [00:17:01] Randall: Yeah. For 20 chains day and yeah, and it just makes it so that the, the front end doesn't want to come up as much. It, you know, it slows the handling. It's a longer wheel base. But you know, it's appropriate to go. It can be appropriate to go longer for more of a dirt focus machine versus a, a, a one bike that is also being asked to be a spirited road bike. That's kind of the direction that we went with this thing. [00:17:23] Craig: Yeah, I think that's a great point. Like there comes a decision point in any gravel cyclist's life when you're purchasing a new book. To just think about like, where do you fall on that spectrum? And when I look at the writing, when I look at what I was conceiving of with my thesis, it's like, I want something that's Zippy on the road and super capable off-road, but can kind of slot that ground between. But the reality is, you know, my writing is 95% off road. [00:17:52] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And you already have a thesis that you're you've. So this isn't adding to your stable. [00:17:59] Craig: Exactly the thesis isn't going anywhere. So while this bike may, the new bike may rarely get road tires on it. The thesis will have both road. And I still think that thesis is an amazing, like race, bike, and it's been so good for me. It's so capable. I'm excited to have, I mean, it's just an absolute luxury to be able to have two bikes and like in the garage, [00:18:19] Randall: Yeah. but the, the added capability of this new machine is, is definitely going to be you know, meaningful like that extra tire clearance. So maybe we start there. So this tire clearance for like full tire clearance. So at least six millimeters all around for 60, 50 by two points. Front and rear, and you could probably squeeze something a little bit bigger upfront. We were fortunate in that we were able to find a fork that had the offset that we wanted specifically. We reached out to dry broom and over it open cycle and he had some U-turn forks kicking around. So that's a 50 mil offset and also a 3 95 axle, the crown. So just throwing numbers out there. What does this mean, Zack? So the CR offset is. Basically the distance from the axle from the, the line that goes through the steer tube. So it's going to be offset, you know, the axle is offset forward from that, and more offset is going to make the steering more responsive, but it's also going to increase your, your front center, the bottom bracket to the front axle to reduce risk of total. And that was, that was a concern, given that your you're wanting a shorter bike, that's fitting bigger 700 seat tires. [00:19:32] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. And it also, so that does wheelbase come into play with those dimensions as well? The overall wheel base. [00:19:38] Randall: Absolutely. Yeah. So, you know, the, the well, so with the offset, so we had the increased offset which. With the same head angle, as you increase offset, it's going to decrease trail and you know, the, the less trail you have, the snappier, the handling is that in turn allowed us to slack it out the head angle a little bit without radically slowing down the handling. So we went from a 72 degree head angle on your thesis, which is more of a, like an endurance road in a more kind of racy. Gravel front-end to a 71.2, which is still actually on the sportier side especially for this new class of gravel bikes that have seemingly gone towards, you know, even slacker even longer. And overall we got the, the front center up, you know, 18 millimeters. And so those. Taller 700 C tires that you might run are not going to be an, an issue for you in terms of tow overlap. You're also going with 2.5 millimeter shorter cranks, which helps as well. And that, that opened up another opportunity with the bottom bracket height. [00:20:42] Craig: Yeah. So before we get into BB height, you know, it was interesting. Really digging into the forks situation. Again, a lot of times you're bike. Well, all the time your bike comes with a fork and you don't really think about all these things, but once we were looking at, Hey, what fork partner can we bring into the mix? All of a sudden, a lot of variables came into play in terms of like the rake of the bike or the rank of the fork, like all of these different things. We started having to consider. And what was the effect on tau overlap? What was the effect on like what ties size tire are they designed on accommodating? So is it really like, I don't know, a sink of like a week to figure out a, what do we want? And B who actually manufacturers a fork that has those correct dementia. [00:21:29] Randall: And that we can get in a reasonable timeframe. [00:21:31] Craig: yeah. And then to, to further that, you know, everybody knows I'm suspension curious, I've got one bike in the garage right now with the front suspension fork on it, from my friends at RockShox. And I do imagine playing around with that, on this bike, but as we've spoken about previously, probably in an, in the dirt episode, and certainly when I dug into it with our friends at rock shock and Schramm, you know, if you put one of these suspension forks on the bike, it's going to bring the entire bike up because that 30 to 40 millimeters of travel has got to come from somewhere. So we had to think through, okay, if we have a 3 95 axle, the crown length of the rigid. What happens when that's four 20. [00:22:14] Randall: Yeah. Or 4 25 in the case of the RockShox fork. And then they have two different offsets. And what we came to is, well, You know, that 30 millimeter of difference means that your front end is going to come up. Right. And so to get the same exact position, you'd have to, you know, shift your saddle forward and you would have to, you know, adjust your stem height and so on. Or you could just make it so that you know, your, your position. In with the rigid fork is a little bit more aggressive. And then you're just, you know, allowing that, that slightly more you know, lean back position, slightly more upright position when you have the fork and in terms of the handling characteristics and so on, they actually change the position. Characteristics change in a way that is appropriate for a bike, with the added capability of a short travel suspension fork. And so it's, it's kind of, you know, not really a problem. And we ha we don't have a, an adjustable suspension, sorry. We don't have an adjustable geometry with that rigid fork, which is something I'm a big fan of, but we're getting adjustable geo with the swapping of the forks in your case. And we designed accordingly. [00:23:20] Craig: Yeah, it's super interesting. And going back to my conversation with Chris Mandel from SRE. He said the same thing. Like it was, it was really early on. They had literally just launched that FOC that fork. And I was able to spend some time on it before the launch. And he said, you know, I put this on a bike that wasn't specifically geo corrected, but I felt like it was okay. He's like I've spent months and months and months on this thing. And it just modified the geometry in a way that made sense for the new way that I was going to be riding the bike with a suspension for. [00:23:52] Randall: Yeah. And you know, you, it is useful if you're considering adding a suspension fork to your existing bike, to say, throw it, throw it in a tool like bike geo calc. So take your current geometry for your bike and put it into that, that tool and then set the settings so that the frame rotates when you change the axle, the crown and it'll tell you how the other parameters change and that can also inf not only inform you in terms of how. How the geo would change, but then also how the handling might change, which would help you decide, say what fork offset you want, because you know, RockShox offers two different offsets on those forks. [00:24:27] Craig: Yep. Yeah. And I'll have plenty of room on the steer tube, as well as the ability to flip my stem, to make adjustments accommodating that, to get the position. Right. And again, just make, make that, that Delta between 3 95 and 4 25. Feel the slider than it actually is. [00:24:48] Randall: Well, and it's, it's small enough where I do think that it's quite likely that you can get a slightly more aggressive, but still upright position with a rigid fork and then a slightly less aggressive, more upright position with the suspension fork that, you know, feels good in both of those different applications and feels appropriate for those. So I don't suspect that you're going it's. I don't think it's highly likely that you're going to need to move around much. And this actually gets into a conversation I'm looking forward to having with Lee McCormick at some point when we bring them on the podcast, which is, you know, talking about how, you know, we've talked about stack and reach and how these are really important measurements for determining fit. But it in turn in as a rider, like the big thing that matters is like the distance from your crank spindle to where your hand. And then you have an, you know, an anchor, so that high pot news between, you know, the, the stack figure to the grips and the reach figure to the grips, the high pot news is actually the, the, the pure number. And then the angle associated with that that high pot news. But that, that the length of that hypotony is actually shouldn't change from bike to bike. So whether it's a road bike or a mountain biker, so on, it should be consistent. And then it's the angle of that that. From bike to bike. And so if you think about, you know, the front end coming up well, that, that, that distance is staying the same. It's just the angle. That's increasing a little bit. [00:26:08] Craig: Right. Yep. Yeah. A hundred percent. You know, I love, I love most of my bikes are set up identically, so that basically, if I have my eyes closed, I know exactly where to fall and hit the bar. And it's so great that my like mountain bike and rode by can feel like that same position. [00:26:25] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. And even better, if you can get, say the same crank lengths on the bikes, the same, you know, pedal positioning, you know, stance in the, like on the bikes. [00:26:35] Craig: Yeah. I'm sure I'm a little bit a field from that, but this is the most bike geekery by the way that I've ever gone through. And it's, I mean, part of it's been driving me mad cause I really want to consummate this Ram and say the design's done. And I do think like if, if we're not at the finish line today, we're in the, we're in the final sprint, we've seen the and where we're coming to the finish line. Thank God. But a couple of other things I wanted to just quiz you on before we get to that point. So there was also the question about BB drop and it was another one that was like BB drop. I've never thought about that. Just allowed the frame of the production frame, builder to think about that. But now that we have to consider it and we could do whatever we wanted, let's talk about the movement on that. And what's the rationale and just, what's the takeaway for the listener at Ron BB drop. [00:27:28] Randall: Yeah. So Bebe, you can think of BB drop as you have the, the vertical distance between the height of the axles and the height of the bottom bracket. The center of the bottom bracket spindle. So the bottom bracket spindle is going to be below the two axles, right? And the greater the more below the two axles it is you know, ceteris paribus, the more stable the bike is going to be the more sitting into the bike. You're going to be. [00:27:54] Craig: to sort of visualize that if I'm, if I'm sort of the listener and I'm thinking about my bike, I've got my two axles on my wheels. And I'm thinking about how far below that axle line, the bottom bracket sits. [00:28:06] Randall: Exactly. Exactly. And So, with like old schools, cyclocross geometries, the bottom, the BB drop tended to be pretty high, you know, 65 versus a, you know, your thesis will be one to 73. And your OB one only accommodates up to a 700 by 40 tire, but it's really optimized around 700 by 30 and 60 50 by 47, which is like a 700 by 28. And so, you know, it's, there's, it's you get more stability, but there's greater risk of pedal strikes as you drop the baby. Now with your new bike, you know, we started with your, your thesis as like a starting point. Cause he really liked that geometry and we saw, well, you're going to be optimizing this bike for running with bigger and thus taller tires, a bigger radius from the center of the, the axle to the outside of the tire. And so you can you can drop the BB further and get that added stability without increasing risk of pedal strikes. And in fact we also went with a 2.5 millimeters shorter crank. And so you're actually going to have more clearance above the ground with those bigger tires, even though we dropped the BB down to improve stability. So you know, that that was kind of a very natural thing. And you see this trend in general on this newer slate of gravel bikes that are being optimized for higher volume 700 tires versus the more one bike type bikes like the thesis or the the Sabelo Sparrow. That are designed to be used effectively with road, you know, seven up to 700 by 30, which is, you know, a smaller radius [00:29:37] Craig: So, does it feel like you're sort of sitting more in the bike when you have more BB drop? [00:29:42] Randall: exactly. Versus on top of it. [00:29:44] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. And I, you were saying about cyclocross bikes having a 65 millimeter drop, presumably that's because they're doing a lot of things that require clearance, bunny hopping barriers and things like that. [00:29:57] Randall: Yeah. Concerns about, you know, pedal strikes, essentially as they're going over different obstacles though, even those bikes with the advent of gravel, you've seen those bottom brackets come down because there's no reason. I mean, I would argue there's no reason to have a dedicated cyclocross bike, unless you're, I mean, even if you're an elite cyclocross athlete, you can still ride on take this specialized crux as an example, that bike fits six 50 by 40. Right. So it's not constrained to the 700 by what, 33, that the UCI maxes out cyclocross tires for. So even that bike is, is, is really a gravel bike that, that people are, are using in that discipline. So it doesn't need a dedicated bike anymore. So those are the days of high bottom brackets is have thankfully gone away [00:30:45] Craig: Yeah, I think that makes sense. Yep. Certainly no reason for the average athlete to own a dedicated cyclocross bike. If you've got a gravel bike in the closet, [00:30:53] Randall: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. [00:30:55] Craig: the other thing we had to consider was just cable routing as well. And again, this is like, Maybe on a carbon bike, you make a couple ports and you know how to seal them pretty easily. And if you use them, you use them. If you don't, you don't. But when you're talking about a metal bike, all of a sudden you you've got okay, either I'm going to externally route everything, which I don't like the look of, and that seems old school, or I'm going to actually have to drill and sort of weld holes into various parts of the frame. And that was again, Another consideration. Well, what, what am I going to do? Am I going to commit to wireless? Which is like a very viable option these days? Or am I going to get, you know, have four different ports drilled into this frame? And I opted to go the wireless route. [00:31:44] Randall: Yeah. And I think that that was a smart way to go. The, you know, especially if you're already going the, you already kind of, unless you're going to do external cabling, internal cabling on say like a steel or titanium bike. Is going to be such that, like, you're going to have some sharp angles going through the frame, especially, you know, where that down tube is meeting the bottom bracket shell, you know, you don't have these big, these big tubes and these big open spaces, like you can mold into a carbon frame. And so there's going to be sharp angles. There's going to be sharp surfaces that need to be machined. It's just harder to do. It's really hard to do good, clean mechanical routing internally through a metal frame, unless it's say something like a specialized, smart weld aluminum frame where they're hydro-forming those, those tubes to get a more carbon shape. [00:32:35] Craig: Yep. Yeah. Yeah. And when you consider adding in, which was a necessity for me, a dropper post yet another whole, yet more routing. So yeah, I'm committing to going full wireless, including the dropper. On this bike. So I'll, I'll just have the rear brake cable routed through the frame and that's it. [00:32:54] Randall: Yeah. I think too, that's going to, I mean, given that this is your adventure bike it's just that much less to deal with as well when you're taking the bike apart to throw in your case to bring on a plane. So I think that wireless can make sense. Just bring an extra battery. [00:33:09] Craig: Yeah, a hundred percent. My my contact at SRAM, I went riding with him on Tam gosh, probably four or five months ago at this point. And his battery ran out, but he keeps a spare in his seat bag. [00:33:23] Randall: Yeah. And if you're going with a one by set up too, like you have those two coin cells, which are very lightweight and the leavers. So if one of them dies, he still got the other one. You could swap it over. [00:33:32] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. The cool thing about their RockShox C posts is that you can steal the battery pack from there and use it in your derailer if you need to, because they're all, they're all changeable not to, not to have [00:33:44] Randall: they have to make, well, then you have to make the difficult decision of like, do I care about gearing or the dropper post more? I guess it depends on the terrain. There are some cases where I would, I would sacrifice the derail, your battery to keep the dropper post going. [00:33:57] Craig: Yeah. who knows if I was at the top of Tam, you know, if I was riding up, switch the battery to have gears on the way up and then switch it to the dropper on the way to. [00:34:06] Randall: Yeah. [00:34:09] Craig: I love it. You just made me think about, I literally just packed my thesis in my post carry bag for an air flight tomorrow. And there's always a little bit of Jenga with the cables to kind of move everything around and get it in their bag. So well-designed and fortunately with my these medium thesis, I can just slam the seat. I don't even have to take the seed out and get it all in that bag. Hopefully continue to allude all airline fee. [00:34:36] Randall: Excellent. I'm [00:34:38] Craig: you for walking me. Yeah, no, I think we've covered a good deal about the frame between this episode and the last episode. And again, I hope this conversation gives you a little bit of inside baseball about how frames are designed. If. Looking to get accustomed frame done. It's important to have a builder who's willing to work with you. And in my case, just being someone who's just not in the weeds on all these minute dimensions and angles, just someone who's patient and will walk you through what needs to be done. I'm lucky to have both the builder and Randall to help me out. [00:35:13] Randall: Yeah, it's it definitely you know, the value of working with a good bow builder in, in significant part comes on the front end and really trying to dial exactly what you want and, And you know, having that output down the other end. So. [00:35:28] Craig: as I, as I think about your journey with thesis and the idea of designing, was it five frame sizes? [00:35:35] Randall: Well, so in our case, we went with we went with an open, we went with an open mold frame and then made modifications from there. So we use the existing tooling. So we were fortunate to be able to find a frame with, you know, the vast majority of the features we wanted and the exact geometry we wanted. And then we added the features and reinforcements from there. So with the next gen frame beginning development of this is this is a ways out that'll be a full ground up exercise. [00:36:03] Craig: Yeah. it's just, I imagine it's so challenging to sort of figure out the sizes. Obviously you're matching what the market trends are in terms of how the bikes are performing and what they're intended for, but just like the basics around stack and reach to try to find those sweet spots, to make sure with the limited amount of customability customizability, I E you know, you're stem lab. The your stack above the head tube making that fit as many people as possible. It's just seems to be a challenge. [00:36:35] Randall: Yeah, And it's, it's even more so with a material like carbon where you're, you know, essentially you're, you're creating these molds that are quite expensive. And then that's set in stone. If you want to evolve your metal, a tube to tube constructed frames, geometry over time. You know that that's it. You just change the jig and you change the mitering specifications and you're good to go. Carbon it's a whole new tool, so you better get it right out the gate. [00:37:01] Craig: so true. Well, thanks for all the time, my friend, this coming weekend, hopefully I know I'll be seeing you and hopefully we'll be seeing a bunch of listeners over there at at [00:37:11] Randall: sea Otter three o'clock on Saturday at the scratch labs booth. [00:37:15] Craig: Yeah, we'll see you there. [00:37:17] Randall: All right. Hope to see some folks there. [00:37:19] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of in the dirt, from the gravel ride podcast. Thank you for spending a little bit of your week with us. If you're going to be at CR definitely come find us at the scratch labs booth at 3:00 PM on Saturday. Huge. Thanks to thera body for sponsoring this episode, please visit thera body.com/the gravel ride for that special offer around the recovery air.Jet boots. If you have any feedback for Randall or myself, feel free to visit us at the ridership. That's www.theridership.com. And if you're interested in supporting the podcast, please head over to buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels


5 Apr 2022

Rank #7

Podcast cover

Kurt Roeser - Recovery strategies for gravel cyclists

This week we sit down with Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist, Kurt Roeser from Ability Physical Therapy in Colorado to discuss recovery strategies for gravel cyclists. We dig into the things we can be doing at home to recovery faster along with the various products that have recently been developed to aid recovery.  Episode Sponsor: The Feed Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Kurt Roeser - Recovery [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. So as we start out this week, let me ask you a question when you're done with a ride. What's next? Do you just hang up the cleats, put the bike away and go onto the next thing, Or do you take a moment for self care? If you're like me, it's often onto the next thing with Naria thought for what? I just put my body through. This week's guest is Kurt. Roser. A board certified orthopedic specialist and physical therapist at ability physical therapy . Kurt is an experienced distance runner and cyclist. And brings a wealth of experience to the field of recovery. Before we jump into this week, shall I need to say a big thank you to this week, sponsor the feed. The feed is the largest online marketplace for your sports nutrition, Offering the brands, you know, and love from scratch lab to cliff. Plus their athlete customized supplements called feed formulas. I can say, what I appreciate about the feed is that they've got all the brands that I've come to count on as a gravel cyclist. I can't tell you how many times I go to the grocery store and try to pick up something, but it never does the trick. I'm just not getting the diversity of brands that are cycling specific and that's where the feed comes in. I can get whatever I want whenever I want. I talked a little bit about the feed formulas last week, but I want to drill into it a little bit more. As I've been consuming them on a daily basis. Feed formulas are personalized supplements for athletes developed in part with Dr. Kevin Sprouse. Dr. Sprouse is probably best known in cycling circles for his work, with the EDF pro cycling team as team doctor, he follows the same protocols he uses for top pro athletes to develop the feed formulas. And the feed has made them customizable and available to you. You can shop@thefeed.com slash the gravel ride and save 50% off your first order. When you visit the feed.com, you can get personalized recommendation based on your needs as an athlete. The feed formula comes into convenient daily pouch. So no more Massey bottles on the counter. Everything you need is in a simple packet for you to consume every day. Remember simply visit the feed.com/the gravel ride and get 50% off your first order of the feed formula With that said let's dive right into this week show. [00:02:42] Craig: Hey, Kurt, welcome to the show. [00:02:45] Kurt: Hey, Craig, how's it going? Thanks for having me, [00:02:47] Craig: Yeah, it's going great. I'm excited to dig into this conversation about recovery. I feel like half these podcasts are guided by my own personal interests. So I just hope the the listener likes to join me on this journey. [00:02:59] Kurt: for sure. Yeah. So it is all about learning, learning for yourself and helping some, some other folks at the same time. [00:03:05] Craig: Yeah, exactly. I'm appreciate you giving me the time to pick your brain. Let's start off with a little bit about just your background and how you got into your profession. And then we'll, we'll dig into some questions. [00:03:15] Kurt: Yeah, definitely. So I kind of grew up being a, being a distance runner. I ran college it in track at the university of Florida. And then like a lot of runners, I got injured a lot. So, I w me to want to be a PT. And then when I was in PT school, I got into cycling a lot and some triathlons. And so, yeah, kind of developed a, just broader enjoyment for endurance sports in general. Yeah, so now I, I am a physical therapist working in an outpatient setting and work a lot with runners and other endurance folks whether it's cyclists or, or skiers all, all sorts of fun stuff, just kind of helping people get back out there. And then, yeah, I still like to run like competitively. So, my marathon vest is a two 17, so I got to run in the. USAA marathon trials a couple of years ago. So hoping to get a couple more good marathons and in me, and then just a transition to more, just fun, fun diverse stuff more biking and, and all that good stuff. So, [00:04:13] Craig: Nice. I imagine being in Colorado, you've got no shortage of patients bringing their bodies in damaged from the great outdoors and their endurance athletic pursuits. [00:04:24] Kurt: Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah. Overuse injuries. And then I mean, cycling tons of yeah. Impact injuries, falling, you know, shoulder stuff. Yeah. There's a, there's lots of good ways to hurt yourself doing fun things here. So, it is yeah, good for good for me. But I think I like to think I do more good than I take away from society, so, but [00:04:44] Craig: I imagine if you're getting people back out on the trails and the, and the the slopes, you're doing a service to the citizens of Colorado. [00:04:51] Kurt: Yeah. And it's, it's, it is really fun for me to like help people that are motivated to get back to doing you know, whatever their activity is or sport it is. And if, yeah, people really love doing something they're super motivated to do their, do their PT whether it's coming in for manual therapy or do their exercises or strengthening or, or whatever it is. Yeah, so it's a, it's a fun place to practice for me, for sure. [00:05:14] Craig: I wanted to open up a conversation about recovery from bike rides. I mean, we all, every listener of this podcast, and as I mentioned earlier, a lot of listeners are doing big gravel events, a hundred mile gravel events, or the training for those types of events. And every single one of us has come home, had a little food and then had our legs start to get really solid and heavy. And I just thought it'd be. To talk to someone, a professional and understand what's actually going on. And then later in the conversation, let's talk about what we can be doing about it. [00:05:46] Kurt: Totally. Yeah, That's something that like, Everybody is going to encounter encounter soreness. And yeah, it's such a, it's kind of like a hot topic, like recovery. I feel like the past, you know, five to 10 years is getting a lot more spotlight and we see what the pros are doing in various sports. And I think we all are. You know, here are the best ways to optimize their own training and lifestyle and stuff. So, yeah, it's a, it's a really kind of hot topic now, but basically like the physiologic, like kind of like process of, of soreness is a very normal response to kind of a newer type of exercise that you're doing. Or maybe not a new type of exercise, but an increasing training load. So, we see this in the early parts of summer where people haven't. Biking a lot, or haven't been doing whatever their sport is in particular, but then you start doing a lot more of it. And even though we think we're being pretty like gradual with it where you usually are, our mind is biting off more than our body can choose. So to speak. So soreness is just a result of doing something that you're not used to, and then your body's adapting to it. And in that, in that process, you're going to feel some, feel some soreness. And one of the interesting things that I always remember from exercise physiology, class, the professor saying like the only way to prevent muscle soreness is previous exposure to the same stimulus. So you can't ever prevent yourself from, from getting sore, but you can just kind of like expect to get sore when you do something hard for the first time or, you know, bike longer than you have in awhile. And then know that like, if you do that same thing again, you're not going to be as sore from it. Kind of like an up and down process. [00:07:24] Craig: that makes sense. You know, if I think about my, any given week, you know, I can go out and do an hour long training ride and, and. 1200 feet of climbing and don't feel sore at all from that kind of effort. But when I get out on the weekends and I add, you know, five, six times that amount of climbing, those are the days in which I come home, but I know from experience over time, if I'm training for an event, if I've gradually built, I can then go out and ride, you know, 4,000 foot of climbing ride and not be sore and save that soreness for the 8,000 feet climbing. [00:07:58] Kurt: totally. Yeah. And I also want it to differentiate between like, muscle soreness and then like tendon or joint soreness. Cause that's a really common thing that people ask about is, and. And how to differentiate that from like an So like, I think delayed onset muscle soreness who are all like pretty familiar with like, you do something hard and then you're sore from it for a couple of days. So that processes partly. Kind of like mechanical at the cellular level. So, you're actually getting some microtrauma to the cells that are causing your muscle fibers to contract upon one another, basically these sliding filaments. So you actually like creating some micro tears in those, those fibers, which sounds bad, but it's it's. Body knows to adapt to that stimulus. So if we didn't have that, we wouldn't have that positive adaptation that we're looking for so that we get faster, it can bike like longer or, or whatnot. [00:08:53] Craig: Now the terror is getting repaired by the body as you rest. [00:08:58] Kurt: absolutely. So, so when we perceive soreness and when we feel soreness, Definitely linked to some sort of like inflammatory process, which there, we used to always think inflammation is bad. We got to get rid of it, but it's actually like the way that our body signals to bring in like, you know, new protein and all these like building blocks to repair that tissue. So, soreness is actually like a sign that our body is adapting to that and it just is uncomfortable in a transient manner for us, but it's how our body. You know, working through that cascade of that inflammatory process and ultimately getting stronger from it. So that's kind of like the more mechanical aspect of it. And then there's also like a, kind of more of a chemical side of it. So like we've all heard the term like lactic acid or more correctly just lactate and hydrogen ions. Like when you're doing really high intensity exercise, your muscles get more acidic. And so that can not can create some of that soreness feeling afterwards, just from those metabolites being. in, in ourselves, in places that they aren't normally there. So, so that's kind of the two big components of, of muscle soreness and, and some of the things that we can like know about and, work through mentally, but also there's some tools that we can use and and things that we can do to kind of try to limit that and speed it up a little bit. [00:10:15] Craig: Did, did the muscle groups react differently when you're doing short, intense intervals versus longer endurance type? [00:10:24] Kurt: Yeah, so definitely. So, the shorter height, higher intensity efforts are going to be the things that really get the you know, lactate and hydrogen ions, like, to high levels in your muscles and probably in fairly specific places. So, if you're really pushing, pushing the power, you're going to feel it in those. Muscles that year quads, maybe your calves, if you're, if you're going uphill. So you're going to feel that in pretty isolated ways versus like a one. Kind of like easier day where you're just out kind of cruising around, but maybe you're out for a long period of time. Then I think people are going to be more likely to get soreness in more of like your postural muscles. So your shoulders, your neck, your back, your arms, like things that are like supporting your, your posture. And, I've heard on the, on the show, you've talked numerous times about like bike fitting. And so that's where. Being comfortable and being set up nice on your bike is really important to make sure that you're just kind of like optimally using those, those postural muscles and not overstressing certain areas and just kind of setting yourself up to be comfortable and enjoy your Injury arrive, which is probably the most important thing. But then I think where people get the most sore is. Kind of kind of those race situations or group rides where you're going for a long time and at a higher intensity than you're used to. And I think that's what a lot of us kind of do. We're kind of in that maybe weekend warrior sort of a, a situation where we're doing maybe an hour during the week, and then maybe double that Triple that on the weekend and more Verdun. So th that's when you're going to get just globally sore and a lot of your, your cycling muscles and that's going to be from that kind of acidosis and mechanical breakdown. And then just as you fatigue out your, your slower Twitch fibers, you're gonna start to rely on the fast Twitch fibers that aren't used to working as much, and they're gonna fit. Faster and get more sore because they're just not used to working, but again, part of like a broader, good adaptation process I think so kind of that good soreness. [00:12:23] Craig: Yeah, well, first off, guilty as charged. I'm often one of those people who goes out and tries to do things I have no business doing. I think that's a bit of the gravel cycling mentality, right? Is this like, you're going to have a lot of challenges in front of you and these long events, and you're going to push through it. When, when a rider is taking themselves beyond, let's just call it their, their fitness or what they've been able to train to for a particular event. What kind of damage is being done at that point to the body. And does the body just sort of naturally give you the feedback? I mean, we've all sort of shut down on a climb or cramped in a long event and the body's screaming at you. Hey, you can't do this. You need to take a break. Can you just talk about like what what's going on in the body at that point and how should we be reacting? Obviously, we, we have strong mental desire to complete the events, but that may exceed what our bodies are capable of at that point. [00:13:18] Kurt: Yeah. So that's, that's really hard hard spot as a, as an athlete to be in, I think. And, and I think it's really important to know that like when you're feeling that like, subjective. Discomfort or like, you know, muscle work or just overall fatigue setting in like that's our, our brain is trying to tell us that we're doing something that we are, is like kind of outside of what our brain perceives we can do. But. Very, it's almost impossible to exercise yourself to death or to actually do any damage to any, to your tissue. So that's one thing that we should be very confident that we're not going to damage our, our muscles by cycling for, even for a long period of time at a very high intensity. In other sports, like, you know, like CrossFit or an ultra running, like you hear people getting robbed in my analysis, which is where you're doing so much damage to your muscles, that it that those muscle proteins get back into your. Bloodstream, and then eventually to your kidneys, and you're basically creating like kidney failure, which is a medical emergency, and that does happen. And I've seen it in CrossFitters and ultra marathoners, but kind of more from that centric type of loading reaction. So in, in cycling, you're, you're, I've never heard of that happening in cycling. So, Yeah. so we can be pretty confident that we're not going to really truly like damage anything per se. But it should be. One of those things, like a pick, choose your battles, you know, or like live to fight another day. So, and I think that's, it means different things to different people, but if, if it's worth it to, to really push it during this particular race, like just know that you're going to be really sore for for a few days. And it's gonna like, kinda mess with your next week of training, but ultimately you're going to be fine from it and you're going to adapt to it. So. [00:15:04] Craig: Yeah. I think if I think back to my iron man days, I can remember just basically not being able to walk down the stairs after doing an iron man, having to hold on the railing because I just, I couldn't support my body weight going down. [00:15:17] Kurt: Oh yeah, totally. Yeah, so it's but I guess maybe better answer your question. Like, like there's no point in like that we should ever be worried. Push ourselves too hard under most circumstances, obviously like within like reason. But like at the end of the day, like we just got to remember like we're out there to have fun and and keep the bigger picture in, in in mind too. And like, you could have the perfectly designed training program and ramp up very gradually and you're still going to do stuff that's going to make you sore. So yeah, it's kind of a unavoidable. [00:15:49] Craig: How should riders think about it? So let's say you go for a massive ride on Saturday and you still want to ride on Sunday. And you're obviously you're waking up sore a little damaged from the day before. Any concerns going out the next day or does the body just tend to give you the information you need and regulate your abilities based on that soreness? [00:16:10] Kurt: Yeah, so. It's definitely gonna be good for you to go out and still get a ride in the next day. Like a nice like recovery ride. So obviously like back-to-back hard days are going to be challenging and you're just going to accumulate more fatigue essentially. But but yeah, it's definitely like good for you to get out and get some easy, easy spinning in and probably even help you recover faster. So, there's yeah, there's a reason that like, And during sports, like we're able to do it on like most days. And it's because. In between those harder efforts, like it's really good for you to like, just have a, have an easy recovery day. So, so Yeah. that's definitely, definitely good. And another really interesting thing is like, even if you, your quads are wrecked and you've like, we did like, some imaging and we saw that, like you had all these. Tears in your microfibers. Like you're not going to make that any worse by by pedaling through it the following day, you're just going to have less power output. So you're, you're not going to be able to like, you know, work as hard as you, as you would if you didn't have it, but you're not going to do anything bad by any means. So, definitely good to get moving. [00:17:13] Craig: Yeah, that makes sense. I often feel like, you know, if I do a really massive day, I, I sort of, I call it the athletic hangover or the next day I've and I think it's probably part dehydration, but the body's sore. I ended up with a headache. You know, it's just, just overdid it. [00:17:28] Kurt: Yeah, totally. And that's Yeah, that's like a bigger thing that like I realize With people more and more recently, it's like, you know, I always think about like the physical side of things, like orthopedically, like, you know, muscle muscles and joints and tendons and all that stuff. But like our body's pretty good at telling us, so like how it's doing. So if we can like learn to suck to listen to the more like subtle signs that our body's telling us, like, can we get better over the years of, of listening to that? Like in it help you maybe adjust. Your workouts that you had planned for that weekend and still go out and, and ride, but just like, like, oh man, I'm just not feeling very good today. I'm feeling a little off. So I'm just going to take it easy or I'm going to still do my, the intervals that I had planned, but just like dial it back a little bit. So yeah, just like successful athletes and people that have better longevity in, in, in the sport. Or people that are good kind of that like listening to those more subtle signs is what I've found with working with, with people at like pretty elite levels. so [00:18:27] Craig: we're at we're, we're certainly in the heyday of the ability to, to have to have data points to back that up as well. You know, whether it's a device measuring your HRV or just basic heart rate tracking, I think you can really know a lot about yourself and unlike the athletes, maybe of the, of the nineties who might push through it now, I think most coaches are saying, you know, it's better to back off and understand that you've just pushed it too far and live to fight another day, rather than pushing through the training. If your body's saying, Hey, this is a hard note today. [00:19:00] Kurt: Totally. Yeah. Yeah. Just keep the consistency, like over time approach and, and know that like what you're doing like this week, you'll be better for like, you know, three months down the, down the road, like everything is just like compounds on itself. So just like keeping, keeping that consistency and that long-term approach, you know, weeks and months and years. And. And eventually you'll be able to do, do more than you thought you'd be able to do. So. [00:19:25] Craig: Yeah, you were, you were mentioning sort of there's muscle store, Innes and fatigue, and then there's a fine line between that next stage of actual injury. Are there things that we should be looking out for to know, like, Hey, we've maybe crossed the line and we need to pay a little bit more attention to what's going on. [00:19:42] Kurt: So I think anything. Well, like pain-wise like in, in muscles or tendons or joint, like, you know, anything that's transitioning towards like a sharp pain or like a nervy sort of sensation where it's numbness or tingling or anything that just like is getting worse as you're going from a pain perspective. Yeah. Like it's you want to like, not push through too much of that. So we like four out of 10 on a, just a pain, visual, analog scale is a good kind of cutoff. Like, so if you're, if you're doing something and it's like, you're like a four out of 10 or it's pain, that's like not really tolerable or getting worse than it's usually like a good idea to like, you know, shut it down. Or Go easier and kind of make your way, make your way home. and then, you know, there are like more like medical emergencies. Like rhabdomyolysis that I mentioned like that people are, you're going to notice, like, basically, like you will be completely, like, you'll be unable to go on. And like, people like collapse and it's like an ambulance call. So obviously like using common sense about that or like anything like with your heart just Yeah, [00:20:50] Craig: Yeah, [00:20:51] Kurt: pay attention to your vital, your vitals. If your apple watch tells you you're having a heart attack, then you should probably call an ambulance. [00:20:59] Craig: yeah, exactly. Don't use your pigheaded endurance athlete mentality to power through absolutely everything. Just some of the hard stuff. [00:21:06] Kurt: Yeah, exactly. [00:21:07] Craig: Transitioning a little bit. Now we've talked a little bit about, you know, what's happening post ride, if we're sore and, and what to look out for in terms of injury, are there things we should be doing before we get on the bike that would help our muscles that day and, and after the ride. [00:21:24] Kurt: Yeah. So, I think this is kind of like big picture stuff. Like the, the things that we can consistently do over over time to help in a preventative way are kind of like just nailing down the basics that I think we all probably like know about, but like, you know, diet and sleep and overall life stress. Yeah, like making sure that your nutrition before, before rides and during rides and after rides is, is, is good and adequate. And then making sure that your, your bike set up is good. Your bike fit is good. So in terms of specifically like pre pre ride like. just making sure that you've got enough fuel and hydration. And like my kind of preference for a warmup is just do the activity pretty easily for the first, you know, 10, 15, 20 minutes. So, I'm somebody that like, I, I like to just, you know, get out and start going pretty, pretty easily and let my body warm up that way. Sometimes people will prefer more of like a dynamic warmup. So maybe you spend five minutes doing some, some stretches for parts that, you know, are tight hamstrings or quads or hip flexors or, or back. So a little bit of dynamic stretching is probably a really good idea, but but yeah, [00:22:36] Craig: Yeah, I spoke to some about that dynamic stretching idea. Just the idea of doing a few, few motions to get your body kind of understanding what's going to come when you throw a leg over the bike. [00:22:47] Kurt: Totally. And then also like even some like spinal extension, so bending your, your back backwards, just gently, like, all these things. Should you be like gentle around? Not trying to force it, but just like, we're going to spend a prolonged amount of time, like in a very similar position for our spine. So just doing some of That like, even like the opposite motion of you know, getting some, some back extension or some thoracic rotation in there. So, yeah, any sort of, of movement and kind of being intentionally vague there because one of the issues that I think we have with with warmups or recovery is like, there's so much information out there and there's so much stuff that you could do. so the best thing to do is, is do something that is. Easy for you to do consistently and that you'll actually do. And that you kind of, to some extent, enjoy doing or get some satisfaction out of doing. So I think there's a lot of room for individual variability in a, in a warmup. But the big thing is you nail the basics and kind of just be consistent with that. [00:23:42] Craig: That makes sense. The bigger area I wanted to talk to about is really the post ride recovery and the things we can do. I mean, I often get off the bike and, you know, obligated to do something immediately with the family or my son. I need to jump on it and I don't pay any attention other than maybe having a drink and recovery drink after I get off the bike. But in an ideal world, what are we doing? That's going to help promote the healing of those micro, micro tears in your muscles. And anything you can do to feel better. Maybe talk about it from, Hey, if you only have a tiny amount of time to, Hey, if you really want to go do everything you can, these are what you can do. [00:24:20] Kurt: Yeah. Yeah, Totally. Yeah. And so that's the that's the hard thing is like, we, we want to spend as much time doing the thing that we want to do. So, we want to get that extra mile and on the bike or do that extra of blue on the, on the bike. And then we come home and like, yeah, I have to go straight into the shower and go to work or like yeah, take care of the kiddos or, or whatever gets your day going. [00:24:42] Craig: I always, I always tell my wife, like the greatest gift I have is when I have a two hour ride, but a three hour one. It just feels like such a luxury because it's usually I have a two hour window and I'm going to do an hour and 59 minute ride. [00:24:56] Kurt: Yep. That's so that's so true. And I think we're all guilty of that. It's like, like I know that I could get back 10 minutes early and I could do some, some stretches or I could do those strength exercises. My PT told me to do, or I could make myself a better breakfast and not, you know, eat in the car on the way to work or whatever. But yeah, at the end of the day, like we want to do What we want to do. so I think. I think if it is like, just building in like five minutes, honestly, like, if you can consistently do that, like, maybe not even after all of your rides, but after like a hard effort or your long ride on the weekend. Just say like, I'm gonna, like when I get off the bike, I'm going to. Five minutes for myself. Just kind of like relaxing, you know, get your post ride nutrition, go and get, get, start to get rehydrated. I think that stuff should definitely be a priority, especially as we're getting back towards the summer months here pretty soon, hopefully. But and then yeah, for me, like that ritual should include like some sort of like soft tissue, self mobilization, or maybe just dynamic stretching something [00:25:57] Craig: mean? What, what is that self, what you just said? I didn't understand what that meant. [00:26:01] Kurt: Oh, sorry. So, yeah. So yeah, soft tissue mobilization is kind of a fancier word for essentially like massage. So, soft tissue is, you know, muscle or tendon or a fascia any of the, the softer structures in our body. So, that's like, a really big really big thing in the kind of recovery world is like, we know that. Elite athletes. They're going to get off the bike. They're going to have an hour long massage. And there is something to that because everyone still does it if they have the time and the money and the luxury to do that. but there's not a ton of like, like great like scientific evidence as to why, like massage or soft tissue work, like how it actually like physically. Helps us, like there's a lot of like theories at the tissue level. And, then at the person level as to why that like helps us recover. But so, so most of us, like, you know, we're not going to have the time to do that especially every day. So if you can just spend five minutes, like while you're at your car, before you drive back home or before you even like come in the house, you know, just have have foam roller or RA or something like that. Where you're going to hang the bike up and just like do it in your routine. And so basically saw self soft tissue mobilization to get back to that is using something like a foam roller or the RA or, or the stick or some, some other tool to, massage your muscles yourself. So I think we're all familiar with that. [00:27:27] Craig: And, and how D how deeply do you need to go into, like, would the stack or a foam roller, like sometimes, you know, when you're laying on the foam roller, you can put all your weight on or only partial weight. I think the masochist in us often like thinks like, oh, you gotta push it in really hard in order for it to have an effect. What is that right balance? It's just a matter of getting that motion across the muscle or does it need to have some, some power into it? [00:27:52] Kurt: Yeah. So that's like, I think you could ask that question to a room of, of PTs or other kind of similar field and you might get you know, 10 different answers, but basically the, the benefits of, of that are the only reliable thing that we know that massage is doing is creating a central nervous system. Relaxation response. And indogenous dopamine release, which basically means like, you know, dope means are our endorphins, our feel good. Endorphin. So we're creating some sort of relaxation response globally from our brain down to our muscles. So, we can like see that like with certain types of MRIs and, and brain MRIs. So. And then the other kind of theories are like, we're, we're moving around water. We're kind of flushing out our muscles where maybe loosening up the different fascial layers between muscle and skin and getting those to glide better. There's like the trigger point release theory. So a trigger point is a tight muscle not, or, or abandoned the tissue into your pushing on that and in restricting blood flow. And then you're getting it. Release that way. So my interpretation of all that is like, we know that we're getting our brain to relax our muscles. And then on top of that, there's probably some of those local tissue level responses that are also at play too. So. Long, long story to that question is like, it can be kind of up to you. Like what you want. It doesn't have to be extremely painful. And it, in my opinion, I don't think it should be super painful, but like it, you know, it's okay if it's like uncomfortable, for sure. Especially when you find those tight spots in, in the muscles that you've been, been working pretty hard. so I think it should be like pretty firm, but it doesn't have to be killing you. And if you're really sore, then it could be really gentle. So it could be kind of whatever you feel like you need. [00:29:42] Craig: So I'm curious, and I'm certainly not asking you to pick either or, but the first thing you mentioned was a self massage or foam rolling. As if you only had five minutes. A lot of times I've thought about like, oh, I get off the bike and I want to stretch, like stretching might be my go-to. Would you, would you say the foam rolling self massage first. And then if you have more time later and stretching after that, [00:30:05] Kurt: Yeah. I honestly I'd say some variability in there is probably good. Depending, it's going to be person to person dependent. So, like there's a lot of days where I feel like I just want to grab the, the RA and just like, you know, roll on my, my quads and my calves and my hamstring. And that's kinda all I need and I don't feel like I need to really do any, any stretching. But then Yeah. there's other days where like, know the, the opposite might be true. So, I think it's good to like, just get in a routine of spending that time, doing something. And honestly, like if we designed a, a science experiment where we like had group a, do one and group B do the other it probably would come out like fairly similar in a long-term kind of like study It makes a lot better sense to me and my brain to like actually kind of get in there and like use use some force to like, get things like moving around at the, at that local level. And that's gonna also get like that nice, like central nervous system, like pain modulation, just like get everything to settle down. so I think that the massage kind of stuff is, seems to be more More beneficial in my mind, but it one of those things, again, like if we only have a couple of minutes, like just pick something and do it and don't get bogged on this, the specifics. [00:31:14] Craig: Just, yeah, just make sure you're maximizing those minutes, whatever you're doing [00:31:18] Kurt: and that's why [00:31:18] Craig: a little bit more, [00:31:19] Kurt: I like something that's portable. So like, if you're you know, if you're driving to a parking lot or a Trailhead before you start your ride, then Something that you can take with you. Like You're keeping it in your car or. And you're in your bag with your snacks for post ride or whatever, like just, yeah. Pull out the, the real recovery RA and like that you can do it, like sitting at the back of your, your, your car before you even like, get, get in the. Getting the car and drive away. Like, that's what I try to do because I know like once I get home, I'm not going to do it. But you see, I mean, in Boulder we see people with that foam rollers that they're Trailhead and all sorts of things the massage guns, like there's all sorts of things that are out there. And I think finding the thing that works for you is it's totally fine. [00:32:04] Craig: Yeah, it certainly seems like the recovery industry over the last five or six years has exploded. And we've we referenced the roll recovery, our eight a couple of times already, but we haven't really talked about what that is. So we set the stage by saying, Hey, foam, rolling. Great thing. You can do. Pretty simple. One tool. The RA is something that is similar in terms of its efficacy. It's just approaching it in a little different, little different way. [00:32:32] Kurt: Yeah. Yeah, totally. In the, oh, you have the adjustable version too. I [00:32:36] Craig: Yeah. So what what I, what, it's hard to describe to the listener, right? But it's basically, you know, it's, it's got what, what is like almost four rollerblade wheels and a spring loaded that you can adjust and you can bring it to the outside of your leg and it'll roll up and down, making it maybe easier to use while you're sitting versus a foam roller, which may require you to be laying on the ground. [00:33:00] Kurt: Yeah. Yeah. Sitting or standing. And honestly, I, when they first came out with this product, I. Being a PT, like I, I convinced people to exercise all the time and I thought like, oh, well, I mean, people are, if you were going to choose to spend something that's more expensive than a regular, you know, $20 foam roller, I think most people are just had picked up the foam roller and I've been really surprised. Like I, you know, having had one of these in the clinic and just like having people try it, like people love it because it's simple, it's easy. And I think even. Getting down on the ground is a barrier for some people. And, and you also just can't you can't get as much pressure, like in certain places where you need it, you know, your calf or like the lateral part of your quad, like new your it band. So, yeah, I think, I think it is a pretty useful tool to have something that can be handheld and that you can kind of like adjust the pressure by either like turning the dial to make it harder or pressing a little bit harder. With your hand on that one, one spot and just kinda like run through places that are that are feeling like you worked on. And then when you kind of find a spot that's sore, kind of just seek and destroy, you know, and you're just like find that tight spot and, and press on and gets released. So, so [00:34:09] Craig: Yeah, I do find it. I do find it a little bit easier than the foam roller, to be honest, again, just being lazy and maybe sitting around watching TV, I can take the the RA and just run it across my legs and feel like I'm, I'm doing some of the work. [00:34:22] Kurt: Yeah. And the, the kind of the rubber grippiness is good. Like, I think a lot of times what people like from manual therapy that like I do is like, we're kind of putting a little bit of stretch on that fascia and we're, we're getting things in, things are Elise in that way. So I think there's something to be said for like the kind of the grippiness to, of the different, not inserts that they have, that you can kind of swap in and out. So, Yeah, that's, that's one of my go tos, I think [00:34:46] Craig: the other, the other big thing that's exploded, I think has been the percussion massage tools that are out there and a number of different brands offer that type of product. Is that, is that kind of doing a similar thing just in a more targeted way? Or how do you think about those devices? [00:35:03] Kurt: Yeah, I think those are any of those are pretty cool as well. Yeah. Everybody's everybody's asking me about those these days, and those are great for those harder to get areas where like, the, the glute meat or TFL, like a lot of times people have tightness there. so it's going to be like a little bit more pinpoint and essentially a similar effect in that it is going to create this again, like top-down. Relaxation of, of the, of the muscle that we're trying to work on. But it just doing it by like hammering at it really, really quickly. And it's something like for me, I like it in certain areas. And then and then I just like the more pressure in other areas. So if you can have both, then it's like one of those things you can, you can have both, but again, like something that's easy to use and and portable, which is nice. [00:35:52] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like over the years, I've just sort of subsequently Rico acquired more and more of these devices [00:35:58] Kurt: Oh, yeah, [00:35:59] Craig: I haven't, I just don't do it enough. That's the main problem. But again, some of these are really helping me improve the amount of time I spend on my, on my muscles, which they're appreciating [00:36:09] Kurt: Yeah. Totally. [00:36:11] Craig: the other one I wanted to just, just tease out with you and understand a little bit better. You know, when we see the pro tour riders on the road, In their, in their team buses after the races, I often see them in these air recovery boots. And I'm curious, like just what's going on with those. [00:36:28] Kurt: Yeah. So, I'll be honest. I've only used those a couple of times. Like when they were pretty new, when I was like in college who had some of those in the training room and basically it's compression and I believe it's greeted and compression. So it's kind of the idea Is mechanically pushing pushing fluid back, like approximately towards your Towards your torso. So helping you kind of queer lymphatic fluid or like are kind of low pressure venous system. So that's the idea is it's kind of like helping to flush you're flushing your muscles out. So for me, me personally, the, the juice isn't worth the squeeze with, with those I being a PTM bias to encourage people to do some sort of movement. And, and those are kind of the opposite of that. It's saying like, oh, well, why don't you do. Sit here and then this will help you help your muscles. And in reality, I think if you probably just went for a walk or chased your kids around the playground for that same 20 minutes, I think that might be that might be the same benefit there. [00:37:26] Craig: Is it, am I understanding you correctly that it's attempting to do something different than the foam rolling or massage gun would do? [00:37:32] Kurt: I think so, because those are going to be just more global. It's just pressure on your whole, whole leg. So it's in at the same time. So on both at the same time, they're just pushing, pushing fluid up to your lymphatic system to be kind of like flushed in and cleared out. I haven't seen any data or anything on, on, on the ethicacy of that, but like, a lot of people still use them, especially in pro situations. And I feel like everyone I know in Boulder has has one and and people love them. So I think there must be something, something to it. But but yeah, the idea is it's it's pushing fluid away from your, extremities, which in theory should be, should be helpful. So I think that could be a helpful to, [00:38:12] Craig: does your body process? So if it's pushing it away from your extremities, into your, your kind of core, does the body process it through the core more efficiently and get it out of the body? [00:38:22] Kurt: yeah, exactly. So basically like any time. Like our lymphatic system and our venous system is a low pressure system, will our arteries are high pressure. So, if that's why gravity has an effect on DEMA and swelling. And so if somebody, you know, was is, has surgery or screens, if you sprain your ankle, that's an extreme case of there's a lot of. Swelling in that limb. And so, you know, if you elevate your leg above your heart, while you're laying on the couch, then gravity is going to help that kind of like trickle down sort of torch your organs, where that's going to be like filtered and then put that fluid gets put back into your bloodstream eventually. So it's the idea is it's basically like, compressing and bringing that fluid to be recycled faster. Yeah, that makes sense. [00:39:11] Craig: Yeah, it's super interesting. Super interesting. Cool. Well, I appreciate you giving us like this overview and I like the fact that we've left, left the listener with this idea of like, you know, there's a hierarchy of things you can be doing to support yourself post ride. And the very basics are carve out just a few minutes of your time. Work on a little foam rolling or self massage as at a bare minimum. And then beyond that layer in these other modalities of repair, if you have time, but the important thing is just build this into your routine. [00:39:45] Kurt: Totally. Yeah, And then and just have it be something that you can do consistently and then also just make sure that you're, you're covering the basics with yeah. Your nutrition and sleep and life stress. And we should all be doing some strength training, like twice a week, even if it's not our thing I'm doing. Some just general strength training for the legs and arms can be whatever you want, or it can be very specific to biking is also really important for our bodies and longevity in the sport and moving in different ways. So I definitely think that's an important part of recovery, even though it's kind of on the, on the front side, you know, it's not gonna help you after you're sore, but it'll help you from getting sore by doing things if you're, if you're stronger going into that. [00:40:26] Craig Dalton: That's great perspective, Kurt. Thanks. And thanks for joining us. [00:40:31] Kurt: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for having me fun to talk with you. [00:40:33] Craig Dalton: Cheers. That's going to do it for this week's broadcast big. Thanks to the feed for sponsoring the show. And remember, simply visit the feed.com/the gravel ride to get 50% off your first order of the feed formula. And a big thank you to Kurt for joining us. I hope you learned a lot about recovery. I know, I sure did. There's definitely things that I need to integrate into my routine. If you're interested in connecting with me, I encourage you to join the ridership. Simply go to www.theridership.com and join our free online community. If you're able to support the podcast, simply visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels


29 Mar 2022

Rank #8

Podcast cover

Fabian Serralta - Gravel Locos

This week we sit down with Gravel Locos founder Fabian Serralta to unpack the road to developing a stand out event.  New for this year, Gravel Locos will be adding an event in Peublo, CO in addition to the original event in Hico, TX. Episode Sponsor: Hammerhead.  Use coupon code 'TheGravelRide' for a free custom color kit and premium water bottle. Gravel Locos Website Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Gravel Locos [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. [00:00:26] Craig Dalton: Have you ever thought about organizing a gravel event? I certainly have this week's guest Fabion. Serralta took that passion and idea to create an event. And created gravel Locos. The original event in Heico Texas is joined this year by a new event in Pueblo, Colorado. I sat down with Fabi and to learn about his inspiration for gravel Locos, the charitable component of what he does and the general theme of all gravel Locos events. Before we jump into the conversation. I need to thank this week. Sponsor hammerhead. The hammerhead kuru to you as raised the bar for cycling computers. You can get advanced GPS, navigation, and intuitive software right on your handlebars. In a way you never thought possible. I spent this past weekend down in Tucson, Arizona. After speaking with John from the mountain lemon, gravel grinder, a few years back, I've been itching to get out on the course. So I simply downloaded the GPS file from their website, uploaded it to my kuru to and felt super confident going out there in the back country. I've got a ton of stories about some of the snafoos. I had mechanically speaking while I was out there, but from a navigational perspective, it was spot on what I really appreciate about the crew too. And I've talked about the responsive touchscreen display before. Is that in the navigation? Once you've loaded a route in there, you get a little icon, no matter what screen you're on. saying when the next turn is coming up. It's those little touches and details that I think really setting the hammerhead crew to a part beyond that, I really got to dive into the climber feature, which is something unique and special about hammerhead. The climber feature allows you to visualize and prepare for upcoming gradient changes in real time. So, what does that mean? Basically it translates to a nice graph. On the climber screen on your crew to computer that shows you in color-coded fashion. The length to the top of the climb, both in miles, as well as elevation, and then gradient by gradient profile looks that map exactly to what you're experiencing when you're out on an adventure loop that you've never been on before. It was super useful to see, okay, this is going to be a punchy. Mile mile and a half climb. Versus at the end i discovered as it turned a corner that i was in front of a six mile climb but fortunately the gradient was pretty chill. This all translates to knowledge is power. And with the hammerhead crew too, you can get all the information available out of your GPX files. You can customize it to the nth degree. I still have a ways to go and customizing mine, but you can see the power of organizing your data right there on your computer screen. For a limited time, our listeners can get a free custom color kit and exclusive premium water bottle with the purchase of a hammerhead crew to visit hammerhead.io right now and use the promo code, the gravel ride. At checkout to get yours today, that's a free custom color kit. And a premium water bottle with the purchase of a career to. Go to hammerhead.io at all three items to your cart and use the promo code. The gravel ride. With that said let's jump right into my interview with Fabienne from gravel Locos. [00:03:40] CraigDalton.: Fabian , welcome to the show. [00:03:41] FabianSerralta: Hey, Craig. Thank you. [00:03:43] CraigDalton.: It's good to talk to you again. [00:03:44] FabianSerralta: Same here. Thank you. [00:03:46] CraigDalton.: I'm excited to learn all the things about gravel locus and, but would love to learn a little bit about your background first, just kinda what drew you into the sport originally, and then what led you to take on the huge challenge of creating an event? [00:04:01] FabianSerralta: Well, I, I would definitely say I was probably what led me to the sport was purely accidental. I I purchased a, a ranch in Oklahoma in 2012, and I remember the first time driving out there to see this ranch with the R I was following a realtor and wearing this perfectly smooth country road. And I was just thinking, this is great. I'm gonna have my road bike out here. And and as soon as we get to the one road leads to the ranch, it was this. Awful road with rocks and gravel and dirt. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is terrible. I'm not gonna be able to ride my road, bike out here. And then we're on this road. And this lady is just like flying on this road and just dusting, dirt everywhere. And then we're just flying on their road and, and it was like a 15 mile drive from on this. Awful gravel dirt road to the driveway of this ranch that I had just purchased and or I was about to purchase. And then the driveway from this road to the ranch was another mile and a half. And when we get to the ranch property in the house, I said to her. This is terrible. I'm not gonna be able to ride my bike when I'm out here. She's like, well, what do you mean? I said, I'll get a flat tire by the time I get to, to the to the main road. And she's like, well, you can just drive your bike in your car and, and go out there and just park out there. I'm like, where am I gonna park? That's like somebody else's property out there. So this is 2012. And I, so I buy this property and probably from 20 12, 20 13 until about 2015. I didn't get to ride my road bike every time that I went out there. [00:05:41] CraigDalton.: yeah. I was gonna say there wasn't a lot of options [00:05:43] FabianSerralta: Yeah. [00:05:44] CraigDalton.: of gravel bikes at that point in time. [00:05:45] FabianSerralta: Yeah. But then in 2015, I'm visiting my son in Denver. He was gonna school at the university of Denver and I just happened to go to a, a bike store. It was a, I believe it was a specialized bike store and I walk in there and there's. White and red bike Witham, and it looked like a road bike and it had these Nobby tires on it and zip wheels. And I'm like, what in the world is this thing? And the sales guy comes up to me and I'm like, what is this thing? You know? And he's looking at me like, he's like, where are you from? I'm like, well, I'm from Cuba. And he's probably thinking this guy just fell off of open a Palm or something. Cause likes a, and I'm like, what's a, you, I had idea what a. He's like, you don't know what a cross bike is. I was like, I don't know, but I want that bike. He's like, well, you gonna Doy lacrosse. I'm like, no, I bought this ranch and it has these horrible roads that are rocks. And he's like, oh, so you want a gravel bike? I'm like a gravel bike. I said, no, I want that bike. And I need you to ship it to Texas. And the guy is just like, looking me, like I'm nuts. But it was like, It looked like a road bike and it had, you know, what looked like to be mountain bike tires. And I'm like, this is it. So I purchased a bike and it happened to be on my size, a 54 centimeter. They ship it to to Texas to my local bike shop and gets over there. They had 700 by 33 C tires. I start writing it in Oklahoma and I thought was the greatest thing ever. And I was running 90 PSI on the tires, which I thought at the time was perfect. As you know, on my tubular road tires, I was running 120 PSI. And so I thought this thing was just as smooth as can be on these gravel roads. And I signed up for my first gravel event, October 1st, 2016. And I thought, Hey, you know, it was 15 miles, no big deal. I showed up at the time, I think I had 95 P assigned a rear and 90 in the front. And I thought it was gonna be very much like a road rally where you have, you know, rest stops every so many miles. And so I think I had two water bottles and, or maybe a one snack or whatever, and man, it was a nightmare. [00:07:55] CraigDalton.: Was was that in Oklahoma, the event that you signed [00:07:58] FabianSerralta: it was Texas. It was a really hilly area monster, Texas. And you know, I paid my registration fee, which I think it was, I don't know, 85, $90. And I was expecting it to be just like many of the road rallies I had done. And. You know, grass stops with bananas and oranges and cookies and pickle, juices, and Gatorade. And there was nothing. all they had was a water table. with warm water, no food. And by the end of the 50 miles, I thought I was gonna die. And with that tire pressure on those 33 sea tires. I was so beat up. I swear, I'll never do this again. I remember getting to the finish and calling some buddies. I'm like, I am never doing this again. This is horrible. Why would anybody ever do this? You know, [00:08:43] CraigDalton.: Yeah. It's, it's funny. What a difference the evolution of the equipment has made in the enjoyment of the sport. I'm with you. I, I got my first gravel bike a little bit later than the, I think back in 2016, but it was a. 2014 model year bike, 32 C tires. Fortunately it, it did have tubeless on it, but it still, like, I just felt like it wasn't that much better than Ayro bike. I had five or six years earlier, which I had pretty much quit riding because I would either flat or get the crap beat outta me every time I rode it. [00:09:15] FabianSerralta: Yeah, this, this, I mean, it was, it was ay, it was a cycle cross bike. It was specialized crux. I mean, it had great, I mean, it had zip three or threes. I was running tubes. Which was, you know, a big difference from running tubers on my other bikes road bikes. And they had ceramic red, I couldn't complain it was a great bike, but I was just running to run tire pressure, the wrong tire size. And I really didn't have any, any knowledge of, of gravel, but, you know, I did see other people running big, your tires and all that. And it, it was just this learning curve. But that first experience was horrible. And I really, I swear I never did this again. And it took a while and then I, I started learning from others like, Hey, yeah, you can't be out there running tire pressure like that. And you can't, you, you gotta run bigger tires than that. And you gotta run, you know, tube, you know, tubeless. And and you know, I, it probably took me a few, a couple of months before I even wrote again. But as I, I started getting more and more advice from others that were doing it. But it was so early on. But it was that experience that really led me to wanna have eventually at one day have a gravel event. That was a lot like a road rally, but that it was also, you know, it, it had the, it was at the time it was, you know, the dirty cancer event, the DK 200. So I wanted to have a, a DK 200 event with the pro component, but yet. Beginner friendly. So have all the support that you would need for beginners like myself or, or people just really interested in gravel. So having all the bunch of rest stops and having portable bathrooms at rest stops for the women and having sag vehicles all over the place, but yet having a ton of pros. So having, you know, an event that was a DK 200 packed with pros, but yet packed with. All the support and all the things that you are accustomed to experiencing and having at a, you know, family road, rally type event. [00:11:15] CraigDalton.: Interesting. So it sounds like, I mean, if we fast forward a few years from that original event, it sounds like you competed in a handful of events every year to try to, you know, obviously continue your enjoyment of the sport. The, the equipment had continued to evolve and, and you'd had a number of experiences at other events where you're like, I like part of what this event has done, but part of what that event has done. And you thought, well, like what if I did this on my own? [00:11:41] FabianSerralta: Yeah, look so it, the events continue. I con I would go to every gravel event that I could go to, but it just, it was, you know, you pay your 75, 85, a hundred something dollars, but. You're lucky you got a water table and it was, everything was always self support, self support, self supported, and you're paying all this money, but you're not really getting a whole lot in return. And to me, it really excluded a lot of beginners. It excluded people that didn't have a lot of bike skills or, or bike mechanic knowledge because, you know, I always say what, what makes riding gravel so great is that you're out in the middle of nowhere. , but what that's also, what makes it kind of dangerous and also kind of keeps a lot of people out of it because you know, you're out in the middle of nowhere. You don't have cell reception, you don't have convenience stores. Oftentimes you don't have many houses or you don't see a vehicle or cars don't even go come by half the time. So yeah, you're out there in the middle of nowhere, but then you don't help of neighbors and you don't have convenience stores and you don't have others to reach out to in case of an emergency or a mechanical. And I feel that that deters a lot of people from venturing and, and experiencing gravel. And as a result, you know, a lot of people miss out on experiencing gravel. So how do you bring in all those people? And for me, Is the way to do that is by bringing in all the support, the sag vehicles, aid stations, every so many miles. So for example, in gravel Locos, you have, you know, six aid stations you have 20 something sag vehicles for the women. We have portable bathrooms at all the aid stations where there is in HaCo or in Pueblo, Colorado . And that's how we take out that, that fear of, you know, Being out there in the middle of nowhere. So, but yet we still have, you know, 20 something, 30 pros out there participating just like you, we did, you know, at events like dirty cans, 200 or, you know, what was land run, you know? And I referred to them by those names because that's what I was modeling. Then. [00:13:42] CraigDalton.: I'm glad we unearthed that because I think it's important to kind of think about people's orientations as event organizers in terms of how they're gonna set up the overall experience. You know, it's one thing when you've got a, a top level pro who's decided they want to get into the event business. And oftentimes they do design events that are driven from the front. They're really a professional experience that does trickle down to the rest of us. But it's you know, it's pretty refreshing to hear you talk about. Wanting the last person in the event to have the best time possible as well as, as the first. So stepping back for a second, you, you live in Arlington, Texas, you've got property in Oklahoma. You'd experience the gravel community for a number of years. You decided, Hey, there's something missing. I'd love to highlight my perspective of a gravel event. How did you decide on, on, on Texas for the original event and what was that process like? [00:14:36] FabianSerralta: Well, I, you said it in, cause that's where I predominantly ride, you know, so I've a lot gravel. I've done gravel in California. I've done gravel in Vermont, in, in Montana. I've done gravel in Scotland. I, you know, I've, I've done gravel in other parts and, but Texas, where, where I mostly write gravel and I've done gravel all over Texas and HaCo. I remember writing and close to close to HaCo. And one of the folks that I was riding with says, man, if you like this area, You've gotta check out. Heico so I said Heico where's that? So I found it went out there and, [00:15:13] CraigDalton.: And where, where is it relative to, to the Dallas area [00:15:17] FabianSerralta: for me, it's about an hour and 20 minute drive [00:15:20] CraigDalton.: and is that to, to the east or which direction [00:15:23] FabianSerralta: I'm the guy that gets lost with Garmen. So so I'm gonna take a chance here. Say I think it's so out. [00:15:30] CraigDalton.: Okay. [00:15:31] FabianSerralta: So, yeah, I'm horrible. I'm like directionally challenged. So I get asked this all the time. Like the other day I was in Pueblo for meetings and I was meeting with the the the PBR, the folks for the professional bull riding association, which one of our sponsors in there were asking me. So which direction I, I have no idea. Here's the route, you figure it out. And really, I do get lost even with Garman. I'm that guy that I'm following route. And I always end up with more mileage. So I, up going out to HaCo. And I follow this route and it had so much more climbing, even though I am not built like a climber. I love as these challenging routes. I really love taking on routes to have as much climbing as possible. And it, even though it takes me all stinking day and HaCo has that, you know, for Texas as one of these guess that you get so much climbing and I absolutely fell in love with it. And Heico has it's heart packed. And it has a lot of beautiful canopy areas, you know, tree canopy, tree areas. It has lots of water crossings. It has. I mean, it's just a really diverse terrain. And even if it were to rain, it's so hard packed. It's it's got a lot of smooth areas. There's really nothing rough or nasty about it. It, and. Even, even if it rains it's, it's not an area that, that you get much mu much more than a couple inches of mud. So it's not like, like Mid-South where you have, you know, six inches, 12 inches of mud in your foot, you know, is, you know, foot into the mud. For example, last year in may it did run, it did rain. And so yeah, people got my, but you're talking, you know, an inch of mud, two inches of mud. Maybe two and a half. So it's not a situation that you're just bogged down and you, you have to walk, you, you can ride through it. So it it's really a, an area that you can ride it all year long rain or shine. And it was just perfect. And. I said, this is it. We're gonna do it here. So, you know, we had last year, we had three routes this year. We have four routes. Last year we had a 30 mile or a 60 and 150 something. And after our survey of the event, it was a very positive survey folks, which is absolutely thrilled with the event. But what kept coming up was have a 100 mile. I said, all right. So for 2022, we have a hundred mile as well. And it just filled up immediately. So folks really wanted a hundred. Not everybody wants to do 150 something miles, but they want it more than a 60 mile. So the hundred mile, you know, I never even thought of it, you know? So you learn, I've learned a lot, you know, I thought, [00:18:03] CraigDalton.: feel, I feel like I'm in that category where 150 mile, maybe I can muster that up once a year, if I'm lucky, but a hundred keeps me honest. I need to train for that pretty well. But I, I believe in my heart, like I can always uncork a hundred miles if I'm like relatively fit. [00:18:20] FabianSerralta: Yeah. And you know, and the hundred mile it is, it's a legit route. I mean, it's, it's over 5,000 feet of climbing and it's really a beautiful route and it, and it really incorporates all the hard climbs that are in the 150 something mile. And [00:18:33] CraigDalton.: what I, one of the things I always wanna unpack with event organizers, because I think it is a challenge depending on where you are, is okay. So you you've decided on HaCo as a, as a great riding location. But there are also logistics and permits and all kinds of things. You need to go through granted in a rural community. Maybe those are less than a more populous community, but you still need to do that. So what was that process? What was that process like for you? [00:18:59] FabianSerralta: Really easy, you know, what, what I have learned with I, you know, this is for me as a hobby and HaCo has, you know, it's really been incredibly easy. They they've really take care of all that for me. And I went in there with, you know, the understanding that, look, I'm doing this to help the volunteer fire departments. If you're willing to help me, I'm willing to do it. [00:19:17] CraigDalton.: And was that perspective, something that was already in your head. Hey, I wanna have a charitable component to the event I put on. [00:19:24] FabianSerralta: Yes. Yes. And, and if you're willing to work with me and, and take care of these things, I'm willing to do it. If you're not willing to work with me, I'm outta here. I just, you know, it's, it's one of those things that I, I don't have the time to mess with all that stuff. So if the town is willing, then I'm willing, I, if they want to put me through all these hoops and things and, and, and, and barricades and all these. All this red tape, I'm just, I'm outta here because I just don't have time for it. You know, I've got four kids and two other businesses to run. And so I was really upfront and they were really honest about it. And they just, they facilitated everything that I needed. They, they provide all the things that I needed. They provide law enforcement, they provide crowd control and barricades and they provide everything. The same thing with Pueblo, you know, they're. [00:20:09] CraigDalton.: you know, hike in the original gravel locus event. Sorry to interrupt you there for it. It took off through the gravel cycling community as a event option incredibly quickly. And there was a couple things that. Kind of at least caught my eye right off the bat, which were one was correct me if I'm wrong here. But it seemed like the registration was entirely a donation based model, which was unheard of. And two for a first year event, you had all these top pros saying I'm gonna be there. [00:20:40] FabianSerralta: Yes. [00:20:40] CraigDalton.: How did both of those things happen? [00:20:43] FabianSerralta: well, you know, it was, it was out of really, so the event was initially gonna take place in 2020 in November and I canceled it cuz of COVID, you know, so I had the Greenlight from, from HaCo, but I canceled it because of COVID. My basically, you know, I have absolutely zero connections in the bike industry. And what I tried to do was try and get the bike industry board. And the only way that I could do that was reaching out to them via Instagram and Facebook. And that really didn't really work. I couldn't get anybody to, you know, return any messages or anything, despite the amount of money that I spent on bikes. You know, I have the the record of my local bike shop for spending the most money on bicycles every year. just absurd. despite all that I couldn't get a response from anybody. So I said, you know what? I'm not gonna let that discourage me. I'm gonna have this event with, or without the bike industry. And so I said, I'll, I'll fund it. I'll do it myself, cuz I I'm gonna have this event. And this event is gonna have the component of the pros and the component of the beginners. And there is not there. Isn't gonna be a cutoff. So if folks are gonna train for the geo one fifty, a hundred fifty something miles with over 8,000 feet of elevation gain. I'm not gonna yank 'em off the course. They're gonna be out there as long as they want to be. And if they want to give up, they're gonna give up, but it's not gonna be, I'm not gonna take it away from anybody. I'm not gonna be that person. That's gonna say, Hey, you know what? You didn't make the cut off by 10 minutes or an hour or two hours. And you're off the course. Because I'm always that person, who's the last one. And you know, when I was at Ted's event in Vermont last year, I didn't make the cutoff. And when they came up to me and they, Hey, look, you, you didn't make the cutoff. I said, , we're gonna have a fricking fight. . And they said call Ted. And they did. They called Ted and it's like, leave him alone. He's fine. I I'll take care of, I'll wait for him. And Ted did. And he understands, he, he waited out there for me and I didn't make the cutoff by over an hour. And he was out there in the rain, in the cold waiting for me, everybody was gone. The whole thing was shut down. And he followed me for like the last 15 miles, cuz it was pouring rain. It was cold, but you know, he, he let me finish the, the event and to me, that's what being inclusive and, and finishing and, and you know what it's about. So to, Hey said, I'm gonna have this event regardless. So in 20 for 2021, how I was able to. Do what I did is with, like you mentioned earlier, this, this donation thing I said, you know what? Let's just, I've gotta get the attention of, of folks. Cause I don't have the support of the bike industry and I don't have name recognition and I certainly don't have, you know, experience. I've never done this before. So how do we capture attention? We're gonna do this for free. It's gonna be a free event. And, and first thing I said, all right, this event is gonna have 1200 free registrations. And what you're gonna do is it's up to you to make a donation, a direct donation to the volunteer fire department. Most folks are used to paying a hundred, something to hundred dollars or more for an event like of this caliber. Remember you have all these age stations you have. So you're getting 20 something pros. Top level pros from around the world. You're getting over five age stations, fully S stocked, 20 something, sag vehicles, portable bathrooms at all. Age stations. You're getting a draw string swag bag. Really nice. You're getting with zipper. You're getting T really nice. T-shirts you're getting purest water bottles from specialized. You're get all this swag, all this stuff for free. So, whether you give the fire station a dollar or $0, you're gonna get everything for free. So it was an honor system. And really, I think that showed people that it, Hey, this is an event that has Lawrence 10, Dan Ted king, Peter TNA, Allison Terick Jess, Sarah. You know, Colin, Strickland, you know, all these names that I, that are all of 'em are gonna be at at Unbound, all of 'em are, are all these huge events and there's no cutoff. There's all of this support that you don't get at these big events, you know, as far as aid stations and it is entirely up to me to decide how much I'm willing to pay with what I think it's worth well out of those 1200 free registrations. Less than 400 people donated anything. So that was a bit of a shock, but we still had the event [00:25:11] CraigDalton.: Yeah. And, and just to unpack that a little bit, you know, quite disappointing, obviously, that just like sort of the percentage of people that actually donated and to, to put a finer point on it, like, as you describe all the things that one would get for participating, you're talking about a hundred dollars worth of. Effort per rider to give them nutrition, to provide them porta potties, to give them swag, all those things. So it's a, it's a big proposition that I think often gets lost and and you put it in the proper context in that without someone supporting you without a, you know, a nutrition sponsor coming in and dumping. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of product on your tables. Like that's coming outta your pocket as the race organizer. And there's no way around that. So pretty incredible effort to get it off the ground. And sorry to hear that the donations were not as great as you wanted them to be, but with those donations, something great. Did material realize for the fire department. [00:26:12] FabianSerralta: Yeah. And. That that side didn't happen the way that it had. I had hope, but it, we don't really even think about it because we, at the end of the day, there were so many articles written about the event that I never expected in a million years. I honestly, I never thought that GCN would write about it. That basically magazine would write about it. That cycling news, the Velo news, all these publications wrote about it. You know, it was listed as a, as a basically magazine listed as a. Top 20 bucket list event. You, it was mentioned like 17 times in VLO news. GCN mentioned it cycling news had articles about it. These are all things that I never even consider would happen. [00:26:55] CraigDalton.: Yeah. it was absolutely incredible to reach the brand and the event got in that first year. [00:27:00] FabianSerralta: We smoking great deal on the, the fire. We were still able to buy it with the money that we raised. We, you know, we still had great registration numbers we had. And then for 2022, you know, we have over 1500 people registered and we raised enough to build a bigger fire station. So [00:27:20] CraigDalton.: That's [00:27:20] FabianSerralta: while maybe, you know, less than 400 people register out of 1200, it doesn't matter to me because cuz we still accomplished everything that we set out to do. We still got more numbers than I ever thought were gonna happen. And as a result, we, we have interest from other cities that are contacting me that wanna have events. So, you know, I, I was several cities reached out to me. Hey, can, can you do the same at our city? And it is, you know, I've had to turn down cities cuz it's just too much. You know, I've had two, two other Texas cities that I asked me to host events at their cities. And I unfortunately I've had to say no because I just don't have the time [00:27:59] CraigDalton.: Yeah. Yeah. [00:28:00] FabianSerralta: Pueblo. Against my better judgment. I was like, sure. It's you know, the, the Pueblo story. I really, really I, I couldn't say no, it's just, they they've, they've been wanting to do an event there and they even they were bidding to try and get an event and they, they lost the bidding most cities that want to do something like this. They're paying promoters to do the events there. That's one of my rules. I will not charge a city to host any event, cuz it goes completely against what I'm trying to do. So what I'm trying to do is bring money to the city and build and bring equipment and funding to the volunteer fire departments. So why would I be charging them money to host events [00:28:39] CraigDalton.: Yeah, it's super, it's super interesting. When you look at the economics of events, just events in general, how much they cost, but the economic impact to these rural communities, which in your case is very specific to raising money for these volunteer fire departments. But even beyond that, the, you know, the amount of meals purchased the amount of hotel nights, cetera. Like it's it, it has a significant impact. and, I'm super interested to get into your second event in Pueblo and learn how that happened. But one more question, just outta my own curiosity, how did you end up getting those 20 to 30 pros to come to a first year event? [00:29:15] FabianSerralta: I will see the credit to that goes to Ted king because I reached out to several pros. First was him. Via Instagram. Again, I don't have any connections or I don't really know anybody. And he was the only person that responded. And I wrote him this long thing through Instagram, direct messaging through Instagram. And I explained to him, look, this is what I'm trying to do. I'm I'm gonna have this event and it's gonna be free to everybody and gonna be up to them to donate. And this is all that they're gonna get, and this is all I'm gonna give them. And this is what I'm trying to buy a fire truck for the fire department. And I'm trying to get this many pros and he, he rides back. He's like, are you nuts? and he finally calls me. He's like, are you nuts? He's like, I'm so intrigued by this. And. [00:30:04] CraigDalton.: The idea, the idea was so crazy. He had to call and talk to the guy behind [00:30:08] FabianSerralta: That's exactly what he said. He's like, this is absolutely insane in this, but I'm so like intrigued by this and he's like, are you really gonna do this? And I said, oh yeah, I'm really gonna do this. And he's like, you know, this is how stuff gets done. You know, when, when people just take a chain and, and, and do something completely outside of the box. And, and he said, can I have two weeks to think about this? And I said, absolutely just take your time. And and he's, and he did two weeks later, he calls me back and I'm like huge fan of Ted. And, and I remember watching him in the tour de France and all that, and sure enough, two weeks later he calls me back. He's like, all right, I'm in. And. Do you have a website? No. He's like, you need a website and then he's like, what are you gonna do for registration? I don't know. I mean, he just went down this list. He's like, you gotta have registration, you gotta have this. And, and then and then he says to me and your social media post suck [00:31:11] CraigDalton.: suck [00:31:12] FabianSerralta: and he is, starts helping me, you know, he starts Giving me so much guidance and stuff like that. And he is like, and how are you gonna get ahold of all these other riders? Cause I give 'em a list. Like I want to get ahold of, of all these other riders. And he is like, I don't know. He says that, you know, let me help you. So he started really vouching for me and, and contacting them. And. And then he gave me a lot of advice. He says, you know, don't, don't do a don't, don't give money, don't do a purse, don't do this and don't do that. And, and you're gonna find that the folks that believe in what you're trying to do are gonna jump on board. And, and that's how it happened. He just, the folks that came forward are, are folks that care about what I was trying to do. And really wanted to be a part of something totally different. That was more about giving back. To communities and, and, and not so much about, you know, a big corporate event, it was more of a Grasso type thing. They, they were just interested and a lot of 'em have their own events that are grassroots focused, you know, Ted and Jess, Sarah, Sam Boardman, Laura King, and Ted, you know, all of them Lawrence Tanem has his own events in the Netherlands. Peter has his own event. So all of there's a connection amongst all of us. That have to do with our own little small events that are, they're not corporate they're just small community type events. [00:32:32] CraigDalton.: Yeah. Yeah. Amazing, amazing [00:32:34] FabianSerralta: then what would I do in return? You know, I help with the hotels and things like that and meals and stuff like, you know, that's how, what we do, you know, they, they ride for a living that's, that's, that's how they make a living. So you certainly, you have to help out in some way, you know, and you know, when with HCO helps me out with the hotel cost, so I provide them with a room and, and stuff like that. [00:32:54] CraigDalton.: Gotcha. Interesting. So now let's shift gears to Pueblo. I know you had mentioned you had a number of rural communities. See what you had done and reach out to you, but what was it about going to Pueblo in a state that you don't and you don't have property at this point? What was it about the Pueblo opportunity that said, Hey, this is the right next step for the gravel locus event team. [00:33:16] FabianSerralta: Well, I, I found out that they helped, they they've been wanting to have a gravel rent and I found out that. They had been bidding on, on, on having an event hosted there and, and they lost somebody else got the bid and that kind of bugged me. It bugged me, it bugs me that these small towns that are hurting and economically, and they're trying to bring business and they're trying to bring funds to their towns that they're, that there. Trying to get events by paying promoters and paying corporations money or offering to pay money. So that events are being hosted there. And to me, that it just doesn't make sense because if you're doing it for, for, as a business, you're making money. If, if you're hosting an event somewhere, you're gonna make money from registration, you're gonna make money from cells of, of, of, you know, shirts and, and you're making money from. Vendors and, and the bike industry's paying you per and, and, and all this stuff that I, I have, I don't have access to cause I don't have any, you know, I don't have the bike industry behind me and you know, or any of that, but you know, the, the lifetime events and the big corporate events have all of that, you know, you know, all those, you know, shaman and spa and all those companies that are, there are not there for free, you know, let's just be honest, you know, I was born at night, but not last night. So, And then to have these small towns that are struggling financially and have high unemployment paying significant amount of money for, for them to host the event there, to me that that just seemed wrong. And as a result, they, they were outted by another town and they didn't get the event. And I learned about this and I said, all right, we'll do the event there. So I met with the city I met with the mayor. And one of the questions were, well, how much are you gonna charge us to do the event here? I said zero. And I said, if I ever ask you for money to do an event here, kick me in your ass, please. I said, that's not. That goes completely against what I'm trying to do. I said, the reason I'm I'm doing these events is to bring funds to cities that are struggling financially, but also to bring funds to the volunteer fire department, because. Guess who we call when we fall and wipe out and bust our asses out, riding gravel, volunteer, fire departments, guess who's out there. That's, who's out there. You know, when we're out there riding gravel that, and all of us know this it's volunteer fire departments. We're out in the middle of nowhere and it's a volunteer fire department. It out there charge and really taking care of hundreds of, of miles. That they're covering and that's who we rely on. So if we're gonna support a, a department as a gravel community, I mean, I would think that I, you know, logically we're gonna support the volunteer fire departments in those areas that we ride. So it's not that I'm Mr. Nice or anything like that. It's just logical that we're gonna support the very same people that come to help us. And it's the volunteer fire departments in those areas that we ride. So. And I think they, they appreciate that, you know, so to charge them, it doesn't make sense. I don't think it's fair, but they do help. You know, they provide, like we said earlier, they help me with the permitting and they help me with law enforcement and they help me with barricades and things like that. So they, they do help. It's not like they're doing nothing. So it's, it becomes a, a community, a true community involved event. And we, we get that. We throw that word around all the time, community, this community, that, but when you really dig into it, poor community is paying a few hundred thousand dollars. And it's really no longer a community. Now we're talking about a service and a fees and stuff like that. But in, in our case, you know, HaCo provides all this help and volume and stuff like that. The same with Pueblo. That's. [00:37:03] CraigDalton.: think that's, you know, it's, it's in, I think it's refreshing to take that expansive view of community cuz oftentimes the gravel community, those words are thrown around a lot. Generally implying your fellow athletes, the fellow people out there riding with you. But it, it really is in these rural communities. It's the people of the community that are coming out, coming out, whether they're, you know, Manning the registration booth or Manning an aid station, or, you know, opening their doors and giving you a glass of water. If you're stuck out there somewhere like that, that really is the breadth of the community that gravel does touch in these town. [00:37:38] FabianSerralta: Oh, I mean, you better believe it. If they don't help me, I'm not doing it. mean, there's no way I, I would do it. It it's just, you know, I wouldn't do it. And they understand that and, and, and I'm really open about that. It's like, I'm not charging anything, but you gotta help me. You know, when I met with the fire department, it's like, you all gotta help me. There's, you know, I don't have, this is, you know, and I, and I say this, you know, like, My social media, it's one Cuban and an iPhone. You know, I don't have a, a, a, a crew or anything like that. It's, you know what you see on social media? It's Fabian, you know, one Cuban and an iPhone. I don't have employees. I don't have anything. It's just myself. So I, I will take all the help that I can get. And you don't need an entire staff to, to do anything like this, but you do need, you know, help and, and volunteers and, and Pueblo understands that. And HaCo understands that, you know, I'm looking at another state right now and we're looking at a third event and they understand the same thing that, Hey, we need, we want to have event grab a locus type event. We don't have, you know, a few hundred thousand dollars to. Give a promoter to bring the event here, but we do have willing bodies and people that are willing to, you know, help and, and volunteer. And, and that's the model. And, but we also like having 20 something pros and we like having the, that racing component. But yet we also want to have an environment that the Fabians that are gonna come in last know that they can train for this. And it's not gonna be taken away. They're not gonna be turned around and yanked off the course because to me, that's, I can't imagine training for something for a year. And, you know, not being a Ted king or, or, or a Allison Terick or Jess, Sarah, I'm not those folks. You know, I can't imagine training and having my family behind me and all of that support and, and the struggles of having to work other jobs and then being yanked off the course until, Hey, you know, you can't finish you because you didn't make it by 30 minutes or an hour or two hours. I cannot imagine what that feels like. And to me that just, that that's not inclusive, that that's just telling somebody you're not good enough and turn around. I, I, to me, there's no explanation that you can give me that tells me that's rational, reasonable, not even safety. What do you mean safety? There's, there's nothing. If it's a issue then guess what? You know, the amount of money that these events make, then you plant a fricking sag vehicle behind those folks to follow them till the end. What does that cost? I mean, lemme know I'll pay for it. What's the big deal. You know, and that's what we do at gravel locus. Last year, we had a vehicle sag vehicle to follow five folks, cuz it was dark. They didn't have lights. I said, well you freaking follow them. Follow 'em all the way to the end. You're gonna be their light because. Again, why would we yank somebody off the course? Now, if they want to quit, it's on them. If they want to throw in the towel, it's on them. But, and, and then the other thing that we have with our pros and, and, and they're more, and you, we don't even have to ask em and it's like, Hey, you know, make yourself available to the, to the folks, to the regular folks. And I do, there are so many selfies out there with Ted and, and kids and, and Pete. Lawrence. It's just super cool and funny as hell. Allie Terick and Jess, you know, all these young girls and, and folks that got to meet them personally. And they were out there available to all these folks, which, you know, it's, those are memories and things that you just, you know, all their fans get to meet them. [00:41:16] CraigDalton.: A hundred percent. So I guess we, you know, I feel like we've unpacked pretty completely what the gravel Locos, eco ethos is and what the experience is gonna be like on the Pueblo side. What is that terrain like? I've driven through Pueblo, but I've never, I've never put rubber on the its and trails there. What, what do you expect the courses to be like in Pueblo? [00:41:36] FabianSerralta: Oh, my gosh, it's silky smooth, but you know, it's, it's, it's so beautiful. I got to ride 23, 24 miles the other day. So we, we, we rode from the fire station. We did a loop and it was about 24 miles and about 1400 feet of elevation gain. The the main route we call it the, the GL one 50, that's just our, our, our, the, the big route is always gonna be called the gravel locals one 50, but it's really 169 miles. So you get, you get a little extra, but it's, you know, right with GPS says it's over 13,000 miles, but as we know, it's always under, it's always more than. [00:42:14] CraigDalton.: feet of climbing. [00:42:15] FabianSerralta: So I would expect just about 14,000 feet of elevation gain and, you know, it's it's for me coming from Texas, it was a little, a little harder cuz there there's that whole, you know, the altitude, but it is just so smooth and so nice. It's you know, it's hard packed also. It's it's smoother. The gravel there is it. It's just hard to explain. It's just, it's beautiful. [00:42:40] CraigDalton.: So do you imagine this being the type of event that larger groups can stay together and benefit from drafting off one another and things like that? Just given the type of terrain you're on. [00:42:48] FabianSerralta: Yeah. Yeah. It's just, I mean, it, it's hard to explain. I mean, there it's, I was, I was telling them over there, it's like, it's hard and it's definitely challenging, but you're looking at mountains and you're looking at, at all this beautiful terrain, it's really, you know, I was, I was exhausted. Again, I'm not, I'm not anybody who's in the kind of shape and certainly I've, I've gained. I, I was telling them the other day, I was like, you know, there was the COVID 19 pounds. I, I managed to, you know, I went from riding a ton of mileage every year. And when I started gravel Locos, I've gained 50 pounds in, in two years of not riding and running two businesses and gravel Loco. So. I've gotta find a way to get these 50 pounds off. So yeah, going downhill was great over there, but going up was tough, but just a scenery is just so, so interesting. [00:43:37] CraigDalton.: and are the courses punctuated by like a significant climbs? Like in terms of like, oh, you're gonna be climbing for an hour at a time. Like [00:43:44] FabianSerralta: know, gradual they're gradual climbs. There was nothing that like in HCO, you get these punchy climbs over. There's more gradual. So. You know, you can get away with with less big gears in HighCo. I tend to run bigger gears over there. You know, I didn't get in any of my big gears, you know, I, I run a 10 52 in a rear Ram and I, I wasn't using it over there because they're, they're more of the gradual climb. You kind of get into a rhythm and they're kind of, I prefer that to be honest, that you just kind of get into this groove and you get into this rhythm. Whereas high code has these. You know, we have some, some climbs that are 22% 23, and they're pretty punchy. And we have these three climbs that are back to back that we call the three bees. You can decide whatever you want to call those bees, but bitches they're rough. And then and man, those kick up into the 22, you 23, 20 4%. and it's, you know, they're kind of loose rocks and you just kind of gotta lean forward and you gotta get that big granny gear and just work your way up. Whereas in Pueblo, you don't have, I didn't experience anything like that. And, and most of what's out there is these long gradual climbs that you kind of get into a rhythm. So I prefer the, the type of climbing that they have out there in Pueblo, but they're both very, very different, very different type of riding. [00:45:05] CraigDalton.: And would you change your, your tire width from HaCo to Pueblo? Would you do [00:45:10] FabianSerralta: I think that you can. I think that at, at both, you can get away with smaller diameter tires. So I've done HaCo with 35 centimeter tires. I've done HaCo with 47. I think that in Pueblo again, we rode Pueblo last week where it had been snowing. and it was muddy, but even then, you know, I wrote it with 45 centimeters and there was folks out there running it, riding it with 30 eights and they still did just fine, but the, the Pueblo gravel is much smoother than the HaCo. And I, I can see some folks getting away with when it's dry, especially over getting away with, you know, 30 fives, [00:45:50] CraigDalton.: Yeah. [00:45:50] FabianSerralta: somes. I. [00:45:52] CraigDalton.: It's funny. It's so it's so counterintuitive to me to, and S B T gravels the same way I remember getting like my arm twisted to run 30 eights, and I was like, there's, there's no way, like I'm going to Colorado. And at home, I'm all about the 40 sevens here in Marin county, cuz it's so Rocky and but sure enough, like I definit could have ridden that as they call it champagne, gravel in Colorado on 38 with absolutely no issue. So it, it, it's quite fascinating to me and. One of the things I. [00:46:20] FabianSerralta: racers recently that are 40 threes. I haven't put 'em on yet, but they're kind of, you know, they're not slicks, but they're not Nobbies and I can't wait to try something like that. They're 40 threes. And normally in HighCo I run 40 fives or 40 sevens, but I'm looking forward to running those 43 as a whole new tire I've never used for, but I can certainly see a. And in Pueblo getting away with 38, even, even a slick or a semi slick. [00:46:45] CraigDalton.: Yeah. so, so interesting. It's obviously, it's like, it's a never ending debate and discussion about which tires to use. And I remember reading, you know, where the, when we're recording, it's the weekend of Mid-South and you know, there's a lot of people. Twisting their arms and, and twist getting all twisted inside about what tires are gonna run tomorrow or today. Excuse me. On race day at Mid-South. So always fun and appreciate the insight there. So for people looking to find out more information about the events, where can they find information about gravel locus? Why don't you tell us the, the website and the dates of the events this year? [00:47:19] FabianSerralta: So HaCo is May 14th. And Pueblo is October the first you can sign up on our website, which is www dot gravel, locos.bike. Just make sure you click the link for one or the other, or if you wanna do both I've left. He still opened. But we've got a or 1500. I haven't decided where I want to shut it down because HaCo is open to having more Pueblo is still open as well. but just all the information is on there. There's four routes for each. So there's the gravel locals, 30, the 60, the hundred. And the one 50 information about the routes is on both of them. The cause for each of the events is always gonna be a volunteer fire department. Pretty much everything you need to know about it is on the website. You'll find all the different pros that are gonna be there. We've got more pros to add to the website every day you get, you know, we get new pros that wanna come on board. As far as our sponsors there, aren't not many of them, but the, the ones that are on there, you'll find out that these are folks that are very, have been very loyal since the beginning. And if somebody wants to be a sponsor, they're more welcome. Welcome to send us a message or email us, but. We're pretty much self supported and really it's just a community thing. And, and it's really, this whole entire thing has been made possible by, by the towns and, and little businesses within the towns. Very small involvement from the bike industry. It's been a, a community thing to be on. Oh, just kind of how it worked out. [00:48:42] CraigDalton.: Amazing. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for putting so much of your heart out. there and, and making a making events that you wanted to see happen in the world. And I think it's such a sort of beneficial place for the gravel cycling community to have event organizers with that orientation and From this conversation in our earlier conversations. I know how much of yourself, both personally and financially you put on the line to create this event series. So again, for, from, for me, thank you for doing that and exciting to hear that Pueblo is going off this year and exciting to hear that yet another community has come to you and talking about like, how do we have grow Ava three. [00:49:19] FabianSerralta: Yes, we we'll release that soon. I'll let you know. . [00:49:23] CraigDalton.: Awesome. Thanks for your time, Fabian. [00:49:25] FabianSerralta: you. Thank you. So. [00:49:27] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thanks to Fabion, not only for joining us on the show, but for everything he's doing around the gravel Locos series, I think he's got his heart in the right place and I've no doubt. These are some of the best gravel events out there to attend. Big. Thanks. Also to our friends at hammerhead for sponsoring the show member, you can get a free custom color kit and premium water bottle with the purchase of the new hammerhead kuru two computer, simply go to hammerhead.io and use the promo code. The gravel ride. If you are interested in supporting the show, ratings and reviews are hugely helpful as is sharing the show with other gravel cyclists. If you're able to support the show financially, simply visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels


22 Mar 2022

Rank #9

Podcast cover

Brennan Wertz - Gravel Racer for Pinarello Scuderia

This week we sit down with rising gravel racing star, Brennan Wertz from the Pinarello Scuderia team. Brennan has been tearing up the Northern California gravel scene in early 2022 with wins at the Grasshopper and Shasta Gravel Hugger. Episode sponsor: The Feed Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Brennan Wertz - Pinarello [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. Let me start this week with a question. Did you come to gravel, cycling from another sport? This week's guest certainly did. Brendan worked, spent his high school and collegiate years at the front end of another pack. The USA rowing pack. Brendan road for the national team, as well as Stanford university. But injury led him back to cycling a sport. He discovered in his youth here in the town of mill valley, California. We're going to dive into his background and what's led this pro to be at the front end of the field in 2022. Before we jump into this week, shall I wanted to extend a big, thank you. And welcome to the feed. A new sponsor here on the gravel ride podcast. I've been enjoying getting to know the team over in colorado from the feed and have been really impressed by their commitment to bring together not only products but education around this idea of human performance. Today. I wanted to talk to you in particular about one category of product, their feed formula. As you know, on the podcast, I've been kind of investigating through my own lens. The idea of nutrition and performance and what I need as I've aged as an athlete. The team at the feed has been working with Dr. Kevin Sprouse. Who's the head of medicine for ETF education for cycling team. In their athlete, daily formula, they've designed a supplement. That's the right combination of micronutrients that can offset decline in energy production. Help avoid burnout and speed up next day recovery. What I found super cool about the product that in addition to the base product, you can have optional ad-ons. So, if you're looking for additional immunity or more joint support, you can add those into the packets. Regardless of what you add into the package. We're not talking about a hundred bottles sitting on yourselves. The feed formula is delivered in customizable. Many sleeves. So each morning you pick one of them out. You rip it open and it's got all the supplements organized for you in one simple place [00:02:27] Craig Dalton: The feed is running a special offer on the feed formula. Right now, you can get your first order at 50% off. By simply visiting the feed.com/the gravel ride. Again that's the feed.com/the gravel ride for special 50% off your first order of feed formula. With that business behind us, let's jump right in to this week's interview. brennan, welcome to the show. Thank you so much [00:02:53] Brennan Wertz: for having me. It's good to be [00:02:54] Craig Dalton: here. It's a rare instance that I've got someone in my home in mill valley. So I'm stoked to have this conversation face to face. [00:03:00] Brennan Wertz: Yeah, me too. No, it's a, it's a real pleasure. [00:03:02] Craig Dalton: We always jump into the conversation by learning a little bit about your background. So growing up in mill valley, when did you discover the bike and where did it go to from the. [00:03:12] Brennan Wertz: Uh, really early on, it was a vehicle that I use to get to. And from school, just down the road here, I went to tan valley elementary school. And I would ride with my parents when I was first getting started and, you know, kindergarten or the early days ride to and from school. And then later on in elementary school, it just became more of a fun toy, something that I could go out and explore with and go with my friends out in the Headlands. You know, rip around Mount Tam on our mountain bikes. So, uh, pretty quickly I got into mountain biking, more descent oriented, I would say I would go and do Downieville with some friends every once in a while, and even went and did some of the downhill. Shuttle access riding at north star one. [00:03:49] Craig Dalton: Nice. Did they have the Tam high school mountain bike program at that [00:03:52] Brennan Wertz: point? They did. Once I got into high school, it was when I was I kind of got swept into rowing and that required my full-time focus. [00:03:59] Craig Dalton: How did that happen? I'm super curious to dig into your rowing career, because I think as I mentioned to you before I've met so many rowers that came into cycling and with this huge engine. So I'm just curious to dig in a little bit that, so your freshmen in high school, it sounds like you started. How did that come to pass? I think of rowing as like a European or east coast sport. So out here in the west coast, how did you get drawn into. Yeah. [00:04:22] Brennan Wertz: I think a lot of people have that traditional view of the sport being very much like east coast, Ivy league or in, you know, England and in central Europe. But the west coast has produced a lot of really high quality rowing talent. There are a lot of top schools on the west coast here. I went to Stanford. That was a good brewing program. And then there was university of Washington and Cal Berkeley both had very, very good programs. And I think a lot of it just has to do with the climate. You know, it's the same with riding a bike around here. We can train all year round with rowing. We didn't have to deal with frozen water. So, I think that gives the west coast a big leg up on, on its competition and on the, you know, the, the school. Uh, east but more specifically how I got into it. I, my parents were both rowers in college. My dad grew up here in Morin as well. Uh, and he wrote for what was Redwood high school back in the day when he was there. And it's now the Marine rowing association. So I rode there and in high school they introduced me to the sport. They definitely. Pressure me to get into rowing. But they just introduced it to me. And they were actually kind of hesitant for me to get into rowing because it's not the best spectator sport travel, these odd places for this weird, you know, oblong body of water to go and do these races that, I mean, it's kind of like watching a road race. You're standing on the side of the road or on the side of the lake and boom, the race goes by and in an instant it's over. So, but they were encouraging and I went and, and tried out my freshman year and quickly found some success and found that the mountain bike riding that I had been doing in the years prior had help set myself up for some success there with a lot of leg strength and leg power and just generally good cardio. And so that was kind of a smooth transition. Like I said earlier, the, the mountain biking I was doing was much more descent oriented. And so I had to kind of put that to the side because I knew the two didn't really compliment each other. I was going out on the weekends and riding my mountain bike and you're trying to do more jumps and just rip down single track. And that wasn't really providing me the cardio benefit that I needed for training for rowing. And it was more of just a risky, fun hobby. So. But that to the side and hung the bike up in the garage for a number of years, what is it [00:06:28] Craig Dalton: like when, when you get into the sport of rowing what are the workouts look like and how long are the events that you would typically train for? [00:06:37] Brennan Wertz: The events vary by season? So in the fall, the races are five kilometers long, which is roughly 18 to 20 minute effort. And then in the spring, And that's usually kind of like a time trial where you're racing against the clock and you start on roughly 30 minutes staggers or sorry, 30 seconds staggers in the spring. You're racing six boats across head to head and it's a 2000 meter, two K race. And that's about five and a half minutes. And so it's. Really a VO two effort. It's really intense. It's just that horrible combination of an extended sprint, basically where you're sprinting out of the gate. And then you settle into your rhythm for a few minutes and then you're sprinting again at the end. And you're just red line the whole time. So to prepare for that, you spend the winter and fall kind of building your base similar to how you would for cycling, where you're just doing longer, steady state rows. And you're you know, just getting the heart rate in that kind of mid tier zone. And then later in the winter, you start building the intensity in and working that VO two engine a little bit more. And then as you get into the spring, then it's just sort of fine tuning. But I would say that there's also a really, you know, it's a huge, it's a really important team swore like the team element is huge in the, in the sport of rowing. Not only is the training really important, but also the comradery, but then the technique like matching with your teammates and really being on the same page as you go through the motion of the rowing stroke, you have to be really in synchronized motion for it to click and for it to [00:08:02] Craig Dalton: work. Yeah. I've heard that technicality of rowing is just really important. Like you've got to have good technique. You can have all the power on the. And if you don't have synchronicity with your teammates, it's a complete disaster. Yeah, exactly. So going into, you know, what would an endurance rowing workout look like? Is that like sort of, you know, we think about you probably go out for six hour rides routinely when you were training for rowing, would endurance be an hour long, workout, [00:08:26] Brennan Wertz: more maybe 90 minutes, two hours. So often what we do, uh, when I was at Stanford, what we would do is we'd go out on the bay in the morning when the water was calm and we'd do maybe two hours on the water we'd mix in some interval. The nature of the bay is that we had this kind of channel that we would run as a shipping channel in the port of Redwood city, similar to in high school, we wrote in the, of an air Creek. And so you have this. Two kilometer stretch of water. And so you can't ever really get a super long effort in because you're turning the boat. And so you have to stop and turn the 60 foot boat around in the body of water. And so it takes a minute or two to spend the boat. So you can't really get that super long, extended, steady state effort in unless the water is extremely calm. But I did spend one summer in Hanover, New Hampshire training with the national team there, and that. An amazing place to train in the summer because we're on the Connecticut river and you could go as far as you want it. So we would just take off and head north for an hour and then spin once and then come all the way back down. And so then it was really, it was really eye opening for me to see the physical benefit you get from that kind of like real long endurance. So to come back around, I guess I would say that the morning sessions were usually on the water. And then in the afternoon we would do a land session that was either. Some, not usually a ton of weightlifting, but some combination of like indoor bike and rowing machine and just kind of cardio and cardio and or fitness testing. [00:09:49] Craig Dalton: Cool. Thanks for allowing me to drill into that. Cause as I said, you know, knowing rowers always come out strong now it makes sense. There's a lot of work that goes into it. So you were competing at a pretty high level with USA rowing at the end of your career. What led to you kind of leading the sport of rowing and coming back to the sport of cycling. [00:10:06] Brennan Wertz: Yeah, most recently I was on the U 23 national team in 2018 and we spent the summer, uh, first the selection camp for the national team was held in Seattle. So we were training in Seattle. Uh, once I made the cut for the national team, then we spent that summer, uh, traveling around Europe racing. We went to Raisa elite world cup. Uh, we were the U 23 national team, but we were racing up at the elite level at the world cup in Switzerland. We raised that, and that was when I started to have some really challenging rib pain and back pain. So ribbon back injuries are quite common in rowing and effectively. What it is is your ribs are separating and kind of stress fracturing through the rowing motion. Just that repeated motion over and over again. And it was on my front and back, and it just caused a ton of pain. And, uh, it was really difficult for me to sleep or laugh or cough or sneeze, any of those, those things cause a lot of discomfort. And so from there, I, we had a training camp after we were in Switzerland at the world company, Italy for 10 days, we went on the training camp and I couldn't row it all that entire time. And so that was meant to be our final tune-up before we had to Poland for world. And I was basically sidelined that entire time and riding this indoor spin bike and the eight man boat was going out with seven guys and there was just like, I could see them out on the water rowing and there's just this one empty spot. That was where I was supposed to be sitting. Or they would have an assistant coach fill in who hadn't been rowing in two years. So yeah, it was kind of a grim situation and I had to just patch it together and I had a lot of KT tape and, you know, daily, or, you know, I was meeting with. The team, physical therapist, multiple times a day to get massages and get taped up and everything. And so really just hanging on by a thread through the end and went to worlds. We had a great team, the program that we were, uh, Uh, part of that year was a very, very high level, a lot of really talented athletes there. And we ended up coming away with the win at worlds and we set a world best time. So on paper, everything was awesome. But I had even had food poisoning during the event too. So I just kept getting all these, you know, these blows along the way that Just kind of felt like maybe I should take just, you know, take some time on my body, recover from this and heal. And, uh, so I took some time off from the sport and I came back home and was in really good shape, but I wanted to, and I wanted to keep that going. I wanted to remain fit and exercise, but I needed a break from my body from rowing. And so I grabbed my dad's road bike and just started cruising around Moran a little bit. And. Really quickly, you just found the group rides and found the culture and the scene here in Marin, and really loved going out on those rides. And when did a couple of rides and had just come back from winning a world championship, I thought I was, you know, in this amazing fitness and everything had been going, going. Training was good. And then I go on my first couple of group rides and I just get obliterated. I get dropped I'm way out the back. I remember having to almost get off my bike overall. I Alpine down, I'd never really been, been out there and done that loop and had no idea where it was or how much further I had to go. And, uh, it was really humbling and I loved it. I was like, wow, this is just such a cool experience. I get to go out and explore these new places and not to say that rowing training isn't inherently fun. I dunno, maybe it isn't where the act of riding the bike is just, it's inherently so much fun and it just brings so much joy and you're out seeing these beautiful places. And for me, that really quickly. Pulled me into the sport. So that was, was that 2018? That was, yeah, that was like fall of 2018. [00:13:28] Craig Dalton: And at some point you must've had to come to the conclusion that your body or your mind, or you just didn't want to do rowing anymore. Was it, was it the body that kind of was telling you, you can't go back to the sport? [00:13:40] Brennan Wertz: Yeah. Yeah, it was, it was the body for sure. But then I also had an insert. I'll have this other voice in my hair. Like, Hey, look like this alternative is also awesome. Like it's not like you're just walking away from something. Cause I think if I had just left the sport wrong and then had done nothing, it would have been really hard, but I had this other option that was amazing. And I was really enjoying. And at that point in time, the bike wasn't something new to me. I knew I knew the bike. I had come to appreciate it. I spent, you know, early in, earlier in college I spent a summer living in Germany doing an internship and I brought a mountain bike with me and I took the summer completely off from rowing and. That was the first summer where I rode the bike consistently and actually thought I was training on my bike and I'd go out and I'd just ride. It was a cross country bike. And I would rip through this, uh, German mountain range in central Germany, near Frankfurt and tons of single track and beautiful gravel roads. Uh, I wasn't racing at all. I wasn't really looking at any numbers. I had Strava on my iPhone. But I wouldn't really, I wasn't geeking out on numbers or data or time or anything. I would just go out and ride and really enjoyed it. And I had the opportunity to load my bike up a couple of times and go on these bike packing adventures that summer. And so that I knew at that time, I was not in a position where I could just walk away from rowing. Cause I, uh, I was on a scholarship at Stanford. I knew that I, you know, I wanted to go and sort of see that through. And that was my main sport at the time. But I did always have in the back of my mind, like, Hey, that's summer in Germany, you know, that bike packing trip through the black forest. Like that was pretty amazing. So, kind of the inverse of a lot of people have a lot of people come into to cycling and gravel racing. You know, it's very common to see people come from the world tour from pro road, racing into gravel and into this adventure side of cycling. But for me, it was actually that's really what got me into cycling and just riding a bike at all in the first place was, was that adventure cycling. Sleeping in my hammock, in the woods and packing all my belongings onto my bike and then riding on to the next town. And so anyway, that was always in the back of my mind. And then when I, when I had the time sort of the forced time from that injury, then it just became this, you know, it became much more realistic for me to focus more on, on the bike. I [00:15:42] Craig Dalton: ended up joining the local powerhouse team Mike's bikes eventually, and did a fair, fairly heavy season on the road to pre pandemic. Is that kind of the way it played out? [00:15:53] Brennan Wertz: Yeah, I spent that whole summer or that whole, the whole spring seasoned racing as much as I could. I was just totally in love with it. I wanted to get as much experience as possible and then. I made it from CalFire Volvo to cat too. And it was just really enjoying the road scene and decided I wanted to try to go and race in Belgium, uh, just because that seemed like really cool cultural scene. They love cycling there. There's tons of racing opportunity and I just wanted to go there and see if I could make it and see if I could kind of make the cut and figure it out. Unfortunately, got hit by a car the first week I was in Europe for that summer. Uh, and so I was sidelined for that summer and I didn't get to race at all. That was in 2019. But then when I returned in the. The fall of 2019, I had sort of had a year of like, all right, this is, I really, I'm still loving this. I still really want to focus on the bike. And that was when I got bumped up from the Mike's bikes development team to the elite team and decided I would continue to focus on road cycling, kind of going into what became the pandemic year. [00:16:48] Craig Dalton: And I believe they gave you a little bit of leeway to try some gravel racing, [00:16:53] Brennan Wertz: right? Yeah. Yeah. So they, they were, you know, Creative team. It's a creative bunch of guys and they all like riding gravel too. And they, you know, they saw the potential there with a lot of these events. And so they supported me to go to a couple of different gravel events and I went and did BWR with them. And so, you know, now last year in 2021, I had this awesome opportunity to go attend a few of these big gravel events, both with Mike's bikes. And then also with above category where I had started working. And then that's really. What got my feet wet in the gravel scene in the gravel racing scene, I guess I'd had a gravel bike for a couple of years, or, yeah, I guess a year, two years at that point. So living in Murren, there's an, there's an awesome amount of gravel riding. It's kind of everywhere. It's really easy to access. So I'd been riding a lot of gravel, but I'd never really done an erasing. And so then I had that opportunity to go do attend some of these races and then just totally fell in love with it. [00:17:43] Craig Dalton: And as you looked into this season and I presume at some point you had to make a decision, do I want to stay on the road? You know, continue with the Mike's bike squad or look for another deal. Obviously, domestic road racing has its own challenges economically. What was your mindset in terms of choosing the gravel route? And how'd you come to that decision? [00:18:02] Brennan Wertz: Yeah, I think last year I had a really amazing learning experience and that the month of June, I spread myself way too thin. I started the month off with Unbound and that was my first big high-profile gravel race. And we built. A very, very specific custom mosaic gravel bike for that event with above category. And I really enjoyed going through the process of designing this bike specifically for this one event and, and specking it out with all these amazing components. And that was when I really began to see the power of building these relationships with sponsors and working with partners that you really value as an athlete, and that the brands really value as an athlete. And that there's this really awesome mutual. Respect for one another and understanding that like, Hey, we're going to do something really cool together with this project. And so we put together this amazing bike. I had the opportunity to go out and race. I had a blast building the bike. I had a blast at the event. I ended up getting a 10th there and that results sort of opened up some doors to go to a few other events throughout the summer [00:19:00] Craig Dalton: under the MC spikes flag at [00:19:01] Brennan Wertz: that point still for the most part under the Mike spikes flag, that specific event at Unbound I did as a marketing project with the both category. And then later on in the summer, I did Steamboat again with above category, but for the most part, yeah, all my other races, it was with my bikes. Gotcha. You had to come back to that month of June. I did Unbound. And then right after Unbound, I went to pro road nationals and race status about 10 days after finishing Unbound, I was on the start line at pro road nationals in the time trial. And that was an event that I've been preparing pretty specifically for. So I had this sort of weird split in my training where I was doing these epic long endurance rides, going up into Sonoma, Napa riding in the heat to train specifically for the Unbound effort. But I was also during the week doing intervals on my TT by. Knowing that a week after Unbound I'd be racing the pro nationals time trial. And that was a big, I wanted that to be a big focus of mine, the time trial, but just the way that the calendar worked, it, it just, it was too short of a window for me to recover fully from Unbound and then prepare for the time trial. So I can remember what I got. I think I got like 15th or 16th and I was, I was pleased with it, but I knew like I could have done so much better. My power target was 50 Watts under my power target and, uh, at pro nationals. The following weekend, I went and raised elite nationals because Mike's bikes is an elite and amateur elite team. And so we got to race up at the pro road nationals, but then we went to the elite amateur nationals, which is kind of like our national championship at our level. And by that point I felt like I had recovered a little bit more. I made a few minor fit adjustments to my time trial bike felt like I was flying on the TT bike. Uh, ended up getting second in the TT and nationals by I think, two seconds. So a bit frustrating, but I felt like I, you know, I hit my power target, everything kind of clicked and it all, it all worked. But. I still felt like I left that event. Like, I don't know. I just spent these two weeks doing these, these national championships on the road and the racing superintendents, and it's super fun. And it's really awesome to push yourself like that and be in that environment around all these, you know, like a pro road nationals, you're racing next to people. You've watched on TV for a number of years and you're like, oh, I'm right here next to them now. So it's a super cool experience, but you know, I finished those races and it just seemed like it was kind of looking around. They're just everyone just after the race kind of went, did their own thing. They went their own separate ways and no one was really talking to each other. It wasn't, it just didn't seem like all that much fun. I was like, what's going on here? Like, [00:21:20] Craig Dalton: that's your Unbound experience where there's a joy at the finish [00:21:24] Brennan Wertz: line and everybody's celebrating each other and it's this huge party and there's, you know, a barbecue or whatever. And it just, it's, it's a little bit more of a, of an experience. And so then I'd kind of had those two, those two national championship experience. And then to finish June off, I think it was early July. I went down to San Diego for Belgium wall fluoride. And that was, that was kind of the moment when I was like, I think there's something like this, something really attractive here with gravel. And I went and did that race and it felt just as professional as pro road nationals, like we had, there was a caravan, there were cars were taking feeds from the, the follow car. We're getting bottles like everyone's you know, riding very professional. But then afterwards, it's this huge party and everyone's having a good time and you're, you're chatting with sponsors and there's this big expo and there's tons and tons of people. And I just thought like, oh, this is, I think this is much more my speed. And this is really what I'm, what I'm into. I [00:22:20] Craig Dalton: remember watching some of that coverage and seeing a couple of Mike's bikes jerseys. One, that's just fun to see the local team down there, uh, doing it. And two, I was sort of scratching my head. I was like, well, who are these guys? So, you know, it's great full circle to, to kind of have you on the podcast now and talk about that journey. Yeah, [00:22:36] Brennan Wertz: no, that was an amazing moment. And then, and then that really was the turning point. I think for me, where I realized, like, I think there's something here that I need to focus more on and pay more attention to. And at that point then I started looking at. To all the other gravel races throughout the rest of the season, like what can I get entries to? What can I attend? And from there, I got to go to Steamboat and did the rest of the Belgian waffle ride series. And, uh, ended up coming second in the overall for the Belgium Wolf ride series. And just really love the, the, the way that that season unfolded and having the opportunity to go to all those races. It was really, uh, really a privilege. Yeah, that's awesome. [00:23:09] Craig Dalton: So it sounds like, like 20, 22 this year defining your own schedule. Can you talk. One that the team and organization that's supporting you this year, and then two, let's talk about, you know, your first month of racing this year and all the big events you've hit and the successes you've been having, it's been great to watch. [00:23:27] Brennan Wertz: Yeah. So I signed with Pinarello to be a part of their scooter Rhea Pinarello team. It's an amazing team. Uh, a couple of different, uh, kind of a couple different focuses. Like there I'm part of the, it's like the competitive side of it. And so me and my teammate, Brayden Lang, we're going to be taking on all the biggest gravel races around the world. I have a packed calendar with races, both in the U S as well as internationally. And then some of the, uh, the other teammates that we have they're there. Community leaders they're really active in their communities. They're inspiring people to get on their bikes. And what I really love about the team is that it's a super supportive atmosphere, similar to what I had back in my rowing days, because there's this whole like gravel, private tier scene. I think it can be a little bit lonely from time to time. Like you're, you don't have a team network around you. You don't have that kind of base that I've become really accustomed to and really love. And so. Having that network of teammates around me that are supporting me and motivating me and inspiring me with all the stuff that I'm doing and then, you know, vice versa, they're inspiring and motivating their community. Uh, I think that it's just a really cool combination, so I'm really happy to be a part of. [00:24:33] Craig Dalton: Are they handling some logistics? Like if you go to Unbound, are they kind of getting a team house together [00:24:38] Brennan Wertz: and that kind of stuff? Yeah. Yeah. There's some of that as well. Which is nice. I mean, in the race itself, like we won't be doing any like teen tactics or anything like that. Like it's not that type of team, but it's, it's this really cool collective of individuals that are all. Coming into the sport of gravel for various reasons and are looking to achieve different things in the store and looking to but like at the core of it, the team motto is to motivate and inspire. And so it's just trying to get more people on bikes and more people to come in and see the joy that we're all experiencing while out on our bikes and want to be a part of it. [00:25:08] Craig Dalton: Just something I'm curious about in that team, is everybody riding the same equipment or do you. Other sub sponsors, uh, personally to the [00:25:16] Brennan Wertz: table. Yes. So everybody's riding a Pinarello frame. And then from there, we kind of, it's up to us. Figuring out how we want to spec it out and, and you know, what relationships we might have to, to kind of fill out the rest of the bike. So for me, for my bikes for my growl bikes specifically, it's the Pinarello Greville or Graebel and I'm working with envy and ceramic speed, and this is all kind of done through above category as well. So that's another one of my main sponsors local shop here. In Marin county and they're taking care of all the builds, making sure that the bikes are always super dialed and I'll take my bikes there to Robert, the mechanic for service. But yeah, envy wheels, ceramic speed for all the bearings. Uh, I've got Garmin for all the, the data and the analytics and everything, uh, Ceram road components for everything, uh, Rene her's tires. So yeah, it's really. Special build. And it's been really fun to be a part of the process of putting together all those various sponsorships and, and building this incredible bike that I get to now spend the season racing [00:26:13] Craig Dalton: in the show notes for a picture of your bike, as it is a beauty. Top end across the board. It's real. It's just a beautiful machine to look at for sure. [00:26:22] Brennan Wertz: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Very feeling, very fortunate to have the opportunity to ride such an incredible machine. [00:26:27] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So you've, you've come out in 2022, just smashing, not only like super busy and hitting a lot of races, but having amazing success thus far. Remember, as we were trying to schedule this, it's kind of like I'm racing every weekend. I have like a kind of two day window between traveling to the next thing. So you've done some grasshopper. Want to grass opera this year already. And just this past weekend you won the Shasta gravel hugger. [00:26:53] Brennan Wertz: Yeah. Yeah. It's been really, really fun to get out and hit these early season races hard. And you know, I've, I've been very blessed with incredible weather all winter, and it's been sad from an environmental standpoint that we haven't got the rain that we really need. In terms of training and preparing for the race season, it has been, it has been really, you know, the weather has been incredible for that. So I've been riding a ton and just really excited to come, come into a big season ahead. I think this next weekend, I'm going out to Oklahoma for mid south, and then I'll take a little. Mid-season break. So we'll take a few days off and just rest and reset and talk to my coach. Kind of look, look at the plan, assess where we are, and then begin to build up to some of the bigger races later in the season. Like the Belgium waffle rides and, and Unbound. [00:27:37] Craig Dalton: Well, yeah, you know, it's interesting having talked to you and learned a little bit more specifically about your background specifically, that focus on time trials that you had kind of as a, as a road race. Watching some of the imagery come across social media. I think both of the events where I've seen you, it's just like Brennan on a time trial, you know, unafraid to just kind of take off and hit it on your own. You want it? Can you talk just a little bit about your mentality in this races and if it's helpful. To kind of talk about the Shasta race specifically, like how it broke down, because I know ultimately you ended up out there with Adam road there. So yeah, just, just curious, like what your mentality is and where you think your strengths are and how you try to break these races up. [00:28:20] Brennan Wertz: Yeah. I think what's been really fun for me in these early races is that if you look at all the courses that I have raised, they've been very, very different. So. Uh, I did a little low gap hopper, which was, it started out with a 20 minute climb and it was an eight or 9% and you've got Pete stepped into there. And so for me, when I look at these early season races, I look at trying to find just this really cool mix of diverse courses so that I can try different things out. And, you know, the effort at each one of these races was so different. And so for me, I know that. Uh, race like the Shasta gravel hugger. That's kinda my, that type of course is sort of more of my bread and butter. It's rolling the elements of that. So like not a ton of climbing. I mean, I can climb when I need to, but it's not my favorite thing to do. You know, living here in Marine county, we've got tons and tons of climbing. You can't really go anywhere without climbing, but I do really love these fast rolling courses, uh, where you can just paddle all day long. So Shasta was very much that, and same with Huff master hopper the week before. And for Shasta specifically, I know, you know, Adam wrote bears was there. I think that was his first race of the season. And I had a ton of really good battles with him last year. And a lot of respect for him. He's, you know, he's definitely at the top of his game. And, uh, he showed up to the start line of it had been snowing the night before and he shows up with no legwarmers, no shoe covers. Some are gloves, short finger gloves, and, you know, I'm bundled up, I'm wearing tights and shoe covers and thermal based layers and hat. And you know, all this warm gear and he's from Canada. He's been riding his fat bike all winter. So I get it like he's, he's been riding in the snow, so it's nothing new for him. I don't have that opportunity. I don't get to ride in the snow all that often, but I kind of, I saw that. I know. Okay. He's probably, he's trying to, he's trying to hit it hard early if he's coming here, dressed like that. And so I was keeping my eye on him and I was actually way in the back of the pack, having a quick chat with Pete stetting about his recent trip to Columbia, and we were just catching up and then the corner of my eyes, see Adam just take off from the front and like Pete and I kind of rolled her eyes, but like really already, you know, this is early in the race. I, I knew exactly when he, when he attacked, like I had to be right there, otherwise he would get away and that could be the end of it right there. So I had to blast up the gutter kind of along the side of this dirt road. And I think we're 20 minutes into the race or something. And, uh, at that point I was able to catch up to him. We had a few people on our wheel for just a brief moment, but then it very quickly became just the two of us. And it was clear that he was, he was there to work and he was there to ride hard. We settled into a rhythm and he's also at a time trial list. That's sort of his background on the road. And basically it was just like, all right, how long you want to rotate for two minutes? All right, let's go. And then just 400 wallets for two minutes and then switch and then do it again. And again and again. And then two hours later, we're still doing it. And it took about two or three hours for us to get any sort of time gap. And then we got a time gap about three minutes, and then, then it started to get a little bit more spicy. There was some attacking and some cat and mouse But I've been doing a lot of training recently where I'd go out and do these five to seven hour rides, really working specifically on the last hour or two and doing all my intervals and the really hard stuff in that last hour, so that, you know, when it comes to that point in the race, that that's what I'm prepared for. And it's very, very different from any of the rowing training I've been doing. You know, you have this basically five-hour warmup to get yourself nice and softened up. Dehydrated and sweaty and everything. And, and then you, you really hit the intervals at the end of the end of the session. So I felt like I had been doing a lot of that in training. So I knew that going into that last hour, I would be in a, in a pretty good place and I was feeling good. So, I knew that the course was changing direction. We were coming out of a long headwind section into more of a crosswind cross tailwind section. And so I attacked him over the crest of a. Got into the descent and I'm a little bit bigger than him. And so I was kinda able to just really put the hammer down on this descent. That was a pretty fast, but a peddling descent. And then once it flattened out, then it was just kind of Tom trial mode and basically put the head down for 40, 45 minutes and ride as hard as I could back to 10. [00:32:16] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Amazing. Congrats on that victory. Thank you. You must feel good. Now going into, I feel like mid south is going to be the big test because obviously. The Northern California seam is the scene is all was cracking this time a year. And for me, I encourage anybody who's interested in seeing who's going to be at the front end of the field to look at those grasshopper results. Because the last few years running the side from the pandemic, you could always see who was coming out and with really good form, going to mid south. Obviously you're going to get athletes from different parts of the country. You know, sort of unofficially one of the bigger openers of the season, how you feeling about that course. There may. It's certainly going to be cold. So you had a little bit of Shasta. It could potentially be more. Are you changing your setup on the bike? You changing how you're thinking about that race? Yeah, [00:33:02] Brennan Wertz: I would say the only thing I'm flirting, the only equipment I'd probably change is going to be my tires. Everything else is going to be the same. And to be honest with you, I haven't even decided what tires I'm going to run. It's kind of one of those things I'm going out there with one setup. I'll probably have my, uh, Renee has 38 C Barlow pass licks on and cross my fingers that it's dry. But yeah, it does look like there's snow on the forecast for Friday. So the day before the race. So we'll see what happens there. I will bring definitely a spare set of novels just in case it does get really nasty and muddy, but I'm crossing my fingers for a fast, dry race. I think that would, that would suit me a little bit better. But with that being said, a crazy mud Fest, it's one of those things where it could be an epic experience. You never know what's going to happen. And I would also embrace that wholeheartedly. [00:33:45] Craig Dalton: I really enjoyed watching. Pace and battle Pete stat know that one year. And it was interesting as someone with a mountain bike background, I saw how Pete was treating his bike versus how paisan was treating his bike. And it just seemed to me that at some point Pete's bike is going to fall apart because he was just not babying it, it wasn't cleaning it in the same way pace and was, and so it was interesting to see, kind of play out in that, in that respect. I do. I mean, I tend to hope for the, all the racers sake that it turns out to be a dry year and hopefully. The snow cold, snow hard pack. And I'll be a fast, fast a day. Cause I think that'll be an interesting race to, yeah, [00:34:23] Brennan Wertz: I'm really excited. I was messaging a little bit earlier today with both pacing and Ted king and we've been talking about, you know, setups and everything and it's going to be a good one. I think, I think a lot of the top contenders are going to be there. It'll be our first big showdown of this, this season. Hi, I couldn't be more excited to be kind of lining up against the top of the whole world's gravel seen at the, yeah. Yeah. [00:34:44] Craig Dalton: It feels like, I mean, obviously last year we had a bunch of races go off, but it didn't feel like with what had happened in 2020 with the pandemic, it didn't feel like it was full throttle and everybody didn't have the same choices and opportunities. And I feel like 20, 22 is a clean slate. Like everybody's getting to where they want to get to the races are going off and it's just going to be. To see all these talented athletes just kind of attacking this. Yeah. [00:35:08] Brennan Wertz: And I think it'll be interesting too, to see like what people have been up to in the off season. Like my off season was very brief. You know, all, I took a month completely off the bike, but then pretty quickly got into riding quite a bit. And then, you know, like I said, we had amazing weather, so I was training a lot. I did the coast ride all the way down to San Diego with Ted king and a bunch of others. And So, yeah, I'm just really curious to see like how everyone's recovered from last season. Cause that season did go pretty long and I think people got really excited and hit it super hard for a long period of time going way late into end of October. And so I'm just super excited to see like where, where everyone's at and get this kind of first, first barometer first opportunity to gauge everyone's form. And, and then, you know, we'll take it from there. [00:35:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah. You mentioned you've, we've got obviously a lot of gravel athletes coming from the world tour who have had long careers and I've come to group. You're kind of at the beginning of your career coming in and charging, how are you intimidated when you get on the line against some of these names that you've, you know, you've seen in the pro tour? [00:36:04] Brennan Wertz: I think I was a little bit last year. But at the same time, like I didn't grow up watching cycling, like I didn't, you know, we'd watch the tour de France every once in a while. And that was cool to see. To be honest, like, I didn't really know who these people were anyway. Like, you know, as I've come into the sport of cycling, I've done my, I feel like I've done my due diligence to watch as much road racing as I can. And I love watching road racing. I love watching the classics, especially. But yeah, I think, I think that's only really become something that I've come to appreciate in the last year or two is. The having the opportunity to align up against these guys that have come from this incredible background in the sport and someone like Lawrence 10 damn. Who's been at the top of the road cycling scene for so many years. And now to get to line up with him at the start line and Unbound or at any of these gravel races is a huge honor. So yeah, I think, yeah, it's it's, it was, I was nervous last year. And now I think I view it really more as an honor, and I'm just excited to get to line up against all these fierce competitor. I have a, have a solid battle. [00:37:03] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It sounds like you're willing to put it on the line for the win no matter who's [00:37:07] Brennan Wertz: there. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And you know, it's, it's also part of the, I think part of the sport, you have to be really focused on, on your equipment, on your own, your own race. Like you can't just go out there and ride as hard as you can for the first hour or two, knowing that you're going to explode and pay the price for that an hour 8, 9, 10, whatever. So you have to. Self-aware you have to know where your fitness is, what you're capable of at that moment in time, and then also manage your bike and your equipment and know that you're not digging yourself into a hole you can't get out of, [00:37:37] Craig Dalton: particularly in these ultra distance races like Unbound, you know, it's a different story, right. You know, I've heard from other pros that, you know, the first 30 miles is super intense and there's a lot of jockeying and then it'll shake out a little bit. It'll settle in and then kind of realizes like, you know, we're going to be on the bike for, I don't know, 10 hours. It's a, there's certain amount of miles. We just need to cover a little more tranquil and just get through it and then we'll attack each other later. [00:38:01] Brennan Wertz: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. It was very much what it was even this past weekend with Adam, you know, there was three hours or two to three hours where we were just working super well together. It was basically a team time trial. We're just rotating knowing that Pete Stetson and a few others are behind chasing and the harder we're riding together. Now just putting us further and further ahead of them. That'll pay off in the long run. So yeah, it's a, it's a really fun way to race a race. You [00:38:23] Craig Dalton: mentioned sort of some of the high points for the rest of your year. And correct me if I'm wrong, you're doing an Unbound and the BWR series. [00:38:29] Brennan Wertz: Yeah. So I decided not to apply for the lifetime grand Prix this year. I'd already kind of set up my calendar. A few of those races didn't quite suit me. And I'm really excited about Steamboat two and coming from C-level I think going up and wanting to prioritize Steamboat is one of my big races for the year, but then doing Leadville the day before, just sort of felt like I'm was probably shooting myself in the foot. So I'm super excited to watch that whole lifetime grand Prix shake out and see, you know, fall out from season, start to end. Yeah. Couldn't be more excited to follow it. But for me, for my calendar, I'll be focusing more on Unbound Steamboat big sugar at the end of the year. And then throughout all that, I'll have the BWR series going as well. So I'll try to do, uh, as well as I can in the overall. They're nice. [00:39:14] Craig Dalton: Well, it sounds like you got an exciting season ahead of you. [00:39:17] Brennan Wertz: Yeah. Yeah. I couldn't be more [00:39:18] Craig Dalton: thrilled. Yeah. That's awesome. Well, thank you. So we're coming by and talking about it. It's great to get connected with you. You know, I'll be rooting from, from the hometown. [00:39:26] Brennan Wertz: Definitely. Thank you so much. Really? It's been a pleasure. Cheers. [00:39:29] Craig Dalton: So that's going to do it for this week's broadcast big. Thanks to Brennan for joining the show and huge thank you to the feed for joining us. Remember to get that 50% off the feed formula. Simply visit the feed.com/the gravel ride. If you're interested in connecting with me or other gravel, cyclists, I encourage you to join the ridership@wwwdottheridership.com. It's our free global cycling community for gravel and adventure. Cyclists. If you're able to support the podcast as a couple easy ways, you can do that. You can visit, buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride for financial contributions. But I'd also just encourage you to share this episode with a friend or one of the earlier episodes. Sharing is a great way to spread the word that along with ratings and reviews are hugely helpful to everything we're doing here at the gravel ride. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels


15 Mar 2022

Rank #10