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.
The Gravel Ride is an exceptional cycling podcast that caters specifically to the gravel riding community. Hosted by Craig Dalton, this podcast offers a wealth of information and insights into all things gravel cycling. As a listener, I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode and appreciate the effort that goes into creating such high-quality content.
One of the best aspects of The Gravel Ride is the range of topics and guests that are featured on the show. Each episode delves deep into various aspects of gravel riding, from gear and equipment reviews to interviews with industry experts and race organizers. This diversity keeps the podcast fresh and interesting, offering something for every type of gravel cyclist. Whether you're a seasoned racer or a beginner just starting out on gravel roads, there's always something to learn from this podcast.
Another standout feature of The Gravel Ride is Craig Dalton's interviewing skills. He has a natural ability to engage with his guests and ask insightful questions that bring out valuable information and perspectives. His passion for gravel riding shines through in every conversation, making it easy for listeners to connect with the topics being discussed. Craig's enthusiasm is infectious, leaving me excited about getting out on my bike after each episode.
While The Gravel Ride excels in many areas, one potential downside is the length of some episodes. While I appreciate the in-depth discussions, there have been times when episodes felt slightly too long and could benefit from more concise editing. However, this is a minor critique in an otherwise outstanding podcast.
In conclusion, The Gravel Ride is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in gravel cycling. Craig Dalton's dedication to providing informative and engaging content has created a podcast that stands above others in its genre. Whether you're seeking advice on gear choices, looking for inspiration through guest interviews, or simply want to stay updated on all things gravel riding, The Gravel Ride delivers consistently excellent episodes that will keep you coming back for more.
This week we welcome Jonathan Hornell-Kennedy from Canada's Framework Bikes. Jonathan is a relative newcomer to the world of bicycle framebuilding, but his background in manufacturing and design supporting the aerospace industry provided him with some unique skills and insights he brings to his craft. Jonathan sheds light on his entry into custom bike building, sharing the evolution of his process. He explains the meticulous method behind the creation of his unique carbon fiber tubes and aluminum lugs. We delve into what makes these bikes versatile on various terrains, and the challenges and decision-making involved in custom builds. Jonathan also touches on the struggles of establishing his brand within the competitive bike industry. The conversation rounds off with discussions about the future of Frameworks. Join us for an insightful conversation, as we delve deeper into the fascinating world of custom bike building. Framework Bikes Instagram Episode sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (Use code: TheGravelRide for free HRM) Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [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. [00:00:25]Craig Dalton (Host): This week on the broadcast. I bring you Jonathan Cornell Kennedy from frameworks out of Canada. You might've heard Jonathan briefly on the podcast. When I did one of my made bicycle show recap shows. I was captivated by his designs at the show as they were relatively unique amongst the field of titanium and steel welded bicycles. I'd been familiar with lugged carbon construction from a number of other builders along the years, but I hadn't seen his particular approach. And after following him on Instagram, which I definitely recommend you do, I became a NABARD with the manufacturing process. So I was excited to have him back on board to learn a little bit more about his history. He's a relative newcomer to the world of bicycling, which I think always yields interesting and innovative approaches to things. That's builders who have been around forever. Might not care to revisit as an approach. . So. I'm excited to have this conversation before we jump in. I do need to thank this week sponsor hammer had, and the hammer had Caru to computer. Maybe you've been thinking about updating your gravel cycling GPS computer. This time of year, the hammer head crew two is the most advanced GPS cycling computer available today. With industry leading mapping navigation and routing capabilities that set it apart for other GPS options, it has free global maps with points of interest included like cafes and campsites. So you can explore with confidence and on the go flexibility. One of the things I always talk about when talking about my hammerhead crew too. Is the ongoing software updates that they ship. You never have to feel left behind from a new feature coming out in the world because the team at hammerhead are always looking to improve. The device, the climber feature is one that I always call out as it notably has this predictive path technology. Which lets you visualize for the upcoming gradient changes in real time, whether without a root loaded. That is something that I particularly lean on when I'm doing. An event in terrain that I don't. I have familiarity with, or I'm on some sort of adventure ride for me. I really just love to see what's ahead of me in the climb. So I can just think about my cadence and effort level. Et cetera. The other big update that I saw come through was around this new e-bike integration, which brings detailed battery usage data right onto this. The display. As the new owner of N E MTB, I'm excited to explore this feature. Because I do have a bit of range anxiety. So having those battery details right in the display unit. By which you can access via a specific persona on the head unit. So I can switch between things I need on an e-bike ride versus things I need on a traditional gravel ride. Anyway, I encourage you to give. The Karoo to a look right now, our listeners can get a free heart rate monitor with the purchase of our hammerhead kuru two. Just visit hammerhead.io right now and use the promo code, the gravel ride at checkout today. This is an exclusive offer for my listeners. So don't forget that promo code, the gravel ride. You'll get a free heart rate monitor with your purchase of our crew to just go to hammerhead.io today at both items to your cart and use that promo code, the gravel ride. With that business behind us, let's jump right in to my conversation with Jonathan. Jonathan. Welcome to the show. I'm excited to have this conversation after we originally connected at the maid show in Portland, Oregon. Super cool. I thought your product was one of the more. Interesting products I saw in the entire show. So I'm stoked to give the listeners a little bit more insight as to your background and what frameworks is all about. [00:04:26]Jonathan: Thanks for saying that. That's nice of you. Um, yeah, it's kind of a tired story at this point. Someone with a passion in bikes and who makes things for a living decides to combine those two of their life and see what happens. [00:04:40]Craig Dalton (Host): Jonathan, where'd you grow up and how did you discover cycling in the first place? [00:04:45]Jonathan: so I'm, uh, native Southern Ontarian, uh, up here in Canada. I was born in Toronto and have lived within a few hours of Toronto my entire life. Um, so, started biking, just, you know, when you're, Parents kind of teach you how to ride a two wheeler kind of thing in the school field. Well, I was probably like six or seven at that point, um, and we moved out of the city when I was seven and into a more, well, we were still in a town, but I would say a more suburban kind of town. So biking around the neighborhoods and going to see your friends and stuff, kind of a little bit of escaping mom and dad's supervision. Uh, and then just started kind of. Like, loosely mountain biking. I had like a giant hardtail for my whole, like, biking career from age 12 to when I left for university. Um, so, you know, go on, jump off of stuff, try and jump over logs, whatever, you know, just being a goof with buddies, and then in university, I, um, that was like, what, early 2000s, um, there was kind of like, the original fixie craze, I feel like [00:05:57]Craig Dalton (Host): It comes in waves [00:05:59]Jonathan: but, so I started riding a fixie. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't know. It's cyclical, I'm sure. Um, so I started riding a fixie then to get around town, and that was the last bike I purchased before I made one for myself, I studied, uh, a somewhat esoteric field of statistics called, like, uh, financial math. So it was taught in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences at the university I went to, so that's like the people who do insurance math. Basically figuring out how much your life insurance policy should cost based on, you know, statistics and market values and things like that. So, um, yeah, so I was at school for quite a while. I, seven years, I think. Um, studying that I have a master's degree in it and then ended up doing nothing with that degree, uh, in practical use, like I should have been working as like a finance math kind of guy, you know, so didn't really [00:07:05]Craig Dalton (Host): And then you had mentioned, you know, you had that fixed gear bike that was the only one you had and the next one was one you built yourself. That's for most of us. That's quite a massive leap and journey. What was going on there? I mean, you had, you develop sort of a passion for the sport of cycling. Was it more the idea of frame building and how did you even begin to acquire the skills to manufacture your first bike? [00:07:30]Jonathan: Yeah, so that, that's maybe where the academic journey ends and then what I've done to earn a living, uh, commenced after that. Um, I, my wife and I own and operate a machine shop and, um, what we started the business with was, um, again, another esoteric thing, uh, pattern making is what it's called. And that's the, the trade that is involved with making the tools that foundries [00:07:58]Craig Dalton (Host): And how did, [00:07:59]Jonathan: castings. [00:08:00]Craig Dalton (Host): I'm curious, Jonathan. So how did, I mean, how did you even see that as an opportunity? Did either of you have, you know, ties into the manufacturing world to begin with? [00:08:10]Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely. So my dad is a mechanical engineer by education, and he owns and operates a company that, um, basically repairs, refurbishes, remakes large industrial pumps. Um So they, they oftentimes begin life as a casting, like a large chunk of, uh, iron or steel or bronze, whatever it might be. So when I was done university and kind of doing a little bit of soul searching, a friend of mine who's a few years older and was sort of, um, not thrilled with the job he had, I would say, or maybe that's not the right way to say it, but was looking for a change, um, He is, uh, he's a civil engineer by training and approached my dad cause he knew he was self employed and said, uh, Hey Pat, what do you think of like going out on my own? Got any ideas? I'm pretty handy guy. And my dad said to him, like, Hey, I think you should look into pattern making. The guys are all old. You really can't go to school to learn that stuff. It's all sort of apprenticeship based and they're kind of phasing out their businesses, you know? Um, so there could be an opportunity there. So Stefan, my friend, and I, um, I took like a night class at a local community college to learn how to do 3D modeling and was kind of pretty handy with SolidWorks. And the modern way of making patterns is to use CNC machines to carve 3D shapes, typically out of like blocks of foam or wood or, uh, tooling board, it's called, which is like a hard plastic. And those objects that you create are what the foundry uses to create their sand molds. So picture like a cast iron frying pan. The way that's made is they melt iron in a pot and they pour it into a mold that's made out of sand and the mold has the shape of the iron, uh, the cast iron frying pan inside of it. So my obligation or sort of the service that we offered was not only to produce the tooling, but I was also. You have to design it to work for the foundry. So, uh, cast iron frying pan is a relatively simple object, but we got, over the years, as my skill set grew, got involved with, um, some relatively complicated castings for, like, world leading Aerospace foundries. And, um, so yeah, Stefan and I ran the business together for about a year, year and a bit. He was living in a different, like he lived in Toronto property. We're in Hamilton, which is about an hour outside. And, um, he had, uh, his first kid in that time. And I was like super hungry to get the business going. And so we were kind of on different paces and there's a little bit of friction that resulted because of that. So we parted ways and then. We're still good friends, but, um, I kind of ran the business on my own and then my wife, Elise, came on, um, as we started to grow a bit, move facilities, and then started to expand more out of just pattern making to do, um, machining as well, which is, a lot of times, foundries have these metal castings that they produce that are relatively intricate shapes that need some more precise operations carried out on them. Um, you could, like, an example might be, like, an engine block in a car or turbocharger, like, objects that people, like, think of more readily than some other things I got involved with. So you've got this object that's relatively crude when it comes out of the foundry, and it might need a bearing put in it or threads added so you could bolt it together. So that, that's an operation that typically happens in some sort of machining setup. So we had this customer base of all these foundries that trusted us to make these relatively complicated things like patterns are, are big, like organic shapes, lots of 3D things that need to be accurate and go together and work. Um, so it was a pretty easy thing for us to say to them, Hey, you know, he trusts us to do this. Would you allow us to machine your castings for you? Like, can we quote on that work? And the idea for us there was, um, kind of more repeat business. The thing about, uh, uh, pattern tool, uh, is you only make one of them. Hopefully the customer is not coming back to you for another one right away, because the idea with a mold or a tool or something of that nature is that it costs a lot of money to make, but it allows you to make a ton of parts. Um, so think of that as like a mold for a carbon fiber frame. It's the same kind of idea. You've got this thing that costs a lot of money is really complicated, but it allows you to put, uh, a basic material into it and get [00:12:39]Craig Dalton (Host): And then you're in your example of like the engine block, they would have pulled something out of the mold that was a bit rough around the edges, maybe not as precise as it needed to be to fit. You would bring it back into your CNC capabilities and really use the tool to, to make precise edges and cuts and shapes around the basic block. [00:13:01]Jonathan: exactly. [00:13:01]Craig Dalton (Host): Gotcha. [00:13:03]Jonathan: Yeah. And like a lot of that stuff would have happened more historically in the, the cycling industry when they used a lot of investment castings for lugs and things like that, or, you know, a lot of that type of product has moved away, like, um, in favor of probably more cost competitive and superior products. Uh, but yeah, like, uh, there would have been a whole bunch of examples. I'm sure old shift levers and things like that die castings [00:13:28]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah, I remember. [00:13:29]Jonathan: um. The, you get a [00:13:31]Craig Dalton (Host): remember in the early days of mountain biking, the wave of CNC machined parts that came out, preferably color anodized that were all the rage at the time. [00:13:41]Jonathan: Yeah. [00:13:42]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. [00:13:43]Jonathan: Yeah. So it's, so that's sort of the, the story on, and then we got involved in injection molding and doing, um, work for the government during COVID to make PCR testing consumables, uh, so that involved like some pretty complicated work in terms of reverse engineering, um, yeah, plastic components, getting a clean room set up, [00:14:05]Craig Dalton (Host): And what was that additional equipment that you invested in at the time? [00:14:09]Jonathan: Yeah. So we were, we got a grant from the government to set it up. Uh, so we had to put some capital into it for sure. That's how it worked, but you know, we felt like we're definitely doing the right thing when North America was kind of running out of those parts. The whole world was running out of them because when, when did like they ever see a demand spike like that in terms of lab consumables, right? So, uh, yeah, we got that up and running and then. worked our butts off for two years to make it all happen. And then that's kind of what I would say gave me the financial [00:14:44]Craig Dalton (Host): So that's that brings us to maybe what 2000 2022. [00:14:48]Jonathan: yeah, honestly, man, the whole pandemic is a blur in sort of timelines. Yeah, I think so. That sounds about right. Um, yeah, I would say July of 2022 is when we shipped our last part, um, to fulfill the order to the government. And, um, yeah, [00:15:06]Craig Dalton (Host): And was there a driver behind you saying like, Oh, I want to make a bike? Had you like increased your cycling during the pandemic? Yeah. [00:15:15]Jonathan: So it's another pandemic story of, I'm sure you remember trying to buy bike stuff. Um, so yeah, the, the, all along, I've been, I've always had a passion for making things, right? Like, using my hands to create an object, like I, like, when I was in school, I worked in, like, fine dining restaurants, like, 40 hours a week. That was kind of my first form of, you know, trading my time for money in terms of making things. Uh, so the, the shop that I've built up over the years, I've got some really nice equipment. I've paid for it all out of cash flow by doing other people's work. And I've always wanted a product line of my own stuff. Um, not that I don't like working with other people and you're certainly exposed to a lot of really interesting and challenging problems to solve when other people are bringing you their stuff. But it's a bit of a, like, you know, everybody's got masters, even when I started making my own product, I've got to sell it now. So that's a whole other thing. But, um, yeah, it's a bit of a, always wanted to make something and I've always been into bikes. So that's why I was saying earlier, kind of combine those two things. And the big push was, um, yeah, just not being able to buy a new bike during the pandemic. I was riding [00:16:28]Craig Dalton (Host): and given the equipment that you had in hand at that time, can you describe the bike that you were able to make? [00:16:35]Jonathan: yeah, well, uh, I had originally thought like I'm watching Cobra frameworks as Or yeah, Cobra frame buildings, YouTube channel, how to weld a bike. And I ordered a bunch of chromoly tubing. I've got welding equipment here and milling machines. So I was like, I'm going to just make myself a bike and that's it, right? Like that's going to be, it'll be very, it'll be a piece of junk because I'm not that good at welding and I've never done one before, but the, it'll be the thing that I made and I'm riding it. And that's cool. Um, and then the tube shot sat on the shelf for like two years. Because it's like, it's not, that's not what I do, right? That's not my, it felt like too fussy. I was going to have to be like sitting at a welding table, filing things. So the bike that I decided to make was, um, a format that is gaining popularity right now with the advent of 3d printing, which is a lugged. construction frame where the lugs are alloy and I'm using carbon fiber tubes. So, um, I had actually originally, like I'm really good at 3d modeling. That's one of my main skill sets. So designing the bike took like a day, less than that. And then I was going to have the lugs printed, like 3d printed, like everyone else is doing. It's a pretty, um, in comparison to CNC machine shops that could produce a part like that. In terms of intricacy, it's relatively easy to find vendors that do 3D printing as a job shopping service. Like, that's kind of the main [00:18:03]Craig Dalton (Host): And are those, are those, uh, 3d printing? Are they printing in titanium or aluminum or both? Okay. [00:18:10]Jonathan: both, there's stainless steels, there's all sorts of alloys coming out, there's different forms of printing. And then we, because we do aerospace work, like we had our aerospace designation working with foundries and machine shops that do that type of stuff. Um, we're involved with some of the like, Canadian leaders in terms of operating that equipment and having those processes validated. So I sent them to the engineers and they said you're not actually going to ride that thing. Are you? I was like, what are you talking about? I was like, yeah, I'm going to write it. And like, well, I don't know if we would like, what do you mean? And that's when I started to like do a bit more research into, um, the metallurgy of 3d prints and would have needed to beef them up more than I thought to get it to work. But the main thing that [00:18:56]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. Cause I often, when I see companies using the 3d printing, it's often. around the rear dropout. They might highlight that they're doing it back there, but I don't recall of anybody doing a head tube, for example, in the 3D printing style. [00:19:11]Jonathan: most head tubes on bikes that are logged with 3D prints, they actually segment a piece of carbon in there, um, in between, or a piece of titanium pipe and weld it at the two ends, because that particular shape might actually exceed the build volume of some printers. It's not that they, cost wise it doesn't make sense, it's that it, you're literally talking about a little microwave oven. [00:19:33]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. [00:19:34]Jonathan: to cram all the lugs into there. Um, and it's the build volume might be like nine, 10 inches cubed. So if you've got a head tube in there, that's, you know, for a taller person, it just won't even fit. So yeah, there was the, the structural element is one thing it can be overcome. The, what floored me was the cost. Um, these guys are like, often engineers are also in gear guys, right? And they're into cars and biking and stuff like that. So a lot of them knew of these brands that are doing it. And they're kind of saying like, uh, I don't know. We can't with our own cost structure on what it costs to operate these machines. And kind of how long it takes to print something. We don't get it. So then I kind of went, okay, you know what? For that amount of money, um, that we're talking just to build myself a bike. I can, I can just take a couple. Blocks of aluminum that I have on the shelf and sacrifice a few days of my life to see if I can machine them Um, so I made myself a fixie that that was the first bike and I just bought Carbon tubes from McMaster car like carbon fiber tube. McMaster car is like, uh, I don't know the Amazon of industrial Ordering so they're they're awesome. They've got everything next day shipping kind of thing. So I got all this stuff and I glued the thing up manually and then I started riding it around, um, around town and going out to group rides, which I hadn't done before. And people started asking questions about it. You know, most bike people are, they pay attention to stuff like that, whether it's a saddle bike they would ever ride themselves. Maybe not the case, but They know, right? And like, everyone's got [00:21:07]Craig Dalton (Host): your bicycles have a very distinct look that is going to get people to ask questions. And for the listener, maybe who hasn't, isn't able to kind of visualize what a lugged construction looks like, you've got the head tube. With a little bit of kind of aluminum coming out for the down tube and the top tube, you've got another lug and bottom bracket set up in a similar fashion. And similarly around the C tube and the rear stay and the carbon fiber tube basically goes inside that aluminum, that lug as we're talking about, and is bonded together in some way to kind of. Create the frame that's somewhat accurate. Jonathan, [00:21:47]Jonathan: I think that's a pretty [00:21:48]Craig Dalton (Host): I've never thought about describing lugs to someone in their ears. Not looking at a picture [00:21:53]Jonathan: Yeah, like, Colagno, Cologno? I don't know how to say the name properly. Like, even their carbon fi Colnago. There you go. They're, they're, uh, Their carbon fiber bikes are logged. So just like there's a step, like most bikes, carbon fiber bikes are made in multiple pieces. They just seen them and sand them and you don't see it because it's under the paint or they might do clear coat [00:22:13]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah, exactly. [00:22:14]Jonathan: wrap or something. But yeah, anyways, there's a bit of a step and it's, yeah. The, and the, and the first bike, I, it's like bright aluminum. I just left it raw. I didn't put any of the, um, kind of plating that we do on the ones you would have seen. And I use like a more old school looking carbon fiber with like the checkered weave. So it's like quite, um, yeah. And it's built like a steel bike, like skinny tubes, like I think inch and an eighth or inch and a quarter down tube. Like, uh, yeah, so it was, so I started riding it around and people were saying like, Hey, you know, like go look at, then they list brands X, Y, and Z. Go look at those guys and what they're charging for a bike. And I thought like, holy cow, like that's, uh, that's, I could do this again and charge less than that and make a pretty good go of it. Um, so that's when I kind of went like, okay, maybe I should try to spend a bit more time not doing it as a one off, but think about how I would build it with the skill set and resources that I have at my disposal and to kind of rethink the construction methodology a bit. So, as much as my bike is like a object at the end, what I'm, what I really focus on when I'm thinking about the bike is, Everything that goes into making it and optimizing the design so that it can produce the best possible result, uh, in a really predictable manner [00:23:36]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. And in riding that first fixed gear bike and using those off the shelf carbon fiber tubes. Did you kind of recognize something in the tubing that left something to be desired? [00:23:47]Jonathan: Um, are you, is this like leading towards why I started making my own tubes? Yeah, um, so yeah, they're, they're roll wrapped, so that's a process where you take sheets of pre pranked cloth and picture like rolling pastry on a rolling pin. You've got a 2D sheet on your table and you roll it over. Um, so you're kind of at the, like, you're constrained to what the fabric itself will allow you to do in terms of laying the fiber in certain orientations and what resin is already in it. Um. So it's, it makes a more limited tube in terms of strength, but honestly, the main motivating factor for me starting to wind the tubes in house was that sourcing stuff in Canada can be problematic for a relatively small economy, you know, and like, there's the border. So every, all these tubes that I had access to were coming out of the States, I'm paying import duties on them. I'm paying in a currency that's worth a lot more than ours. So when I looked at what it was going to cost me to buy a set of tubes from Rockwest, which is what I made the first bunch of bikes with, like I was working with them on the tubing, um, I just thought like, okay, maybe I can, if the whole idea is to try to optimize the process and drive costs down a bit, I thought I got to do this in house, right? Like the, the tubes were costing me a lot more than the aluminum that goes into the bike. And that's like aerospace grade coming from a certified mill with traceability certs. And you know, it's. Good stuff. So, um, then there's the option of like when you're using, or option, that's the wrong word, sorry, there, there's the limitation that when you're buying an off the shelf product, you're constrained to how that is made, right? So the tubes I could have spec'd out to Rockwest, like, Hey, could you make me the tubes with this recipe? And they'd say, yes. But one thing I wanted to maintain, um, as wide open the variable set as possible was like making bikes customizable. Right? So like, say you're talking to a, a frame builder that's using any type of alloy. They're at the mercy of what tubes they can buy. They can't tune beyond that, right? They can maybe squish them a little bit or change the shape of them to get some different bending compliance in them, but the material is what it is. Um, so it, with internalizing the tube manufacturing, I've got a considerable amount of control over making the tubes behave differently. Um, so it looks like a fairly basic bike in profile. It looks kind of as like a classical shape in terms of if you overlaid a welded steel bike over it, they'd almost look the same, right? Like, I use a relatively large down tube, but, um, but I wanted, like, I, I think carbon fiber is an excellent material, but to produce a carbon fiber bike in a traditional sense. Um, you need a mold and then you're not doing custom geometry at that point, right? So I wanted to maintain the ability for every bike to be both custom geometry and have a lot of the benefits of [00:26:42]Craig Dalton (Host): Can you describe what the filament wound carbon fiber, what's that process like? [00:26:47]Jonathan: Yeah, so instead of roll wrapping where you're taking prepreg sheets, um, you have a machine, it's like a CNC machine that I built. Um, that operates like a lathe, so a lathe is where you have a spinning thing on a single axis rotating and something tracing back and forth along it. So, I've got a mandrel that's spinning and I, uh, like a spool of carbon fiber is on this carriage and it goes back and forth and I can basically roll or wind the single strand of carbon fiber onto this tube. So I, I got to do the math again. I did it a few months ago and I forget the number, but I think to make a tube set for a bike, there's like 20, 000 linear feet. that I lay up in a really precise manner. Um, so we build up the tube in layers and we can have different layers for different tubes, different rider thicknesses. And then what the winder allows me to do is put the fiber down in different orientations. So like, I'm not, I don't have to buy prepreg fabric from someone where it's only unidirectional, it's only. 45 or 90. Um, I can go any angle I want and put down as much or as little as I want in certain areas, and that's all done [00:28:00]Craig Dalton (Host): that sort of pastry analysis, uh, comparison you used, is there the equivalent of the rolling pin inside that you remove at the end after it's sort of wound into shape? [00:28:11]Jonathan: yeah. So our, that's where our process is differentiated once again, from people who roll wrap is I don't cure on the mandrel. So most production roll wrapping places or other frame builder, or sorry, um, filament wound tubes, what they do is they have a really precise rod that they wind onto, the mandrel, and then whether it's, you can use, so just to really muddy this a bit more, you can use two forms of fiber to it. You can have prepreg fiber, so it's a single strand with the resin already in it. Or you can do what I'm doing, which is wet winding, where I buy dry spools of fiber, and then I'm mixing my own resin, um, and the fiber gets wetted on the way to the mandrel. Um, both systems require a cure cycle after to set the resin, but with the prepreg toe, you're subjected to the same constraints that prepreg is in terms of, you know, needing to store the stuff in the freezer. It has a shelf life. You've got no say over the resin whatsoever. Um. So for us, I can mix and match the recipe for whatever I want. We use some really high performance resins and that's something that I think, you know, the bike industry doesn't talk a lot about. They talk about the fiber. I've got Toray T1100 in my frame or Ultra High Mod in my frame here, but no one talks about the stuff that actually holds it all together, which is [00:29:28]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. I've never heard of it beyond a technical discussion. [00:29:31]Jonathan: so we spent a lot of time [00:29:32]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. Yeah. I would say, I would say I would encourage the listener while they're listening to this in their earphones to go onto your Instagram account because a lot of this discussion will become more visual. If you start looking through some of the framework bikes, Instagram stories, you'll get sucked into this process and everything Jonathan's saying will come together visually for you. [00:29:54]Jonathan: I appreciate the plug. So I think the question I'm taking a really long time to answer is like, what happens once the fiber is on the rod? Most places, what they do is to get some amount of consolidation is they wrap tape over it once it's on the mandrel. Kind of like wrapping a hockey stick or a golf club grip or a tennis racket or whatever. So they've got an additional head that has what looks like packing tape and they pull on it kind of hard and then try and wrap, wrap it under tension to consolidate that fiber down onto the mandrel. Then that whole thing goes in an oven. Some guys will vacuum bag it depending on what you're doing. So that means they put a big plastic sleeve over it and pull vacuum on the sleeve. So that'll give you, I think it works out to about 14 PSI of consolidation, um, and then, then they have to remove the rod from the carbon fiber once it's cured, pull it out the end, and you're left with your final carbon fiber tube. So what we do that's a little different is, while the fiber is still wet, like the glue, the epoxy glue hasn't set up yet, mandrel, and then I place it into a mold, like a, The mold that has two hemispheres in it. So I slip a bladder inside of it and then, um, expand the fiber into the mold to give it a really accurate shape and much higher consolidation than you can achieve with, um, traditional [00:31:21]Craig Dalton (Host): Interesting. You mentioned you, um, [00:31:24]Jonathan: So that there's, there's a few motivations for that. One is to get like much higher quality product without, because when you're wet winding, um, air and stuff gets worked in. It's really hard to avoid little micro air bubbles and tiny little air bubbles in carbon fiber is what causes the material to break down over time more rapidly. It's if the, if the plastic starts to fatigue, the fibers get overworked and then the thing kind of breaks down. So the higher quality you can make the product coming out of the mold, the longer it's going to last, the better performance you get out of it. The other thing for us is I wanted really accurate. diameter on the outside of the tube because that's how we glue it into the lugs. Um, so if you can imagine the process that I described where you tape the outside of it, you're left with a fairly coarse outer surface on your filament wound tube. So most people have to sand it quite heavily to get it either dimensionally accurate or, you know, looking good. So that's another step I wanted to avoid. Like my whole thing is about trying to minimize the amount of human [00:32:26]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah, I think when many of us look around our garages at the carbon fiber frames, uh, clearly like they, they must've been sanded. And then obviously like the paint and everything gets it smoothed over. So you don't see if anybody's seen like a raw construction of a carbon fiber frame, they look a lot rougher around the edges than the finished painted products do. But in your case, there's nowhere to hide. You know, the, the, the product is everything. [00:32:52]Jonathan: You could, like, like you, what you could do to rectify it, and I think some other builders do need to do this, is like, you've got little pinholes everywhere, you've got little wrinkles in the surface, you lay on a clear coat, you mix up your epoxy, or some other finishing agent, you lay it down, and then you sand it. And then you repeat that process three or four times until you've got something that looks really nice, but it's, you can kind of think of it as like the, the mosquito trapped in amber, you know, there's like, your carbon fiber tube is in there, but you have layers of extra resin and clear coat on the outside to make it look pristine, but there's actually a lot of like little plastic and paint on the [00:33:31]Craig Dalton (Host): So we've given the listener a little bit of an understanding of like the process that you go through and all the, your background as a machine shop first, and why you became suited to kind of create these frames with the process you have today, what is a customer engagement look like, how do they work with you? How do you leverage? All of that customization capability you've just described to create a unique ride property for a customer's bike. [00:33:59]Jonathan: That's a question that I don't have a, I don't think I have a satisfying answer to for most people. I'm, I'm coming to this from an extremely technical background where, like, you have to measure and prove everything and, uh, ride feel is totally subjective. You know, there's no, there's no, um, industry standard guidelines for how you test for ride feel. So people will say to me, Oh, I ride your bike. If you could. talk more, or I'd buy a bike from you if you talk more about how it feels and all these things. So my, I would say my thesis on it is that torsional stiffness is really important. So again, coming back, there's so many layers of like, I could go into techie deep dives on everything, but the, the torsional strength you can get from a filament wound product is like exceptionally high. It's how they make, like, really high performing, um, motorsport driveshafts and stuff like that. So, torsion refers to how much twisting the downtube can handle, basically. Um, that's the main structural element there. Uh, so, if you wanted to make an object that had the same strength as our downtube, and sort of, in terms of torsion, they would be really stiff in all your other dimensions, right? It would be an uncomfortable bike to ride. So, I really focus on, um, like, speed and comfort. I would say, uh, you'd think those things might be at odds with one another, but the efficiencies from sort of the bike, not wanting to twist it, like. Yeah, when you pull on the handlebars and push on the bottom bracket, you're trying to torque the down tube, right? So, I can make that strong enough to resist that, that you're not being inefficient during pedaling or riding and you're gonna corner well. But it, it's not unnecessarily stiff in plane, so you don't get like, uh, a chattery feel when you're going over bumps. So, yeah, but I, I don't like, I don't have an answer that I think is satisfying. I, I, I, Honestly, I was researching this last night, going through like academic literature for what places, like, where do you put accelerometers and strain gauges on a bike to try and figure out ride feel? And there's no, there's no answer. And then even if you, even if I come up with a rigorous testing methodology, I say my bike's a seven. Like, what does that mean to you, Craig, when you're going to buy it? Right. So I think within custom frames, the customer is taking a little bit of a risk. Because they can't go to the showroom floor and try my bike, right? And even if they did try my bike, um, that was built for a different rider, there's no guarantee that the one I make is going to be, you know, I'm not a mind reader and a psychic. I don't know how to translate those things. But, um, for people who are very concerned about that, I don't have a satisfying answer. I don't think I can't tell them I can make you exactly what you want. The things we look at are your weight, your riding style. Um, your preferences in terms of stiffness, like just having a sort of verbal conversation about that, and like describe what you're looking for, your power output, like FTP, things like that. Um, yeah, and [00:36:59]Craig Dalton (Host): the challenge with your process that you can make it overly stiff and it's backing it off to the [00:37:06]Jonathan: Uh, no, I don't, I don't think we'd ever be able to, I, I, I maybe could if I redesign things, but no, we're not going to be like, uh, you know, early 2000s, we feel like riding a board. That's like our, our two profiles in a lot of places are slender, our chainstays are small, they're strong, they're very strong. But, um, you know, I think if, if you're someone who comes from riding like pretty hardcore road bikes or like time trial bikes, our bike is not going to feel, um, too stiff to you. There's no, no, I'm making something that I want to ride for a couple hours and have fun on, and we can stiffen things up for sure if that's what you're looking for. But I. You know, like there's the whole conversation of, um, pedaling efficiency, aero gains, all those types of things. Like I'm not making a type of bike that anyone is going to race on, right? Like people who are racing and are concerned about aero gains and drivetrain efficiency and all that stuff are, they're probably on, they want to be on the BMC or the Canyon or the Factor or whatever other guys are racing on. So for me to try to tailor the bike construction methodology to capture that little bit more of the market, Even if I had a product that met their needs, I don't think I'd have a very easy time selling it because it's not got, you know, it's not what other people are racing. So, um, yeah, I've, I've. Tried to make a bike that is really enjoyable for most people. Like even if you are a serious racer, train on one of our bikes, you're going to have a lot [00:38:33]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So, I mean, just to be clear. So for the would be gravel cyclists looking at one of your gravel frames, what size tire clearance can you get? And do you sort of in your mind say this is sort of a, this is an all around gravel bike. This is going to get it in that sweet spot of you can do almost everything from including racing with it to, you know, your local group ride, gravel rides, et cetera, [00:38:59]Jonathan: Yeah. I think that comes down to what do you define a gravel bike as, right? So we, because everything is custom geometry, I can take it from being basically like a nineties, late eighties mountain bike, um, to. Basically a super fast road bike that you can fit gravel tires on, right? Like it's, I can do the whole spectrum. So I kind of didn't answer this part of the question that you asked about what the customer experience is like. Everything we do is like, I haven't made two bikes that are the same yet. Right. And I'm on a boat. Bike 20 at this point. So we can do all your normal fit stuff. But then again, yeah, the question of tire clearance, drivetrain impingement. Um, I'd say, uh, we would have a tough time stuffing a 50 millimeter tire in with a two by drivetrain with one by no problem. Um, upfront. So we're, uh, classified OEM. I don't know if you're familiar with those. Uh, yeah. The internal shifting hub. So if people like really want huge tire clearance and two by that's like one of the things I can lean on there. Um, but yeah, like I think my, I've made myself, uh, kind of an all road gravel leaning bike and a gravel bike. That's got a really slack head tube and I ride it with 45s on it all the time. Uh, so yeah, we can, we can kind of do whatever you're looking for. I think. Gravel as a segment has a lot more variability than like a road bike, you know, there's fast gravel Um, you know, whatever slack bike packing type gravel. So yeah, we can kind of do Anything really and that that is one of the challenges we have is like, okay I'm telling you about how diverse our system is in terms of its output and we can tune tubes and all this stuff It [00:40:39]Craig Dalton (Host): 100%. Yeah. [00:40:40]Jonathan: For the customer, right? Like they can't, it's, it's, it's too much. So that's why in the new year, I'm working on it right now. We want to offer like pre made geometry essentially at a slightly better price than our customs. We're going to have a couple of geometry tables, um, for, you know, road, all road, gravel, maybe even do two gravels, like the fast gravel and the, but that'll kind of like, which is all road, [00:41:02]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. Yeah. Having gone through my own, uh, custom [00:41:05]Jonathan: And just to kind [00:41:07]Craig Dalton (Host): overwhelmed with choice all of a sudden when someone says they can make you anything all of a sudden, it's hard not to become paralyzed. And it took me a while. And fortunately, I'm surrounded by lots of advisors in this front to help that helped me kind of just narrow down the constraints. Of what I wanted and then kind of work with the frame builder to say, yeah, this makes sense. [00:41:28]Jonathan: yeah. So our, like. Easiest customers, fastest, like, time from first interaction to when the bike is built are people who have commissioned lots of custom bikes already, right? They don't, like, they're not doubting their decision. They know what they're looking for. They know they're fit. Um, so they're not belabouring these decisions of like, oh, what's a 0. 2 degree difference on my head tube gonna do, right? Like, they're, it's To them, it's not a big deal. So that's where it's, someone said it to me at, at made actually is like, Oh, what you want is freedom from choice in terms of like having the, the, the product, you know, take this or leave it, you know, that's, if you want to do the full custom thing, we can do that, but maybe it's easier for you to just cross shop geometry tables on like bike insights. And that's what you, how you want to do it. So I need to kind of make that, um, available for people. So yeah, it is, it is totally overwhelming. And I think it's, so there is no customer interaction for me right now that isn't like one click buy on the website, right? Like I'm, there's a bunch of emails back and forth. There's drawing revisions, there's discussions about what you're looking for, what bikes you currently have, um, and what your goals are for the build. So yeah, it's, it, it's involved. And that's part of the reason for shifting to like sort of the tiered model of like prebuilt at one price. And. Full custom at another price because there's a ton of time involved in custom where I can just like Turn on the CNC machine and make make the size 56 all road and you get your thing a couple weeks later You know, there's [00:43:06]Craig Dalton (Host): You had mentioned in this conversation sort of this journey to becoming part of the bike industry. Is, is there anything that stands out that surprised you? About the way people buy bikes or what it's like being a bicycle manufacturer. [00:43:20]Jonathan: no everything. I'm I'm yeah, we talked about this a bit before we started But yeah, like that's the whole side of it. That's It's a total mystery to me, like I'm, I'm a like tech focused, fact based kind of person and to try to navigate, um, the mind of the consumer amidst all the information they're giving, given from general marketing and you know, what, what's important, what's not, it's, and, and convincing someone that what you're doing is worthwhile. Is really challenging. That's, that's going to be the kind of crux of my success or failure. It's not like, I think we make a good product and I can't guarantee you. Sorry. I think my heater just kicked on in the shop. Did that come [00:44:03]Craig Dalton (Host): No worries. [00:44:04]Jonathan: microphone a bit? Okay. Um, so yeah, like that, that, that's going to be the make or break for me. Can I sell enough bikes to keep it, uh, [00:44:14]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. Yeah. It's, it, [00:44:16]Jonathan: So [00:44:16]Craig Dalton (Host): so interesting [00:44:17]Jonathan: inside the mind. [00:44:18]Craig Dalton (Host): your business over Instagram because you're, you're so, um, open about sharing your manufacturing process and open to engineering debates and discussions with would be commenters on your Instagram stories that I do think, I mean, from an outsider's perspective, Jonathan, I think you, you showcase the quality of your work in those discussions. And you have always shown up in every story that I've, I've watched in our, our previous conversations, you show up as someone who's very thoughtful about the things you're doing. And obviously there are different ways of doing things, but you are clear about why you are doing things the way you are doing that. [00:45:00]Jonathan: Yeah. So that's always been what's worked for me is sort of the behind the scenes, lay it out for what it is. Um, I think what a lot of people have told me in that sort of marketing branding thing is like, you need to take it a step further. You need to not just show what you're doing, but you need to explain why it's good. And that's where I think I draw a little bit of a personal line because it's like, I'm not, I don't want to take it to, I'm telling you what you should think. I want to leave it at let me show you and you decide for yourself and I don't know if [00:45:29]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah, I think, I mean, I think the challenge now just my two senses, um, given the small number of frames you have out there in the world is just getting rider feedback, testimonials, reviews, other people riding bikes that are willing to comment on things like ride quality to kind of bring it all together, because as I just said, like, I do think that you've yeah. You've established through your social accounts that trust in your skill as a manufacturer. Now people are just wanting to see what do people say when they've got one of these underneath them? [00:46:02]Jonathan: Yeah I've had people literally DM me and said like there I've got some review bikes out there with Certain reviewers and I've had people say when so and so writes their review as long as it's not bad. I'm buying a bike It's like okay great I think that's good that you need that little like last bit of confirmation that it's not a crapshoot but Like I'm, I'm over here kind of feeling a little vulnerable to be honest, like you put yourself out there. I'm selling bikes. I don't know what expectations I had in terms of how fast sales would take off. I think, like my wife keeps reminding me, like you've been doing this for a year, like maybe you have unreasonable expectations. Just keep your head down and keep like doing good stuff. So yeah, I think you're right. That'll just take a little bit of time, awareness. [00:46:46]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. And then [00:46:47]Jonathan: Yeah, all those things of [00:46:49]Craig Dalton (Host): would say, and I maybe I've missed this on your account to the degree in which you are writing your own product and out there. Just sharing a little bit of, of your own commentary again, like everybody's going to take it with a, Hey, this is one rider and, you know, maybe it's a very self interested rider's perspective, but I, you always have struck me as someone who's honest. So I'm not thinking you're going to film a video of yourself riding a gravel trail saying this is the fastest bike ever been produced on earth. [00:47:17]Jonathan: so yeah, I might've given, uh, discredited myself already in this conversation in that regard of, I wrote a fixie for the last 20 years, right? Like what's my frame of reference? I've, I've said this to people and they look at me like, Oh my God, this guy must be a total idiot. Where I say like, I'm not a bike guy. Like, I'm a cyclist. I love riding bikes, but I'm not a guy that's reading the magazines every month, seeing what the latest and greatest is, or knowing what the trends are. Like, I'm kind of outside of all of that. So I think, to your question about what are the biggest kind of shocks is, um, yeah, the whole branding, marketing side of it. I was, I really underestimated that. I thought like a good product, a good, well made product is worthy of, um, you know, at least consideration from a buyer, but there's so much information out there, right? There it's overwhelming and it changes [00:48:06]Craig Dalton (Host): hundred percent. I mean, I think what, [00:48:08]Jonathan: me saying, I'm enjoying riding my bike. It's like, yeah, of course I'm going to say like, [00:48:14]Craig Dalton (Host): oh man, well, I mean, this is great. Jonathan, just one final question on like the customer journey. Like if someone was to come to you with a custom project and assume that they kind of are in the know and got to understand the basics of what they want. Once you kind of locked in design back and forth, how long does it take you to produce a bicycle? And are you typically selling a complete bike or just a frame? [00:48:35]Jonathan: so I'll answer the last part of that question first. We do both. Um, I would say. The farther away the bike's getting shipped, the less likely it is that it's a complete, if that makes any sense. Like I'm in Canada, I'm sourcing components here, so our American customers, it might make more sense for them to work with their local shop. To fill out the build and I just send the frames work and handlebars or whatever they're buying down there. Um, local people have bought full builds. I've sent stuff, yeah, internationally as far as Japan more recently, and those are typically frames. So we do both. We do want to know about component, um, compatibility, even if we're not the ones. We're doing the full build, you know, that's an important part of making sure everything works for the customer when they get it. Um, so the way we work is we take a deposit, uh, 500 right now to reserve a spot in the build queue and to kind of do that back and start the discussion on what you're looking for. That deposit's non refundable, but it gets applied to the balance of whatever the build cost comes out to at the end. Um, and from the approval, like some people approve same day. They know exactly what they want. Might go to production later that day or the next morning. Uh, it's, I would say it's typically about a month right now from start to finish to build the bike. Like, it's, there's, it's not a lot of my time, but there's a bunch of steps where you wait in between. The main one being that I send the lugs out for plating for, uh, corrosion resistance and Uh, and that, you know, if I finish them on a Monday, I ship them out a Tuesday or Wednesday, I get them back a week and a half later, uh, in that time I can have made the tubes. So, yeah, it's our lead time right now is about two months. I think we've got some backlog, a small backlog of orders to work through, some review bikes going out and. Yeah, so it's, we're pretty quick, I think, like our, the theoretical throughput on what I can do in a year, uh, on our current equipment is [00:50:41]Craig Dalton (Host): Okay. [00:50:42]Jonathan: 200 bikes. So I don't expect to be selling that many. If I was, [00:50:47]Craig Dalton (Host): Well, we'll get you there in time. Jonathan. I'm good. I'm excited to see this journey ahead of you. [00:50:53]Jonathan: Thanks. [00:50:54]Craig Dalton (Host): Yeah. Cool. Well, I'll put links to everything in the show notes. So people know how to find you again for the listener. Definitely follow the frameworks framework bikes, Instagram account, which I'll link to as well. You can get all the behind the scenes. You're going to want a friend of mine who tipped me off to your brand when we were at Manufacturer's porn, which I think is appropriate. [00:51:15]Jonathan: No, Yeah, the website, uh, it's there. It needs some work. Like I said, we're working on the kind of program for 2024 in terms of the stock sizes. Throwing some more information up there. It's just really it's a placeholder website right now. So definitely needs [00:51:31]Craig Dalton (Host): Right on. Thanks for all the time, Jonathan. [00:51:34]Jonathan: Thank you [00:51:34]Craig Dalton (Host): that's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Jonathan from frameworks for coming on board. And telling us all about his journey and manufacturing process for those beautiful bikes. Additional thanks. Goes out to our friends at hammerhead. For sponsoring the show many times this year, truly appreciate their support as I couldn't do what I do without some of their underwriting. If you were able to support the show, a couple of things you can do for me, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. They really help. With discoverability. Or if you're able to financially contribute to the show, simply visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels.
This week we are joined by Eric Sutter, race director and founder of the Open Range 200k in Kansas. Learn Eric's unexpected journey to becoming a race director and why the southern region of Kansas deserves its own exploration. Open Range 200k Episode sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (use promo code: TheGravelRide for free HRM) Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [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, I'm welcoming Eric Sutter. He's the race director and founder of open range gravel in Kansas . The event takes place in April every year and is going on to its seventh edition in 2024. I'm going to flag this right away. Registrations opening this coming weekend. November 25th after Thanksgiving. So make sure to check it out. If you're interested after hearing. Eric's journey to becoming a gravel race organizer. It's quite a fascinating journey. It's not as someone who started. Riding gravel bikes ages ago. He picked it up after coming into the world of endurance athletics via kayaking. Of all things. I hope you enjoy the conversation, but before we dive in, I do need to thank this week sponsor, hammerhead and the hammerhead crew to. Computer. It's been a minute since I've spoken about the hammerhead crew to computer. It's my daily computer on my gravel bike. I enjoy it. A whole hell of a lot. If you'll pardon my French. It's one of those devices that continues to grow and evolve over time. And I think that's what I like so much about the hammerhead device. I'm getting a software update every few weeks and sometimes it's spot on and something I'm using. And sometimes it's something that I don't know, I need to use. Or would even want to use. For example, it was probably three or four months ago. I got an update around accommodating e-bike features. And since I wasn't an e-bike rider. I didn't have a lot of need for it, but lo and behold, and this is my dirty little secret. I am now the owner of a mountain bike. So I'm excited to explore the features and functionality that I can bring to the crew too. Just to understand battery life of my motor and my battery and make sure I don't get lost out there without the power to come home. Don't worry. I'm still a fan of peddling my bike. I just thought it would be a lot of fun. Getting an E mountain bike. The other thing, as you know, if you've heard me talk about the hammerhead career to you before. I love the elevation and climb feature that they rolled out quite some time ago with the climbing feature, you can see what's ahead of you in any climb that you're approaching, whether you have a map loaded or not. For me, it's really helpful if I'm a new terrain, just understanding am I in for a long grind or is this a shorter climb where I can really push. As we're coming into winter, it's important that the crew too has both touchscreen capabilities. But also physical buttons. So if you've got some heavy duty gloves on, you can still manipulate the device and go to all the screens. You need. Right now our listeners can get a free heart rate monitor with the purchase of our hammerhead crew to simply visit hammerhead.io right now and use the promo code. The gravel ride at checkout. To get yours today. This is an exclusive offer. So don't forget that promo code, the gravel ride. You'll get that free heart rate monitor with the purchase of your career to go to hammerhead.io today. Add both items to your cart and use the promo code, the gravel ride. Would that business behind us let's get right into my conversation with Eric. [00:03:39]Craig Dalton (host): Eric, welcome to the show. Thanks, Craig. Thanks for having me on. I didn't think this was a long time coming, but as we just remembered, this is about three and a half years in the making since our first email exchange. [00:03:52]Eric Sutter: That's right. Yeah. We, uh, we sent a couple of emails back and forth and then I think life just happened and, you know, stuff gets, uh, gets passed on and, and, uh, but it's good to, it's good to be here. Good to finally be on and, uh, and get to talk with you and your, your listeners. [00:04:05]Craig Dalton (host): Right on. Yeah. Shout out to Wade for reconnecting us. Telling me a little bit about your story, which I see you gave me in your 2020 email. So I'm excited to talk about both the OpenRange 200k, but also I think it's important when we talk about events and event organizing, just to hear a little bit about your backstory. So to set the stage, why don't you just let the listener know, where'd you grow up? What'd you do as a kid? How'd you get into endurance athletics? I know there's a lot to this story, so we can take it [00:04:33]Eric Sutter: slowly, bit by bit. Yeah. And feel free to interrupt me at any point to, to dive in more. Um, so I, I grew up in Pratt. Um, it's about a, uh, an hour and a half West of Wichita, which most people were probably familiar with the general area of where Wichita is, uh, in, in South central Kansas. Um, it's a town of about 6, 000 and, um, just a small. Independent, isolated community, um, and so in high school, uh, played sports, played, uh, baseball and football and wrestled. And then, um, yeah, uh, went from there, went to college at Kansas State. Um, I did Army ROTC. And so I knew, I knew at that point, like, going into the Army is what I wanted to do. And, uh, and so did that commissioned, um, and actually, uh, went into aviation. So flew, um, and still currently fly helicopters, uh, for the army. Um, and [00:05:25]Craig Dalton (host): did that initially take you outside of Kansas when you first [00:05:28]Eric Sutter: deployed? Yeah, it did. So, um, and, and I really had, had only lived in the Midwest, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma growing up. And so, uh, my first, uh, first kind of visit outside besides just. You know, uh, having vacation somewhere was, yeah, down to Southern Alabama, yeah, which was kind of a culture shock. So, um, went down there for, for flight training and then, um, I lived in, uh, Tennessee, Kentucky area for, uh, for most of my active duty, duty years. [00:05:57]Craig Dalton (host): Okay. Yeah. I mean, I imagine most of us who haven't been in the military have an understanding that there's a physical fitness component of it. Do you, did the soldiers tend to recreate athletically? Did you tend to? Yeah, [00:06:10]Eric Sutter: yeah, definitely. So for, for aviation, uh, ultimate frisbee is kind of a, the, uh, the sport of choice. Um, okay. We play. So, uh, you know, and some people have like, you know, are, are doing marathons and stuff like that. But, um, you know, and I, I, I tried to keep, keep in shape, uh, it's always been important for me. So, you know, trying to do, um, you know, we have our, our physical fitness tests and everything like that. So, uh, try to be in, in this. [00:06:36]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, so it sounds like probably a little bit of running here and there. Oh yeah, definitely. [00:06:40]Eric Sutter: Ultimate frisbee. [00:06:41]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Where else did the military journey take you? [00:06:46]Eric Sutter: So yeah so, um, you know, Tennessee and Kentucky is where I was stationed, uh, and then did some deployments. So, uh, deployed to Iraq in uh, 2005, 2006. Then went to Afghanistan in 2014, and then another deployment to Kuwait in 2017, 2018. Okay. So yeah. [00:07:02]Craig Dalton (host): And then. Yeah. Go ahead. Then you end up back [00:07:05]Eric Sutter: in Kansas. Yeah. So then, uh, so then ended up back in Kansas and kind of in the middle of that went off active duty and joined the National Guard and in reserves. And so now I'm a reserve pilot. [00:07:15]Craig Dalton (host): Okay, great. Well, first off, thank you for your service. Yeah. And it sounds like along the way you were sort of, as many of us do in our twenties and thirties, kind of Dipping a toe in the water into different sports. Yeah. So what [00:07:29]Eric Sutter: were you doing along the way? Yeah, so Really is when I came off active duty and we moved back to Kansas City. I was looking for something to stay active and I watched the news one night and they were showing these Kayakers that were going across the state of Missouri and I looked at my wife. I was like that that sounds kind of neat You know, I think I think I'd like to do that and again, looking for something to stay active. I was, I was playing, um, uh, ultimate Frisbee with, uh, with a local little club, but I wanted something a little bit more to, to, to, um, really stay, stay involved in something to stay active. So the first year [00:08:06]Craig Dalton (host): of waterways, did you have access to, to kind of learn the sport of kayaking? [00:08:09]Eric Sutter: Yeah. So, um, we've got a couple of lakes around. Um, and so Uh, we'll, uh, we'll do that. And there was a club that, that would meet up. And so I, you know, that's the great thing with like Facebook and, and things like that. It's finding these little clubs and organizations. And so, uh, yeah, I met up, I found a race that was happening. Um, oh man, going back, just thinking about this, like the first race, I think it was 12 miles and it was kind of a show and go. No, you know, no awards or anything like that. Just, you know, bring your boat and let's go, go race them. I had no clue what I was doing. I had no [00:08:47]Craig Dalton (host): idea how long a 12 mile kayak race would take someone. Um, [00:08:51]Eric Sutter: so generally, uh, you know, in our, our kayaks, you should be able to do about, well, five miles an hour. Um, is, is it kind of a moderate to fast pace? Um, seven miles an hour, you're, you're, you're looking at, um, so especially on flat water. Uh, so yeah, so a 12 mile would be, yeah, it'd be about two hours. Gotcha. [00:09:15]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, I've done a little bit of paddling and there's definitely an analogy to pedaling in just in terms of the cadence of your arms and your body and that repetitive motion that every time I've rode or paddled, like it does appeal to me much in the same way riding a bike appeals to [00:09:29]Eric Sutter: me. Right. Yeah. And it's kind of the same thing, you know, you can go to a certain level of exertion, um, and then like your gains just don't go much higher for the amount of energy it takes to go faster. You just hit that, that drag, uh, coefficient and it's, uh, but yeah. [00:09:47]Craig Dalton (host): So it sounds like you got sucked into the sport of kayaking at that point. I [00:09:51]Eric Sutter: did. Yeah. Uh, like I said, the first time it was, I was terrible. Uh, I didn't have any technique. I didn't know what I was doing. Uh, got out there, had this boat that was like 60 pounds, just this heavy plastic boat, um, with a paddle that, you know, was not efficient in the water at all. Um, but what I found was like, the people there were awesome. They were just, you know, they didn't give me a hard time for having a shoot. Plastic, you know, boat or anything like that. And they're all in these, as you'd know, in California, like the surf skis, I mean, these 18, 20 foot long, you know, um, 22 inch wide, uh, sit on top kayaks. And, um, and they just, like I said, they just. And so, but again, what I kind of, what I learned was that, you know, these people are just really good people, um, really great people. And I just, that's, that's probably more of what sucked me into it was just these, these awesome people that I was, I was getting to meet and everything. So, and, and the benefit of staying, staying active. Yeah. [00:10:50]Craig Dalton (host): You know, it's so interesting with endurance athletic and particularly like the more extreme ones, like. Ultra running or something like that. The communities are just like where, what you want, show up, show up with a good attitude. Let's all get this done. And it is so refreshing [00:11:05]Eric Sutter: and inviting. It is. It is. Yeah. I can't say enough. And those, those people still good friends with, with several of them that I've met that first, that first race. And this was 10, 10, 12 years ago now. [00:11:17]Craig Dalton (host): So, so tell me about this event across Missouri. One, I have to ask what Waterway goes all the way across Missouri. So [00:11:24]Eric Sutter: it's the and two, how long is it? Yeah, so it's the, uh, it's the Missouri River. Uh, you start in Kansas City and it, uh, it's a 340 mile race. Um, and that generally takes the fastest, can do it in, um, the mid 30 hours, 36, 35 hours, I think is the. The fastest time, uh, and you benefiting [00:11:46]Craig Dalton (host): from a bit of current a little [00:11:47]Eric Sutter: bit so you can get two, two to three mile an hour, uh, add on to your, your flat water speed at that point. And it, and it varies in different places, um, where other, um, other waterways come in, you know, other, other rivers will, will meet the Missouri, you kind of get a boost and whatnot. So as you get closer to St. Louis, uh, you get a little bit faster. Okay. [00:12:11]Craig Dalton (host): And, you know, with a 35 hour race for the fastest people in the world, you know, many are going 40, 50 hours. I imagine. Are you, what does it look like stopping and refueling? How does that work in a kayak event? Yeah. So [00:12:23]Eric Sutter: every, I'd say. At least every 50 miles is a, is a ramp, a boat ramp on the Missouri river. And so you, um, you have a ground crew and they meet you at each place and they've got, you know, all your, it depends on how you set them up. I mean, mine was my parents. Um, and so I had set up bags and resupply and stuff like that. And they would have some extra water bladders. And so I'd swap, swap out water bladders and swap out, um, you know, my nutrition and put it in a little cooler behind my, my seat and then, uh, and then go on. And so. Yeah, it's, I did it three years, uh, the first year I, I, I was, uh, I was in an outrigger and I DNF'd, uh, that year I made about a hundred and... I think 130 miles and, um, I just had a tremendous, uh, back pain and, um, and just wasn't, wasn't going to work to, to go on. And so I kind of came back after that and figured out, okay, I want to do this a little bit different. So I got a canoe, uh, that was really light, uh, carbon, uh, or I'm sorry, Kevlar, um, Kevlar fiber canoe and did that the second, uh, my second event. Um, And then, um, and the third time I got to a surf ski and did it in a surf ski. Okay. And so that was, was a lot of fun and, uh, and it goes a lot, a lot faster. [00:13:42]Craig Dalton (host): Well, listener will have to forgive me in this detour down to kind of racing, but I just, I just find it fascinating. [00:13:49]Eric Sutter: Well, and it's, you know, it's interesting, uh, being a race director now, like a lot of the things that I. Uh, I, I learned it's from, you know, it's from the kayak world and go into different kayak races, uh, things I wanted to do and things I, you know, I wanted to make sure that we, we didn't do. And so, um, so yeah, it's, it, it played a role into the creation of. And of what I do and the race. [00:14:14]Craig Dalton (host): Interesting. So at some point, do you wind down your kayaking career, or are you [00:14:19]Eric Sutter: still doing that? No, I, I wound it down. Um, I think I own, I own a, a paddle still and a life jacket, but I don't have any boats anymore. Um, and so I tried doing both for awhile and I just found, like, I wasn't, I wasn't doing anything in the kayaking side. Um, and the long distance kayaking. It really takes a toll on your ground crew and my parents don't live local. Um, and I was, I was using my, my wife's father. Um, and they're just, you know, they're, they're getting older and it's just, it wasn't fair to them to, uh, have to, uh, have them help me out. And, and, um, and my parents would help on the MR 340 that I went across Missouri. And, uh, yeah, it was just getting to be to where that long distance was, was. Kind of a struggle for, for getting a crew to help me out. Yeah, it makes [00:15:09]Craig Dalton (host): sense at this point in the podcast. I don't think we've mentioned a bicycle once. When did bicycles, when did bicycles and gravel riding come into your [00:15:19]Eric Sutter: life? Yeah. So that's an interesting story too. Like you said, we got all these different little, uh, uh, tidbits that, that, uh, spider webs or however you want to call them. Um, but, uh, in 20. See, in 2017, I was getting ready for a deployment to Kuwait. Um, I, I, I knew I wasn't gonna be able to kayak in Kuwait and I was kind of looking for another challenge and I started getting into running. I did a half marathon in April, uh, of that year and, uh, thought, well, this is, you know, I really liked it. And, and equipment wise, you know, running just requires your shoes. And, um, and so I thought this was. This would be kind of a neat, uh, neat sport to get into. Uh, and I think it was May, May or June of that year. Um, I was running and injured my knee and I, I don't know what happened. I had an MRI done on it. Uh, it was kind of inconclusive, but it was enough to where, um, I knew that running was now not, not a good choice for me to continue on doing if I wanted to walk, uh, later, so. Uh, so I kind of hung that up and then as I got into Kuwait, uh, got involved with a site, they had a cycling class there. So I got involved with, with cycling, um, overseas and, uh, I've had some friends that did, um, dirty Kansas at the time and, um, talked with them. And I kind of looked and I was like, man, this, this, this looks like fun. Like this could be the sport I get into next and didn't need necessarily didn't need a ground crew to. Uh, to shuttle my, uh, nutrition from one spot to another. I can carry it on me or on the bike or have a, you know, aid station. And so, uh, so then I just kind of got the bug and got interested in looking at different gravel races and, and I knew. I knew based on just a little bit of watching and the friends that I knew that did gravel, um, like my personality wasn't a road, road type, um, you know, it wasn't necessarily mountain bike type, but like the gravel seemed to resonate with, with my personality and the stuff I had done before with the kayaking. [00:17:22]Craig Dalton (host): Were you able to acquire a bike while you were in Kuwait or did you have to wait till you came [00:17:26]Eric Sutter: back home? Yeah. So in Kuwait, um, they have a program over there where. Uh, we could rent a bike over there. Um, they were nothing, they were nothing special. They were Mongoose, um, you know, Walmart, uh, kind of mountain bikes, full suspension, you know, but it was something and it, uh, at least got me back into cycling. Uh, and I wrote that thing, I mean, I probably wrote it more than anyone else, uh, around there. I wrote it when it was 120 degrees out and, uh, and whatnot. Um, and it was kind of interesting because as the idea for, for open range was, was kind of festering in my head. Um, and I knew it was sandy out in, in, uh, around Pratt. Um, of course, I'm in Kuwait, which is a big desert. So I would test the bike on different types of sand there and like, okay, yeah, you can do this. And so, yeah, it was, uh, it's kind of an interesting go with that. But yeah, they do have bikes over there and was able to get miles in there. [00:18:26]Craig Dalton (host): When you came back to the States, did you get your first proper [00:18:29]Eric Sutter: gravel bike? I did. And in fact, I ordered it while I was in Kuwait. Um, I ordered, uh, it was a Diamondback Honjo off of Amazon. It was on, on sale for a really. Really good price with, with pretty decent specs. And so, uh, I had it, uh, delivered, uh, to the house. I just told the wife like, Hey, you're going to get this box. It's going to be, uh, pretty big. Yeah. Just be careful with it, you know, and whatnot. So yeah, so she got it and, uh, had it ready for me when I, when I got home. So, and were you in Kansas city [00:19:01]Craig Dalton (host): at that point? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So you, you come home, you got your, your diamond back finally on a proper gravel bike. Did you sort of immediately start getting into the community and talking to people and figuring out where to ride or did that take a while? [00:19:17]Eric Sutter: Yeah, no, it, it, uh, well, so I guess we should really even back up. Before that. So, um, cause we, I, we can't go on without talking about, without actually starting to talk about open range. If, if that's cool with you, um, because that, that really became, that came first in a way. That's so interesting. [00:19:36]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Walmart, uh, mongoose in the desert and you're thinking about creating a race. [00:19:42]Eric Sutter: Right. So, and even to, to back up even more, um, if, if the, the listeners and the viewers can follow, but, um, while I was kayaking, I wanted to become a race director and set up my own race, uh, kayak race. And so, um, I had an interest and I, I kind of figured out a place to do it, uh, down in Wichita. And I was just, I mean, it was very early on in my, my process for kind of researching it. But, um, but I wanted to, I really felt like I wanted to. Put something together. So then, uh, now fast forward back to Kuwait, uh, as I'm getting into looking at cycling and going to spin class. And I've got this Mongoose mountain bike that I'm, uh, riding all over, over the base. Um, I get this feeling again that, you know, I got this calling that I need to put a, put a race on and it's not going to be a kayak race. It's going to be a bike race. And so I had some time and, and just started researching, uh, gravel bike races and, um, and. Uh, where I'm from in Pratt, just south of there is the, the Gypsum Hills, Medicine Hills or Red Hills. They go by several different names. And uh, I remember when we first came to that area, just how beautiful it was. And so I thought at first that I was just going to put this, it wasn't even going to be a race. It was just going to be me riding from, uh, Pratt where I have some family still. I was going to go down, there's a, uh, a little, uh, bar in a very sleepy town of about maybe 200 people, if that, and, uh, go down there and have a burger, and then, uh, ride back, and that would be about a 60 mile ride, and then it kind of just, one thing led to another, and I was like, well, what if What if, what if we made this a race? What if we made this, you know, a ride down there? People get to see this awesome, uh, area of the country that no one knows about. Um, and so it kind of, one thing led to another and it just, it developed in. And okay, well, what if we did this and what if we did that? Um, and so, yeah, it just, it just blossomed from there. I don't know if you've ever had anything, but it just, it wouldn't leave my mind, uh, for like three or four months. I mean, it just, every waking moment I was thinking about it, I was thinking, okay, what, how can we do this? How do we solve that problem? What do we do for this? And, uh, yeah, I just, I just, it really felt like a calling that like, it would feel weird not to do it, you know, at that point, even though I had never, I'd never been to a gravel race, uh, myself. Uh, it just felt weird. Like if I didn't do this. And if we didn't do it at this point, it was never going to get done. And yeah, if I didn't do it, it just, it was going to feel weird. It's [00:22:22]Craig Dalton (host): fascinating to sort of learn about, and you'll tell us about in the future, like how the event ended up not having the context of. Trying to be an unbound or trying to be a BWR, any of these other things you may have seen or heard about, you had this unique experience with kayak racing and endurance athletics through a totally different filter and came back with this vision for creating the open range. It's super interesting. Yep. [00:22:47]Eric Sutter: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. It's, uh, it, it was, it was interesting the first, you know, the first year and. And I think it went split. I mean, it really had a lot of great comments. Uh, in fact, the timer guy, uh, he, uh, he saw that I was a first time race director and, and, uh, he said later, he's like, yeah, I was, I was really worried because usually first time race directors, you know, don't know what they're doing and I've got to do everything for them. And, and, uh, he's like, you, you had this thing. And, uh, and they'd actually asked later on if I would help out with some, some of their races, uh, stuff like that. But, uh, yeah, it was, you know, not having the, not having been to one, I didn't know, You know, besides doing some research and watching YouTube videos, I didn't, you know, I didn't have anything that I was trying to, to make it. I didn't, you know, road wise or terrain wise, um, everything was open game to me because I wasn't trying to be like another race. So yeah, [00:23:45]Craig Dalton (host): you, before we started recording you, we were talking about the state of Kansas and how different the geography can be as some listeners may be familiar with the Flint Hills where unbound gravel occurs. Maybe take a moment and describe in your own words, how is it different around Pratt compared to what people may have seen around [00:24:06]Eric Sutter: Emporia? Yeah, so, so Pratt, like right around Pratt, it's actually fairly, fairly flat, um, some undulating hills, but as you go south, and it doesn't take long, um, coming out of Pratt. And as you go south, you start getting into the gypsum hills and it starts off a little bit like Emporia, just some nice rolling hills. Um, and then about Medicine Lodge, um, just south of Sun City. Uh, so about 35 miles in, it's just, it's like nothing you've ever seen. It's like, uh, it looks like Arizona, uh, Mars. It's, uh, I've heard, you know, all, all of that. It's, um, it's red dirt, it's mesas and buttes with white gypsum rock. So you've got these colors that are just. Beautiful. I mean, red dirt with white rock and green grass, uh, just, just amazing. And then just the topography, just these steep buttes and bases that are out of nowhere. Uh, just, just an amazing, uh, amazing course. Yeah, that's [00:25:07]Craig Dalton (host): so, it's so unexpected sort of as someone with, with very little to no experience in Kansas and certainly not on the, the dirt roads and more rural areas of Kansas. So for the listener, we've been talking about it. It's sort of. It's on the southern side, the southern tip of, uh, of Kansas and also sort of the western. Is that [00:25:25]Eric Sutter: right? Yeah. If you, [00:25:28]Craig Dalton (host): as the route goes, you're heading towards Oklahoma and then back. [00:25:31]Eric Sutter: Right. Yeah. If you were to take Kansas and, um, and fold it in half, uh, east and west, and that line right there is about where Pratt Medicine Lodge is. And so we are, uh, yeah, basically in, uh, the start of western Kansas, uh, and then, about, uh, we're about. Forty five miles north of the Oklahoma border is where Pratt is. Okay. Gotcha. [00:25:54]Craig Dalton (host): Gotcha. And you were describing the terrain. I mean, obviously like these vistas and buttes and red dirt. Are you on dirt roads? Are you on double track? What's sort of the mixture that you ended up achieving? [00:26:06]Eric Sutter: Yeah, so it's a little of both. several different, uh, types of terrain. Um, Pratt is known for a lot of brick roads. So when you're actually in the town, you start off on a brick road. Um, and there's several brick roads in town. It's kind of a neat, uh, just, you know, I grew up on Main Street and at the time it was a brick highway. Um, but yeah, you start off on brick, you get some asphalt, um, and then you go into some, some dirt. More dirt roads, um, there is some gravel, but a lot of it is, is more of a, a dirt, uh, sand base and, um, yeah, you go down there and then when you get down into, uh, the gypsum hills, we've got, um, permission from some landowners and they let us go on their, uh, their ranches. And so then you've got in, you go into the double track, uh, and sometimes, uh, sometimes it's just cattle trails. Uh, sometimes it's. We're trying to connect areas and, uh, the rancher just mows a swath of grass and you've now got to go through the grass to get to the next spot. So, um, it really is a. It's a unique type of course. Um, there's, you know, we do put some pavement in there, so it's not completely all gravel. Um, but that pavement, I think, helps, uh, helps people a little bit get a break from some of the rougher stuff. But, uh, but it's just a good mixture of Of, uh, pavement and, and dirt roads and just some incredible, I mean, there's, there's almost places where you think you're on a cyclocross course, places where you think you're on a mountain bike course, places where you think you're on a road race and people, places where you think you're on a gravel race. So it's got, it's got something for everyone. Yeah. [00:27:47]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. It's got something for everyone to love and probably something for everybody to hate, depending on their skillset. That's right. [00:27:53]Eric Sutter: Yeah. In fact, somebody once said like. It was like, man, your race is like the great equalizer. Like there's no, like there's no bike or no style that is suited for that rate. Like that is just suited exactly for that. So yeah, I took that as a great compliment. [00:28:10]Craig Dalton (host): As you should. That's awesome. So let's get into some specifics. What are the distances of the [00:28:16]Eric Sutter: events? Yeah. So we've got a 200 K, which is our main, uh, main event. In fact, I was, when I created it, that was the only. Only distance I was gonna do. I didn't care about a shorter distance, just gonna do a 200k. And as I was developing it, I had several people ask me if I would put together a shorter, shorter course that they didn't feel comfortable doing, uh, doing 200 K, uh, or about 126 miles. And they wanted a shorter, uh, shorter version. So, um, we have, uh, I call it the 100 K plus, and it's a 100 K plus because one year somebody got upset because, um, I was calling it the 100 K and it was like 68 or 69 miles. And so they're like, you know, a hundred K, 63 miles, this is 68 miles. So, okay. I'll put a plus on the end of it. [00:29:01]Craig Dalton (host): As someone who watched their odometer in the Leadville 100, click over to 100 and find myself not at the finish line, I definitely resonate with those remarks. [00:29:10]Eric Sutter: Right. No, I did the same thing too when I raced, and so yeah, I get it. [00:29:16]Craig Dalton (host): Um, and is it, is it actually an out and back on the same, same roads? [00:29:21]Eric Sutter: No, so, uh, the 200 is, is almost a complete loop. Um, it, there's very few, uh, roads that you'll be on twice. The, the, the 100 K plus is a kind of like a, a little bit of like a lollipop. So you go out, you make a, a. Fairly good size loop, probably about a 30 or 40 mile loop. And then I get, well, maybe a little bit less, but yeah, 30 mile loop. And then, and then ride kind of the same road route back. And then we also have, Oh, go ahead. Yeah. [00:29:50]Craig Dalton (host): I was going to say there's a third option for how to participate. [00:29:53]Eric Sutter: There is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, so there's the tour. And so, um, that goes on the 200 mile or the 200, excuse me, 200 K course. Uh, but it's. It's split up into two days. And so you ride about 78 miles the first day, uh, camp at a, uh, authentic guest ranch out there. And then, um, and they have, uh, catered, uh, dinner and breakfast for you. And then you, you ride back. And so, yeah, [00:30:19]Craig Dalton (host): it's an option I hadn't really seen before in that same context. There's obviously like the XL version of any given race that you're out there on your own and you're expected to sleep in a ditch. But I really liked, as I was reading the description of the 200k tour, that you go out, you could have dropped your camping gear off, or you could stay in the lodge. Now I'm learning that you can get a nice meal. Yep. That sounds like a great way to spend a weekend. It [00:30:42]Eric Sutter: really is. And I wanted, the purpose of that was I wanted riders. To see, cause, and the reason why I only wanted the 200k course is because that's where the really cool, uh, route is, and the really cool topography, you still get some of it on the, the 100k, don't get me wrong, but the 200k you see quite a bit more, and I knew there were riders that wouldn't feel comfortable in their ability to, to do that all at once, and so by putting this together, Tour together it kind of your own pace. It's non competitive you get to see it and then spend as much time as you want And then and then finish it up the next day. [00:31:20]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah for the 200 K and the 100 K is the Orientation that this is a race and some people are going for it and there wants to be a winner [00:31:29]Eric Sutter: Yeah, definitely on the 200 K that Yeah, we we do podium for that the 100 K I never did a podium for until last year and, uh, and so finally last year, and we'll see if I keep doing that. I mean, I'm most likely we'll keep a podium for the 100k, um, because there are people that were taking it pretty seriously. And so, um, so I felt like it was worth it. Awarding those people, uh, for, for doing that. Yeah. And so, yeah. But yeah, the 200 K is again, the big one. Uh, the 100 k, uh, yeah, we'll still, we'll still give you an award for the top top three male and female, but it's just those, those two categories. Yeah. [00:32:08]Craig Dalton (host): And what year, so 2024. How many additions will we have seen at that point? [00:32:13]Eric Sutter: Yeah, so this will be our seventh year, which is just, yeah, it's just incredible. Um, our, you know, our first year I, I told my wife, I was like, we need. We need about a hundred, I think I counted like a hundred and six people based on, uh, Uh, our, our fees that, you know, to, to kind of break even. And, uh, and I told her, I was like, you know, if we don't get that, um, we'll count this as kind of a learning lesson, you know, uh, you know, some people pay for an MBA, some people pay, you know, for other experiences, um, you know, this will be an experience and this will be a learning experience, uh, whether we have a hundred people, whether we have 50 people or whether we have 300 people. Um, and, and if we have to pay. Pay for that experience. Great. Um, you know, hopefully we can, you know, have a success and, and whatnot. So, um, so yeah, our first year, like I said, I, I, my goal was to get right around a hundred, I think the first day we had like 60 or 70 people registered the first day and it was just like completely blew my mind. I was like, okay, this is interesting. You [00:33:16]Craig Dalton (host): know, that's what I think that is interesting about the Midwest. I think, you know, obviously there's so many passionate cyclists there, so many of them either have done Unbound or can't get into Unbound or are training for Unbound because I think your events a little bit earlier in the year. It's pretty natural that there's just going to be this pent up demand. And if you give riders a good experience, they're going to come back and they're going to tell their [00:33:39]Eric Sutter: friends, right? Yeah, yeah, that's, uh, and we've grown, we've grown every year since then. Um, we've, we held it in 2020 when, um, a lot of races were, we're kind of taking a break that year. Um, and we had to adjust it and that was a learning lesson too. Cause we, uh, you know, the race is at the end of April COVID hit, uh, what about the middle of the end of March? Yeah. So we knew, you know, we had to make a decision pretty quickly, uh, that we're going to have to at least postpone it. Uh, we moved it to June, um, and it's kind of funny if you watch the COVID numbers, like it took this dip right the weekend of the race and then the weekend after it climbed back up. Not, you know, we weren't a super spreader by any means, but, uh, you know, it's just the way it happened. Uh, yeah, [00:34:25]Craig Dalton (host): it's, it's, I think it's so interesting, just the business of event production as well that people tend to forget about. I mean, you look at how much it costs to register, but. On your end, as I know and understand, you know, there's just so much that goes into it from catering to, you know, about podium structure to PA system, to making sure there's safety out there on the course, a sweep aid stations. Like it's definitely to your point, like you, you couldn't start that first race without committing a certain amount of dollars out of your pocket, the unknown, whether you were going to a hundred, more than a hundred people that's joined. [00:35:02]Eric Sutter: Right. And that's what, that's kind of like, I'm, I'm very passionate about like grassroots cause I get it, you know, for the people that are starting races, um, that they're taking a, you know, they're, they're taking a chance on, you know, creating something and, and potentially being out of money, uh, you know, potentially not going how they wanted it to go their first year, uh, learning lessons. Um, so, you know, we, uh, we had a. A local race, uh, in Kansas a couple weekends ago, and I wasn't able to attend it, but, um, I, I, they would hit me up with questions and I would kind of give them some, some help and whatnot. And so it just kind of neat to watch them and then to get, hear the responses that people that went to that race, uh, that absolutely loved it. And so it's like, okay, cool. This is, this is neat. That's [00:35:47]Craig Dalton (host): great. How many people are you hoping to get to the 7th edition of the Open [00:35:51]Eric Sutter: Range? Yeah, so I think 500 is, is our, kind of our sweet spot. Um, we've been, uh, we've been right around there the last couple of years. So, um, yeah, we, we kind of capped it right around 500 and, and kind of hope to get, get to that amount. It's, uh, it works well for the community. We can do more, um, and if we get that. I think if we get that continually, then, you know, we'll look at that, open it some more. But, uh, yeah, we can, that's kind of what we're looking at. [00:36:24]Craig Dalton (host): What day is the race on the [00:36:25]Eric Sutter: weekend? Yeah, it's on a Saturday. Um, and then the tour again would be a, uh, the Friday and Saturday, but yeah, it's Saturday for the majority of the people. Um, yeah, what's great about Pratt is there's a community college there and because of the community college, there's a lot of hotels and decent hotels, uh, too. So, um, there's, yeah, there's always plenty of room, plenty of hotels and, and they're cheap. They don't gouge, um, you know, the riders coming in for open range. Yeah. So, I mean, for under a hundred bucks, you can get it. A decent hotel room. So it works out, works out real well for him. Just to give [00:36:59]Craig Dalton (host): me a sense for, cause obviously 200 K in Kansas might be different than 200 K in California. What are the, you know, what are the fastest men and women tend to finish in? [00:37:08]Eric Sutter: Yeah. So, um, we've had a couple of years where the leaders are, uh, they're riding above a 20 mile an hour average, which is just incredible. Like that is well beyond my ability. Um, I don't, I, I don't get how they do it. I really, because if you see some of our terrain, uh, I mean, you have to dismount. We, in fact, I put a post out today, uh, a reel on Instagram and, um, the leader, you see the, the two, the one of the two, um, they're actually dismounted and running their bikes up of a hill, um, in that, that little reel. And so, uh, yeah, for them to maintain a 20 mile an hour. Um, I'd say the average is probably a 15, 14 to 15, uh, pace, uh, and so, and then we have a, a nine hour, uh, cap on the, the 200 K. [00:37:58]Craig Dalton (host): Gotcha. And are, are people able to ride together in some sections and, you know, ride in a Peloton or does the terrain not allow for that? [00:38:04]Eric Sutter: Yeah. Yeah. In most sections they can. Um, I do caution them because the roads there are sandy, um, that, um, You know, you can hit a sandy spot and then not be going as fast as you were a second ago. And if you're too close, then that can cause some issues with, with some riders. But, um, but by and large, it's, uh, like I said, it's, it's, it's, it's usually a hard packed, uh, sandy, not, not like beach sand the whole, whole way. [00:38:31]Craig Dalton (host): Got it. And then at the completion of the event, what kind of experience do the, uh, participants get to enjoy? [00:38:37]Eric Sutter: Yeah, so we have live music. We've had live music every year. Um, we've got, uh, Aaron Travis Band is a local, uh, he calls it ag rock. So kind of red dirt, but, uh, he's, he's actually a farmer. Um, he lives in a town, the same town that, uh, Martina McBride is from. Uh, and sharing Kansas. And so, um, yeah, he's, he's a great, uh, great asset to have. And he, he gets, uh, several of his friends to come and play. And so they have, um, you know, we usually have live music from, uh, right around noon till, uh, six or seven in the evening. And so, uh, so, and it's right on the finish line. So as the riders are coming up, uh, the brick road, uh, they've got a band there playing, cheering them on people, you know, sitting out watching them come across the finish line. And so, um, they come across the finish line. They get a, a pint glass and a finisher patch for, for finishing. Uh, and then every year we, we change our logo just a little bit. Like we have our, our general logo that we've used from, from year one. Um, and that's kind of our, our standard logo. Uh, but then, uh, we kind of make a tweak every year to, to logo design. And so like the pint glasses are kind of collector's items because, uh, each year is different. Same, same with the t shirt each year. You've got a different design, uh, on the t shirt. Um, and that's one thing I took from back to the kayaking is, uh, uh, the race had a, a, a decal and every year was a different. And so, um, so you always wanted to see the different, and you could look at one and they never have the year on them, but you can look at them like, oh, okay, that was a, you know, a 2012 a year or whatever. So, uh, kind of the same, yeah, same way with us. So, yeah, so, yeah, so they come to the finish line, they've got, uh, we give them a free meal as well, uh, some good old Kansas barbecue and, um, and, uh, they pick up all that stuff and, and have a, have a good old time. [00:40:29]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, sounds amazing. So, I mean, I love how you've described the terrain and the challenges the riders are going to undertake and the different formats you have remind us again the date of the event. When's registration opening up and what's my final question? I can't even remember any, Oh, how, how do people can find you? [00:40:48]Eric Sutter: Yeah. So, uh, so, so registration actually opens up on Saturday. Uh, Saturday is the 25th, uh, for, uh, those that, uh, may be listening to this later of, of November. So, uh, 25th, November at nine central. Um, and we have kind of a, a neat thing where it's a race before the race. So, um. We, uh, we kind of want to have a little competition to see who can be the fastest to register. And if you are the fastest, the fastest male and female that register for the 200k, We actually refund your registration fees, so you get to ride for free. So, uh, I love that. It's, it's kind of neat. Uh, one, it was kind of interesting. One year we had, had a gentleman that, uh, I think for like two years in a row, he was like the number two guy. It was just like, I felt so bad for him. Like, dude, you are so close every year. He just could not crack the, uh, Crack the, the win on that one, but, uh, yeah, so you don't have to be fast on the bike. You just gotta be fast on the keyboard and, uh, you'll get your registration fee, uh, fee comped. I'd love that. I'd love [00:41:50]Craig Dalton (host): that. I'd love to see others figure out how to do that in their registration process. [00:41:54]Eric Sutter: Oh yeah. It's, it's, it's fun. So yeah. So this Saturday, November 25th at nine, uh, nine central, nine a. m. central is our open registration. And then the race itself is April 27th is that Saturday. So if you're doing the tour, of course, that'd be the 26th and 27th, but. [00:42:11]Craig Dalton (host): Okay. Amazing, Eric. Well, thank you for all the information. This conversation was a long time coming, but it was well worth it. The event sounds amazing. I love your story and, uh, I wish you all the best of luck this [00:42:23]Eric Sutter: year. Thanks so much. And yeah, yeah. You can check us out, uh, openrangegravel. com. And that's kind of our handle as well for, uh, Instagram and Facebook is at Open Range Gravel. So perfect. I appreciate you taking the time and, uh, let me kind of tell the story. Of course. [00:42:39]Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Eric for coming on and telling us all about his journey to creating the open range gravel event. I hope you go check it out. He's got some great videos on his website, which will be linked to. In the show notes. Big, thanks to our friends at hammerhead and the hammerhead crew. To remember that promo code for a free heart rate monitor strap is the gravel ride. If you'd like to support the show, please visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride or ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. For those of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving this week. I wish you a great holiday. And here's the finding some dirt onto your wheels.
This week on the pod we welcome Mark O'Leary, founder of Dust Bowl 100 event in Indiana. Learn the backstory and inspiration of the Dust Bowl 100 - a mix of historic landscapes and a balance of festivity and welcoming avenue for fresh gravel riders. Participants are welcomed with a fast and dynamic race course followed by delicious food, live music, and bike aid stations. Expanding rapidly, Dust Bowl 100 aims for nationwide participation with registrations opening January 1st. Website: https://www.dustbowl100.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dustbowl100 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dustbowl100 Episode Sponsor: Dynamic Cyclist (code: TheGravelRide for 15% off) Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [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. [00:00:28]Craig Dalton (host): This week on the podcast. We welcome Marco Leary from the dust bowl. 100 in the Indiana. Got a funny story. One of my oldest cycling buddies, John Grantland. Texted me and asked me if I had ever heard of the Dustbowl 100. At event he'd done before that he had a blast at, I said, no, I hadn't heard of it. As I started digging in, I started to understand this is a really great event in Indiana. So I was super stoked to get mark on board to talk about the event. Super nice guy looks like he creates a really fun event with, um, dynamic and fundraising. So all those great to hear about new gravel and new parts of the country. So I hope you enjoy this episode. Before we jump in, I did want to apologize for the month long break, unexpected break that I took in publishing. It was kind of a combination of things in my life that ended up. Making the podcast difficult to schedule and produce. I got COVID. I had whatever the podcasting equivalent of writer's block is and just couldn't get off the ball and fell behind. And it started to feel like I just couldn't handle everything. That was going in on, in my life. So rather than force it, I decided to kind of forgive myself a little bit, take a step back, take a little bit of time off, but I'm excited to get back in the swing of things. I'm not quite out of the woods in terms of scheduling, but as always, I've got a great backlog of guests that I'm trying to reach out to and find time with. So, anyway, thanks for bearing with me. Look forward to getting back into the swing of things as always, we've got a vast back catalog. Of content you can tap into. If you ever miss my voice. I did need to thank this week. Sponsor, dynamic cyclist. This is always the time of year when I start seriously thinking about stretch. When I start seriously thinking about stretching and strengthening, I guess it's kind of natural. Given the ebb and flow of anybody's cycling season. But every year I say, this is the year I got a buckle down. And honestly it wasn't until I connected with the team at dynamic cyclist. And started doing their 15 minute or so videos on stretching that are focused on the needs of cyclists. That I kinda really crack the code and I need to recommit again this year because I do see a lot of benefit. Certainly if you're riding hard and riding technical terrain, it's just critical to remain limber and it gives your muscles a little bit of break and ease. Something, I think we could all use. So dynamic cyclists has a vast library of content. They've got injury, specific content that you can tap into. So if you've got a knee problem or back problem, they've got specific routines that can help support. Getting limber in those areas that are going to support say your low back, which is my consistent problem. Anyway, check them firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get 15% off a monthly or annual membership. Using the code that gravel ride or by checking the link in the show notes. They also have a free one week trial. So now's the time to give dynamic cyclist a try. Where that business behind us. Let's jump right into my conversation with mark and the Dustbowl 100. Mark, [00:03:53]Craig Dalton (host): welcome to the show. [00:03:54]Mark O'Leary: You're glad to be here, Craig. It's a, it's exciting. I've been a listener to the podcast for a long time and I'm excited to be here to tonight to talk about the dust bowl. [00:04:04]Craig Dalton (host): I love it. And as a introduction to how I discovered the dust bowl, 100, I got a, uh, I got a text message from my long term cycling friend, a guy I used to work in a bike shop with when we were both in college, and he's like, Hey Craig, are you familiar with the Dust Bowl 100? I should probably read it to you. Have you considered interviewing Marco Leary, the founder of the Dust Bowl 100? That race has hit a tipping point where it will be one of the premier events in the country. If you're interested, I'll make the connection. And I was like, that's, that's awesome. [00:04:36]Mark O'Leary: Let's do it. That's really cool. Uh, he sent me a similar message and said, you know, have you heard of the gravel ride podcast? And, uh, I was like, absolutely. I listen to it every week. And he's like, well, I've got a connection there. I'll see if I can get you on. So I was, I was pretty pumped to hear that. Nice. [00:04:54]Craig Dalton (host): Let's start off as we always do. Mark, where'd you grow up and how did you discover cycling as a child? And then later, how did you discover it as a sport to participate in? Yeah. [00:05:05]Mark O'Leary: Okay. Um, I'm a lifelong Hoosier, born and raised in Indiana, um, grew up in Terre Haute, so the west side of the state, um, probably best known as a place where Larry Bird, um, went to college at Indiana State. Um, growing up, um, I've got three brothers, we were all into the, the stick and ball sports, so basketball and football were the big ones to play, um, and I was lucky enough to play basketball, uh, all the way through college. So, um, you know, the bike, um, growing up was, was, you know, something I did for fun. Um, I'd like to ride to my friend's house. Um, I love the exploration aspect of riding the bike, um, just going to find, um, you know, trails in the parks next to our, our neighborhood or, uh, you know, when I got to middle school, riding downtown to get a haircut in high school over the summer, I'd ride my bike into basketball practice, uh, here and there, but the bike was, was never really, uh, cycling was never really a sport that I would consider at that point. It was just more a means to get around and, uh, and, and just, you know, have some fun with friends basically. Um, and then as I said, I played basketball through college, um, with the Hanover college down in Southern Indiana, um, a little division three school on the, on the Ohio river. Um, and at that point, you know, the bike was, I could get to class, um, get across campus a little quicker by hopping on the bike. And, and that was the extent of my riding a bike, uh, in, in college. Yeah, [00:06:34]Craig Dalton (host): I can't imagine as being someone in indiana showing promise in the sport of basketball that anybody was encouraging you to do anything but basketball, [00:06:42]Mark O'Leary: right? That's, that is very true. I mean, indiana is basketball is the sport of indiana. So, um, that was the focus of, you know, I put all my focus into that and yeah, I didn't have, you know, I played football a little bit growing up. And by the time I got to high school, it was fully focused on basketball. So not much time for any other sports or activities. Nice. [00:07:02]Craig Dalton (host): So you, you played, continued playing basketball at the college level. Once you graduated, were you thinking about continuing to play basketball or was it, uh, you know, sort of the end of your career of basketball? [00:07:13]Mark O'Leary: As far as a, you know, competitive being on part of a team, that was the end of my career. Um, But, you know, I played in some men's leagues, some rec leagues after college, um, just try to keep the competitive juices flowing. Um, but, you know, after a year or two, the knees started to hurt a little bit more than they, um, than they had before. Uh, you know, I couldn't jump as high, I couldn't shoot as well as I, as I did in college. It's kind of one of those things like, well, I need to find something else to do. I, you know, I'm still really competitive, but my competitive. Uh, it wasn't getting scratched with how, how my transition of the basketball game was going. So I needed to look for something else. I tried doing some running, but again, the knees didn't enjoy that. So I'm really kind of just fell into the, um, fell into the bike. Um, are you in Indianapolis at that point? Yeah. Yep. So I, after college moved up to the Indianapolis area, I live in Plainfield, so it's a, it's on the west side. It's a west side suburb of Indianapolis, um, right by the airport. And we have a fantastic trail network, uh, rails to trails network here in town. Every single neighborhood is connected by a trail. We have tons of parks that are all connected with the trails and, um, really just got a bike at Walmart to go ride the trails and kind of explore town since, since we were newer to town at that point. And uh, did that for, you know, a month and it was like, you know what, I want to go venture out and get out on some of the county roads around here and see what else is out there. Things I don't see in a car on a day to day basis. You know, I think my first, what I call a long ride was probably 10 miles. I got, you know, five miles at a time and I thought I'd, you know, done a century ride. And I was, I was like, this is awesome. I can't believe all these things I'm seeing that I don't see on a day to day basis. And really from there, uh, I got bit by the bug quick and, um, you know, jumped right into, found some group rides and jumped into, you know, trying to ride faster than doing some training to keep up with the past group. And then jumped into the, you know, racing with, with crits and, um, and some cyclocross, you know, a year or two into writing. So. [00:09:20]Craig Dalton (host): Gotcha. Yeah. I was going to ask you in the Indianapolis scene as, as you got interested in writing. What was the easiest genre of cycling to get into? Was there a big road scene, a crit scene? What kind of was the easiest thing to kind of get that performance side of the sport? Uh, getting excited about it. [00:09:40]Mark O'Leary: So I started around 2011 is when I got into cycling. Um, so at that point. Um, there were still a lot of criteriums and a couple of road races in the Indianapolis area. Um, I tell my friends now, like, you know, they met, they, if they started writing recently, like they missed out on a great crit scene back then. Um, you could, you could raise a crit almost every weekend from April through, um, July or August within, you know, an hour, maybe two hours of Indianapolis. And great. So I, that, that helped me get into the sport again, but that competitive itch, um, And so that was great at that time. We also had a time trial series, um, that took place, um, just one town over from where I live. And, um, that was a five, I think, a five race series on Sunday mornings, um, throughout the summer. So that was another way just to get a quick, easy race in and get that competitive juice flowing. And, um, so I'd say time trials and criteriums were what, you know, initially got me into the competitive side of the sport. [00:10:39]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. There's something to be said for both of those being like an hour long or less events because you can kind of leave your family, go race a race and be home before they're even done with brunch versus, you know, these gravel events we love now you've got to commit to an entire day or you've got to travel. It's a lot more of a production than a crit or a time trial [00:11:02]Mark O'Leary: would be. Yeah, that's exactly right. I love the time trial because it was a Sunday morning at like 7am so I could go there, race, come home, shower, get to church with the family, you know, by 9. 30 in the morning and it was, it was great. So, um, there is something to be said for those short and local races for sure. [00:11:21]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, so, um, again, just naivete around Indianapolis and the riding around there. When did you start to discover gravel cycling and, and, and the off road riding possible around Indianapolis? [00:11:35]Mark O'Leary: Yeah. Um, I would say probably 2014, 2015, I was pretty early into riding gravel, kind of the riding gravel scene around here. Um, you know, at that point, um, I guess. I've always been interested in the outdoors and getting outside, seeing nature and kind of exploring, which I mentioned before. And so finding gravel was my way to kind of do that on the bike. And we've got a couple, uh, rails to trails in the neighboring county, Putnam County, which the Dust Bowl takes place in. Um, there's a rail trail system that's crushed limestone. And so that was my first kind of foray into getting into gravel and just rode that trail a couple of times and got out in the country. Um, over, over the course of time, um, kind of veered off, it would cross some gravel roads. I'd turn down that gravel road and see where it took me. And, um, at that time, you know, there wasn't a big gravel riding or racing scene in Indiana or really anywhere. Um, but there was a bike shop, um, on the Northwest side of Indianapolis that put on a, a week or a monthly gravel ride. They, they call it the most, most inconvenient. Um, weeknight or weeknight ride because it was, you know, 30 or 40 minutes outside of town. Um, it was at a park, but it was my, it was my first group ride gravel experience. And that was, uh, again, a monthly ride that they put on. Um, so that, that was kind of my first step into writing gravel as a group. And then there were a couple of events, a couple of events, um, that gravel events that, uh, you know, were taking place then. Um, I think the, the longest gravel. Longest running gravel event in Indiana, um, is called the Gravel Grovel, and it takes place the weekend after, uh, Thanksgiving every year. So, um, I think that's been going on since 2011, maybe. Um, so, I think 2016, 2017, I participated in that my first time, um, and that takes place in the Hoosier National Forest. So you're out in the middle of nowhere, out in the woods and the hills, um, and then there was a race on the north side of Indianapolis called the Harvest 50, and I believe that started in 2015, it's still going today, um, and that was kind of the first, uh, or the other gravel race that, that, you know, was happening around here. Um, I've participated in every Harvest 50 since it started. Um, and I've been, you know, participating in the Gravel Grovel almost every year as well. So those, those are the two events that got me into it. [00:14:05]Craig Dalton (host): And yet had you traveled out of state to participate in any events? [00:14:10]Mark O'Leary: Uh, no, with, with the young family, um, typically try to do all of my events in the state. Um, that said, you know, recently. Um, I, I went out to Unbound this year, um, participated, did the 200 mile race there. Um, went to Barrier Bay in Michigan this year. Um, went out to Mid South last year, have done some races in, in Illinois, but. Um, outside of those, most of my writing and racing is in Indiana, just, just to keep it close for the family and, you know, not have to spend too much time on the road. [00:14:40]Craig Dalton (host): So, yeah, with a couple of those great Indiana events already being on the calendar, what inspired you to create your own? [00:14:49]Mark O'Leary: Um, I, I think a couple of things is one is just, I was appreciative of those promoters and those events that they'd put on and felt like. You know, putting on my own event was another way to get back to that cycling community and do something that those events have been doing for a while and just give people another option to, um, you know, participate and get that, get out there and explore, see new roads that they wouldn't typically see. Um, and then going back to, you know, I mentioned earlier that there was a great print scene back in 2012, 2013, but over the years it has died out and there's very few events now on the roadside. Yeah, in Indiana. So, um, I also wanted to do something else to get another event on the calendar that, you know, everybody in Indiana can focus on and participate in and kind of create a big, um, you know, at least regional, if not national level of it, um, here in the state of Indiana. So that was. Kind of the the other reason behind [00:15:50]Craig Dalton (host): it and when you when you jumped into planning the first event Had you had any experience planning events like this or exposure to some of the other race? Organizers to understand what you were getting into. Yeah, [00:16:02]Mark O'Leary: just yes. Yes, and no so in college I hope Organize a 5k run for the first time on Hanover's campus. So I had some event, you know, management experience there. My first job out of college, um, was working for an event management company or event, um, merchandise company. Where we would go to events and set up pro shops that, you know, racing events, NFL stadiums, those types of things. So. Um, kind of had the, the event background from, from that career as well. Um, and then, uh, I've been the president of my cycling club here in, in, in Plainfield for a number of years. And as part of that, I would always just put on, you know, grassroots, um, fun weekend events where we'd go, you know, go out for some Strava segments, um, here and there, or we'd go do a race around a park or different things and just kind of had a little bit of experience with that. Um, and then I'd also. You know, as I got into thinking about doing an event, uh, an actual, you know, full scale event, um, I volunteered with a couple of organizations. Um, that put on like charity rides, uh, in the, in the area as well. Just got on there, you know, planning committee. So I can see how those events ran, how those, how, how they did, um, how they did those events and what went into it. So that gave me a good idea of getting into it. Like here's a checklist of things I need to do. To make it a successful event, [00:17:26]Craig Dalton (host): so yeah, interesting, you know, you answered my question, which was, you know, a lot of times event organizers will kind of create a group ride and then it will expand, then it will expand and then it will become an event, but you had done that. It sounds like in a lot of different capacities and taking the time to learn from other organizers. So it sounds like, and don't let me put words in your mouth, but when you decided to go for the Dust Bowl 100. It was going to be a thing, you know, you were going to have to invest capital in it. You were going to have to get sponsors. You were going to have to do a lot more. How did you approach kind of getting the capital together to put a race of this size [00:18:01]Mark O'Leary: together? So um, I think the, maybe the first thing is take a step back is I decided I think it's February of 2020. Um, to put on the dust bowl, I was out riding that day, um, out on some of the roads that we use on the course. And I was like, you know what, I need to just take the step and put on an event and show, you know, everybody these roads, they're worth showing off. Um, and then obviously, you know, a month later COVID hit and, um, that plan to have an event in July of, of, uh, 2020 that year didn't, didn't transpire. Um, but that said. When July of 2020 rolled around, we still had, uh, our restrictions have been lifted a little bit here. Um, so I basically did a, uh, a test run of the Dust Bowl that year with about 30, I think we had 34 participants, mainly teammates and friends, um, put a, a small event out on Facebook and, and had a few other people from the area join, actually had a couple of people from Illinois come over and participate. Um, but that was a real blessing in disguise because Um, I was able to do a test run of the event, get great feedback from the participants is, you know, is the course, how do, how do you like the course, what could be done better, um, just get a feel for how to manage an event. And, uh, and to do that with 34 people was really helpful. Um, and then that gave me, you know, 18 months to, to plan actually for the first event in 2021, the first official event. Okay. And so, you know, going back to the capital question, um, it was, I guess, just a risk. It was, you know, Spending a few thousand dollars of my own money to, you know, set up an LLC to run the event under get the initial permits and, you know, just crossing my fingers that I could get a hundred people to sign up to cover those, you know, to get those fees, uh, those fees back. Right. And, uh, it was able to do that. And then as the time went on, you brought some sponsors on board and all of that. [00:20:03]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Were you, were you able to get sponsors in that first year? [00:20:07]Mark O'Leary: Yeah. Um, I did, I did have a handful of sponsors. I with go contracting. Um, it's a, uh. Concrete company here in Indiana, but they're, they're nationwide. Um, they have a cycling team and I knew their, their president really well. Um, I was, I was blessed to have them come on board as a title sponsor for the, those first two years and provide some capital that we really needed to get the event going and to grow it and to do some of the things that I wanted to do, but couldn't do with just participant entry fees. Um, and then had a few other sponsors come on as well as, um, you know, a few monetary sponsors and then just product sponsors or giveaways or different things. Like, [00:20:46]Craig Dalton (host): yeah, that was one of the cool things in visiting the dustbowl 100. com website, scrolling down to the sponsors. It's not just simply cycling industry sponsors. You've clearly like tapped into the local community and different other types of sponsors, which I just think is cool to see because you, you don't always see that in events. [00:21:08]Mark O'Leary: That's one of those things where I think, you know, a lot of people rely on, and the first instinct is to go to a bike shop or go to somebody in the industry to sponsor the event. But I think if you can draw on some of those outside supporters as well, um, not only does that, you know, benefit the event, but, um, it gets that sponsor's name out there. And then it also just, you know, when, when a spot, when a, when a non endemic sponsor is involved in the event that just, you know, grows the, uh, The interest and the awareness of the event with, you know, the employees of that company, others in the community and stuff as well. So really try to, you know, approach it both ways and make the connections in the bike industry, but also, you know, support the local businesses as well. Yeah. [00:21:55]Craig Dalton (host): Can you paint a picture of what the course of the Dust Bowl 100 or courses looks like? What type of riding is there? You know, it sounds like at this point you've experienced a number of the kind of marquee events around the Midwest and experienced a bunch of different types of gravel. So maybe just give perspective on what are the key features of the ride? How much elevation are we talking? The distances and how would one sort of prepare themselves and their equipment? To come to the dust bowl. [00:22:24]Mark O'Leary: Yeah. So Indiana, um, our gravel here, it's crushed limestone. Indiana is one of the limestone capitals of the country. Um, our limestone, you know, goes, goes into a lot of the monuments in Washington, DC. And, um, so a lot of our roads, they're, they're that crushed limestone, white limestone. Um, our event is aptly named the dust bowl 100, because there is a dust cloud that follows the riders and vehicles on course, um, with that white, that white powder from the, from the gravel. Um, You know, Indiana, uh, most people are going to think it's completely pancake flat, um, in, in cornfields and bean fields and that's it. Um, but I think you'll discover on the Dust Bowl route, we do, we have a good variety of what you will see in Indiana. So there, there are a lot of cornfields and bean fields. It is fairly flat. So we've got three routes, um, 100 miles, 80 miles and 44 miles. And for the a hundred mile route, you'll hit, um, you'll get about 3, 500 feet of climbing, so, um, not much over the course of that, but, but the running joke is, is that we stack all 3, 500 feet in the last like 20 miles of the event, so, um, There's not much there are some flat stretches, but the event it's kind of all rolling There's I mean nothing more than you know, a hundred foot climb, maybe a 200 foot climb But it rolls enough by the end of the day All those little punchy times are going to add up and get to you. So But yeah, the course goes through, you know wide open farm fields that you would expect to see in Indiana But then we go down to some creek valleys Um, that are heavily wooded. We go through some nature preserves that are, um, you know, it gets pretty dark in there in the middle of summer with the tree cover. Um, we've got some climbs coming up out of the creek beds. Um, you know, the route, the hundred mile routes about 60 percent gravel. So, um, you've got that white limestone, um, for that part of it. And then the rest of the roads are primarily chip and seal. So, um, you know, those come at welcome times in the course though. Um, you know. A few people say, you know, I wish you had a little bit more gravel, but there's most people are saying, you know, the intermix chip and sealer pavement. Uh, is a really welcome relief from the, that white limestone that you're getting, getting pressed on all the rest of the race. So it's, it's nice to get, you know, a mile stretch where you're, you can stretch the legs, sit up a little bit and, uh, and then hit the gravel again shortly after that. Yeah. [00:24:49]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. One other thing I love about the descriptions on, on the website is you, you say the number of historic bridges you're going to cross in each length [00:24:59]Mark O'Leary: course. Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. I think the exploration and just the history of everything is, again, something that really appeals to me. And I think the bridges do set the event apart, though. We've got, um, the 100 mile course, it's two covered bridges, um, which are, uh, you know, kind of a focal point of historic Indiana is the covered bridges. Um, and those are always a key thing that the participants like. And then, Um, and then we've got, uh, a number of iron bridges, old metal bridges, um, that we cross as well. Um, and those, those are kind of, kind of cool just to see that, you know, the, the wooden slats that go across them and then the, the rusted out beams go across. And, uh, we've had some, some bridges in the past, um, that are closed down to traffic that we've, um, Been able to go across and, uh, and those are really cool too. Cause it's, again, it's not something you could drive in a car every day, um, to get to go across these bridges. So I don't know, the, the bridges are something that, that I enjoy, you know, finding on, on a route, we actually incorporated it into our car logo. It's one of the. You know, the beams from the, uh, uh, from the bridges. [00:26:07]Craig Dalton (host): So nice. And then the other thing you mentioned are the off road adventure sections. What's, what's the translation of [00:26:14]Mark O'Leary: that? Yeah. So, uh, we have two, two sections that we call the off road adventure section. So one of them, um, is about a mile long section. It goes through some private property. Um, it's an old county road that the county no longer maintains. So it kind of got reverted back to, uh, to the landowners there. And, um, you know, when you get onto, onto the road, you're going, you're, you go onto the road, it's, it's, uh, some broken pavement and then it just gets into some gravel and then you get to the end of it and it looks like it's a dead end, um, it turns to grass, there's some trees overhanging, you can't really see any, you can't see down the trail any, uh, but then the, the science is, you know, go straight here. And you go around a little corner and it opens up into a dirt trail through the woods. Um, kind of a washed out roaded G2 track section. Um, again, not really long, but it's, it's kind of something completely different from the rest of the course that, um, everybody seems to enjoy. It adds a little technicality to it. Um, it'd be fun to add more sections of that, but we just, there's really none that we have the ability to add. Um, and then the, the second adventure section. Um, is, is that the finish? So, um, the only way to get, so the event takes place, um, at eminent schools, um, a high school in the town of eminence. And the only way to get to the school property is, uh, is off of a, uh, is off of a highway or a county highway. And so we don't want to route people back through there, um, at the finish when, you know, they're, they're either exhausted and, or they're racing to the finish and we don't want to blow a stop sign, you know, with the traffic coming through there and stuff. So. Um, the local fire department owns, um, a big area that butts up to the school off one of the county roads. Um, and they have a tractor pull track. Um, they have a large grass area. There's a bridge that crosses a creek that connects to the school. So we basically build a cyclocross course, um, in the last half mile of the event where we wind around on some gravel. We go down the dirt tractor pull track, um, go through the grass, cross a bridge, go around the cross country course of the school, and then finish. They're at the school. So, um, it's just that it's a different finish that I don't think you see at a lot of events. That's a lot [00:28:33]Craig Dalton (host): of fun. When, um, do you describe the event to riders as a ride or a race? What's, what's sort of the tenor, what are you going for? [00:28:45]Mark O'Leary: That's something I always try to balance because yes, I want it to be a race with high caliber racers, um, a fast race. But at the same time, I also want to be completely welcoming to somebody that's brand new to gravel and never, you know, either never participated in a gravel event, never participated in an event at all. Um, so kind of try to balance that and try to share equal parts of, you know, this is a ride. It's also a race. Um, and, uh, I think we've done a pretty good job of that. I think we get a lot of feedback that our course is really welcoming to anybody. You can race it as fast as you want to race it. Um, the winning time this year was four hours and 28 minutes. So, you know, 23 miles an hour fast. Those guys were, were, you know, smashed at the end and they put all they could into it. Um, but it's also welcoming enough that anybody can go out as a first gravel ride, as a first event and feel comfortable in knowing that they can finish that event. Um, our 44 mile course is really popular with, um, with new riders. Um, it's a great way to get into gravel riding or racing and, um, at a. At a distance that, you know, really most people can, can, uh, it's a pretty, uh, friendly course for that. [00:30:01]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. In some ways I'm jealous in, in where I live in Marin County. So difficult to invite new riders into the fold simply because we're always going up and down. You know, we have to do an hour long loop around here. You're probably climbing a thousand feet or 800 feet and that's just not appealing. I think to a lot of new athletes. So the idea of just being able to invite a newer athlete to, to go on an undulating ride Over 44 miles just sounds ideal to bring new people into the sport. [00:30:35]Mark O'Leary: Yeah, it's a, um, you know, one thing that we focused on this year is to increase our women and junior participants, um, kind of with that same idea, you know, make it a welcoming event for people who are in the sport. In 2022 we had 100 women sign up. So we made a goal this year to get 200 women. Um, we got to 195 So we were really close close. Um, and we we more than doubled our junior participants as well So I think it's it's the same thing, you know, kind of the word of mouth and then just promoting that You know, it's it's a it's an event that Um, the course could be as challenging as you want to make it. Yeah. Anybody can complete it. Um, and you can just ride faster if you want to make it harder. So, uh, we are, we are lucky with that. I think it's what's helped the event grow, uh, pretty quickly is, is that reason as well. [00:31:21]Craig Dalton (host): When you think about the men and women who are at the pointy end of the race, the, the Does the terrain sort of suggest that it, it sticks together in kind of a group until those adventure sections start to break it up a little [00:31:33]Mark O'Leary: bit? Yep. Yeah, that's exactly right. The, so the adventure sections and the um, uh, a couple of the creek climbs after the cover bridges. So, um, typically the front pack will stay together until about mile 50. So right about the mid midway point, um, there's a pretty good sized group, and then they hit a downhill section. Into the first covered bridge and then it's a steep climb out of that for about a half a mile And that's where the the winning break has gone every single year so far at least the winning selection where You know, it's either two to two to six riders get away at that point and stay away for the rest of time. So um, you know, I I thought Would like to find a way to split that front group up earlier in the event. Um, make it not quite as as big Um, but there's really limited options and how you can do that with not many significant hills around and yeah, um, and not many other other ways to do that. But, um, I think it makes for a fun and fast event of being able to have a pretty good group. Um, all the way through that first half of the event and then it becomes, you know, uh, a war of attrition at that point. [00:32:40]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. I think there's something interesting about perennial events that sort of have that, that unique moment that the break always goes in this one spot. So like as an aspiring. Athlete, you can, you can kind of prepare for it and you can test your metal and you know where it's going down and may the strongest man or woman win. [00:33:00]Mark O'Leary: Yep. That's exactly right. Um, yeah, I think, I think all of that front group knows that when they get to that, that bridge, they better be towards the front to cross it and be ready to sprint up it as fast as they can. And, um, you'll see some guys that. Know that and then overcook the turn at the bottom going into the bridge because they're, you know, trying to you know just go all out and Misjudge it a little bit I [00:33:23]Craig Dalton (host): was I was watching a couple of your videos and I saw a few people drift off to the side and either have to Kick a leg out or saw one guy kind of in the woods over there So I get it the corners looked a little slick with the limestone [00:33:36]Mark O'Leary: gravel Yeah, we warned them multiple times, the event communications and, you know, right before the race. Hey, you're going to hit a downhill at mile 50 and mile 52, just be careful. But, you know, you get in the, the, um. The nature of just racing and there's going to be people that are going to overcook it no matter what. [00:33:54]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, you bet. Hey, and then at the, at the end of the event, what kind of experience should riders have in their mind? [00:34:01]Mark O'Leary: Yeah. So that's, that's something we've, we've tried to grow and improve upon each year since we started. Um, so, uh, we've always offered a full meal afterwards. We have a catered barbecue. Um, so you get a barbecue sandwich, a sides and chips, a drink. Um, we also have some, some vegan and vegetarian options, um, and then, you know, the, the barbecues, you get an option of pork or, uh, or chicken, so, uh, quite a few meal options afterwards. Um, and then one of our, the favorites of everybody, um, you know, with the event taking place in Indiana in July, it's always, you know, warm, um, 80 to 80 to 90 degrees. And we have a, uh, a snow cone truck that shows up. And, uh, all the participants get a free snow cone, uh, or shave ice after the race. Um, so that, that's always a hit. Um, the last couple of years we've introduced live music afterwards, just trying to, you know, liven up the mood and get people to stick around and watch other people finish. So we've had. Um, a lot of local bands come and play that, uh, that, that play some great music. Um, we've got a, so we've got a stage with them set up, um, went with a pretty big stage this year and did our awards from that as well. Um, and then, you know, one thing we're continually continually trying to grow is like our vendor expo area. So, um, whether it's sponsors or other, uh, businesses that want to come out and set up, uh, you know, a tent and give participants an area to come. Kind of walk around mingle with the vendors after they get done racing as well. Again, trying to just have have that post race atmosphere There and encourage people to stick around and cheer for their friends We do a bike wash. Silica sponsored a bike wash station this year. It's free to all the participants Um, the school offers, uh, showers in their locker rooms for 5. And those, those funds go right back to the school, to their athletic department. So, um, those are really popular, popular as well, just to get cleaned up after that, get that dust off you after the race. Um, so lots of different things, do some giveaways throughout the day. Um, And just really try to make it a fun atmosphere. There's a, there's a playground right there in the vicinity. So it's, it's fun to see, um, you know, families come out as their, as their, you know, spouses or, um, siblings finish the event. You've got some families congregating their kids. My kids love to come out and just run around during the day. Um, it's a, it's a pretty fun atmosphere. [00:36:27]Craig Dalton (host): Nice. And, and let's just talk finally just about the size of the event, how has it grown in participation and are you seeking to continue to grow it? Or do you have caps on how many athletes you can reasonably support? [00:36:40]Mark O'Leary: Yeah. So, um, like I mentioned, the, the first test run year zero that we call it, um, we had 34 participants, um, 2021, we set a cap initially at 250 participants. That was just because of COVID restrictions. Um, and. Uh, was really surprised when we hit that 250 participant, uh, limit just about a month in after registration. So, uh, honestly, we lucked out at that point, you know, there had been no events for a year, year and a half. Everybody was looking for something to do. And we just happened to open registration at a time when there were very few events on the calendar. So I think we got people to, to sign up because of that. Um, the county let us in. Ended up letting us have 400 participants in 2021. So, uh, year, year one was 400 participants, um, went to 600 in 2022 and then went to 800 in 2023. Um, and I've sold out every year. Um, a couple, you know, You may ask, you know, why don't you just open up registration completely? Uh, and there's kind of two reasons for that is, is one is my goal is to make it the best participant experience that I can. And I don't want to just, you know, bring in a thousand or 2000 people and, and, you know, let them loose and not know how it's going to work. So I think. Capping registration, increasing it by 200 or so participants each year has allowed us to grow, manage to grow, make sure we're providing that experience, um, and make improvements each year to be able to bring more people on. Um, and then the, the second thing is, is again, the event takes place in Eminence, Indiana. Um, it's a town of, uh, less than a hundred people. There, there is not a stoplight in town. There's one stop sign in town. Uh, there's a gas station, two churches, a fire department. Um, in a bank, and that's what the town is, is basically made up of along with a few houses. So it is, it is a small town. We love the town. Um, they're fully supportive of it, but you know, even after the first year where you're basically maxing out all of the, uh, the paid parking spots in town, um, the, the, again, the organization has been awesome allowing us to use all their, all their space that we can. Um, the fire department has let us use their grounds and we, we have a lot of grass parking there. So. Uh, it's kind of one of those things too, though. We just want to make sure that we don't, that we can fit in the town each year by, by, you know, increasing registration incrementally. So 2024, uh, the goal is a thousand riders. Um, it'd be pretty cool to hit that a thousand participant mark and, um, you know, the town, we, we, we were able to fit 800 in the town pretty easily this year. So I think a thousand is a manageable number. Um, past that, we'll see, we'll see how next year goes and maybe a thousand is what we stick at, or maybe we continue to grow it. So. That's great. [00:39:27]Craig Dalton (host): Is there a time, a month of the year that you typically open up registration for the event? [00:39:32]Mark O'Leary: Yep. So we've, we've always done a registration on January 1st, the 1st of the year. So, um, I know a lot of events do that and it's, it can be hard on participants knowing there's, there's multiple events that they got to sign up for the 1st of the year. Um, that's what we've done. We plan to do that this year, but we may end up moving that at some point, um, just to get off that 1st date. But yes, for 2024, the plan is, uh, January 1st, that registration will open. Um, and we sold, we sold all 800 spots in 10 days last year. So, um, if anybody's interested in participating, I would say, you know, get on that registration pretty quick, um, to make sure you get into the event. [00:40:10]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Well, we'll make sure they have those links and, you know, going back to John's original text message to me, it's clear that the event will continue to grow from everything you've told me. You've got all the elements of a great event. You're putting the riders first. Sounds like a super fun course and a super fun after party. Amazing kudos for the town high school offering showers. I love that idea. I love the snow cones. So I think you're really onto something, Mark, and I appreciate you coming on and sharing the story with [00:40:38]Mark O'Leary: us. Thanks. Yeah, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to do. And, um, you know, we've had, we've had, uh, riders represented from 31 different states so far. So. Um, I guess I'm going to throw it out there if you're, if you're from the West coast, besides California, if you're from the West coast anywhere, um, if you're from the Dakotas all the way across to Idaho, or if you're from the New England area, um, look us up. We'd love to have you out. We'll guarantee you a spot. If you, if you're from one of those 19 States that hasn't, uh, you know, hasn't been to the event yet. So we'd love to have representation from all 50 States at some point. [00:41:14]Craig Dalton (host): I love it. I think that's a great goal. Thanks [00:41:16]Mark O'Leary: again, Mark. Yes. Thanks, Craig. Appreciate it. [00:41:19]Craig Dalton (host): That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to mark for telling us the story of the dust bowl. 100 and a big shout out to my friend jumping, John Grantlyn. for sending mark my way. If you're interested in supporting the show, please visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride or ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. You'd be surprised at how much it helps others find this content. If you're able to share hopefully a five star review. And as always here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels
Welcome to part 2 of Paris Brest Paris with James Gracey. This episode concludes James's intense 1,200-kilometer ride filled with unexpected obstacles and unexpected friendships. Faced with numerous challenges, from illness to malfunctioning electronics, James's determination powers him through, making his journey a testament to sheer grit. Halfway through, with 600-kilometers still to go, he contemplates quitting but finds encouragement in the unity of fellow riders. Each twist and turn loaded with his physical and mental endurance eventually leads to the finish line. As he crosses it with newfound friends by his side, James's story evolves into not just an adventure, but a celebration of camaraderie and the human spirit. Don't miss out on this extraordinary account of grit and determination that will surely inspire. Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [00:00:00]Craig Dalton (host): 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've got part two of my discussion with James Gracey. And his Perry Brest Paris ride in 2023. If you haven't listened to the episode last week. Press stop or pause. Go back and listen to that episode because we're going to catch up with it halfway through. James is about 600 kilometers into Perry, breast Paris. Uh, 1200 kilometer ride from Paris to the town of Brest in France, back to Paris. Let's jump right in midstream to my conversation with James Gracey. [00:01:02]James Gracey: So the way out [00:01:03]Craig Dalton: to breast is your first 600 kilometers. And this is a distance that you've now done pre once previously before. Yeah, I'm a, this is all you're [00:01:12]James Gracey: ready to go. So [00:01:14]Craig Dalton: did you, did you sleep at all on the first six? I [00:01:16]James Gracey: slept, uh, Lodiak is the, is the 400 K point. It's also where the bag drop point was and so unfortunately one of the gentlemen that is Responsible for san francisco randonneurs. He's he runs the organization Uh, and I think he's affiliated also with rusa He got sick and so he's coming over to do the ride He has gone way out of his way to make sure everybody has what they we took 106 people from san francisco Which is a huge contingent bigger than most And he, his name is Rob Hawks, and he got sick, uh, like to the hospital in the emergency room, sick when he landed. And so he had, uh, he had some hotel rooms in Lodiak that he was, when he realized he's not going to be able to, to utilize them, it was two days before, and I was sick. And so I was up at two in the morning being sick. And I got. noticed that these hotel rooms were available. So, because I was sick, I was like, done. I'll take, I'll take them both. They were both in Lodiak the first night and then the second night coming back. And so I did grab all my gear, my drop bag, go to the hotel, took a shower. And uh, lay down for like two hours. [00:02:39]Craig Dalton: And we, so were you, was it going to work? The math going to work out that you were going to be in the same hotel the next night? [00:02:45]James Gracey: Yeah. I just left my gear. Oh, that's amazing. Yeah. So it saved me a little bit of time. So I didn't have to go check in to get gear. Yeah. It, it didn't work out quite that way because I was so far behind when I returned to Lodiak. I had to go to the hotel, get my gear packet, no shower. I changed kits. And went, uh, and had to go back and drop the bag because they're leaving. The bag drop people are leaving. That's how close we are. And that's one of the bigger problems with starting at the end. That when it's at the end, if you start at the beginning and you fall six hours behind, no big deal. There are people that are, you know, twelve or thirteen hours behind you still. But when you start at the end and you get hours behind, you're at the end. And they are closing down the control station. Um, what was your, [00:03:34]Craig Dalton: what was your kit set up? Like, it sounds like you brought two, [00:03:37]James Gracey: two sets of. I had three, I had one for one for each day. And I planned on, I planned on changing them. And, uh, they were just my regular road. Yeah. But just for [00:03:46]Craig Dalton: like general cleanliness [00:03:48]James Gracey: and yeah. You want to get out, you want to get out of that. And, um, like I was in my, my second kit for 40 hours or something like that. Um, coming, coming back. And. Yeah feels pretty gross. So if you're [00:04:04]Craig Dalton: back in what was the town called? Lodiak you're now i've done 800 800k, so you got 400k to go. Yeah somewhere along the way. I got a message from you That made it sound like you're done Yeah, [00:04:19]James Gracey: uh after after uh breast It was kind of evening beautiful sunset and we're leaving breast and i'd been sick. I got sick the friday before the ride Probably because we were just out I just came back from the event and I was not having oysters and lots of seafood and lots of pate and lots of stuff that I just didn't agree with. Um, or didn't agree with me. And so I was sick Friday, Saturday and Sunday, uh, before the event. And I just can't keep anything. Anything that comes in, that I put in, comes right back out. And, uh, then that continued for the first day. Anybody I'd ride with, I would get in a groove riding with them on the first day, like with two or three people. And I might ride with him for 45 minutes or an hour, and then I would say, I have to go. Like, I gotta go be sick. I have to go be sick, and I would let him go, which stunk. And it kind of kept getting worse and worse. And I'm trying to eat and drink as much as I can, especially fluids. And, uh, after breast, there's this, there are two secret controls. You don't know where the control is. And it's to keep people from cheating. My thought was probably like yours is now. Why would you do that? Why would you sign up for this self inflicted thing and cheat? Apparently it happens. I don't know why you would do that. Just do the ride. So in the second control, the secret control, I had a fever and I can't keep anything in me and I'm super dehydrated. And I even took pictures of like this dehydration that you can see in my face along the way. And I'd probably lost 10 or 12 pounds by that point, is my guess, from the Friday before I went to the Secret Control. I got to that point where I'd tried to think about, you know, a month ago and two months ago, of what are you going to do when you have all the reasons in the world to quit? Like, are you going to push through and what are you willing to trade off for that, for that, at that time? And I, I knew the answer. But I capitulate. And I, uh, and I, I went to the secret control. Um, when I had a fever, I was like, my wife had just texted me that the kids had COVID. And I was like, no, you're COVID. That's where the fever is coming from. And, uh, cause we had just seen each other two days before. And I was like, this is, you know, I have children. I have to get back. I do not need to be in a French hospital for a month because I've, you know, Tried to tough it out. And so I went to the control, uh, uh, officials, and I said, I need to withdraw. And, uh, I was really concerned about the fever. And, and he said, he said, Okay, what's your number? And I gave him my number, and he said, All right, we're going to withdraw you. And I said, what do I do? And he said, you ride to the next control. You ride to the next control. And I was like, can I sleep? I was really tired, can I sleep here? And he said, no, we're closing. The other problem with being at the very back. He said, we're closing in an hour. You cannot sleep here. And you cannot stay here. Because when we lock the doors, you cannot be here. I was like, well, the next control is Carhay. It's 50 or 60 miles away. I was like, so, if I quit, I still have to ride? This is at 10 or 11 at night. And he said, yes. , that's what you do. And I said, well, take my name off the , take my name off the list, I rescinded [00:07:40]Craig Dalton: by [00:07:40]James Gracey: quit. And I'll decide. I'll decide when I get there. If, uh, if there were, that's still the case. 'cause I am close. And I just couldn't, I couldn't overcome thinking like what I'm risking. And I just drank and drank and drank. And I think I, I think I didn't have a fever. I think I had, I was hot. Because I didn't have anything to cool me off. Yeah. 'cause I was just super dehydrated and so I kept drinking and drinking and drinking. And then by the time I got there, uh, to Khe, I laid down and I, I think I sent you the video of like all the people laid out all over the place. [00:08:13]Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's pretty amazing. Just like people just, it's unbelievable falling asleep with their head next to their food on the table, anywhere laying on the ground. [00:08:23]James Gracey: They had, there were, I didn't see, I saw one person with their feet in the street, like on a highway, like their feet are over the line. And you're like, wow. As you go and you move your feet. Somebody told me they saw a head over the, head with helmet over the line. Like they just got over as far as they could go and they kind of fell over and went to bed. And so I got to Carhay and I laid down in the cafeteria on the ground with flies everywhere. And for two hours and I woke up and I felt a lot better. I'd had, I'd had a meal. I'd had a lot of fluid. And I was like, at that point, you know, my plan was I don't have to, don't think about what, how far you have to go. Don't think I've got another 400 miles or whatever it was you think. I just got to get to the next control. And then from that point forward, it's, I just have to get to the next control, whether it's 70 miles or 100 miles. Right. I just have to, if I can just get there, then I'll make a decision. Yeah. So [00:09:20]Craig Dalton: you're, as you said before, you started in the tail end group, presumably everybody around you, you're starting to see like the really back of the bus. [00:09:31]James Gracey: We're seeing in the back of, of even the people that left 12 hours before me are now back with us. And they're in a terrible, they're in a bad way. Yeah. [00:09:41]Craig Dalton: So are you, are you riding with some of these guys and girls? I'm riding [00:09:44]James Gracey: with, I'm riding with some of them. And we had, uh, I mean, it's pretty interesting, ride baits for a while. Uh, that I'll, I'll, I've, I've, I wish them all, I wish them all well. I did get told at one point I had been riding with this one, uh, uh, randoneur that I was, kept riding in front of him. And he won't get on my wheel. I'm like 40 feet in front of him. 30, 40 feet. I mean, he's getting zero benefit, but he's matching my pace. Like, if you want to get the benefit out of this, you have to ride right behind me. I don't know how it is where you ride, but that's what you have to do, or you may as well just ride by yourself. Because I'm also having to talk loudly so you can hear it way back there. And so this went on for... 7 or 8 hours. I mean, long time. A long ride. And at one point, I got, and this, we went back and forth and back and forth. We'd kind of split up and then come back together somehow, or I'd see him somewhere else. And at one point, we're about to drop down into a, into a, um, control. And I see, I see on my Garmin that we're about to descend for a bit. Even if it's 200 or 300 feet, I don't want to come back up it. If there's no food there, because it's closed. Then I got to come back up because there's a [00:11:01]Craig Dalton: McDonald's right because you're already feeling like you're on the bubble of maybe [00:11:04]James Gracey: I'm on every control. I'm like, I don't know how this is going to work out, but it was getting better and better. And I was like, I told the group, I said, I'm going to that McDonald's and haven't had McDonald's in a dozen years. Easy. Because I quit and they realized fast food is bad for you. [00:11:21]Craig Dalton: They were probably all like Americans. They all eat McDonald's. McDonald's draw of the Golden arches was [00:11:26]James Gracey: too much. It was too much. I saw people in there and it's just across the highway. So I went over there and I got a big Mac and fries. Okay. That was amazing. And I sat down and then a Japanese man came in next. I said, you guys go ahead. I'm going to eat. I need to eat. And I don't want to have to come back up this Hill. To a closed McDonald's. Maybe like I would be devastated. It would be the end. And, uh, then a Japanese man came in and sat, uh, he couldn't figure out the self kiosk. So I walked him through it. And then while he was waiting on his order, I said, Come down and sit next to me. He didn't speak any English. He spoke a little bit. And, uh, he took his helmet off. And as soon as he sat down, he burst into tears. And I said, I said, It's alright, man. I'm in the same place. I'm just not crying. I don't know if he understood, and he just, the only thing he muttered was, this is so hard. This is so hard. And I said, I know, but you're going to eat your meal. I just had mine. I'm going to sit here with you, and we're going to start together, and you're going to be fine. And, and that's, and that's what we did. Right? And he was like, I mean he wasn't, he hadn't lost his mind, but he was hurting, and we still have a long way to go. Uh, and uh, so we, then we left and when I got down to the lane was the next control, the person that I had been riding with, that's behind me said the control is closed and you're screwed. Do you die? He said the control is closed. I said, well, that's, I mean, it's fine. I'm going to finish. My goal was not necessarily to, you know, I would love to make 84 hours, but I'm just going to, I'm going to finish it and I'm not going to finish it if there's no food and I got to come back up this hill. So I know where I need to be. He said the control's closed and I said, Alright, well I'm gonna go and, and lay down and get some, get, and sleep. I'm gonna sleep for, you know, 30, 40 minutes. And he said, well the control is closed. Why don't you come with me? And I said, No. You're not helping me anyway. And so I, I, uh, he went on and then I went into the control and the control was not closed. The control was open. And I think he just wanted me to sleep. Drag him around. I don't know. It was the only, it was the only not super awesome experience that I had. Yeah. And so I got my, got my thing stamped and I was like, there were some other people there. I was like, I know I'm tired, but you just heard what I just heard. There were some San Francisco guys there. And he goes, yeah, he said it was close. It was not close. All right. Maybe he was dreaming. Somebody else later at another, I think even our last control or control before last. was devastated, sitting there, losing his mind because the control is closed. And we're like, it's not closed. It's right there. It's open. He goes, no, it's not. We're like, it is right there. It's open. He goes, he goes, no, I DNF'd. I'm not finishing because it's closed. And we're like, it's not closed. It's right, it's right where the lights are. He goes, what? And it's, and then he started muttering a bunch of stuff that made zero sense. Uh, and so I got some sleep. And I woke up, and one thing somebody had told me before you, before we even started any of this was your body, as I don't know if I can sleep in the grass or sleep in the day, and they said your body will put you to sleep, you will go to bed, and your body will put you there, and they were right, like you can go to sleep anywhere, in the grass and rocks, I have a picture of one guy literally sleeping down the stairs, his feet are on, three stairs away from his head, And it cannot, it can't be comfortable. But he's sleeping. He's just asleep. And so I slept, I woke up, and there were, uh, four, uh, SFR guys that were about to take off. Uh, it was, uh, Ed, Misha, um, Matt, and then one, and then one other San Francisco, Randall Nair guy. And I was like, you want to ride together? And we still had maybe 200 miles to go. to maybe, maybe even a little more than 200. It's so [00:15:36]Craig Dalton: crazy. Like I can't even get my head around, like being that it, you know, in the pain locker. And then And then [00:15:43]James Gracey: like, you know, you have 200 miles to go. We don't think, we don't ever talk about like, Oh, we only have 600 more miles to go. We have more miles to go. Yeah, we just have to get, we have to get to the next control. We just got to get to the next control. And we rode together through the night. Uh, and it was awesome. It was one of my best night rides ever. That, uh, uh, emotionally that I've ever had. It was awesome. We were making good time. It was a beautiful night. We're all laughing. Having a, um, a good time. We're all, uh, fed. And we all have fluids. And making stops where we need to stop. And get a sausage or a coffee or whatever. And it was awesome. Um, and then we got to two controls to go. And there was a storm coming in behind us and I'm showing them on the radar like this is coming It's really thin. It's gonna like it's gonna blanket us with water and lightning for like 15 minutes So let's get under that tent and go to sleep For 15 minutes and they said no, I was like well, I Think we should stay dry. I think it's important because if you get wet after you know, you're gonna get blisters It's gonna be very uncomfortable Things are going to start rubbing you in the wrong places. Like you could have a whole host of new problems because you're wet and it hasn't rained yet. Yeah. And so then they, we traded like we compromised. Uh, Ed was the, was, um, uh, did the most compromise. He said, all right, I'm going to go get a sandwich and a Coke. You sleep. I'll wake up in 15 minutes. And if it's not raining, we're leaving. And I was like, done. So he did that. Uh, and Matt and Misha, we're all, we were still all there together. And, uh, they were stronger riders than me, so I need them. So he kicked me to wake me up, and I was like, let's go. And, uh, it kept getting, then it got light, maybe two or three, two hours later. So the [00:17:35]Craig Dalton: rainstorm, did it materialize? [00:17:37]James Gracey: No, it didn't rain. I told him it was going to rain and showed them the radar. they're stronger than me, so they finished before me. I was like, I was on the ridge by myself. The rainstorm was right behind us. Like I'm watching the lightning storm roll in. And the lightning storm went around just like that. Sounds like you [00:17:58]Craig Dalton: just convinced these guys you needed a 15 minute nap. [00:18:01]James Gracey: I need 15 minutes, yeah. But they were, they were cool with it and we all left together. Uh, and we met up with another SFR guy named Noah, who's a really strong rider. And, We were rocking through the middle of morning having a great time. Was [00:18:17]Craig Dalton: this the most simpatico group you ever found? Yeah, throughout the time. For sure. [00:18:20]James Gracey: Yeah, without them I wouldn't have finished. Like if it hadn't been, if it hadn't been for them and their enthusiasm to finish um Like Ed had done it 12 years ago and didn't finish Uh, it was Misha's first time. It may have been, I don't remember about Matt Um, but they had a lot of energy and enthusiasm and like hey, let's all We're better off together than we are separately, so let's figure out a way to do this together. Even though Misha was so fast, and he was in like Teva clip ins, he was so fast. We would all start together, and he would take off, and we just wouldn't see him again until the next control. We'd catch up at the control, or at stop, and then we would all leave together. He would, he would take, he's like, I'm just riding my pace. But he was, uh, had a great attitude. Uh, and then, maybe, maybe four, four or five hours before the finish start raining. And then the rain, if it had rained two days earlier, it would have been a different ballgame. But because you know, you can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel. You, uh, you're motivated and they, they had stopped for coffee. So I went on and they're faster so I figured they would, uh, catch up with me at some point. And then I rode with, uh, I rode with One gentleman from, um, Thailand and one from Indonesia for a while that I think they'd kind of lost hope a little bit. They were, uh, they'd missed their cutoffs by a ways. We saw people and were talking to people that had, their deadline, their, like, time to finish is literally within an hour. And we're a hundred miles away. And they, all they could talk about is, I have to get there, I have to get there. I'm like, slow down. You're not making any sense. You're all over the road. People were, in the last 12 hours before the finish, people are not making any sense. People are not speaking in complete sentences. People that clearly speak English are not speaking, are not speaking English. They're making up things in their head and telling you about them like they're real. And all they said, the only, the only cohesive, Sentiment with all of those people is I'm gonna finish. I'm going to, like, even no matter what they're talking about, rainbows and unicorns or shiny pennies or whatever they got going on in their brain that's not working out because they need some rhodiola, probably, they consistently say, this is, one guy said, this is the, this is the time. This is the year. He said it in like kind of French English. This is the year I'll finish. Yeah. This is the year. Like, yeah. Like he had done this several other times. I had not finished and he was probably 15 years older than me. I'm 51. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, [00:21:11]Craig Dalton: it's so interesting I mean you and I talked about this a little bit on a bike ride one day just Even with Ironman's and different things that we've done. I've always known the finish line was there and within my capabilities, but 1, 200 kilometers In that timeframe, so much can go wrong. Whether it's physically, mentally, mechanically. So [00:21:33]James Gracey: much can go wrong. Yeah. Like some things just are beyond your control and it's unfortunate. Uh, and it's, it's, there are so many opportunities for something to go catastrophically wrong or just to eat up so much time. You're like, I've spent six hours on the side of the road trying to fix this problem and it's not fixed. Yeah. And now I'm exhausted from trying to fix the problem. Yeah. And I haven't made it a single additional mile. Yeah. None of that ever happened to me. It does happen. Like I did see people that happen. We had the event, um, in the end had about a 40 percent DNF rate, which is, they have 4, 800 finishers out of 8, 000. Okay. And was that [00:22:13]Craig Dalton: because it was hot this year or is that pretty average? [00:22:16]James Gracey: I think that's even higher than average. I think the average is like 33 or 35. It depends on where you're from. Some people dropped out because it was hot. It was like maybe 90 the first day, maybe, maybe a little more than that, 90 Fahrenheit. And one guy talked to after the race was over. He said, I dropped out. I said, it was too cold. He was 81 and from Thailand. And so he's, you know, it needs to be 90 for him to ride comfortably. Right. Not, not 80. And he said it was too cold. It was way too cold. And then he just dropped out. So you didn't have any mechanical [00:22:49]Craig Dalton: mishaps. You largely, you know, you, you. You found yourself in the hurt locker physically at certain points, but you kind of just did what you need to do, right? You don't know exactly what the answer is. You just know don't go fast [00:23:02]James Gracey: and hydrate There's no reason to go fast and that you can't ride if you don't drink. Yeah So you didn't [00:23:08]Craig Dalton: you're you're sort of now within 50 miles of the finish line Yeah, you did mention to me you had some some issues. [00:23:14]James Gracey: We had some yeah So I sent you a text at one point said I think I just sent it to you I was like, and my wife, I'm like, I'm pulling out. Like, back, right after breast. And then, we rocked through the night. I mean, we, we slept for the last 37 hours. I slept maybe an hour. And moved a lot. Like, there was not a lot of sit down. And we were working together well, and doing it the way you're supposed to be doing it. And having, like, these really great feelings of camaraderie. And, and, even though it's self reliance, like, you're doing it. With the friendship and camaraderie of others that are like minded and close to the same, uh, physical capability. And it was awesome. And so I got to the last control in Drew. And I was like, I have three hours left. And now it's only 30K. It's like we're maybe a little more, maybe like 24 miles. I have three hours. I'm gonna, I'm like, I was elated. We had worked really hard to get there. and have been raining for a couple of hours, but it's only 24 miles. And, so I texted everybody I knew basically. I was like, I'm going to make it. I can't believe it. Like, my brain is coming back together. It's not in the middle of the night. You're thinking all this weird stuff. And, um, I know what's going on. I'm, uh, I'm helping out with these, these two guys that I've been riding with and have been raining for a couple of hours, but it's only 24 miles. So I sat down, had a meal, which was awesome, and, uh, the two guys I was riding with, only one of them wanted to continue. They'd both missed their time cuts already, and so one of them was going to sleep. Uh, and I'd had a flat repaired. They had a mechanic station there, and I'd been riding a probably 10 pound flat for 10 miles. Because I didn't want to stop and do it in the rain. You've got to get it all out, and it's like it would have taken forever. And I was hoping that there would be a, um, And so we left, and when I got my bike from the, from the shop, my Garmin's not, not working. It just wants me to delete everything. And I turn it on, turn it off, turn it on, turn it off. It's like, I don't know, it's, I've been following signs. There are signs that say either Brest or Paris the whole way. There's probably 20, 000 signs on the route. Were you trying, [00:25:35]Craig Dalton: were you, I'm just curious about this little detail. It may seem super minute, but how were you trying to keep your electronics powered along the way? I had batteries. [00:25:44]James Gracey: I had a battery, I had two solar chargers that were battery packed just in case. Like, I kind of did it the wrong way. I had three lights of just the little trail, I forgot the name of the brand, but it's a mountain bike light that lasts about four hours on low. So I had three of those just in case, because if you don't have, if one of your lights goes out and you get stopped by control, you have to... Joe Davis, Speaking: Wait for it to charge before you can, Craig Perkinsland, [00:26:09]Craig Dalton: Speaking: Because, it's illegal to ride [00:26:10]James Gracey: in that area. Joe Davis, Speaking: That's right. Craig Perkinsland, Speaking: Right, And on the, on this ride without, without a tail light, a headlight and um, reflective gear. And so I had three taillights, three headlights, two big battery packs, and my bike probably weighed 15 pounds too much. And, uh, so everything, you know, was staying charged, I've got the Garmin charge, I've watched charge most of it kind of messed up one day. And So we leave and it's not working and I said, all right, well, it's not, I can't get this right. And so you just follow the signs. I've been following signs. Literally, I could have done it without a Garmin, without directions at all until that point. Yeah. And, uh, we had been warned that people will steal the signs. Okay. That as a souvenir. So you get a sign, they give you one of the signs when you, when you pick up your, when [00:27:00]Craig Dalton: you pick up your bag, [00:27:03]James Gracey: because then they will steal them all in the same place, right next to the end. Right. Right. Because that's where they all are. They're done. They go back on the course and they grab one. And so I'm riding with a, uh, a gentleman from Thailand and we're following, uh, a man from France. I don't know where he was from in France, but he didn't speak any English. And so we're following signs, following signs, and all of a sudden there's no more signs. So it's me, the guy from Thailand, the guy from France, and two people from Germany, a husband and wife team. Um, we realized. Nobody knows where they're going. Nobody's electronics are working. There's no, I see zero signs. And you're just in farmland. And, we're like, alright, well, how do we get back to there? So we started, all of us started going to a, in a direction of a, that we thought, and we got up there, and it's not, it's not the right way. There's no sign. So we realize we're lost. And the gentleman that we were following, because I'm just following, and so you've been doing it for, I'm following the guy in front of me and then the people he's following because he doesn't have electronics. The woman, uh, it was a husband and wife team. The woman has Shermer's neck, which I'd never heard of until two months ago or three months ago. What the heck is that? And I've never seen it. So at the very end, I saw maybe a dozen people with it and it's where it's a condition that you can't hold your head up anymore. So your neck muscles are shot and they're not firing and all you look at if you're on the bike All you're looking at is your pedals. You can't even pick your head up to look past the handlebars You can see you can see your pedals your handlebar and your wheel, but you don't know where you're going If you have to take a right turn, you can't do it She is holding your head up with her fist under her chin. That's incredible And her husband is giving her directions from behind her a little to the right A little, a little, uh, because you can't really, I mean, she's been awake for, you know, three and a half days. And so, we're like, we're following the people with Shermer's neck, and nobody has electronics, and there's no signs. We don't know where we are. We don't know [00:29:14]Craig Dalton: where we are. I can't even imagine how demoralizing that would be. It [00:29:17]James Gracey: was pretty bad. Yeah. Uh, I don't have any, I go, uh, I cannot get anything on my Garmin to work at all. And it probably, it's from, Like, right now, if I were in the same condition, I would say, Oh, you do this and this and this. And, like, logic's kind of going out the window. I think we're going to miss the, we're going to miss the cutoff. I look to see how far, the start and finish town is Rambouillet. And I look to see how far Rambouillet is. And it's, I only had 24 miles from Drew to Rambouillet. Well, now it's like 27 miles. And I'm like, Oh. By, by, like, Apple Maps. And I said, I'm just gonna ride back. I don't know what you guys are doing. The charmer's neck and husband, they left, going in one direction. And we're not going that way. Because it's not the direction of the finish town. I don't know where they're going. So we rode back to where we think we got lost. And we're riding around. The guy that only speaks French is trying to get his garment to work. We're all worried because he and I are in the same group. We're both about to miss cutoff. The other guy... Uh, from Thailand had already missed it. And, I got on my, on my phone, just directions back to, back to the start finish line. I was like, I'm just gonna follow this. I said, this is what, I point to the guy from France, I said, this is what I'm gonna do. You can come with me if you want. And he said, no. He said, come with me. Come with me. I said, but this gets me there, and this has me getting there 15 minutes late. But I know, you know, it's, it's doing it from a, from a bicyclist perspective and I can probably go faster than that. Has me there 15 minutes late, but also it has like seven, you know, construction zone things going on. I'm like, this is, I can't believe I've worked all this all for the last three days and qualification and giving up time with my family. It was kind enough to let me do all this and I screwed it up in the last like 20 miles. Yeah. And I'm going to miss it. I'm going to finish, but I'm, I'm so close to completing it in the cutoff time. Yeah. So we're panicked, and he said, no, he's motioning, just follow me, just follow me. So he literally starts going down a pedestrian path that no bikes are allowed on, or cars, because it's like a sidewalk, going through fields, going in the opposite direction of the finish town. And I see it on my phone, like we're going the wrong way. And he's like, just follow me. And so I'm, I'm like, all right. Do I go with Apple Maps? I don't trust, I don't trust for many reasons. Or do I follow this Frenchman who is pretty emphatically saying, follow me, I, I know where we are. And so I followed him, and we went maybe two or two and a half miles on pedestrian paths, where Apple's saying like, you can't be on this path. And then, we're still gonna get there late, according to Apple. We're still gonna get there late, we're still gonna get there late. And then finally we pop out on this road, and I see other cyclists. So we're back on the path, and so, okay, so we're back on the path, but Apple says, I'm gonna miss my, miss my time cut by 15 minutes still. And so we're, and I'm like, now I, now I see riders, and I just get, I say, look, I can pull us, just get on my wheel, just sit on me, and we'll go as fast as we can. We'll go as hard as we can until one of us passes out. And he ends up dropping off. And I take off and then the path, it still says I'm going to miss it. I've been riding for 20 minutes, it still says I'm going to miss it. And then the path that we're on goes up a one way street the wrong way, which Apple Maps won't let you do. And so as soon as I get to the other side of that, it drops it by 30 minutes. It's incredible. And I'm going as hard, I'm like, I'm head down, going as hard as I can without blowing up. Everything I got until that point. And I realize, like, I realize what has just happened and now I'm going to get there 30 minutes ahead of time. And I breathe, breathe for a second and still going hard. And finally I catch up with these, uh, these guys that are SFR, um, riders. And I'm just like, I'm about to fall over. Like, can I just sit on your wheel? And they let me sit on their wheels, Hans and another gentleman. And I sat on their wheel until the finish line. And got there in time. I was there. And then I'm super worried about the Frenchman, who, if it weren't for him, I'd be on a highway somewhere trying to get back to the start line. Yeah. Following Apple maps. Uh, and if it weren't for him, and he's in the same cutoff as me, so I did see him, uh, after he finished and he made the cutoff. And we had a great, we had a tearful embrace and it was, I was terrified I was gonna miss it. And I have all these emotions. And like, I was totally fine emotionally until I could even see the finish line. I'm like, there it is. Like, let's just, let's just go to it. And then I got to the finish line and lost it and burst into tears. And my friend Ray is there and he's like, wow. . Wow. Because he, he finished, he finished in, in 80 hours I think. Something. Okay. Like he finished really fast. No, he finished in, uh, 74 hours I think. Yeah. And so he had been there and gotten a night's sleep and, uh, and I was just a mess and I've never been like that. And maybe my first Ironman ever, cause I was, you know, I'd built it up in my brain that it was going to be this huge accomplishment and, and it was, it was, it was incredibly [00:34:52]Craig Dalton: emotional. Yeah. Understandably so. I mean, everything you went through to get there, to arrive in France in the first place, and then certainly everything you went through. Over the course of those 84 hours. Yeah. Like to finally like, not have to stress, [00:35:06]James Gracey: to not have to, you know, pressure on you to like, keep going and keep finishing. Yeah. And just where you can, like you didn't need [00:35:12]Craig Dalton: to do anything. You didn't need. It's done. Yeah, it's done. Throw the bike [00:35:15]James Gracey: down, pass out. I couldn't believe it and I made it. Uh, I did an 83, 83 25 I think. Okay. I had 35, 35 minutes to spare. So it was, it was close, especially considering an hour before that I was not going to make it and the time cut off at all. Do you [00:35:32]Craig Dalton: get the sense from some of your other riders that you knew, like Ray, like, did they get involved with groups that were like moving together throughout the entire [00:35:41]James Gracey: course? Ray did for sure because he left at 90 hours and he said he, they had really good groups taking turns. And, uh, and that's, that's. I mean, that's a good way to go. You know, it definitely is, uh, gets you going faster with less effort. Um, there were, there were large groups, probably, probably a lot of large groups from the 90 hour group. Uh, and then our group, I never really saw, I would see, there were, at the occasional control, or we'd leave an even, just a sandwich shop or something. People would say, all right, I'm going to go, and then two minutes later somebody else would leave, and then 30 seconds later somebody else would leave, and 30 seconds behind someone is no benefit. Yeah. So we would have to say, stop. Like, let's all leave in two minutes, and there will be five of us together instead of five individuals spread apart. And some people, I think, just want to do it on their own, and that's just where their, where their mind is, and where their, like, kind of their game plan is. I'm going to do it on my own. I'm like, okay. Yeah, but I need some help. , I need to ride somebody else. . Uh, and they were, uh, I did hear, I heard stories. Uh, I, I heard story of one person that had s schirmer's neck that put screws into her helmet and then taped, taped the screws and then taped the tape back to the back of her bag in the back to hold her head up so she could see. And then one gentleman I had breakfast with the next day. from, uh, he was Irish. He had, he had a, not terrible case of it, but pretty bad, I mean bad enough that he said he had to, he stacked all of his spacers onto his head tube to raise his arms up so he could raise up enough to see it's not the right position. And he said at one point he was looking at his fork and he said he looked at it for two hours in the middle of the night. He said, that's not my fork. That's not, somebody got, somebody while I was sleeping, came in here while I was eating, came in here and changed my fork to this fork. That's not my fork. Who would have done that? Gone through all that trouble. That's a lot of effort. To change, take my fork and give me this other fork. I said, how'd you, what'd you do? And he goes, I had to go back through pictures and find a picture of me standing next to my bike with that fork. To convince myself like, oh, I'm just, Not in the right place mentally to make decisions like this, you know, magical fork theft. Oh, yeah. And, uh, some stories like that I heard a lot of the next day. And a lot of Shermer's Neck stories of people that can't hold their head up. Yeah. And, uh, you could see, I didn't see any of, I didn't see any of this, but I did get told people would come to the finish line and it changes pavement. It goes from hard packed gravel to cobbles for 30 feet maybe. to, to loose gravel dirt in, uh, maybe 200 meters before the finish line. It changes three different pavements. And people would see the finish line and raise their arms and and celebration immediately fall to the ground. Because they have no control over anything. They have You know, something that muscles aren't working on them or they try to raise their arm and race that they would just see him like fall over and they've now crashed 25 feet from the finish line from no, from no reason other than celebrating that they're excited and they don't realize things don't work and yeah, like muscles don't work, their neck doesn't work, their arms, shoulders are all pinched and locked up and he said people are just falling over. Like, oh, person after person, after person celebrating. And they would just crash and they'd have to go pick 'em up. And then I can't imagine a kind of a worst way to . Worst way to end your 90 hour. Yeah. Uh, bicycle ride. It's crashing in the gravel and getting a bunch of rocks under your skin. A hundred [00:39:42]Craig Dalton: percent. So what do you, what do you do after finishing? You just go and crash somewhere and sleep [00:39:47]James Gracey: for a day? Yeah. Uh, I didn't have a plan 'cause I didn't know, I didn't know what was gonna happen. Uh, I did have a vehicle there. Uh, Uh, so I went and stayed in the barracks. So they just open up a big room, basically, in, in one of the buildings and throw cots in there. They have cots and, like, an emergency blanket. And I bought some, uh, I didn't, I didn't, I wasn't really thinking right. I ordered a pizza, but I don't think I ever went to pick it up. No, I went to go get a change of mind at a steak. And, uh, so I got some bottles of Evian. She rinsed off and went and laid down. And then people, I went to bed at maybe ten at night. Forty nine to one oesophytoptics. there at five or you know, just before five in the evening and there were people that kept coming in for the next, I was there twelve hours maybe I left at maybe ten in the morning and people kept coming in you could hear them like shuffling around falling over cots and they've been out there for at this point, like four days or maybe even longer depends on when they left because if you are, it's an out and back. So if you're 50 miles from the finish and you want to call it quits, there's nobody to call it quits too. There's not a control there. There's nothing there. You just need to ride ride on end. Yeah. And, and they kind of got, I think they were in probably pretty bad condition. Yeah. I slept, slept well, and then I went and had more food and I've been, I'm still eating, I'm still catching up on food and probably not fluids, but on, on food. Yeah. Um, that it, it just takes a lot of time to put it back in you to gain your weight back. [00:41:26]Craig Dalton: Such an incredible experience and accomplishment. Having done lots of big events, your Ironmans, your Leadvilles, where does Perry Breast Paris fit into the... It's pretty [00:41:36]James Gracey: high. Yeah. Yeah. I didn't think that at the beginning. And then I told, it may have been you that I told, that kind of the further I get away from that event, Um, the more special it is. Is becoming to me in my brain like remembering all of I probably have a I probably have a solid year's worth of writing stories Yeah in three days. Yeah, and some of them significant Some of them were like a very low point for me or a very high point for me or just seeing something I've never never seen I've been cyclist my whole life since I was 12. I ever seen Schermer's neck And know what it what it was. That's all dozen of them people that I don't know, you know There were people that were definitely being dangerous at the end, but they don't know they're being dangerous. Like, at one point, we had to tell one, uh, one rider to get away from us. Like, you were riding from the right line across the line to the left line on the other, on oncoming traffic. In fact, for every, you know, hundred meters you're, you're moving forward, you probably did 300 meters of riding because you're just going back and forth. And it's not a hill. It's flat, flat ish, and it's dangerous. And so they, you know, they gotta, they need to be able to stop those. But when do you stop? How do you tell an official? You don't, I'm not stopping to tell anybody anything. I'm going. Like, we're close. I did hear of one gentleman that was, that was just non responsive, 100%. He's standing there, eyes open. He's not saying a word. And he's just comatose. Yeah, and they pulled him. Yeah is what I heard and that probably is having people are the people are just it's in their brains They're gonna go and get this thing done. Yeah. And they like, I felt like I was really mentally prepared for it and these people are way more mentally prepared for it than I was. 'cause I, they're just not gonna stop to, probably to the point of being dangerous. Yeah. [00:43:32]Craig Dalton: But I mean, there's gotta be a little bit of that in you, just inherently in signing up for something like this. You know, as you said before, you know it's possible. You've previewed in your mind the places you're gonna need to go and the pain you're gonna have. Yeah. And you've said to yourself, Unless it's going to hurt me physically or my family, I'm going to keep going. Like, you're right. You're, you're sort of like, I made [00:43:52]James Gracey: those decisions. You make the trade in your brains already, uh, of what it is that you're willing to give up to get to the next control. Are you going to do this? Yes or no. And if you get to a point and you know, the answer is no, because I don't want to. Yeah. Be in the oncoming traffic. Yeah. Like if I were doing that, I'm like, all right, I'm going to finish, but I'm going to go to bed for until I wake up. I'm not going to set an alarm. I'm just going to go over to some grass somewhere and fall asleep. And, and then you can come back and you can finish. Mind if I make you time, but you did it in a safer manner. Yeah. I definitely got the feeling that some people are not, they were, it's almost like the way that I have ever explained, uh, uh, drinking alcohol to one of my kids. Like my kids are in young, young teens. So we talk about it. I'm like, somebody, like, you would never have, like, my son would never have ten beers. Ten. I mean, ten's a lot. But somebody with nine beers in them would. And it's not you anymore. Like, you are not making that decision anymore. It's the person with nine in them that's making the decision, and you gave them authority to make that decision when you had eight and seven and six, and, right, and back it on down. It's the exact same thing. That person, if I showed them a video of themselves, Right now, weaving all over the road, they would make the decision to lay down and go to sleep. Yeah. But it's not them making the decision anymore. It's them, plus 680 miles, or 700 miles, or even further, and, you know, three or four hours of sleep in four days, with this tremendous physical exertion, and this tremendous physical expense. Uh, so they're not making that decision anymore. It's whatever they have kind of predetermined in their mind as their break point. And their break point was pretty far. But, that said, I don't, I think, I, I did read an article that said it was an unsafe event. Like, they're, well, you put 8, 000 people on a bicycle, all at the same time something's gonna happen. It's not gonna be good. And that's just the law of probability. Like, I don't think anybody has died doing the ride in, maybe the last one was 2011 or something. And yeah, that's, uh, that's not, that's not bad. It's not like people are dying on it all the time, or even end up in the hospital, uh, to my knowledge. And for that reason, I think it's, you know, even though there are dangerous things that are happening, it seems to be like pretty safe event. Where you think [00:46:28]Craig Dalton: about the equipment available, the nutrition, like all the stuff. [00:46:36]James Gracey: It's, that's one of the things that draws me to it, to that specific event, like I feel like I feel accomplished as a rider for having done it and haven't gone through some peaks and valleys and a couple of significant valleys for me, like, I feel that makes you feel accomplished if it was just the easy peasy and I sat on somebody's wheel for 760 miles, like I probably still felt accomplished actually, [00:47:00]Craig Dalton: it's a long way, but [00:47:02]James Gracey: But doing it on, uh, what is probably a 40 pound bicycle, probably with solid, probably more than that. It's the same amount of climbing that they 40, 000 feet. Yeah. Uh, with whatever they had available to them and whatever, I mean, I've got heart rate and Garmin and I know the, I know, I see what is coming. I see the hills that are coming up through technology. I've got a relatively light bike. That is, you know, probably one of the, uh, it's probably a fantastic bike for this particular event packs, rain gear, technical gear, super stiff shoes, all [00:47:44]Craig Dalton: your bag of [00:47:45]James Gracey: modern medicine, I've got everything, a big, big top tube filled with rhodiola and, and salt tabs and like, uh, like all kinds of stuff. I can't imagine having done something like that 130 years ago. And and and finishing. Yeah, it's unbelievable to me that I mean people had some grit to be able to To do that like What distance or what level of complication or elevation would you have to accomplish now for it to be equated to that? I don't know. Yeah, but it's definitely further with a lot more climbing. Yeah definitely to match the same Tenacity that they had to go and yeah and say i'm gonna go do that. I mean, it's [00:48:31]Craig Dalton: unbelievable. It's unbelievable Yeah, it's I mean, it's just like everything It happening every four years Yeah, the sheer challenge of what you undertook. It's just amazing. Congrats for [00:48:42]James Gracey: yeah. Thank you. Thank you. It was, it was, it was awesome. I would love to go back and do it again with friends. Uh, as you and I talked about, it's a difficult, it's a difficult event to do with a friend, I think. Yeah. Because at some point, if you're one mile an hour off of the other one, you guys, you have to split up and go on your own. Um, and for, and that's the only reason it would be, it'd be difficult be, be fun to do the purveys together. It'd be fun to do the training together and be fun to make an adventure out of it together. Uh, and be, you know, as partnered up as you can, just like a cycling race. And then when it comes time to like, Hey, this is not working out for one of us. Yeah. The other one has to understand and yeah, [00:49:23]Craig Dalton: no, I think you, you just, you have your own journeys in these events. You have your own, it's your own, it's your own thing. Whether it's these big gravel events or per breasts, Paris, it's just like, Hopefully, I mean, I think that's the beauty of it. Right? You, you get to the finish line, you've all gone through your stuff, whatever that stuff was, but you were out there together. You saw the same things and you come back and you can revel in that shared experience, even though you weren't riding side by side. Yeah. Like [00:49:47]James Gracey: the guys that I rode with the last day, basically, if I saw them right now, I might give them a big hug and I barely know them, but we did that thing. We did that together, especially at the end. And, uh, and have that shared experience and can laugh about it and they all have their own lives to get by. It's not what they do for a living. Yeah. You know, it's a, it is a, it's a hobby. It's a, it's a good hobby. It's a athletic, it will help you live longer. Uh, but in the end it's just a, it's a, it's something you're doing for yourself as much as I tell my kids I'm doing it for them. I want to be around to help you guys later. The way I'm going to be around is stay fit. [00:50:27]Craig Dalton: Yeah. Thanks for sharing the story. Thank you for [00:50:29]James Gracey: having me, Craig. It's, Craig and I've been friends for 20 ish years and, uh, and it's, I'm super, uh, happy and, and really honored to be on your podcast. Yeah. A lot of people follow you and, uh, like even when Craig and I have been in different areas of the world, people said, are you Craig Dalton? Are you Craig Dalton? You have your, your gravel ride jersey on and they're like, do you know Craig Dalton? And one time you had to say, I am Greg Dalton. Right? I'm like, all right. It's, uh, so it's, it's fun to be a part of that. Awesome. Thank you very much. [00:51:02]Craig Dalton: You're welcome. I appreciate having you. Um, I was stoked to document some of this journey cause I want your kids and family to listen to it and hear all your stories and all of our friends. And hopefully everybody else out there will check out Peri Express Paris. There's a lot written about it. There's a lot of resources and you can see the journey that many people went on this year in 2023. Yeah. [00:51:23]James Gracey: Yeah. Thanks Greg. Awesome. [00:51:25]Craig Dalton: Thanks man. Yeah. That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel rod podcast. Big, thanks to James for coming on and telling us all about Perry breasts, Paris. I hope like me. You enjoyed learning a little bit more about the sport of randonneuring and such a story to event they have there and France. I forget if we mentioned it during the show, but it only happens every four years. So it's such a big deal. To arrive at the start line and get to the finish line. It's definitely one of those bucket list events. I was thrilled to get James on the microphone to talk about it as I wanted to document his experiences. So you could share it with his family first and foremost, but also to all of you. If you're able to support the podcast, please visit find me a coffee.com/the gravel ride or ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels
Bonjour listeners! This week we bring you part 1 of my discussion with James Gracey and his experience at the 2023 Paris Brest Paris ride. Starting with his beginnings in Mississippi to braving the awe-inspiring 1200-kilometer cycle race, James offers us a riveting account. It's an ultimate test of endurance, perseverance, and grit, accompanied by the impressive camaraderie of the cycling community. We touch upon the importance of mental preparation, time-management, and effective strategies to conquer challenges. Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [00:00:00]Craig Dalton (host): 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 show, I'm welcoming my friend, James Gracey to come on and talk about Perry breasts, Paris. In fact, our conversation went so long. I'm going to break it up into two episodes. Have you ever seen those riders typically on steel bikes with maybe a rack up front and certainly a bag on the front of their bars, riding the roads potentially coming home at six, 7:00 PM. As you've long shelf to your gravel bike and been doing something else. The type of rider that's been out all day. Maybe they're wearing wool clothing, but they've got a little bit of a throwback vibe. I was a little bit unfamiliar with the sport of Renda nearing. But along the way, I've actually had a couple guests. I remember Yon from Renee. Hers was a big, random. And a rider. And also Tim from Kitzbuhel. I showed up one day riding one of those bikes on a ride I was on. I never really thought too much about it and about the history of this sport, but with James signing up or attempting to sign up for Perry, Brest, Paris this year. I dug it a little bit more and learn the history of the sport. Learned that it's a hundred year old event. It's the oldest cycling event in the world. Learned a little bit about what it takes to qualify I became fascinated by both the sheer endurance challenge of this 1200 kilometer ride, but also the culture around it. Now as James will mention in our conversation, he's relatively new to the scene. I've known him for 25 years and always known him to attack many, a cycling challenge, but he wasn't part of that random air culture. Much more than six, eight months ago. But he dove right in God has qualification for Perry brass Paris. And completed. The 1200 kilometer journey. Just in a Nick of time under his 84 hour time limit that he set off for himself. I thought the story was so fascinating. I thought I would share it with you. With gravel bikes, we have a similar type setup to these random airbikes they're often. They're designed around comfort and obviously long distance performance, just like many of our gravel bikes. So the way I think about it is the Renda near community. Is the kissing cousin, the older cousin. Of the gravel cycling community so i hope you enjoy the conversation as i said i'll break it up in the middle to put it into two roughly 45 minute episodes and with that here's my conversation with james gracie James, welcome to the show. [00:03:04]James Gracey: Thanks. Thanks for having me Craig Dalton. Welcome to the kitchen. Welcome to the kitchen This is where it all happens [00:03:09]Craig Dalton: this is a little bit of a detour for the gravel ride podcast because there wasn't a lot of gravel in Paris Brest Paris, but Talking to you over the months in preparation for this and talking to you during the event It just seems too good not to capture these stories Because i've always thought after I had learned about randoneering through a couple past guests I've always felt like it's the kissing cousin of gravel and a lot of the mentality is similar to some of these gravel events. So that's a long introduction, but I want to first start off by just asking a little bit about your background. Super quickly, where'd you grow up and how'd you discover the [00:03:46]James Gracey: bike? Uh, I grew up in Mississippi, uh, which is not a super bike heavy, uh, area. And I, um, bought a bicycle. When I was 12 years old for 120 from Sears, I thought it was awesome. And I remember going, uh, my very first time that I reached another city limit sign, which was like four miles from where I lived, I was like, I just rode to another city. It was Marion, and I was like, that is awesome. I was like, I went home, I rode to another town. And then after that, for years, I would ride to another town, or ride to another town, and I thought it was incredible. And so I kept buying bicycles that were, You know, probably beyond my capacity to spend on a bike, but that's where my, that's where I wanted to spend whatever money that I had. Yeah. And did [00:04:37]Craig Dalton: you start sort of taking bigger and bigger adventures as you became older? [00:04:41]James Gracey: And yeah, yeah, yeah. So I w I would take, uh, when I was 15 or 16, I'd ridden maybe up to maybe up to a 100 miles. And, uh, when I was in college, I took some bicycle trips. I worked at a bike shop And so I got inexpensive gear there with a discount, and I would take trips either back to my home, which was, like, the first time I did that trip was 140 miles. It's 90 on the regular highway. Uh, or I would, when I was in college, I'd ridden down to Florida to see a friend on a mountain bike because I didn't have another one. And I just, I thought it was awesome. From Mississippi down to [00:05:21]Craig Dalton: Florida? Yeah. And did you, were you? It sounds like the bicycle was a mode of adventure and exploration, but were you, were you discovering racing? Were you interested in racing? Uh, I [00:05:33]James Gracey: did mostly. I rode, I raced a little bit of bikes, mostly I did triathlons. Okay. I was doing triathlons when I was, uh, 14 and 15 in Mississippi, which is some of the oldest triathlons are, are from Mississippi. Was that right? They were from the, they were from the mid to late seventies. Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama has some of the oldest ones. Super interesting. And, uh, I was a swimmer growing up. And, and I would run to swim practice, like when I was 12 and 13, which is a couple miles each way. And so I just kind of, it made sense to put them together. Yeah. And I raced triathlons for 30 years. [00:06:09]Craig Dalton: And you moved progressively into the longer distances. [00:06:12]James Gracey: Into longer distances, and I did longer trips either by myself, like I bet a friend of mine when I was 25 that I could ride the Natchez Trace in three days. I bet him 20, and I have his 20 still in my, in my closet that he signed. Uh, and it was super hard. It was really hard. It was in July. It was 100 and something degrees every day, and there's no services on the Natchez Trace. Um, Which is actually this, this pen that I have, uh, given to you is actually a challenge, going to be a challenge pen at some point in this talk about the Snatch's Trace 444 that you and I may could do together. Okay. Uh, next year. And, uh, I did, I did that ride and it, it changed, it was, that was the hardest thing I'd ever done in my life. And, I really enjoyed that. It's a, it's by far the best way to see the world. You're going slow enough that you can see everything, but fast enough that you're not walking and you're not going to see the same thing over and over again for days on end. You can really, you can really move through an area or a state or even a country on a bicycle in not that much time. And it's, it's, it's hands down the best way to see the world. So I'm going to fast forward [00:07:33]Craig Dalton: maybe 30 years of time. So many, many Ironmen under your belt. You and I connected probably 20 years ago doing Ironman triathlons, but we've also had some other off road adventures together. We've done the Leadville 100 together. Um, we've gone to Europe a couple of times, road riding with a group of friends and gravel and gravel and gravel. Yes. Yeah. For the listener, James was on that Girona gravel trip in November of 2022 that I talked about on the podcast previously. So you've done a bunch of things. Cycling has always been part of your life. I've been fortunate enough to be your friend and been invited to do things with you and encouraged to do things with you. Earlier this year, the beginning of the year, you came up to me and you're like, Hey, I'm going to do Perry, Brest, Paris, you want to do it? And you said, here, there's all these things you need to do in order to do it. And I was like, dude, that's the type of invitation that I love one, but two takes me months and months and months to get my head around. So Perry, Brest, Paris is the oldest cycling race in the world. It goes from Paris to Brest, back to Paris, 1200 kilometers. Self supported and a 90 hour time limit. Is that correct? There [00:08:53]James Gracey: are, uh, there are three different time limits that are self selected. Okay. You can choose to do an 80 hour time limit, an 84 hour time limit or a 90. I chose 84. [00:09:02]Craig Dalton: Okay. So we can get into that to just set the stage because this is a gravel cycling podcast, the sport of randoneering in cycling is its own interesting thing. That's been around, obviously, since the. Yeah. But it's this concept that you've got multiple distances that are sort of official distances of Rendon air cycling. Can you just kind of talk through a little bit of your understanding of it? [00:09:29]James Gracey: Yeah. So it, uh, the reason it probably ties directly back to a gravel podcast is 130 years ago, they were, it was, it was born in gravel. It was born on either dirt roads or farm roads or whatever they had at the time. This predates almost automobiles. Uh, they had automobiles, but they didn't have roads. And, for the most part, I haven't done, I've maybe done one or two brevets that didn't have gravel in some sections. Some of them were six miles or eight miles. There was some gravel, uh, in Perry Brest. Not much, but percentage wise pretty small, but it may have been a couple of miles. And... And the idea that you're doing it on your own, especially back 130 years ago, that you're doing it on your own, self supported, likely with solid rubber tires back then, I don't remember when. They wouldn't have had a need for pneumatic tires at that point. And have to change everything and carry everything that you need to support your bike. Because you might get lucky and have a break in a town with a bike shop, and you might not. You might have a break in the middle of nowhere at three in the morning. And so, the idea behind that and self reliance is core to rent a nearing. It is core to the series that they have. It's core to just the whole idea of, I'm going to go do this thing. Whether it's a certified ACP Brevet, or whether you just want to go ride for whatever the distance is, usually they're pretty long, by yourself, and you want to be able to fix and do everything that you need. And whatever... Stumbling blocks you encounter along the way that you will be able to overcome them on your own. Yeah. Or, through the assistance of another randoneur, or, whatever, right, but that's, that's still on your own. If you were really hungry and you go ask the farmer for an apple, yeah, he gave you the apple, but you have to go get it. Got it. Uh, and so that's what, what, uh, that's, that's what the whole sport is about. That's what the whole um, uh, section of cycling is about. Yeah. And. They're on gravel all the time. Like I rode a gravel bike on this ride as did a significant amount of people. Yeah. When I wouldn't do that on a road bike. [00:11:52]Craig Dalton: When I see, you know, when I see the people in the Bay area that I consider to be randomers, they're often on steel bikes with a bat, a large bag up front. Yeah. And I would always see them and think. You know, that guy or girl is probably out for a long ride and you'd see him coming through our town of Mill Valley, going back to San Francisco at like 6pm, like having been out all day. So the, the, and the tire, I mean, the tire sizes that I often see on these road bikes were [00:12:20]James Gracey: quite big. Yeah, they're 35s or 40s. Yeah, yeah, [00:12:23]Craig Dalton: exactly. And that's, you know, I had, um, I had Jan Herne from Rene Hurst tires on at one point and he was telling me in the background of our, Conversation about the type of writing he likes to do and how gravel was nothing new for him because he'd been riding, you know, 47 seat tires tire on a road bike for many, many [00:12:44]James Gracey: years. Yeah, you have, uh, like the idea that you would do it on a, on a road bike with 23 or even 25 it's, that's pretty uncomfortable. You're on the bike for a long time and comfort is comfort is key in a gravel bike has longer wheelbase. so I don't know many other people who are so blessed with the opportunity and the journey and Well that's in the back. corrected that So it's a part [00:13:15]Craig Dalton: of my That's and sustain it while you're, because public transport done Perry Breast Paris before and introduce the idea [00:13:26]James Gracey: to you? Uh, I actually learned about Perry Breast Paris in 99 and the guy that told me was a Worked at one. It was a customer of mine in Mississippi and He told he had just come back from the 99 ride and he told me about it. I was like, I'm gonna do that That is definitely something I'm going to do. Yeah, and then when I found out how There's no brevets in Mississippi or Alabama where I lived at the time, or very few, and there was no internet, really, so you couldn't really figure out how to do it, so I back burnered it, and had thought about it for a while, and didn't, I didn't even know it was every four years until last year, I think, uh, and then, uh, one of my friends from Mill Valley, Ray Keane, had gone, uh, to the 2019, uh, Uh, addition and then he was telling me all about it and I followed him the year that he did it in 2019 and And he said it's not that hard you to join a club or you have to join a club. That is Russo the randoners of the United States Russo sponsored that they have ACP rides. So the ACP rides are brevets that are specific to qualification for Perry Brest and probably some other ones, but it has to be an ACP sanctioned event. And to get into those, you have to do four qualification rides within the prior year before Perry Brest. Uh, so they're not all over the place. And that's one of the things that made it seem so arduous, back 15 and 20 years ago, was that I don't know where any of these things are. I've never ridden overnight. I've never ridden for that long. So I was, had been a bicycle mechanic for a couple of years, but I doubt I could, you know, relace up a wheel on the fly to try to get you to the finish line. And, uh, so listening to him go through all of that, it sounded like maybe, maybe it was doable. And then when it came back around in, uh, this year for 23, but he and I started discussing it in 2022. Cause you really, some people prepare for it for four years. Most people that I spoke to prepared for it for two years, and I started, uh, training, I, I really got registered for this in January or February. And so you only have a couple of months to do all four qualification brevets. [00:15:53]Craig Dalton: And what are the, what are the distances of [00:15:55]James Gracey: those brevets? The distances for qualification are 200k, of 300k, of 400k, And [00:16:03]Craig Dalton: it's not just riding 'em. You have to ride them in a prescribed amount of hours. Right. [00:16:06]James Gracey: In a prescribed amount of hours. Yeah. So like the 600 K that I did had a 40 hour time limit, which is totally doable unless you have a problem. If you have a problem in the middle of the night, you have to wait for support or to get to a town that can help you out. You're probably not gonna, yeah, you're probably not gonna make it. As you sort [00:16:23]Craig Dalton: of said, you had a pretty intense schedule because of. The late time in which you started this pursuit. Most [00:16:29]James Gracey: people had already done one or two that allows you to preregister. Kind of at the end of 2022. And so then you can convert that to a full registration. You're almost guaranteed to get in. And I didn't, I didn't do that. And so I had one flexible date from February until the race, or until the, it's not race, until the event. That I may could have moved one thing, but I would have had, uh, Instead of driving to Sacramento to do the 600K, I would have had to fly to Southern California or Arizona to get it in. And it just happened that every one of them, like even when I started the 200K the day after spring break, I hadn't ridden a hundred miles since I was with you in Spain, which was six months before that. And I was just as worried about that as I was about the event. Because it had just been a while. And, um, and I flew in. I got back, I got home late at like midnight and left at four to go do the event. But I don't know anything about these events. And the second one, uh, that I did, there were only four people signed up. You don't know that. So I showed up and there was a guy on a motorcycle there, three other riders, and he said, Well, there's only four of you, so have a good ride. And that was it. Then we were off. There's no like start. There's no banner. There's no start gun. He's like, have a good time. But there are, there are [00:17:58]Craig Dalton: check in points that you have to get stamped or [00:18:00]James Gracey: something. There are, uh, and I did, I did, I brought my, my, um, passport, which is what you have to stamp at the ride. Uh, and so in the, in the ones that are, that are not a big event, like the one for four people, they are non, uh, there are controls that you have to stop at and you either have to purchase something And get a receipt that's time stamped. Yeah, or take a picture of yourself in front of wherever this control is so for a 300k there might be six or seven controls where you have to roll up to the grocery store or One of them was a stop sign Uh an intersection sign. There's nothing you just have to take a picture of yourself in front of it Yeah, and if you forget to do that, then you don't you don't you qualify and [00:18:47]Craig Dalton: that the Your success in these qualifiers, does it get logged somewhere? [00:18:54]James Gracey: It gets logged with RUSA and with San Francisco Randonneurs. So you joined a [00:18:58]Craig Dalton: local club and you submit the fact that you did this event and you have your control pictures [00:19:07]James Gracey: and they log it somewhere. Yeah, so you submit those either pictures or receipts. You scan all the receipts and you send them to whoever was in charge. Of the event that day. The qualification event. Yeah. And so if the event is over Sunday at midnight, you have until Tuesday afternoon at some point to get them either all of their receipts or the pictures and you know, and then they see that you have gone to all of the locations in whatever appropriate timeframe and send it into 'em. So [00:19:38]Craig Dalton: 200 kilometers, 120 miles, I can get my head around. I've done that 300 kilometers. Hundred 80 miles. Yeah. I can stretch my head right around that and say like, okay, start early in the morning. Keep plugging away. Possibly. I'll get that done. I've done, I think maybe on our coast ride, maybe we did 130 miles. Yeah. One year, which was the longest I've ever ridden. Okay. So 180, the 300 k, maybe you get it done in, in one kind of, yeah. [00:20:09]James Gracey: Fell swoop. Yeah. You don't, you don't stop for, you don't stop to like sleep. Okay. And then you don't even, you don't take naps. You just, you, you'll stop to have lunch. You just keep [00:20:17]Craig Dalton: plugging away, but obviously like you're starting in the, in the daylight and you're ending in the darkness or starting in the dark. [00:20:23]James Gracey: Yeah. That's like an 18 hour ride probably. Yeah. Uh, some, somewhere in there, you're probably 15 to 18 hours. It's been on the, depending on how much climbing you're doing. Yeah. And then [00:20:33]Craig Dalton: now bumping up to 400 K, 600 K. To me, that's just, Otherworldly like it's just the territory haven't been in [00:20:42]James Gracey: before it's definitely I had the exact same thoughts at 400k If I couldn't have done it in a different order, I couldn't have started with the 600 I would I don't know I wasn't really mentally ready for that. Yeah, and so the 400k is you're not going to bed You're gonna take a hour and a half long lunch and sit down as much as you can Um, wherever that is, do you remember the time limit for a 400 K? I don't. Okay. Uh, we came in, uh, we started at C it's either six or seven. And then we came in about 2 a. m. Okay. And you sort of, you [00:21:14]Craig Dalton: sort of implied this, that you couldn't have started out and done a 600 K right off the bat. Yeah. What did you learn? I mean, you, you did ride with some other PE people, some more experienced randomers over time. Right. I, one [00:21:26]James Gracey: of the, one of the true benefits of, of doing it in San Francisco or San or the Bay Area, including Sacramento. 'cause there's a lot of, lot of, uh, r years in Davis Yeah. In Sacramento, is that they have a lot of experience. So I would ride with them and just ask question after question after question. What do you do? I, I didn't even know there was a backdrop until we were on a. A, uh, 400 K and a guy said, yeah, well, yeah, there's a backdrop. You service you can sign up for. I thought I was gonna have to carry everything that I needed. Yeah. For three and a half days. And food, just food is a lot. Um, you know, I knew I could stop and buy things, but they also said you can't stop and go to a grocery store and get a cliff bar. It's not how it works. Like they don't have those things there. You can, you're gonna get a ham and cheese sandwich, or you're gonna get a croissant and a coffee and that's what you're getting. Yeah. And so, I was like, well, I don't know if I can make it on that. So when I learned all of these things, writing with people that had done for Perry Brass, and hearing all of their stories. One year it was 100 degrees, one year it rained, and basically got rained out at a super high DNF rate, maybe 12 years ago. And to know all of the things that could possibly happen, it was definitely a boost, because I'm learning and asking them questions for, Yeah. And that's all. It's a free, it's a free gift of, it's a free education. If you just want to do some pulling with them and wait on what one guy was sick. And so we waited, he didn't feel well. So you wait on him and make sure that they are getting the best support from you because you're going to turn around and need it from somebody else. [00:23:10]Craig Dalton: Yeah. I think it's so interesting because I mean, you know, many of us have road riding backgrounds and, Shorter distances. You're drafting You're breaking away there's the kind of push and pull of the peloton but there seems like there's more community to this because Way way into the the mileage you need people. [00:23:30]James Gracey: There there was uh, the the 300k that I did I didn't I hadn't really I didn't really meet anybody on the 200 Because I was in a hurry and had to get go pick up one of my kids And, um, so I didn't want to stay and chat and the 300k we were probably 40 miles in and I had a battery die on my shifter. I didn't have a spare battery. I just didn't even check it. And I looked for, I made four stops for batteries. It was Sunday, places are closed. They don't have this very specific battery shifter, or shifter battery. And he said, I've got one. And then he had to loan me this battery, had to loan me a screwdriver. If he hadn't done that, I wouldn't have, I would not have been able to go to Perry Brest. Because I didn't have another, didn't have any flexibility in my schedule. And when I was asking, I said, I really do appreciate this. It means a lot to me. He's like, oh no, we take care of everybody. His words were, we take care of everybody because we will need to be taken care of. And I saw that over and over and over again. And not only the, the lead up, uh, qualification brevets, but also in the event. People you don't know, you've never met. It's, it's not unlike a professional cycling event where two people are in the breakaway or four or five. They're working together for a common goal. Helping each other. And then at some point, that falls apart. But for that, for that time period, they are You're essentially on the same team. You're essentially doing things for one another. Even though you have diametrically opposed, you know, team programs. And you will eventually split apart and sprint to the finish. And you hope to crush them. Like that, that crushing part never really happens here. But, but, if you do, you know, somebody's, uh, going two or three miles an hour faster than another one. Like you're going to... It can't continue. Like, they're not there to necessarily get you to the finish line if you had just met. But there is definitely a commonality in the riders and in the community where it's, they support one another all the time. And likely someone would say that during the event I helped them significantly. And I definitely would say that I was helped significantly. It's definitely, uh, morale and, you know, People, uh, coaxing me along at, at certain points. [00:26:04]Craig Dalton: Yeah. So for the 400k and the 600k, are you sleeping during those? [00:26:10]James Gracey: Not for the 400. It's just too, it's too quick. I mean, it's, um, it was, uh, 20 something hours. Okay. I think. Um, and that was actually a pretty flat ride. The 300k was harder. It had a lot of climbing in it. And I was riding with people faster than me. Yeah. So I was struggling to keep up with them every time. And then the 600, we went to, we went to sleep on purpose because I wanted to see what it felt like to ride. Uh, we rode two, 250 or 260 miles. And I wanted to see what it felt like to sleep little and then wake up and ride again. Yeah. Did you sleep in a hotel or? We slept in a hotel. Okay. Yeah. There was not a predetermined. We just got to Winters, I think, or somewhere in, in, uh, um, kind of by Sacramento. And did you sleep [00:26:57]Craig Dalton: a considerable amount of time or just a [00:26:58]James Gracey: small amount of time? I thought it was, uh, I thought it was not very long. Yeah, we slept for like three or three and a half hours. Okay. And then people that came in after us when we went out to get breakfast, so I think we came in at, we got a room at like maybe 230. And so we went out to get breakfast in the hotel and we're like, where's, they're like, where'd you go? You're the last ones up. And I know people came in after us and they maybe laid down for like two hours, right? Crazy. Yeah. Well, it didn't make sense to me. I only slept for two hours after 260 miles. If you have plenty of time to well, that's the thing like we were not in danger of not making yeah But I think they were they were probably just using it as a training Experience. Yeah, I mean [00:27:47]Craig Dalton: and it's interesting We're recording this right on the heels of lachlan morton, uh setting the tour divide record We haven't talked about this, but he he basically committed he's like I don't want I want to sleep every single night and there'd been this trend towards Sleeping less and less and less and he's like I just need to sleep. I don't want to be miserable doing this. And he still beat the record. So it's just kind of curious to hear you say that. The other crazy thing is, so you've done, you've miraculously, in my opinion, you managed to squeeze in all the required training events, all the Brevets, you've gone up to 600 kilometers, which is insane, but the frigging event is 1200 kilometers. So, and I, yet, I mean, we can skip the, you had a busy summer. But you get on a plane, you go to France, got your bike ready, your gear ready. Now [00:28:39]James Gracey: what? Um, we were, we went to, I went to France with my family and we were there 10 days before the event. And I rode, I, I had a very, uh, busy summer with just kids stuff. And so I didn't ride. The only riding I did in the summer was basically the bourvets. To, to qualify and then occasionally paradise [00:29:05]Craig Dalton: loop with me for one day [00:29:07]James Gracey: I mean it wasn't much and I did a bike trip with one of my kids to Summer camp which is right before a trucking which was a which was a two and a half days And so I hadn't really written much and the only thing that you got from For me personally some people would probably ride more I guess, is if you just think about it a lot and you think about the position you're going to be in and you I would try to prepare mentally for what you know is going to happen. There's going to be a time in this ride where you think, What am I doing? I'm not ready for this. I don't have the legs for this. I don't have the energy for this. I've made a mistake. I gotta, I gotta quit. Yeah. You know you're going to get there. And so I think about it a lot. So even when I was on spring break and I had this like just a 200k coming up. what do you think? Or you're just sitting there and I was like, I'm thinking about a ride that I have to do in seven days that I'm nervous about, but I know that if I think about it enough, it will definitely help me during. It will definitely help me prepare. It's not a. As much as as writing itself close [00:30:15]Craig Dalton: to it, but there's, yeah, there's some, there's some great lesson there, James, and just like you can. Preview in your mind, the things that can go wrong. A [00:30:22]James Gracey: hundred percent. And you just get ready for him and you're like, all right, if this happens, what am I going to do? If this happens, what am I going to do? It's, it's just like any other training. If you know, any training you do for anything in life, whether it's professional or some personal training or athletic training, put yourself in that position. So, you know, you have that in the bank and I can go to the bank and make the withdrawal when I need, whether it's in the energy department, cause I need to keep going or mentally that, Hey, I've already been here. And I'm ready to have the answer of like, this is what I'm going to do, right? Even if it's, I'm going to chill out and sit down and I'm going to drink as much fluid as I can for 10 minutes. Even if it's just that. I'm ready for that and I'm prepared for that. And so, uh, going into that, I did get to ride some when my family was, we were at Ile de Ré and it was, it's a bicycle friendly island. Where you just ride between these towns. And so I would do a couple of rides. I was there and I rode, I rode, uh, once in Paris trying to fix a flat. I was like, I'm just gonna go ride to every bike store. But, and they were all closed. And, so, I didn't really have time to think about it, honestly. Like, much. Until the day before the event, because I'm with my family, and we have all of these activities that we're trying to kind of squeeze in, and let the kids enjoy the area. And then, When they're getting ready to go and I'm getting ready to start was the same day So I went to pack it pick up with them so they could see all of it and I'm really glad I did. Yeah I'm glad that They got to see like the excitement of it and people are really over the top and costumes and all of the different velomobiles One guy was on an elliptical, which, I don't think he finished, he may have, I couldn't imagine, like if you think what the ride itself is hard, like being on an elliptical, and standing up for three and a half days, like I couldn't imagine, and, uh, there was a lot of excitement there, so it was really, it was awesome to get ready for it, even though you're not, there's no way to like, there's nothing to do, there's no more training you could do, and even if you did, you would just be hurting, you'd be hurting. Yeah. Putting yourself in a, in a worse position by trying to go like train, loosening up after a long flight and driving a lot like that was needed for sure. [00:32:47]Craig Dalton: Quick detour just on your equipment. So what, what were you riding? What, you know, what frame material, [00:32:51]James Gracey: what kind of riding steel? It's an Olivetti. It's a frame builder out of, uh, he was in Mill Valley and now he's in Colorado. And, um, 30 twos, I think I switched tires right before I left based on the guy at sports basement. I said, what do you think about these? And, and they were, I ended up with tubes in them, uh, at the end because I couldn't find a hole in one of them before I started. So I put a tube in it, but I changed it. I searched for four flats. [00:33:24]Craig Dalton: And then are you, what kind of bags are you using? Like where are they located on the bike? And are you preparing to. CAREY Yeah. HAYDEN [00:33:33]James Gracey: So my favorite bag is the bag that Craig Dalton let me borrow which is my top two bag that has a little magnet on it because I couldn't find it anywhere it was awesome because you can get to everything really fast. Uh, I did carry um, I carried a, like a bike packer's bag off the back, uh, that's expandable that you could get, you know, I had, uh, I had arm warmers, lots of food in there. Uh, emergency, I all emergency, like blanket. I ended up with a sleeping bag in there because I, I didn't know where we, it was supposed to rain at one point, so I grabbed a sleeping bag from my, from my, um, uh, drop bag and I had a down, and I had a top two bag. So the top two bag, all, all I had in it was pills. I've got pills for, you know, B vitamins and multivitamins and amino acid pills, and lot tons of salt. I took all the salt that I needed for the whole ride. Caffeine. Look, I'll, I'll, you've probably seen me like go through a bag of pills, like there's a bunch of different things in there. It's [00:34:41]Craig Dalton: a lot. It's a lot. Keep us [00:34:43]James Gracey: old men going. And you keep going, like, here's a lot of just, uh, vitamins that you take to make sure you're not deficient in something. And I have, even though I couldn't pinpoint, oh, if I, if I'd had more vitamin B or vitamin D or E or potassium or something. Uh, that wouldn't have happened, but I've never not finished and I usually just keep the, a steady flow of all of those things going kind of all day. Was that something [00:35:07]Craig Dalton: that's just a James Gracie, I've been an athlete for my whole life thing? Or did you, did you learn [00:35:10]James Gracey: that from others? Yeah, no, it's just what I've been doing for anything long, uh, over, over the years and either trying to prevent a cramp or, you know, or just feeling like, ah, this stinks. I really want to quit. Yeah. Like in keeping your mood elevated, like rhodiola. I did one guy, I take rhodiola pretty regularly. One person that had done four, uh, peri breasts before he said, your rhodiola is, is key. I was like, I'm taking rhodiola. What is that? It's a, it's for mental function and acute. So you like keep your mind sharp is what I would call it. That's what, how he described it too. And I was like, I do take that. And if I could pinpoint one thing to take, it's that, besides salt and potassium, magnesium. It's that I saw people, I, I would notice my mind going on a detour for sure, and I would have, I would, I would have some rodeo. And then I'd come back to like, Oh, I was just on a mental trip, mental trip that did not exist. [00:36:10]Craig Dalton: Well, we might get into, if we have time, some of the mental trips, some of your fellow riders took you on in their own journeys. So you're at the start line, as you said before, Perry Bros Paris, every four years. Very [00:36:21]James Gracey: international. Yeah, 71 countries. Uh, at some of the larger controls they had 28 interpreters. Wow. Um, and so somebody's not getting interpreted somewhere, is my guess. Yeah. Uh, but they had, um, it's a very international event that has, everybody is so excited. You don't really notice the excitement until kind of later in the ride because that's why, that's, that's literally what's keeping them going is their, a hundred percent focused on this event, and may have been focused on this event for sixteen years and never completed it. And, uh, started it and didn't finish it. I started it and didn't finish it. Most people you talk to were repeat PeriBrass, Paris, Randonneurs, and they had, uh, they had, you know, end up in the bus. There's not even a bus. I made that up. You have to figure out your way. You have to figure out your way when you stop. You have to figure out your way home. And so they all had a story of like, I was very far from finishing my first time or my second time. Yeah. Clearly the math [00:37:26]Craig Dalton: wasn't going to add up. Yeah. Yeah. So you mentioned there's multiple different start times. One of them was you could start with 90 hours. You start at night. Yeah. Sunday night. Sunday night. You elected to start 84 hours Sunday morning. Monday [00:37:40]James Gracey: morning, Monday morning, 5. 15, which [00:37:42]Craig Dalton: seemed logical when we, you and I were discussing it at one point, but then everybody, the logic get, got lost [00:37:47]James Gracey: immediately. Yeah, everybody had different, uh, rationales for whatever they picked. Obviously the 80 hour group is going to be a faster group. And so maybe there are faster riders in there and you can catch your draft wherever you need. You don't, if you're a, if you're a 16 mile an hour, like steady state rider, you don't want to ride with the 13. He's just pulling, right? It's not doing you any good. You want to ride with a 16, 17. And so, those guys also leave Sunday night. Uh, the 90 hours, which is the bulk of the, the bulk of the entire event contingent, Uh, I think there were, I think there were 5, 000 people, or 5, 500, Uh, or maybe even 6, 000 that left Sunday night. Sunday afternoon. So they start at four and they end at ten, I think is the last, the last leave time. So they're consistently sending out all of these people. And then, I didn't realize that it was broken down that way. So I left, there were only, there was only, uh, two or three groups behind me. So I'm at the end. Okay. And so, if the fast people in those two or three groups pass you, which they did very quickly, Uh, There's nobody else to like help you out because you're, [00:39:03]Craig Dalton: I mean, you're going into it. You're, you're hoping that you're going to find some Patago groups to draft, to ride, [00:39:09]James Gracey: to ride with. And the first day it was definitely like that. The first hour of the event. It was, they blasted off, like I'm hanging on barely. I'm like, what am I doing? I knew I should slow down, but I'm also don't want to be literally the last person in the entire 8, 000 riding by [00:39:29]Craig Dalton: myself for to someone the other day and I was like, I, the temptation for me to follow a wheel is just too [00:39:34]James Gracey: strong. And that's how, that's how it is at every event. You just can't, even when you think I'm going plenty slow, you're going too fast. Just slow down. Yeah. And, um, Um, and so they, they're, they took off, I don't know how fast they're going, we're, I think in my first, like in my first couple of checks, we were going 28k, something like, it was like way too fast. And there's, you know, it's all rolling hills, there's about 40, 000 feet of climbing in the whole event. No mountains, it's just rolling hills the whole way. And, the groups, the group that I left with, there was maybe 2, 000 that morning. 1, 500 of them are ahead of me. They're gone. And the fast guys of those groups are gone, gone. And there's about 500 behind me. Each group is about 250 to 300 people. I was X. There's X, there's Y, there's Z. And then there's plus. I think the plus were maybe ads. And so there's maybe 700 people behind me. And so that makes the second day... Someone did tell me if you leave in the 84 hour group, you're going to be riding by yourself a good bit. Yeah. And the second day I rode by myself almost the whole, almost the whole day. And [00:40:43]Craig Dalton: what kind of terrain are you riding on? You mentioned it's undulating. It's no big mountains, but obviously mostly paved, as you said earlier. Yeah. But are you going through little French villages? [00:40:51]James Gracey: All the time. Okay. It's, it's, uh, it's consistently small towns. Even if you got into a big town, I don't know, a big town may have been 10, 000 people. Yeah. So not that big. It may be a little touristy. And it's beautiful French countryside over and over. I mean, it's just like, it's, uh, I never got bored of it, but it, it was to say it's farms and fields and livestock and sunflowers and corn and over and over and over again. And then through this, through the small towns, they would have roadside stands for you all over the place. Where they, were [00:41:30]Craig Dalton: they at the control stations or just randomly? [00:41:32]James Gracey: At the, at the controls, they have meals. And so if you left in the 90 hour group, like Ray, my friend from Mill Valley, showed me a picture of one of his meals. Yeah. Leaving in the 90 hour group. And I said, what is that? And he said, that was my meal at the second control. What did the picture of your meal look like? You don't want to take a picture of it. It was terrible. All the good food is gone. But I'm also not having to wait in line for food or the bathroom. Yeah. Or to get your stamps. Yeah, so that that's maybe a benefit and I've maximized my my daylight riding for sure because I left at daybreak Yeah, and so those the controls are There were having some pictures of them. They're pretty big. They have a lot of support They have a lot of people there Some of them had even mechanics shops like they'd have a couple of tents and if you just needed something basic They could help you out Uh, they had food, they were in cafeterias in elementary schools and middle schools, I guess is where most of them were. So they could set up and prepare meals and we would have pasta or sandwiches or something like that. Uh, if you asked anybody, everybody that I talked to, including me, if you asked anybody what is the defining characteristic of the event, it is the people of the region, hands down. They, this is their event. This is something that a 10 year old has been watching, you know, when he was 6, and then maybe if he remembered when he was 2, with his parent. His parent was watching it with his parent, or her parent, and then also with the great grandparents. And this entire lineage of people would come out, and a great grandfather is there with his great granddaughter, and he said, I'll watch this race, this ride with my great grandfather, because I've lived in the area the whole time. That's wild. They never, I mean they were there to support you. People were past us for three days honking and cheering and just people in the region. They would come up, they would have roadside stands with either a tent or no tent. They'd have a, some kind of table or folding table or a farm table out there with, with items that they had prepared themselves. Cookies and cakes, tea, lemonade, coffee. Uh, lots of baked goods, lots of croissants, and coke. Uh, some at night they would have soup that they've made for themselves. It's all free. Uh, and then occasionally there would be a road, a big roadside tent that was set up as a fundraiser. And you would pay a dollar for a soda and, you know, or a euro and two euros for sausages that were, I don't know if they were, they were amazing at the time. They were fantastic. I was very happy to have them. And, uh, so you would then give a pin, right? So you'd give a pin to one of the kids that would come up very proudly and present you with all of the things that his, either they have prepared or their parents have prepared for you. And they would be very excited to get the pin. They'd look at their mom and dad. Yeah. [00:44:33]Craig Dalton: You were explaining to me offline that San Francisco, all the different clubs create. [00:44:39]James Gracey: Tens from [00:44:39]Craig Dalton: all over the world you have a bunch of them on your person and you give them to anybody shows you an act of kindness Yeah, [00:44:44]James Gracey: or just somebody that's cheering and or you know, and you know rooting for you Basically, yeah like at the end I was meeting with I had lunch with some of the people that I did the ride with and I was Like they were they really did. What we decided was that they really treated you like was a hero to them Like you may as well have been a two hour stage winner to them They would come up and they would be so excited especially the kids to see you and it was Amazing. It was it would bring you to tears that especially because you're in a weird mental state and you're like, this is so great And you know and them supporting you in that way day and now you could be it'd be 3 in the morning Or 5 in the morning or 10 at night and there were people out in front of their homes or opening their garage You know, that's literally on the street And they would open their garage and say, Oh, we got coffee and soup and, you know, uh, some fruits. Yeah, it was, it was awesome. [00:45:42]Craig Dalton: So, this is where we're going to take a break for part one. We'll have part two in your feed next week. I hope you're enjoying the conversation thus far. Our pal James is about halfway through Perry, Brest, Paris. And I can't wait for y'all to hear some of the stories that in see you in the next 600 kilometers. As a reminder, if you enjoy what we do here at the gravel ride podcast, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. Or if you're able to support the show financially, please visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels
This week we dive into the world of titanium frame building with Brad Bingham. Based in the Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Brad has been crafting custom frames for an impressive 27 years. Starting his journey as a welding enthusiast in high school, Brad's passion for making things led him to the art of bike building. But his skills go beyond frames – he even built his own home with the help of his retired custom home builder father. In this episode, Brad reveals the importance of learning how to do things for oneself and consulting experts. He shares his experience working for a dental equipment manufacturer before diving headfirst into the world of bikes. From working at renowned bike manufacturer Moots to eventually taking over Kent Erickson Cycles, Brad's journey is a testament to his dedication and expertise. Brad and our host, Randall Jacobs, delve into the nitty-gritty details of bike design. They discuss everything from tube selection and mitering to the impact of weight bias and alignment. Brad's deep knowledge of geometry, materials, and manufacturing processes makes this episode a must-listen for any bike enthusiast or aspiring frame builder. But what sets Brad apart from the rest? Well, his attention to detail and commitment to customer satisfaction are second to none. As the owner of Bingham Built Bikes, he prioritizes open communication and mutual respect. With his wife, Hannah, by his side, they handle everything from bike design and production to backend operations. Their tiny operation may be limited in size, but it's big on passion and craftsmanship. Binghm Built Bicycles Website Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [00:00:00]Brad Bingham: Yeah. So I'm, I'm Brad Bingham. I'm, uh, based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and I'm a custom titanium frame builder. Uh, been doing that here in Colorado for, gosh, going on what, 27 years? [00:00:17]Randall Jacobs (host): Wow. 20, 27 years, [00:00:20]Brad Bingham: Correct. Yep. [00:00:21]Randall Jacobs (host): you don't look, you started welding when you were like eight. [00:00:27]Brad Bingham: Uh, no. I, I really started welding in earnest, um, senior in high school. I. [00:00:35]Randall Jacobs (host): No kidding. [00:00:36]Brad Bingham: And then, yeah, I moved here to, to Steamboat right after I turned 20. And [00:00:41]Randall Jacobs (host): so me about those first welding experiences. How'd you get into it? Was it starting with bikes or was it, uh, a general, was it a vocational program? What was the nature of [00:00:51]Brad Bingham: it, it was very bike centric, so I, I knew that I wanted to construct bike frames, uh, mountain bikes specifically. And to do that, I needed to know how to, you know, join two tubes together. And at the time, I mean, I was 18 years old and didn't have any welding experience whatsoever. So I went and took a, uh, evening like, uh, community college TIG welding course. It was like a 75 hour course and took that in the, in the evenings after work. Um, And I walked in there with a couple of parted off pieces of Reynolds bike tubing and I said, I just need to know how to put these two things together. [00:01:40]Randall Jacobs (host): And so this is really, I mean, this has been your path in life since [00:01:45]Brad Bingham: Mm-hmm. [00:01:45]Randall Jacobs (host): beginning. [00:01:46]Brad Bingham: Mm-hmm. [00:01:46]Randall Jacobs (host): Um, that's, uh, it seems like an increasingly rare phenomenon to have such clarity at a young age at what you wanna do and then to go out and do it. So, uh, good on you. Some of us, some of us, it takes a lot longer. [00:01:58]Brad Bingham: Oh, sure. Yeah. I mean, I was, I was always really passionate about making things. I, I just always needed to be making something or working on something. And luckily the bikes found me, you know, 'cause I was a rider and, um, the idea of building bikes was, you know, not, not anything that crossed my mind until a good friend of mine said, well, why don't you just build your own. And that was, that was the genesis. [00:02:31]Randall Jacobs (host): So, and we were just talking a moment ago, I, I, I was apologizing for the, the state of affairs in my house. 'cause I'm in the process of building a new house around the husk of a, of a old derelict, but, but lovely, uh, home that I just purchased. And you mentioned you built your home as well. So tell me a little bit about that. I'm kind of curious about this builder mentality, [00:02:53]Brad Bingham: yeah. So yeah, I did not, you know, obviously I did not build the entire home myself. Um, my dad was a, um, was a custom home builder for 25 years, and so he was retired at the time, and this was 2000, like 2002 to 2004. Um, he had just recently finished a home helping out my sister build, build a home in Bend, Oregon. And so about a, uh, about a year, year and a half after that, Um, I talked him into coming out here and, and helping me build a home. So it was a big, big project, but really, he, I have to say he did at least 80, 85% of the heavy lifting. Like, yeah, I mean, he was, he was amazing. He's, he passed away in 2008. Um, but he was just a super smart guy and really good at building homes and being efficient, not wasting materials. Um, you know, I was a, I was working for Moots at the time. Didn't have a huge salary or anything. It's not like I was a rich guy. We were really trying to build it as inexpensively as possible. [00:04:11]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. Well, and I think, um, granted, sounds like your father was far more expert than mine, but we share that. Um, my, my father passed in oh seven and I didn't get to build a home with him, but I did get to work on, um, a couple of properties that, um, uh, he had, uh, my parents had purchased with, um, a aunt and uncle. And these properties were always underwater and always, you know, falling apart. And they'd never had the budget to do, you know, to hire out. And so it's just like, all right, we need to figure this out. And that's how I learned. You know, one of the key ways that I learned how to use tools, how to do things for myself, and there's a certain, um, there's a certain sense of, um, one personal responsibility and also with that personal, um, uh, competence and confidence that goes with learning from a young age to do things like, you don't need to hire an expert. You can consult experts. Maybe sometimes you do, but you can learn this. So that's, uh, that would seem to have carried into, uh, a lot of things in, in, uh, in what you've done starting at age 20 welding frames [00:05:21]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. And prior to that I was, you know, I was always on my dad's job sites, um, mostly cleaning up, you know? Um, [00:05:31]Randall Jacobs (host): as, as one does, and at when you're a grunt. [00:05:34]Brad Bingham: yep, yep. But, but yeah, you do learn a lot and yeah. Good stuff. Mm-hmm. [00:05:41]Randall Jacobs (host): Um, so tell me, so you mentioned you, you take this course, right? You're, you're in high school or just outta high school, and you go to work for Moots right after. How'd that come about? [00:05:51]Brad Bingham: No, I was, uh, I had the opportunity in high school to be part of a cooperative work experience, uh, with the world's largest dental equipment manufacturer. So I worked, I worked in their engineering department, um, really as a drafts person, uh, um, junior, senior year in high school. And then that carried over into, after high school. Um, I was not a, you know, there was a lot of, a lot of life things that, that kind of slowed me down from going to college. Um, my mom was recovering from some pretty harsh cancer and I wasn't really excited to, to leave her. My parents were recently divorced, like, you know, all these things kind of piled up to me staying, staying in my hometown for a year after high school. And I continued to work, uh, in that engineering department. Kind of the, the, uh, path would've been to go into mechanical engineering from there. But I, I kind of looked around and I was like, I don't think this is, for me, I just, you know, I don't wanna just be kind of a cog and cog in the wheel, you know, cog in the machine. Um, I wanted to have a, you know, more greater grasp, more of the whole scope of projects. Um, and that's, you know, bike, bike building allows you to do that. [00:07:18]Randall Jacobs (host): Well, for, for better or for worse, in a lot of regards, especially in the beginning when you're trying to get off the ground, [00:07:24]Brad Bingham: Mm-hmm. [00:07:25]Randall Jacobs (host): it's the product, it's the business, it's the marketing. And which is really just another way of saying how do you communicate, how do you build awareness? How do you connect with people? Um, So, so then, you know, walk us through kind of what, what that journey looks like. [00:07:40]Brad Bingham: So, you know, it's, it's funny, I, uh, I, like I said, you know, A gentleman that I worked with, uh, who was a really good friend, uh, at the dental, Manu dental equipment manufacturer. Um, he ended up becoming, you know, years later he was director of engineering. Uh, this is a big major company, like 1200 employees on site, um, major manufacturing capabilities right there in my hometown, which is just outside of Portland, Oregon. [00:08:12]Randall Jacobs (host): and what, um, what types of products [00:08:15]Brad Bingham: oh, uh, [00:08:16]Randall Jacobs (host): ha have I had your products in my mouth at some point? [00:08:19]Brad Bingham: uh, maybe not in your, maybe not literally in your mouth, but, but potentially actually, yeah, you probably have like the, uh, you know, the little suction wand that, uh, goes in your mouth while you're at the dentist. Yeah. I mean, they [00:08:32]Randall Jacobs (host): yeah. [00:08:33]Brad Bingham: they even produced that. So the company was a. [00:08:36]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay. [00:08:37]Brad Bingham: You walk into, you walk, walk into certain dental offices, and you'll see that every single piece in that office, it's me, sorry, is uh, every single piece has adec on it. Literally from the chair that you're sitting on to the cabinets, literally everything. [00:09:00]Randall Jacobs (host): So what I'm hearing is here you are, this, this young kid in, in, in high school, just outta high school. You get this, this opportunity to work in a very large, uh, organization in with, you know, seasoned professionals doing, you know, medical products at a whole nother layer, um, of complexity in terms of design and development and supply chain and things like that. And so you're dealing with that sort of thing. Um, and that was kind of your jumping off point. [00:09:30]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. And I, um, I got into the bike building thing because my buddy that I, I rode with, I broke a couple of cannondale and he said, why don't you just make, why don't you just make your own? [00:09:43]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:09:44]Brad Bingham: so of course I did. And it kind of spiraled, you know, I was in his garage late every single night machining something. And, uh, you know, kind of once I built that first bike, it was a really great experience, but I was kind of like, well, what's, what's next in this? And then he said, why don't make one outta titanium? And, uh, so I went and took the United Bicycle Institute Titanium Frame Building course in 1996. Um, and it was taught by Gary Helfrich, uh, who is one of the, one of the founders of Merlin. [00:10:21]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:10:22]Brad Bingham: So, uh, yeah, through that process, moots got ahold of my name and. I got asked to come out to Colorado to interview for a welding position, and you know, as soon as they offered it to me, I took it. And kind of the, you know, the rest is, is history. And, you know, I did feel like that was a wonderful opportunity I got out here and I kind of initially thought to myself like, okay, I'll, I'll do a year out here, figure it out, and then I'll get back to Oregon and I'll start my own brand. [00:10:59]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:10:59]Brad Bingham: But I got out to Colorado and it's like, wow, I'm, I'm not gonna go home and build better bikes than this. And, you know, I'm, I'm not gonna go step, step away and just immediately be building better bikes. That's not gonna happen. Um, and I fell in love with, with Colorado and the, the stoke that people have here. [00:11:24]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:11:24]Brad Bingham: So, [00:11:25]Randall Jacobs (host): And what, what is it about, you know, what was it about working at Moots that was particularly special for you, and like, who were some of your mentors? You know, what, what'd you learn there? [00:11:35]Brad Bingham: Well, it, it was a opportunity to work from the, the very bottom, you know, the very bottom to the very top kind of. And so I was able to experience, you know, every, every part of manufacturing while I was there, every, every part of manufacturing, a bicycle frame from titanium. Uh, so I started out welding, but pretty, I did that pretty solid for, uh, five years, five, six years, you know, tons and tons of welding. But while at that time, Kent Erickson was still, um, employed by Moots, and so even in those first few years I was helping, you know, Kent never used a computer. I brought some CAD skills with me, and so pretty quickly I was involved in design work and any little part he wanted to get machined, you know, we needed to do a drawing and I was a drafts person so I could create an engineering, you know, a print, uh, that somebody could read and manufacture it really easily. So, um, with a, with a lot of those skills that I brought, I was able to evolve at moots. You know, I, I look back on it and I think, oh, it, you know, happened pretty quick, but, but really it took a, took a number of years and by 2004, um, I was the production manager at Moots and managing, you know, the flow of the flow of products through the, through the factory. And, um, at the time it was about, I think it was about 14 or 16 guys and gals that were making the bikes. So, um, You know, and then designing all the bikes after Kent left. Um, and I was, uh, designing tooling and, you know, as new specifications came out, we would incorporate those into the bikes and yeah, just making it all happen. And then, uh, yeah, I finally, finally got tired of the, the high volume, you know, it just got, it got really, really big and I was, no, I was then just, like I said, kind of a cog in the machine. And, um, and then not long after my dad passed away, I kind of felt like it was time to make a change. [00:14:09]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, that'll, that'll definitely catalyze some, some serious self-reflection for sure. Um, uh, I think in my case as well, when my, when my dad got sick, um, you know, he, he had a, in my dad's case, it was a, a brain tumor. So as a type that you usually don't, uh, get more than like 6, 8, 10 months from, um, and from then it was like, okay, I moved back, moved back home, um, and resolve like, okay, what are the things that I would like to have done if I were on my deathbed and that I would like to do and share with my father while he's still around and like, you know, shifted my whole life trajectory. [00:14:51]Brad Bingham: Sure. [00:14:52]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:14:52]Brad Bingham: Yeah. [00:14:53]Randall Jacobs (host): So, [00:14:54]Brad Bingham: I, yeah, I hope, did you get the, did you get the six or eight, 10 months with 'em? [00:14:59]Randall Jacobs (host): uh, yeah, he, he lasted about eight months or so. He passed, uh, about 10, 10 days before his 50th and my 25th birthdays. We shared the same birthday. And, um, it was, I wanted to, I wanted to land a big account in the company I was working with. I wanted to, um, get into a good grad school, and I wanted to get my pro upgrade as a racer. And I got two, two of the three before he passed. And then, uh, I had a, a good season, uh, later on, uh, the, the, the following year and, uh, was a, a Pac fodder pro for a hot minute. [00:15:39]Brad Bingham: Gotcha. [00:15:40]Randall Jacobs (host): again, like that, that reckoning of seeing, seeing a, you know, a parental figure and someone that I admired and learned a lot from, you know, I. Towards the end of life, it maybe reflect a lot on, on what I wanna do with my own. [00:15:52]Brad Bingham: Yeah. [00:15:54]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, [00:15:54]Brad Bingham: Yeah. 50 is, 50 is way too young. [00:15:58]Randall Jacobs (host): yeah. [00:15:59]Brad Bingham: Way too young. I, my dad was 63 when he passed away, [00:16:02]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:16:03]Brad Bingham: felt way too young. [00:16:06]Randall Jacobs (host): I think it is never a good age to lose a parent. Like it, it just brings with it different challenges. Like when, when you're a child, it, it's like you, you need that parental figure to help guide you through life when you're going through your, your twenties or so, you try to discover yourself and that guidance can be helpful if you're in your forties or fifties. I haven't had that experience though. I will. Uh, my mother's still around and still healthy, but, you know, then it's like you're confronting your own mortality. Uh, so part, part of the cycle of life. [00:16:36]Brad Bingham: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. [00:16:40]Randall Jacobs (host): So, so your dad, your dad passes, you decide it's time. So what'd that process look like? [00:16:48]Brad Bingham: Yeah. So, um, I chose to, yeah, I chose to leave the job I'd been in for 15 years and, um, you know, they were, moots was a, they were a little surprised by it because I had been there for so long and, um, you know, at the time I was, I was playing a pretty integral. Um, so I, I went to part-time for, you know, I gave them a healthy notice and went to part-time and then, you know, finally trailed off. Um, and that was spring-ish of 2012, and I had no, I had no plans. I had bought a airstream, uh, to renovate, so I did a, like a shell off restoration on a 1973 Airstream and, [00:17:44]Randall Jacobs (host): off renovation. So like you pulled the shell off the chassis. Sandblasted the chassis. [00:17:51]Brad Bingham: exactly. [00:17:52]Randall Jacobs (host): All right. This, this, we need, we need to do a tangent on this 'cause I, I also did a, um, uh, a camper build at one point. So tell me about this Airstream. I'm super curious. [00:18:00]Brad Bingham: what, what was the camper you did? [00:18:03]Randall Jacobs (host): Um, mine, mine, I built out of a 15 foot vno motorcycle trailer. 'cause I had a, I had a Honda Element, which is a four cylinder, um, boxy, little, little adventure mobile that I wanted to, you know, use as a, you know, I wanted to be able to tow around the country. So I built this ultra light, um, largely self-sustaining kind of off-grid trailer, you know, solar thin film, solar on the roof and water recycling for the toilet and all the other stuff. And yeah, it was, it was an experience. [00:18:34]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, mine was, uh, it was my brother-in-law's folks up in Montana. I was up in Montana in 2011 for, uh, like a, a US Cup mountain bike race, [00:18:51]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:18:52]Brad Bingham: in, up in Missoula and, [00:18:54]Randall Jacobs (host): What, what year is this? [00:18:56]Brad Bingham: 2011. [00:18:57]Randall Jacobs (host): 2011. Okay. So this is towards the tail end. I, I did the, the, um, when it was the Kenda Cup. I don't know if they were still sponsoring. It's like Show Air was a shipping logistics company that was sponsoring, this is like oh 8, 0 9, maybe 2010. So I think maybe the tail end. [00:19:14]Brad Bingham: Yeah, that sounds right. I don't even know if Kenda and Sho were still involved. Like, I, I raced like the, um, like 2010 I think I was doing like the, like Sand Dimas and Fontana. [00:19:28]Randall Jacobs (host): Yep. I did those races. [00:19:30]Brad Bingham: Yep. Did you do [00:19:31]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay. So, so, so you were a, uh, you were a private tier pro as well, or are we on a team or, [00:19:36]Brad Bingham: Yeah, I was, you know, it was moots. [00:19:39]Randall Jacobs (host): yeah. [00:19:39]Brad Bingham: I was riding to Moots and just having, just having fun with it. [00:19:44]Randall Jacobs (host): What, what years did you race? I wonder if we actually lined up next to each other [00:19:48]Brad Bingham: well I raced, I raced pretty hard like nine, 10. [00:19:56]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, same you do. Sea otter. [00:19:59]Brad Bingham: Uh, oh gosh. I don't think I did sea otter until like 2016. [00:20:06]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay. [00:20:07]Brad Bingham: My, um, yeah, my, my pro mountain bike racing, it got, got sidetracked by two hip surgeries. [00:20:19]Randall Jacobs (host): Oof. [00:20:20]Brad Bingham: So I'm trying to remember how hard I went in 2011. I feel like. Oh, yeah, yeah, [00:20:28]Randall Jacobs (host): I had, I had already retired by that [00:20:30]Brad Bingham: yeah, yeah, [00:20:30]Randall Jacobs (host): I was like, okay, I've got way too much student loan debt to be living outta my car, you know, spending money to be a professional athlete. [00:20:40]Brad Bingham: yeah. So I had, um, my, my major injury, um, I tore the labrum, tore the labrum in my hip, um, which turns out was a, it was a genetic issue. Um, [00:20:56]Randall Jacobs (host): Interesting. It's just weak in some way, or there's some sort of, [00:20:59]Brad Bingham: of, shape of the femur. [00:21:01]Randall Jacobs (host): okay. My sister did the same thing and she had had to have her shaved. Did you have the, the shaving surgery or did you tear it right through? [00:21:08]Brad Bingham: The shaving. Yep. Same. Yep. So [00:21:14]Randall Jacobs (host): same thing on the other side. [00:21:15]Brad Bingham: correct both sides. Yep. I identical. So that ended up, um, the pain was pretty bad and kind of set me back in 2012. Um, and I prepped myself for surgery at the Steadman Clinic down in Vail, um, and had surgery in on the right leg or the right hip, uh, like February of 2013. And then I had my left one done July of 2013. So 2013 was kind of a throwaway year and, you know, I don't mean that entirely. It was, it was a great year. But, um, [00:21:58]Randall Jacobs (host): In in terms of competing at the highest level in athletics of any sort. Yeah. That, that makes sense. [00:22:06]Brad Bingham: But then I came back, I came back really hard 2014 and like just once I had the go ahead and I was, I had a wonderful physical therapist and I was just getting after it hard. And so at that time also I was working for Kent Erickson and he was like, you know, all about it. Like, yeah, go, go do it. Go go get it while you can, kind of. And uh, [00:22:33]Randall Jacobs (host): not something you do in your forties unless you're, uh, or fifties. Unless you're what? Tinker or, um, uh, Ned. Ned [00:22:42]Brad Bingham: I went like, so 2014 I kind of got myself back in, back in race shape and did things like Breck Epic, um, if you're familiar with that. [00:22:54]Randall Jacobs (host): I am, I got some friends who are doing it this year. I hear it's phenomenal. [00:22:57]Brad Bingham: And uh, yeah, did about a bunch of mountain biking and then I kept ramping it up until about, uh, 2017. So, yeah, it went pretty hard. 'cause my wife was, was racing cross country as well. And so it was something we did together, you know, and I would throw in road races and then, and, and whatever. [00:23:20]Randall Jacobs (host): I was gonna say that that makes a lot of sense that, uh, it was something you shared because otherwise, I mean, you're, you're on the road all the time and it's really hard to be on the road with like, as a, as a partner, be on the road with your partner who's out racing all the time and, you know, [00:23:39]Brad Bingham: yeah, [00:23:40]Randall Jacobs (host): camping at different places or, you know, subletting or, or doing whatever it takes, you know, sleeping on sofas, wherever. [00:23:47]Brad Bingham: yeah, yeah. And, uh, like, so 2016, I turned 40 in the fall, so my goal was to do 40 races before I turned 40 that year. [00:24:01]Randall Jacobs (host): Geez, [00:24:03]Brad Bingham: So [00:24:03]Randall Jacobs (host): that's, uh, that's impressive. I just turned 40 and I, I don't have a, I don't think I have a single race in me right now. [00:24:10]Brad Bingham: Yeah, that's alright. That's alright. [00:24:13]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:24:15]Brad Bingham: So, yeah. Anyways. Um, but all the way back to the Airstream. Yeah. [00:24:20]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:24:21]Brad Bingham: Fun project, you know, kind of kept me occupied. Um, as I le after I had left Moots. It, uh, definitely kept me occupied for a good few months [00:24:33]Randall Jacobs (host): And did you tow that around, um, with your wife, train, you know, training and racing everywhere, or, or were we, you just living in it? [00:24:40]Brad Bingham: it was a project. Like it took a, took a long time to get it even to where it is today, which is, I'd call it, I'd call it 90% done. I mean, it's, it's one of those things [00:24:52]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay, good. Good enough where your motivation is, uh, less than. [00:24:58]Brad Bingham: Yes, it's [00:24:59]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. Yeah. [00:25:00]Brad Bingham: Yes. And, but I. [00:25:03]Randall Jacobs (host): I think, I think that's part of the danger, the dangerous spot that I'm in. 'cause I, I also am like comfortable enough and I got other priorities, but gotta keep things moving along. [00:25:12]Brad Bingham: yeah. [00:25:13]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:25:15]Brad Bingham: So, yeah. But, uh, anyway, I didn't have any, I didn't have any plans to start, you know, to, I had no plans to be building bikes after I left Moots. I just wasn't, I just was like, I'm okay with taking some time and figuring out whatever the heck happens. And, uh, and then Ken Erickson, who had left Moots, uh, in 2005, he, he had been doing his thing for a while and he reached out and said, Hey, how about, how about you come back to me? And, uh, with the intention that you take over the business? So, [00:25:53]Randall Jacobs (host): All right. [00:25:55]Brad Bingham: so [00:25:55]Randall Jacobs (host): Wait, so this is, this is his independent business? [00:25:59]Brad Bingham: Correct. Yeah, he started Kent Erickson cycles about a year, a about a year, year and a half after he left Moots, so 2006. So, um, he'd been going for about yeah. Six, seven years. [00:26:16]Randall Jacobs (host): And is he a few years your senior? [00:26:19]Brad Bingham: Uh, yeah. [00:26:20]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. So, so he is, he's been at it, he's been at a long time. [00:26:26]Brad Bingham: Oh, [00:26:26]Randall Jacobs (host): And when did the, how long did you work together before he started to kind of transition outta the business? [00:26:33]Brad Bingham: Uh, so from, it would've been late, late 2012, um, until the late 2016. So four years that, uh, till we bought the business. And then, and then he was on board working for about 18 months afterwards. [00:26:53]Randall Jacobs (host): wow. [00:26:54]Brad Bingham: five and a half years. Yeah. [00:26:55]Randall Jacobs (host): That's really cool. That's like quite, quite narc to have worked together in a different business. Have him leave and then have you kind of take on his thing and have him supporting you in that role. Uh, that sounds really beautiful. [00:27:07]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. He and I, we have a, like, we have a good relationship. I don't spend very much time with him because he does tend to kind of hermit himself up on, on his property and he just, you know, he's, he has a beautiful piece of property up in the mountains and it's like, you know, his slice of heaven, like he doesn't need to go anywhere. Um, but to see him some pretty much gotta go up there. [00:27:33]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. [00:27:35]Brad Bingham: um, but yeah, but our working relationship is super good. Like really loved. The time we worked together is very much a lot of back and forth and a lot of mutual respect. And, um, neither of us really got upset with like, criticisms, you know? I mean, we were just really open. So it was nice. [00:28:00]Randall Jacobs (host): And you, you said, um, we bought the business and I, I know that I, I spoke together with my colleague, Sam, with your wife, um, initially before chatting with you. So, uh, you know, share a bit about, about her and, and how the two of you work together and so on. [00:28:17]Brad Bingham: sure. And actually, I mean, I, I, I kind of misspoke because technically it's only myself that owns the business, [00:28:26]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:28:26]Brad Bingham: but we were together are together, um, in everything that we do there. So, um, it feels like, you know, it feels like we bought it. [00:28:38]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, yeah, yeah. [00:28:39]Brad Bingham: but yeah, so, um, so yeah, Hannah and I have been, uh, been together since 2010, like late 2010. And, um, you know, just a, just a fun like athletic. You know, athletic based relationship because we, you know, she was a runner at the time we met, and I was kind of ki I was kind of like still enjoying some running, like I did my first mar marathon with her and, um, my first and only wait, I should, I should had that, um, [00:29:17]Randall Jacobs (host): that's more, that's more than many cyclists. Many cyclists will do. Most cyclists, I don't even know. Uh, a lot of cyclists I know will joke that they don't know how to run. So doing a single marathon is, is not bad. [00:29:30]Brad Bingham: So, so yeah, we had never, we had actually, you know, we'd never worked together. But with this idea of me taking over the business, um, I really wanted somebody there that I, that I could trust to run the books. I knew that that would take such a burden off of me. [00:29:51]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:29:52]Brad Bingham: um, so we, we agreed that, um, that that's how we would do it, and it's worked out really well. Um, and yeah, yeah, she, she has a, she had been working in some other outdoor, um, some other outdoor companies that are located in Steamboat Springs. Um, she'd been doing bookkeeping and accounting for those companies, so she was, well, well versed and ready to take it on. Um, and [00:30:23]Randall Jacobs (host): And, uh, [00:30:24]Brad Bingham: mm-hmm. [00:30:25]Randall Jacobs (host): oh, go ahead. [00:30:26]Brad Bingham: Oh, and she also, like, she, you know, makes the website happen, makes the web store happen, keeps all the backend stuff going. So [00:30:35]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:30:36]Brad Bingham: you know, it's a, it's a huge component to the business. Um, I'm sure [00:30:41]Randall Jacobs (host): Oh yeah. [00:30:41]Brad Bingham: as you know, um, it really allows me to draw some, to draw some lines of things that I work on and things that I don't work on. [00:30:51]Randall Jacobs (host): I mean, it's, it's exhausting Otherwise, uh, you know, especially like early days when, when, if it's, if it's just one person or just two people and everyone's doing everything, uh, I mean, I, it works for some people, but it definitely constrained scale. And it also means that there's a lot of context switching from, you know, now I wanna focus on products, but you know, now I have to do a whole bunch of customer service emails and then, you know, I need to do some, some marketing outreach and, oh, you know, uh, have we paid that bill yet? [00:31:24]Brad Bingham: Yep. Yep. [00:31:25]Randall Jacobs (host): Uh, [00:31:26]Brad Bingham: But, but, but we're tiny, you know, we're a tiny little operation, so [00:31:31]Randall Jacobs (host): it, it's the two of you. [00:31:33]Brad Bingham: it's the two of us and one employee. [00:31:35]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay. [00:31:37]Brad Bingham: Yep. [00:31:37]Randall Jacobs (host): And, and what is your, uh, what's your other team member doing? [00:31:41]Brad Bingham: So Ed, ed is our, our third man, and, uh, he's like, does all of the final, final assemblies. So, uh, you know, complete, complete build outs. Um, he is, uh, he's a veteran of the bike world. Uh, he used to own one of the bike shops here in downtown Steamboat. Uh, he's a certified motorcycle mechanic. Uh, um, so he's just, he's just awesome, super, super diverse. So he builds, he builds all of my wheels, like I said, does the final assemblies. He kind of manages the, the web orders and ships product based on those incoming web orders. Um, and then, and then he's also in production. So he's, uh, does all the finish work on the frames. Uh, that's like bead blasting and polishing, you know, brushing what everything that kind of takes place after I weld it, [00:32:46]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:32:47]Brad Bingham: you will. Um, and then [00:32:49]Randall Jacobs (host): so you're doing the tube selection, mitering and all the upstream up there, is that right? [00:32:55]Brad Bingham: correct. Yeah. [00:32:56]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:32:57]Brad Bingham: Yep. And then he has, oh yeah, yeah, exactly. So he has some, uh, you know, some machining, some other machining roles as well. But those are like, it's, it's really funny just how they fall into the production process. 'cause like he, like I, it's like we always need something. There's always something to be done, [00:33:24]Randall Jacobs (host): So what's the, what's the process like? Like say, you know, one of our listeners, um, was looking to get a custom bike, uh, built with you. How does that, how does the communication work? How's, what's the, the process you take them through? [00:33:37]Brad Bingham: Yeah. So typically they reach out, excuse me. Typically they reach out through the, the website and then the conversation starts. Um, we have a pretty basic. Kind of intake form, if you will, uh, fit form. And we start with that. Uh, that does have a lot of, uh, a lot of measurements that they can provide, uh, if I were to be creating the fit based on those measurements. But what I am seeing more and more is that clients are coming with a fit, you know, most often a retool fit, [00:34:14]Randall Jacobs (host): Yep. Same. [00:34:15]Brad Bingham: totally dialed. Yep. And so then the, depending on our workload, uh, you know, sometimes we have to delay, um, the conversation because I've just got too many clients currently that I'm working with, [00:34:33]Randall Jacobs (host): It's a good, good problem to have. [00:34:35]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. Generally it's a good problem. Yeah. So, um, but we start the conversation, you know, again, every, every client is a little bit different. Nothing. No scenario is exactly the same, but, um, most often we create a, create an estimate for the build out that they're looking for. Um, you know, if, if it's a complete build, of course they wanna see what that's gonna look like. Um, so we provide, we provide estimates, uh, with no, um, you know, with no deposit, no, no obligation to purchase. Um, we want them to see, you know, where, how they're spending their money. Um, once they're satisfied that like the pro that things look good, um, then we take a deposit and then we really dive into the design work. Um, try to avoid putting in a lot of front end design work with no, um, you know, with no obligation. I. [00:35:41]Randall Jacobs (host): Sure. And I mean, you can get, you can go pretty far in kind of teasing out high level, a high level understanding of what the rider needs. And also I. They can get a real sense of whether, you know, whether it's going to be the right match for them, you know, with those initial conversations. So that totally makes sense. And then when you are, when you are looking at like, okay, so what are the different, walk us through like the different parameters of frame design for a particular rider. What, what are the, the different levers that you can pull? And then what information are you teasing out from the rider, either through that fit info or those conversations to, to determine, you know, how that bike gets created? [00:36:20]Brad Bingham: Yeah. So I mean, you wanna, you wanna get kind of deep [00:36:24]Randall Jacobs (host): Oh yeah. Let's go, let's go. Full nerd. Uh, so I, I think I shared with you previously, like I had, you know, did a two episode, uh, conversation with Craig Calie that was got into boron infused resin and like, you know, I think Josh Porter and I were talking about. The creation of CAD tools for modeling a spinning wheel. Uh, so we, we can go as, we can go as nerdy as we like. So yeah, give give us, give us the full nerd version. [00:36:52]Brad Bingham: Well, since we're on the gravel ride, um, you know, let's talk or let's talk a little bit around a gravel bike. Um, but when there's, you know, so for example, a lot of my clients do tend to be like, you know, their, their experience riders of a certain age, let's say. So a lot of those fits, you know, they, they are changing. Um, so, you know, you really want to look at all of the parameters and, you know, weight bias, rear wheel, front wheel is a biggie. Uh, so you kinda identify that pretty, pretty quickly. You know, you can adjust that of course, by front center and stem length. I. Um, to achieve a weight bias that you're, that you're happy with. But, you know, generally speaking, um, you want to, um, with those more upright positions, you know, you want to have increased trail, you want to have a longer front center. Um, you want, you know, if you're, because if you're gonna, if you're gonna have a short stem, you want higher trail. [00:38:10]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, because you're effectively without all else equal on the trail side, you're speeding up the, the ratio of, of, uh, you know, less input for the same amount of output when you go with a shorter stem. Less stability. Yeah. [00:38:26]Brad Bingham: Yeah. And, and then depending on, you know, what, what you've done with the, like chainstay length and the rear wheel weight bias, you know, that. Quickly lightens the front end. Um, so you got, you need to be, yeah, you need to be careful there. Um, so yeah, and it's like every rider is different. If you're more aggressive and, you know, racy on the gravel bike, then yeah, you might be looking for a, um, you know, for a longer stem, more weight on the front contact, front contact patch, um, [00:39:08]Randall Jacobs (host): Potentially less, less frontal area in a, in a more kind of, you know, locomotive type position for long flats and things like that as well. [00:39:18]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. [00:39:19]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:39:20]Brad Bingham: Absolutely. Um, you know, a lot of those things, a lot of those changes do end up being perception and not, not all that much reality. The, the frontal area. Yeah, it's huge, [00:39:37]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:39:38]Brad Bingham: But wheel base doesn't, you know, if a shorter wheel base is gonna be perceived as quick, oh, this is fast, right? But no, it's not, you're not going any faster because [00:39:55]Randall Jacobs (host): Sure. Yeah. It's the, the sensation of speed and, and responsiveness, which, you know, another, the flip side of the same coin is twitchiness, right? Whether it's responsive or twitchy is depends on who you are and whether you've crossed the line from one to the other. [00:40:11]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. So, but in the custom world, you know, in the custom world it's nice 'cause you have all of the levers to pull. You can do, you can do anything with it, which is, which is wonderful. Um, because I do see a lot of pretty odd or out of the norm cockpits and, and you really want to give them an experience. You wanna create a bike underneath them that just feels right. Like, wow, this, this is comfortable. I mean, it's, you know, a longer wheel base on a gravel bike is really much more comfortable, uh, for the long haul. If you, you know, especially if you're an older rider, um, those, you know, the frequency of, of bumps, you know, washboards, you can, you can change that drastically, uh, with a slightly longer wheel base. [00:41:05]Randall Jacobs (host): Tell me more about that. How does that actually work? [00:41:07]Brad Bingham: Well, because you have the slacker head angle, which [00:41:11]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:41:12]Brad Bingham: inherently allows the fork to flex a little more. [00:41:18]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay. [00:41:18]Brad Bingham: Right? And then, and then the, the longer wheel base, you know, um, just geometrically it, it doesn't have to, the, the angle of change. Is lessened [00:41:33]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay, [00:41:34]Brad Bingham: as you go over, as you go over a rise or through a pothole, that that angle of change is, is lessened on a longer wheel base. [00:41:43]Randall Jacobs (host): It hadn't occurred to me that, so you're saying like a degree of head tube angle change, all else equal, same fork, same tubes, and everything else will actually [00:41:53]Brad Bingham: you'll feel that. Yeah. You'll feel that flex. Uh, that definitely. [00:42:01]Randall Jacobs (host): Got it. 'cause I, I was thinking of it purely in terms of its effect on trail or like the caster effect to, to simplify it for those who don't know trail and um, uh, and you know, potentially the introduction of tire flop, which usually is in an issue on, you know, gravel bikes. 'cause the head tubes aren't slack enough. Yeah. Huh? [00:42:22]Brad Bingham: yeah, there, there's that. There's also, you know, again, back to like slightly longer wheel base. Shorter stem. Shorter. I think there is some, some also, um, comfort gained by, um, how much weight is on the hands, what you feel through the, what you feel through the front. But that's really driven by the overall cockpit and the, the fit parameters, you know, [00:42:49]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:42:50]Brad Bingham: so, but [00:42:52]Randall Jacobs (host): Basically where that, those three points in space where the, uh, the angle of the hypotenuse between them. [00:42:58]Brad Bingham: Yep. Yep. [00:43:00]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:43:00]Brad Bingham: So, so, yeah. You know, they, it's pretty quick, uh, pretty quick to tell the difference in how, how smooth bikes are, um, with those pretty, pretty small dimensional changes. Um, but it's even, it's been difficult for me even in design where I go, oh wow. I don't, wow. I don't wanna change the front center by, by that much. Like, oh, that's, That's 20 millimeters and then you have to remember, wait, it's 20 millimeters. It's nothing like, [00:43:35]Randall Jacobs (host): Well, as a, as a percentage, if you're dealing with a bike that has a wheel base, use a round number of like a thousand, usually a large gravel bike could be a bit longer than that. [00:43:44]Brad Bingham: Yeah. [00:43:44]Randall Jacobs (host): You know, 20 millimeters, so 2%. [00:43:48]Brad Bingham: Right. [00:43:49]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:43:50]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. But it's [00:43:52]Randall Jacobs (host): Though, in terms of, in terms of mass distribution over the two axles, it's gonna be bigger than that because it's relative to its distance to the the bottom bracket. So the rear end is staying unless you change the rear end with it as well. [00:44:04]Brad Bingham: sure, sure. And I, I think, I think oftentimes it is smart to adjust that rear center in a accordingly, um, because otherwise you will end up with, um, too much rear weight bias, you know, [00:44:19]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:44:20]Brad Bingham: so. [00:44:20]Randall Jacobs (host): Which, which can be, which can be fun if you like wheelies and for a certain type of riding, [00:44:25]Brad Bingham: Exactly. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, like, you know, the bike, I'm like, the bike I'm riding right now is, uh, I think it's about a four, I think it's like a 4 27, uh, chain state. That's center to center. Not effect, not uh, horizontal, but [00:44:44]Randall Jacobs (host): Yep. [00:44:45]Brad Bingham: center to center. It's like a, like a 4 [00:44:48]Randall Jacobs (host): So horizontal, it's gonna be, you know, for 23 it's a pretty tight, [00:44:53]Brad Bingham: Yeah, it's pretty. [00:44:53]Randall Jacobs (host): uh, actually, no, not that much, but yeah, 4 24 or something like that. [00:44:57]Brad Bingham: Yeah, actually I think it is less, um, because the drop is probably, I think the drop on my rig is like at least 73, 75 maybe I forget now. Um, but that's a pretty tight, tight rear. And then the front is like a, I think the, my current ride is like a 71.7 head angle with a 47 fork, you know, [00:45:20]Randall Jacobs (host): How tall are you? [00:45:21]Brad Bingham: uh, probably five, 10, maybe a sh [00:45:25]Randall Jacobs (host): 10. [00:45:26]Brad Bingham: yeah. [00:45:26]Randall Jacobs (host): Okay. So on a larger, medium, smaller, large, sort of, if you were to fall into a, a conventional bike? [00:45:34]Brad Bingham: Yeah, [00:45:36]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:45:37]Brad Bingham: And uh, [00:45:37]Randall Jacobs (host): Just, just for context. 'cause then, 'cause then, you know, understanding like a, you know, an extra large rider is gonna be riding, uh, even if you scale that bike up, well you, you can't really, because the wheels don't scale. [00:45:49]Brad Bingham: right, [00:45:49]Randall Jacobs (host): so you have to adjust those, those angles and those lengths and stuff like that. Not just proportional, but also to account for the fact that the wheels are staying, uh, which, which I always thought was an interesting opportunity. Uh, you do see some brands that, um, uh, will, you know, restrict to like a six 50 B on their smallest sizes, for example. Uh, [00:46:09]Brad Bingham: You do see that a lot. Yeah. [00:46:12]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. I, I, I think we should bring back 26 for those really small riders who wanna run two point fours, but I guess there's not enough of a market or a marketing, uh, uh, you know, edge to be gained from it, so. [00:46:25]Brad Bingham: Yeah. I, I, I find that, uh, my more like, my more experienced clients that are, that are very small, they're, they're really looking for 700. [00:46:37]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:46:38]Brad Bingham: they're, they, they [00:46:39]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, it's interesting. Same. And how much of that is, what do you think are the drivers of that? Is that, do you think it's actually better for the vast majority of those riders, or, [00:46:52]Brad Bingham: I think that the, the, again, kind of back to that going, you know, actually going fast comfortably, like comfortably going fast, you're going to do that better on a 700 than on a six [00:47:07]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, just rolling resistance attack angle, things like [00:47:11]Brad Bingham: Yes. Yes, exactly. [00:47:13]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. So, [00:47:15]Brad Bingham: and we. [00:47:16]Randall Jacobs (host): so worth the com worth the compromises on, maybe responsiveness or, or what have you. 'cause you're definitely giving up something there, even if you do proportional cranks. [00:47:24]Brad Bingham: for sure. Yeah. But I, I think like there's, you know, you know how it is, there's a, the, the sharp end of a peloton they want, or, or the entire Peloton, they want responsiveness. [00:47:37]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. Yeah. [00:47:38]Brad Bingham: but you know, for [00:47:40]Randall Jacobs (host): how do you do it on those really small frames? Like, you know, you have a, a five foot ri, five foot tall rider come in and they want to do gravel racing. Four foot 10. Yeah. Four foot 10. I mean, there's, it's unfortunate, um, there's almost nothing out there off the shelf for a rider who's four foot 10 and they end up on these bikes with no standover and a 40 mil stem, and they're still not fit properly. [00:48:03]Brad Bingham: yeah. So I, I take advantage of, so seven cycles, [00:48:09]Randall Jacobs (host): Yep. [00:48:09]Brad Bingham: been producing, producing a fork called the the matador. [00:48:14]Randall Jacobs (host): yeah. [00:48:14]Brad Bingham: for quite a while. It has a 55 millimeter offset. [00:48:18]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:48:19]Brad Bingham: So you can get, you can get pretty slack with the front end and still keep it, um, you know, on the low, low lowish side of trail. Um, [00:48:31]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. And for, for those who don't know, um, when you increase the offset, you decrease the trail all l sql. And when you de, when you increase the head angle, you um, decrease the trail as well. You essentially less trail, less castor effect all else equal, more, more responsive or more twitchy, depending on whether you've crossed over into, you know, if you went too far, it wouldn't, you wouldn't be able to handle the bike over much. [00:48:58]Brad Bingham: Right. [00:48:59]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:49:00]Brad Bingham: Yeah. So those, you know, and tow overlap is a real, is a real thing. And when you start talking about a bike that's gonna clear a 45 millimeter tire, um, so. [00:49:12]Randall Jacobs (host): a four 10 rider. Yeah. That's, that's hard to pull out. Are you doing, really, are you finding proportional cranks too? Are you running one fifties or one 40 fives or, or this sort of thing? [00:49:22]Brad Bingham: Yeah. I think to date, one 50 is the smallest I've gone. [00:49:27]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, [00:49:28]Brad Bingham: so, um, but those bikes, you know, they're, yeah, they're not, they're not racing at a high level, you know, they're, they're out enjoying gravel rides. [00:49:43]Randall Jacobs (host): yeah, [00:49:44]Brad Bingham: Yeah. [00:49:45]Randall Jacobs (host): yeah. Those, I'll just comment, just, uh, anecdotally the conversations I've had, particularly with some of our smallest riders is proportional crack lengths makes such a big difference. And like people are, people are just used to riding the same cranks that you and I. You know, ride their whole lives and they never knew anything different or like their bike. You know, I've, I've had riders that are five foot tall and their bikes came with one 70 fives. You know, they had a, they had a hybrid or something like that, or, or they're coming off of something, or like an older road bike and I put 'em on one 50 fives and it's just like, I can spin, [00:50:20]Brad Bingham: Yeah. [00:50:21]Randall Jacobs (host): spin it. High cadences. My, my pedal stroke doesn't fall apart when I'm tired. [00:50:25]Brad Bingham: Well also, you know, you look at bike, bike frame design and bike frame design has been dictated by what is a common crank arm length, you know, one 70 to 1 [00:50:34]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. Exactly. Together, together with, uh, uh, you know, the outer attire radius, which is in turn driven by the, the rim dimensions. So like six 50 B or, or 26 versus 700 and so on, uh, puts different constraints. And then you have BB drop. If you have smaller wheels, you can't have as much BB drop, which means you're kind of more on top of the bike. And so you have all these different factors that impact each other that you're balancing. [00:51:03]Brad Bingham: yeah. And I'm, I'd say overall, my, my design philosophy is you have, uh, the, kind of the lowest. Possible center of gravity. Um, so maintaining, uh, you know, a low, low bottom bracket, um, whatever is acceptable for like, you know, wheel base crank, arm length, intended pedal, all those things. [00:51:28]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, essentially is, is, I mean, there's really not much reason not to go as low as you can go without risking pedal strikes [00:51:36]Brad Bingham: Yeah. [00:51:37]Randall Jacobs (host): more or less any application. And it's just a matter of what the application demands. Like a road bike that's doing crit racing, it's gonna need to hire bb 'cause you wanna be able to pedal out of the corner as soon as possible. Um, dual suspension, mountain bike, you know, same deal. But it's, it's, uh, you need to hire BB because you have all that squish. [00:51:56]Brad Bingham: yeah, yeah. Cycl, lacrosse, bikes, you know, side hill, side hilling, and [00:52:01]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. So it's interesting, you know, as gravel has, has taken over, um, cross and road. Arguably you ha like a lot of people who previously might have had a road bike now might only have a gravel bike that they use for road two. Uh, but like cross cross bikes have seemed to kind of converge with gravel bikes. You don't see a lot of high BB cross bikes, at least to my knowledge, on the production side anymore. [00:52:26]Brad Bingham: Correct. I think that's been a, I think that's been driven by how people are actually using the bikes. [00:52:33]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. Yeah. [00:52:34]Brad Bingham: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. [00:52:36]Randall Jacobs (host): right. So we've, we've, we've gone pretty deep on geometry. How about, uh, tubes? [00:52:41]Brad Bingham: Mm-hmm. So in, in my [00:52:44]Randall Jacobs (host): the levers you can pull? [00:52:45]Brad Bingham: in my world, you know, I work with titanium exclusively, and everything that I have in-house is straight gauge tubing. Um, the [00:52:58]Randall Jacobs (host): Is this all pre preformed as tubes or are you buying any flat sheets and rolling and, and welding them? [00:53:04]Brad Bingham: no, no, the, uh, no, nothing like, [00:53:07]Randall Jacobs (host): like the six four stuff. [00:53:09]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. Like, uh, I have visited some of those factories that, that perform that function. Um, but it's just not, yeah, in my opinion, it's, it's barking up the wrong tree. Um, the tubing that I get, the vast majority of it is from Washington State, from Sandvik, which is actually, they just recently were kind of rebranded to their Swedish parent company name, which is Aima. So it's, [00:53:42]Randall Jacobs (host): Interesting. Sandik makes, um, the wire that's used in spokes as well. [00:53:46]Brad Bingham: uh, I believe it. [00:53:49]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, so like we, we use Pillar Spokes and they use Sandvik. I think SENE does as well, and it makes sense, right? These are high grade, um, high performance, uh, alloys. [00:53:59]Brad Bingham: Yeah. [00:54:00]Randall Jacobs (host): Huh, I didn't know that. [00:54:01]Brad Bingham: there's, there's only two, two places in the United States that produces titanium tubing. And that's, uh, Alma in Washington State and Hayes in Louisiana, [00:54:13]Randall Jacobs (host): And that's actually produced. So they're, they're getting the raw material from somewhere and they're forming it into tubes here, forming it into alloys here, or alloying it, and then forming it here. [00:54:25]Brad Bingham: Yeah. The, the, what they refer to as Tube Hollow, that is kind of the last step of the process before it actually becomes a tube that, that Tube Hollow is all sorted out. Like the alloy is correct, the condition is correct, and then they manufacture the tube from that. Um, and then at that, from that point forward, you know, all they can, all they can do to it is, uh, alter the condition through a kneeling and, and working [00:54:58]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. Okay. [00:54:59]Brad Bingham: So I get most, the vast majority of my tubes come from Washington State. And those come in, uh, typically in like 17 foot lengths. Um, yeah. [00:55:13]Randall Jacobs (host): So you have a dedicated truck coming to you, you're buying [00:55:16]Brad Bingham: Oh yeah. [00:55:17]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. To move that sort of thing. You're not, you're not doing less than, less than container load. You're doing like a a box trucker or something? [00:55:24]Brad Bingham: yeah. I mean, it usually comes by freight. It's, uh, and then you have, you know, minimum footage requirements, um, per purchase. So, and, and that's minimum footage, requirement per diameter, per wall thickness. [00:55:40]Randall Jacobs (host): Mm-hmm. [00:55:40]Brad Bingham: So you have to buy, you know, um, it ends up being thousands of feet of material to have enough material selection on hand that you feel good about the, the tubing you can offer. [00:55:56]Randall Jacobs (host): So you're buying, and this is just, you're sourcing just for yourself. You're not consolidating with other builders. [00:56:01]Brad Bingham: Correct. Yeah. Nobody else. [00:56:04]Randall Jacobs (host): That's a, yeah, that's a big commitment of, uh, of capital. [00:56:08]Brad Bingham: It is, it's very, very large. Um, [00:56:11]Randall Jacobs (host): So I would imagine like you basically spend a whole bunch of money early in the season and, well, I, no, I guess you're, you're probably able to kind of keep your demand consistent over the years. So you probably do a couple buys a year or something like [00:56:23]Brad Bingham: yeah. You end up buying enough material that you're gonna be, you, you'll have that material for literally years, you know, all, so, [00:56:33]Randall Jacobs (host): I would think especially some of the more esoteric SKUs with high, high, um, uh, minimum order quantities. [00:56:39]Brad Bingham: correct. [00:56:40]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:56:41]Brad Bingham: Yeah. But it's okay. Like, yeah. That's, that's the, that is the titanium world, because if, if you want the highest quality American made tubing, then that's, that's what it takes, period. [00:56:54]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, [00:56:54]Brad Bingham: There's other way to get it. [00:56:56]Randall Jacobs (host): And then what is, what are other people doing? Are they working through distributors and just hot paying? I'm, I'm curious about the, the business side of it as well. Like, are there, so, so here in the Hudson Valley where I am, we have, uh, vicious cycles and, uh, Um, Carl. Yeah, so Kyle's, I was out on a ride with him the other day. He'll, he'll be at Made as well. I know you'll be at Made too. Um, but he's, he, his other, the other side of his business, I forget the name of it, is the, I think the biggest distributor of steel tubes or one of the biggest distributors of steel tubes. And so you can do small batch, you can order as you go, but presumably pay, pay a premium. But does that sort of thing exist in Ty? Must exist in titanium as well? [00:57:37]Brad Bingham: It [00:57:38]Randall Jacobs (host): Not as much, [00:57:39]Brad Bingham: not, not in the, not in the same way. Um, you can certainly purchase, uh, tube sets like from, uh, data chi, uh, Columbus. Uh, but those are all, you know, Reynolds, um, aura Titanium, but those are all overseas. Third [00:58:02]Randall Jacobs (host): Or is Taiwan right? [00:58:04]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Aus, Taiwan. [00:58:05]Randall Jacobs (host): to their, yeah, I've been to their factory. [00:58:08]Brad Bingham: Yeah. Yeah. I've got some, I have some dropouts coming from them to, to check out. Um, hopefully they're here like today or tomorrow. Um, but, uh, but titanium is, uh, titanium is just such a difficult material to create. There's, there's, you know, not a lot of players, um, in that world. And it's expensive, you [00:58:36]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. [00:58:36]Brad Bingham: so that, yeah, to put that outlay of capital to create tube sets for distribution, like that's being taken on by those larger companies like Columbus, data Chi and such. [00:58:52]Randall Jacobs (host): It reminds me, uh, I'm gonna go off on a, a tangent here. Um, you ever hear about the, the Black Hawk, um, uh, spy plane? Think could do like mock 3.4 [00:59:04]Brad Bingham: yeah, they [00:59:05]Randall Jacobs (host): it was, [00:59:05]Brad Bingham: kerosene coffin. [00:59:08]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah, it used to leak it. The, the temperatures when you're going Mach three plus are so high because you're essentially compressing the air ahead of you and creating that massive shock wave. But also you just, you know, compressing all that heat energy and then there's, it's impossible to dissipate it faster that they, and the expansion in the titanium would be such that they built it so that it was leaking when it took off, and then all the gaps would seal up when you're actually up in the air. And then they'd have to do air to air refueling, [00:59:38]Brad Bingham: I'm kind of a, I'm kind of an SSR 71 Blackbird, um, nerd. [00:59:43]Randall Jacobs (host): Nerd. All right. So then, so then you know about how, um, uh, the, the titanium was sourced [00:59:51]Brad Bingham: Oh, well, no, I, maybe [00:59:54]Randall Jacobs (host): from, from the U S S R through, through like intermediaries. So a us, uh, us you know, Soviet Union. So a US spy plane built to spy on the Soviet Union in, I think, you know, that plane was, uh, launched what in the, in the seventies? [01:00:12]Brad Bingham: The, the Blackbird, [01:00:13]Randall Jacobs (host): was it? Yeah. Was it even earlier? [01:00:15]Brad Bingham: it was earlier. It was developed in the fifties and into the si and into [01:00:19]Randall Jacobs (host): then decommit maybe, then maybe decommissioned in the seventies [01:00:23]Brad Bingham: Well, it was top secret until I forget. I don't know. I forget the date, but, yeah. [01:00:29]Randall Jacobs (host): until, uh, yeah, that I, I always found that interesting that, uh, it's like buy, buying this material that it, but it, it does speak to the fact, not just of Cold War tensions, but also of, you know, even a, a power as seemingly mighty as the US had to source this particular material from an adversary, um, because of what you're speaking to, the difficulty of producing it. Um, Then you get into like the, the properties of this material, which, you know, were essential to being able to create that craft at the time in the first place. But, you know, that craft required major compromises and usability that made it, you know, dangerous and expensive to, to build and operate. Uh, you know, sitting in a pool of kerosene on a runway is, uh, I guess does it light easily? I don't think it lights all that easily, but, um, [01:01:24]Brad Bingham: No, no. They just, [01:01:25]Randall Jacobs (host): still not a good thing. [01:01:26]Brad Bingham: they just said that it, that's what they called it. Um, just because you could smell the, the fuel, you know. Um, but yeah, but the, the SR 71 is a, uh, was a development project, you know, uh, that we can thank for so much of the, the titanium that we use today and, and a lot of the manufacturing, you know, the manufacturing processes that were used in the nineties, you know, to make, um, to, you know, Merlin Lights, lights, speed, all those brands. Um, yeah. Have you ever been up close to an sr? [01:02:07]Randall Jacobs (host): No. Where can you, where can you do it? [01:02:10]Brad Bingham: um, I think, well they, they tend to travel around to the different air, you know, aerospace, air and space museums. Um, I was up close with one in, uh, McMinnville, Oregon at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, [01:02:27]Randall Jacobs (host): Huh? [01:02:28]Brad Bingham: that was super cool. They, um, they were allowing. You just sit in it as well. And, but then I believe there was one at the, the Pima Air Space Museum in, uh, uh, Tucson. [01:02:45]Randall Jacobs (host): Yep. [01:02:45]Brad Bingham: So, um, yeah, [01:02:46]Randall Jacobs (host): Right by the boneyard, [01:02:48]Brad Bingham: correct. Yeah, [01:02:49]Randall Jacobs (host): which is, uh, the decommissioning location. You just have, if you've ever those listening, if you've ever seen pictures of thousands of aircraft sitting in a desert, that's the boneyard outside of Tucson. It's an insane place. Um, [01:03:03]Brad Bingham: But, but at that, the one I was looking at there, when you went up to the, like the jet engine cowling, you, and you look closely, uh, you, you're looking at these massive pieces of titanium and if you look closely, you can see the end mill machining marks, you can see how that was machined and it was probably done manually. [01:03:31]Randall Jacobs (host): Oh yeah. Especially at that age, uh, at that, uh, that vintage. [01:03:36]Brad Bingham: hours and hours that probably went into that. So pretty, pretty cool. Yeah. Cool stuff. [01:03:42]Randall Jacobs (host): There's, um, y you've probably come across the, there's videos on YouTube with, uh, interviewing the engineers who worked on that project in particular, some of the, oh, um, okay. Welcome to your next rabbit hole. [01:03:54]Brad Bingham: I rarely go down the YouTube rabbit [01:03:56]Randall Jacobs (host): This, this is a worthy one. I would say. There was, there was one, uh, there was a couple interviews I, I watched with, uh, someone who worked on the engines, uh, for that craft. So an engine that's pushing, you know, 3.2, 3.4 m at, you know, again, fifties, sixties technology. Um, and one, it's cool stuff, but two, um, just the delight that, that you see in, in, you know, he's, he's still, you know, in 2023 giving tours and talking about that experience of working on these [01:04:31]Brad Bingham: Mm-hmm. Super cool. [01:04:34]Randall Jacobs (host): Yeah. Um, cool. All right, so we've, we've, thank you for indulging my rabbit hole. Seems like we have another thing in common. Uh, uh, so, so, okay. So you have your tubes. Um, [01:04:49]Brad Bingham: Oh
This week we sit down with Joe Earley, the driving force behind Tifosi's remarkable success. Earley traces his roots in mountain biking back to college years in Georgia, where the community's vibrant cycling culture exerted a significant influence. Joe describes his early days as a outside rep in the cycling industry alongside his wife which laid crucial groundwork to the founding of Tifosi. They recognized an opportunity in the world of sunglasses, spurred by the market's demand for cost-effective yet quality options. The Tifosi brand was established in 2003. Joe describes Tifosi's in-depth attention to the smallest details. Adjustable ear pads, nose pads, innovative ventilation, and photochromic lenses - everything designed with the athlete in mind. They have integrated style with utility in the 'Swank', a lifestyle-looking glass that showcases their commitment to high-quality materials. For gravel cyclists, Earley recommends the fog-resistant, rimless glasses from the rail series. With an easy lens-swapping mechanism, users can adjust according to different lighting situations. Tifosi Optics Website Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [00:00:00]Craig Dalton (host): Hey Joe, welcome to the show. [00:00:02]Joe Earley: Thanks for having me. [00:00:04]Craig Dalton (host): I'm excited to get into the story of Te Foci. As I was saying to you offline, I've been aware of the brand for, it feels like my entire cycling career, so it's great to have you on and just kind of learn a little bit more of the backstory and why don't we use that as our starting point. Let's learn a little bit about your backstory. How'd you just, how'd you find cycling to begin with in your life, and where'd you grow up? [00:00:26]Joe Earley: know, um, I think, uh, similarly to you, um, You know, at college, mountain biking was catching on like crazy in the early nineties. And, uh, I was spending a summer with my, my older brother who had a mountain bike and I borrowed a mountain bike and instantly, as soon as I went, uh, I was hooked and, uh, really have been in, in the sport of cycling ever since. So, you know, early nineties got into mountain biking that transitioned to road cycling and then cycl across, and then now, Gravel road mountain bike, although I am recovering from a rotator cuff surgery, so I'm just on the road in gravel now. No mountain biking for a bit longer, but, uh, but yeah, that's how I got, um, got started in, uh, in the sports, uh, was really just through my, through my brother and, uh, Through college, just jumping on a mountain bike. So, um, you know, and then similarly to you, I had a, just a passion, um, for cycling. Just loved it. And, um, got my first job outta college and went and did that for a while. Sales managing for, for a, a boat dealership of all things. And then, um, my wife, uh, Elizabeth, who runs the business with me, her dad was a, a rep in the cycling, in the tractor industry. So he sold like tractor attachments. And I said, you know what, what Henry does, I, I could probably do that in, in cycling, right? There's gotta be some of those out there. So I picked up like a mountain bike action. I flipped to the back, to the list of advertisers and I just started calling companies. And, um, we started our own, um, independent cycling agency first. So that was our, our first business in the, in the cycling space. Um, we ended up having a very successful agency here in the southeast. So we're based right [00:02:08]Craig Dalton (host): gonna ask Joe, where, [00:02:09]Joe Earley: Georgia. [00:02:11]Craig Dalton (host): where were you in, where were you in college when you first discovered mountain [00:02:14]Joe Earley: Uh, so I was at University of Georgia. Uh, I spent a, a summer in Birmingham, actually in, uh, Oak Mountain State Park. Any listeners in that area? Uh, one of the best mountain bike places I've ever been to still today, and I've been riding for 30 plus years. Um, so that was one of the first places I was exposed to, to mountain biking, but then came back here, uh, to college in the fall and, uh, Go Dogs, university of Georgia Town here. We're in Watkinsville, Georgia, which is about 10 minutes from the University of Georgia in Athens. So, um, [00:02:42]Craig Dalton (host): And, and I feel like in that sort of early to mid nineties, Georgia actually had a nor national race over in, in the [00:02:49]Joe Earley: yeah, so actually we had, we had some interesting things. We actually hosted the, uh, the first Olympic mountain bike race here in Atlanta. We went to see that, that was crazy. It's, it's so hot here, uh, in the summer. So it was, uh, it was interesting seeing those guys hammer along. But yeah, there's been, um, you know, there's, there's also I think been a Norman National that used to be up at Sly, uh, in North Carolina, which is right over the, the border. But, um, really active, um, mountain bike scene and, and cycling scene in general here in the southeast. Athens has always been a big, you know, cycling area, the Twilight Criterium, uh, one of the best. Probably road, um, cycling events to watch in the States. 'cause it's, it's downtown Athens at night. It's when students are in, it's, uh, it's a pretty electric vibe. So it's a, it's a fun area for this. [00:03:35]Craig Dalton (host): And would you describe it as being a vibrant cycling community year round in Georgia? [00:03:40]Joe Earley: Um, yeah, I mean definitely there's pockets of, of areas where it's not as accessible. You know, if you're, if you're in parts of Atlanta, The, the, just with traffic and everything else, it's just not as accessible as a lot of other cities. Athens seems is a, is a pretty good community. We're in Watkinsville, which is a small town outside of it, but there's a lot of, you know, Atlanta does have the Silver Comet, which is a rails trail that goes all the way from Atlanta proper all the way out to the Alabama state line. Um, and so it's, it's a nice, uh, venue to have there. So it's a, you know, it's a, it's a very. Cycling friendly community overall, just, I wouldn't ride on a lot of the roads in, in Atlanta, it's a little bit hairy just 'cause of the amount of volume and there's not a lot of dedicated, like some cities, a lot of dedicated, um, bike lanes. [00:04:27]Craig Dalton (host): So you mentioned you and your wife started, uh, an independent rep agency focused on the cycling industry. What were the first products that you picked up? [00:04:35]Joe Earley: my gosh. The first products we picked up, um, brands that are gone now, um, rocket Power Parts, which was like a, a glove company. Um, we did Cantina Mountain bike gear. I. Um, CKA Cranks for a while. Um, but then the first brands that we picked up that we really started to be able to build a business with, um, Louis Gar Apparel, uh, out of Quebec City. And then, um, Marin Mountain Bikes. They didn't have any sales in our territory, but we were able to start building a business with those brands. And then, uh, over time we picked up, you know, a lot of great brands. Um, we were doing CD shoes, Easton, when they launched their cycling. Um, Products independently from selling through other people doing their, their carbon fiber products. Um, gosh, what else do we have? We did cliff bars, another southeast company, defeat socks. Uh, we did sunglass brands. We did a lot of different, or a couple of different sunglass brands over the years. Um, and that's kind of what led to tci. We had a very successful cycling agency. We were selling what was at the time, the number one, you know, cycling, sunglass, and I would make a great commission for those. Your listeners don't understand what an independent rep does. It's. You're a 10 99 independent contractor, you only make money on what you sell. So it's not like these companies are paying you a, a, a salary, it's if you sell a one of their products, you make a commission on it, uh, and you're selling to the bike shops. So we would place a, a display of 12 or 24 pairs of these higher end products, and, and we get a nice commission at that point. And then I'd go around the next month to see Craig and say, Hey, Craig, you know, uh, What's going on with the sunglasses? It looks like you've sold a pair, you know, and they would sell one or two a month at most. Um, and I'm like, guys, I can't stop the car for one pair of sunglasses. How can we sell some more? [00:06:19]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Yeah. I think that's another like interesting point just to make sure everybody understands, is like as a independent sales rep, you're going out and visiting throughout the territory. Maybe it's Georgia or the broader Southeast, and you're visiting every single shop. Your job is to figure out how to sell the products. You're obviously selling, but what, what's selling in the shops? Like, what should you be bringing to them? 'cause that's how you make money. [00:06:45]Joe Earley: And it's, it was a great, um, great business. Loved it still. In fact, my, my former agency, a fellow who worked for me runs it now. Um, so still, still exists. Um, great. Interacting with the retailers. 'cause what's great about the cycling industry is that the. The retailers and the shop owners. In the shop buyers, they are the market. You know, they're kind of like me and you. They got into it 'cause they, they like cycling. There's not a lot of people in the cycling industry that. Oh, well, I just, I, I wanted to, you know, start a, a great business and make millions of dollars, so I'm gonna go sell bikes, right? It's just not that type of market. So, um, you know, you're interacting with people who get the product, they get what is exciting to their consumers. Um, and so that was, that was a great learning experience just overall about products and demand and what. Selling through products. Um, you know, and we consistently see our retailers and they have sold a pair of sunglasses. And as we were talking to them, the feedback was if they had something that was nice at a, at a lower price point, they thought they could sell, you know, more products. Um, at the same time, you know, I knew lots of reps in other territories, so we just started calling other reps in other territories going, Hey, Do you see something like this? And at the time, um, what we were focused on was the interchangeable sunglasses. So in, in mountain biking and cycling in general, the idea of being able to, to swap your lenses out quickly and easily and have those in a package, um, it was available. But the brands that was available in it was generally a hundred to 150 or $200 or more. Um, [00:08:16]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, and it feels like a lot of times you would buy the glass and you'd have to buy the lens separately, so it wasn't just $150, it was $210. All [00:08:23]Joe Earley: even the brand I was selling at the time, you know, I'm going to them going, Hey guys, just give me a product that comes with the lenses and retails at even a hundred. And I could sell quite a few of these. And so our idea was to come to the market with three lenses and be able to retail it at $50 or $60. And um, you know, we talked to other reps and other territories and consistently feedback was, no, they don't see something like this. Or, yeah, there's something there, but it's. It's just not very nice. Um, and meanwhile, there was a, a large e-commerce retailer that a lot of you guys knew in the day and, and still exists now, but performance bike was based in my territory. So they had a big mail order component and they had about a hundred stores and they were doing it. They had a sunglass that had three lenses and a case, and it retail for about 50 bucks. We can do it. It's gotta be there somewhere. So, um, In 2003, we, we said, okay, let's do it ourselves. 2002, we made the decision. We went over and, and found some sourcing and, um, we brought I think a total of 23 SKUs, 24 SKUs to market that first year. Um, [00:09:26]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, I was gonna ask, how did you, I mean that there's a, it's a big step between here and there, which is like, okay, we have this idea, we think a price point is viable at 50, $79, whatever it was at the time. But actually sourcing glasses, you're an enthusiast, your wife's an enthusiast, you understand the market. It was not gonna be feasible for you to put out, you know, super low quality glass. And have any vision for OSI surviving is that, how did you get to creating a product that met your own expectations as well as the price [00:09:58]Joe Earley: Yeah. So, um, you know, we made a trip. I made a trip. She ran everything here. Um, went to a huge optical show over in, uh, in Hong Kong actually, and met with, had to be 300 different suppliers, factories there. And, uh, had the concept of what we wanted. Had kind of the, the three lens, had some examples of what we were looking for and just literally went and met with every single one of them there over a, a four day, uh, trade show. And we found. Three, maybe four, that we thought could do the quality and had the products. And we started with, you know, open mold products. So we said, Hey, we're looking for products that already exist like this. And, um, we found those. We, we quickly even starting in, you know, late in year one, we started developing our own. Molds in our own products, our own designs, but we started with things we negotiated and exclusive for North America with them and said, Hey, don't sell these to other people. We like this design. And we brought, uh, a collection to market from there. Um, we've been very, very fortunate in that, um, you know, one of those partners that we started with in 2003, I. Is a partner we still work with today. So we've got longstanding relationships. All of our products are, are made in Taiwan, um, not in mainland China, but, uh, well all with the exception of one. We do have one product, uh, our aviator that's made there 'cause there's no metal production of sunglasses generally in Taiwan. Um, but uh, yeah, we, we were really fortunate to partner with somebody there and then started quickly trying to develop our, some proprietary products thereafter. But, uh, we were fortunate that we had the sales apparatus with the. The sales agency that we kind of knew how to sell things. And Elizabeth, my wife, was running, uh, an east coast warehouse for one of our companies. Um, so she already knew the pick pack shipping operation side of things. So we, all we needed was the product fortunately, um, to kind of [00:11:46]Craig Dalton (host): Question for you on that, on that product, Joe, I always think about sort of the lenses and the quality of lenses being important for cycling, right? We all wanna feel confident that if a rock hits us, it's not gonna break, et cetera. I. Was that were the lens quality already there with these manufacturers? They understood like they need a high impact lens. [00:12:06]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean, uh, the, the, the idea of a polycarbonate lens, uh, which is what we source on most of the products we do, we offer shatterproof product lenses on all of them. Some of our photochromics use a little bit different material. Um, 'cause of the technologies involved, but they're all shatterproof. You know, you can hit 'em with a hammer, they won't break. That technology was there. Um, and you'd be shocked at, you know, the higher end brands, high price brands that are being made in, in those facilities already. Um, so we, we knew from, hey, what they're already making, they can make the quality we're looking for. [00:12:39]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. [00:12:40]Joe Earley: we were, we were fortunate in that standpoint. We did learn a lot about lenses 'cause. You know, for instance, our first polarized products that we offered, we were using a, what's called a tack lens, which is not something we were recommending recycling at the time. Um, we moved outta that just in year two, just because it's, it doesn't have as much impact protection as like what we have with all the products now, but the lens quality and the impact protection from like the interchangeable sets, um, it was there. [00:13:06]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, and this is really rounding out the OSI story for me. 'cause knowing that you guys were within the industry and were independent reps and. Intended on going into the bike, local bike shops from the get go is super interesting. So I, I presume sort of in those first years you were able to kind of tap into obviously your, the local southeast region where you already had a lot of personal connections, but it also sounds like you had connections in other regions to sign up other independent reps to start putting the product [00:13:35]Joe Earley: know, it's a, it is a relationship business in cycling. Um, you know, I, I both, we sold it in the southeast with our agency, but then we were able to contact, we knew who the good sales reps were. I. In all the other territories. Um, now it's a, as a pioneering brand that didn't have sales, that was a challenge to get, you know, good reps on board. But we were really blessed, um, and that we were having really good success with it. Here we got a, I think we only started with six territories, um, to begin with. Um, so call it six or eight total reps, you know. Now on the cycling side of things, we probably have at least 35 ish. In that space. So we started small with that, but we went from zero to 500 retailers in the very first year. Um, just word of mouth, the retailers, word of mouth with the, the reps, you know, when we place the product in the retail stores, they started checking it right away and at a very high turn, generally in the same, you know, retail location, we're gonna sell seven or eight times as fast as their $150 sunglasses that they carry. Um, so we were very fortunate in that. And so we went from 500 dealers to a thousand and now, In the US we have about 3,500 retailers, um, doors that carry the product, and that's in the cycling space, which we're the number one market share. We have about 74% of the market, um, in cycling specialty stores. So seven and a half, 10 pair of sunglasses they sell. S um, but we're, you know, a top brand in the running space, uh, in outdoor we're carried in every R e I location out there. Uh, we actually have a really strong business, um, in the golf, golf arena. Um, we saw that as an adjacency, and so we're primarily focused on sport products. Um, but you know, cycling was kind of where we started and where still our largest kind of single market in the US is today. But we have distribution now in about. 35 other countries. Um, and almost all of those are cycling, um, specific types of distributors. [00:15:28]Craig Dalton (host): Got it. How, how, when did you sort of, uh, extend beyond the initial cycling industry and kind of go into running and multisport? [00:15:38]Joe Earley: um, we, we actually, so running was, was adjacent, but we really didn't, we didn't know it. Um, we had, uh, a lot, quite a few of our, a couple of our reps were doing Sego in the day and Sego was a strong cycling brand, but they had a very strong running apparel brand. And, um, almost by accident we had some reps who were doing Sego already. And so they're calling on run stores and so they just started pitching to FCI to them and they started picking 'em up and they were selling 'em, and they were like, we didn't even realize that. I think M P D came to us maybe back in, which is a, used to be, it's a. Retail reporting software, a company that, that collects retail data. It was probably 2006 or 2007. We were the number one market share in running specialty stores, and we didn't even know it. Um, our market share was actually stronger than it was in in Pike. Uh, it was just a smaller market. There's not as many, uh, Running specialty doors, is there our cycling doors? Um, so it really started even, you know, in late 2003, we had some adjacency. We were picking it up, and then kind of 2004, 2005, we realized, hey, this is a great other area. Same thing for golf. We saw that as an, as an easy adjacency. So we started knocking on those doors with other independent reps. So we knew the independent rep world. We knew how, how they operate, and we set up our business to make it. Easy for them to, to write orders and to get business and uh, and to make commissions. And so that, that worked very, very well for us building our brand, you know, through, through the retail network. [00:17:10]Craig Dalton (host): And Joe, how have you guys thought about product development over the years? I mean, obviously like sunglasses have been very trendy and there's been sort of an evolution. Maybe it comes from taste makers, maybe it's artificially inserted into our tastes from bigger brands with bigger marketing budgets. But I'm just curious kinda how you see product development and putting the best product possible out there. [00:17:33]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean, uh, our, we have three legs to the company stool that we talk about, and number one is product. We, we feel like we have to bring out, you know, very high quality. Technical bells and whistles, sunglasses that, um, people can use for, you know, these crazy sports that they go out and do. You know, um, cycling, gravel cycling is some of these events. It's brutal on the product. So we feel like that's like the first leg of the stool. And it's certainly you see evolution, um, with the product. But we're looking for what are technical benefits that we can bring to make the experience for the end consumer better. And so it started, like the first feature was coming in with multiple sets of lenses, right? It came with multiple sets of lenses, came with a case retail around $60. Um, you know, over time we found other features that we thought, Hey, this, this really makes it better. We were always noticing it with, with all the cycling helmets, the retention systems started really. Changing and they were bigger or smaller. And so then your eyewear stems would interact with 'em either in a negative or a positive way. So we started adding adjustability to the ear pads so that you could adjust them to get 'em to be the right fit for you. And then we noticed, okay, the same thing's true for noses. Your nose, my nose, you know, your wife's all different. So if you can adjust the nose pad, that makes it. A better experience for them when they're doing these, these crazy events. Um, and then we noticing, you know, like putting ventilation in lenses. Um, we've, we've gone so far now as we have like a utility patent on our, what we use on the rail system now, but started with our podium design. It's a, it's a shield rems design that you can interchange the lenses easily on. And so just looking for these innovations that would make it easier for the end consumer and make their experience better. Um, photochromic lenses, you and I were talking about beforehand, that's been a. A huge part of our business, you know, these lenses darken and lighten automatically in about 12 seconds. They'll go from light to dark. And so when you're talking about, you know, the gravel events with different, um, you know, lighting conditions start first thing in the morning. You want something lighter. But then you, when you're at the peak of the day and you're out on Mount Tam, like you're talking about the blazing sun, you want it to be to darken up, but you don't wanna have to pull over and swap out the lenses. So there's been a lot of technical innovations that kind of happened over the years. There is some fashion to it, Craig, for sure. Um, you know, it's, it's gotta look cool and it's gotta look cool to the end consumer and what everybody considers cool. It does change over time. Um, you know, we've definitely seen that right now on the sports side of things. You know, the big shield is, Is absolutely where the market is at. They won't, consumers looking for something that's flatter, uh, which actually for the end consumer optically is a little bit better. Uh, these flat lenses, um, give a distinct look, which is why most of the consumers are buying them, but the fact that they have less curve actually makes their optics a little bit better too. Um, so, you know, they, and then we have another whole side of our business that's more what I would consider sport lifestyle products. Um, in 2018, we launched a product called Swank, which is, um, It's, it's a lifestyle looking glass, but it's made with the same frame and lens materials that we make the, you know, $80 interchangeables with. So you can go, you know, do a, a gravel race in it or you can go hang out in the coffee shop with it. And that's been one huge change in, uh, in the business in the last, you know, six years. That's now 60% of the volume. [00:20:55]Craig Dalton (host): And do you find that some of the, the cycling shops are picking up those more casual [00:20:59]Joe Earley: Yeah, they almost all do both. They almost all do both. In fact, up until, um, Actually still in units. The swank model that we sell is the number one selling sunglass in the cycling industry. Um, and funny story, we were talking about the vegan cyclist before, uh, we started recording Tyler rides with both. He'll ride our rail, which is our top of the line kind of sport piece, and then he'll wear our Swank xl and he's doing these crazy long events in what I consider something to be way more casual. It's got him fully protected, but he loves the way it looks. He loves the way it fits. And you know, that's 80% of the battle You wanna have something that's comfortable. Comfortable for you that, that you're comfortable with when you're out there doing these things? [00:21:38]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Do you think about product development, we talk about cycling specifically. Do you think about mountain bikers differently than you do gravel riders or road riders, or do they all kinda end up merging [00:21:50]Joe Earley: I, you know, I think there's a lot of crossover. 'cause I mean, how many of us are there that we do? We do it all right. I mean, I started mountain biking, then I got into road cycling, and then I cycl across and then I do gravel. I used the same pair for all of them. Um, personally, there are some nuances, you know, in the mountain biking space, um, there is a little bit of preference to have something that's more full frame. Generally where that comes from is, um, you know, there's some, some mindset that, hey, if I crash, if it's got a frame on the bottom, that's not gonna cut me. I'm telling you from personal experience and from seeing tons of pictures over the years, if you crash hard enough, it won't matter whether you've got a full frame or you don't have a frame. You've got that, that possibility out there. Um, but I think, you know, most people these days are doing multiple disciplines. You know, when you're gravel cycling, you're p you're mountain biking, a lot of times you're doing single track, you're doing fire roads, you're doing road for certain parts of it. So those lines are so blurred now that I think the product tends to be quite a bit blurred as well. It used to be much more niche like, oh, if it's an open lens glass, that's for roadies. And then if it's a full frame, that's for mountain bikers. I don't see as much of that anymore. There's still some of it, but it's not nearly as much now. [00:23:02]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Yeah. I have to say when I first started riding the rail, my, my initial reaction was, this thing is so light. Can it possibly withstand? I mean, it's not like I go around crashing my face into things, but it was just this reaction I had. Like, is this gonna be durable enough? And, gosh, I've been wearing that glass for maybe at least a month now. And fortunately, knock on wood, I haven't crashed it. But I think I've, I've, I no longer think about durability as an issue [00:23:31]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean we, we literally, when we started it, it's like we kind of talked about it's. People say, well, if it's, if it's $80 and it's got all the features of this $250 sunglass, well what's wrong with it? That's the the impression. We would go to trade shows with a hammer and we literally would put lenses on the ground and we would start hammering on the trade show floor just so people could see that, Hey, this is gonna protect you. Um, you know, why? How can we do it? Why Y is, you know, Y is brand X $250 if you try to put three lenses with it and we're able to sell them for $80 or even have. High quality products like swank that retail all the way down to $25. Well, it's a couple things. One, we're based in Watkinsville, Georgia. None of y'all have heard from it because it's the middle of nowhere almost. You know, we're 10 miles outside of Athens. We're not based in Southern California, so our cost of doing business is much lower. Um, number two, our marketing budget is tiny, right? I mean, you don't see full page ads with all the top Pro, pro tour riders. We don't pay. Those, those guys, we just don't, we don't have the budget for that. We're trying to give the consumer that high quality product at a value. And the way we do it is we've just got a lot smaller budgets overall, and we don't make nearly the margin. It's the high-end sunglass manufacturers do. Um, so that's kind of the, the secret in the sauce. Um, You know, it's, it's, we control our overhead for things, and we don't pay for, you know, crazy, crazy spends. We don't have the money to do that, so we're delivering the consumer a great product and they buy lots of it. [00:25:03]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, I think you know that in the absence of this conversation, I would've assumed you were only a direct consumer brand and that's how you were able to achieve the, the price points that you are. So the fact that you're also affording a margin to your specialty bicycle retailer and running shops is quite impressive and maybe more illustrative of. What the cost of production actually is and what the cost of all those massive marketing budgets are for some of the bigger sung companies. [00:25:31]Joe Earley: I mean, it's a, it's a highly competitive space. I mean, most people know there is one company out there that's $25 billion in sales, and they really, mostly 99.9% of their business is on the ultra high end. And you know, from their standpoint, they have a great business. If they can sell it for $300, then they should. If someone will pay for it, then great. Uh, I've just never been wired that way. I was not that guy. I just can't get my mind around it because we've all had that high-end brand and we drop 'em a week after we buy 'em. And the scratches right in your field of vision and you've got a sick feeling in your stomach for this crazy expensive purchase you made that suddenly is now. That you've gotta go and spend more money to fix. Um, so that's just never been, never been our motto. It's all about having that value for the end consumer. [00:26:21]Craig Dalton (host): Got it. And Joe, if you were to recommend something in your lineup, and I know there's a lot of personal preference that goes into this, but if you were to recommend one set of glasses for a gravel cyclist out of your lineup, what would it be and why? I. [00:26:34]Joe Earley: Um, for me it would be the rail series. Um, so we have a standard rail and we have a rail XC and a rail race. They're all the same frame. I. Um, I like it 'cause it's completely rimless. Um, I like the completely rimless glass because you don't have to worry about fogging as much. So even if you're in a single track section down here in Georgia where it's super humid, if you're moving a little bit, it's gonna bring some airflow and you have nothing impeding your field of vision. You don't have a frame anywhere that you really notice in the activity. So, um, and I would recommend looking at one of what we call photo tech. Which is a photochromic option. We've got, um, both the Clarion Red and the Clarion Blue Photo Tech. What is that? These are, these are glasses that have a slight mirror to them. So, um, they're very light colored when they're not activated. But then when you're in full sun, you know, they're gonna give you a lot of shade. I have blue eyes, so I need that when I'm out there in full sun. And when you ride here in Georgia, mostly riding in full sun. Um, so I would definitely look at the rail series. That is, that's our bestselling, you know, Performance, um, sport piece in the line today. [00:27:38]Craig Dalton (host): That's the one I'm using. I'm using the, the blue one and it's the first time I, I put it on in my garage. It was really funny 'cause it's like, put it on, I looked in a mirror just to kind of see the color and then I walked outside. And to your point, like it changes pretty. Rapidly, um, really cool technology and, and to your point, like for an off-road cyclist, that versatility of the, the lenses changing themselves is super helpful. 'cause you don't have to change when you go in the woods, it's gonna automatically kind of just change that, that mirror element or the darkness that you're experiencing looking through 'em. [00:28:10]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean it's, it is a technology that we started offering in 2005, um, and it's come. A tremendous way now, I mean these mirrored versions that we have now, those are just available in the last three seasons, um, that we just started offering those. That's not something you really see a lot of out there. Um, and we've definitely seen a lot of, a lot of end consumers on the cycling side of things love these. Um, 'cause one look, we all wanna, we think we look cool, um, with the helmet and the Lycra on and all that. Um, but definitely having that mirror out there, it. It looks cool too. So it, it definitely gives that, that, uh, the fashion factor that we all are looking for. [00:28:50]Craig Dalton (host): Nice. And the, the, the rail in the non photochromatic lenses, you've got, it sounds like you've got several op uh, options there as well. What are those, what do those look like? Are those clear lenses? Dark [00:29:01]Joe Earley: those are gonna come with three lenses. The lenses that come in the frame will be a shaded lens, you know, probably mirrored, um, more for full sun conditions. They'll come with what we call an AC red, all conditions red. That's a good like mid light conditions. If you're unsure what you're gonna be doing, go with the AC red. And then we always put a clear lens in the package. Um, you know, still a lot of people that like to ride at dusk or at night. And so this gives you a great night riding option there. All those, you can swap 'em out in just a couple of minutes. Um, Not even a couple of minutes inside of, you know, a minute. Once you're, once you're comfortable with 'em, they're very easy to swap those lenses in and out, in and out. And we do find people that, you know, they'll buy a photochromic option and then they wanna buy an extra lens to have, you know, you can get all those on our website. We offer custom, you know, products. So you can go on our custom, you know, portal on the web website and build up a rail with whatever frame color you want, whatever lens color you want, whatever ear, padd color you want, so you can fully customize it. [00:29:55]Craig Dalton (host): Nice. Since I got the Photochromatic one, it didn't have multiple lenses, so I'm curious how, how do you actually. Take the lens out 'cause it's a frameless design. So for the listener, you've got the, the, the ear earpieces going directly into the lens itself. [00:30:11]Joe Earley: Yeah, we've [00:30:12]Craig Dalton (host): Joe's gonna hold up a pair of glasses. [00:30:13]Joe Earley: on the side. I've got the glasses in front of me here. Um, but this, this mechanism on the side here, it basically, there's a little cam here. This, this has a little flex into the backside of the frame. This is a patent we have. Um, and so it allows this frame to flex and then just pull off. So it's, it's almost like a little bottle opener almost. And then when you put it back in, you just put it in the groove there and you just snap it on. It's just rotating it up and rotating it down. So it's, it's actually very, very simple. The biggest thing is, Craig, don't be scared. You know, these, these glasses. And I do this, uh, I do this for people all the time too. Let me grab a, um, I'll grab a sample. Ah, shoot, I don't have a good sample here to do it with, but our glasses with the, the frame material we use. You can twist 'em 180 degrees like this, so you're not gonna break them. And like I said, you can hit 'em with a hammer and they won't break. So don't be scared. Um, but we do have videos [00:31:05]Craig Dalton (host): let my nine year old, I can, I can let my nine year old manhandle him. [00:31:08]Joe Earley: I'm telling you, nine year olds and dogs are our two nesses. Um, that in my wife's purse, uh, if I wanna torture, test a pair of sunglasses, I just don't tell her and I put 'em in her purse and leave them there for a month. If they come out and they're in any type of shape to wear after that, then I know that they're gonna be a good product. [00:31:25]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, I like that. I like that. Joe, this was awesome. I appreciate getting the backstory. Like I said, I've been familiar with the brand for so many years and I'm, I'm thrilled to actually own a pair now and get to use them and really can personally vouch for the quality and just super excited to hear that entrepreneurial journey and I wish you guys all the best. [00:31:43]Joe Earley: thank you so much for having us, Craig, and, um, you know, if we can help you anytime in the future, feel free. Free to give us a shout.
Looking for a unique and challenging gravel cycling experience? Look no further! In this episode of the podcast, host Craig Dalton introduces the founders of Gray Duck Grit, an exciting grass roots gravel cycling event in Southern Minnesota. Joining Craig are Kris Jesse, Nate Matson, and Mark Jesse, who share their passion for gravel cycling and the origin story behind Gray Duck Grit. Kris Jesse discusses her journey into gravel cycling, inspired by a friend's social media post, and her background in distance running. Mark Jesse, having participated in the Day Across Minnesota event and other ultra-endurance events, shares his love for gravel cycling's magical moments in solitude. They also delve into the details of the challenging 240-mile Day Across Minnesota event, which takes riders on a scenic route from Gary, South Dakota, to Hager City, Wisconsin. The founders highlight the unique aspects of Gray Duck Grit, including atypical distances and the creation of an ultra-endurance event. They discuss the beautiful terrain of the Driftless region near Northfield, Minnesota, where the event takes place, and the challenges riders may face, such as unpredictable weather and relentless winds. The episode wraps up with a discussion about the event's inclusive atmosphere, its charitable aspect in supporting Fraser of Minnesota, and a warm invitation to join the Gray Duck Grit experience. Topics discussed: Introduction of Gray Duck Grit founders The inspiration behind Gray Duck Grit The Day Across Minnesota event The challenging terrain of the Driftless region Weather conditions and preparation Inclusivity and the event's charitable aspect If you're a gravel cyclist seeking an unforgettable adventure and an opportunity to push your limits, Gray Duck Grit is the event for you. With its scenic routes, challenging terrain, and an inclusive atmosphere, this event promises an experience like no other. So, buckle up, find some dirt under your wheels, and join the Gray Duck Grit community. Episode Sponsor: Dynamic Cyclist (code: THEGRAVELRIDE for 15% off all plans) Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [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. [00:00:28]Craig Dalton (host): This week on the podcast. I welcome the founders of a grassroots cycling event in Southern Minnesota called gray duck grit. It's happening this upcoming October 6th and seventh. Yes. I said two dates in there because there's multiple distances. They're offering a 333 mile race, a 222 mile race. Uh, 111 mile race. And a 69 mile race. Each of these distances has a significance. That we'll learn about during the conversation with this trio. This is the first time I've had three guests on at one time. There's a lot of fun. I wanted to push the podcast out as early as possible. To give anybody in the Southern Minnesota and surrounding area, an opportunity to jump on this event. It looks like a lot of fun. It's presented by the angry catfish bicycle shop and has a lot of great local sponsors and supports a great cause. Before we jump in i do need to thank this week sponsor dynamic cyclist The team at dynamic cyclists offers video based stretching and strengthening and mobility routines focused on cyclists. As you can imagine from their name. They just recently dropped an updated injury prevention program. The one I like to follow, which is the six week low back injury prevention program. It's always timely. Getting an update from my friends at dynamic cyclists. Because it reminds me that I have absolutely no excuse. To not fit these 10 to 15 minute routines into my day. I waste 10 or 15 minutes doing something not productive for my body. So it's a constant reminder that I should be stretching. I've dedicated myself this year to try to strengthen my lower back. In particular to improve my longevity as a cyclist for these long gravel cycling events. And I've found the stretching routines, particularly the injury prevention routines of dynamic cyclists to be super helpful. It's very focused on what we need as gravel, cyclists for me. It's tight hip flexors. It bands everything around my low back seems to draw everything in a tight bundle if I'm not careful. So having access to a content catalog of different stretching routines has been super important to me and motivating to just kind of frankly, get off my ass. And do the stretching I need to do. If you're interested in giving it a shot, dynamic cyclist always offers free access to, I think, a week's worth of content. For you to check out what they're doing. I'm on an annual plan. If you're interested, just use the code, the gravel ride, and you'll get 15% off. You can do month by month. If you're just someone who wants to do it in the winter. Or they've got a pretty affordable annual plan. That's just kind of the easiest thing to do. To make sure it's always there. When you need it. So head on over to dynamic cyclists.com and remember the code, the gravel ride for 15% off. So with that business behind us, I want to welcome mark Jesse, Chris, Jesse, and Nate Mattson to the show. Hey guys, welcome to the show [00:03:44]Kris Jesse: Thank you. It's great being here. . [00:03:47]craig_dalton-q2xxdhaa3__raw-audio_gray-duck-grit-ii_2023-sep-06-1110pm_the_gravel ride pod: So let's get started by just, let's go around the room, maybe starting with Chris and just talk about, um, a little bit about your backstory and then we can get into, I'm going to blub it, flub it every time. Gray duck grit. [00:04:03]Kris Jesse: Great at grit. You got it. Um, I would love to start. Uh, it's kind of funny. Um, I fell into gravel cycling from, um, just seeing a post on Facebook. A friend of mine, he was going to ride this crazy ride across Minnesota. 20 some miles, um, called, um, the dam day across Minnesota. And, um, my background really is, uh, distance running. And so that is where I came from. Um, that's my passion. Um, I'm reaching Saturday. I'm heading to Utah tomorrow now, where it'll be my almost 40th marathon. And so I'm really, uh. runner at heart. And I thought, Ooh, I can do this, this gravel, uh, cycling. And so, um, after seeing his post, signed up quickly and then did my first 50 mile gravel ride and sold my race registration for that long one. So really it is, uh, that's kind of my cycling, uh, background a couple of years ago, but now just fell in love with it. Like it's my peaceful time. Um, uh, as you'll hear, Minnesota has amazing gravel, uh, to ride and to be, um, had, and so I just love it. I'm falling in love with it and kind of transitioning to just cycling. So that's my, my background. Um, [00:05:24]Craig Dalton (host): Well, I've got lots of questions about Minnesota, I'm going to table them for a minute to allow everybody to introduce themselves. So Nate, how about you? How did you get into cycling? Do you have a running background as well? [00:05:35]Nate Matson: Uh, wow. I do actually a little bit. Um, so I actually have a triathlon slash running background and, uh, it's kind of a curious fitness person and I, I fell into gravel cycling because I got injured and I couldn't run, so I leaned more into cycling. And through this one specific friend of mine, he, he also did the dam the day across Minnesota. And he was like, yo man, you should come out with me and we'll start gravel cycling together. So I got in with him, we started going out almost every weekend. And that is how I met Mark was actually on a gravel ride. So there you go. And, uh, I can run now, but I run a lot less and I cycle a lot more. [00:06:23]Craig Dalton (host): All right, Mark, your turn. [00:06:25]Mark Jesse: Yeah, I, uh, you know, Chris, Chris is a friend of ours who, who did sign up for the dam. Um, that was sort of my introduction to gravel cycling as well. Um, and, uh, it just. I went out and participated in the dam and 2019 that was my first big ultra endurance events and gravel cycling. Prior to that, it was a 50 miler with alongside Chris, as she mentioned, and it was. During that 2019 day across Minnesota that I realized how magical gravel cycling is and, um, you know, being in the middle of nowhere, not having any bearings as to what direction you were headed. All I knew is I was following, following this trail of blinking red lights and, um, it was, I would look up and all I could see were stars and it was one of the most magical. Moments I've ever experienced on a bike and yeah, go ahead. [00:07:31]Craig Dalton (host): Amazing. I'd love to just learn a little bit more about Day Across Minnesota, because that seems like it's, you know, it's the origin story of, for the three of you, and it sounds like you had friends who were drawing you into it. How long of a ride is it? And what is it? What is the experience like? [00:07:46]Mark Jesse: It's, it's a 240 mile distance. It starts in, it started, um, it is no longer for the record. Um, but when, when it was in existence, it started in Gary, South Dakota, and you would make your way across the state of Minnesota and you would end up in Hager city, Wisconsin, um, and Trenton Ragar is the. Race director. He is also the current race director of the filthy 50, which he was his first events. And, um, and I believe that started in 2013, um, uh, the filthy 50. So the dam was a five year event that took place and I participated in 2019 and 2020. [00:08:28]Craig Dalton (host): Okay. And how long does an event like that take a sort of average cyclist? [00:08:34]Mark Jesse: Well, you know, my first year, it took me 22 and a half hours. Uh, there is a cutoff, um, of 24 hours. So the expectation is that you would, to get an official finish time, right? You would need to finish, it starts at midnight on Friday and it would end on mid at midnight the, uh, the following day, Saturday. So that was the format. Um, and it was, it was pretty, it was a pretty amazing event. [00:09:00]craig_dalton-q2xxdhaa3__raw-audio_gray-duck-grit-ii_2023-sep-06-1110pm_the_gravel ride pod: And with those kind of early experiences that drew you into the sport, did you subsequently travel outside Minnesota to do events to kind of get an idea of what the flavor was in other territories? Or have you mostly been participating in Minnesota based events? [00:09:15]Mark Jesse: I. Haven't done a ton of official, uh, races or events outside of Minnesota. I did the Redfield Rock, Redfield Rock and Roll down in Iowa, my hometown or my home state, um, last year, and that was a heck of a challenge. Um, but I did a lot of other, um, I did some gravel cycling in Florida. I've done some gravel cycling in California and, um, mountain biking, uh, in Arizona and Oregon and places like that. Um, so I've done. Um, some cycling, some pretty long distances as well, um, over several days, but nothing necessarily official in other states as of yet, but I definitely plan on doing more of that because how can you not, there's just so much to be had now, right? [00:09:59]Kris Jesse: hmm. [00:10:04]Craig Dalton (host): to those longer Distance events right from the get go, whereas a lot of people come into the sports, you know, being conjoled to do their first 25 miler and then 50 miler, et cetera. So it's going to be interesting as we talk about your event, the distances that you offer as they're a little bit atypical from what I see out there in the world, with the exception of some of the, you know, the well known ultra endurance races. [00:10:30]Mark Jesse: Well, I think that has a little bit to do with our running background. Um, I, I also came from the running background. I, I have 17 marathons under my belt, I guess. Um, so the, our fitness level was there, I think. And so it was a, it was a, wasn't the difficult transition to make, um, because we had motors. We just had to. You know, adjust the legs a little bit and get those legs and those muscles used to pedaling as opposed to running. So it wasn't a difficult transition. And I grew up on bikes, typical 80s era child did, you know, so. You know, it wasn't, I was very comfortable on the dirt growing up in Iowa on a, on a giant RS 940, 12 speed on gravel was a lot more difficult than riding a high end carbon gravel bike on, on, you know, the gravel around most anywhere else. Right. [00:11:28]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, yeah, for What made you guys think about coming together to put an event on? I mean, you've participated in events, you've seen the hard work, but there has to be something that really made you have this burning desire to put in the hard hours, the money, etc., to create an event. [00:11:48]Nate Matson: I'm going to give this to Mark, but I just want to say before he gives a very official answer that we were, we were just having a lot of fun riding our bikes together, you know, and, uh, we, we knew that we were riding with some really good people and we just loved, loved that the way it made us feel. And, uh, I saw marketing sort of a glimmer in his eye. So when, so when he started talking about this ride, uh, when he invited me to be part of it, it was not really, I mean, it was a surprise, but it also oddly made sense to, [00:12:26]Craig Dalton (host): Got it. [00:12:27]Mark Jesse: Yeah, that was, you know, I didn't know what was going to come of this idea I had to, um, consider doing something like this. Um, you know, it all, it all went, it all dates back to, so the, here's the official origin, uh, origin story going back to 2018, I was running the Anchorage. Anchorage mayor's marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, along with Chris here. And I was experiencing some heartburn, um, during the first few miles and it, and it subsided, I took some Tom's because Chris would, would carry Tom's with her as, as we run marathons. And so I took some times it subsided, but, um. And, and I ended up finishing, but I was really sluggish. Um, and when I finished the, the world was spinning. I thought I was going to kind of faint or pass out, but I just sat next to a food truck and gathered my bearings. But to make a long story short, about two weeks later, I went for a run, just a recovery run. Um, that was maybe a week later and I ran two blocks and I. Thought my heart was gonna pop outta my chest. It was just not good. And I knew something wasn't right. So I, I went to the doctor and, um, it, it, I just ended up having, um, essentially I was diagnosed with a 90% blockage of my coronary artery. And, and here I ran that marathon with that blockage. Um, so, you know, it was a miracle that I even survived it. And, um, had a, had a stent placement. Um, and I. Fully recovered, but it was during that when they were reading, anytime you go in for something like this, they, they read all the possible outcomes and that really freaked me out. I, I, and so I made this promise to myself that if I, if I make it through that. I want to focus more, not just on myself and to, you know, be in better health. It was a genetic thing for me. It wasn't because of my diet. It wasn't because of my fitness, I wanted to do more for others while I had this time, um, available to me moving forward and. I didn't know what that meant, but I knew that I wanted to do something. And so then it was just a couple of years later, um, doing the dam, I wanted to prove to myself that, Hey, I'm not, I'm not be, you know, I'm not too far gone. I can still do this. You know, I'm not, I don't, I didn't want to live my life in fear of never being able to participate in something I loved, which was that, that endurance, um, activity, because, you know, it was through running that I fell in love with endurance sports. Um, not just what it does for me physically, but it's, it's cathartic, it's therapeutic, you know, um, just like it is for people who ride bikes, you get out there and, and you forget, and you, and you solve a lot of the problems that you're, you're going through and that you're experiencing. Um, it's just a very special thing to experience. And so, um. That was the, the, um, the start of it really. And, um, COVID came and went, I saw some events come and go. And then the day across Minnesota, the, the gravel event that really, um, caused me to fall in love with gravel cycling, um, they announced Trenton announced that it would be their last event in 2021. And, um, or their last year of doing it. And I just felt like, you know what, there was a void that could be filled. And, and we are by. No means trying to be the damn, um, that isn't our intent, nor is that our goal. But I do feel like there is a demographic of, of cyclists out there that would truly appreciate what I appreciated in, in doing an event that is an ultra endurance events. So that's what we have created. And. Um, it started out by doing some Strava group rides with some of the friends that I, I, I followed on Strava. I announced it, um, a couple of weekly rides and lo and behold, I, I, I met some new people. Um, and I met Nate, I met a guy named Greg Simogyi, um, in the process. Sam and some other people. And, um, it was just a great experience just meeting these people who basically we like the same band, you know, and you're not strangers when you like the same band, you know what I mean? [00:17:00]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Exactly. Well, thank you so much for sharing that story, Mark, and thank God you're still around to share it. It is a takeaway, I think, for all of us to think about, you know, how big of a void, if you're an endurance athletic participant, how big a void it create in your life. To not be able to do that thing, because as you stated eloquently, for so many of us, it's rolling meditation. It's where we process a lot of things that go on in our lives. And I know as someone who's faced challenges in my life, like the idea of managing the rest of my life without endurance athletics would be a real difficult pill to swallow. [00:17:44]Mark Jesse: Exactly. I mean, when I'm having a tough day, when I'm stressed out, the very first thing I think about as, as far as how am I going to deal with this, this stress, this anxiety, this pressure I'm feeling, I got to get on my bike. I got to go. And it's, it's the pressure relief valve. Um, you know, radiators have them. Why can't we have them? Um, so, um, you know, it's, it's, um, you know, on, on those days I go out on my bike or when I was running, I'd go run and I finish up, you know, after 25, 30 miles on my bike, it's rainbows and butterflies after that. So, um, it feels good. [00:18:23]Craig Dalton (host): there something specific about Northfield, Minnesota? Is that where y'all live? Or is it just where you knew of amazing terrain? [00:18:34]Nate Matson: I'll, I'll take this one and Mark, please interject or Chris. Um, so Northfield is awesome. First of all, it's a great, it's a great little city that it's a college town with. Coffee shops and a lot of green space, and there's a great bike biking culture there. Um, but it's also close to what is known as the Driftless region, uh, of Minnesota, which basically, uh, it's not just Minnesota, by the way, it's Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, parts of Illinois. And basically there were icebergs around this part of the world, uh, uh, during the ice age, except in the Driftless area, there weren't, so it's a very like specific little region. And that is full of caves and rivers and valleys and buttes and really, I think it has like more freshwater streams than anywhere else in the country. And it's just like this little pocket, this little area and Northfield sits right on the edge of that. So it's kind of like the gateway to this really beautiful sort of bucolic scene. And uh, it's a, it's a gravel cycling haven for sure. It's wonderful. [00:19:45]craig_dalton-q2xxdhaa3__raw-audio_gray-duck-grit-ii_2023-sep-06-1110pm_the_gravel ride pod: gotcha. So if you're a gravel cyclist in Minnesota, in sorry, Minneapolis, you might on occasion go down there as a starting point for a [00:19:52]Kris Jesse: Right. [00:19:52]Nate Matson: Totally. So Northfield, uh, is about 45 minutes. [00:19:55]Mark Jesse: from Minneapolis. So it's, it's [00:19:57]Nate Matson: So it's, it's a really, it doesn't take all day to get there. You just, you know, put your bike in the back of your car. You drive down, you can have a great ride. Mark and I were down there last weekend. So it's, it's an awesome place to be. And they have the infrastructure for cyclists there. [00:20:13]Mark Jesse: infrastructure and [00:20:14]Craig Dalton (host): all those geological attributes you described sound wonderful for gravel cycling. How does it actually translate to What the terrain feels like when you're riding, what kind of gravel, how would you describe it to people coming from out of state or out of the area in terms of how they would equip their bike and what they should expect? [00:20:33]Mark Jesse: it was really [00:20:34]Nate Matson: Well, it was really fast last weekend in parts, you know, uh, we were cruising. Uh, and at the, so when you're, there's also lots of farm roads and fields. So you can be. You know, being passed by combines and tractors, uh, one minute, then you can go down in these valleys. And you might experience something completely different. Uh, and, uh, Minnesota is known as a pretty flat state, but in the Driftless region, it's constant hills. Um, I think the, the, the 333 mile route that we have that, which Mark will talk about, I think that has almost 20, 000 feet of climbing. So, cause it's just constant up and down and up and down. And in those hills, like it can get pretty. Pretty chunky, pretty chunky. But what's really cool about the water runoff is the, the, a lot of the roads never really, uh, flood or wash out. You might get wet, but you won't have to carry your bike. [00:21:25]Mark Jesse: you won't have [00:21:26]Craig Dalton (host): Okay. So Mark was sort of describing how, you know, his passion for the sport, you guys started to get together. You find other members of the community. You have this interest in maybe putting on an event. What happens next? You form an entity. Do you set a budget? How do you get the original, the first version of the event off the ground? [00:21:50]Mark Jesse: Well, I, you know, we, we get, you get together at a bar over some drinks is how you do it. Right. That's, that's the right way to do [00:21:57]Nate Matson: That's what happened. [00:21:59]Mark Jesse: but before I did that, I, I reached out to Trenton, the filthy, filthy 50 and Dan race director. And I asked to get together with them and just go over my idea. And, and I figured if he liked it, then it gave me, it was going to get, and he may not know this and, and I apologize Trenton, but if, if he liked it, um, it was my green light to, to move forward. And, [00:22:24]Craig Dalton (host): can can I interject and ask a question about Trenton and the dam? Was it, he was just sort of tired of doing it or was there some logistical problem with doing the event? I'm just sort of curious what, since it was such a important event in your lives to see it end, if you understood what the end story of that event was. [00:22:45]Mark Jesse: I, I would, I hesitate to really comment. I just know that the, he had, you know, he's, he's, you know, uh, middle aged. He has a lot going on. Uh, he has, you know, a wife and kids, um, and he's, he's, he's a dad. And so, you know, he, he probably wanted. Maybe part of that back and, and already, you know, really 50. That's a very successful event. That's that sell, they sold out, I think, in, in less than 24 hours, a thousand registrations this year. So it's very popular. Um, and, and he's. Killing it with that event and um, you know, maybe he thought that it was something that you know, it isn't done done I don't think he he did announce that it was gonna be the you know, the last year But I get the impression he isn't done done with it. I have a feeling it could be resurrected at some point and the website still exists so and he does Encourage people to do it on their own, um, and, and he will record, uh, you know, um, any times in, in the record books or, you know, official times. So, you know, it is still a thing, um, it isn't gone forever, but, um, you know, I have a feeling it might come back. I don't want to suggest that it will, but, um, but yeah, that's, that's sort of, um, what I do know about, you know, it not being around. I, I don't want to. Speak for Trenton, but [00:24:12]Craig Dalton (host): got it. No, thanks for that with what I've seen about gray dot grit and the number of distances you do that first night at the bar. Maybe you had more than enough drinks because instead of just saying we're going to do 100 kilometer race. You actually offered a bunch of different distances and they're not short distances. [00:24:32]Mark Jesse: I'm a bit obsessed with the number three. I don't know if you could tell, um, you know, three ones, three twos, three threes, three is, you know, and numerology represents completion, uh, three strikes in a baseball game, three outs, um, nine, nine players, three outfielders. You know, nine innings, it's, it's, it represents completion. And, and I kind of being a baseball geek growing up, um, I, I, uh, it just made sense to me that, why not, you know, uh, 111, that's, that's no walk in the park. The 69 or that Nate and I rode last Saturday is no walk in the park. It's going to challenge you. [00:25:17]Nate Matson: We thought it was going to, you know, we thought it was going to be 70 miles. And we were both like, this is so much harder than we thought it was going to be. It was a reality check for sure. [00:25:29]Craig Dalton (host): So for the listener, just to put a pin in it, you've got a 69 mile race, 111 mile race, 222 mile race, 333 mile [00:25:39]Kris Jesse: Yes. [00:25:40]Nate Matson: Yeah. And as he's telling us these numbers over a beer, again, I could see his eye glistening. Like you could just kind of tell, like it's, it's happening, you [00:25:49]Mark Jesse: It's the mad scientist look. [00:25:52]Nate Matson: like, we can make this [00:25:53]Kris Jesse: And Craig, that doesn't mean I'm always like, what about a 50 miler? What do we think? And I'm not giving up that yet, that request. [00:26:03]Craig Dalton (host): I'm just imagining the kind of orchestration required, and I've seen the start times on your website from, I think it was 10 a. m. Friday for the 333, 9 p. m. for the 222, and then you start the next day for the 111 and the 69 Is the idea that theoretically everybody should be finishing around the same time? [00:26:25]Mark Jesse: Yeah, that was sort of the, the idea, right? Is that no matter when you started, you could be riding next to someone who just is a, is like they, they, they don't even know where they are because they're riding in the three 33 and, and you're, you're in the last 10 miles of your, your one 11 or your 69 mile route. Um, so to have that, you know, there is something special when. You know, by by the time you're coming around through the road to Burma, which is a section of the route just north of Northfield, um, When you, when you're coming back home, um, in the last 10 miles, um, there's something pretty cool anytime you come across someone on a bike and you know that they're doing it too, right? And so there's that instant bond that you have with that person and you've never met them before. You don't know their name and you may forget their name, but you're a brother now, or you're a sister of theirs because it's when you're out there, your family. [00:27:27]Craig Dalton (host): When you're starting at the, at the 333 mile distance. Are you offering aid stations? What type of infrastructure exists for those riders who are going to be doing it 24 plus hours? [00:27:43]Nate Matson: we, we definitely had aid stations and I would say last year was also a learning experience for what we need to offer writers and when in the sort of level of support that we should give them. Uh, I don't know, Chris, if you want to talk [00:27:56]Kris Jesse: I can, [00:27:57]Nate Matson: we learned a lot last year. [00:27:59]Kris Jesse: did. We did. I do the nutrition for the aid stations and I think what's unique about Great Oak Grit is that we do actually have, and we are thoughtful about our nutrition. I know, you know, and that's kind of what some gravel races are about is you're on your own and you know, we may supply a water stop. Or, you know, throw out some pizza or donuts or whatever. But, um, you know, so we are, uh, thoughtful about our aid stations and, um, have like, um, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pickles and things like that, that we had last year. Um, this [00:28:34]Craig Dalton (host): so even if I'm out in the middle of the night somewhere, [00:28:37]Kris Jesse: Yeah. So you will, you'll find us. Yep. Yeah, we'll have an aid station for you. And this year, um, we are, we were sponsored, we're sponsored by Kodiak and so we'll have like protein balls and then NOM nutrition and they're right out of Utah, um, Salt Lake City, kind of a new hydration. And so we'll have that, um, we're going to be really purposeful about the, and thoughtful about that long distance. Distance, yeah, nutrition, and so we'll have these aid stations set up for all the distances and, um, yeah, we'll have things like that and the finish and start. So we're really excited that we're able to do that, [00:29:15]Craig Dalton (host): that's great. Yeah, it's interesting as you sort of think about the spectrum of like bikepacking, [00:29:19]Mark Jesse: packing [00:29:20]Craig Dalton (host): Grand Depart, just start and fend for yourself. To something like this, where maybe somebody who may be a little bit intimidated to go off by themselves and forage and worried about, you know, if they're going to get the nutrition and hydration they need to be able to do an event like yours and have that infrastructure around, maybe a good starting point for people who want to. Attempt their first ultra distance event. [00:29:43]Mark Jesse: their first [00:29:44]Nate Matson: definitely, [00:29:44]Mark Jesse: Right. Definitely. Yeah. [00:29:46]Nate Matson: we also have fire pits. So [00:29:48]Mark Jesse: Minnesota in [00:29:50]Nate Matson: in October is cold and you never know, uh, what the weather's going to be. It could be, it could be 60 degrees. It could be 30 degrees. So it, it, we really don't know yet. So we're prepared. Um, but we had, we started a couple of fires last year and that was one of the things that riders, especially the 333 riders, where they were. By the fire just sitting there, you know, uh, heating up and we could tell that why not let's keep doing [00:30:18]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Yeah. [00:30:19]Nate Matson: a vibe. [00:30:20]Mark Jesse: the year before our first event, um, so this would be 2021, yeah, 2021, uh, that very weekend, it was 70 degrees and sunny the weekend of, uh, you know, a year prior. So in Northfield and, um, you know, it ended up being a little bit colder than that. Um, but, um, and it, it does definitely impact at what. You as, as a cyclist and what you should prepare for. Um, but we're going to assume that we're going to have 70 degrees and sun this year. Um, and, but if we don't be ready, you know, [00:30:58]Craig Dalton (host): Was there, um, was there a reason for choosing an October event date? [00:31:02]Mark Jesse: it's beautiful. It's peak autumn foliage in Minnesota. So if you geek out on autumn foliage, if you appreciate, if you like Thomas Kincaid paintings or Bob Ross paintings come to Northfield in October, because you're going to see it. And you're going to see it like every other turn. It's absolutely beautiful. [00:31:23]Kris Jesse: that's another, in this region, this area, Craig, it's so beautiful. It's, it's just that fall crisp and you see, you know, you just look out in the leaves and the trees and it's really nice, [00:31:37]Nate Matson: It definitely has like Sunday morning PBS specials. You know, vibes when you're riding around, it's just really beautiful, you know, and there's tons of farmland and you'll be cycling past cows and [00:31:51]Craig Dalton (host): Is it a lot of, a lot of farm roads or are you getting onto narrower trails? [00:31:57]Mark Jesse: There's some pretty narrow roads. Um, there's some roads that you're going to go down and it's like, how, how do, how do cars pass each other on this road? You know, um, they're pretty, we have some MMRs, um, and, uh, yeah, some, that's the thing about it is despite how, um, remote it can be and how narrow some of the roads are, um, when it, it isn't a course that's going to punish you as far as the surface. Um, and, and we love unbound, um, but we're not going to, you know, if there's a storm the night before, you're not going to have to hike your bike three miles. Um, it drains very well. So, um, there's, there's the course, the distances are going to punish you more than anything. Um, the surface will not [00:32:42]Nate Matson: And the wind potentially, the wind can definitely be brutal. Um, and relentless until you get into a valley, then you get some, uh, some peace, but if it's a, if it's a windy day, that can be. [00:32:56]Mark Jesse: like any, like anywhere. [00:32:57]Nate Matson: any ride, but there's not a lot of tree cover in parts of the ride, so you're really open. [00:33:03]Kris Jesse: I always say if you're not cursing the race director halfway through your ride, they didn't do something right. [00:33:10]Craig Dalton (host): yeah, that's for sure. I haven't done an endurance event that I haven't wanted to curse the event organizer. Uh, man. So as you guys were thinking about creating this event, and maybe this goes to kind of Minnesotan cycling culture, were you thinking about, we're building a race and we want a competitive front end. We want lycra clad athletes to come all over this. Or did you have a different orientation? And maybe if it's differs from year one to year two, let me know. But I'm just curious because there's kind of, there's no right or wrong answer here. It's just curious, like what the intention was. [00:33:47]Mark Jesse: The intention was to get people to push themselves beyond what they think they're capable of. Because that's what my experience was. When I did the dam the first year in 2019, I had no idea if I could do it. And when I finished, I realized that was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And then like, two days later, I'm, and I was thinking to myself, I got to do that again. And I did it. And I improved by five hours on my time the following year. And I realized I can't be the only one who feels this way. I'm also not the fastest, you know, out there. I'm a middle of the pack type of rider. Um, there are people I know who are far faster than I am. I ride with them pretty regularly. Um, Our motto and, and our, our mindset is you should ride your ride, ride your ride. That's literally everywhere on our social media, on our website, because it isn't up to me to tell you, Craig, how you should ride. Um, coming from a different background, a different experience, life experience. Some people are overcoming cancer. I'm coming from my own health issues, as I've talked about. Um, people ride for, uh, uh, for every person out there is a different reason that that person's on a bike and we want them to take away from our event, whatever it means to them, if you want to race it, race it, take first, make a name for yourself, do something that, you know, is going to the event. Thank you. You know, make you happy. If you just want to finish, do that. If you don't know if you're going to finish, do it anyways. Challenge yourself, push yourself. Exactly. Even more reason to do it than the person who might podium. [00:35:40]Nate Matson: And Mark will be there to cheer on every one of them too, by the way. It's kind of a magical thing to see Mark at a finish line. It's its own meme waiting to happen because he's there cheering. Literally every person on who crosses the finish line. It's, it's so great. [00:35:58]Mark Jesse: I can't, I want to see every person finish. Like every single person. I truly, I truly give a damn about every single person that's out there. Um, I'm thinking about what they're experiencing. I'm hoping that they're experiencing what I experienced. I'm hoping they don't experience what I've experienced in the dark moments because you do go to dark places literally and, and, and mentally as well, but it's how we come out of those dark places that changes who we are and, and, um, and we're, we become better for that. [00:36:29]Craig Dalton (host): What's the rough breakdown between the different distances, if you guys had to guess, in terms of the number of participants? [00:36:37]Mark Jesse: it dropped significantly as, as we go, you know, you know, we're, we're like right now about half our participation, just over half our participation or registrations thus far this year with our new 69 mile route. We didn't have that last year. This isn't, this is a thank you and ode to those who did participate last year because we only had. 69 official registrations last year. So that's why we have a 69 miler. Um, it isn't for what maybe other people might think it is. It is because we had 69 participants for the record. Um, but when you go past and when you get past that, yeah, it starts to drop off. We have about half of that for the one 11 right now. So, um. And, and then, you know, the 222 I think is our crown jewel, quite honestly, because you get pretty deep into that driftless region and you're going to be riding overnight. Riding overnight is, is something I think anyone who's, who's thinking about, um, you know, going beyond that 100 mile distance. It's, it's just surreal. I can't even describe it. I can't find the words to describe it. It's so special to me. [00:37:48]Craig Dalton (host): I to say, that's the slippery mental slope I've been going down lately. I've done plenty of night riding. But I've never asked my body to ride completely overnight, short of a 24 hour kind of team mountain bike event. And there's a curiosity there from talking to other people I know about like, what will happen when I have to ride all night? [00:38:11]Kris Jesse: Right. [00:38:12]Nate Matson: and there's something just so spooky and beautiful about rolling out in the middle, uh, of the prairie, basically, or the farmland with crystal clear skies. It's the moon, the stars, and you're, you're just kind of like, to Mark's point, you just take it in and you never forget it. And then just seeing them kind of roll out into the darkness. We're all wondering, I hope this all goes okay for everybody because, because they literally disappear. It's amazing. [00:38:45]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. [00:38:45]Mark Jesse: And, and that's why, you know, uh, where was I recently? I had on a damn jersey. Um, and I can't remember where it was. It was at an event and Oh, a young, a young guy came up to me. He's like, I want one of those pointing at my Jersey. And I'm like, Oh, I can't do it anymore. They don't, they don't sell them anymore. You can't get it. You know? And so, but he knew what having that Jersey meant. Um, and, and every, every time I see someone with that Jersey on, and this, this, the dam can't be the only event like this. Right. Right. But. Anytime you see someone with that kit on, there's a respect level. You know, it's kind of like You know, something that it's like you've been through, you've been through something together. It's a bond. [00:39:33]Craig Dalton (host): I think that's one of the interesting things in digging into your event. You guys starting out with these four distances, I think it creates sort of this aspirational journey for athletes attending to say, Oh, I'm going to do the 69. Oh, that went well. I think I can do the 111. I think I can do the 220 and just sort of inspiring people to go up. So not surprised at all to hear that kind of percentage breakdown between the different ones, but it's going to be curious to see how it changes over time. And from return participants, do they come back and do the same thing or are they changing their distances? [00:40:11]Mark Jesse: We found that there are, uh, a good number of people who, who didn't, uh, the one 11 last year and they're, they're trying for the two 22 this year. Um, or maybe they're doing the one 11 last year and they dropping down to the 69. Um, you know, it goes both ways, but I guess the, the, the idea behind it for me was. To especially this year with a 69 miler is to send a message that, Hey, we know we're not the 30 mile distance. We know we're not the 50 mile distance. There are plenty of other events and group rides that do offer that throughout the spring and summer months. We're towards the end of the season. Um, and we're hoping that people can maybe work up to that. And, and if the 69 miler seems like a lot, maybe we can be the final hurrah for you this year. Um, and, um, but you know, we're at the end of the season and, and people who are looking to do something beyond what they did last year, or maybe they haven't done a 200 miler this year or ever, maybe the 222 is what they're, they're, um, hungry for. [00:41:17]Craig Dalton (host): exactly. As the athletes complete the event, what kind of experience do they arrive to in Northfield when they hit the finish line? Are you building a kind of festival type atmosphere? [00:41:30]Mark Jesse: It is, it's definitely fest, it's definitely festive. Um, you [00:41:35]Craig Dalton (host): know we get Mark's hug first, [00:41:37]Nate Matson: It's Mark with a [00:41:38]Craig Dalton (host): then, [00:41:39]Nate Matson: bullhorn. It's Mark with a bullhorn. First of all. [00:41:42]Mark Jesse: yeah, uh, if, yeah, we should hand out earplugs as they're crossing the finish line, cause I feel like I am, they're kind of almost turning away from me, their heads to maybe, [00:41:52]Nate Matson: No, it's great. [00:41:53]Mark Jesse: I get excited about it, you know, I'm passionate about it, which is why we're here, but, um, because I've been there, I know what that feeling is and it's just like. Such a relief. I'm so glad this is over. And then it's just, we just want to be, we're all happy. One of the, one of the, um, one of the, my favorite moments is, is a gentleman who crossed from last year is, he crossed, he was one of the last people to finish. Um, maybe the last, within the last dozen or so people who finished and He finished, I, I ran up to him as I did with all the other, uh, finishers and I put my arm around him and his head was hanging. And I'm like, Oh, this, he's not in a good place right now. And maybe he's even upset. What's he going to say to me? How dare I, you know, kind of like I was expecting, expecting something negative. And he looks up at me and he says to me, you, you are proof that perception can become reality. And I had no idea. I like tears. I just had tears because I, I felt that from him, you know what that meant. And then he reaches in his wallet, who I've never carried my wallet with me, but this gentleman had his wallet on him and he reached in and pulled out a hundred dollar bill and handed it to me. He's like, I love what you're doing and I want to do more. And he said, you're changing gravel cycling. And obviously more tears. So that was very, it was very unexpected. Um, but it was, it was very special. And that's one of the moments I remember the most. [00:43:31]Craig Dalton (host): Amazing. If a listener was attending this year's ride in October. Is there anything else you'd want to share with them about how to prepare to be successful at the event? [00:43:46]Mark Jesse: That's a tough one. Be prepared to do something that you've never done before. Um, it's, it's as, as. Difficult as it can be physically, it's just as much mentally, but at the end, when you finish, you're gonna, it's gonna be one of the most rewarding experiences, I think, that a lot of people ever experience in their life. Um, you know, we do have big aspirations, um. We, um, we just want it to be, we, we're, we're sharing our, our, you know, our labor of love with the world we're, we're creating something, our own flavor of gravel. Um, this is our version of what a gravel, what, if we were to, you know, if we wanted to do an ideal event or create one, this is our version of it. Um, you know, we want to, we want to be all inclusive. We want to, um, you know, we give women 20 percent off their entry automatically just because you're a woman, because we want to create that diverse space. We want it to be an all inclusive event, as inclusive as we can be, despite the challenge, right? We realize that the challenge itself is not necessarily inclusive. It isn't all welcoming. Right. But we're hoping that people can understand and they get our message that, Hey, it's okay to challenge yourself and to push yourself. There's nothing wrong with that. Um, that's a healthy thing to do. And, um, That's, you know, that's what we want people to, I guess, maybe get out of it is, is that, that experience. And, um, as far as the prep, just, you know, put it in as many miles as you can. And, you know, quite honestly, we had, I had a cyclist email me the other day saying, Hey, you know, I signed up for this, this distance this year. And they, and they did participate last year. Right. But he's like, I signed up for this distance this year and I just don't have the training. I didn't, I'm not where I thought I would be. When I signed up, is there any way I could drop down to the, to the, you know, shorter, shorter of the next shorter distance and I gladly obliged him and, and made that accommodation for him. Um, you know, that's, that's what this is about is being able to, to, um, you know, do, do what you can do and, um, Yeah, let's ride your ride. [00:46:11]Kris Jesse: And watch the weather. [00:46:14]Nate Matson: I would say prepare for the weather too. Pragmatically be ready for anything almost, you know. Especially if you're flying in from another state. [00:46:24]Kris Jesse: Yeah. [00:46:25]Nate Matson: Be prepared for 72 or 32. [00:46:30]Kris Jesse: Or both. [00:46:31]Nate Matson: Or both! Yeah! [00:46:33]Mark Jesse: You could, there is a possibility of, of, yeah, maybe one day there, you know, we had a 20 degrees swing from yesterday's weather to the, to today. Yesterday it was in the 90s and, and today it was, I think it may have hit 70, maybe not. [00:46:50]craig_dalton-q2xxdhaa3__raw-audio_gray-duck-grit-ii_2023-sep-06-1110pm_the_gravel ride pod: Yeah. Well, guys, I love the energy of the three you are putting out there in the world. Um, if the event translates through your love of what you've intended to put on and what you're putting out there to the Minnesota cycling community and anybody who comes in to sample it, I'm sure it's going to be an amazing event this year and I can't wait to hear about it after the fact. [00:47:12]Kris Jesse: Thank you, Craig. [00:47:13]Mark Jesse: Yeah, thank you. We, we just. Yeah, we're just trying to build on, on everything that people here in Minnesota have already, you know, the foundation it's, it's rich, rich history of cycling with, with all the companies that have come out of here. Um, the, the cyclists, uh, you know, current pro cyclists as such as chase work, who's out there. He took second at gravel worlds just recently. Um, he's a great ambassador of the sports and he's a great, you know, home hometown talents. [00:47:42]Kris Jesse: my coach [00:47:43]Nate Matson: And her coach, [00:47:45]Kris Jesse: think he's a great guy. [00:47:48]Mark Jesse: but, you know, instead of just, you know, solely focusing on ourselves. Um, as athletes and endurance athletes and gravel cyclists, you know, we want people to know that, you know, this is a fundraiser. This is, you know, we are giving a portion of the proceeds to Frazier of Minnesota, which is a mental health nonprofit, and they, um, help families, um, who have, um, You know, children with autism, um, they have a school for those individuals as well. Um, they also help other people with mental illness and other disabilities. So, you know, when going back to, if I could just say just briefly, going back to why and, and that promise I made, that's the doing things for others. [00:48:28]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, [00:48:29]Mark Jesse: Um, so yeah, you're gonna, you know, we, we do charge a fee. But know that every person involved with this event is a volunteer. I didn't pocket a dime from last year. In fact, I paid a little bit, you know, out of my own, out of my own pocket at the end of the day. But the point was, was we wanted to do something good for the community and give back in, in meaningful ways that, you know, in ways that are going to leave, you know, positive ripples throughout our communities. [00:48:56]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Thanks so much for making sure that you mentioned that because I was remiss and not asking you about the Frazier charitable donation and just another, another reason to flock to this event. Everyone. [00:49:10]Mark Jesse: Oh, well done. [00:49:13]Nate Matson: Uh, man! [00:49:15]Mark Jesse: We have a spot Open [00:49:16]Nate Matson: Perfect! Yeah! Thank [00:49:20]Mark Jesse: so, yeah, and, and people can find out more these, if they just go to www.gr grit.com. That's our website. You can find us on Facebook at GR Grit, Instagram on at gr grit. Um, and just check us out, you know, um, we just, we, we want people to, uh, It's just, we're just trying to share what Minnesota has to offer and, and continue that, that amazing community that is already here and share that with the rest of the world. [00:49:46]Craig Dalton (host): Thanks you guys. Have a great evening. [00:49:48]Kris Jesse: Greg. [00:49:48]Mark Jesse: Craig. Thanks for having us. [00:49:52]Craig Dalton (host): That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Nate, mark and Chris for coming on and telling us all about. Gray duck grit. It sounds like an amazing grassroots event out there in Minnesota. I love the challenge of those various distances. I wish there was something like that in my neck of the woods. Just something that year after year I could go back to and kind of up the distance and challenge myself in different ways. You'll hear from another upcoming podcast. I'm super curious about riding overnight. As I mentioned briefly, I've done it in some 24 hour. Mountain bike races, but I've never fully written the night. I've always sort of been part of a team and jumped in and done a lap or two while it's dark out. Anyway, go check out gray dot grit on the website. You can learn everything you need to know. And if you do it, make sure to ping me. I'd love to hear about it. Big, thanks to this week. Sponsored dynamic cyclist. Remember use the code, the gravel ride. You get 15% off any of their plans and they've got a free one week trial. So no excuse other than like me laziness for not stretching, but give it a try. I think you'll enjoy it. If you're interested in supporting the show, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated and go a long way in the podcast game. Also, if you have a moment share this podcast with a gravel cyclist, you know, that's another great way to help out as well. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels
This week's episode is part 2 of our interviews from the Made Bike Show in August 2023. We speak with Moots, Fat Chance, Hot Salad, Seeker, Neuhaus, Pinebury, Circa, Story Street, Paul's Components, Stinner, Horse, Frameworks and Bosch. Episode Sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (promo code:THEGRAVELRIDE) Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [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, I've got round two of my interviews from the made bike show in Portland, Oregon. In this week's episode, we've got John from moots. It's talking about that seven 50 B wheel size got Chris from fat chance. Be vivid from hot salad. Chris McGovern from seeker and McGovern cycles. Nick new house, the pine Berry team, circa story street. Paul's components, Aaron from Stenner. A horse. Frameworks Bosch. We've got it all. Another exciting episode. Can I tell you how jazz that was to attend this show and get all these great interviews And I guarantee I'll have some of them on, for longer form interviews so we can get an even deeper dive as to their backstory and what they're all about as a brand. And frame builder. Before we jump in, I do need to thank this week. Sponsor hammerhead. And the hammerhead crew to computer. As many of you wind down your advent seasons, you may be looking forward to a winter filled with exploration and adventure rides. And there's no better device than the hammerhead crew too, for those adventures. It's the most advanced GPS cycling computer available today with industry leading mapping navigation and routing capabilities that set it apart from other GPS had units. You can seamlessly import. Roots from Strava commute and more you can route and reroute on the fly and create pin dropping routing with all with turn by turn directions. With upcoming elevation changes. You know, this device is always up to date with the latest software as they do biweekly software updates, making sure that they're adding the latest features, whether you bought the device two years ago or tomorrow, you're ready to go with a hammerhead kuru too. For a limited time, our listeners can get a free heart rate monitor with the purchase of the crew to visit hammerhead. Dot IO right now and use the code, the gravel ride. At checkouts today, it's an exclusive limited time offer for our podcast listeners. So don't forget that promo code. Just add the heart rate, monitor to your cart, along with the crew too, and use the code, the gravel ride today. With that said let's jump right in to all these conversations from the made bike show in portland oregon [00:02:48] Jon | Moots: Can I get your name and brand? John Caribou from moots based outta Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Good to see you again, John. You too. One of the like, moots doesn't need a lot to draw attention to itself. The titanium frames have always been gorgeous. We've had you on the pod. I've toured the factory. I know the type of work you do, but one of the bikes you have today is making a lot of noise here at the Maid show for a very specific reason. Can you talk about that? Yeah. It's Yeah very much in prototype stage right now. But the seven 50 D wheel size seems to be catching a lot of people interest and, comments out there on the social medias. But yeah, it's, I think it just lends itself to the lineage and the heritage of Moots over time. Just always being on that forefront of innovation and trying different things. It doesn't mean that. This is a defacto new standard by any stretch. It's definitely a new option and honestly that, that wheel size been, has been ridden for some over the last four to five years. We just haven't seen it. Gotcha. And you W t B was the partner who came to you with the rim and the tire, presumably, to explore this. People who've been around mountain bikes for a while will remember that. 26 to 29 moments. Can you talk about what's the rationale behind a bigger wheel size? Yeah. It's, to me being around the industry long enough, I do remember the introduction of the 29, and it was the same company that, W t V that came to us with a rim and a tire at, in 98 and said, what do you think about this? Let's, do you want to build maybe a test bike? And we all know, the. History of the 29 inch proliferation in the bike world, and not that this is gonna happen there, but always nice to be nimble enough to set up and build a frame around a given wheel size. And Moots is in that position to be able to do that. Yeah I remember that moment and getting on the first 29 ERs and thinking it took a little bit more to get the wheel going, but when you rolled over stuff and when you had those bikes going, It was remarkable for me and I was a very early convert to that bigger wheel size. So it's just a curious kind of intellectual process I'm going through and understanding like, what would a gravel bike feel like as someone who rides very technical terrain, I could see the advantages of rolling over stuff more easily. And you mentioned the contact patch extending on a bigger wheel and what that might mean to the rider. Yeah, I think it's, if you think about. Riding gravel. There's not a lot of extremely technical situations where you're making hard turns. It's a lot of straight line speed. It's a lot of straight line hits to the outer edge of the tire and rim combination at that point. So making it longer and, quite a bit bigger, spreads that out and lessens, washboard, it lessens baby heads and whatever you might encounter. In a similar passion that the 29 did for the mountain bike world. Yeah, I think it's just been really interesting as gravel you could argue that it started out as being road bikes plus as we started to allow bigger tires in there and explore different terrain. But it's super interesting as we get into this moment many years into the gravel evolution, to start just exploring things differently and thinking about, yeah, it doesn't need to feel like a road bike as you're going faster and these bikes are getting more capable. Who knows, maybe a bigger tire size and bigger start, a bigger ring rim size will have advantages that riders will start to see as they start to spend time on this new size. Yeah it'll be interesting and, we're anxious to put more time on it. Honestly our time has been limited, but we're getting there and, throughout this fall, late summer, we'll be logging miles and jotting down our thoughts and getting feedback to W T B and. Anybody that would be interested in listening. Yeah. Amazing. Thanks John. I can't wait for that additional feedback. Yeah, Craig, thanks for having us. [00:06:54] Chris | Fat Chance: Okay. Can I get your name and the brand? Yeah. The name is Chris Chance and the brand is Fat Chance Bikes. We're now building all our bikes in Medford, Oregon. Got a nicely set up shop there and we've just introduced the Thai crisscross, been doing it in steel for a number of years and I'm really excited to be doing it in titanium and the people that have been buying them are really excited to ride them. Were you working with titanium with the mountain bikes many years ago to begin with? Yes. Yeah, we started in 93, building a titanium yoti. Okay. Called it a fat chance back then. But yeah, so we built a bunch of titanium bikes and getting back into, you know, relaunching the brand. A couple of years ago we were mostly doing steel, but you know, Ty really called me back. What do you like about Ty for for a gravel bike purpose? Well, in general I love Thai because, you know, it never rusts. It's got a nice kind of springy resilience to it. I I like to do the engineering where we're, I have much experience in steel in designing bikes and tube diameters and wall thicknesses to get the, the, the ride properties I want, the the resilience, the, the stiffness where I want it, and the, just the lively feel in the bike. And so I I translate the stiffness of a steel tube into titanium using a computer, and that way you get all the benefits of titanium. It's lightness, it's kind of springy feel, but I'm designing the bike more for the stiffness of the ride. So it gives you the performance you want as you're riding, like, especially like off road, you know, if you're going down a, say a trail at like as much as 30 miles an hour, your bike is, you know, bouncing around or whatever, and you're just focused on where the front wheel is going. But if you're bouncing around a bunch, your body is taking information from what the rear wheel is doing through your feet and you, without really being conscious of it, you're doing the corrections of that through the pedals, cranks and, and frame to the wheel to keep the rubber side down. And so how the bike feels is just really important to me that I want to have the rider and the bike work as one. Right. And so having that, that ability to Sense what the bike is doing at some, like, not even a conscious level, but developing the trust that the bike is there for you, you know, you can do what you wanna do and the bike is, is supporting you and having that peak experience. What is the customer journey to get a, a fat chance at this point? Is it, is it a custom process? Are you building stock frames? We built stock frames, but we do some custom sizing and you can you can email us at yo at Fat Chance Bike. And get the conversation started. There's also a phone number on our website, fat chance.bike. It's do bike instead of.com and we can talk on the phone, we can do email and just get everything nailed and build you an awesome bike. I know some of the, you know, challenges in working with titanium tubes are around tire clearance and things like that. Yeah. What, what kind of tire clearance can you achieve? Yeah, so we can do pretty much any tire clearance, if you notice on this spike. We have what we call a demi yolk. Yep. And that affords us the same rigidity, excuse me that a full tube would, would offer, but gives us the, the clearance for wide tires. Like this bike will take up to like a, a 44 millimeter 700 C or a 2.1 up to two inches or 2.1 inches. And if you need to write a double, we can account for that. Typically our stock bikes are just one buys up front. Got it. But we have a lot of room because we're using this demi oak design. And what kind of turnaround time do you look at to get a bike? Yeah. Right now we're in the roughly eight to 12 weeks, depending on the model. Okay. Yeah. Pretty quick. Yeah. That's great. Thanks Chris. All right. [00:10:36] B Vivid | Hot Salad Bicycles: Can I get your name and brand? Yes. It's B Vivid from Hot Salad Bicycles B. Where are you building out of? We're here in Portland. Okay. Yeah. And how did you get into Frame Building? Oh, long story. Give us a short version. We can have you back for the long form one. Okay. I used to sit at Destroy Bike Co in the Bay Area and Sean Eagleton was building bikes there and I was like, this is a thing, I can build bikes. That is absolutely what I'm doing. 15 years later, here I am debuting hot salad bicycles. And I've been chasing welding all over the country. Amazing. So you've built up your expertise and now you're ready to go out with hot salad. Yes, exactly. So you're a custom builder. So talk about the customer journey. Like how do you like to get to know the customer so that you can build the bike that's right for them? What kind of materials do you use? Yeah, so I build in steel and titanium. And I like to talk to the customer. We have quite a few emails back and forth. I would just wanna know where you're riding. Like what are you riding on? What do you like to ride fast? Is that a thing? Do what is your current favorite bike that you like to ride? And then what don't you like about that bike? Yeah. Those are the basics. If we're having that conversation, just say, for example I've been on like a random carbon bike, some specialized bike, and I like the way it feels. Sometimes I, even me, I have a hard time articulating like, what is it that I like or what have I, what I don't like? How do you eke out those qualities that then translate to you as an artisan giving me what I really am expressing? Absolutely. I do some research, right? I go look at that specialized bike and I see what specialize is saying about it. But I also know the inherent differences between carbon, titanium, steel, right? Titanium is gonna be a little flexer. So if we're trying to make a carbon feel, which is what Rook asked for on her bike you're gonna have to go up a tube size right. And that's gonna make it a little bit stiffer, give you that snappier ride quality of a carbon bike when Ty is so much flexer. Gotcha. So there's just small things like that where over the years I collected those tidbits from other builders and other people who are willing to gimme time. Amazing. Yeah. And what type of bikes do you like to build? All types. I'm down for the weird ideas. I built that titanium clunker behind you as well that I showed at Philly Bike Expo. And then this is a beautiful all road that wanted to be a little bit more aggressive because Rook is an excellent rider. And I make commuter bikes. I just making, so it doesn't really matter what type of bike it is. And from a customer interaction, how long does it take to get a bike? Once they've, once you've locked down the design elements of it, you've done your research. How long does it take to produce a bike and get it back out to the customer? Yeah, probably about a month. And I know that's a long time, but I'm currently doing all of my own finish work as well. So unless you want me to send it to Black Magic or something like that. And then it could be probably as little as two weeks. And how do you think about finish work? Are you doing your own painting or are you doing anodizing? What kind of options do you make available for customers? Depends on the material, obviously. Yeah. But I have a powder coder who is excellent and he can do fades, he can do sharp lines. And then I also have, I do. I did the t anodizing on this as well. And then, yeah, those are the two options that I currently offer, but I'm hoping to add wet paint in the nearest future. Okay. Okay. And what's the best way for people to find out more about the brand and your story? Yeah, hot salad bicycles.com. Okay. And are you on Instagram and any, the socials? I'm hot salad underscore bicycles on Instagram. Got it. Thanks for the time. B Yeah, thank you. [00:14:06] Chris | Seeker & McGovern: Can I get your name and brand? Chris McGovern. And now what brand are you gonna say? That's my question. We're here with Seeker right now. We do have a McGovern bike in the house, but we're launching Seeker bike company today. Yeah. That's awesome. So McGovern bikes, custom carbon bikes. Yep. Great looking stuff. You've been building for a while. Yep. But we got these seekers in front of us. So tell me about the brand. The intention and what we're doing here. Yeah. Basically with these metal bikes, the steel and titanium gravel bikes, I'm just trying to get, basically make it more available, get people on bikes, on building more readily available, easier to do. Obviously the materials are superior. Materials for riding gravel, the carbon customer is a different customer, basically, yeah. Where are you building these bikes? These are be, these are being built in the, in Portland. Oregon. Okay. At the moment they're going to be built in Olympia, Washington eventually. But yeah, US made, yeah. And what's the customer journey look like? Or do you have stock sizes? Is this a custom jam? Yeah, so we're gonna do stock with custom options, basically. Okay. So the geo will be stock 50 to 60 centimeters and two centimeter increments. But we can customize anything. So I want you to go to the website, be like, yep, I'm a 54. I want that stock color. I want that build kit. Boom. And we're gonna try to have that two week turnaround. And when I think about my, like tire size desires and things like that, do you have flexibility there or have you built around a particular tire vision? So the gravel this version of bike is designed around a 45 C 700 by 45 and up to a 46 tooth single ring. So it could be two by or one by. Gotcha. But I want you to be able to do unbound and throw the big meat on if you're rolling, if you're Keegan Swenson or whatever, you wanna roll that big single Yeah. With the the mullet build or the Explorer build, whatever. Yeah. We want to have that clearance for that. So we've designed around that. Yeah. And you mentioned you're offering a steel bike and a tie bike. What do we see different visually between the two bikes and what sort of adaptations do you make going to tie from the steel? So on. What we see here basically is the same geometry, same style. We have a different seat stay cluster on this one. I do think that the tie bike will end up being the mono stay, like the steel. Okay. We're just need, we're working on repeatability of that. Tie's a little bit trickier to bend but we're gonna do that, I'm pretty sure. The same weeding of the tubes, the down tube is swedged for a little bit to the T 47 bottom bracket. So it's a little stiffer, laterally, 44 mil head tubes. The geometry will be very similar. The, if you've ridden tie, the ride quality is a little bit different. Yeah. Titanium's kind of like air quotes, the forever material. So that's why the tie offering is there. It's a different customer again. Nice. Yeah. Let's talk quickly, Chris, about the origin of the Seeker brand. 'cause I do remember this project at the very earliest start of Covid. Yeah. Lockdowns. Yeah I've, okay. I've been riding bikes for a million years and your brain goes in weird places when you're riding your bike all the time by yourself. And I've had this saddlebag designed in my head forever, and usually just meant I'd come home from a training ride and get the scissors out and chop on the bag I was currently using. And during Covid, for whatever reason, I just decided I got on Amazon, ordered a sewing machine, bought some fabric, and started making saddlebag. I love it. And it turned out to be really good. Some people wanted it, so I made some for some friends and then I was like, oh, I'm gonna get some labels. And I actually was labeling them as McGovern cycles thinking, Hey, when someone buys a bike, I'm going to throw a saddle bag in their box. Yeah. And then bike shops wanted 'em and I was like, ah, it's gotta be something else. So we came up with the seeker logo. I worked on the artwork with Matt Loomis, who's done a bunch of work with Paul Components. We came up with this cool logo. And the people like it. Like we've been selling a lot of t-shirts and stuff and so I felt oh, this branding is strong. Let's do some bikes. Yeah. I think it's super evocative seeker. Yeah. Exploration. Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Are you I've seen you explore a lot of different bag. Options for your running. Yeah. For various things. Yeah. Are you now just settled on the seat pack as being the one product from Secret? Oh, no. So it's our only like stock product for the bags right now. I do some top two bags. I do some I call it the rapid response bag, like for racing scenarios, it's like quick to it. I do frame bags. Those are a little bit more custom. They require a template. Yeah. I build, I built hydration vests. I built. Fast packs. I built backpacks. I'll sew anything really. But I think the secret stuff, we're gonna keep it towards the bike oriented stuff. Possibly. The new website is Secret Adventure Gear, so it's still open-ended. Yeah. You're ready to go? Yeah. We're ready to go. We're ready for whatever you need. We're ready. I was just gonna ask, what's the best place for people to find out more information about the bikes and the bags? I think right now as the Instagram handle, yeah. Okay. Is a secret At secret, a dv. The website is secret venture gear.com. Sweet. Yeah. Thanks for sharing this, Chris. Yeah, thank you. [00:19:07] Nick | Neuhaus: Can I get your name and brand? I'm Nick Newhouse with Newhouse Metalworks. Nick, where are you building out of? We're building out of Novato, California, so Northern Bay Area. Nice. Right up the road from myself in Mill Valley. That's it. I started to hear about your brand through a neighbor in Mill Valley who had one of your hard tail mountain bikes and then later learned you've been doing some gravel bikes. Can you just talk a little bit about the brand and the type of gravel bikes you're putting out there in the world? Yeah, so we just released this weekend actually our steel anti Tanium drop bar, bike lines. The steel line is the Solana. It'll be available in a road, an all road and a gravel version. And to pick the part, those three different categories, what do they translate to? Yeah, so the road version will have a 32 C max. It'll fit a double chain ring larger sizes for those longer road rides. The all road model kind of blends a little bit of gravel, a little bit of road, right. It's got a, a little bit of that road geometry. It'll fit up to a 40 C tire. Still can fit a double chain ring and then the gravel model will go up to a 48 C tire. And it'll be won by specific for those rougher roads, dirt roads, gravel roads wherever you wanna take it. Gotcha. And I interrupted you, I think you were gonna move on to the titanium model over here. Yeah. So the Eon is our titanium version of that. It'll be offered in the exact same configurations. So you'll have your road, you'll have your all road, and you'll have your gravel. We will also offer the eon in an advanced model, which will be very much a, a custom frame set and a departure from our stock sizing. And it'll come with three D printed dropouts that are unique to your specific build. Okay. And it does look like on this titanium model, you're doing some unique stuff with three D printing already. Yeah, so we we use three D printing on all of our bikes. You know, it's not a gimmick. We use it to make sure that we're building the best bike for our customers and the best bike that we can possibly put out into the world without you know, going to a point where they're just, you know, this unobtainable price point. So we always three d print our y yolk. It just, it helps us have flexibility and material choices for rider, weight, size use. We do that on our mountain bikes and all of our drop bar bikes. Got it. And what was, what's sort of the quick origin story of the brand? Yeah, so I've got a a background in motor sports. I've always kind of just fabricated things. Always been a cyclist, you know, you can't grow up in Marin County and not ride bikes. And a couple years ago people finally just wanted to, you know, they, they were knocking on the door wanting to buy bikes and, you know, I wanted to build good bikes. So, yeah. Am I correct? The sort of origin started building. Hardtail mountain bikes. Yeah. That's definitely what we're known for. Okay. So our, our hummingbird model, definitely our top seller. Well received, well reviewed and we're just looking to expand that success into the drop bar market. Nice. And working with both titanium and steel, obviously there's different challenges and different learning curve around working with titanium. Did you start doing titanium on the mountain bikes? We did. Okay. Yeah. So You know, titanium has just always been something that was present, needed to be done. You know, it's like there's a right bike for everybody. There's a right material for everybody based on use, based on needs, based on price point. The way I like to say it right is your steel bike. It's your Cadillac, C T SS V ride's. Great. You can live with it day to day. It comes in at a good price point. The titanium bike is your Corvette. It's sportier. It's faster, right? You know, maybe not the greatest for taking the family to the park. But it serves a purpose as well. Got it. What's the customer journey look like for you? If they've discovered the brand, what does it look like from them getting into contact with you for the first time to getting a bike in their door? Yeah, so we really try to maintain the quickest lead time possible. Right now we're at four months. Our throughput is very high. We have a very manufacturable process right there in Marin County. If a customer wants a bike, they have options. You can order a bike on our website. You can order your build kit on our website. You can email us, we can help you with sizing. It's really, you know, the door is open to, to the customer experience that's desired. Okay, gotcha. Cool. Well I look forward to seeing you later this year at Adventure Revival Ride. Yeah. With the Marin County Bike Coalition and definitely have to check out your facility at some point. Definitely, yeah, we'll be moving into a new shop shortly and we plan to have an open house, so we'd love to have you there. Fantastic, thanks. Thank you. [00:23:28] Kyle | Pinebury: Can I get your name and the brand? Kyle Rancourt. And the brand is Pine. Berry. Can you tell us a little bit about what you're showing here from Pine Berry? Yeah. We make lightweight Marino, wool cycling apparel and active wear. Nice. And where are you manufacturing? In Massachusetts. Our first production one was made in Massachusetts and we're also manufacturing in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Hilderbrand North Carolina for our, our knitwear. And when did you launch the brand? April, 2023. Okay. April of this year. Yeah. And what was it about wool and the type of wool you're using that inspired you to go on this journey and start the brand? I wanted to, mainly, I wanted to make the cycling apparel and active wear that I wanted to wear. And I fell in love with lightweight, you know, performance Marino wool a long time ago. And I haven't seen anybody really in the industry focus on that. It always seems like. It's sort of an afterthought for some of the brands, like they'll have a small collection or a piece or two. And so when doing research before starting this brand, I discovered this amazing fabric in, in yarn manufacturer outta New Zealand called New Yarn. Okay? They have a patented yarn spinning technology. It's twist free spinning. So when you, when you spin merino yarn and it gets twisted, you take out a lot of the natural benefits of the fiber. You reduce elasticity, durability, and loft. And so breathability and new yarn with their twist free spinning they're, they're able to make a fabric that's almost nine times more durable. It has 85% more elasticity. It's five times faster drying, and the list goes on. It sounds like it just, Supercharges what we know about wool to begin with. Exactly. That's the perfect way to put it. So is it, is it still considered Marino wool or is this like an entirely new word we need to learn? That's a great question. I still refer to it as Marino wool. Okay. But new yarn kind of is, is branding it as performance wool. Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting, you know, you were talking about building this brand around. Sort of purpose-built cycling clothing. And those was that was the cycling clothing you'd wanted to wear and Yeah. Yeah. My experience, like I, I love Marino. I kind of think about it from a hiking perspective and went on a bike packing trip and wanted to wear a t-shirt, so I grabbed a hiking Marino wool wool shirt. So it's super cool that you're focused on kind of cycling as your core market. Obviously the clothing works everywhere else. Yeah. Do you wanna talk a little bit about, it seems like you have both kind of performance tees. As well as jerseys, right? Yeah. Yeah. And actually I like that you brought that up. 'cause I, I wanted to make a point there about our performance tees. Even though they are meant for sort of all sports and all outdoor activities, they have some elements of, of cycling built into them. Like they're a bit longer than a typical tee. They're longer in the back than they are in the front. And actually I'm working on developing a tee that would have a. A zippered pocket in the back of it. Okay. Like a pullover tea that has a zippered pocket. So, nice. Yeah. What's the best way for people to learn more about the brand and the products? It go to our website, pine Bury Us. We have a ton of information on there. We have a whole page dedicated to new yarn. We have a whole page dedicated to our story, you know, in, in addition to domestic manufacturing, all our products remain in the us. We're also plastic free. All of our packaging and shipping materials are plastic free and recyclable. And we have, you know, a real commitment to like sustainability in the environment. I love it. And are people ordering directly from your website today? Yeah. You can order directly and we ship anywhere in the world. Okay. Yeah. One of the final questions I'll ask you is, you know, oftentimes I think in, at least in my mind, historically, will got, will got, will got categorized as something that I'm gonna wear when it's cold. Yeah. Great. Can you dispel or affirm that statement? No, that's a great question. It is not just for cold weather. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wanna underline that we are actually specializing in lightweight wool that can be worn year round. In spring 24. We'll have an ultra light Marino that would, will blow people away at how light and fast drying it is and could be worn in, in the hottest of climates. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I knew that. I was teasing a little bit. Because I'm with you. It's like, I remember on that bike packing trip, it was quite hot on during the days, and it's just a great material in terms of how it handles moisture, how it dries, how it feels, and I'm, I'm a little bit surprised more people don't understand that and embrace it. Right. My, my favorite way to put this is to get in a little, a little like sciency here. Our body's cooling system is evaporative, right? We're evaporative cooling system. So you heat up, you sweat. The, the, the sweat captures heat and when it evaporates, it carries the heat away from your body. So you want a garment that's gonna support that system. Marina wool is by far the best to do that. It is, it's able to wick moisture away from the body at the vapor stage, so before it turns into a liquid. So that's why it can dry fast five times faster than synthetics or conventional Marino. Yeah, this new yard Marino. Awesome. Thanks for sharing all that. Yeah, thank you. [00:28:39] Rich | Circa: All right. Can I get your name and the brand? My name is Rich Fox and I'm the founder of Circa Cycles in Portland, Oregon. You beat me to my next question, which is, where are you building? We're in Portland right now. And you're a Portland based builder? We are, yeah. We've been doing this in Portland for, I started the company 10 years ago. The first two years we're pretty much r and d. As you can see we do things a little bit differently than some folks do, and the first couple of years were just spent basically in our underground lab. And we always with the same, we will get into what is different about these bikes, but using this same technique from the get go, the underlying philosophy. Yes. There were some things we and the first generation prototypes definitely are different from where we ended up. Sure. So why don't you talk about, the attributes of the bike that make it different than almost anything I've seen today. Oh, okay. Sure. So what you're looking at is a bonded anodized aluminum. Lugged frame. So we're anodized lugged and bonded aluminum. And which you can also laser etch into, which is also another fun thing that you brought. Pretty amazing finishes I see over there in the corner. Thanks. So when we talk about lugs, and I did talk to another builder who was working with lugs, which were the much more traditional style that my father's road bike has, we're definitely not talking about those type of lugs here. We're talking about a lot more substantial. Parts of the bike in your version of a lug? Yeah. In, I guess I'd have to, I'd have to ask you what stands out as how sub What do you mean by substantially? I think this sort of oversize nature, like it appears to the naked eye. Oh, okay. That almost the entire kind of seat collar area that's joining the top tube and the seat tube is one large lug rather than a petite. Crafted one that got TIG welded. Okay. Yeah. There are a few things going on. So as I was, when we'd made the decision to get away from welding altogether and work with the bonded assembly, we knew that we would, we'd also made the decision around the same time that if we're gonna bond, we're gonna have to create our own lug system. If we're gonna create our own lug system, it's gotta be. Because, and we would've to create our own lug system because it'd have to be something that Maxim maximizes the performance characteristics of the adhesive systems that we're gonna be using. So there's nothing off the shelf that you can buy that's going to do that. So we'd have to engineer a solution that would handle that for us. Along the way we decided, okay, we don't want to cast those lugs because the general volume strategies around bike frame manufacturing and the way that things. Change over even the way that angles change across size variations in a frame. 'cause they don't scale geometrically or logically in a way. Yeah. We would have to, we would need some kind of a lug manufacturing strategy that would be able to do lower volume and give us incredibly precise control over certain aspects. For example, the tube to the tube to lug interface we need. Super, super tight control at that bond gap. Yeah. And we'd also really need to understand a lot about the bond surfacing itself. So the reason those lugs are somewhat beefy is that a few things are going on. One is that we are trying to maximize contact area for the bond. Yeah for the bond. Two, we are solving a problem of We want the thing to look stout. Yeah. You in the way early days of of deciding what we were doing, there were prototypes that we put in front of people that's, and they said, oh, that looks fragile. And if you're already doing something that's a bit unique and a little bit quite, is off the beaten trail to some re in some respects, you need to do a. W put some extra design work into a SW and keep things that people might be concerned over. So what type of technique are you using, say, for this head tube? Are you machining that out of a block of aluminum? Yes. Everything, all of the connectives on the frame. So all of the lugs, the dropouts any connectives on the seat stays, et cetera. Those are all proprietary things that we've designed, engineered in c and seeded from solid blocks of aluminum billet. Gotcha. I'm using a combination of three, four, and five axis. C N C machines. Yeah. It's interesting when you look at the junction up here on the C tube connecting these tubes in that bolted in right. Does that sort of create limitations around the sort of tire diameters that you can achieve for a gravel bike? No. No. That's definitely that. While there are certain areas on this, the frame that we're looking at right now, that might be a little, that might have a restriction for what you can do that's not the, that's not the, that's not the area. Okay. So that particular solution that's going on there is driven by the fact that the C NNC work that we do, the precision the complexity of the parts, the precision of the details, the quality of the finish work that we're trying to achieve makes those parts. And at a volume that we're not a hundred thousand a year manufacturer. Yeah. The volumes that we're working at makes those parts pretty expensive. So ultimately we have to find ways. Of elegantly identifying components in the frame assembly that we can do in higher volumes so that we can offset the cost. So at the top of the seat stays those plugs, you'll see the same part. This is the same part as what's on the other side, it's mirror. Yeah. So that's two of, two of the same part on the same frame. That's good. But now I can use that same part on any on any frame size. Gotcha. Which gives me some extra flex, so all of a sudden I can really amortize out the cost of that part across lots of different frame sizes. Yeah, I feel like this is a bike that needs to be seen to be best understood, to Definitely encourage listeners to go and check out the show notes and find a link to circa bicycles. Ride circa.com. Right on. And yeah, just as far as like the customer journey goes, if once someone discovers the brand, what does it look like to get a bike underneath them? Are you building fully custom bicycles or is it a stock range? We don't do, we found that we don't really need to do fully custom. Yeah. An interesting byproduct of our manufacturing strategy is that because we have this modular kit of parts, essentially that we've developed over time is that it lets us, our, we consider it we have three, three fit options. Essentially, we have a standard geo which is suited towards. The majority of the population from a arm and leg and torso length Yeah. Standpoint. But we also are really easily able to create a long reach or a short reach version of the same design. Yeah. And that's basically a free thing. So we're essentially doing semi-custom geometry for free. If you do have a fit scenario where you need to be upright or you want to be more if you have a long torso. A short torso. Yeah. Or you have some kind of a, a. Physical limitation if you have less mobility in your back or more mobility. Yeah. If you needed a sort of a higher stack would you adjust the machined head tube to achieve that? Or is that not an area that you adjust? It's typically not necessary. Okay. We, our size range right now is pretty broad. Our, we have the, our platform goes from an what we call our extra small, which Although you can't see it in our conversation here, this is the seat tube for our extra small, okay. Which is for those folks listening imagine basically something about the length of A B M X seat tube. So we created that for a rider who had, I think she required a 711 millimeter standover. It's either seven 11 or eight 11. One of those, okay. But very super short stand. So we created like a 17 degree sloping top tube for her. And but now that's become our extra small platform. Nice. Covers a pretty petite rider. And then our extra large platform goes up to 6 3, 6 4 riders. Okay. So between that size range and the ability to pull the cock pin in and out we feel like we do a pretty good job of accommodating most. G I'm sure most fit requirements. Super cool. And what is the typical turnaround time? It depends on on load at any given time, but bare minimum is six weeks. And that just depends, but that's bare minimum. And it can go out to two to three months depending, but sell them longer than that. The only time we've ever had something that really stretched. Was during the nightmare of Covid times. Yeah. And nobody could get any parts. Yeah. So the frames would be done and we'd be sitting around really hoping our order from shaman or RA would show up of course. Which they never did well. Super striking bikes and encourage people to go take a look at 'em. Thanks for the time. Thank you so much for paying attention for for Karen. [00:37:22] Devin | Story Street: Can I get your name and the brand? Yeah. My name is Devin Ross and I am the owner and the builder for Story Street cycles. How did you get started building? I've been working in the ski in the in and the bike industry since about 2006, and most of my experience was through on the service side of things and retail and sales. Kind of on a whim back in 2015, decided to take a frame building. Course at U B I in Ashland and kind of really enjoyed it and started doing some more kind of small custom building for friends and family. And over the last few years have developed that into kind of our first run of production, small batch frames. We do a. All road frame and then an all mountain frame. Cool. Let's talk about this all road frame. Does it have a, a, a sort of model name or just your all road? It's just the ar. Okay. I have the AR and the am What are you building this frame out of? So the frame is out of steel. It is kind of a combination of Columbus steel and a little bit of the kasai tubing from Japan. The All of the hardware and all of the small components such as the head tube, the bottom bracket, and dropouts are all from Paragon Machine Works. And then the finishing kits kind of are all the color matched options from Wolf Tooth. And what size wheel are you running on this bike? This current one is a six 50 B with 2.1 tires on there. Okay. The general frames are, Designed with clearance up to 45. I think usually like a 38 to a 42 for a lot of this type of riding is kind of the sweet spot. But we can, we got clearance and everything to go up to some bigger options. Nice. And what's sort of the, the customer journey when they discover you? You mentioned you've sort of brought a small batch phenomenon. Mm-hmm. So you have a handful of bikes in stock. You typically try to fit them on one of those models and Yes. So we do. On the all road side, we have a 52, 54, 56, and 58 in the pre-made ones. The frames are all kind of built and welded and ready to go. And then when a customer is ready to to purchase them, then we will kind of figure out what the overall paint scheme and the the highlight. So the, all of the frames are gonna be painted, are gonna be powder coated to the customer specification. And then all of the finishing kit and everything, our decals, we try to go along the same kind of seven standard colors that wolf tooth does, just to make all of the, the matching and everything like that make your accessorizing easy. So that way we can still get the, the same custom kind of one of a kind finish that that people can get with choosing their color and choosing their finishing kit without the the longer lead time. For a full custom build. If people are still interested in doing kind of their own custom geometry we see that a lot with people looking for a little bit taller of a head tube. A lot of times people that have maybe longer torsos, shorter legs and stuff, we still do offer those options to do a fully custom in either of our. Or All Road or, or All Mountain. Okay. And if people wanna find more out about the brand, how do they find you? So we're on Instagram at story street cycles and then our website is story street cycles.com. Awesome. Thank you. Cool. [00:40:55] Paul | Pauls Components: Yeah. Can I get your name and company? Paul Price Paul Component Engineering. Good to meet you Paul. And you too. Thanks. Yeah. I know you've been around the industry for a long time making beautiful componentry outta California. The one area I wanted to talk to you about though are these clamper disc brakes cable actuated, disc brakes. It's something I've long seen on some of the sexiest bikes around, but misunderstood because I had some old, I won't name the brand. Mechanical disc brakes. That really didn't serve me well. This is true. This, yeah. The the cable breaks were always for the cheap bikes and there's certain advantages for cable breaks. And I knew when we developed this thing that there had to be some people that just wanted to keep it simple, but really wanted a really good product and didn't necessarily enjoy bleeding their breaks that much. Yeah. And how, how are you able to achieve. The stopping power of a hydraulic brake with a cable actuated brake. That took about three years and about 10,000 prototypes. But we just make everything to a much tighter tolerance, like we just made it as good as we can. All those other cheap brakes come from Taiwan and everything is just smashed and squished to, to get made. We actually machine to very tight tolerances, so everything fits together really nice. We also bolted up a little bit and figured out a way to just get tons of power out of it. It go ahead And does it mount in the exact same fashion as a hydraulic disc brake would on my bike exactly the same. Exactly. The mounting is exactly the same. Yeah. Okay. And do the different levers have different poll ratios that you need to consider? This is important. Yeah. The long pole lever, which was, is a v brake lever that's called a long pole. And then you can buy the clamper with that arm or a shorter arm for like your road bike levers and your short pole levers. We make something called a cantilever. And then we also make a camp campy version because it pulls a completely different amount of cable as well. And are those. Completely different versions of the brake bracket itself, or are they just a component? No. To you buy the brake, which is not cheap. But you can just change one part to change to match any lever that's around. Got it. And are we using a typical brake pad, disc brake pad in Yeah the pad is a, is came out of an avid model that. It fits a whole bunch of different breaks and we just wanted to pick something to where you could go in a bike shop in the middle of, the desert or New York City or wherever and they're gonna have some pads in stock, so that's not a problem. Going back to my cable pole, breaks of my mountain bike of yester year. Yeah. Now I remember cable stretch needed to be adjusted. Obviously you've got brake pads that'll burn out a little bit. Yeah. How do I deal with that with a clamper product? You first thing you do is you install 'em and then you go on three bike rides. And what that does is it moves all the grease around that's inside all the parts which fit very well together, all get cozy together and the the pads bed into the, to the rotor real nice. And after that, your housing is compressed as it's gonna get your cable stretched on the initial stretch. And you're good to go. And one of your colleagues was showing me a little micro adjust you could do on it, that it seemed like it would tighten the pad up. Is that right? Yeah, both sides, there's adjustment which you can actually do on the road or trail, which is a really nice feature. Absolutely. Yeah. What's the best way for people to find out about Paul's components? Paul comp.com. P a u l c o m p.com. And And check that out. Send us an email, give us a call if you have any questions. Perfect. Thank you. You're welcome. [00:44:45] Aaron | Stinner Frameworks: All right. Can I get your name and brand? Yeah. Aaron Stenner Frameworks. Nice, Aaron. And where do you guys build out of? We are in Santa Barbara, California. Nice. And how long have you guys been building? I've been building full-time since 2012. And current team's been in place since 2 20 15. How did you get into it in the first place? I was managing a bike shop and running a pretty robust like fit department, so we were doing a lot of fitting. And I ended up going to U B I to just learn a little bit more about frame building and why angles and why this and why that. And so I learned how to build bike at U B I and I came back and people heard that I knew how to build frames and it just snowballed from there. Yeah, that seems to be the way it works. It's friends and family. Yeah. Then extended friends. And then maybe I got a business on my hands. Exactly. Yeah. So then were you building with steel at that point? Yeah, primarily steel. And I started doing like lug bikes and braised bikes and then morphed into TIG welding. And we've been doing primarily TIG welding bikes since 2013. And are the bikes typically custom built for the customer or is are you doing small batch? So we do we don't we build the order, so we don't have any inventory, but we do have sizing, size models. So we do have a 52, 54, 56 kind of model based and we are model based, meaning like we have a gravel frame model and we have a road model. So model based, we have sizes, but we can do custom geometry depending on what you need. And then we have a paint program that's similar where we have pre-picked schemes or pre-designed schemes, and then you can iterate and design within that. Gotcha. Yeah, I've seen a lot of really stunning sinners out there on the roads. Thank you. Which is great. What is this bike that we're looking at today? Yeah, so we have the, our new Refugio. So we've, our Ravel bike has been our refugio for many years. And this one, The big upgrades is we went from a 45 C tire to now being able to fit a 50 C tire. Brilliant. Keeping Our chain stays still relatively short. These are at like 4 28. And we have U D H compatibility, so running the universal STR universal trailer hanger. And it also still work with a transmission drive train. So on this bike we have transmission on the rear like a road oriented crank set up front with a 42 tooth train ring. So you get this like really nice wide range. Mountain bike, road meets, road bike compatibility build, buildable. Yeah. Model. Those are our big changes. So U D H and 50 C tire. And then we also are integrating all of our cables internally now on Okay. Gravel frames as well. And that's a dumb question. As you've built a frame like that, you're committed, you gotta go inside. At that point. Yeah, to a degree. And that's kind of stuff we're working on. So like right now yeah you more or less need to pick a bar, stem and headset that worked that way. I think everybody's learning that this is a nice way to route this stuff. So we are we do also have the ability to run like regular external cables and just have 'em drop into the top of the headset as well. Okay. So you could run traditional parts as well. Okay. Yeah. So both work. So you don't have to commit only to one one style. Gotcha. And what does the customer journey look like once they discover you? Like how much interaction are you having with me as a customer prior to ordering? And then what does that timeline look like to get a bike these days? Yeah, so we have we just launched a configurator like literally last Wednesday. We've been working on it for about a year. So you can actually go on and design your pain scheme, build out your bike online and get a live quote and So you could have a very hands-off approach if you're that type of customer. But we also, our email's on there, we have a contact form right there. If you have any questions, you have any concerns, you can just email us in. Yeah. And we're happy to answer any questions. And we do everything from the configurator, which is pre-picked, more or less to full-blown custom if you want it. The configurator will give you a very guided tour of costing. And then if you want to go full custom, that's more of a conversation to have. Yeah. Gotcha. Just pick your own adventure. I feel like every time I come across a bike customizer, I lose tens of minutes of my life dreaming, changing, going backwards and forwards to try to find something wonderful. Yeah. Yeah. That was the idea is we wanted people that don't want to email in or don't have the time to do the emailing. Yeah. We wanted to give 'em a tool that they could sit out at the end of the night and play around with and get an idea about our brand and what things cost and what we're all about without having to have a direct conversation. But we're there and we're ready when they want to have that conversation. Yeah. Awesome. So remind us, how do we find you? Yeah, so Entner Frameworks is our website just tinder frameworks.com. We're on Instagram sinner frameworks. Those are our two main points of contact. And yeah, let us know if you have any questions. Perfect. Thanks for the time. Awesome, thank you. [00:49:12] Thomas | Horse Cycles: Can I get your name and brand? Thomas Callahan Horse Cycles. Thomas, how long have you been building under the Horse cycles brand? 17 years. Amazing. Yeah. What got you started to begin with? I was doing sculpture fine art, so I had a studio and was ready to commit to a nicer bike and decided to make the tooling and buy the tooling to build my own bike rather than invest in a, I think I was looking at Italian track bikes at the time. Okay. And then people just started to ask me to build them bikes, which was really great. 'cause I wasn't, it was hard to fine art wasn't super accessible, conceptual fine art wasn't super accessible to a larger audience. Yeah. Yeah. Super cool. And what's the bike that we're looking at today? Are you all custom or do you have sort of product models? Yeah, they're product models, which is really nice. It's like a really good base to work from. So even the custom stuff, usually there's a platform, all road platform, a road platform, a mountain platform. From there we go. Custom. This is a fully custom tie bike. This is tie number five. And it's a all road adventure bike. It's got the envy adventure fork on it, tapered head tube super supple Vermont Rider customer. So yeah, it's got a SCO fade from the head tube back and yeah. It's beautiful. Have you been working with Titanium for a while? I've been working with it for about five years. Just, before I put it out in the universe just to make sure that I have the confidence and the skills and was playing around with it. 'cause I wasn't sure I really wanted to go that way. But it's a fun material to grow into. You just really wanna make sure that you're doing it properly and what does a customer journey look like? If they wanted to work with you, just people reach out. Get some more info about the process, get on the website, talk about their needs and see if, it would work out. And usually around four months lead time and do a lot of full builds. But I really love connecting with people. That's one of the best parts other than being able to work with my hands is really connecting with people. To build something together. And that connection is really why I do what I do, yeah. 'cause, people are great. It's such a great journey as a customer, working with a builder to express like our collective vision for this bike. Yeah. And then receive it. I imagine that you get a lot of love back from customers. Yeah, I do. And really the people that I'm able to work with, first of all, I'm so appreciative. Because it takes a lot of effort for customers, but they're really amazing people. The industry is great 'cause, it's a BA based on physical and mental fitness, and that's usually provides a pretty positive, personal platform and, they're good solid folks. So a hundred percent. If people wanna find out more about horse cycles, where do they go? They can go to horse cycles.com, they can go to my Instagram horse cycles, gimme a phone call, reach out. I'm, I'm there and I'm not going anywhere. Perfect. Thanks for the time. Thank you. [00:52:13] Jonathan | Frameworks: Can I get your name and, and company? Yeah. I'm Jonathan from Framework Bicycles. We're based outta Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Nice. And how long have, have you guys been around? We've only been building bikes for about one year now, but my wife and I own and operate an aerospace tool and die shop Gotcha. For about 11 years. So that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Why you have the capability to do these amazing and aluminum lugs that we're looking at. That to me are like sort of one of the more striking features of the bike. Thank you. Do you wanna just kind of describe how this bike is constructed in the tubes and it lugs? Yeah, so I guess we use a hybrid construction method that's not unique to us right now. Like Bastion's doing it, Atherton's doing it. Pivot just did it with that full suspension bike. I know you're a gravel guy, but we machine bill it aluminum lugs and wind filament wound carbon tubes in house that are bladder molded and cured in in mold. And then we bonded together. Essentially, the joint details are all handled by the C N C machine. Okay. So you've got sort of the, the joints of the bike, if you will, with these aluminum lugs that you're machining, and then in between carbon fiber tubes. Yep. And you were, you were mentioning that you have the ability to kind of customize the carbon fiber tools for the cust Yeah. Tubes. Yeah, the tubes. So we, we have a couple main things we can change. Everything we do is inside of a three D modeling software. So each bike is a total one-off. It's parametrically modeled. So we enter your fit data tire clearance, all that kind of stuff. The CAD model updates from there. So if I, if I needed sort of a, a taller head tube would Yep, totally. Would that translate into, yeah, we, we would look at, well the combination of top tube drop head tube, it's gonna change everything in the back of the bike from their back, right? Yep. So we'd look at your touch points for the bars, head tube lengths from there also with the four you wanna run. So that's gonna give you that dimension there on the head tube. And then, Even things like where these joints intersect one another, we can control that. So say you were a small rider and this tires getting too close to the down tube, we can actually bring that up a bit. Gotcha. Yeah. Gotcha. And what kind of, if I came to you, what kind of modifications do you consider for the tubing on the carbon fiber side? If it was a super heavy rider? Super tall rider? Yeah. Wall thickness is like, we can change tube diameters too. So I would say there's two spectrums. If you're a really small rider, you don't need like a really round, big round tube. It's too much for you. Yeah, so my wife, like for example, I run a smaller down tube on that so that the shape, the size of the tube and the shape is your main driver in terms of strength. From there, what we tune is wall thickness, so how many layers of carbon we put into each tube, and then below that is the fiber orientation. Because we're C N C, winding them, we can whine for torsional strength, bending, stiffness, anywhere in that spectrum to give the different compliance in the frame where you need it. Since it's a somewhat novel approach to frame construction. Yeah. How do you describe to customers or would be customers, what the ride quality might feel like on this bike? It's hard. So we do have some bikes out for review with media outlets right now, but they're custom bikes that are built for those people. Yeah. So they, they'll ride it, but it's like, if I made you a bike for your fitting, it's gonna be a bit different. So what I would describe it as is kind of picking the best of all worlds. You get some damping from the way the joints go together. You still have the kind of lightness and strength of carbon fiber, but with none of the chatter or buzz or like squeak in the bottom bracket. 'cause everywhere we're interfacing metal parts, it's going to a metal part on our bike. Okay. So really stiff bottom bracket shelf. And it they ride really quietly. Yeah. Someone else had mentioned that. You know, this type of joint juncture up here does add a lot of rigidity to how the stays come into the tube here. Like this detail here. Yeah. Yeah. So what we do to try to get some of that back is, I'm a big proponent of top tube drop. Like basically the, the stick out of your seat tube, your ride perception is gonna be way more on how your saddle's moving back and forth with frame flex than anything happening in the frame. So that's why people are playing with things like the drop stays. To try to get that to bend in like an SS shape a little bit. Yeah. But if you just make this cantilevered bar longer, you're gonna get way more comfort from that. Got it. That's basically the easiest way to do it. What does the customer journey look like to discover you and how do they find you? And then what does it look like from there If you wanna purchase the bike? Yeah. 'cause we're super active on Instagram. That's basically how most people have found us. I'm big on just sharing process stuff while I'm in the shop. People either love it or at least they'll like check it out quickly and come back like a month from then. So I'm on stories all the time showing how we machine stuff, how we make the equipment that makes the bikes. So pretty much right now we're trying to get set up with a couple shops, but we're direct to consumer. Yeah. So it's reach out to us. I'll email you back. We typically recommend that if you're not very confident about your fit, like where your touch points are on the frame that you work with the fitter local to you. Yeah. Send us that detail. The discussion from there is what type of bike are you looking for? Road bike, gravel bike in that spectrum. Mountain bike. So your touch points and the style of bike you want kind of dictate the geometry we go to from there and then it's ticket deposit and we ship you a bike in like four to eight weeks. Super cool. Tell me the website and Instagram handle framework bicycles.com and on Instagram where framework bikes. Awesome. Thanks. [00:57:29] Zack | Bosch: Can I get your name and the brand you represent? Sure. Zach Kreel and Vapor Propulsion Labs. We do Bosch, pinion, supernova, and three by three hubs. Right on. So Bosch has been making electric bicycle motors for how long? Gen One came out in Europe in 2010. Started working with 'em in 2009 over a 18 month period of time to, to work on that project. Gotcha. Yeah. What's been curious to me is obviously, like many of us are aware of the bigger brands doing e-bikes in their lineup, but over the last few years I've started to see builders like Jeremy CIP build with your product. So building, a custom bike effectively. Yeah. And accommodating the Bausch motor in the bottom of it. How does that come to be and what kind of trends do you see in that area? Yeah, so we, we are definitely seeing the custom handmade guy come and express interest. A lot of times there is this misconception that this is way complicated and in general you're replacing the BB with a motor node that can be welded in just like a BB shell can and you're accommodating that. And we try to cut the red tape for the handmade guys to be able to make sure, or to reassure them. That this is pretty easy. So yeah, when you see from an engineering standpoint, from a bill of material of the electric standpoint, all that stuff, we hold their hand to to get them to make the first one, and then they're ready to roll. Yeah. When you see the raw frames that they're producing, it's obvious oh, you can just bolt the engine there on the bottom, and that part's clear. But as you look at what's required to kind of function and power and control the motor, There's more to it than that. So what are the other components of the system that they need to be thinking about as they're building these bikes? Well, a lot of times, you'll think about the end consumer and you'll say, okay, is this gonna be, for somebody that is running a cargo bike, if it's a, if it's a touring, a gravel rig, if it's a, if's a's pavement bike, if it's a car, alternative bike, those particular frame builders will potentially. Alter the gauge of their tubing. Potentially. It depends on how much load is on it, but that end customer is driving where these will go. And from our standpoint the Bosch system is super robust. It's tested all the way to E M T V standards now and that typically works for everything that everybody in this building is gonna make. What kind of controls are necessary to connect to the motor? So the motor, the botch system is a, it's a closed system. So there's basically, the hardest system is the motor connected to the battery, and then there's the display. The motor has the brains inside there. It measures the human input at a thousand times a second, roughly. So super fast. And then it it connects to the battery. There's a communication between battery and motor, and then there's also communication to the. To the head unit or your smartphone, all of that stuff is, its ecosystem and they're all required to have on the bike itself. And is it a pedal assist system? So it's just adding wattage to my It is, yeah. Personal output. So it measures your input super super accurately. And then you level, you choose the level of assistance eco up to turbo and eco's, like 50% of your input turbo is up to 400% of your input. Gotcha. And I see behind us. It's not only a tandem, it's a triple. Is that right? Yes, that is right. So that's a, that's our concept bike. My daughter's the one who's gonna be in the middle there. So lucky her. That particular rig is cool because the middle stoker, that section of the frame can be removed and then it can turn into a tandem. That's incredible. We brought that one here for frame builders to see as like the most complicated bike that they could ever imagine. And then give them the perspective of okay, a single is super simple compared to that. Yeah. And is there's just one, is there just one Bausch engine in that bike? Yep. Okay. Yeah. And it's a, that's a dual battery. There's a three by three internal gear hub in the back with e shift. So electronic shifting, there's a Bluetooth wireless controller to the ba