The Gravel Ride. A cycling podcast

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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.

Craig Dalton


    • Jan 31, 2023 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 39m AVG DURATION
    • 187 EPISODES

    4.8 from 270 ratings Listeners of The Gravel Ride. A cycling podcast that love the show mention: talkin giants, cycling podcast, salsa, bikes, trainer, adventure, tech, ride, race, informative podcast, low, concise, events, road, interviewer, missed, would love, waiting, industry, solid.



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    Anne-Marije Rook - cycling journalist

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 31, 2023 50:45


    This week, Randall connects with Anne-Marije Rook, North American Editor at Cycling Weekly with an exploration of how she got into cycling and from there into cycling journalism, with fun tangents into competitive cycling, exploding e-bikes, and a bit of gear nerdy. Episdoe Sponsor: Athletic Greens  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 broadcast, I'm handing the microphone off over to my co-host Randall Jacobs. Who's got an Mariah Rook on the broadcast. She's the north American editor at cycling weekly randall will take us on an exploration on how she got into cycling. And from there into cycling journalism, with fun tangents, into competitive cycling. Exploring e-bikes and a bit of the gear nerdery that Randall is famous for. Before we jump in and hand that microphone off to Randall. I do need to thank this week. Sponsor athletic greens. Athletic greens and AIG. One is a comprehensive daily nutrition made from simple, powerful ingredients. It's made up of 75 high quality, whole food sourced ingredients. Carefully curated to nourish all the body's systems holistically. As many of you know, I've been an athletic greens user for many, many years, predating the podcast. So I've been super stoked that athletic greens has been a big partner for what I do The key to ag one is that it replaces key health products in one simple scoop. AIG one combines nine health products working together as one, replacing your multivitamin. Multimineral. Pre and probiotics. Immunity support and more, that means ag one does more for your body and saves you time, money and confusion compared to taking multiple unique products. And that is a hundred percent key for me. I do one scoop in the morning, mixed up with a little bit of ice, and I feel like I've got some of my nutritional basis started before I've even begun the day. If you're interested in learning more about athletic greens, go to www.athleticgreens.com/the gravel ride. For podcast listeners, our friends at athletic greens have given us a free year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs. If you ordered today. Simply visit athletic greens.com/the gravel ride to get your age. The one on the way today. With that said i'm going to hand over the microphone to my co-host randall jacobs [00:02:35] Randall R. Jacobs: Let's talk about how you got into this particular field. How did you end up as a cycling journalist? [00:02:42] Anne-Marije Rook: Sure. Yeah. So I was actually, uh, a real journalist before, um, not that second journalist aren't real journalists, but, uh, I did a lot heavier topics, um, you know, worked at newspapers, just straight up outta college, became a newspaper journalist, and then, , uh, at some point, I think I was 22, I started racing bikes myself, and when I did, I, I was looking for content and I realized there wasn't a lot of women's seconding content coming out of the us. So I started kind of dabbling with that on the side. And, uh, then started riding for some different publications and eventually seconding tips reached out and were like, Let's do something. So we founded Ella Cycling Tips, which was the, the women's side of Cycling Tips. And then, um, yeah, just stayed in the field. I quit my day job and started doing cycling journalism while still racing, and I've been doing it ever since, going on 10, 11 years now. [00:03:39] Randall R. Jacobs: and was your educational background in writing in journalism specifically? [00:03:44] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, I did, uh, journalism, German and French. So interestingly enough I get to use all of that nowadays [00:03:51] Randall R. Jacobs: Are you native in any of those other languages? [00:03:53] Anne-Marije Rook: In Dutch. So I was born and raised in the Nets, the, the biking country, and then, uh, lived in Germany for three years and then ended up in the US uh, when I was almost 16. [00:04:04] Randall R. Jacobs: That's quite a skill to have, and makes me think of a joke about Americans. What do you call someone who's speaks three languages trilingual, two languages bilingual and one language. We have US Americans. [00:04:13] Anne-Marije Rook: I think a lot of people actually do, you know, they dabble in Spanish and some other languages. I think, uh, you shouldn't sell yourself so short. [00:04:22] Randall R. Jacobs: True, maybe I'm projecting a little bit. In my personal case, I studied six years of Spanish in middle school and high school and was able to get by during a month stint in Peru. But, it didn't seem immediately relevant at the time. And so later on in life, I moved to China and learned Mandarin and actually being present and having to use it in day-to-day life just makes such a, a world of difference. And for I think a lot of people who are born in the us and who don't grow up in a household or another, the language is spoken, there's just not. That impetus versus in Europe you have surrounding countries where with different languages or maybe even within one's own country there are different dialects or different languages being spoken. [00:05:04] Anne-Marije Rook: That's really good though. So you're a trilingual. [00:05:06] Randall R. Jacobs: I wouldn't go as far as to say trilingual, other than in the sense of trying , a little bit of Spanish and enough, what I call cab driver Cantonese in order to be able to fool somebody that I speak some Cantonese before switching over to Mandarin. [00:05:21] Anne-Marije Rook: That's, I mean, that's pretty impressive. Those are really difficult languages. I never studied, uh, Cantonese from Mandarin. I, I studied Japanese and just having to learn a whole new way of, of writing, uh, is, is, yeah, it's difficult to do. [00:05:34] Randall R. Jacobs: that's probably the hardest part. I would say that , Mandarin the scripts for sure. It's a very abstracted pictographic script. To be able to read a newspaper, you need, two, 3000 different characters and to have a higher level of sophistication, you need 5,000, 10,000 characters. And, even a native speaker. , especially in this day and age, we'll have difficulty remembering how to write a character. Cuz everything is being tight. [00:06:00] Anne-Marije Rook: Hmm. [00:06:01] Randall R. Jacobs: But on the other hand the grammar is really simple. So in English we say, yesterday I went to the store and we have to go and we conjugate it as went, which actually comes from an entirely different language family than to go. and in Chinese you just say, ah, yesterday, go store. [00:06:20] Anne-Marije Rook: Ah, yeah. [00:06:21] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. English also has way more synonyms because it's such a hodgepodge amalgamation of other languages, whereas Chinese also has external influences, but it's arguably more insular versus English. You have Germanic, you have Latin, you have Greek, you have various forms of cockney and so on that are all in there and the occasional Chinese phrases, very little that comes over for Chinese. Uh, one example being longtime nok, which is a direct translation from the Chinese [00:06:50] Anne-Marije Rook: Really, that's fun. Here's the thing I I discover with my language skills or lack thereof, is that, um, learning all the bike parts, for example, I had, like, I never learned those in my native tongues. So like suddenly I had to learn like, oh shit, what's the railer or what's, what's the railer hanger in Dutch or in German or whatever. And it's been fun learning those terms for the first time, even though, yeah, I grew up with that. [00:07:19] Randall R. Jacobs: that's actually a common phenomenon and one that I definitely resonate in my own experience too. I have friends who were born in China, but largely grew up here or even who came over to go to college. And, they're native speakers. I'm not at that level but I will have terms that I know that they don't because I am in this highly technical context of the bike industry of manufacturing, materials and production processes and so on. Um, and so it's kind of the same, same sort of phenomenon. [00:07:50] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of a fun thing where I was like, wow, I never learned any of these terms in those languages. Yeah, [00:07:55] Randall R. Jacobs: So you've been doing cycling journalism for, you said about 10, 11 years now. [00:08:00] Anne-Marije Rook: yeah, yeah. It's been a minute. [00:08:02] Randall R. Jacobs: I'm curious to hear more about the project at Cycling tips. How'd you get brought into that and, and how did that come about? [00:08:09] Anne-Marije Rook: So they, uh, I think they found me on Twitter. Uh, Twitter was really where. , um, women's cycling was, was living for quite a while cuz there was very little streaming and you can watch any of these races live, so you followed them online and Twitter had a really wonderful community of, of women's cycling fans and it still does to a certain extent, but yeah, that's where it used to. Live and I did a lot of, you know, uh, I would watch races and Life tweet and, you know, uh, was pretty active on, on Twitter and um, was writing for Podium Cafe, which is a nation site at the time, and they were looking to start a women's cycling component. Uh, and so they like reached out to various people and, you know, did a job interview and, you know, got going that way. [00:08:54] Randall R. Jacobs: And this was when? Who was there at the time? Kaylee and James and, [00:08:59] Anne-Marije Rook: No, this was before Kaylee. Um, this was, it was just, uh, Matt dif and, and Wade. [00:09:05] Randall R. Jacobs: Oh, okay. [00:09:06] Anne-Marije Rook: Um, Andy was there already, and then it was Jesse Braverman and myself who came on to do the women's cycling. [00:09:12] Randall R. Jacobs: Let's talk about women's cycling for a little bit. what are the areas in women's cycling that you find most interesting, most compelling, and that also you think that are maybe, under discussed underreported. [00:09:23] Anne-Marije Rook: Oh yeah. The nice thing about women's cycling is that it's been growing so much in the last 10 years or so, so that it's uh, people get to see it a bit more and I think what. , uh, intrigue me about women's second from the get-go is just how aggressive the racing is and how, um, while there was a definite period of like modern force dominating, and then we had and then we have anique. The nice thing about women's acting, I think is because it has grown so much is that you never really know who's gonna win. and it makes a racing very exciting. Cause it, it, like I said, it is so aggressive cuz the races are shorter, so you have fewer opportunities to make, you know, a break stick. So there tends to be more attacking and, uh, you, you don't really experience that unless you're watching it. I think the nice thing about. Where we are now, we can actually watch in the Tour de France Femme showed this, like watching women's cycling is actually very entertaining. And you know, in France alone, like millions of people tuned in every single day. So it is, it's different and I think that's, uh, something we should celebrate. rather than point out like, you know, women's cycling is, is men's cycling, but in shorter distances, and that's not at all true. I think women's cycling is a bit of its own sport in, in terms of tactics and the way the races play out. And, uh, in psycho cross especially, that's been very apparent. You know, people have shorter attention spans. So if you can sit down for a, you know, a 45, 50 minute bike race, you'll see basically what women's cycling is like on. On a heightened level, and it's extremely entertaining. You don't know who's gonna win. There's a lot of good candidates and, uh, it's, yeah, it's aggressive from the gun. [00:11:03] Randall R. Jacobs: At least in the us it seems that women's cyclocross racing was most prominent, most early. Mary McConnellogue is one example I remember from my racing days, I don't remember hearing as much reporting about women's road racing at the time. Maybe that was just what I was tuning into, but cyclocross. I remember getting similar billing to men's cyclocross [00:11:24] Anne-Marije Rook: yeah, I think the, the heyday of women's cycling really was the 1980s, early nineties. You know, we had the course classic and we had some, some really great names. Um, and. That has dwindled down. There were a lot of lack of races. Uh, we've had some great road racers in the US you know, with, with uh, Christian Armstrong and, uh, e Evelyn Stevens, and we've had some really Mara Abod and the Jro, like some really great road racers. You just don't hear about 'em as much . I do remember a particular race where I like looked to my right and it was like Kristen Armstrong and I looked to my left and it was Evelyn Stevens and I was like, ah. This is gonna suck today, It's gonna be a fast one. [00:12:04] Randall R. Jacobs: Let's talk about that, let's talk about you're racing background. So you mentioned that you got into cycling in your early twenties. How did that come about and what was that like for you? [00:12:13] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, so I've, uh, coming from the Netherlands, I've been a bike commuter since I was, I don't know, six. Uh, and so I just like grew up on the bike. It's just how I got around. And in college I just rode everywhere. And there were a couple times where people were like, Hey, you should maybe consider. Racing or, or doing like, you know, grand Fonds or something. And I was like, ah, this is just my vehicle. And then, uh, I moved to Seattle and did the Seattle, the Portland, which is uh, like a 220 mile bike ride between the two cities. And there were some teams that were doing it. And, uh, you know, again, people were like, have you considered racing? You're pretty strong. And I'd be like, no. I mean, it's kind of like, Hey, do you like driving? You should do nascar. You know, like it's, it was just such a foreign concept to me. Um, which is funny cuz I grew up in the Netherlands, but like, uh, and my grandpa was super into bike racing, but it wasn't, uh, ever like, exposed to me or con like, wasn't just like, oh, you like riding bikes, you should become a bike race. It just wasn't a thing. It wasn't really a, a sport I was exposed to, uh, in the northern part of the. . And so I was kind of intrigued and, and I had enjoyed training for the 200 mile event, so I, I went to the, the tryout, so to speak, and start racing and. as a Cat four. And I remember my first race weekend was a double header, so Saturday and Sunday and Saturday I, I think I got eighth and I got, I was like, oh, okay, this is cool. Top 10. And I was like, I wonder if I can get better. And the next day I got fifth. And, you know, that's, that's all it took for me to get super into it and trying to see where, where I could take it. And, uh, I think I was racing UCI like the next season. [00:13:54] Randall R. Jacobs: Oh wow. [00:13:55] Anne-Marije Rook: mostly, uh, or at first in cross and then, uh, road and track as well. But um, yeah, it's, it's an interesting place to be in, in, in the US in that you can be racing as a pro. And I use pro here very loosely because it's called pro level, but no one's actually getting paid to race their bikes. Like I would never consider myself a pro. Uh, I just raced in the UCI one, two levels and it's kind of weird that we throw it all. Um, when really, yeah, very few people are actually getting paid to, to race their bikes. [00:14:29] Randall R. Jacobs: I definitely fall on that boat as well. I think my best season, I didn't quite break even as a, as a Pac fodder Cross Country Pro. Mid pack was pretty good at the national level. And then you have a good regional results here and there. [00:14:42] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, a good season for me, like, I loved crits, so that's where the money was at for me. You know, if I walked away with three grand at the end of the summer, I, I was pretty stoked. [00:14:51] Randall R. Jacobs: Oh, I never saw that. That sort of money and crits, crits always terrified me. There's a certain attitude that you have to have going into a crit, like a fearlessness that I, I dunno. Mountain biking always felt safer for me. [00:15:03] Anne-Marije Rook: It is, it is. And I, I quit racing after getting injured too many times. Like you can only hit your head so many times and, you know, if, if I list my, my laundry list of injuries, it's, it's definitely evident that, uh, yeah, quit racing is, is rather dangerous and asphalt is hard. And, you know, trees don't jump out on you. Where's Razor Smith? [00:15:23] Randall R. Jacobs: Yep. And pavement is like sandpaper when you're skidding across it in spandex. [00:15:27] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. There's not a lot of protection there. Um, but it was all, it was all good fun. And you know, I, I wish I'd gotten into it earlier in my life, but I had a, a lot of fun during my twenties and early thirties. [00:15:38] Randall R. Jacobs: what'd you love about it? [00:15:40] Anne-Marije Rook: Uh, I liked the, the challenge of like the, the personal level, like how fit can I be? How strong can I get? Um, and then there's the direct correlation between what you put in that, that you get out, um, and then. Especially with crit racing. I liked, uh, the team tactics. I liked the aggressiveness. Like I was definitely that area that went like super hard on the front, on the first lap, just trying to get as many people off the back and then like would go for pre after, pre, pre and then in the last two laps found that I had no legs left and someone else had to finish it up. But, um, Yeah, I, I like the aggressiveness. I liked, I, I'm really a team sports person, and I think road racing, uh, doesn't get enough credit for the team sport that it is. And I think, like, personally, not to get on like a, a whole nother side spiel, but in, in [00:16:27] Randall R. Jacobs: No, let's do it. Let's do it. Go there. [00:16:29] Anne-Marije Rook: In Olympic racing, like why does only one person get a gold medal? Like in soccer? The whole team gets a gold medal. And I think, uh, you know, road racing especially is such a steam sport that everyone should be getting a medal. It's only, you know, six or seven medals versus 11. So, [00:16:47] Randall R. Jacobs: I mean, that's one of the, that's one of the things that's nice about the grand tours. There's lots of ways to win. There's the points, there's the stages, there's the gc, there's the most aggressive rider, so something more subjective. there's all these different ways in which to be acknowledged, but I'm definitely with you. It would quite a feat to show up at an Olympic level road race. Solo and [00:17:09] Anne-Marije Rook: went away. Yeah. [00:17:11] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. No one to defend you, no one to pull you up. You'd have to be very, very lucky. And also be doing a lot of riding on people's wheels the entire time [00:17:20] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. And I think as a racer I enjoyed that. You know, I enjoyed the team aspect. I enjoyed the, the collective effort it took to, to win the race. Sure, one person was the first across the line, but it took all of us to, to get that person there. And like, there's, to me as a, as a racer, there's a few things as as beautiful as, as a well executed, uh, lead out at the end of the race. You know, like where everyone has a role every. You know, executes it perfectly, like a little team train. Like the, those things don't happen very often on the, on the non, you know, world tour level. And it, it's really, it, it feels amazing as a, as a racer to be part of that. [00:17:56] Randall R. Jacobs: I've had limited crit racing experience and you note about the intensity of it. There are a few things more intense because not only do you have the, the digging really deep, not just at the end, but every single time a gap opens up or every ti single time there's a break and it's such a short, tight circuit, and a short duration of an event that you really can't let anything open up. And people can sustain a lot more over 30 minutes to an hour than they can over the course of a four hour road race or a long gravel race . And there are curbs and there are other people and there are bottles and there are people taking shady lines. And that person who just passed you is on a trajectory where there's no way they're gonna be able to come around the corner without hitting the outside curb on the other side. Especially at the early levels like cat four or cat three, where you have strong riders coming over from other disciplines. and just don't have the chops. [00:18:50] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, I did a, I did a, a number of, of races in, in the men's field just to get more, uh, racing my legs. And, you know, the, the groups tend to be bigger but also very varied. You know, I'd be running around the course with like 80 dudes and maybe two women in there and be like, terrified of, of the experience. And at the same time, like that, getting that chariot effect, like having that many people around you, you're kind of just like, Kind of going with the flow and, and being dragged around the course, which was kind of fun too. But I think it's a pure adrenaline rush and I feel like I'm too old for that now. trying to hold those kind of efforts. My heart rate doesn't go up that high anymore. I mean, it used to go up pretty easily over 200 and I think now I'd be on the sidelines vomiting if I had 200, [00:19:33] Randall R. Jacobs: that's almost hummingbird level [00:19:36] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, yeah. You know, young and fit. . Yeah, I miss that. I think I miss being that fit. I do not miss having to put in the kind of effort to be that fit. [00:19:45] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and more recently you've been doing a lot with gravel. is most of your riding gravel at this point? [00:19:49] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. And I've always done gravel, like back when we just called it road bikes off road, you know, there wasn't any special gear just riding 20 threes over gravel and, uh, I've always liked gravel and adventuring. I've always liked being underbid. Um, so I've been doing gravel for a long time and I think, uh, I've definitely, since quitting, uh, racing, I've done mostly off-road. I think nowadays if I have like two hours to kill, I'll most definitely ride through the forest rather than go on a road ride. [00:20:19] Randall R. Jacobs: You're based currently in Portland [00:20:21] Anne-Marije Rook: portland, [00:20:22] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah. So you have fantastic outdoors right out your door in the Portland area and decent bike infrastructure as well, at least by, by our US standards. [00:20:31] Anne-Marije Rook: yeah. I mean, I chose, so I live in a, in a neighborhood called St. John's and I, I chose that specifically cause I go over across the bridge and I'm in the, in Forest Park, which is a, uh, a really big, and I think the long shill, there's 30 miles or so. So it's like, it's a, a really big forested area with gravel roads. Yeah, I'm, I'm there all the time. Uh, I also really got into mountain biking after I quit racing. So, you know, like all, all Mountain, uh, I used to do mostly XE and definitely been working on my skills and, uh, since quitting. Uh, just it's nice to be away from cars. I think the gist of that. [00:21:07] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, I think that, in addition to the exploratory element of it, is one of the things that led me to transition to primarily gravel riding . And I do think it's a major reason why gravel cycling has taken off in general. Not only are the bikes really versatile, so if you're only gonna have one bike while you can do all these different things, but then also I remember reading a. Some years ago a university study that was looking at the reasons, that people cite for not riding more. And safety is always number one by. I think that study was maybe eight or nine years ago, so in a few places the infrastructure has gotten a little bit better, but still not enough. And the attitudes of drivers. Have gotten better, but , still you get out of a certain zone of safety and you still have people angry at you for being on the road. [00:21:58] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, I mean, like as a lifelong commuter, I, I've been hit quite a few times. I got hit twice during the pandemic alone, uh, while riding around town. And so, uh, It is the sa Yeah, I understand. The safety team. The thing a hundred percent, like you don't, uh, wanna take your life in your own hands when you're out riding. And, uh, it, it's, it's a big problem in the US that the infrastructure is still so lacking. And on one hand you're telling people to, you know, go get on your bike and be more sustainable and healthy. And at the same time, they're not offering a lot of, uh, insurances in terms of, you know, uh, infrastructure and whatnot to, to make that. [00:22:34] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Now I'm, I'm curious as a journalist, what have been some of the areas that you've found most interesting to report on or that, you know, you've been able to dive into as a consequence of having that credential? [00:22:46] Anne-Marije Rook: Hmm. Uh, I'm, I always love people. I, I, I like to know what makes them tick. You know, especially those people on, on like the, the very top end of the sport. Like what makes 'em tick? How, how are they able to do this? And at the same time, uh, this year, one of the things I've been really interested in is, um, ebi. in terms of like the, the regulations around, um, lit I and, uh, batteries and, and the, the fact that there's so many fires and then the legislation around it and wish there is none yet, but that's coming. And so, uh, looking into a bit more of where these bags are coming from and, and what it takes. To control these, these devices a bit more has been very interesting. And it's not something that gets a lot of rates or gets clicks and whatnot, but it's something I find very interesting cuz it'll have a lot of, uh, repercussions I think in, in the next couple years as to which eBags are on the market, which products you can and cannot buy. And, uh, hopefully the safety of it all. [00:23:50] Randall R. Jacobs: What are some of the things that you've uncovered in that exploration? [00:23:54] Anne-Marije Rook: Well, the fact that there is absolutely, at the moment no legislation whatsoever, uh, for the consumer. So you can buy whatever you can find on the internet, and there's, there's no guarantee that it's not gonna set your house on fire. There's no safety around it, and that's, that's changing right now. New York City is currently, uh, considering banning the sale of secondhand or, uh, like. Uh, tested products, which would have massive repercussions cuz there's like 65,000 delivery workers in, uh, New York City alone. And these people are mostly relying on e-bikes to do their jobs, right? It's their livelihood. And so the moment you, you control these products, uh, it'll have a financial impact on these people as well. Well, third party testing and safety device. It costs more on the, on the manufacturers and therefore it'll have a higher price tag, price tag for the consumer as well. Um, but at the same time, you know, they ha are also dealing with 200 fires already this year. Um, specifically [00:24:56] Randall R. Jacobs: just the city of New York. [00:24:58] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, just the city of New York relating to um, e mobility devices like E-Bikes, ESCOs, hoverboards, e Unicycles, that kind of stuff, which is a lot, you know, that's a lot for one city, specifically around these mobility devices. [00:25:12] Randall R. Jacobs: Sure, especially when you have such immense density. So a fire in New York City is not a standalone house that's oftentimes a building with dozens of families and a lot of people get displaced. [00:25:24] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. Luckily they've, they've only, I should say that in, in quotation marks, they've had six fatalities and, and over 130, uh, injuries related to those fires. So, relatively speaking, that's not a high number, but it's, it's something that could be prevented with proper legislation. So I think for me, what's interesting is just like, The, the, the concept was that you can just import products that don't get tested and, you know, people will buy 'em because it's popular and it's, it's, uh, affordable and, and there's a reason, you know, items cost as much as, as they do and, you know, as, as someone who, uh, creates consumer goods. So, yeah. Anyway, that's, that's a long wind winded way of saying that's been a very interesting, uh, passion project of mine. [00:26:07] Randall R. Jacobs: well, on that particular topic, I know that there's, there's also kind of a cultural backlash against, say, in New York City, these e-bike, service providers out doing deliveries and if you look at who it is that is taking on those jobs, generally immigrant, , generally it's the first opportunity that they have in order to survive and make a living, getting a foundation here. So it's not as easy as simply, we're gonna band all these things , it's some, it's somebody's livelihood. [00:26:35] Anne-Marije Rook: And like as you said, it's a, it's a culture issue. It's a class issue. It's, it's not, not as simple as like, well, these items are unsafe, so we'll just ban them. [00:26:45] Randall R. Jacobs: And that, kind of speaks to, broader issues , that we could talk about in the bike space. Like we have this concept of a sidewalk bicycle, a more pejorative way of saying it would be a, bicycle shaped object. So these are, bikes that are generally built to a very low standard, generally sold through non, specialty retail , poorly assembled, and even if they were well assembled generally of parts that are of questionable quality. So poor breaking things like this, and they aren't required to. Hold up to the same standards as a bicycle that you buy at a bike shop that is designated for commuter use or other sorts of use. And, in the more premium end of the spectrum, which for a lot of people who aren't cyclists, would be any bike that's more than three, $400. There's detailed, is. International standards organization criteria for testing that. But that's another example of the same thing where, well, you could require that all bikes be built to a certain standard, but then new bikes would be inaccessible to lower income demographics. Though frankly, I think another outcome of that would probably be that you see more refurbishing of better quality. older used bikes and so that could be a net positive, especially given that they're likely to hold up a lot better. [00:28:01] Anne-Marije Rook: Mm-hmm. [00:28:01] Randall R. Jacobs: So, so that's another area [00:28:03] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, I mean to that, like, I could ask that a lot and, and we've, we're about to enter another recession. Um, it's, it's apparent in another country already and, and we're headed that way as well. And, and so a big topic becomes budget bikes, like how much do you spend on a bike and new bikes that are. of a certain budget , I always tell people, go, go shop for a, a used bike and, and refurbish it. You're, you're better off than a cheap brand new bike. And there, I think for a long time there was this, this rather like attitude towards buying secondhand. , uh, products, especially, you know, around carbon bikes, like people were worried that they were broken or cracked, and I think there's a huge misconception around carbon, specifically in, in terms of the strength and like a carbon bike, if it doesn't, if it's not cracked, will last you an entire lifetime. Like, they don't deteriorate. Like, you know, metals will cor. And the restin in carbon doesn't necessarily break apart. Like if maintained well, a carbon bike will last you a lifetime, the end, right? You sure it breaks and you have to maybe get it checked over by, uh, an expert. But I think, uh, now that we have been in this carbon age for a bit longer, there's, there's nothing wrong with a used carbon bike [00:29:23] Randall R. Jacobs: I think that that is often true. There's a couple of challenges there though, with a metal bike, if there's something wrong with it, you generally see it unless it's cracking. Uh, and, and even a crack, you'd be able to see, but you'd be able to see that with a carbon bike too. But what you wouldn't be able to see is an impact that causes delamination in a tube but doesn't result in visual cracking or damage. The construction has gotten much, much better, so they are vastly more reliable, but there's been this push for, as light as possible, which means there's not a lot of buffer and there's a lot of higher modus carbons that are not as impact resistant. So I agree with you that the concerns are overblown. but at the same time, actually this is something that, was talking to, Kaylee Fretz about when he was on not too long ago. The merits of metal bikes, and I think that. Especially on the more economical end of the spectrum, it would be great to see more, steel bikes. [00:30:19] Anne-Marije Rook: Oh, for sure. I love, I I myself, steel roadie. I, I think I would love to have a titanium bike for sure. Um, I just think that from a sustainability point of view, for the last, I don't know, 10, 15 years, we've been cranking out one carbon bike after another and they're not being recycled, uh, because. Well, you can, but it's very, very cost prohibit, pro prohibitive to, um, try to get around the re resin and recycle that carbon. And so I think I would rather see some of these older frames be picked up and, and reuse in one way or another. Um, you know, slap a new group set on and it's a good bike. I'm also. , um, privilege in that. In Portland, we have a great company called Ruckus Composites, and they for, for fee, but it's not a significant fee. They will scan your carbon frame to make sure there aren't any, uh, cracks or whatever that, that you can't see, um, simply with your eyeballs. [00:31:17] Randall R. Jacobs: That's a great service and one that if anyone has access to, especially if they're buying secondhand or if they've crashed, absolutely worth it., the cost of not doing it is, potentially nothing or potentially catastrophic [00:31:29] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. Yeah. And I think I'm, I'm more worried about people buying these really cheaply made. Carbon bikes cuz they're like, it's carbon and it'll be good. And I'm like, there is such a thing as bad carbon and uh, budget bikes that just, um, yeah, they, they don't stand the test of time. Whereas good carbon bikes will, like I said, last your lifetime, uh, obviously. You know, metal is, is, this is the safer bet. But, um, yeah, we, we just have so many carbon frames out there right now, and I just don't, don't see them being used, uh, ending up in landfill. I don't know. I think that's one of the things that if I could ask the industry to do anything, it's to be a bit more, uh, sustainable in, in what they crank out and, and looking for the opportunities to recycle some of the products that they create. [00:32:14] Randall R. Jacobs: There is talk about this within the industry. Craig was at the people for Bike Summit and there was a lot of talk around sustainability. It may have been more around packaging and the like, being discussed there. some of this is, the facilities haven't existed. So carbon recycling, for example, you need specialized facilities. fortunately there's new, ways in which recycled carbon can be utilized cuz it is a degraded material, right? So you're not going to get the long pure fibers that you're getting purely homogenous, resin with and so on. So you need to be able to create forged carbon components and the like, and you're starting to see that, um, That whole recycling infrastructure, like all recycling infrastructure, for the most part in this country, is not keeping up with the sheer amount of stuff that we're creating and discarding. [00:33:04] Anne-Marije Rook: No, absolutely not. And uh, I think especially after. You know, uh, right before, um, gravel got real big, I think the industry was just sitting on, on thousands of, of car, like mid-level carbon bikes with, with 10 speed group sets. And luckily in some ways, luckily the, um, pandemic created, um, this, this delay in, in, in the. Um, in, in getting new components. And I think that that forced people to go back and be like, can we use this nine or 10 speed group set? And there's an interesting amount of, of nine and seven speed groups that's on the market right now that just like got picked up cuz they were laying around. And uh, you see those especially in, in, uh, super adventure bikes or e-bikes where they use older group sets. And I think it's great cuz we, we need to use the, the things that we've produced. [00:33:55] Randall R. Jacobs: you've been following some of the supply chain changes. [00:33:59] Anne-Marije Rook: of course. Yeah. I mean, that's been the story for the last few years for the industry and, uh, it, it is a struggle. I, I can't imagine being one of those businesses that, that relies on. Uh, you know, uh, pretty much anything at the moment. But, uh, seeing, see, I think it's, it's really fun to see some innovations happening around, um, using the stuff that we already have. And, uh, there's a lot of, you know, maybe I'm just a super bike nerd, but a lot of different ways you can get more gears out of a you a seven speed trailer or like, you know, using micro shift and, and using all the different. uh, like innovative, uh, little handy tools out there to, to make what's old, new. [00:34:44] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, a hundred percent with you there. And some of the organizations that we've sought to support, as a company have been around taking old bikes and making them new again. [00:34:53] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. And down to sh shifters, I've been seeing a lot of those and, and just like old friction shifters being used again, which I thought was very fun because, uh, it's a cheap way to build an adventure bike. You know, you just go with, with, uh, , straight up brake levers, no shifting in the, in, in your handlebars, which leaves more room for bags and whatever else. And then, um, little bar end shifters or shifters, which never thought I'd see those come back again. [00:35:18] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, also provides a lot more options in terms of what you can spec, because there's really only three major players in that space currently. STR and Shao being the dominant two. [00:35:28] Anne-Marije Rook: What, uh, what's the coolest thing you've seen done with a, with a thesis? [00:35:32] Randall R. Jacobs: We did have a rider do this really stunning, metallic flake paint job With a painter out of the Boulder, Denver area. So those sorts of customizations have been neat otherwise. we have a lot of people who've done extended bike packing trips. We have a channel in an online community that we help to set up which is dedicated to bike packing. So there've been whole reports on people's setups, and that's been really cool to see. One. Has become normal at this point. But I think that we were relatively early with was dropper posts. So had a dropper post in second wheel sets. So had a hypothesis early on, that people would have a single bike for a lot of things and about 50% of people got two wheel sets and pushing 90% of our riders have gotten dropper posts. [00:36:22] Anne-Marije Rook: Really? That's, that's a, surprises me. That's a, a large percentage of people. Um, do they actually use 'em? Like, do they get shredding enough to where you need a, a drop or post? [00:36:33] Randall R. Jacobs: I've seen several examples of folks that have either discarded the dropper or who were really concerned about weight, and so you're trying to figure out how to swap it easily. But in general, like the typical response was, yeah, game changer. And, from, me personally, especially living in the Bay Area where there's so much fast and steep road descending, I'd used it all the time. The argument that I make is it adds say three quarters of a. [00:37:00] Anne-Marije Rook: Mm-hmm. [00:37:02] Randall R. Jacobs: one, you're, you're faster and more confident, less likely to crash in all of those technical or high speed sorts of situations. But then also, to be able to scoot your butt off the back of the saddle, you need to often compromise your satellite a little bit. . And so that means that you're no longer setting up your bike for pure comfort, pure efficiency, pure performance. And so that three quarters of a pound, I'm 165, so I'm probably pushing, let's say, round up to 200 pounds with gear and so on. Three quarters of a pound is as a percentage, less than half a percent. So am I getting half a percent more efficient, on a climb because I'm in the right position? I think that that's pretty plausible. Never. The rest of the time. So that, that's my pitch for droppers. I know that not everyone is sold on them, but I, I think that it's, uh, it is the thing that makes a bike that is otherwise really good on flat and smooth train, something that you can get really rowdy with. [00:38:00] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, I mean, I like to get rowdy on, on gravel bikes very much. It's, it's kind of like my, my favorite thing to do is see how far I can take it, uh, to the end I will say, uh, you know, I've, I've come around, I mentioned this to you in email, but I've come around on six 50 bees finally. That took me a long time, uh, to get, but having that actual rubber does, does allow me to get, uh, a little bit more rowdy than, than on 700. [00:38:27] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. And I, I had shared some thinking about why that might have been, but I'm curious, what did you find different and hard to adjust to switching from 700 to six 50? [00:38:36] Anne-Marije Rook: Uh, I think initially it was like, oh, this feels slow, and, um, You know, given my background, I, I, I liked really quick and, and fast responses and lively rides, and it felt like it did the opposite. Like it became a bit more, more twitchy, which makes for a bit more engaging. Right? But it just felt a little slower. Um, and it just, the handling was different than what I was used to on 700 seats, which also had to do with the, the tire width that was running, you know, going from, uh, 700 by. F maybe 40 to, you know, six 50 to 47. That's a huge difference in terms of like your, your rolling surface that you have and, and how that feels around the corners. Um, but then it got real rainy and muddy and I was riding the, this, this rather, uh, you know, Rudy Mound, bikey terrain. And that's when I noticed the difference of like, oh yeah, this really allows me to stay planted a bit better and, and, uh, maneuver these roots. . Um, I also like it, it started off like, oh, I understand this form, like a technical point of view. And then for comfort, it is really darn comfortable to just like crank out the miles on on more rubber. And it just, yeah, it's cushy and uh, I can see now why, you know, randomers and such opt for that, that tire size. But it took me a while. I, I will say maybe I'm just old school, but um, I finally got around to it. [00:40:01] Randall R. Jacobs: I can definitely relate to , at least the sensation of it, potentially feeling a little bit slower rolling. And there's definitely circumstances and this is, , Casing dependent as well, where, you know it very well may be, but at the same time, remember the first time you gave up 20 threes and put on 20 fives or 20 eights or thirties and how different that felt. And it's like, I'm not getting all of that, that road. It just feels slow all of a sudden. But, , data said otherwise, but I mean, six 50 s have their place. There's a reason why a lot of racers in certain types of events run 700 by, I mean, in the case of Belgian waffle Ride in San Diego, I think people are running like 32 slicks, [00:40:44] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, that makes sense, right? Like it's if when you have that much, uh, ground to cover and, uh, a fair bit of road in that as well, I believe, um, you would opt for that. But yeah, I've, I've come around. I'm a hundred percent a six 50 B believer. Now I do think you need two wheel sets. Um, for different, different occasions. But yeah, it was, it was a fun experiment for me. This, uh, this fall. [00:41:10] Randall R. Jacobs: When you say two wheel sets, you mean 2 6 50 wheel sets or, or one seven hundred and one six fifty. [00:41:15] Anne-Marije Rook: The latter. Yeah. 1 700, 1 6 50. Yeah. There's definitely days that, you know, if I know I'm gonna go long, I, I just feel like I'm. covering more ground then, then I'll do that on a, a 700. But yeah, for my, my most, like my lunch rides, that's up in, in, in the trails, that's definitely six 50 now. [00:41:34] Randall R. Jacobs: So what else have you found surprising or delightful in terms of products or insight into the sport or, experiences you've had of late. [00:41:43] Anne-Marije Rook: Uh, well, sticking with gravel, I think we're starting to see a, a really broad spectrum. of bikes that are either super capable, have suspension, you know, there's an increasing amount of bikes and suspension. And then on the other side, the ones that are, are really going for speed. , um, where you basically have a road bike, um, that's, that's slightly more capable, you know, so like if you wanna go with specialized, you've got the, the new s C r with the sus, the rear end suspension and front end suspension versus the crux, which is, uh, you know, a very capable cyros bike basically, and feathery light. And I think we're seeing more of that divide happening, which is pretty quick given that gravel as a category hasn't been around for all that long. Um, and it's, it. I think it's a very interesting development just to see what people are gonna go for and how much we're we're differentiating between gravel racing and gravel adventuring and bike packing. And like the difference now, like you can't just say gravel anymore. You have to specify whether you're talking about gravel racing or, or adventuring. Cuz those are two very different. Sides of the industry now, which is, it's interesting and it's really fun to watch. Um, and I, I think personally, I like the adventure side from a tech nerdiness a bit more because we know what a fast road bike look like and what it can do, but like, how capable can you make, um, a drop bar bike and how, like watching people bring back rigid mountain bikes and, and just like drawing on, on, uh, old technology and, and, and seeing things. Redshift and connect with their suspension posts that, you know, remind me of Soft Ride and like it is just from a tech point of view, it's, it's, it's an interesting development and really fun to watch. [00:43:27] Randall R. Jacobs: It's kind of like, um fashion in, in a way, like what's old is new. I mean, it's definitely radically better with, composites and wide and tubeless and disc brakes, in particular. But in a lot of ways we're riding the original mountain bikes again. [00:43:42] Anne-Marije Rook: We totally are, we're just writing, you know, those, those spring loaded , what were they? Canadas the ones with the, the head tube springs. [00:43:51] Randall R. Jacobs: Oh, the head shock. [00:43:52] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. Yeah. , which I mean future shock is that, you know, connect and Redshift is basically a soft ride. It's just everything is, is new again. And it's really fun to watch. And I think what I geek out a lot more is just seeing what people are coming up with in their own shops and how people perhaps are learning for the first time to be a bit more hands-on and, and, uh, mechanical and. Exploring with their own setups. I mean, how many people don't know how to fix their own tire? Uh, and I think nowadays watching them experiment and building super machines, it's, it's just really fun. [00:44:27] Randall R. Jacobs: So given that we're kind of coming to the end of the., favorite products of 2022 and then in a general sense, products, racing. Otherwise. What are you most excited about in the new year? [00:44:39] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, so my favorite products, uh, some of 'em are things that I bought myself or own, like, uh, my Brompton was one I found on Craigslist, which is super random, but I. I wanted something to travel with, um, that's compact and wouldn't require me having an extra bag or anything like that. And, uh, my Bronson and I have been to the Tour de France fem together. We've been to the Netherlands, to London, to the Sac Cross World Championships. So that bike goes with me everywhere, which was a really fun, uh, crux purchase that I didn't need, but has given me a lot of joy. [00:45:13] Randall R. Jacobs: Are you doing a lot of long rides on that, or is it more getting around and being able to get that 20 miler in? [00:45:18] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah. Yeah. Getting around the, it's not , it's not very comfortable. Talk about like slow rolling, tiny. Like try, try 16 inch wheels, like no. Uh, but [00:45:28] Randall R. Jacobs: seen dispatches from people doing extended tours on a Bronson, which I've always found super impressive. [00:45:34] Anne-Marije Rook: I mean, good on them. I like, I, I, I applaud them. I, I don't, I don't enjoy that very much. Um, but it's been a great bike to travel with and, and it's just a really silly, really fun purchase. Um, I also got a ultra cleaner for the first. Which is great for, uh, you know, the position northwest is really wet, really muddy. Um, our, our gear gets just absolutely destroyed and so keeping it clean, uh, extends the, the lifetime of, of your components. And uh, that's really been a fun way to, um, get like that super shiny clean drive train. [00:46:14] Randall R. Jacobs: mm-hmm. [00:46:15] Anne-Marije Rook: Uh, and that was just a birthday present, so it's not something that was sent to me to review. Um, and then the best shoes I had were to live, uh, much shoes. Um, they are bright purple. Uh, they look great. Everyone is always asking me about 'em, and I keep asking them to make 'em into a gravel shoe because I don't spend enough time on my road back anymore to wear them. Um, go ahead. [00:46:42] Randall R. Jacobs: Do you love them for their styling or some other [00:46:44] Anne-Marije Rook: No, they're, they're, they're a pure race shoe, like you're locked in. They're some of the stiffest shoes I've ever worn, but they also are an absolute head turner. [00:46:52] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. [00:46:53] Anne-Marije Rook: so it's a two for one package. Um, and, and the gravel side of things, uh, the SW RS tires were super impressive. Um, they're so fast and, uh, I've yet to flat them, which is pretty incredible given a, my, my history and B uh, just how much I've written. [00:47:11] Randall R. Jacobs: What size are you running them in? [00:47:13] Anne-Marije Rook: I have, uh, 40 twos, I think is when I was running last, and I, I mean, I took 'em with me traveling. Like I, I did the, uh, Finland gravel and I did not know what I was getting myself into. And, and so getting a file, like bringing a file thread, Racy Tire is a bit of a risk. Um, but they did really well and, uh, they're probably the best tires I've had in no while. And I'd say in general, the market, it has gotten so much better. Like the, it's so easy to set up two plus tires now, whereas like even two years ago I, it was quite struggle sometimes getting those seated in your, in your garage. Yeah. [00:47:52] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, absolutely. Though I, I will say, um, and this is a hobby horse I often jump on, um, you know, road, road, tubeless hook, less road tubeless scares me, [00:48:04] Anne-Marije Rook: I tried to, I, I got a few to review this year and I, I tried to see if I could make them explode, but I think I reached my, like, comfort level far before, or the end of my comfort level far before the tires did. So there's that. [00:48:18] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and then going into 2023 and this doesn't have to be gear, it can be events, it can be, personal adventures. What are you excited about coming into the new year? [00:48:29] Anne-Marije Rook: Uh, yeah, I'm gonna go even more into gravel and attending some more gravel events. So I'm very excited to return to Unbound and to do s p d Gravel. There's talk about, uh, me and a colleague of mine setting an F K T. So there's some really fun challenges and, um, since stepping away from racing and, uh, you know, getting married, buying a house, I've definitely spent less time on. On the bike as I would like. So getting something to train for, for me personally, is, is uh, it's kind of exciting to get back to it. [00:49:01] Randall R. Jacobs: By the way, congratulations on those milestones. [00:49:04] Anne-Marije Rook: thanks. It was an exciting two years of the pandemic. Yeah. [00:49:07] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Um, well, alright, um, so where can people find you on Twitter? Uh, you're at cycling weekly. How do, how do people get ahold of you or see what you're, what you're writing about? [00:49:18] Anne-Marije Rook: Yeah, definitely on second weekly.com and then on social media Am Rook is my handle across every platform, including the ones that are popping up now that Twitter is taking a t. [00:49:29] Randall R. Jacobs: All right. Well, Anne-Marie, it's a pleasure to finally sit down and properly chat and very much looking forward to seeing you at Sea Otter and other industry events now that that's a thing again, and we can be out in the wild seeing each other. [00:49:41] Anne-Marije Rook: That's right. [00:49:42] Randall R. Jacobs: All right. [00:49:43] Anne-Marije Rook: for having me. [00:49:44] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Anne Mariah. For having that conversation with Randall, I hope you guys learned a lot and I hope you do follow her on Twitter and follow her work as north American editor at cycling weekly. Huge. Thanks to our friends at athletic greens. Remember head on over to athletic greens.com/the gravel ride to check out ag one. One today. If you're interested in connecting with me or Randall, I encourage you to join the ridership. That's www.theridership.com. If you're able to support the podcast, you can visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Or ratings and reviews are hugely important. In us connecting with other gravel athletes from around the world. Until next time. I hope you're well. And here's to finding some dirt under your wheels.    

    Sarah Wallensteen - Dynamic Cyclist Stretching and Strength training

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 24, 2023 38:19


    This week we sit down with Sarah Wallensteen from Dynamic Cyclist to learn more about stretching and injury prevention. Dynamic Cyclist offers a comprehensive video based stretching program designed specifically for cyclists by cyclists.  Each session is designed to be completed in under 20 minutes to easily fit into our lives.  Dynamic Cyclist (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. This week on the show, we're welcoming Sarah Wallenstein from dynamic cyclist, from British Columbia to talk to us about stretching and strength training and how important it is for us as gravel cyclist. Dynamic cyclist has been around for five years, providing a video based stretching and strength training program for cyclists. It was developed specifically because the founders. Saw the need in their lives for stretching and strength training. To support their cycling endeavors. I had a super fun conversation with sarah and i can't wait to get into it Hey, Sarah, welcome to the show. Hi. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to dig into all things stretching. I feel like every winter period I start thinking about stretching and then forget about it in the summer period, but it's super poignant for me every winter as I'm like, What can I do to really make sure I'm gonna have a fun and productive cycling season? [00:01:31] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah, that's funny how that works though. As soon as we're back on our bike, we, uh, we let it go. [00:01:37] Craig Dalton: and everybody else, everybody I've spoken to in terms of recovery, PT, performance, like they always say stretching or yoga, like it has to be part of your program and mm-hmm. , I've certainly been hung up on this as a, an aging. Just of how to keep my performances high, and it is so often not about riding my bike more or, you know, doing intervals or anything like that. It's just about creating a, a body that can, you know, just be, have the flexibility and have the resilience. To handle gravel cycling. [00:02:17] Sarah Wallensteen: Absolutely. Yeah. [00:02:18] Craig Dalton: Yeah. We all start off by the show by learning a little bit more about you. So Sarah, can you tell us where, where you're located, um, and maybe just a little bit about your background as a cyclist and maybe something you're excited for this cycling season. [00:02:32] Sarah Wallensteen: Sure. Um, my name is Sarah Wallenstein and, um, I live in Cologna, bc so beautiful cycling here. Pretty much any kind. I have, you know, the classic road gravel mountain bike shed. Um, I grew up cycling. It's very much a part of my family's culture. Um, my parents for their honeymoon rode across both islands in New Zealand. Um, my aunt and uncle toured most of Europe. Um, so it's just, it's something that has always been a part of our family. And then as we grew up kind of seeing that, uh, in the adults in our lives, it was just natural that we would also hop on bikes and go places, and um, uh, explore that way. So it's, yeah. Biking has always been such an important part of my. [00:03:20] Craig Dalton: Amazing. And was it, um, when did gravel cycling come into your cycling worldview and what's the gravel cycling near you like? Yeah, [00:03:29] Sarah Wallensteen: it definitely, it came in last. Um, so I started off on road, um, and doing triathlon when I was, I did my first triathlon when I was 12. And then I morphed into mountain biking cuz that was the fun adrenaline while I was a teenager and I raced, um, cross country, mountain biking all through high school. Uh, gravel has definitely been, it's within the last couple years. I mean, it's exploded in popularity within the last couple years. Um, and just as roads have become more and more busy, I still love my road bike, but I love the quiet that you can, can, you can get on gravel and just go. you know, for six hours and not see anyone else. . I love, I love that part of it. Um, cause I also come from, I did some ultra running as well and I've loved that. Just getting lost in the woods and you can achieve that on a gravel. Um, and in the Okanagan we are so blessed. We have the K V R, which is just such a nice intro to grapple of riding. Cause you can go, um, You can go for days and you're just on railroad grade, uh, cuz it's the old railroad, uh, track. So it's no more than 2% incline . So it's just an amazing way to explore our valley. So that's the main, um, the main kind of route that I do a lot on my gravel riding on. Cuz it's just, it's e it's easy, it's beautiful. It's fun. We. You know these amazing wood trestles that you get to go across in canyons and it's stunning and it's 10 minutes from my house, so can't really beat [00:05:02] Craig Dalton: it. Amazing. And given the prevalence of mountain bike trails, do you in that area as well, do you tend to. Kind of under bike and explore those trails on your gravel bike? Or is it kind of more that rails to trail type riding that you like to enjoy? No, [00:05:18] Sarah Wallensteen: I've definitely, I've definitely pushed my gravel bike on onto single track and trying to test out how that feels. Um, I am signed up for the BC Epic this year, and that does include some single track. So I've been wanting to kind of test my , tell us how that feels. Um, And it just, it opens up where you can go too in exploring, you know, discontinued, uh, logging roads that are a lot rock, but, uh, can get you to some cool places. [00:05:46] Craig Dalton: What is the [00:05:47] Sarah Wallensteen: BC epic? Um, so it's a thousand kilometer ride that takes you from merit to Furney. Uh, and it's all, they have a breakdown of what it is, but I think it's, it's 80% gravel, 10% single track, and then 10% road. Um, So you basically have however long it's going to take you, and you start out as a group. It's not a paid race, it's just an event that you just start with a group of like-minded people and then. Spread out over the days to come . So I, it's amazing. [00:06:19] Craig Dalton: Is it, is it a bike packing style race where you have a grand depar and however you wanna handle it, you handle it? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Super cool. Yeah. Is your vision that you'll, you'll, um, bike pack it in the context, like you'll be camping every night or are you gonna credit card toward, is that even possible? Um, [00:06:38] Sarah Wallensteen: you can, quite a few people especially, um, Last year it was, there was like a heat dome during the race time, which was really unfortunate. Um, so a quite a few riders did get a couple hotels along the ridges to cool down, which is totally fair. Uh, I'm hoping it'll be a lot cooler, uh, and I wanna do it all camping. Um, okay. There's only two nights that you could possibly spend in a town. Yes. And [00:07:04] Craig Dalton: do you have a vision for how long that'll take you? [00:07:08] Sarah Wallensteen: Days, um, yeah, I'm thinking seven days. I'd like to do it in a week. Uh, the course record. Is free in a bit, so very fast. But I like my sleeve way too much. So [00:07:19] Craig Dalton: sleep , I hear you on that. Well, it sounds like we could do a whole episode on that endeavor cause that sounds super exciting and I, I hope you'll keep me posted on how it goes cuz it's will do. Fascinated by that kind of thing. But we're here to talk about dynamic cyclists. Yes. So why don't, why don't we start by what is dynamic cyclist? When was it founded? And we can go from. [00:07:42] Sarah Wallensteen: Sure. Uh, dynamic Cyclist is, um, an online video-based program that provides stretching and strength training specifically designed for cyclists. That's the sales pitch. That's what we are. Um, we started back in 2018 and it kind of came about in a random way. So myself and the two co-founders, um, they actually hired me on as a blog writer, um, for a site called I love bicycling.com. And I'd just come out of a newsroom I'd, I'd kind of tested the waters of journalism. It wasn't what I wanted it to be. I was looking for an out, so this writing job came up to ride about bikes and I, uh, jumped on that. And from there, the blog. , it was kind of hard cuz it's like the end of when blogging could make money. So , they were just kind of paying me out of pocket and just, okay, we'll eventually do something. We'll figure something out. Um, and we were just sitting around one day and just talking about cycling and what is missing in the cycling world. And it came down to both Lee and I, one of the co-founders were both cyclists and he said, I know I should be stretching. I never do, but what can we offer? In that world, can we create something that we ourselves want to use that will help us, therefore it will help other cyclists. And that's kind of how dynamic Cyclists was born. So I took that idea and built the website and worked with a physiotherapist and sports therapist to put together the programming and record the videos and we went from there. That's [00:09:20] Craig Dalton: super interesting. I mean, obviously like the best entrepreneurial stories. Much very similar to that. Right. It was just like, what is missing from the world? And I think many cyclists can own up to the fact that we've been aware of cycling our, or sorry, stretching our entire lives. Mm-hmm. , but not doing enough of it. Mm-hmm. . I also find it interesting that you, you know, you started from a content perspective because I've been aware of the brand for many years, and it's always been sort of in that context of like, you're, you've been putting good content in front of me. Clearly, like as I mentioned earlier, I think about stretching hardcore every winter and click through and you know, obviously you were chasing me around the internet with your ads for forever, and I'm, I'm glad I finally clicked through and in fact, I'll mention this and we'll come back to it. It couldn't be easier because you offer seven day free trials. So if you're curious what it's all about, just jump in and try it. Mm-hmm. . But to put a point, a fine point on. What is the type of programming you offer specifically? It's a video, right? [00:10:25] Sarah Wallensteen: Yes. Yeah, we, we designed it with ourselves in mind, which sounds weird, but as cyclists, you know, I've tried yoga and no offense, yoga is amazing and works for so many people, but I would get bored, and I think a lot of cyclists are the same. We're a certain type of people that have to be on the move. Right? So doing an hour long class just isn't appealing. I'm gonna go once and then I'm not gonna go again. , what we were aiming to do and what the website is, is trying to keep that video, that routine to 15 to 20 minutes tops. Um, , it's bite size. That's, that's doable. You know, it's funny, human nature, anything above 20 minutes and we're like, ah, I don't have 20 minutes. But , you do. I promise. You do. Um, and we wanted it to just be you. Click play, you follow along. You don't have to think about it. You know, you're targeting the right areas for you as a cyclist. and then you're done. Then you can, you know, get on with your day, hop on your bike, whatever else you [00:11:27] Craig Dalton: wanna do. Yeah. Yeah. I think those two points landed very well with me. Just this a, this idea that yes, yoga would be a great thing, and if I had a yoga routine, That would be amazing, but it is an hour long and I struggle with finding enough workout time for my cycling passion, let alone adding something like that in and 20 minutes is available to me. Mm-hmm. , hopefully it's available to all of us. You can, I, I've found a little time, like if my son's watching tv, I just have it up on my phone and I do stretches where normally I might just be cuddling with him and watching a show that has no interest to an adult. Right. [00:12:05] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah. . Um, yeah, no, that's perfect. [00:12:09] Craig Dalton: And the, what type of equipment is typically involved? Like what do I have to have in my home in order to successfully complete the program? Yeah, [00:12:18] Sarah Wallensteen: we've tried to keep it as minimal as possible or things you can use that are around the house. The list has grown over the years as we've added more content, cuz you know, the more we add, the more we're trying to find new ways, new exciting ways to stretch your hamstrings. You know, get creative. Uh, but for the stretching program, all you'll. Is just a mat or a space to do it. Um, blocks you can use books, um, a strap, use a belt, it works. Um, and then a broomstick, believe it or not, we use it as like a pole that you can do some upper mobility stuff with. Um, and that's all you need. To get started and then a foam roller, if you wanna include the, we do include some foam rolling and, uh, release stuff, [00:13:00] Craig Dalton: so, yep. Yeah. Yeah. I think when I, when I think about starting the program each night, I'm thinking about foam roller block and a strap. Like those are my, those are my, those are the main days. Yeah. I do like, and I have done a little bit of broom work and it is interesting how it adds, um, just a little something, uh, additional to your twisting. [00:13:21] Sarah Wallensteen: Activities. Absolutely. Yeah. [00:13:23] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So it, it's, it's such an interesting concept and we talk about stretching, but why is stretching important for cyclists? [00:13:33] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah. This is, this is the big thing. It's, it's important for cyclists of course, but it really is important for everyone. But why cyclists specifically? Um, when you think about when you're on the bike and the pedaling motion, you're taking your muscles through a linear range of motion for one. So you're moving in one direction. You're not going out to either side. and you're also never taking the hip, the knee, or the ankle joint to its fullest range of motion. So we're never straightening out those joints. There's always a little bend, which can c just put a lot of pressure on those muscles and those joints cuz they're not fully extending. Um, so just what this can do, you're also taking it through hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of repetitions on the bike, right? So it's, of course cycling is so good for you and it's amazing for your joints cuz it's low impact. , but you are taking it through the exact same range of motion over and over. Um, and we're bent over, which doesn't help us, uh, especially with our modern lifestyles, which we spend a lot of time at desks driving, sitting on the couch. And then it's just more time spent with our hips crunched, our back, hunched. Um, so all that kind of accumulates to. Muscle imbalance or posture. Uh, we all know , you know, we all hunt forward, uh, slowly over time. And it also just, it turns our quads into powerhouses and then our weak little hamstrings can't handle it and they weaken and, uh, loosen and it can just throw off the whole pelvis. It's essentially what happens. . [00:15:10] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. It's so true. I mean, if we just, if you're out there listening and you think about how many hours in you eat in your week, you pedal a bike, and how many weeks in your life you've been a cyclist, we become very good at doing one thing and mm-hmm. I always tell that to people like, you know, I feel like I'm a, a decent endurance athlete on a bike , but, but I am not a decent endurance athlete in many other things. Yeah. Because the rest of my body is, Not conditioned to do it. Mm-hmm. , and I've been making concerted effort to kind of diversify my, my personal sporting interests with just the sense that I'm not gonna be able to continue cycling if I don't consider other muscle groups. Mm-hmm. , you know, the, just general wellbeing of my body. I recently joined a gym, don't you know, God forbid I finally did it, , but one of the offers they had was like a, a full 360 body. And the person who was interpreting for it for me was talking about my muscle mass and my fat and where they're distributed. And we were talking about like my inner thigh area. I think that's the adductor. Mm-hmm. and how it was so underdeveloped compared to the rest of my leg muscles. Yeah, and to your point, as you were describing that pedal motion, like we're doing one thing and it's evolving a lot of muscle groups in our legs. but not all the muscle groups in our legs [00:16:35] Sarah Wallensteen: and yeah, sorry. Another thing that can happen, you just, you brought up the abductors and they're the perfect example. Um, and a lot of endurance cyclists will understand this, that. You know when you're at hour 4, 5, 6 on a bike and those powerhouse muscles are starting to fatigue, it's those stabilizing ones that we don't ask to do anything for us that start to be recruited like the abductors, and that's when you can get insane cramping or. Fatigue. Cause those just fatigued so quickly. Cause they're not up to the task. You ask them to help and they're just these weak little things I can't do. can't [00:17:12] Craig Dalton: do it. So it's so funny you say that because in the instances where I have had those vicious cramps, latent an event, it's been the abductor. Yeah. And it's been a frigging disaster. . Yeah, . [00:17:25] Sarah Wallensteen: The calves will do that to you too. . [00:17:28] Craig Dalton: And the other thing we were exploring, as you know, this woman was sort of analyzing my, my issues was just how my muscles that, as you were saying, aren't the strongest. late in the day when I'm riding are compensating mm-hmm. and causing all kinds of problems in my back. And yeah. So we've just kind of brought together this, this idea that you need to stretch more and we do need to look at a more holistic, weightlifting routine mm-hmm. to strengthen these other areas. [00:17:57] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah. As much as our, our core programming and where we started was with stretching, it's almost, we had to ease ourselves into it. And therefore our members, you know, it's like, okay, you know, you need to stretch. You should. and then we just snuck strength training in there as well. Yeah. It's equally as important and just as much of a foundation of our programming. Wait. We just have to kind of be a little quieter about it. Cuz when you ask people to stretch and strengthen, I don't have time for that. But we do have, uh, routines that combine them. Right. That combine the mobility work and the stability work. Yeah. To make that as easy [00:18:31] Craig Dalton: as possible. And I've got a bone to pick with you because , I'm quite sure I'm doing AB and core work. Yes, yes, [00:18:40] Sarah Wallensteen: you are . Um, the core is one of the most neglected things that's like this. Uh, they don't understand the importance of, and I mean, low back pain is the number one thing that comes up for cyclists. Um, I don't care what level you are. If you ride your bike for over an hour, your low back is going to start hurting. If your core is not strong, and all that is, is your core and your hamstrings and your. are the supporters for your low back and your pelvis. And so if your core isn't up to the job, your low back is just going to have the little wave in it. It's gonna cave in and your low back will have pain on and off the bike. Um, , but you need a strong core. There's no way to sugarcoat [00:19:27] Craig Dalton: it. Yeah, . Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's, you know, it's interesting as we age as athletes, you can kind of fake a lot of things in your twenties and maybe early thirties if you're lucky. Mm-hmm. . But as you get into your forties and fifties and beyond, It, it starts to add up and that's my, certainly my advice and takeaway to younger athletes is get a routine and build those strength systems earlier rather than later. Mm-hmm. , it's probably obvious if you're a high performing professional cyclist that you need to do that, but even for amateur cyclists, like if you wanna be long into. Game of cycling. And cycling can be a sport that'll be around your entire life. Yeah. But you still have to play a few other cards in order to make sure you're, you've got the right platform to enjoy cycling. [00:20:12] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah, absolutely. It's been interesting over there the past five years that we've had dynamic cyclists, cuz our, our membership in the beginning was very much, you know, 50. , um, older athletes who, who wanna keep riding but are experiencing those pain points. So we're, you know, ready to jump on a solution. But the longer we've been around, the more and more the 20 somethings, 30 somethings are getting in there cuz they're seeing the value of that as well. Of, okay, I wanna be doing this in 30 years. So what I have to do now to, to make sure that can happen. . [00:20:48] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent. So you've got, uh, can you describe the program just a little bit? You've got the sort of basic strength, or sorry, the basic stretching program mm-hmm. , but you've also got some derivative programs to specific parts of the body or ailments. [00:21:04] Sarah Wallensteen: Yes. Um, so yeah, as I said, the core of our programming is a daily stretching video. We have over two years of content in that you'll have a, a new routine every day. Um, that are stretching and some mo we sneak some mobility and like dynamic exercises in there as well. You, you wanna be moving through the range of motion, not just doing static stretches. So, um, that's the core of the program. And then we have various different strength training programs. So we have like a beginner, intermediate, advanced and then a winter strength training program that was designed where you're not as on your bike as much cuz it does fatigue. Powerhouse muscles you're gonna be using on the bike that you may not need to work those while you're riding as much. Um, and then we do have our injury programming, which has become kind of our more popular programming. So we have a low back programming program, a knee, a hip. An ankle reset and foot, which, you know, a lot of people don't understand. You know, like that seems kind of random, but it is very important to start at the base and work up. Um, and what these programs do is they combine into 20 minutes the mobility, stretching work, and the strength training that you need to be doing to correct, um, the muscle imbalance that is likely causing pain in those areas. Yes, you're gonna be do doing core strength in a hip program because it's all connected. So you're, you're working on stretching and strengthening those surrounding muscles around that joint to make sure, um, that it is balanced. [00:22:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I went through the, the seven day introductory kind of trial period for the basic, uh, stretching mm-hmm. , and then went right into, I think I'm like 21 days into the low back. Yeah. Uh, phase one [00:22:50] Sarah Wallensteen: training, right? Yeah. . Yeah. The, the injury programs are, they're gonna be at least six weeks. Um, just because that is what it takes to experience. , um, I promise you can do it. 20 minutes a day. Even if it takes you, you know, two months, three months to get through that one program, you're still, uh, doing your body a huge service. [00:23:12] Craig Dalton: That's good to know. And I didn't internalize that concept. Maybe I saw at some level that the first phase was six weeks. Mm-hmm. , but that's what your. Research or experience has shown that it takes six weeks to kind of get a little bit of impact in that area. Yeah, [00:23:25] Sarah Wallensteen: you will feel results right away. You're, you're gonna have faster recovery, you're gonna just feel better. Um, but to actually start to change, um, those structures and the way the muscles recover and the length of muscles takes four to six weeks. Yeah. [00:23:40] Craig Dalton: And how about with the, uh, the basic stretching routine? I mean, you just mentioned, you know, you'll start to feel some more elasticity potentially mm-hmm. in your areas, but is there a particular amount of time that you really want people to stay on the program for every year? [00:23:57] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah, that's an interesting question. I mean, ideally, , you continue on forever. not with dynamic cyclists, but you continue this mobility practice. Yeah, we have a ton of members who have been with us since the beginning and you know, they reach a point that they're like, you know what? I've learned so much from you guys. Loved it. and they move on cuz they've, they've made it so a part of their routine and their life. They know all the exercises they should be doing. They're good to just put on music and do their own routine at this point. Yeah. And we're totally happy with that. If, if you can learn from us to put together your own routines, your own injury prevention, that's great. Um, [00:24:36] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Job well done at that point. Yeah. , [00:24:38] Sarah Wallensteen: we'll pat ourselves on the back and wish you well. . . [00:24:42] Craig Dalton: Yeah. When you think about cycling, what are the, and, and if you wanted to impart the listener with like three focal areas you think that they should spend most of their time thinking about and, and working on from a stretching, um, perspective, what would those. That's [00:25:00] Sarah Wallensteen: an interesting question cuz it's, you know, I, I would go to say like, hamstrings are the number one thing, um, but they're kind of a different problem for everyone. They're super tight, but they may not be, um, shortened as you think they might be. But it might be the overdevelopment of the, that's pulling it so there's no stretch there cuz it's stretched to the point of its limit. Um, So there's a bunch of things that go into fixing that, but the hamstrings are more important. Of course, you should be stretching them, but you should be strengthening them. Those need to go hand in hand. That would be my number one. . Does the [00:25:37] Craig Dalton: hamstring, does it connect to other, well, obviously it does, but where does it connect and what other parts of the body does? Like poor hamstring maintenance, uh, attributes, problems to, [00:25:49] Sarah Wallensteen: yeah. The poor hamstring, mainten. is a large cause of the low back pain as well. Um, cuz it connects to the pelvis at the top. Um, and then as well it comes around and the quads and the hamstrings were so connected. So like what is happening with one, uh, is gonna affect the other. Yeah. Um, but that's where a lot of both knee and hip pain comes from is hamstring and then what it does as it like goes down the chain. Got [00:26:15] Craig Dalton: it. Yeah. Okay, so that's first is our hamstring area. Hamstring. What, what would you put. [00:26:21] Sarah Wallensteen: Uh, we've already talked about it, but I would say low back and core, um, are the next biggest things. Just cuz that is gonna be the thing that, um, we've found injury-wise. It's, there's some things like knee pain, you'll get off the bike and you'll be walking and it goes away and it may hurt just when you're on your bike. Low back pain sticks around. It'll hurt when you go to pick up your groceries or whatever. Yeah. So it's just one of the most important things you should hop on as soon as you feel that little tweak , you know, before it gets any. . [00:26:51] Craig Dalton: And you mentioned earlier the sort of the, the importance of core strength. Mm-hmm. when you perhaps are, are fatigued on the bike because without core strength, other, other areas of your back may be taking the brunt of mm-hmm. holding you in the, in the correct position. So core strength. And so core strengthening is one element of that. How do you access and what type of stretching do you recommend for the. [00:27:20] Sarah Wallensteen: Um, the most important stretching, uh, is like twists that you can do in the spine. Um, cause we don't, we don't actually ask a lot from our back, especially on the bike. You know, we're in one position holding, so anything that we can work on, you know, the thoracic spine and how important that is to just have that range of motion, um, will impact the low back as well. . Um, and as , it may sound weird, but the quads are so important to stretch, rule release. Um, just break up that tension cuz cyclists are known for our overdeveloped quads. That's the, that's the main thing. So, um, that's one [00:28:03] Craig Dalton: of the most important areas. Yeah. That and the it band and the IT band's con contributions to low back have been something mm-hmm. That I've definitely acknowledged in my own body. Mm-hmm. Yeah, so that was two, and I'm not gonna command you to get me a third , but if you have a third, let's [00:28:20] Sarah Wallensteen: hear it. Um, yeah, the hip flexor, we actually just released a intensive hip program. Um, our new injury programming includes, uh, an informational piece cuz we want people to understand why they're doing these things and why it's important. So we brought in. Dr. Ben, we like to call him, um, to just, he's really good at explaining the joint and why these injuries happen. Um, and the hip is so important because it's number one, just the biggest joint in the body, most complex, most, you know, elements going in there. Um, and it's also one that, as I mentioned before, in the way that most of our, most of us live our lives. is just crunched all the time at a 90 degree angle. You know, um, standing desks and stuff like that help, but. our hips are notoriously tight and weak. I mean, you try to go into a pigeon pose, you go to a yoga class, you know that your hips are tight, , you know that, that, that doesn't feel good. Um, and again, that can impact you on the bike. If that hip flexor muscle, which again gets recruited as the quads fatigue, if it's not up to it, you're going to, uh, start feeling it in other areas. So has to both again, be stretched and strengthened. [00:29:40] Craig Dalton: Yeah. A hundred percent. And I'm a hundred percent guilty of that and have felt that on many occasions. Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that, you know, a lot of times we learn how to stretch and we learn the basic stretch, and one of the neat things about the program that I've observed was positioning your feet at different angles while you're doing stretches. Mm-hmm. , you know, if you're doing like sort of a, a bent overstretch, for lack of a better definition of what I'm talking about. Yeah. It was super interesting to. to really feel how probably limiting my approach had been previously. Mm-hmm. without doing the different feet positions to access different parts of that muscle. Yeah. And [00:30:23] Sarah Wallensteen: that's something that has come up the longer we've been doing this and also working with professionals who, who can pull from these amazing libraries in their brains of, you know, how to reach those harder to get muscles. And like for an example, I think we have like five different versions of a low lunge because you know, the basic one, but. The position of your foot matters. What you're doing, engaging your pelvis matters. You put a pole out in front that changes it entirely. So we're always trying to introduce, um, you know, everyone knows how to do a lunge, but how can we make this, um, target different muscles? And it's really interesting to feel when you add just a little variant and it hits a different place entire. [00:31:07] Craig Dalton: Yeah. For me it was immediate. The body gave me that feedback. Mm-hmm. , and I was like, whoa. It, it made, made a ton of sense once I did it, but never thought about it prior to doing it. , [00:31:16] Sarah Wallensteen: why am I turning my toes [00:31:18] Craig Dalton: in ? Yeah, . Exactly. I know you've got some other sort of minor parts of the, the offering in like training plans and I did just want to give you an opportunity to mention. [00:31:29] Sarah Wallensteen: Sure. Um, because we have been around for five years at this point, we've been constantly working with our members, um, to offer them more value, more of what they want and need in their cycling journey. And so we worked with, um, one of Canada's best, uh, triathletes, Jasper Blake, to put together four different training plans and integrate that with our stretching and strength programming to make that just all encompassing and as easy as possible. We do integrate with training peaks on that level, but it is very basic inter integration cuz we're not a tech company. So it is what it is. It exists on training peaks. You can use that in your training peaks. Yeah. Um, we have the training plans, we do have some skills courses as well for it's very beginner cyclist stuff, you know, like how to clip in for the first time, had a corner. Um, and then we do have. Um, you know, yoga, Pilates roll and release section. Just learning how to roll out the different parts of your body and why. . Um, and I think that's, [00:32:34] Craig Dalton: that. Is it ? Yeah. I was, I was impressed when I, when I got into my dashboard and saw mm-hmm. , all those different opportunities mm-hmm. to learn about stretching and strength training. It was super cool. There's like a lot there. It's really easy to use. Everything's seems to be pretty straightforward and mm-hmm. in terms of how it's organized and I, I basically, I, I feel like I, I've accessed it from three different devices now. My, my personal computer, my phone, and my iPad. Yeah. I just log in and it sort of knows exactly where I left off and is ready to serve me up that video. Mm-hmm. . , which I appreciate because I don't have to spend a lot of time futzing around like mm-hmm. , I believe I have the 20 minutes. I don't believe I have 22, so I wanna get right into it. , [00:33:17] Sarah Wallensteen: no, again, we, we were the first product testers and we had to be no more than two clicks . So, uh, we try to make it as easy as possible and, and we love hearing from our members as well and just what we can offer them. And you know, like the ankle injury program that we have, um, that was requested by members. You know, like, this is an area that I'm having issues with. Can you put something together? And we did. And so we love, we love bringing our team, um, together to solve problems like [00:33:46] Craig Dalton: that. . That's great. That's great. Well, I, I appreciate everything you guys are doing. It's been an interesting program for me. I mean, I think I, I clearly have not hit that six week mark yet, , so I need to keep doubling down on my efforts and make this part of my 2023 routine. Mm-hmm. , I also appreciate just hearing about the business story behind dynamic cyclist, and I, I love that entrepreneurial journey. Hey, this is missing. We love cycling. This would be a great part of our lives. Let's see if it would fit into the broader cycling community. So, mm-hmm. , kudos to you guys for just getting off the dime and creating something, and five years later, having this vast catalog of content that we're now lucky enough to tap into. [00:34:30] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah, it's been a, it's been an awesome journey and, uh, so much fun working with, you know, different sports therapists and physios and I've learned so much. I didn't come into this as a physio. I came from, you know, the content side, like you said. And so it's, uh, it's been awesome. [00:34:46] Craig Dalton: Super cool. What's the best way for people to find out about dynamic cyclists? [00:34:51] Sarah Wallensteen: Yeah, just, uh, Google Us or go to dynamic cyclist.com. Um, this Sunday, exciting news, we are launching our own custom app. Finally, uh, so you will be able to search dynamic cyclists on the app store, um, and purchase from there. Try. Tried the seven day trial. Um, and that'll just make the whole, um, multi-use streaming. You know, if you wanna cast your tv, it's just gonna be a lot easier. And also one of the biggest features that our members have been asking for. Cause we do have a lot of bike packers, endurance cyclists. Is, uh, download, like offload, um, offline viewing feature, which the app now has. So you can preload, you know, a couple weeks of programming, do it on your phone, you know, on the side of the road, you know, make sure you go well off the side. But, um, we wanted to, uh, give that to our members as [00:35:42] Craig Dalton: well. Awesome. Super exciting. Yeah. Feels like one less click that I am now away from. Exactly. Getting the content. Yes. . Sarah, thanks so much for the overview. This was awesome. And I, you know, like I said, I encourage people to go check out dynamic cyclist.com and see if it's a fit [00:35:59] Sarah Wallensteen: for you. Yeah, thank you so much for having me. And feel free to reach out to us on Instagram or Facebook. Uh, our team is always checking and we'd love to hear from you. Right on. Awesome. [00:36:10] Craig Dalton: Big, thanks to Sarah for joining the show today. I hope you enjoyed that conversation and I hope even further that you're embracing, stretching as part of your cycling routine. I know how important it is. So many people have told me I need to be doing more of it over the years. And I only wish I did it earlier. Personal experience with dynamic cyclist has been. Pretty easy to find those time slots. The format's quite easy and engaging to do. And I do see clear benefits in what I'm experiencing. If you're interested in learning more head on over to dynamic cyclist. Sarah has shared a discount code with me, simply use the gravel ride and you'll get 15% off any of their plans. They have that free trial. So head on over, give it a go. If it seems like a fit for you, feel free to enroll. If not. Just remember. Keep stretching. If you're looking to connect with me, the easiest way is to head on over to the ridership. That's www.theridership.com. That's a free online community. We started. To connect gravel, cyclists from all over the world. I'm certainly no expert on everything in the sport. And I've found immeasurable amounts of knowledge from the other community members. It's over 1500 riders strong at this point from all over the world. So go check it out. If that sounds of interest to you. If you're able to support the podcast, there's a couple easy ways in which you can do that. If you have the financial means, please visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. I'd love your ongoing support for the podcast. Separately ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. It really helps with the discoverability of the podcast. So if you have the ability to share with a friend or write a rating or review in your favorite podcast app, amazing. I love you for it. Until next time here's to finding some dirt under your wheels  

    Bruce Dunn - Highlands Gravel Classic (UCI Gravel Worlds Qualifier)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 18, 2023 33:44


    This week we sit down with Bruce Dunn of All Sports Productions. Bruce is the event organizer of the Highlands Gravel Classic, the only UCI World Gravel Championship Qualifier in the United States for 2023 in Fayetteville, AR.  Highland Gravel Classic  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 broadcast. We welcome Bruce Dunn from all sports productions out of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Bruce and his company had been around the cycling production business for many decades. But recently have come into frame, putting on several gravel events in the Fayetteville area. Specifically, I invited Bruce on the show to talk about the Highlands gravel classic. While it's well, trod territory that fant veil in Bentonville and Arkansas in general have great gravel riding opportunities. What's interesting about the Highlands gravel classic. Is that it's the only United States world qualifier for the UCI gravel worlds. They held this similar position last year, and many in the gravel community were scratching their heads about what's UCI doing in gravel. Why the hell are they putting the world championships? Over in Italy. But one thing's for sure. The UCI world gravel championships offer opportunity. Not only for the professional athletes we follow. But also for age group athletes. And that was a super interesting part of the discussion was Bruce. It was just as an age group athlete. What does it look like? What's the experience for going to a world championships? And why should it be on your radar? I found the conversation. Super interesting. . I think it's worth exploring and having a conversation about this there's room for all styles of racing. In gravel? So I'm hopeful will come out of this conversation, understanding a little bit more about the Highlands, gravel classic, and what kind of experience you can have that day, but also what that journey looks like to the UCI world gravel championships and what that might mean for you as an age group athlete. In addition to what the professional athletes might experience this year. Would that said let's jump right into my conversation with bruce Bruce, welcome to the show. Oh, it's great to [00:02:27] Bruce Dunn: be here and thanks for [00:02:27] Craig Dalton: having me. Yeah, I'm excited to have this conversation about the Highlands Gravel Classic, but we always like to start off by getting a little bit about your background, and I think it's so interesting. Why don't you let us know sort of where you're located in the US and then we have to jump in and talk about just your your company and the productions you've been doing for the last couple decades. So let's dive right. [00:02:51] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah, all sports productions, uh, we just celebrated 20 years and at the end of 2022, uh, started in the road scene. Joe Martin, stage race, uh, it's actually the oldest, uh, road stage race in the country, uh, 45 years last year. So some big enterprise countries and and so yeah, we do, we promote triathlons, running events, uh, gravel events, grand Fondo road rides. and we're, we're a little all over the place. Cycling certainly is personally at my heart. I've been on a bike most of my life. It's been really unique ride, no pun intended. And we're excited about 2023, getting on the back, getting on this side of the pandemic. . And seeing again what we're talking about today where the Highlands Gravel Classic takes us, which, you know, I, I think is a kind of a new, uh, a new statement in the gravel world. [00:03:46] Craig Dalton: I thought you, you told me an interesting story offline about the Joe Martin stage race and really how you got into production. Do you wanna kind of relay, cause I think it just underscores kind of your passion to just roll up your sleeves and get out there and do something for the. Yeah. [00:03:59] Bruce Dunn: I had a great job at the University of Arkansas doing fundraising raising millions of dollars for one of the colleges, and it was a, and it was an amazing couple years there. But I've, I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I, I self-employed before that, and I'd been promoting the Joe Martin stage race as president of one of the local cycling teams and. Anyway, flew out to U S A cycling, uh, I'm not sure I even scheduled an appointment. I just flew out and said I wanna put the Joe Martin on the national race calendar. I believe they said, where's Arkansas? By the way, you asked where I am of where In Fayetteville, Arkansas. And and thankfully they, they took my $75, which I think that's what it cost back then to be on the calendar. And you know, we celebrate 20 years. [00:04:46] Craig Dalton: That's amazing. Amazing. And then, and across that journey, obviously you've, you've mentioned that you've picked up multiple sports. What has kind of that journey been like and what sports have you added on along the way? And are there any other, uh, events that you're super proud of that you would name drop in each of those categories? [00:05:03] Bruce Dunn: Yeah, well, Ozark Valley Triathlon was my first, uh, other event that year. And I had done triathlons with my wife who was a, been a longtime triathlete. And, and we actually met on the bike during the, the as members of the cycling team, but, triathlon is near and dear to my heart just because of the uniqueness of the sport. But you know, why be mediocre with ? Why be good at one when you can be mediocre? Three is what I like to say in triathlon . Now, my triathletes may get a little upset with me, but that, you know, that those are valley, it'll celebrate, it's celebrated 20 years. So that was one that it's still around. And we have the national championships, by the way, in gravel triathlon. And mountain bike triathlon for U S A triathlon. So that event has grown to the point that we got, uh, we were able to secure the national championships for those two disciplines. Gravel triathlon, first year, last year were in national championship. [00:06:02] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's, you know, event production's such a, such a challenging logistical operation. There's so much equipment needed and so much knowledge that you've learned across, along the way. You know, as someone who's put on very, very tiny events, it was pretty clear right from the get-go that to scale any of these things, the complexity involved just to get permits or make sure everybody's safe. They're, they're pretty huge. What, what was it like, kind of that learning curve to figure all that stuff? [00:06:33] Bruce Dunn: You know, it's interesting you say that. I've probably been doing events all my life. I just didn't realize it. I'd always volunteered to be on some committee. I, I loved being part of events. If I'd go to event, I was looking at the details and not the show, if you will, but the early days were much, were much different back then than they are today. And so, uh, but what I didn't know, I didn't. Until I had to literally go through it and I probably didn't understand event production until probably 10 plus years into the, into it. Tom Spiegel, you know, big Bear Productions he, he, he made a comment that I don't think people understand until they're, you know, 15 to 20 years into race production. And I would agree it's, there's a lot going on. It really. [00:07:21] Craig Dalton: Yeah, for sure, for sure. I'm curious, along the way, being in Fayetteville, just as, as a personal cyclist, were you riding off road all this time or was, did you start out on the road? Where were your passions lying? [00:07:34] Bruce Dunn: Roadie, a hundred percent . I had a c lacrosse bike and I had a mountain bike to do adventure racing, but I was pretty much all road. In fact, I didn't understand people that liked to get dirty on their mountain, on their mountain bikes. But you know, something definitely changed a few years ago in the trail systems. , know, they lowered the barriers to entry and and in the northwest Arkansas especially, it is a v it was very technical 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. And so, uh, that's one of the really interesting changes is that you know, mountain biking's become a much more inclusive sport. It's, it's that green, blue, black. Way of building trails today and it's certainly helped me. Uh, my, my roadie mountain bike. Friends would just laugh, laugh at me cuz it's like, oh my God, you're gonna kill yourself on the mountain bike. And then, you know, I told you the story about gravel that I grew up in a really small town and I hated gravel roads, . So we're now talking about the Highlands Gravel Classic. I love that. . [00:08:35] Craig Dalton: I love it. Well, your reasoning back then was that it was destroying everybody's cars and it was a pain in the ass to drive on. So I think we could separate that from the sport of gravel cycling. [00:08:45] Bruce Dunn: Abso, I mean, you know, it's fun now. I love gravel and and it's fun just to go out. It was like it was 20, 25 years ago. Here in Fayetteville, we have one of the most road friendly areas, and we have, even with the population that's grown, our road system is really good. The pro, the pro road cycling Peloton tells us. Good it is to ride here. But it's become busier and so now I can go back to what I used to do 20 plus years ago on my gravel bike and just go out on my own and, you know, shut the world out. It's fun. [00:09:18] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's such, such a, such a great region from my limited experience there visiting Bentonville. Yep. The other thing I wanted to come back to, just because I think it's gonna be germane to later parts of this conversation. You know, you mentioned your entire career in event, event production, you've been interacting with the governing bodies of cycling. Can you just talk about sort of the, maybe some of the requirements that putting on these races that are sanctioned, uh, puts forth for you? [00:09:46] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. You know, I've I've served on you know, pro road sport committees or the race director committee at USA Triathlon and, and I was kind of surprised that What was required of someone to put on a. And the barriers that, or the hoops or the bar you would have to step over seemed very low, in my opinion, given the complexity or the danger of doing an event. And I've always been a big advocate for a. Professional development. But to be fair, this is what I do for a living. But I also believe no matter if you're doing it part-time or full-time, you need to have a level of expectation, safety, uh, protocols in place. And so for me, whatever. Whatever permitting or whatever requirements in the sanctioning process, I, I just felt that was a good professional development. It was a good checklist to make me a better promoter. And so I've I've been one that, I've been pretty, you know, I've been pretty vocal about we need those checks and balances in place. . Let's be real clear. I can get very upset if my costs rise one penny . But but the, you know, going through those checks and balances I think is very important for any promoter no matter what the, uh, what type of event you're promoting. [00:11:08] Craig Dalton: When did gravel cycling events start to come into view for you? [00:11:13] Bruce Dunn: You know, that's very interesting. Some I had, I had some really good friends that I'd bike racers. They had done a little bit of promotion. You've got to get into gravel, you've got to get into gravel. And I'm hearing this probably 2014 maybe. And, and when Unbound, those first three or four years, it was just red Clay. and people from northwest Arkansas were coming back going, I had to quit after 30 miles cuz I'd been pushing my bike who, uh, weighed 30, uh, 40 pounds I couldn't go anymore. And I'm thinking that didn't sound fun at all. . So I, that was my, that was my kind of experience. Besides what we would do locally is we would get on a mountain bike and ride on a Forest Service Road, but I didn't consider that, but I'm, I'm starting to hear this, but immediately I kind of tuned it out because of that just one experience I kept hearing, and it happened two or three years in a row. But then some more events started happening, obviously, and the bigger and bigger became And so, you know, BS on the radar, but then again you hear, eh, it's more roady oriented. It's just some rough pavement. Rouge Rebe was my first experience and I'd say a gravel event, but we were all roadies going down to, you know, Louisiana and you'd get on some rough pavement. But certainly everybody was on a road bike back then. , but I, I kept resisting it. I just couldn't find the new reason to have another event. And and so yeah, 2 15, 2 20 16, that's when it really started to register. [00:12:50] Craig Dalton: I think you mentioned you, you put a little bit of a dirt section into a Grand Fondo in 2016. Mm-hmm. , but your first kind of standalone gravel event wasn't until 2018. [00:12:59] Bruce Dunn: Yes, exactly. And it was a one mile single track at the end. , [00:13:06] Craig Dalton: just to make the roadies a little bit nervous before they got there. After, after event beer. [00:13:11] Bruce Dunn: Yes, exactly. We I mean, I mean, most people, about half the group walked it. I mean they could, it was, it was a true single track mountain bike trail that was rough. And I thought, you know, here's something unique, right? And I don't know. It may have been too much . [00:13:27] Craig Dalton: Firstly, Bruce, I like it. I think a little adversity. That's, that's, you remember that you're gonna tell stories for years about that Grand Fondo you did on your road bike that had single track at the. Yeah, [00:13:37] Bruce Dunn: exactly. . Exactly right. I love it. [00:13:40] Craig Dalton: Well, let's fast forward a little bit to the Highlands Gravel Classic, I think. Started in 2022. Yeah. And made a name for itself because it was a U c i Gravel World's Series qualifier. In fact, the only one in the United States. Yes. Si signing up for that. At that moment in time in 2022, you must have known you were, we would take a bunch of heat from the, just the gravel cycling community. Just talk about the process of, you know, how you got involved why you thought that you were excited to, to bring this UCI event to the United States. [00:14:18] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. Well, that had been my eighth year of promoting a UCI men's and women's stage. And so I'm very familiar with the uci. Spoke to U S a cycling at the World Championships in January. They said, Bruce, we're gonna have this gravel World series that's gonna come online. We're, uh, we want to be involved, and we think, uh, you know, you're the, you've got the perfect organization to put on this, uh, gravel, uh, race. And, and I, and I love the fact. This was something new because you know, the, as you well know, the gravel calendar is very, very busy. And I thought, if you're gonna have something that's going to say something new in the marketplace and you wanna make a hit right away, this is probably where you need to push your chips in. And so, I was excited about it. I really was. [00:15:12] Craig Dalton: Were there, were there specific criteria that putting on a U C I event was gonna dictate in terms of the format, the length, anything different than what you would and had been producing in other gravel events you were doing? Not [00:15:28] Bruce Dunn: really. I mean, honestly, uh, one of the things that was important to me is I wanted it to be 90 plus percent gravel, and the UCI I think was 70 or 75, and I said, okay, we're gonna do something different. We're gonna go and find. 90 plus percent gravel. And so that was in the back of my mind, the, the age group classifications having different distance for a different age group. Having a tech guide signage. Those were all things we had already been doing in the road world. Certainly they were different than our other, other gravel events, but if you come to most of our events, we're trying to always raise the bar for the production level. And so I, I think we were already at that point and so I wasn't feeling the pressure of doing something that was required of me that I hadn't been doing in some other [00:16:17] Craig Dalton: type event. Got it. You made mention of the different distances per categories. Mm-hmm. , can you describe like what the regulations were about that? [00:16:29] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. So, you know, there's a, it's, uh, the minimum age is 19. So in, in the women's race it's 19 to 59 and then 60 and, I'm sorry, 19 to 49 and then 50 plus. And then the men, it's 19 to 59 and 60 plus. And so we I think the one thing that. People were pushing for is being over a hundred miles for the long, you know, the younger, distant, uh, the younger ages. And I, I really, the more the UCI wanted to have a little bit it was gonna be a full on race. And so in that respect, I didn't, I think they didn't want it to be a s slugfest, right? This, the last person standing. Because this is an age group qualifier, right? Top 25%. Five year age group is gonna qualify to go to the world championships. And so, the distances were pretty, you know, 50, 50 miles for the younger, I mean, the older and 70 miles for the younger groups was about the the sweet spot for that. There were, okay. You definitely had parameters though. I mean, you, I mean, you could be a little shorter and you could definitely be longer for sure. So there was, okay, there was some definite leeway. [00:17:42] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's interesting to see how we're sort of blending both the European vision of gravel and the American vision of gravel and how some of those just some of those beliefs or criteria have to come into play and there's gotta be compromise along the way. I'm, I'm not a super fan of the ultra distance. Racing mm-hmm. , because I do, I mean, I hear you like at 200 miles, like, are we really racing or is it really just a survival thing? Yeah. [00:18:09] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. I mean, let's be real clear. I'm I don't think you are racing at those distances and, and especially if you are going to have age group qualifying, right? I mean, if you don't have that, if you're taking some of these things off the table, then yeah, let's go all in. Let's do 200 miles and. And we know the front end's gonna race, and we know everyone else is just going to be out there and participating or racing as hard as they can. But if you truly want to compete against your age group of five years, you've got to have a, a distance that somewhat works for the top 30% of each age, in my [00:18:49] Craig Dalton: opinion. Yeah, it's interesting. This year I, or sorry, last year I did an event where I backed down to the sort of medium. . And honestly, it was the first race in several years that I felt like I was actually racing because I wasn't terrified. You know, is it possible for my body to get across a hundred mile race? [00:19:09] Bruce Dunn: Oh, Vince, think about it. And gravel. I mean, you're doing a hundred miles. Unless you are really fit you're, you're probably out there just to complete it. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, it's kind of interesting, right? You kinda look at it like, Hey, I want to compete today. Maybe I will back it. [00:19:24] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:19:25] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. I'm, by the way, Craig, I only had one person that wanted that race to be longer after they finished. And, and, and so we, you know, I'm sure we'll get into what happened in 2022 and what we're doing for 2023, but no one wanted any further, uh, anymore. Uh, this, I promise you, [00:19:45] Craig Dalton: it's gotta be all those, uh, Arkansas punchy climbs that add. [00:19:49] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. Yeah. very much It did. [00:19:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I don't, you know, I don't want the conversation to get lost on UCI versus non UCI racing, because at the end of the day, people are gonna come to the event. That'll be a component of why some people show up, but at the end of the event, they're looking for a great day out there, a great gravel experience. So in any of these conversations, that's what I really wanna get outta you, Bruce. It's like for someone considering the Highlands Gravel, What kind of gravel are they getting in front of? What does the riding experience look like? What do they need to think about for their bike when they're coming to race this event? Sure. [00:20:26] Bruce Dunn: I mean, I think that's the oh, my light's kind of going off. I mean, h hold on. Our podcasters that are just listening in the You know, the, the gravel, it's interesting, I think I've mentioned this to you, that Fayetteville has a really unique topography in that geology in that true south of Fayetteville is one type of gravel due West is another, and the Highlands gravel. Classics due East and Due East has some very punchy climbs, a lot more big rock as far as a base underneath the gravel. So you have, you know, this kind of topography that's really interesting, but, Generally speaking, if, if the rain and the grading and all that's done, you've got a very smooth surface out there. Right? And so most people are you know, most people are running, uh, uh, a 42 on the front 38, quite frankly, on the back. I don't think you have to go any bigger than that if you're want to, if you're. , right. Uh, you're gonna have a much bigger, a different setup. But if you, if you're all in racing year 42, 38 is what I saw this year or in 2022. [00:21:34] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. Yeah, that makes sense. From my experience in the region, I mean mm-hmm. , having that bigger, bigger front tire just would enable you to have more confidence when you're slamming down those, those hills. [00:21:45] Bruce Dunn: That is the one thing. Yeah, you could absolutely run a 38 in the front, no doubt. Yeah, I just think that we had, there were some pretty technical downhills. You probably saw that in big sugar, cuz I know exactly the, the couple of downhills you were probably on and it's like, uh, this, this is sketchy and I'm a pretty good bike handler. . [00:22:03] Craig Dalton: Yeah, no, it was, it was super interesting in that particular event for me with, I happened to have a suspension fork on my. And have confidence descending. So I felt totally comfortable just going as fast as I could, turn the pedals down the hill, but saw a whole bunch of people to the side of me grabbing the brakes and really taking a lot more time on that downhill. [00:22:25] Bruce Dunn: Yeah, that was smart. That, that's a good idea. I, we had, we had people come back and start talking about that. Yeah, [00:22:31] Craig Dalton: yeah, yeah. I mean, it's always a trade off, right? You're slogging a little bit more uphill, but the confidence that can lead you on the downhills is just off the. Yep, [00:22:40] Bruce Dunn: that's for sure. And [00:22:42] Craig Dalton: yeah, I was gonna say the Highlands course though for next year, and presumably it's quite similar. Mm-hmm. next year, 66 miles, just under 5,000 feet of climbing for that event. Was it similar in 22? [00:22:54] Bruce Dunn: Yeah, uh, 22. That, that is the course we might make, we may make one change. And the one piece of feedback we got is there was no place for anyone ever to sit. I mean, and you know, you go over those courses time and time again, you ride 'em and it's like, what do you mean there's no place to sit up? And it's like, no, you are either racing through this area or you're trying to recover, or you're going downhill or you're going up hill. But I never truly had a place where I could. And so we, we've identified a couple sections. We may want to do that. But we want to keep it with that 95% gravel cuz we believe that's such a unique, uh, element to this [00:23:31] Craig Dalton: event. Yeah, that's such an Arts two course design to take that feedback in. Were you also, did you have feed zones and were there any specific requirements about the feed zones for the event? We [00:23:43] Bruce Dunn: didn't, uh, yes, we had feed zones and so we had neutral support. We didn't, we didn't do hand ups. And you know, I think that, we'll, we'll, we'll see if it, that becomes one of those. You know, you can only have feed in a certain area. I haven't seen that come down the pike yet. But I, you know, like a lot of things, things, you know, change. You just saw what out? Unbound dropped arrow bars for the elites. Yeah. And so I think things are always changing no matter where you are. Right. and, but the feed zones were certainly used because it was abnormally warm for this time of year. I mean in, in that, that time of year in 2022. [00:24:22] Craig Dalton: Got it. And how did the race unfold? Did it, did it sort of, transpire in a way different than you expected or did, did the course kind of dictate? What was gonna happen? What's your kind of play by play? [00:24:34] Bruce Dunn: The course kicked everybody's ass. I mean, just flat beats, punched him in the nose, put 'em on the ground, drug him around a little bit, and then, you know, threw 'em in the garbage can. I've you know, I've raced with a lot of these guys before and, uh, it's kind of interesting, a lot of the roadies in, uh, the central part of this area that I used to race with 20 plus years. Are now getting into gravel, which I never would've thought. And it's their race again. Right. And they were telling me about Bruce's, this is the toughest 66 miles I've ever done. And I'm thinking, what, and I think it was heat, it was gravel. Certainly the terrain, right? I mean, you know, it's a lot of climbing in that type of, uh, conditions. And people were racing. They, they showed up. They wanted, they wanted their 25%, even if they didn't go to Italy. There was a lot of elements going on, Craig, that. I hadn't quite , you know, planned for. But, and then the back end people were hurting. They really were. It was, it was a tough day. It was a tough day. [00:25:41] Craig Dalton: Did you find, like overall, just given the, the type of promotion ended up being a u c i, gravel world's qualifier, that most of the athletes coming in were intentional, like, I'm here to race, or did you still get the feeling. This is an event that is accessible to everybody and the back end is a party, and the front end is where the people are racing. [00:26:02] Bruce Dunn: we definitely had that element. There's no doubt about it. You know, the one thing, and it, and certainly you, you can go on and look at, you know, a couple publications about the, uh, I think it was anemic attendance. It's just because we couldn't advertise because, you know, the whole reason for a Gravel World Series is for a world championship and to have the date and the location still a lot of uncertainty. We weren't able to advertise to the larger group. We really. We just didn't want to advertise something until we knew all the facts. But of that 140 people that, you know, showed up, I mean, there were people from South Florida that were there to fully race California, Maine. I mean, it was across the country. It was like 20. Eight states came last year. It was crazy. Yeah. But they were there, but they were there to race. And then there was the other group. They absolutely were there because of the type of event it was, knowing that they were never gonna qualify. And so, like you say, uh, it was a party for them and an experie. Yeah, [00:27:11] Craig Dalton: going into 2023, obviously the UCI has got one World Championship behind them. They're putting out an ambitious global calendar of which you're a part of, and the only. Race in the United States. I guess there's one race up in Canada, so going forward, obviously the, the kimonos open, you can market freely like you're part of this big series. What, what kind of changes are you making in 2023? Or is it really just about getting the word out and inviting athletes who are interested in this style racing to come, come visit you? [00:27:43] Bruce Dunn: It, it really Craig, we, we just, we wanna replicate everything we did year one. I mean, we, we felt like we knocked it out of the park as far as the venue. We didn't, and honestly, I said at some point, you know what we're gonna put on the very best race we can. And I say that for every new event we do. , I don't care if it's a 5K run, it's you know, it's a fun run. Do the very best you can and eventually people will come. And so that, and, but you put, you hit the nail in the head. No one knew about it, quite frankly, even with all the pu publicity, quote unquote. So that's our goal this year. Right? Tell everybody, hopefully they'll, you know, come have this experie. [00:28:24] Craig Dalton: and I think that age group story is actually really interesting cuz a lot of times people might look at the the letters UCI before a race and think, oh, this is only intended for professional athletes. This, unlike the Road World Championships, is a totally different beast as I understand it and I don't understand it very well. But I think isn't this similar to like the UCI Grand Fondo [00:28:46] Bruce Dunn: series? Exactly the same, you know, that's, and then I mentioned that u s a triathlon follows that, uh, model of their age group, uh, national championships. You qualify for the world championships. So I was familiar with that. And you're right, the the U C I Grand Fondo Road has that same model and you know, the pros are just going to add to this narrative, in my opinion. Because when you go to the event, it's a world championship for an age grouper. If you ever had gone to one the USA Triathlon s USA Triathlon World Championships, it's a parade of nations. Yeah. You know, a 48 year old is feeling like they literally arrived at the Olympics. And I think that there's something to that for people that want to do that. [00:29:29] Craig Dalton: Oh yeah, a hundred percent. If, if the listener allows themselves to fantasize for a moment and you know, has the capability to get in that top 25%, the ability to go to the world championships in in Italy next year and represent your country for your age category like the spirit of gravel, notwithstanding, like that would be an amazing experience. There's no doubt about. . [00:29:52] Bruce Dunn: Yeah. And, and you know, I think I know my wife and I do, we sometimes on our, we're looking at vacations how can we roll in, you know, a cycling trip with that? Right? And so I think that's maybe the other extra point to this is that, you know, we like to travel and maybe we'll qualify or maybe one of us will and the other one won't, but we're still gonna do this. And, and the bonus. Is that world championship. So I think there's a lot of different elements all the way to I know the people that went to the World Championships this year couple of 'em are local and they've already signed up and you can tell they're training for it already. . [00:30:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I was gonna ask you that, like if you had any sort of sense of the people who were in that top 25% of their category, who was able to make the trip over to, to Italy and part. [00:30:42] Bruce Dunn: Yeah, I mean, you know, of the, uh, four or five, I, again, I think it was you know, that first year was just a bit of a, you know, it was such an unknown, right? Yeah. Now I think you're gonna have quite a few more people. I mean, Craig, we already have 29 states that have signed up. And, and, and I'm thinking, and we, and, and guess here's what's crazy. The second most represented state outside Arkansas is Florida, and they're all from South Florida. Like, you know, I'm thinking to myself, what, why are you doing this? I mean, that's great, right? I mean, I'm loving it, but you, you see that this mentality of we want to do this and we're getting out of, I mean, we're coming from South Florida and we're not coming to Fayetteville just for the hell of it. Right? And you know, they're coming, uh, you know, they're coming to qualify. Yeah, I [00:31:35] Craig Dalton: love it. I mean, I think it just sort of adds this just interesting element like that journey, like you're talking about, go, go over Fayetteville, try to qualify, qualify, go represent your country. Like that's gonna be an amazing journey. Yeah. Bruce, I, I appreciate the time. Super thankful to have you on the podcast and talk about this event and wish you best of luck and can't wait to see how it goes down this. [00:32:00] Bruce Dunn: Yeah, we're very excited. I it's, you know, we, when you have new events and you, you really don't know what the first year's gonna be, but the expectations always for us are the second year. And our, our expectations are very high. And I'm, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm pretty excited, uh, so far, uh, by the early registrations. [00:32:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Awesome. Well, I'll put out all the information in our show notes so people know how to register and get in touch with you if they have, if they have any additional questions. [00:32:27] Bruce Dunn: Great. Craig, thank you so much for having us. Yeah. Enjoyed [00:32:31] Craig Dalton: the conversation. Cheers. Cheers. [00:32:33] Bruce Dunn: Bye-Bye. [00:32:34] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Bruce for coming on the show and talking through the Highlands. Gravel classic. And the UCI world championship qualifier. Out there in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I'll put a link in the show notes, so you can find out all the details for the Highland gravel classic. If you're interested in connecting with me, I encourage you to join the ridership. That's www.theridership.com. That's a free global cycling community where you can interact with me directly, as well as thousands of other members of the gravel cycling community. No pressure, totally free to join, but a great back channel and a great way to connect with other gravel cyclists. If you're able to support the show, please visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Additionally ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. It's a great way for me to get discovered by more gravel, cyclists. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels  

    Amy Davison - Trek Travel Gravel 2023

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 10, 2023 39:48


    This week we sit down with Amy Davison from Trek Travel to discuss the explosion of gravel travel trips in the 2023 line up. With three North American trips (Bentonville, Vermont and Virginia) and three European trips (Girona, Tuscany and Swiss Alps), Trek Travel has some amazing gravel trips planned using the local knowledge of their experienced guides. Trek Travel Website  Episode Sponsor: Athletic Greens 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 broadcast. We welcome Amy Davison from track travel. Trek travel is literally having an explosion of gravel trips for 2023. They've been in the gravel game for a few years with their gerona gravel trip, which I took at the end of 22, but they're back for 23 with an expanded roster of six trips, three in north America and three in Europe. I'm excited to sit down with Amy and go over all the details. Before we jump in i need to thank this week sponsor athletic. athletic greens I feel like everybody's been talking about athletic greens recently. I was just listening to Ted King's podcast and he was talking about his daily athletic greens routine. Like me, he takes athletic greens every day. My personal routine is mix it with a cup of ice. I love it. Cold. guess the big question is why, why do I take athletic greens? As you may recall, I've been taking athletic greens for going on five years. I was looking for something that would replace my desire to have a multivitamin in my life. I knew I wasn't getting all the nutrients I needed in any given day in a simple powdered format. Athletic greens contains 75 vitamins minerals and whole food sourced ingredients, including a multivitamin. Multi-mineral probiotic green superfood blend and more, it all works together to fill those nutritional gaps in my diet, it helps increase energy and focus aids with digestion and supports a healthy immune system. All without the need for a counter full of pills. Let's start your 2023 with a simple, sustainable nutritional habit. So, whether you're looking for peak performance, better health, we're just covering your bases. Athletic green makes it easy to invest in your energy immunity and gut health. Every day in a simple fashion, simply visit athletic greens.com/the gravel ride and join health experts, athletes, and health conscious go getters around the world who make a daily commitment to their health. Athletic green to the special offer for podcast listeners, simply visit athletic greens.com/the gravel ride. And you'll get a free year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs today. Again, that's athletic greens.com/the gravel ride. Without business behind us let's jump right in to my interview with Amy Davison from Trek travel Amy, welcome to the show. [00:02:52] Amy Davison: Thank you for having me. [00:02:55] Craig Dalton: I'm excited. I just learned about the massive expansion of gravel travel trips the Trek is gonna be offering in 2023. After my wonderful experience in Gerona, I had to get you on the line and talk about everything that's going on before we dig into some of those trips. Let's just start by, uh, let the listener know where you're from, who you work for, how long you've been working at Track Travel. [00:03:20] Amy Davison: Sure. I live in Spearfish, South Dakota at the North Edge of the, the Black Hills, the great place to ride. I work for Trek Travel and I I'm a trip designer for trip travel, but I started back in 2005 as a. So, had a couple different roles here. I absolutely love working in the cycling industry, so it's, uh, led to [00:03:44] Craig Dalton: a long career. Yeah. I imagine all that time guiding yourself has left you with a pretty good sense of what it takes to design a trip. As a trip designer, what does that really mean? [00:03:58] Amy Davison: Hmm. Well, trip designers are the ones who build the structure. We book the hotels, we design the routes and build the routes in the software and book all the restaurants and basically just put the shell together. And then we convey it. We're sort of the, the hub of the wheel. We convey it to every team within trick travel. Explain it to sales. And then we hand it over to the guides when it's time to run. And when they're running the trip, it's really their baby. And then we work very closely with them to sort of tweak it and modify it. But we then sort of take it back at the end of the season and massage out anything we wanna change and then get it ready for the next year. So we're actually planning, we're working in about three years. at once. So it's very different than being a guide when you're, when you're out there guiding, you are laser focused on each day of each trip and really the hospitality end of taking care of the guests. So it's, uh, it was incredibly beneficial for me to be a guide and then turn into a trip designer. And that's how most of our trip design teams won. They were. and they then sort of wore both hats. And then some of us just moved into the trip design world and some of us continue to [00:05:18] Craig Dalton: wear both hats. That makes sense. How long has truck travel been in business? [00:05:24] Amy Davison: This our 21st year. [00:05:27] Craig Dalton: Wow. And, yeah. Has historically, have the trips always been on the road or were there off-road c. [00:05:33] Amy Davison: Mostly on the road. We did have mountain bike trips for a while, but this is our first foray into gravel, aside from Giana gravel that's been around for a couple of years. But, uh, yeah, primarily [00:05:46] Craig Dalton: road far. Interesting. So, you know, obviously I've got personal experience on that Jer Gravel tour. What was it that was sort of suggesting that an expansion would be, uh, you know, greeted with enthusiasm from your, from your. Well, just the growth [00:06:03] Amy Davison: of gravel in general. I mean, it's just exploded over the last several years. And all of our well met a big contingent of our guides and our team loves to ride gravel, and that's what they're doing in their free time, whether they're bike packing, they're just out riding the gravel. And so we've been talking about it for, for a few years because it's just, become such a big industry and the, the pandemic probably delayed this launch by, by a bit, but because of the scarcity of bikes and the uncertainty of everything basically. But [00:06:40] Craig Dalton: When you, as you introduced J, the Gerona gravel trip originally, were there, what kind of things were going through your mind in terms of bringing some of these, a newer athletes to gravel offroad? Like how do you think about trip design to make sure that everybody joining the trip is comfortable with the progression of technicality or amount of climbing or what have you? Mm-hmm. . [00:07:04] Amy Davison: We have what we call rider levels and we rate every trip and we, so we are going for a variety of trips. And then we rate each trip going to the rider level and we spell out on our, on our website how difficult it is. And that includes distance, terrain so how hilly is it? And also surface type because, you know, gravel. Very broad, and we do our best to sort of, put them into a matrix so people can see the range of trips that we offer, and then select what might be the best for them. And then we, I spend a lot of time with our trip consultants sort of explaining all this in detail so they can help steer people in the right direction. So we do try to offer a a, a breadth. Of options for people who may have more experience or less experience. And then we also, when we're designing the trip on each day of the trip, we have multiple ride options. So we try to allow, uh, for different rider levels, like on any given day, the guides will help steer people toward what option might be best for them any day of the week. Because as you experience sun, Each day's ride is quite different as well. And Jerome, I know they, the rides kind of build in technicality throughout the week and other trips like Shenandoah Valley, they build to a big climb at the end of the week. Uh, but the, the climb is an epic ride in their area, but it's actually paved the climb and the sun paved. It's just part of a, a larger loop and much of the loop is gravel. So each trip is different. And really the goal is you identify an area that is desirable, would be a, would be a great place for the trip, and has of course wonderful gravel riding. And then I like to say, you see what the area offers you and then you take advantage of it. So I don't go in with a preconceived notion of, I'm gonna design this trip in this way and it's gonna be for these people. I go in with a, let me learn about this region. Let's see what the best, you know, what it has to offer, and then we'll design accordingly. And then we'll describe accordingly. Because, you know, we, our, our, even our regular trips there's a, there's a wide variety of types of trips. So we don't try to force anything, we just try to call it what it is and, [00:09:38] Craig Dalton: uh, make it shine. . Yeah, it was, it was definitely interesting, and I noted it in those, the first day of the J travel, the, the gravel tour was just that assessing of the rider's abilities. Mm-hmm. , and it was pretty easy, you know, it was casual. It wasn't like anybody was testing mm-hmm. , you know, can you break, can you skid, can you go over a log or what have you. Yeah. But you could tell that the guides were being conscious of like, okay, what's the, what's the dynamic of this group? What are people's eagerness? Do people wanna ride? All day long, do they wanna not ride some days? And it became surprisingly easy to strike that balance in our group. Mm-hmm. , you know, the few, few guys from California that I went over with, we were eager, eager to ride as much as humanly possible, so mm-hmm. , you know, on occasion we'd come home and say, we, Hey Mickey, we wanna ride some more. And he would give us a GPS route and we would just go out there. Pedal to our heart's content while others were electing to take days off. And to your point, like there definitely was a progression in, in skills, in elevation and everything along the way. I don't think anything would've you know, been out of reach of, you know, most gravel cyclists, but there definitely would've been days that if you were a beginner, and one of the guys in my crew was a little bit more of a beginner that mm-hmm. a couple of the. made him think a little bit more. You don't really get that. Yeah. On a road bike, you put on the brakes, and even if you're descending aldus, you just keep the bike in control and it's, you know, it's no harder than your local mountain. But with the gravel, I think with everything, you know, all the natural terrain in front of you, it's often a little bit challenging and your eyes get wide and you think, can these bikes really withstand this treatment? Yeah. [00:11:22] Amy Davison: Yeah. It's. , it's definitely some, like you said, you have to, you have to think more and gravel and really watch your speed on this descent. And the guides are incredible. They, their wheels are turning before you meet them. They, they get a little intel on everybody and, uh, their wheels are turning immediately cuz they always wanna make it the best trip and. For every single person on the trip. And that first day is critical in sort of getting to know people a little bit during the bike event, and then sort of, you know, as assessing how everyone's doing during the ride because they're, they're already planning the next day, the next day and the next day. So yeah, it's. It's, it's quite a feat, but they're, they're really good at it. And when they know the terrain like Nikki, you know, it's local and j it's uh, it's pretty special what they can do, even with a larger group of people. Like, like you said, they, they're more than happy to give you some extra routes or, you know, go on another ride with you after everyone else is done and having close ride beers. . So it's, yeah, it's really, it's [00:12:39] Craig Dalton: really a fun time. You mentioned the bike fit element of it, and this was my first trip where I've ever ridden a bike provided by the organization. Mm-hmm. , obviously I was excited them being truck bicycles. In Jer in 2022, it was the, the Dnet, but I believe for, for 2023, you're moving over to the checkpoint. Mm-hmm. . [00:13:00] Amy Davison: We are, yeah. Very exciting. Checkpoint SR seven. Top of the line, electronic shifting. It's, uh, shaman, it's, and it's a two by, so a two by 11 speed. Uh, we'll set it up to bliss and we're gonna bump the wheels to 40 fives instead of the stock forties that come on them. And, uh, yeah, it's gonna be a great ride. And I think that the rationale is we really want these trips to be accessible. Everyone and we thought this is the bike that provides the most comfort and the most stability and can handle the widest variety of terrain, cuz we also have to select a single bike for all of these trips. [00:13:44] Craig Dalton: That we all thought would work. I, I think you're spot on there. I think, you know, it's, it actually to me it has two benefits. One, for newer riders, having the fatter tire is gonna make 'em more comfortable. It's gonna make it roll over stuff easier. A little sp smoother ride. But for more experienced riders, those 40 fives are gonna allow you to really tear it up and get after things and have a lot of fun. Mm-hmm. ? [00:14:06] Amy Davison: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I have a, have the same bike here at home, so I've been really enjoying. Trying it out and it's just, and it actually rolls great on pavement too, so, it's, they're just so, there's such versatile bites [00:14:21] Craig Dalton: there. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I have to say I was a little bit jealous cuz Mickey was already on a checkpoint and I was eyeing his big tires that from time to time as we got in the roof for terrain, cuz that's what I typically ride at home. Yeah. [00:14:34] Amy Davison: Yeah. The. All, I would say, all the guides who could get their hands on a checkpoint in the last couple years, uh, who ride gravel have, have absolutely [00:14:42] Craig Dalton: taken advantage of that. Yeah. So we, we we're moving from one gravel trip in 2022, all the way to six gravel trips, both in North America and in Europe. I'd love to just kind of talk to you about a, let's first get on the table, where are we going in 2023, and then B, let's just talk a little bit about each. [00:15:04] Amy Davison: Sure. Yeah. Yeah, it's very exciting. This has been the, the better part of the second half of 2022, and my world has been spent putting these together in collaboration with, uh, a lot of our guides and other tDCS. So we have three North America and three in Europe. In the North American trips in, in order are Batonville and Vermont and Shenandoah Valley, and. , the European trips are post J with that, the spring trip. And then we'll do Tuscany and then we'll do Swiss Alps and then we'll come back to Jer. [00:15:41] Craig Dalton: Amazing. And when you say an order, is that a chronological order throughout the year when the trips are offered? Alright. [00:15:48] Amy Davison: Spring. Yeah, by season. [00:15:51] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. Well sort of taking 'em one by one. And let's start in North America to begin. Bentonville, Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and then Vermont. Mm-hmm. What attracted you to those areas? And maybe as we go through one by one, just kind of give a highlight of what, what people might expect on that trip. Sure. [00:16:09] Amy Davison: Boy, we, we, we debated many, many, many destinations and at the end of the day, we were. Kind of zeroed in on destinations where we have guides who live there. That was a big factor because planning gravel, uh, having local knowledge is indispensable in, in planning the best routes. And, and so that was one big factor. And then all kinds of things sort of come into play. But we were. Pretty quickly narrowed it down to three that were relatively close to each other. And and then of course you have to cherry pick the best times to ride in these places. So, you can't pick all spring destinations, for example, so you're playing with all kinds of things and put, putting the puzzle together. But Batonville we, we actually had a, a good shell of a. Put together for Bentonville that we offered as the self-guided trip a couple years ago. And we have a guy who lives there. And, uh, so we, that one was, that one was a no-brainer because Bentonville has got the, all the infrastructures, everyone knows it's the mountain biking capital of the world. It's, it is incredible for mountain biking, but it is also incredible for gravel. You talk to any of the locals there, they're like, yeah, it's pretty, it's pretty special. And the beauty of this trip is it's five days and so you can always tack on a few days on either end, grab a rental mountain bike and go hit the trails either before or after. But the gravel there is outstanding without being too difficult. It really is. We're riding mostly in Rolling Farm. And the, the highlight of the trip is of course modeled after the big sugar race. So the gravel on the, uh, sort of northern side of town is absolutely epic. It's fast. Yeah. And it's, it's fun And it's beautiful. So you've got that, but you also have a great hotel in town. The 21 C Museum Hotel, which is an art museum, turned into a hotel on the square and the food is incredible. So we're going to eat at the preacher's son and Conifer and the hive at the hotel for dinners. So this trip is absolutely packed, and I didn't even mention the art. We're gonna also visit Crystal Bridge's art museum in addition to riding through it, but, , we're gonna visit the campus for like an introductory tour so that that trip is just absolutely [00:18:39] Craig Dalton: packed. Great stuff. Yeah. It's such a great community and it's mm-hmm. dark when you arrive there, just how infused cycling culture is. There's bike paths everywhere you need to go and yeah. You know, as you said, the gravel is great. It's very accessible, but it's a hell of a lot of fun as an experienced athlete too, as you, you know, as you ramp up the speed going down those hills. Oh yeah. Rocks on those. You know, it, it's exciting and exhilarating. Yeah. But again, like if you're, if you're going a little bit slower, it's totally accessible to a lot of riders and then all those great things to do in Bentonville, like it definitely, I can see why that made it high up on your list of places to put a trip. [00:19:19] Amy Davison: Yeah. I mean the, it's really special when you arrive in a town. You just feel like, oh, this is home for cyclists. Like they love bikes, they love bike people, they're everywhere. Yeah. How about [00:19:34] Craig Dalton: that was really special. Yeah. Yeah. And to your point about like geographically locating the trips, you know, within a reasonable distance, it's probably lost on many listeners that you've got a lot of logistics. You've got vans you need to bring to bear. You have the actual bicycle. You need spare bicycles, spare parts. So there's a lot of moving pieces to this trip that make it logistically complicated for you at Trek Travel. But honestly, logistically simple for the guest because we just arrived with our shammy and our helmet and our shoes. And you'll take care of the rest. [00:20:10] Amy Davison: Yeah, and we don't even have to bring a helmet cause we have those too. But that is one, I think one thing. always has set travel apart is our partnership of Trek and the bikes that we provide. And if you look at gravel whether the gravel tourism industry most, uh, well, I can't name that's not true. Most do not include a bike and I will just say no and include the bike like a checkpoint SLR seven. Electronic shifting. I mean, it's all the bells and whistles just like our damani is for our regular trip. And, and so that that is one really exciting sort of piece of the puzzle that, that sets us apart. And it, it absolutely, yeah, our business is complicated. It always will be, but we all tend to thrive in the chaos and do our best to present a, a seamless experience for the guests. That's the. . [00:21:10] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And then I guess if we're going chronologically, next step would be domestically would be the Vermont Gravel Bike tour. Mm-hmm. , do you wanna jump into that experience? [00:21:18] Amy Davison: Yeah, absolutely. So Vermont has been in the tri travel portfolio since the company began. Uh, we've always run trips outta Sto Vermont in the Green Mountains, so that, that's where this trip begins. We'll start at the Green Mountain in Insto, uh, and do a couple of rides around there. We'll do a sugar tasting there, or a sugar tour. Learning about maple syrup and how it's made, and of course, do a taste of it. So you get a little Vermont flavor in there. And then from there we're gonna ride from hotel to hotel, and we're gonna go to the northeast kingdom and stay in a, in, out in the country. Just outside of Eastbrook. So a lot of people know that area for great mountain biking as well, but there are endless gravel roads. I'm think of Vermont as the home of gravel really. They've been riding gravel there before. Gravel was cool because they have more gravel than pavement. It's just everywhere. So, the rides there are about 70% gravel. And, and they're hilly. Can you go from the Green Mountains up to. It's equally hilly in the Northeast Kingdom, but, uh, very rural. I would say the highlight is the ride from hotel to hotel. You pass through prospering, which is a small town very accustomed to cyclists and outdoor enthusiast of all sorts. And we'll have lunch at the general store called Jenny. As we pass through. I think that's gonna be a, a great experience just to. I feel like experienced small town life in, in Vermont. And then we will end with at, at the, we're staying at a small in, in, at Brooklyn to end the trip and they are cycling enthusiasts there and they also put on fabulous meals. So I'm, and I think it'll be, it'll be This spectacular trip. Incredible food throughout high-end accommodations and phenomenal dirt road [00:23:20] Craig Dalton: riding. That's so fun. It's such a pretty state. I've only ever ridden on the road there, but, but definitely aspire to ride gravel once I get back there. [00:23:29] Amy Davison: Yeah. Yeah. It's, uh, it, it's gonna be good one for sure. [00:23:34] Craig Dalton: And then next up on your, your summer tour of gravel in the United States is the Shenandoah. In Virginia, that was probably the one on your list that I was most surprised about. So can you talk a little bit about that trip? [00:23:47] Amy Davison: Yeah, absolutely. I was actually looking at another region and it just sort of wasn't panning out and I I just kept driving and went, uh, to Harrisonburg. One of our trip consultants lives there and we've kind of had it on the radar for a while. We also have a contingent that lives in North Carolina and. Loves to come up to Virginia to ride. So it is a well kept secret and that's is another place where as soon as I got into town unannounced I started knocking on doors and immediately I was like, yes, this is a bike funded town. These people love to ride. They're excited about bringing more cycling, tourism to the area. And it's , it's unique in that it, it's a valley, obviously Shindo Valley, but it's got the mountains on both sides. The Allegheny Mountains and the Smoky Mountains. So you've really got everything at your disposal. So we've got riding in rolling Farm country, and then you've got Epic climbs on either side of the, so we're gonna feature. I climb to what's called reddish knob, which is one of the high points of the state. It's on the West Virginia border and that, that's actually a paved climb through National Forest and a paved descent, but the rest of that loop is gravel. So it's gonna be an epic day at the end of that trip. Panoramic views at the top and a nice change up from the rest of, of the writing, but, It's a destination where I think it'll surprise and, and delight people because maybe you haven't heard of it, but if you dig just a little bit, you'll, you'll see that there's a, there's quite a cycling culture there, great mountain biking as well, and almost anywhere there's gonna be great mountain biking. Gravel is gonna go hand in hand, [00:25:41] Craig Dalton: so, . Yeah. Yeah. I think there's a lot of people in Virginia right now listening who are saying, hallelujah, . Yeah. Don't let the secret out, but, but we are proud of where we ride. I told Yeah, , [00:25:53] Amy Davison: I feel a little bad about that. But [00:25:56] Craig Dalton: yeah. You know, gravel riders we're, we're sort of, we can blend in. Right. I, I yeah, I have a little bit of experience in that area on the mountain bike, as you, you were mentioning. It's a great mountain bike area, and when I was cutting my teeth as a young mountain biker out of Washington DC we would get into that region on our mountain bikes to go race some of that kind of classic East Coast races down [00:26:16] Amy Davison: there. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. It's and I also, I recall having guests on a trip in California, uh, years ago who were like, you've gotta come to Virginia. They were live, they live near DC and they were like, it's absolutely epic. You would love it. It's the riding is endless. Like you have to come to Virginia. So, Hopefully they're listening and they're probably like, it's about time It's been so long. [00:26:46] Craig Dalton: Nice. So now let's hop over to the, uh, to the European trips. I forget the chronological order. Are we starting in Gerona over there? We're starting [00:26:54] Amy Davison: in Gerona, yeah. Yeah, because Okay. It's just. got great weather spring and and fall. So we're starting in j that is our, uh, only level four trip, which means it's a little more advanced. So the, some of the gravel riding is more technical. We, it's the only trip where we incorporate some single track and some connectors that say are unmaintained roads, so they get a little more gnarly. What we've been seeking out elsewhere. So that that is one thing that sets Jonah apart. And the other thing is, we've had it running for a couple years now, so it's a well-oiled machine. We have a handful of local guides there who love it. And it's, it's really their trip. I mean, they, they've made it what it. So a lot of a lot of culture, uh, infused there, a lot of local knowledge infused there and great little hotel in the center of this charming little town. So, yeah, [00:27:58] Craig Dalton: absolutely, and I'll, I'll refer the listener back to a couple episodes where I've interviewed both our guides while I was over there and gave a little bit of my day to. Of that trip as well as an original episode going back, gosh, I think mid pandemic when I was hoping to go very early on, maybe in Oh wow. 2020 that, uh, that you Yuen came on and talked about that trip as well, so, oh, we've covered that territory. I'm a big fan of Jer. I feel like anybody who's. Into cycling knows that that's just a hub and a, a great place to be. [00:28:28] Amy Davison: Absolutely. Yeah. But what I guess I didn't realize is how epic the, the gravel is there in addition to the road driving. [00:28:36] Craig Dalton: So Yeah, a hundred percent. Like the, just so much of the Mickey was saying, you know, they had all these old rail lines that then got, uh, you know, repurposed into gravel roads and they just, they litter the town from every direct. Yeah. [00:28:50] Amy Davison: Yeah, it's, I'm heading there in uh, February, so I can't wait to do a couple of the rides that you got to go [00:28:58] Craig Dalton: on. Awesome. Yeah. Awesome. And then what's up O next Over in Europe. [00:29:03] Amy Davison: Tuscany. Yeah. Okay. [00:29:05] Craig Dalton: So Tus is [00:29:07] Amy Davison: another Tuscany. Oh yeah, the Bianchi. It's gonna be amazing. It's another region that Tel has, you know, been, uh, running trips in forever. And we all love it. Uh, it just never gets old. I got to guide there in 2015 and got to ride some of this gravel. So anyone who is a gravel enthusiast probably knows about the race throughout Bianchi and also the aka uh, vintage cycling race. And our trip really blends those two together. So we spend some time around Oli and, and near Sienna first hotels near Sie. Uh, riding some of the bki and AKA roots. But you get to experience wine country and you get to have lunch, I think it is in Oli, and visit the AKA store. And you also get to have coffee and a little tour of Sienna where you're watching the end of any race. So it's like from clop cross races, Toki, they end. In the Piazza in Sienna, and it's just like an incredible experience. So we're, we're going to, uh, do that on the trip and then we're gonna finish near Ticino a little bit further south. And the riding just goes on and on. And it was some of my favorite writing when I was there in Southern Tuscany where it's a little less touristy and you're sort of getting off the beaten path. And we have a couple of guides who, you know, one in particular who really rides gravel a lot there and knows all the ins and outs of the gravel roads. So he got to put this together and, uh, he's, uh, I think really made it shine. The other fun piece of it is that the second hotel is actually in equator, which we don't typically stay in. So it's like a working farm that also is a hotel. You know, it's the definition of farm to table dining, basically. This, uh, a agrima is very high end. It's absolutely beautiful. And our final night will be a, a meal that is paired with wines from their cellar. Some of their, some of their older favorite ones. So it's going to be an absolutely epic trip with great riding. And of course, I mean, you're in Tuscan, so outstanding food and. , [00:31:36] Craig Dalton: uh, to pair with it. Yeah. Super cool. I imagine, and, and I've never ridden there myself, but just seeing strata Bianca, that the dirt roads are, I mean, relative in the spectrum of these gravel trips in Ima, it seems like these are sort of smoother dirt roads than elsewhere. [00:31:52] Amy Davison: I would say, yeah. Honestly, for all of our trips, the goal was to find. Smoothest gravel roads that we possibly could. So we're not trying to search out the most difficult, gnarly technical riding. We're trying to make these accessible to, to everyone who has even a bit of gravel experience. So they're just comfortable riding on loose surfaces. Cuz you can't avoid hills and cornering and so you need a little bit of experience. But these, I, I would say Vermont. . The dirt, the dirt roads are super hard packed and like sometimes they're just dirt. You, you don't even have, you have very little gravel and Tuscany probably have more gravel consistently. But the roads are, are fairly smooth. They're just healing. [00:32:42] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And are they sort of the punchy style climb? [00:32:46] Amy Davison: Yeah, I would say Vermont and Tuscany are known for short, steep hills. That's just the nature of the riding there. Uh, you really can't get away from it. So, similar to our, our regular Vermont trip and our regular Tuscany trip. These are, these are hilly trips. Batonville is a little flatter. It's more like rolling farmland, Ando Valley, more rolling farmland with the big. . So they all are, you know, slightly different, but in general you can never escape hills and, uh, we're looking for mostly smooth dirt roads with a, not a crazy amount of gravel, so relatively non-technical [00:33:28] Craig Dalton: ready. Got it. Got it. And then that final trip of the year heading over to the Swiss Alps. [00:33:34] Amy Davison: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. This one is super exciting. Again, one of our guides lives there at the, this trip is on the eastern side of Switzerland in the Anine Valley, and it starts in a town called school. And one of our long standing, amazing guides lives there. And she's been dreaming about getting this trip on the, on our docket for years. So she put this together in addition with one of our troop designers who is a ski instructor in St. So that's where the trip ends on the other side of the valley, uh, near St. Maritz. And you're basically riding in the valley surrounded by the Alps and glaciers the entire time. So that means that the terrain is hilly. Inevitably when you leave the valley, you're going, you're going up. So it's more long, gradual climbs. But the, uh, what's unique about this one is it's mostly, uh, most of the gravel is on bike pads, and then most of the other riding that's not gravel is still a designated bike route. So it's very little traffic there. I mean, that's to be expected when you're riding gravel to begin with, but here it'll be. Very, very little traffic and a combination of gravel bike pond and really narrow paved lanes going from town to town up and down this valley. Then of course there will be a fondu dinner. So people get to experience that and just incredible views of the, of the valley and the, it's pristine. I just look at the pictures for that trip. . I, I, I have to [00:35:19] Craig Dalton: go. It's, yeah, I was gonna say that's the only one I haven't seen The pictures on the website are just ridiculous how scenic it is. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's beautiful. I love it. Well, that's super exciting just to one, get the overview of all these great trips that you have planned for 2023, and I'm super excited for you guys to continue to get feedback from riders as to what they like and don't like about 'em and mm-hmm. . You knows what an exciting journey to, to sort of have six new trips on the calendar. [00:35:51] Amy Davison: Yeah, it's, uh, I've been doing this for a while and this is like unprecedented for me in terms of, you know, what I get to do on, on the day to day. So I'm really excited to get this out there. I know that our guides are too, I mean, everyone who helped design these trips is gonna be working them next year, and I know that they'll evolve. It's absolutely the way. All of our trips work. We take feedback from the guides, from the guests, and the more we sink into a region, the more we learn about it, the better the trips become. So this will definitely evolve, and as we learn, I sure hope that the entire category just continues to grow. . [00:36:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah. You know, as I've said many times on the podcast before, I'm just, I'm a big fan of this idea of gravel travel and as much as I like going to do events and races, for me it's more about being in that region and sampling a bit more. And sometimes I get drawn into, whether it's the length of the event or just, you know, wanting to perform. I'd limit my riding because I just wanna be able to complete that one day ride. And sometimes I leave those regions thinking, gosh, like I wish I was just riding every single day a little bit less. Yeah. Than putting all my eggs into this one one day. [00:37:08] Amy Davison: Yeah. Yeah. I mean that's the beauty of, of these vacations is you really can, you really get to sink into a region and see and ride day after day after day. It's kind of [00:37:20] Craig Dalton: hard to go. . Yeah, yeah, totally. After that. Totally. Yeah. There's something to be said for having nothing to do, but ride all day and pretty much have the logistics all taken care of for you. Mm-hmm. . [00:37:34] Amy Davison: Yeah, I mean, I hear that from, from my friends. It's, it's truly what I love to do and my free time as well. So now that I live in a place that is full of gravel, I. We have people visiting and we go out for, for four days, and it's, for me, it's the best vacation I've ever had. And for them, they feel like they're on a TR trail trip, so. [00:37:58] Craig Dalton: It's, uh, I bet that's really fun. You bet. You better watch out. You may have some listeners knocking at your door wanting a person to turn Hey, [00:38:06] Amy Davison: bring it on. I, I already have a planned . [00:38:11] Craig Dalton: Thanks again, Amy. I really appreciate the time and I'm excited to revisit this conversation at the end of the year and see how everything goes. Yeah, [00:38:19] Amy Davison: me too. Awesome. Thank you for having us and for bringing attention. Gravel travel. Hopefully it's just gonna keep growing and I look forward to doing more myself discovering more destinations. [00:38:33] Craig Dalton: Big, thanks to Amy for joining the show today. I'm super excited to hear that Trek travel is doubling down on gravel travel for 2023. I don't know about you, but they're more than a handful of those destinations. I'd love to ride in myself. I've covered a few, but absolutely. I encourage you to go to the truck, travel.com website and check out those pictures, particularly for the Swiss trip. It just looks absolutely spectacular. A huge, thanks to athletic greens for being a long time supporter of the show. Remember head on over to athletic greens.com/the gravel ride. To get your free one-year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs. Added to your order. If you're interested in connecting with me, please. Join the ridership that's www.theridership.com. That's a free online cycling community where you can connect with me and other gravel athletes for around the world. If you have the ability to support the show. Please visit, buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels

    Paige Onweller - Lifetime Grand Prix Gravel Racer

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 3, 2023 50:27


    This week we sit down with Michigan based, professional gravel racer, Paige Onweller. Paige, a former runner, had her ups and downs throughout the 2022 season, but ended it with a bang with a victory at Big Sugar Gravel in October. She is looking forward to doubling down on her efforts for the 2023 season. 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 broadcast. We welcome page on Weller. Uh, gravel racer from grand rapids, Michigan. Paige participated in the inaugural lifetime grand Prix in 2022. And has been selected for the grand Prix. Again in 2023, she finished the season with a big victory at big sugar gravel in Bentonville, Arkansas this year, and is really excited to be able to dedicate more time to the sport. Pages and other one of those amazing female athletes who discovered the sport after a career, as a runner. Only a few years ago, she was riding a trainer and figuring out how to ride a bike outdoors. Pedro we'll get into how she got into the sport of cycling, what our journey's been over the last couple of years. And what our experience has been joining the lifetime grand Prix and racing throughout the year with all the best female athletes in the gravel cycling world. With that said let's jump right into my conversation with Paige. Paige, welcome to the show. [00:01:26] Paige Onweller: Thanks, Craig. Glad I'm here [00:01:28] Craig Dalton: Good to see you. Yeah, it sounded like you had a busy day in the er, so I'm pleased you're making time for us this evening, [00:01:34] Paige Onweller: Yeah. Yeah. I was a little, a little late to this meeting, so thank you for being flexible. The ER is a little busy these days. [00:01:40] Craig Dalton: Yeah, no, of course. My pleasure. Hey, I always love to start off Paige by getting to know you a little bit about your background, like where did you grow up? [00:01:48] Paige Onweller: So I grew up in kind of a smaller town called Lapeer. Uh, it's in Michigan, kind of in the thumb area. Uh, maybe like an hour north of Ann Arbor, uh, if people know that as a reference point. Um, yeah. And then I went to undergrad at Fair State University up in Big Rapids, also in Michigan, and then, uh, grad school in Grand Rapids. And I've been settled in Grand Rapids for the last, about 10. [00:02:11] Craig Dalton: Got it. And were you a, were you a sporty young lady? [00:02:14] Paige Onweller: Uh, kind of, my parents kind of made us get into sports. Like I think they wanted to keep us out of trouble and keep us busy. And so, um, yeah, I did like, uh, swimming and diving and softball, volleyball track, cross country. Um, I was a big runner. Uh, I actually got a scholarship to, to run at Ferris and that's, you know, cross country and track. So I did running. Many years of my life and was a very dedicated runner, even after college on some post collegiate elite teams. Um, that's kind of where most of my athletic background was. [00:02:46] Craig Dalton: what was that journey like as a, as a runner would, did you sort of materialize in high school that you had a good endurance endurance engine or. Wear of a sprinter at that point. [00:02:55] Paige Onweller: I was more middle distance. To be honest. I never really, I kind of wasn't all around her. Like I, I definitely wasn't a sprinter, but I kind of excelled at. 400 meters and anything up to two mile, uh, at least in high school. Uh, but more focused on like the mile and 800. And then in college was similar. I was more middle distance, uh, 1500 meter, um, was kind of my specialty in, in track. And then in cross country it's just a six K for uh, ncaa. Um, so that was kind of my specialty overall. Um, but I got injured a lot and. , I think, you know, I could have done much better, like in the 10 K or 5k, I think would've suited me more. Um, but I think I was just always injured that we kind of kept doing the middle distance, shorter volume, you know, or, or less volume. Uh, but then after college is kind of when I started to hit my stride a bit in the endurance events, um, like I did at Ultra-Marathon in Grand Canyon. and that was like 55 miles, um, like rim to rim, to rim it's called. Um, and started doing like more half marathons and those longer distance events. And that's when I, like, I was beating all of my college times and just really excelling. So I think after college, once I was healthy and not getting injured as much, I was able to kind of, you know, consistency really helps with endurance . So if you're not getting injured and you can keep running, then you're gonna do. [00:04:15] Craig Dalton: That's quite a huge journey from where you started out as a runner to doing ultra-marathons, as you progressively grabbed hold of longer distance events. Was that, did it feel sort of more comfortable and more what you were built for? [00:04:30] Paige Onweller: I don't know. I, I mean, I was still running similar mileage throughout the week, but a lot of it was like power hiking up hills and like getting used to like the vertical gain because in running, like. Ultra-marathons are very, um, there's a lot more climbing and descending, and you have to get your quads ready for like that descending load, um, and the, the EENT changes that occur. And so I feel like. It was similar but yet very different. The volume was similar, but the intensity was much lower. Um, and I think that probably helped. Um, but honestly, like I just love being outside and being outdoors and I just like working out . And so, um, yeah, I mean, I think the little longer stuff was. Was fun to me and obviously more challenging just in a different way though, like, you know, a half marathon and 10 miles, like what I loved. And those are like, you know, hour, hour and 20 minute all out efforts, um, relative to like an endurance ultra marathon, which is like the whole day. So just kind of a different type of pain, I guess, , but I enjoyed the process for both and, and how you train for. [00:05:38] Craig Dalton: Yeah. They're so distinctly different as running disciplines. I've done a little bit of ultra marathoning myself and I I hear you like it's this descending that really adds up. But for me, the interesting thing was it was a complete mentality shift, right? Because you'll, you're running in the woods, you come up to a big hill and the 10 K in, you wants to run hard over everything. But every ultra-marathon and coach or colleague or friend is gonna tell. Just shift into another gear and walk up this hill. Yeah, to power hike up the [00:06:08] Paige Onweller: yeah, no, for sure. And it's, it's funny you say that, like the, the mental change is, you know, more than anything, and I've been a coach for many years and when I was coaching ultra marathoners, like one of the primary focus, you know, in, in the season was focusing and developing why they wanted to do that race. And cuz there was studies and research to show. Having an emotional bond to those longer events gets you through it versus like, you know, an hour and a half. So that's like a whole different way to train and it's like more mental training than the shorter distances. And I always thought that was fun. And you know, my medical background kind of makes me a little bit more intrigued into that as well. [00:06:45] Craig Dalton: Yeah, a hundred percent. Like you just have to believe and you have to always put a foot forward. And I think, I'm sure we'll get into this later, just how the, the parallels with gravel racing, particularly the long stuff, you just, you gotta keep going and know that your body's capable of much more than you probably think it is capable of. [00:07:02] Paige Onweller: Yeah, for sure. [00:07:03] Craig Dalton: So did you discover cycling at any point in that journey so far? [00:07:08] Paige Onweller: Um, I mean, you know, I would hop on a spin bike when I was injured, right? But it was always dreadful. I'm like, oh, I'd rather be running and I'm here in spin class. This is lame. Um, but you know, it was like, I didn't know any of the numbers meant, and it was always kind of a punishment for me. So, I had no idea what, you know, it was always like, What I had to do to stay in shape for running. Every time I was injured, I'd go on the bike. Um, and it was usually a stationary bike or a spin bike, but it wasn't until the pandemic, uh, so about two years ago is when I started biking outside. Um, and that was terrifying, like the clipping in for the first time. And I was like, what am I doing? You know, I'm like, this is horrendous. I'm gonna a crash. Um, let's see my, see my colleagues at the medical clinic. Um, but yeah, I think. For me, that's kind of when I first started, but it was still because I wanted to get better at running. So what I was doing is I was running like 40 to 50 miles a week, and then I would be trying to hit like, five to six hours on the bike a week as well. Um, and then I started biking more and realizing like, well, this is actually a lot of fun. And I started, you know, getting Strava kms and I was like, oh, well I'm beating these cyclists like maybe I'm, you know, pretty good at it. And I just think I started to enjoy it. But it wasn't a competitive, um, component for me. It was like just simply to get in more of. Aerobic training and cardiovascular training did benefit my running. And I did the ultra-marathon that fall. Um, and that was, so that would've been 2020 and did the ultra-marathon. So I kind of stopped biking for a little while to help with the legs. And then that, that winter I was like, okay, I'm gonna get whiffed and I'm gonna have an indoor setup because I liked biking this summer and I can do that throughout the winter. So I signed up for Zift and then, you know, a couple of local friends were like, you should do this with Community League. And I was like, oh, that sounds fun. do the community races. So I do started doing those first. When I signed up, it was like all out from the gate, um, swift, I think I dropped hard, like finished near the back and I was like, well, this is hard Um, and I was like, what am I doing? And eventually I just kept showing up and learning, you know, the tactics within thew world and then started winning the community events and that, that's kind of how I got recruited to my first pro team, um, was for eSports on Zift because of you. Essentially my raw power. Um, yeah. And that's when I first started to realize like, I'm just a competitive person and so you put me in a situation where I have the potential to win. I'm like, oh yeah, I wanna do that again, . So, uh, that's when I was like, oh, maybe I should race bikes, you know, like that, that could be fun. Um, so that's when that transition. Transition started, um, and I actually did sign up for a triathlon. I did, um, St. George, uh, 70.3 as my first, uh, triathlon. And then that was the last one I ever did, , cuz I realized biking is way better, [00:10:00] Craig Dalton: I don't wanna glance over something that I think every athlete goes through. You were also building a, another career in the background post-college. So do you wanna talk about what you've been doing professionally that has been effectively financing some of your racing endeavors in the running world, at least to date? [00:10:17] Paige Onweller: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I end up finding a lot of my cycling stuff too. Um, which, you know, I don't, we, it's a whole nother topic right there, but I don't think people understand that as much, you know, when you race pro, like they assume you have all the support. Uh, but we can get into that later. But yeah, so I work as a physician assistant. Uh, I've been a PA now eight years, and I've. Worked and practice all in acute care. Uh, so either urgent care or emergency medicine. Um, and I work for an emergency medicine group right now. Um, and I've had various roles, uh, very career driven, you know, I'm just an eager, motivated person, and so I've had. department lead roles where I'm help managing and more of an administrative role in the department. Um, so yeah, I've been a PA eight years and just a very busy person. Um, and it's, it's a great job, but medicine has changed a lot. If you talk to any medical provider, particularly some, someone that works in the ER or the urgent care, um, they will say medicine has definitely changed over the last few, few years, and part of that is covid, but we live in a very, Demanding world. And that floats over to medicine as well where patients are, uh, coming in and it's, it's not like they're always asking for medical advice, which is what we're trained to give, um, and use evidence-based medicine. It's more like demands and that can sometimes be a little exhausting. Um, cuz you know, we're there to help people and use science and, um, you know, there's a lot of stuff on the internet that patients come in and. you know, talk to us about. Um, but it's a, it's a hard job. Uh, it's very rewarding. But, you know, I've had to tell patients they have, you know, a new mask that's likely cancer. Um, you know, just today I had to tell a woman she's mis discouraging and telling her what I saw on her exam and. , you know, just helping patients process and essentially my job is if someone comes in, they have a problem and I'm supposed to fix it and make sure they're not dying. So, uh, it's rewarding, but it's also very mentally exhausting and it is, it's a hard job. [00:12:17] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I wanted to make sure to highlight that. Cause I know like many athletes as you, as you said before, like there's this aura that your name is inve and you must be having a full ride with your sponsors and all you do is train. But I think you'll probably attest that, you know, probably 90% of the pro Peloton has other jobs behind them allowing them to do these things. [00:12:40] Paige Onweller: Yeah. And you know, it's best. And I also, um, you know, I own a coaching business and I coach, um, and that has allowed me to have work that's more mobile and, you know, a little bit more relaxing work, I should say. Not as mentally demanding or physically demanding too. Cuz right now, like, I don't know if people understand, like this last year, like I still had to work my weekend requirement, which is every other weekend. or every third weekend depending on which job I was at. And so, you know, basically I would like stack my hours in the ER and urgent care work, crazy amount of hours, like 56, 50, 60 hours, you know, in a week or a little over a week. And then I'd fly to a race, race bikes for a week, come back, work in the er, urgent care. So it was like this constant yo-yo of two lives. And I knew it wasn't sustainable for too long, but I knew I could do it for one year. Like anything's tolerable. Like if you have an end. Um, and I also knew, like I had so much potential in cycling, I just hadn't had the opportunity to get the support that I needed. Um, and you have to earn that. Like, there, I never expected to have, you know, to only be able to race bikes. Like I was thinking it'd be a five year process for me to get financial support. Um, but yeah, I mean, it's, it's. very hard. And I do think, you know, for example, social media is a good example. We're posting all the positives and, and that's a good thing. We want to do that. Um, but at the end of the day, the reality is like, it's not always as glamorous as people may, you know, assume that it is. [00:14:06] Craig Dalton: Yeah, so you were just touching on your journey. You got identified as, uh, a strong athlete via the zw kind of experience. Fast forward. When did you start racing outside on a bike, you know, kind of formally. And then let's jump into how the heck you got selected for the 2022 Lifetime Grand Prix. [00:14:30] Paige Onweller: yeah, yeah. So, , I think like, and I'm sorry, I'm gonna mute my, I'm not sure if you're getting notified. Um, I apologize. I just wanna make sure that you're not getting, are you hearing the dinging on your [00:14:43] Craig Dalton: No, no, [00:14:44] Paige Onweller: Oh, you are? Okay, cool. Yeah, won't worry about that then. Um, yeah, so I first started racing bikes, um, . So I basically did, started Swift the winter of 2020 to 2021 and then I was racing the premier leg ands with, after doing all the validation testing and making sure that like, you know, I was legit and not weight doping and, and power doping and all that stuff. Um, and then so my first like main, you know, race was, um, , you know, I did some time trials, so I got an coach coaches' exception to race U s a Pro Road Nationals in 2021. So that was one of my first like main races. I did a local, uh, time trial, Willow tt, uh, before that, but really like that was one of my first outdoor races, which is, Somewhat terrifying to show up at like Pro Road Nationals and like barely riding your bike outside. Um, I didn't know how to do a U-turn. Like I just really was afraid to ride the disc. Um, had no idea what I was doing to be, to be honest. Um, and it was kind of a disappointing, I think I was 11th there, which honestly is not that bad. Um, my, my power was really good, but again, like I lost so much time in the U-turns and I really wasn't maintaining an arrow position because I think. Guarded. And you know, if you barely know how to ride a bike and then you put an 80 mill up front, a disc on the back and then tell someone to get a really aggressive TT position, you're probably not gonna hold that . So, um, I kind of, you know, I was a little jaded after that experience because I had a coach at the time that kind of. Kind of dropped me, uh, I think because I had a disappointing, um, uh, race according to them and the team that I was previously on. And that honestly like little fire under my ass, uh, pardon of my language. Um, and so I was kind of told like, well, you don't need a coach. Like you just need to learn how to ride your bike. And in my mind I'm like, well, that's why I need a coach. And so I went and hired my own coach, paid my own money. Um, and then I signed up for the biggest mass dark gravel race that I could find. And I said, gravel doesn't have all these rules, like with road. I was working a lot of weekends and I live in the Midwest. There's not access to road races to do all the category upgrades, and it just didn't make sense for me. And Gravel seemed like a good way to like try to prove myself, um, and have the opportunity to race against the guys and really show like I was strong. So sign Up for Gravel Worlds. That was August of last year. That was my very. Mass start, bike race. Um, my very first ever bike race was the March bef, uh, so the march that, uh, March in 2021, but they did Covid wave, so I really don't count that as a mass start race. Um, so I would say, yeah, August, 2021 Gravel Worlds was my first mass start race, and I kind of told myself like, okay. Don't die because I like had barely rid it in a pack before. I didn't know what I was doing. And that race also starts in a dark, so it's like dark. There's like gravel flying everywhere. You're in a pack. I'm like, I'm gonna die. Like what am I doing? Um, But I didn't die. Uh, I definitely did. Okay. I was fifth. Um, but I remember thinking like, a, I had fun. B I did decently well relative to like, my experience. And I was like dangling off the Peloton, right? Like I wasn't in the middle. I didn't know how to draft. And so there's just all these things where I was like, okay, I think there's something here. Um, and again, more importantly, like I had fun. The community was great. That event is very inclusive, and so it was just a really good. First experience. Um, and so then I signed up and I did Barry Rebe that fall, and I ended up getting second there. Um, and yeah, I kind of thought to myself, you know, maybe I have a, have a future in this. I did iceman, you know, I barely rid a mountain bike. Borrowed a mountain bike from a local guy. His name's Peter. He had messaged me. He is like, you should do this. And I'm like, what? Single track? No way. Um, so yeah, last year was kind of like my first experience without all that. And then when I heard about the lifetime Grand pr. I kind, I applied thinking like, there's no way I'll get in, but [00:18:31] Craig Dalton: And was your, was your application sort. , Hey, I was this, this runner. I had this career in running and I've transitioned. I've shown these sort of glimmers of potential already kind of thing. [00:18:43] Paige Onweller: Yeah, and I, I had just highlighted and said like, I need more opportunity to show how strong I am and I need help with that. Like, I didn't even know about race centuries. You have to register and get into the lotteries. Like, before I even knew, I didn't even know what S B T was like, I was that new. People don't understand, like I have no idea even what these races are like. And so I didn't know there was a lottery. I had never even heard of the race before now. And so yeah, I kind of entered and my application was mostly. Hey, like, I think I'm strong, but I haven't had the opportunity. I've had bad experiences. Um, I've been put down and I'm a female and, and I feel like I have an opportunity to prove myself. So I kind of, I think I framed it in that way. Um, honestly, it was like a year ago. I'm not exactly sure what I put, um, but I do remember saying like, I'm not an influencer. I barely, I think I had like, I don't know, 800, you know, Instagram followers. So I told them. I'm not here to influence. Um, I don't know if social media's important to you, but I think I'm strong. And if you look at my story, I was fifth at gravel worlds against all these people. And uh, I was second at Barry Rebe and I was top 10 at Iceman. I think there's something there, like, please give me a chance. Um, and I didn't have any expectations. Of course you want to get in, but I was out on a training ride with a friend. I remember checking my email and I, I remember getting in and being like, oh no, I gotta buy a mountain bike. No. Like I was, you know, what did I get myself into? Um, so that was like very, very scary, if I'm being honest. Uh, and I was also working, um, and so I was worried about fitting everything in. Um, I was on a gravel. for this last year. So I did not have any mountain bike support. I had to source my own bike, pay for my own bike, uh, you know, all of that stuff. So yeah, I was like very excited I got in, but I was also scared and recognizing like I had to fund the mountain bike portion of my season. Um, but I also knew like worst case scenario, I would just really get experience in learning and I just am so new that I needed that experience. So of course I was gonna give it a whirl, [00:20:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Amazing. And obviously the Lifetime Grand Prix is a variety of different races, as you noted, both mountain bike and gravel cycling. How did you feel sort of at Sea Otter kicking off the year? There's a bunch of single track there. You have to get pretty aggressive to sort of do well in a race like that to get out and get, get out in front and be able to stay out in front [00:21:09] Paige Onweller: Yeah. And Sea Otter was horrible if I'm being totally transparent. Uh, so to put things into perspective, uh, my very first time riding a mountain bike was that fall, like that October, 2021. And then I live in Michigan, so I have no mountains here to train. We have the winters and so sea otter's in April and our trails like, really aren't that rideable. Um, and so I went to see ot. with like very minimal experience. Um, and I remember going there on a pre ride, um, and I literally crashed, I think it was like four, three or four times on the one pre ride and I broke my fork. Um, thankfully the guys at Fox replaced it for me. It was incredible. Um, but the reality is like, I remember crying on the sideline of the trail thinking. what am I doing? Like, I, I can't do this. Like, I can't even pre ride and stay upright. There's no way I can race in, in this course. immediately, I had to change perspective and say like, I can't view this as a race. I'm a very competitive person. If I view this as a race, like I will be competitive. So in my mind, I said, Seattle's gonna be my wash race. I'm just gonna do this as a skills day. Like literally view it as a skills day. Stay upright. Don't ruin your whole season. And then drop the race and you'll be fine. And so, um, yeah, I'm not gonna lie, I hated it. It was not a fun race for me because like, I just, you know, the descending, like the climbs, gimme a climb any, any day I will climb my heart out. I love climbing. My power to weight ratio is great. So climbs I excel at. But the reality is like you climb, you pass a bunch of people and those same people are passing you, not pedaling, doesn't make you feel the greatest. And [00:22:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I feel like many people who are listening may not be mountain bikers or have mountain bike racing experience, and it is definitely different being out there on the single track. And it's amazing, you know, if you're just not comfortable with the single, with the flow of the single track, or going fast through single track on the descents, make you nervous. [00:23:06] Paige Onweller: Right, [00:23:06] Craig Dalton: is like, you know, minutes and tens of minutes of time that can be lost versus someone who's just has the experience to be comfortable and, and let the bike flow. [00:23:15] Paige Onweller: For sure, for sure. And I don't think people realize like the type of mountain biking definitely changes. Like I was used to like tacky dirt in the Midwest, um, on our trails in the woods in sc Otter, it's like rock with like kitty litter and like you can't corner the same way you would in the Midwest. And so. , I think like pros that have been writing many years and have all these experiences across different terrains, like really have that knowledge. Um, and for me, like that was the first time I'm like, why am I going down? Like I know I'm cornering the right body position. Like I studied this. Um, and then I'm just like, oh, well it's totally different terrain. It's, you know, then someone said, oh, you're writing on kitty litter. I'd never heard that term before. Um, and I was like, yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense. [00:23:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I always, I thought that was interesting when the Lifetime Grand Prix came up and, and I understood the type of racing they were gonna have the athletes do, because it really does require that you've got a full bag of tricks. So it's interesting, you know, and I, I'm interested as we fast forward through this conversation at the end of 22, like, you know, how your skillsets have evolved and your comfort level, and as we go into 23, what that means for. Potential in these races. But so you start off at Sea Otter, have some ups and downs there, and then I forget what's next in the calendar. But why don't you quickly walk us through some of the other racing through the [00:24:31] Paige Onweller: Yeah. Yeah. So Seattle Oter. Um, and then unfortunately after Seattle Oter, uh, I was really gunning for Unbound. Unbound suits me very well, that course profile and like my power strengths and how I ride. Um, so Unbound was like the big priority of the race. Um, and I had like set a goal to podium at Unbound, um, top three. And so I was like, okay, like this is gonna be a good year, unbounds of my race. This is right up my skillset. And I was out on a training ride back in April and ended up crashing. Um, a cross wind kind of took me out in a really loose section. It was not ideal. Ended up having to have, uh, surgery to remove, uh, like a surgical debridement of my left knee cuz of all the gravel debris. Um, and that really set me back. I had like a month of like minimal to no riding and that my leg was immobilized and non-weightbearing. And so, Yeah, going into Unbound, I had been off the bike for like, literally a whole month and I started riding like, uh, three weeks, three or four weeks before Unbound. And so I was really trying to say like, I just need to not do Unbound. Um, but I also knew, like I have very little experience with Mass Start races and I know Unbound is very chaotic in the beginning, and so I kind of told myself, do the. Go all out, like you would act like you're in shape, behave like you're in shape, race, like you're in shape, knowing that I probably will blow up and that's fine, but I, I wanted that experience and then I would just, you know, maybe a miracle would happen and I'd pull it together. But, um, I mostly did it because I knew I needed the experience with a ma start. So, uh, showed up with very, very, very little fitness. Um, and then also a little bit like scared because after you have a crash with a surgery like. You know, you're very, you're a little bit more timid and I'm already timid at that point, So that was a challenge in itself just to show up and race. So, ended up getting through and I, I did fairly well. I started off a little bit more conservatively, then I started checking it off people, but then I totally bonked. Um, and it was like so painful, a painful death. And then I ended up crashing, like. at mile one 30 and hurt the knee. That, and so anyways, I, I ended up DN Fing at Unbound and I had never DN FD a race before. Um, so that was Unbound and then, then I was like, okay, crusher's next and starting to get fitness back. Um, then I got covid like two weeks before, um, crusher and I have asthma. I did not do well with Covid. I got very sick. that derailed, trailing or training yet again. So I showed up to Crusher, was like, do I do this? Do I not do this? You know, I was like, do it for the experience. Uh, ended up, you know, not doing very well there. I think I was like 15 through 18th or something like that. And so at that point my season just was not going very well and I was racing pretty poorly. I was like, do I even finish out the Grand Prix series? Like. , this is costing money for me. Like a time, like I'm taking all this time off of work to go to these events and travel. Um, and I was just struggling mentally, like just really wasn't happy with where I was at. Um, and so I actually kind of did something different and I went and did a ran nearing event and ran nearing is basically, um, , I don't know if you're familiar with it or not, but it's not a race. It's like ultra endurance cycling where you show up and the camaraderie is the main goal of the event, not competition. And a close friend of mine in training partner was doing a 750 miler. So basically we you ride from New York up to Montreal, then back to New York again. And so. . I was like, this seems kind of wild, but I just needed something different to remove, like the disappointment of having a poor season. And so I ended up doing that for him, just thinking it'd be a good mental reset, get me in shape, you know, for the rest of the year. But it was like 10 days before Leadville. So uh, I had like a 33 hour week, uh, leading into to Leadville. Not an ideal taper. Uh, you know, I joke and I call that the anti taper. Um, but it really was the mental reset that I needed. And I think too many times people set a calendar at the beginning of the year, especially pro riders because there's a lot on the line for us. The sponsors need to know, you know, there's, we plan our whole year around this and I think there needs to be some flexibility because you don't know what's gonna happen in eight months, six months, or whatever case may be. And for me, I knew my mental, where I was at mentally. Is going to impact where I finished in a race more than what people I think recognize. And so for me that mental reset at that event was really, really important. I showed up to Leadville with the anti taper as I talk about, and ended up doing really well. I was seventh there. And then, um, s B T was a bit of a struggle, I think just because of all the subsequent fatigue, uh, in the earlier weeks, and then ended up getting fourth, that lead boat. Um, and that's when I started to feel like my normal self again. I said, okay. Performance is getting back to where I think it should be. And, uh, I was starting to feel like I was racing again. Leadville was hard just because of the descending, and I'm not used to that. Um, and I've never raced a altitude either, so that was like a whole nother animal in itself. Um, yeah, so that was kind of through the summer and then, Schwa again, was after that, and Schwa again was a Med Fest. I've barely, I've barely ridden in any mud. You know, I've, there's a lot of racing, uh, that I haven't done, um, in a variety of conditions, but I felt like I always joke and say, schwa again was my very first CY Lacrosse race. And that's what it felt like to me. I was like, if I were to ever do cycl cost, this is what I would imagine it'd be like, except on skinnier tires. Um, ended up crashing at Schwam again, no surprise there because it was so muddy and I don't have that experience. Um, but I, I fought my way back, you know, fell off the group and then time trialed my way back and motor mooted through, you know, the chorus as much as I can and got seventh there. Um, so still a respectable finish [00:30:16] Craig Dalton: Yeah, very much so. Even on the ones that you said were, you know, like, oh, I, you know, didn't do that well or went in with a light mentality like you were consistently performing, you know, you weren't maybe knocking on the door of the podium on any of these yet. [00:30:28] Paige Onweller: Right. [00:30:29] Craig Dalton: but you, you were up there. [00:30:30] Paige Onweller: Yeah. Yeah. And I was kind of like, that's why I always joke, you know, before big sugar, you know, I did that, uh, news article with Vela News that I was kind of the dark horse because I was kind of like there under the radar. And you know, the unfortunate part with this sport and with any support is that like you really don't get the attention unless you're winning. Right. Um, and you know, there's some exceptions to that and there's, there's nothing wrong with that. Um, but I do think there's a lot of really strong athletes that are like consistent. , you know, performing quite well. Um, but they might not get the spotlight as as much. Um, and so for me, like, you know, I was. Okay. You know, I just, you know, this is something I'm always struggling with too, is just to be happy with what you have that day. Um, because I'm always, I'm always wanting more. Right. Um, and some of that is knowing what I'm capable of. And part of that is like wanting to prove, like, Who I am and what I, what my worth is in this sport. Mostly because I had, I had some rejection last year. My very first, you know, year in the sport, I was rejected by, you know, someone that I respected and I looked up to, and that was my coach. And then, you know, so I think like that kind of always had stayed with me a bit. Um, you know, and I admit that, you know, And I don't know if I should admit that, but I think there is some truth to that. And, and as an athlete, you need to assess like where the drive is coming from and you need to make sure it's from a healthy place. Um, so I did a lot of that this year in making sure that like, I wanna win because it's for me. Um, and not having anything to prove either. And I say that like I had had to prove myself, had to prove myself. I think I'm at a place now. I know what I'm capable of and other people know that too. Um, but in gravel it's such an unpredictable sport that you can be there, you can have the legs for the, for the win, but it doesn't mean that you're going to win. Um, [00:32:22] Craig Dalton: I think, yeah, I think as you go back to races every year the weather conditions can change. You can have a mechanical, you can have nutritional issues. There's so many things that can go wrong in these long events that it's, it's really, it's hard to keep going and cuz you always know, it's like something went wrong. I'm sure even in like a great day, winning big sugar, something still went long wrong along the way that you had to cure and keep. [00:32:46] Paige Onweller: for sure. Yeah. I think the biggest thing is, uh, you just have to be really good at losing . And, uh, I always, you know, in setting goals, I kind of tell myself I wanna be in the position to podium or the position to win. Knowing like if I tell myself, well, I wanna win, most people aren't gonna win. And even the best athletes, like, you're, you're not gonna win. Um, but if you set the goal that you wanna be in a position to win, then it's a little bit different because, . Yeah. Like I said, you have to be good at losing, and if you're not, , you're not gonna be sustainable in the sport long term. Like, I'm not here to race for one or two more years, like I'm here to race for another 10 years. And so you need to have the right mindset and be okay with those losses and, uh, be happy with what you brought to the table on those days. And, and that's not easy for someone that's competitive and. At my level, like I'm not a magical, you know, unicorn. Like we're all this way, we're all competitive, we all wanna win. And so I think the athletes that maybe have a more sustainable future in the sport, um, have a little bit better mindset or healthier mindset with, with or losing. [00:33:50] Craig Dalton: When you looked at that big sugar course in Bentonville, Arkansas, was that something you were naturally drawn to, that it was a course you could do well at? [00:33:59] Paige Onweller: Yeah, I mean, I think the rolling hills are good. Um, I had heard that course was a little scary with the off-camera descending. Um, and I actually re-wrote all of the course, uh, on the days leading up to it. Um, and I remember. You know, as I'm going through the course, um, thinking the course actually wasn't suited for me, uh, because of the descending. Uh, so looking at it on paper, I liked the climbs. I thought, you know, the course could do well with my strengths. Um, but then when I was out there pre-writing and I pre-rolled with like my, uh, friend John, and he just like bombs down, you know, the, the descents. And I'm like trailing a minute back and I'm like, oh my goodness. Like if this is how it is in a race, like there's no way I'm gonna win. So I remember kind of having some moments of panic during the pre ride. Um, so my goal and mindset completely changed in how I approached the race. Um, so I was like, well, if I know my descending is the weakness, then I wanna be at the front of all the descending so I can pick my line and people can go around me. Um, cuz it's easy to be a timid to sender and say, well, I don't wanna block anyone. I'll just, you know, enter from the back. So I don't get in any way anyone's way. But for me, I said no, like, I'm gonna push the uphills and then that way I would mitigate any losses, uh, on the time, on the descending. Um, but what I'm learning, and, and I don't know if this is relatable to other athletes, is for whatever reason, I'm a very different writer on race day and I do things on race day that I could never replicate in training. Um, or I haven't figured out how to replicate in training. And I think that's because I'm just very competitive and I do take more risk. and then you just kind of let the bike do its thing and you trust the process. And so on race day, like I really wasn't, I was descending quite well, much better than what I did on the pre rides. Um, but there's also a lot , you know, on a line too, so, [00:35:54] Craig Dalton: yeah, yeah. So, so, you know, one of the big things that weekend was that there was a forecast for heavy winds that did materialize. Did that go through your mind at any point, and did you make a calculation that that was a particularly good thing or bad thing for you? [00:36:11] Paige Onweller: Yeah, so whenever the race gets harder for a longer period of time, that will almost always benefit me, um, because I, the harder the day, the longer the day, the better. . And so, uh, when I saw the forecast and saw the wind, um, I, I liked that. I was like, yes, bring it on. Especially the headwind for the last 40 miles. I was like, uh, bring it on. Like, make it heavier winds. That's great. Um, so I, I liked that and I, I think that's important to. Have that mindset because how you think about things in a race or leading into a race will impact how you approach it. And so people that dread headwind or complain about it or maybe have a more negative mindset, um, maybe they don't do as well. I don't know. That's just my theory. Um, so I ended up making a move pretty early and it was risky, like without a doubt because I was with a pretty solid group of most of like the lead. and then I left that group to ride with one other person, one other person, one other guy came with me. And what ended up working in my favor is that we were both very strong and motivated to like keep going. And so we started picking up all these men that were falling off the league group. Um, and good strong guys like. You know, famous pro gravel guys. Um, and I just remember like the group kind of swelling and, um, that really benefited me into the, into the headwind section. So oftentimes, like if you're with a group and you leave them into a headwind, like it's a risk because you're with a smaller group, but then all the people that you just passed now catch back up to you. That's a possibility. Um, but I also knew at that point, like I was feeling pretty good. So if I had to like buckle down and just, you know, solo TT. Maybe I could have pulled that off. But the reality is like it worked out well and we started catching other men off the leads group and you know that that seemed to work well. And in gravel, like I'm sure you've maybe experienced this, like your group is really dependent on how you do and so, , sometimes you're with a group and we're all working well together and especially in wind sections, you know, having that even rotation, someone peeling off and not having this yo-yo of pace. Um, and the group I was with was doing, doing well with that and that helped. [00:38:28] Craig Dalton: yeah, yeah. Absolutely. That was huge for me that weekend as well. I just got, I happened to make a selection early on through one of the pinch points in the early port of the. And then I just happened to be with congenial, well-working simpatico people, and I was burying myself to stay with them because I knew, to your point, like if I was off by myself, it was gonna be a dramatically different day. And sort of as it turned out, I, like, I finished way ahead of where I ever would've predicted. I would've finished simply because of a, a coup couple good decisions, a decent amount of effort, but also a lot of just good luck of riding with people. [00:39:05] Paige Onweller: yeah, yeah. And like you said, like sometimes you do bury yourself and. That last hour of that race was really challenging for me, um, cuz I was at my limit. And um, I just remember thinking like, if you fall off, it's gonna suck a lot more than what it's doing. What, what is sucking right now? ? So I just remember thinking like, hang on, hang on just a little longer. Um, yeah. And I remember like Ted King kind of like made an attack, like, I don't know how many miles we were from the finish and I was just like, yep, see you later, . I was like, there's no way I'm going with any, anyone that makes any move right now. . But it's also hard cuz I didn't have any time gaps. Like I had no idea. And I remember thinking like going into the finish and I hadn't really seen a lot of media cars in the last half too. And so, . I remember thinking, I was like, is there something else in front of me? Like, do I put my hands up across the line? Like, did I really, am I really winning? Like I, I knew in my mind I was, but yeah, it's sometimes really hard cuz you're like, not thinking straight. You're working so hard. No one's told you you're in first, like, you know, an actual official or something like that. And yeah, like the lack of media and, and time gaps like sometimes. You don't really know, um, because we're not like the men where there's no other rider in front of us. There's all these men. And so it can get really confusing for the females. Um, and, and I get bummed about that sometimes. I think there's some opportunity for races to improve what that looks like. You know, a, a lead moto car for the women, right? Perfect example. Um, you know, that sort of stuff. I think there's some room for improvement there. [00:40:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Interesting. So when, when you crossed the finish line and someone confirms that you are indeed the first place women athlete, uh, how did you feel? I mean, you had a whole season where things weren't coming together necessarily. What was that like? [00:40:48] Paige Onweller: Yeah, I mean it felt so good. Like I, you know, I kind of like, I think I remember joking with a friend, I was like, you know, if, if I win I'll thank you for picking up my groceries or something. And you know, I think they probably chuckled like, yeah, you're not gonna win. And I just remember like, just being, I felt validating like these are things I knew I was capable of having a big win this year. Um, and you know, some of those beliefs are, things that I've learned and observed in racing, like knowing that I'm, that I'm strong and, and seeing and feeling that, but for me, like it just felt so validating to get that whim. But I also, like no one else really knew the struggles that I had during the year. I mean, some people that follow my process, but when you look at race results, you don't know, like she just had surgery a month ago, or she had covid 10 days ago. You just think they have a bad race and. , what I've learned this year is that race results do not tell the whole story. And so for me, like the wind was great and I'm sure a lot of people would be like, yeah, big breakthrough race, you know, she got lucky or good for her. But the reality is like it's so much deeper than that. And like those. , you know, feelings like are so personal and really the only people that know that are like, the people are closest to you and your family. And so I just remember being overwhelmed and like immediately wanting to call my family and talk to my sisters and my mom and dad and, and just, yeah, just felt so good. Um, and I was excited. Like I knew, like I had raced a little differently. I raced more aggressively and I came up with a plan and I stuck to it. And I wasn't afraid to like make the moves. And I think before like I was maybe more timid and more reactive to how I raced and you know, that was like eye-opening for me. So I remember thinking as I finished. I think I learned how to ride my bike today, . So, um, and what I mean by that is like just being more ballsy and when you make a move, you stick to it. Um, . So it made me really excited. Like I immediately wanted to be like, is it 2023 yet? Can I race more? You know, everyone's like tired and they want the season to be over and I'm just like getting started, you know? Um, so I remember just being, you know, validated, excited. Um, yeah, I just, I just felt really good. Um, but of course, like, you know, you get pulled away to get a drug test. I didn't have my phone, like I didn't eat after for a while and anyways. , it was a, a blur after that. Um, yeah. And then for me, it's like you win a big bike race and it's like this huge career defining moment for me to win big sugar. And then it's like immediately fly back and then go to work in the er. And you know, it's like people in the er, like they don't, they don't know what big sugar is. They don't even know that I was gone racing bikes. And so I just go back to work, see patients and blah, da da da, da, and then try to deal with all these sponsor, you know, decisions for next year. So it was like two worlds and um, yeah. , definitely an adjustment coming back home. [00:43:37] Craig Dalton: That's crazy and exciting and I'm glad I was able to witness it and I'm glad I was able to revisit it with you. Now, so you talked about your eagerness for 2023. I'm not sure exactly when this will post, but probably in January of 2023, I just saw the announcement that you've signed on board for another year of the Grand Prix. [00:43:57] Paige Onweller: Yeah. Yeah. So put my name in the hat. Uh, year two of the Lifetime Grand Prix. Um, so yeah, got accepted into that. So they upped the ante a bit with 35 athletes for the women and 35 for the men. Um, they seem to have a good lineup. And yeah, I mean that series really gave me a good opportunity and I really feel like Lifetime is trying to. make some good changes, some positive changes. Uh, it's the most competitive female, uh, pro Peloton. You know, you go to other races and you don't see the depth of women that the lifetime events are bringing. So that to me is like, if I'm racing, I wanna race against the best. Um, and I love that. So that's been awesome. They're also trying to make sure that this is a, a. Sport by doing drug testing and they're gonna be increasing that. And I very much support that. I think that's awesome. Um, and so, yeah, I just think there's so many positives that, uh, lifetime Grand Prix series is bringing in and, you know, it's not perfect. Nothing is, uh, but they're willing to listen to the athletes and get input and, you know, hopefully I can be a part of the change that's happening in American. [00:45:05] Craig Dalton: You must be happy that you did gut it out and attend all the events, so now you have at least a bit of knowledge of what those courses look like, et cetera. [00:45:14] Paige Onweller: yeah, for sure. For sure. [00:45:16] Craig Dalton: And then they have added a seventh event that they haven't announced. That's gonna be a wild card. And the fact that you can drop two events, does that meaningfully change the way you approach the season, those variables, or do you think it more is just an accommodation? That stuff happens to athletes along the way, and it's just giving a little bit more of a breathing room for, you know, getting covid, having a crash, et [00:45:39] Paige Onweller: right. Yeah. I think if you would've asked me that question last year, you know, I very much had the mindset of this is the race dropping and these are the ones I'm doing well at. But I think at this level of racing, like you better bring your A game to all seven and then like you're probably not, you're gonna get a flat or mechanical or an illness. So my mindset is to race hard, there will be races that will be more important to me personally, that I'll target. Uh, but for the most part, you know, I'll definitely, um, you know, target all of them and then, you know, just stuff just happens. Um, but you know, for example, sea Otter, like that's not gonna be an a race for me. Like, you know, I'll probably do the road event the day before. Um, that's, you know, it's just not going to be something that I'm gonna aim to win because of my lack of skillset. Now, will I do better than last, last year? Heck yeah. And I'm gonna have a skills coach that I'm working with this winter, and I'll be out in California and I pre-read the course a lot more. And there's all these things that I will prepare myself to be better than I was last year. But knowing like, you know, I only can go so far in one year, so, [00:46:43] Craig Dalton: Yeah, you talked about the rush of kind of, uh, talking to sponsors and media attention that happened after Big Sugar. I know you're not able to kind of reveal your sponsor program for 2023, but is it safe to say that it's expanded? You're gonna have more opportunities, a little bit more time and energy to focus and less stress on, uh, the rest of your life, so to speak. [00:47:07] Paige Onweller: Yeah, for sure. Like, as we talked about earlier, like I've been juggling a lot this year and it's been very difficult. Um, even though I act like I'm handling myself well, like it's been a struggle a lot of the time. So I am excited that in 2023, um, I will no longer be working as a pa. I will be racing bikes full-time and I'm extremely grateful to the, all the sponsors that I'll be bringing on board. That see my potential and wanna invest in, in what I'm potentially capable of doing. Um, cuz I am a new writer and um, you know, I think, you know, there's other people in this sport that may have the level of support that I'm going to be having, that have been doing this a very long time. And so I don't take for granted that these are sponsors that. See potential in me. Um, you can't just win one bike race and expect that, you know, you're gonna be able to race full-time and, and have that support. Um, so yeah, I'm very excited about that. Um, my last day in the ER is January 3rd, and then, yeah, I'll drive directly to California after that to escape the winter snow here in Michigan. Um, and get some big training blocking and yeah, start, uh, start learning more in 2020. [00:48:13] Craig Dalton: That's so amazing and congratulations for that all coming together. It's just gotta mean so much to just have the opportunity to kind of go after it in 23 and really see what your potential is. [00:48:25] Paige Onweller: Yeah, no, I am excited and, and I'll be doing a private tier program and I think what I love about it is that the, you get to work directly with the sponsors and, um, , you have input into products and equipment and um, you know, you feel like you have a voice and you work with people that you respect and value, and it just feels like a family. Um, it already has felt that way with me, uh, for the sponsors that I'll be working with and. I'm just excited. And the other part of that is that when you are privateering, like you have a platform for advocating for what you believe in. And, you know, I wanna race well, but I also have some goals off the bike too. And, um, I think those are important for me to start building towards in the cycling world. Um, so it's just fun to have that freedom and opportunity to, to work with brands that believe in that too. [00:49:15] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's awesome. Well, I'll certainly be following along with you in 2023, and I think you've got a lot of new fans that wanna see. How you're gonna do out there. So best of luck. The conversation was a lot of fun. And again, I wish you all the best. [00:49:30] Paige Onweller: Thank you. Thank you. [00:49:32] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Paige for joining us. We wish her all the best in the 2023 season as usual. The women's lifetime grand Prix is setting up to be one of the more exciting series to watch and follow throughout the year. If you're interested in connecting with me, I encourage you to join the ridership. That's www.theridership.com. That's a free global cycling community to connect with other gravel cyclists around the world. If you're able to support the podcast. Please visit, buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Or ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated and a great way for other gravel cyclists to discover the podcast. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels  

    Ben Brainard - Shasta Gravel Hugger

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2022 36:12


    This week we sit down with event organizer, Ben Brainard to discuss the Shasta Gravel Hugger. Founded in 2020, this March event in Northern California has proven to be a great season opener for many gravel cyclists. Episode Sponsor:  Hammerhead Karoo 2 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 show. We welcome Ben Bernard, the founder of the Shasta gravel hugger event in Northern California taking place in March each year for the last four years. It's become a real great early season option. For those of you looking to test your metal in the early parts of the year and not able to go out to some of the Midwest gravel races, like the mid south. Ben has a real interesting approach to the race. He's got a great area to play with around Mount Shasta. If you've never been there before, it's a real amazing. Landmark. In the region, if you're driving, say from San Francisco up to Oregon, you pass through the town of Mount Shasta and then around on the north side of the mountain and the views are absolutely spectacular. I've got a number of friends from Marin county who love this event and have been up on a number of occasions. As Ben will describe the weather sometimes plays a factor in the event and really dramatically affects your choice of equipment for this early season race. Before we jump in i need to thank this week sponsor hammerhead and the hammerhead caru to computer this ad read for my friends at hammerhead is very timely. As I literally just got in my inbox, my email for my latest. Software update. The hammerhead crew. Two's the most advanced GPS cycling computer available today. With industry leading mapping navigation and routing capabilities. That set us apart from other GPS options. So you can explore with confidence and on the go flexibility. That keeps getting underscored every single time I get one of these software updates, because I know the team at hammerhead are a listening. And be working and pushing out responses. So I love that about the crew to the crew too. If you don't know, it's got a touch screen display that's intuitive and responsive and full color. So your navigation experience is more like a smartphone than that, of a typical GPS device. You can see your data more clearly than ever. While also withstanding rugged conditions since it's water and scratch resistance. I've talked about the hammerheads climber feature with predictive path technology before. It allows you to visualize and prepare for upcoming gradient changes in real time. With or without the root loaded. I love this when going to gravel events, because I'm someone who just, I like to know if I'm going to sit in and grind or whether I should try to power over something. Because it's a short climb. This is all available in real time on the crew too. That's why I trust it as my head unit this year and I will do so again, next year. Hammerhead has been previously named bicycling magazines, editor choice, award. In the GPS cycling category. So you don't need to take my word for it. For a limited time, our listeners can get a free heart rate monitor strap with the purchase of a hammerhead crew to simply visit hammerhead.io right now. And use the promo code, the gravel ride at checkout. Someone in the ridership mentioned to me that the way to get the e-commerce system work is go ahead and put the hammerhead crew two in your cart first. And then add the heart rate monitor, and that coupon code, the gravel ride. After the fact to make sure you don't run into any hiccups. And hopefully. You can get a new hammerhead to computer in front of you for your next year's riding endeavors. With all that said let's jump right into my conversation with ben [00:04:04] Craig: Ben. Welcome to the gravel ride podcast. Cast [00:04:07] Ben: Thanks for having me. It's, it's an honor. [00:04:09] Craig: I'm excited. I, you know, Shasta being not dramatically far away from my, from where I live and certainly a place that I've been before, ever since I started seeing the Shasta gravel hugger on the calendar. I've been excited to talk to you cuz it's a beautiful area and I wanna learn, learn more about the event. [00:04:27] Ben: Excellent. You got it. It is a beautiful area. I've just loved going, riding my bike down there, especially in the winter, as I've said before this time of year it is, it is perfect. We got great smooth roads and the weather is usually pretty stinking good except for on race day. Yeah. I wanna [00:04:43] Craig: step back and talk about that a little bit later. But before we get get into the race itself, why don't we just learn a little bit about yourself? How did you find your way into that region? How'd you find your way to gravel cycling? . [00:04:55] Ben: Yeah, I've been in the valley here for I guess about 22 years. The Rogue Valley that is, so I'm, I'm north of where the race is by about a 45 minute drive. You know, like most people work brought us here. And then I got immersed in, in work for several years and, and finally when that led up a little bit, Picked up my bike about, you know, from, from a young age I was riding bikes, but, but not racing bikes. And about 12 years ago I started racing and then slowly found my way into gravel and then yeah, eventually promotion. It's crazy. So, [00:05:34] Craig: so to set the context for our listeners, I've been up to Shasta, I've been north of Shasta. On my way to Bend, I think is what normally I go by Shasta and, and, and continue up that road. It's a pretty rural part of Northern California. So can you des just sort of describe the area and maybe paint a picture for, you know, what brings people there? What's the sort of the economic engine of the region, et cetera. [00:05:59] Ben: Yeah, I would say timber is what developed this area. And, and so, so that's the main thing. We've seen less and less timber. I. In this area, you know, the mills have kind of dwindled down to where there's, you know, one big one or something. And, and so I would say now this particular area is recreation is a big, a big thing. And then secondary would be tourism yeah, tourism. And, and I just slipped me, what was the, the other one I was gonna say. But but yeah, it's a beautiful area and it's a great place to visit. . Yeah, [00:06:33] Craig: certainly Mount Shasta. I guess I first became aware of it because of the mountain at Mount Shasta and the desire to climb it and go up. It, it's just sort of, it's an attainable, quote unquote mountaineering experience for a lot of people. And I know they've got, you know, a great outfitter right there in, in, in downtown Mount Shasta to help you get up the mountain. And that's where I first got exposed to it and mm-hmm. , it was clear. Obviously there's a lot of wilderness around that area. I stopped there once on my mountain bike on the way home from Ben to explore a little bit, but just kind of got the, the tip of the iceberg for what the terrain is around there. When you think about like where you live now and around Shasta itself, how would you describe the, the, the gravel biking terrain that. [00:07:18] Ben: Yeah. Oh man. We have so many gravel roads. So, you know, I live just over the border in Oregon in the rogue Valley. And our gravel roads are for the most part, very pristine, like very well developed gravel roads. The problem we have around here is they almost all go up the side of a mountain. And so, , they're great roads to ride in the summer, but in the wintertime, you're gonna, you're gonna bump into, into snow pretty early on and get turned around a lot of the time. And so that's what led me to, to going down into the Shasta area because I, I can ride these awesome gravel roads the strata Bianchi roads and, and, and stay below, let's say 3000 feet most of the time. And that way I, I can, I can stay outta the. Interesting. [00:08:06] Craig: Yeah, that it, it didn't dawn on me that actually Shasta would have better weather than where you are. [00:08:13] Ben: Yeah, it's, I would say it has a few more sunny days in this area. I mean, I could, I could have drizzle here, go up over the Siskiyou, pass in, into Siskiyou County and, and voila, it's a sunny day. It's, yeah, it's quite a bit about the weather in the wintertime, especially. . [00:08:30] Craig: Interesting. So you mentioned you sort of rediscovered the bicycle about a dozen years ago, and eventually during that path you started riding off road. Was that by virtue of the fact that there's just so many dirt roads around where you [00:08:42] Ben: were? Yeah, well, I, I would say that I found gravel and dirt roads from a good friend Tom Neland, who started putting on the honey badge Arise, which are, are are pretty fun event around here. A free event. And he's the one that introduced me to the gravel roads in the Mount Shasta area. So I had, I had an old Hardtail mountain bike that I used for commuting, and they had some, I don't know, two inch slicks on it or something like that. 26 er. And, and I went to one of his honey Badger rides, which they kind of focus. unique courses and, and gravel. And and that's how I found the gravel bike. And from there it was just riding cross bikes. And I actually been, I, geez, I guess three or four years that I've been racing gravel pretty seriously. I mean, as. as a primary source for, for my events that I attend. And, but I got my first gravel bike this last year. It's right here behind me. But most of the roads around here are so nice that a cross bike is absolutely fine. I mean, if you don't need to go beyond 30 fives [00:09:48] Craig: usually. Yeah. Yeah. So there's a, a quite a big leap between finding a love of riding gravel bikes and riding on dirt roads to creating an event. , what made you decide to take that leap? And remind me when the first Shaster gravel hugger event was? [00:10:06] Ben: The first event was in 2000, March of 2000. So, it's four years. This next year will be our fourth year of putting, no, [00:10:14] Craig: 2020, sorry. Yeah, 2020 was the first [00:10:16] Ben: one. Yeah. Yeah. 2020. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. And it's grown steadily ever since. [00:10:21] Craig: and was the first one. Did you just sort of put it out there, Hey, come one, come all, or did you put a little organization, a lot of organization behind it? [00:10:30] Ben: Yeah. You know, in 2020 there were some, some big rides, obviously some big races, and, and I was drawn to those events and so I'm like, well, geez, we have these beautiful roads here. You know, we need an. In this region, they're, of which they're, you'd have to go to Bend to get a gravel race or, or, or, or the Grasshopper series in Northern California, which are still several hours south of here. And so, so yeah, I just decided that these, these roads kind of reminded me of the strata Bianca Roads, these beautiful white crush granite roads. , wanted to mimic the, the Strata Bianchi and the Peru Bay. That was the original plan, but we had a couple promoters around here and they like to put on events and, and, and like small little local events, and I wanted to try to make this more of a regional national type of event. And so I figured. Someone that had the passion for, and the vision for this particular type of a race probably should be at the helm. And so I decided, you know, the whole, I guess I'll do it myself kind of a thing. And, and it, it must take off. So it's great. And did you, was it [00:11:40] Craig: always sitting in early March as the time it was held? [00:11:44] Ben: Yeah. I originally had plans to, to call it strata something, you know, mimicking the strata Bianchi roads. But eventually I just didn't want the conflict with that particular race. And it's on the same exact day as strata Bianchi. And so we kind of, I wanted to put it early in the year because as we all know, as the summer goes on, the race counter gets more and more competi. This particular week is one week ahead of Midsouth. I did not want to try to go up against the Midsouth. If I'm trying to be a a national type race, then, then, then you wouldn't automatically go up against Midsouth. Yeah. And so I kind of placed it on the calendar right here for those two reasons originally. And, and then the third thing is when, when I was training riding turbos in, in the, in the winter. , I wanted to get out and do an early event. You know, like even if you're just, you know, doing some base work or something like that, you still kind of want to go out and test yourself and, and, and this is perfect. It, it, it fit into how it, it fit in exactly to a spot that I would want a race personally. Yeah. So, yeah. That's kind of, that [00:12:51] Craig: makes a lot of sense how either there, yeah. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. Like I know any Wouldbe race organizer at this point, there's gravel events throughout the. And to your point, like if you want to create an event that can occupy a little bit more of a national profile and kind of be a destination, that early season spot is one that's open and granted, not everybody's gonna have the wherewithal to go to Mid-South, but it certainly has the name and. The recognition and sponsors that is gonna draw a lot of athletes and not head going head-to-head with it, but also similarly for recreational athletes. Providing that early season goal and opportunity I think makes a ton of sense with that March date. As I've seen pictures over the years. , you have experienced some dramatic weather. Can you kind of describe kind of the, you know, just the many different personalities the course can have based on the weather conditions? [00:13:49] Ben: Yeah. Like I've said, this area has fantastic weather in the wintertime, but we have been, I don't blessed cursed. I don't know what, but we. all three years that we've had the race so far, we've had snow on course at some point, you know, and so year number one was probably the worst year if you ask me. It was cold, it was raining at the start, and then by the time we got to the highest point of the race, there was snow on the ground. So you dig back in the photos of, of that first race and, and it, and it was pretty sloppy and, and and. The next year we had snow overnight, but it was a beautiful sunny day and it just created these just in incredible pitchers. The course was good except for, you know, the infamous Jeep Trail, which which was just saturated actually, and so it, it, it didn't have a chance to dry out, but But these roads, for the most part, with the exception of this Jeep Road, east Louis Jeep Road, that seems to be pretty famous in this race. The roads hold up to all kinds of weather, so well the majority of 'em are gonna be just if you get some rain in the week ahead. They are faster than most pavement roads. So they're big, wide open county maintained gravel roads that are really smooth. Most of the. [00:15:07] Craig: Yeah, I was, when I was on the Shasta Gravel hugger website, I was looking at the tire recommendations as I often do for, for travel events. And you made mention like totally capable in a, in a dry ish road, gravel day 30 twos to 37. You're, you're, you're all good. Mm-hmm. . But if it's actually wet on the course, all of a sudden it's a different. [00:15:29] Ben: Yeah. We have, we've had road bikes do well, so Luke lamp party came up here and raced on a road bike with, he could stuff some 30 millimeters in there. And it was one of the years it was super wet. Could he have been higher than third place with, with a proper gravel bike? Possibly that particular year, but like last year, I would say that. He, he might have been able to win it on a, on a road bike. And that's the fun thing about this particular race, like we call it gravel and it, it, it attracts a lot of people, but it is almost half pavement. So. It is a real, I try to do the build up the sectors. And the reason we have sectors is because there's gravel sections. And then of course we have, you know, maybe, I think our longest one's like a 12 mile section of pavement. And, and so yeah, picking the right tires is, is huge. And, and if you can get away with running some 32 millimeter slicks, like I write it a lot. my cross bike with, with kind of a road ish wheel on 'em, and, and it does fine. So yeah, let's dig [00:16:34] Craig: into the courses that are available to riders now for the 2023 edition. What, what course options do you have? [00:16:41] Ben: Yeah, our big one is called the Full Hug and it's a hundred miles and it has about 4,500 feet of climbing in it. I wanna. And then we have the half hug. I kind of like the bro hug. It's like it's half, half that. It's, it's a hundred kilometers. It is just a, just I think 65 miles with about 4,000 feet of climbing. So it's, it's close. Most of the climbing's in the second half of the, of the race. And then brand new this year, we are adding a more social. Loop, which is gonna be 35 miles. And, and we have also added an e-bike, which is something that's brand new for me to include an e-bike option in, in, in the [00:17:21] Craig: race. So, interesting. And it sounds like, from what you were saying before in our tire discussion, from a technical perspective, no one should be too nervous about what they're gonna get into up there. [00:17:32] Ben: Yeah. I mean, we have one high speed descent. Might, would definitely make you wish you had some different tires on if you're, if you went small. But all aid, all ages, all levels. We'd be fine. Just, you know, you gotta be careful. People can recognize when, when it's getting dangerous and slow down, so, yeah. Yeah, for the most part, roads are [00:17:51] Craig: fantastic. And then are you providing aid stations out there on the course for the riders? [00:17:56] Ben: Yeah, so we have, last year we had two main aid stations and then a third. Third was just in an emergency aid station that wasn't quite stocked as much close to the end in case someone was crashing and boning or something like that. Most people didn't stop at that one, but yeah, fully supported. We encourage everyone to use our aid stations as opposed to try to seek outside help along along the way. You know, we try to discourage and make it fair enough for everybody if they don't have a, a dad to hand water bottles up in random spots. So we encourage everyone to, if they do want something special from, from a teammate or a family member, then do it in our, in our speed zones. [00:18:35] Craig: Yeah. When you think about how you're promoting the event and the types of athletes that you're trying to attract, Are you categorizing this as a full throttle race? You know, if there's a spectrum between like hardcore race and gravel ride, where are you trying to sit? And I realize that you could answer that differently for the 10% at the front of the race versus the rest of us. But I'd just be interested to kind of get your thought process on how you're, you're categorizing it. [00:19:01] Ben: Yeah, I mean, I would, I, I'd categorize it as a race, like, yeah, we're chip timed, we are keeping track of different age groups, so yeah, full on race. But it, it falls into the, the gravel theme of you know, the molet, you know, we have let the racers race and then if anyone wants to, you know, just go out there and knock off a, a big, long day, then. We'd love to have them too, so, so yeah. It's, yeah, it's, it's definitely a, a party for some and, and, But we always try to maintain that there's a race going on and we try to promote the race piece of it too. Because, you know, we're trying to attract these big professional racers to come, which will, you know, create excitement for the everyday person to come and see how they stack up against people. So it's been fun. [00:19:52] Craig: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And if I look back over the last few years, for whatever reason, whatever you've done, the timing, the location, the ethos you have managed to attract, Several or dozens of elite riders to come and chest their metal there in March. [00:20:08] Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Originally, you know, it's an interesting story. So you're number two. So you're number one is, was the start of covid. So we're in March of 2000 2020, excuse me. And. And there's some grumbling about Covid of course. And then we pretty much shut down, right? And then there was hardly any races that year. And then the next year is like in the early spring it felt like, okay, things are starting to, to open up and, and a county like Siski I don't know. They, they would kind of, I just think they kind of poo-pooed the, the co covid thing in that area, the maj majority of people. And, and so they were welcoming of us trying to do something that year. And so year number two, we really quickly threw it together and And the funny story is that I noticed that Pete Stetner was, was liking some of my Instagram posts. And so I'm like, huh. So we shot Pete a quick message and he's like, yeah, I'm, I'm open that week and I'd love, love to come, kind of a thing. And, and . And so I would say he was the start of the, the professionals showing up to the race. And then we were able to leverage that Pete, you know, hey, Pete's coming and you know, we got Jacob Rath Raey come down from, from the Portland area. So we had a couple of pros in year number two. And then in year number two, the women's field was, was even probably more stacked top to bottom. There was, I think only 13 of the, the women's pros, but we had Clara Hansinger, we had Maude Farrell, and then of course Moe Wilson. That was, that was our, our, our, our podium with ma taking the wind. Mo second and Clara Haunting are third. So, so yeah, it, it's definitely. The interest of the, the regional pros. And then last year Adam, Rob, you know, he's coming all the way over from Quebec, but he just wanted one, an event and one that wasn't in, in snow and winter. And so he came out here and, and yeah, we got Brennan words coming up from, from the Marin County and, and, and had a great showdown last year with some really strong writers. Yeah. [00:22:13] Craig: Yeah. It's, it's been, it's been fun to watch the kind of growth, and I, I think you'll continue to see people get attracted to it. Again, it's just good part of the calendar. Mm-hmm. , clearly it's got enough ca like enough quality terrain and racers up there to make it a, a worthwhile early season test of your fitness. [00:22:32] Ben: Yeah, exactly. This next year though, the calendar has become quite a bit more competitive on my, my day because Belgian Waffle Wright has. That they are gonna be holding a, an event in Arizona on the same weekend. So the, so now the work is for me to try to, you know, attract these, these pros to come to my event over, over heading to Arizona, which, I mean, March in Arizona sounds pretty good to me but but yeah, [00:23:00] Craig: yeah, yeah. I think there's room for, you know, if you put on great events, , there's room for multiple events on the same day at the end of the day. Mm-hmm. , there's people looking for different things. I think you also mentioned over email some, some initiatives that you've put forth and maybe some changes in how you're kind of rolling people out during the day. Do you wanna talk about some of those 20, 23 initiatives? [00:23:21] Ben: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, there's. There's been some chatter amongst the, the female racers. Now a lot of them like to see how they stack up, up, up against the men, but there's also been a decent amount of chatter about how unsafe it is for them to try to be going out there and competing in these, these massive, this mass participation events that that have a ton of guys that they're trying to jockey with. And so this next year if as long as we get enough in the field to make it worthwhile, we are going to ship the women off 15, 15 minutes ahead of the men's race so that they don't have to go deal with that first sector and the chaos associated with that. They will, we'll also be able to give them a chance to, to kind of highlight the women and, and announce who's here and who's competing and, and, and give their sponsors a sh a shout out and. and then, then we send them off and then we can go about bringing the guys up 15 minutes later. And then, you know, I just ahead [00:24:21] Craig: a follow up question on that, Ben, when you, when you think about that first sector, is there elevation, is there technicality? What do you imagine happening during those first 15 minutes that allow the women to sort of have a sense of more autonomous racing for that portion? [00:24:37] Ben: Yeah, so the first sector is, is I, I wanna say it's about six miles. It's relatively flat. The first, the first quarter of a mile last year was in relatively loose gravel, and then it got pretty nice and smooth after that. So, so the first quarter of a mile it was, it was pretty chaotic. It was pretty dusty, and, and it was definitely, If you weren't in the preferred two lines, you know, you are out in some, some loose gravel and so, so yeah, I, it made for a hairy first couple of minutes of the race and, and the race ha at that point was already on. I, I think the original attack with with Adam and Br Brennan was right before they went onto that sector, so it was already full race mode. So yeah, it was extremely hectic. [00:25:26] Craig: Yeah, it's interesting. And before I ask this next question, I wanna state, I don't know the right answer to this mm-hmm. and I think. Over time, it's gonna evolve, and it may even be on an event by event basis, but as the women are, are set out 15 minutes ahead and granted it will give them a clean look at that first sector and the ability for some women to attack one another and perhaps to kind of stretch out the field. At some point the front end of the men's race is going to start interacting with those female athletes out front. And I don't know if you've gotten this feedback from the women. As the, as the elite men start to come through, obviously there's gonna be women who have fitness who attempt to glom onto some wheels and, and kind of get caught up in the momentum of the men's peloton. How do you kind of imagine that playing out? [00:26:16] Ben: That's a great question. And I think, I think it's one that I'm gonna look, I'm gonna probably look to a few of our, our professional ladies that are coming in to help guide me on that. So, so the big question is like, do we do. tell them like, Hey, don't jump on wheels. This you're in your own little race. Or, or like year number two, when we had wave starts they just were able to jump on whatever they wanted to. And, and so I, I don't know the answer to that question, but we as. By the time we roll off on race day, I hope to have a, a very clear explanation to all the racers about what we're, what we hope to see out there. [00:26:58] Craig: Yeah, I think that's a good, that's a good approach. I mean, obviously like the women should be leading this conversation about what makes sense, I suspect, but don't know that, you know, they will think it's fair game to grab wheels. Like it's, it's implausible that over a hundred mile day mm-hmm. . Racers are gonna work with racers. That's just sort of the nature of bike racing, right? So it's hard to imagine everybody's saying like, okay, we all agree cause it's just gonna be super hard to police. But I just think it's interesting and I, again, like I've, I've seen a number of races attempt this approach where they're giving a 15 minute head start. We've obviously seen the co-mingled starts. We've seen lots of different derivatives of this, and I do think that as a community, as we put these offers out there, it's just important to be open and say like, Hey, we don't know what the right solution is. But potentially after the year of 2023, at a bunch of these tests, if you will, going out and getting feedback from women, we'll arrive at something that makes sense, that still has that community feel, but elevates the safety, elevates the ability for the sport to high. Female athletes as much as oftentimes the ma male athletes get [00:28:15] Ben: highlighted. Exactly. That's been, that's definitely been my initiative for the, for the last several years is, is to try to, to, to give these ladies a, a chance, I mean, . We originally had ideas of doing a, a reverse discrimination prize purse because, you know, women's cycling has been so underfunded or, you know, the rewards or or prize money was, was so minuscule compared to, to the men's races that, that that we wanted to like highlight that as, as one of the things, we have a prize purse for the women only. but with permitting in California, that's not allowed. , you can't have discriminatory prize purses anymore, which is great for, for women across all the different events. But but yeah, we're trying to highlight these ladies and, and probably some of 'em have a harder time, you know, making the same kind of sponsorship money as, as a, a guy of similar skills. So, [00:29:07] Craig: yeah. Yeah, it's certainly an interesting problem and I think the important thing is, people are talking about it. And again, that the, the women who are involved are having the lion share of opinion and we can just use their opinions as guidance as it relates to the race in its entirety. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. And so, how large of a field do you typically see at the Shasta Gravel hogger hugger? [00:29:30] Ben: Yeah, so last year we had 400 people take the sign up for the race, and then we had about 335, I wanna say that actually went across our start line. So yeah, I mean that's kind of, that's kind of where we were last year. We, we have grown every single year that we've been in existence, so hopefully, you know, we can see something north of 500 this year. [00:29:52] Craig: And great. When, when we, I mean we've talked through what to exper, what to expect in terms of the course terrain and what type of equipment you'd like to see people ride at the end of the event. What does that experience look like if someone's making time to spend their weekend up with you at, in Shasta, what, what expectations should they have after the race? [00:30:12] Ben: Yeah, we definitely wanna try to bring the party to the after. After the race. So yeah, we have a burrito truck last year and most likely they'll be back again this year. So nice big burrito to finish off the day. Beer and and then of course, everyone telling their war stories, so. people hung, hung around until dark last year. And so yeah, there's a, there's a nice little after party. Last year we had a band the brothers Reid, and they absolutely killed it. But I found like most people weren't paying attention to the band. They were. Telling their war stories. And so probably not gonna bring a band back. We'll just be playing, you know, some good music in the background and, and let the racers chat about what they, what happened out there, . Nice. [00:30:56] Craig: And so give the listener a few benchmarks. So if you were coming from San Francisco, for example, how, how long does it take to get up to Shasta or if you're coming from somewhere in Oregon? [00:31:05] Ben: Yeah, I, I mean, you can get, I think it's about four hours from Portland down. And then similar from, from the Bay Area maybe a little bit less because there's 45 minutes, I guess to here. But so yeah, it's, it's, it's a pretty easy drive. I wouldn't suggest doing it before a 9:00 AM start, but you probably could from the Bay Area if you were got up nice and early. [00:31:28] Craig: Yeah, I was gonna ask that. Are people typically staying overnight in Shasta, the nights before? [00:31:32] Ben: Yeah. The, there's Yreka is the closest town with hotels. That's only about a 10 minute drive or probably even less than that. And there's plenty of hotel rooms there. A lot of people stay in weed and Mount Shasta, which Are also great places, but I wanna say 25 to 40 miles away. Okay. 25 to weed. So, so yeah, there's more like rental properties. If you're like doing a VRBO or Airbnb or something like that, there's more in the Mount Shasta area. That tends to be a little more of a, of a recreation type town. So, so there's, yeah, there's plenty of options. But the thing, one of the things that we've. Every year so far is in the parking lot. Next to the, the start finish line is, is plenty of room and we've allowed camping on site. So if you van camping, RV camping, if you can get your, if you can get your rig in there and, and not get stuck, then, then and then yeah, it's have at it free. Yeah. [00:32:29] Craig: For a hot second there. I just had in my mind, oh, it's in Mount Shas. The mountain of Shasta is obviously covers a vast area, and certainly, yeah, again, remembering my, my, my trips up to Oregon. Once you get past Shasta and Shasta, the town, and on the other side of the mountain, amazing, spectacular views of Mount Shasta through that valley. [00:32:51] Ben: Yeah, we we're kind of, we're, we're almost all north of Mount Shasta, so I mean, we, we go down and we touch weed, which would, I would kind of say is like the southern part of the Shasta Valley. And then Mount Shasta would be further south and more like on the side of the mountain. And so if you want the great views of the mountain, then the North, north Valley is where you want to be. And we. . Oh, just so many. Incredible. If the, if the mountain is out as they like to say, it's, it's absolutely stunning from many, many different spots on on the course. Some, some have even said it's distracting. It's, it's so, It's so beautiful. [00:33:32] Craig: So yeah. Yeah, I would agree. It's one of the like the beautiful things about driving through that valley, which often seems like a, it takes forever, but the nice thing is you've got that amazing mountain view the entire time. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Cool. Well, I'm super glad to finally get you on the show, Ben, to talk about this event. I love the sounds of it. I love that area. Like I totally recommend it from a, a visual perspective and everything you've talked about, the writing makes me believe that it is a great early season event. [00:33:59] Ben: Yeah, I sure hope so. And, and hope to see this thing continue to grow through, through the next couple of years. So hope to make some nice announcements here soon about cool people that are attending. So people are starting to finalize their. Schedules for this next year and, and yeah, hope to make some announcements. Right [00:34:17] Craig: on. And I'll throw the gravel hugger.com link in the show notes so people know how to find you. But they can also just search Shasta gravel hugger and they'll get to the right location. [00:34:27] Ben: Absolutely. Super easy. Yep. And if you wanna find out a little bit about what the race is We have a race recap on YouTube. You can also just google Shasta gravel hugger on YouTube and, and there's a 20 minute recap of what happened last year and we hope to do something similar this next, next year to, to kind of give everyone a feel of what, how the race goes. So, [00:34:49] Craig: awesome. Thanks, man. [00:34:51] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel rod podcast. Big thanks to our sponsor hammerhead and the hammerhead kuru. To computer. And huge thanks to ben for coming on i've been curious about the shasta gravel hugger for awhile and was happy to learn more about At The event. I'll put all the appropriate links in the show notes. So you can go find and check out that video on YouTube that Ben was mentioning. If you're interested in connecting with me or other riders in the area, please join the ridership. That's www.theridership.com. It's a free online cycling community, open to anybody and filled with gravel cyclists from around the world. If you're interested in able to support the podcast. You can visit, buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. Any contribution or support is greatly appreciated. Or if you have a moment, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. And really help with our discoverability. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels  

    Caley Fretz - The Challenges (& Opportunities) Facing Cycling Journalism

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 13, 2022 62:39


    In this week's episode, cycling journalist and former CyclingTips Editor-in-Chief Caley Fretz joins Randall to discuss cycling's changing media landscape, the economic headwinds facing professional journalists, emerging models for supporting quality reporting and story-telling, and how the meaning of cycling changes as one pedals through life. Also: press-fit bottom brackets, hookless road rims, and too-stiff components and frames. Episode sponsors: Thesis Bike and Logos Components  Support the Podcast Join The Ridership  Links to Caley's work: The Road to Nairo's House: https://cyclingtips.com/2018/01/the-road-to-nairos-house/ The Teaching Toe Strap: https://www.velonews.com/news/road/the-toe-strap/ Tales From The Tour: The Rest Day Pose: https://cyclingtips.com/2018/07/tales-from-the-tour-the-rest-day-pose/ Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the show, I'm handing the microphone off to my co-host Randall Jacobs. Who's got veteran cycling journalists, Kaylee frets on the pod. To discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing cycling journalism. You may know Kaylee from his work as editor in chief, over at cycling tips. And prior to that over at Velo news, both publications have undergone some downsizing of late. The economic headwinds facing professional journalists. Our strong, particularly in the cycling world. If we want to have quality reporting and storytelling. A new model needs to emerge. I don't know where this is all gonna end up, but I was super excited that Kaylee agreed to join Randall on the podcast. To just get his perspective and to get into some good old fashioned by geekery. Before we jump in we need to thank this week sponsors from thesis and logos components As many of you know, I'm a long time it's thesis. OB one rider for a limited time thesis is offering $500 off a thesis, OB one with access custom wireless shifting, and your choice of high-end carbon wheels. It's a bike that I can personally attest, stands up to every other carbon bike out there on the market at a really great price. One of the things that I've always appreciated about thesis is that they allow. A unique level of customization. So if you want size appropriate cranks down to, I think 160 or 165 millimeters, you can do that. You can get your stem size, you can customize everything. Based on a free one-on-one consult. So go check out thesis.bike, or contact. Hello at thesis stoplight to get started. I also want to give a shout out to logos components. Logos just receive huge recognition from bike packing.com and was awarded the gear of the year award for the wheelset category in 2022. You might recall an episode. We did a while back on how to choose a gravel wheel set, where Randall went through detail by detail on the design considerations When constructing a carbon wheelset I encourage you to listen to that as it provided a lot of riders with reflection on what they were looking for and what all the different things were, all logos wheels are built on proven open standards with non-proprietary components and with a manufacturing precision. That rivals anybody in the industry, the wheels are backed by Logus is five-year warranty, lifetime at-cost incident protection. And a US-based warehouse and support team to keep you rolling for many years to come. So head on over to logos components.com and use the code community free shipping all one word to take advantage of a free shipping offer. With that business behind us I'm going to pass the microphone back over to randall and his conversation with kaylee frets [00:03:06] Randall R. Jacobs: It's been quite a bit. I think I last saw you at Sea Otter. How have you been? What's going on in your world? [00:03:11] Caley Fretz: Well, I'm unemployed as of November 15th. I mean, yeah, let's just, we can get that one right outta the way. Right. I was part of the layoffs at Outside Inc. To be somewhat differentiated from Outside Magazine for anybody out there. I mean, outside Inc. Does own outside magazine, but it also owns lots and lots of other things. Yeah, myself the editor-in-Chief of Venu as well and two of the CT staff, two really core CT staff. Matt, our managing editor, and Dave Rome, one of our tech editors and, and kinda a legend in space. We're all let go on the same day on November 15th. So I am currently super fun employed and I think after we chat today, I'm probably gonna go skiing cuz it's snowing up in the mountains right now. And so I'm, I'm somewhat enjoying myself. But, you know, fun employment brings with it some level of stress as well, . So that's, that's how I'm doing right now. Yeah. [00:03:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and I appreciate you sharing. I think last we rode together. You were still living in Boulder and you've since moved to beautiful Durango. When was that move? [00:04:07] Caley Fretz: That was shortly after we had our, our first child. My wife grew up here and, and we have grandparents here to help with childcare and all the rest. And we just wanted to get off the front range. No offense to the front range. There's too many people and there's fewer people here. And I can go skiing 18 minutes from here, from my door, and I can't really complain about that. [00:04:27] Randall R. Jacobs: Housing costs are probably a little bit less bonkers out that way as well. I was in Denver and particularly Boulderer lately, and it is nuts. [00:04:34] Caley Fretz: it's a little bit better here, although not as, Not as good as it was four or five years ago. It, it, it's a zoom town, right? So in the last couple years it has, it's gone up like 28% or something ridiculous in, in 2021. We love it here. It's amazing. Durango, the bike community here is, is unbelievable. The mountain biking is unbelievable. And there's nobody that, you have not as many people to share all the trails with. So I, we like that bit of it as well. [00:04:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Very, very cool. And so let's just dive into, cuz, cuz I've been curious share a bit about your background. So I, I've only known you as, you know, in your role as, as a journalist and editor at Cycling Tips. But how do you end up on this path? [00:05:13] Caley Fretz: Oh I mean, how far back do you want to go? I, I, I started racing mountain bikes at 12 or 13 years old. My dad was a cyclist. My dad was, I think one of the founding members of the Penn State cycling team, collegiate cycling team back in the day. So I grew up around bikes and I grew up around bike racing and watching the tour and all these things. And yeah, started racing when my family moved to Burlington, Vermont back in the day at Catamount Family Centers. Anybody who, yep. Very, very northeast connection. That's where I, that was all my youth. Yeah. Any, any any new [00:05:45] Randall R. Jacobs: and, and your dad is still in Vermont, if I recall [00:05:48] Caley Fretz: Yeah, yeah. He he actually just retired, but he, he used to run a small like sort of children's museum aquarium thing called Echo on the, on the waterfront in Burlington. And yeah so, so grew up, grew up racing, grew up around bikes, and went to school out here in Colorado. Mostly to ride by bike to, to ma major in bike racing, pre primarily . Much to my parents chagrin, I would say. And let's see what it, what would've been like junior year, summer in between junior and senior year of, of college. Shout out to a friend of mine, Brian Holcomb, who's still in, in the bike world basically came to me and was like, Hey, you should, you should be an intern at Be News. And so I did that and I, and I, I became an intern at Bean News and worked the summer there. And Ben Delaney was the editor-in-chief at the time, and Ben was, Ben was kind enough to bring me on in a, in a kind of part-time capacity that fall. and then it kind of just went from there. So, so yeah, a couple folks who were still floating around the bike world, I, I owe a lot to at this point. Ben and, and Brian and Zach Vest, who was sort of one of my first mentors and has been a, a marketing manager at Niner and a other, a Scott and a couple other places recently. Math yeah, and just kinda worked from there. So I was a tech editor at sort of tech writer at Be News for a couple years, tech editor at Be News for a couple years. And then kinda worked my way into bigger and broader beats basically, and, and kind of stepped into the racing space a little bit more. Became, I think it was like think it was senior editor or whatever the title was at the end of my, my Bella News tenure which was 2017 which is when Wade Wallace got in touch from cycling tips and he was actually just looking for a person to fill a somewhat similar role, kind of like a features writer do a bit of everything kind of writer. And I loved the idea. I loved cycling tips. I loved the brand. I loved everything that stood for, I loved the fact that it was kinda an up and comer and I had been at Villa News long enough that I was just was looking for a change basically. And so I, I jumped ship from one to the other, from Helen News to ct. Remained really good friends with lots of folks at, at vn particularly guys like Andrew Hood who had done a bunch of Tour de France with and things like that. It's like no hard feelings in that, in that jump. Just wanted something new. And within about a year of that for a number of different reasons Wade had promoted me to editor-in-chief at ct. So that was around 20, mid middle of 2018. And it was an interesting time kind of from a business perspective cuz it was near the end of a period when, when CT was owned by bike Exchange in Australia and we were about to be purchased by Pink Bike. And with all of that happening and then in particular with the purchase from Pink Bike we got a bunch more resource and really could expand into what I think most people probably know, cycline tips as now or maybe we'll say six months ago what they knew it as up, up until quite recently. And yeah. I'm trying to think this, there's not my time. My my time as EIC of, of CIP is, is obviously I think what most listeners out there would probably know, if not of me, then you at least know CIP and you know what we were trying to do there. [00:08:52] Randall R. Jacobs: I know how much grief there is out there for, that core team having been broken up. A lot of people, myself included, who value the perspective that you bring to the industry. It's not simply you know, flipping press releases which, you know, there's a place for like, there's, you know, some people that's, they wanna see what the press releases are but doing really interesting journalism. One of your colleagues Ian tralo, he's done some interesting pieces on Central Asian despots in their role in cycling and on the Afghan women's cycling team. And the controversy with how the UCI was prioritizing getting certain members of that team and the organization out of Afghanistan when the US was backing out. Like, this is not your standard bike industry journalism. And that's an angle that I think is going to be very much missed in the vacuum that's created by your departure and the departure of others from that team. [00:09:42] Caley Fretz: Yeah. It's a sad thing. I think the overwhelming emotion for a lot of us is, is just sadness because we spend a lot of time building this thing and a lot of time and energy and effort and, and yeah. No blood, but probably some sweat and tears in there. And yeah, and it feels that's just sad. You know, I. I enjoyed my time there tremendously. I enjoyed working with people like Ian, with James Huang, with Dave, who got laid off alongside me. It was just a really, I can't say it was massively surprising giving a number of things that I can't actually talk about. But I I, oh, I am still very saddened by it. Yeah, I mean, it's not gonna be what it was because a bunch of the people are gone like that, that, that I can say . Yeah. [00:10:28] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Now, remind me, when did James join the team? Because he, he's someone I've admired for years [00:10:33] Caley Fretz: yeah. He, he joined a, I think about 18 months before I did. So when, when bike exchange, when, when Wade first sold a, a large portion of cycling tips to bike exchange that was sort of the first. Let's say capital infusion that, that the company got. And a lot of that was used to pick up kind of high profile folks, particularly in the United States which is what's sort of their next, the next market that, that Wade wanted to go after. So that was, they picked up James and they picked up Neil Rogers in the us as well as some other folks like, like Shane Stokes in the uk or Ireland, I believe he is right now. Yeah, so, so that was all a little bit before I got there. And part of my, sort of what they asked me to do, what Wade asked me to do when, when I became editor in chief was to figure out exactly how to best use people like James, who do phenomenal work. I mean, I, I, I maintain to this day that the three-person team, the three-person tech team that, that we had at Zeman Tips over the last year which would be James and Dave Rome and Ronan McLaughlin in Ireland as well. Was the best anywhere in cycling media? There's no, there's no question in my mind about that. And so basically trying to figure out how to steer that talent was one of the big things that I was tasked with doing over the last three, four years. [00:11:44] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and you know, when you read a review from any of those team members that you're, you're getting it straight you know, for better or for worse for the brands that are at the mercy of, of that team. But honestly, it keeps the industry honest. And I recall early in my career in the bike particularly James' writing be being something that I referenced constantly. And in fact, when I was at one of the big players, if I needed to make an argument, I would oftentimes grab an article from someone like him to bring to the argument like, no press fit is not acceptable. And we're gonna spend the extra money and add the weight, and we're gonna tell a story about how a two piece thread together is a better solution. And honestly, it's a solution to fix what was broken when you went, you know, but that's, that's a, that's a, a hobby horse that I think we've all been riding for some time. [00:12:29] Caley Fretz: love hearing that though. I, I genuinely love hearing that because I mean, oh, first of all, James would also love hearing that. He'd be very proud of that fact. I think and yeah, like we, we know that that was the case, right? I mean, we, we the three of us have been making a, a podcast called Nerd Alert for, for, for the last year and a half or two years or whatever. And I got a fair number of, of Less than pleased emails off the back of, of that podcast. Cause we were quite honest in our assessment of what we thought was happening in the industry. And in particular, like I haven't been a tech editor for. Eight, nine years. I'm just a cyclist at this point. But Dave and James are so deep inside it and think they spend so much of their lives thinking about that stuff that yeah. You, you can't ignore their opinions, right? You absolutely can't ignore their opinions. And I think that's, that's a testament to one, the fact that they do their research. And two the fact that they've been right a number of times. And like over the years, I would say that CT is, was known as the anti press fit media outlet, right? Which is like, there are worse things to be associated with, I think, than hating on creaky bottom brackets. Like, who, who wouldn't wanna hate 'em? Creaky bottom brackets. That makes perfect sense to me. [00:13:33] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and it, and it's deeper than just a creaky bottom bracket. It's detracting from this experience that we are all so passionate about. And so, I think that having someone out there who has influence saying no, this is not the way it should be. Hear the arguments and, and, you know, let a case be made. Hey, you know, come on the podcast and talk about why you think press fit is, is the best way to go about it if you really wanna make that case. But yeah, it's an approach that I, you know, I, I'll take you up on it, but I, I'd probably be on the same side with you on more or less every issue with the exception of maybe a few nuances here and there. But yeah, actually let's have some fun with this. Other stuff other than press fit bottom brackets that would be your hill to die on. [00:14:15] Caley Fretz: well. So actually Dave Ro and I so reminder, Dave Ro and I were both just recently laid off. And so our free, we, we are free to do whatever we want. I don't have a non-compete or anything like that. Right. So, we've kicked, we've kicked off a little podcast and. [00:14:28] Randall R. Jacobs: What is it called? [00:14:29] Caley Fretz: It's called, [00:14:29] Randall R. Jacobs: do people find it? [00:14:30] Caley Fretz: well at the moment it's called the redundant placeholders because we have no idea what to call it. So if you search it, I think any of the, any of the podcast platforms, if you search redundant placeholders, able to find it, you can also find it on, on any of my social channels. I'm at K Fretz on everything cause I'm the only person on the planet with my name. So that's very handy. Anyway David and I were talking about like, okay, so if we were actually literally talking about this yesterday, which is why it's funny that you bring up bottom brackets. Like if, if the bottom bracket the anti press fit bandwagon was the one that we were leading before, what's our, what's our new thing that we get to hate on? And we've actually decided that one of the things that we're most interested in pushing, and if you listen to the episode from this week, you would, you would hear this is bikes that are too stiff and just stuff that's too stiff. So specifically Dave, this, this week brought up the topic of of handlebars that are just like, Way too stiff. Right? Just, just ridiculously stiff. We were talking about the, the 35 mill trend on in mountain bikes, which I hate. And like, I've got a, you know, I've got a giant, I've got a giant trail bike with 170 Mill fork, and then I wanna stick like a, just a two by four in my hands. I don't really understand why I want to do that. And I've ended up with like, like more sort of hand cramp and hand pain on this bike than I've ever had previously. And it's got more travel than any bike that I've, I've had previously. So that, those two things don't really line up in, in my head, right? And, and so Dave and I were basically talking about pushing, pushing back on this need for for stiffer and stiffer and stiffer and stiffer all the time. And the fact that a lot of us don't need that, or really don't want it either. Not only do we not need it, we really don't want it because it makes the broad experience worse. I told a little story about how one of the best bikes I've ever ridden was a not particularly expensive mazzi steel frame, steel fork, steel frame. Then I put a pair of zip 3 0 3 carbon wheels on, so nice, nice light stiff wheel set with a somewhat flexi bike, flexi fork, flexi flexi frame. But it rode like an absolute dream, you know, 27 2 post it might have even had, it might have even not had oversized bars. I can't remember. This is, this is like eight, nine years ago now. And I loved it. I absolutely loved this bike. It, it, it got up and went when I asked it to, and I think the wheel set made a huge difference in, in that. But then it, it cornered like an absolute dream and it was comfortable and it was, it was just beautiful. And it was a, a not particularly expensive steel mozzie, right? Like . So that's, that's, that's the that's the high horse upon which we find ourselves now. The fight for less stiff. Bicycles, I think is what we're gonna go after next. [00:17:06] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and you can kind of take that a step further, talking about steel frames, for example. If you get a steel frame, even a, a pretty decent steel frame at say o e m cost is going to be quite a bit less than a monocot carbon frame. And you don't have all the tooling costs and everything else, and you can change the geometry if you need to without having to retool. And those bikes are gonna be inherently more affordable at the same time. And unless you're an elite racer who's having to sprint off the line or so on, you know, you either spend less money for an equivalent bike that suits your needs well and is comfortable, or you spend the same money and you put it into say, better wheels. You don't get the cheap out wheels with the three Paul hubs that fall apart and in a year and what have you. Yeah, that's one I'll join you on. [00:17:46] Caley Fretz: So that, so [00:17:47] Randall R. Jacobs: right. So I'm joining the battalion. What? [00:17:50] Caley Fretz: That's what we're pushing from [00:17:51] Randall R. Jacobs: I've got another one for you. And, and this, this one I don't think you'll disagree with cuz we talked about sea otter hooks, bead hooks. So bead bead hooks on any real wheels that are marketed for use with road tubeless. [00:18:05] Caley Fretz: I, yeah. I, I don't feel like I am, I, I like having this conversation with James or Dave around because they know the actual technical reasons. You, yourself probably in the same boat. You know, the actual tech technical reasons why this is, this is a, a terrible idea or a good idea, I guess if, if you're talking other direction. I just know that as a, essentially, like I am kind of just a consumer these days, right? Like I said, I, I, I have not been a tech editor. It has not been my job to follow. Bicycle technology for close to a decade now. So I'm basically just a, a, a heavily invested consumer who pays, you know, quite close attention, right? And as a heavily invested consumer, I cannot figure out if my wheels and tires are going to kill me at the moment. And I think that that is not really an acceptable way forward. I don't , I don't think that that should be allowed in the cycling space. And I, and I, every single time I say that, I get a bunch of hook list aficionados coming back at me saying that, oh, it's quite easy. This works with this and this. I'm like, yeah, but I, I, as a person who does not want to go through a bunch of like charts to figure out what tire to run, I don't want that. Just put hooks back on my rims. I don't care about the 40 grams or whatever. It's, I just don't care. [00:19:14] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, would you like some more ammo for those arguments when they come up? [00:19:17] Caley Fretz: give me more. Am. [00:19:18] Randall R. Jacobs: All right. So, so first off the, it used to be the case that it was a substantial, you know, a reasonable weight penalty and higher cost that is substantially mitigated by new forming techniques for the bead hooks and mini hooks that you can create that have the same impact resistance as hook list, add about five, maybe 10 grams per rim at the high end. And cost, yeah, the cost is a little bit higher, but, you know, insurance premiums aren't cheap either. And if you have a single incident, that's gonna be a problem. So, you know, it was an obvious investment when we made that choice for any wheel that we're marketing for use with anything, say smaller than a 34. Plus you get the compatibility with non tules as you well know. But the other part is you think about the fact that there are compatibility charts that exist, right? [00:20:05] Caley Fretz: I don't want [00:20:06] Randall R. Jacobs: that [00:20:06] Caley Fretz: in charts. [00:20:08] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah. It, it's like if that is the case, then maybe the tolerances are too tight and it, it's actually, I'll tell you from the inside, it, it's actually worse than that because any good company is going to check every single rim for its bead seat circumference, right? So those are pretty easy to get within spec. And then the tires, the tires are not all checked. To my knowledge. They're kind of randomly checked. So, okay, now you, now you could have a variation. You only need one. That's not to tolerance, but let's say both of those are in are intolerance. Well, now you have the. and if the tape is too thick or too thin, or someone puts two layers on, they replace the tape or whatever. Maybe it was intolerance initially, but, and then you change it and you know, you do two layers. Now the bead is too tight, it wants to drop into the channel and then pop over the edge of the, of the hook. And so it's just not good. It's just all sorts of not good [00:21:03] Caley Fretz: I hate it so much. It's just, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I, I always, I was cognizant when, back in, when we were making the Nerd Alert podcast that, you know, we didn't just want to complain about things. Right? Like, we didn't just want to tell the industry that it was, it was doing things wrong. Cuz most of the time this industry does great things and they build lots of amazing bikes that I love to ride. There's just a couple things like this that are like, what, what are we doing? Like, is, is this, is this the beam counters? Is it the gram counters? What counters are, are causing ? This particular, it must be the bean counters at this point. But I hate it either [00:21:42] Randall R. Jacobs: Bean counter. And then, then also the, the marketing hypers. Right? So there's a new thing. Hopeless is a new thing. Car, car wheels don't have hooks. Why do bicycle school wheels have hooks? Well, you know, because it's 110 p s i that people are sometimes putting in there. That's why [00:21:57] Caley Fretz: car wheels have 33 Psi . Yeah. It's like a mountain bike tire. Yes. Well, I, we agree on that point. And I, I think that that is one that we will continue to complain about. And I will just continue to be annoyed that I, that I can't feel confident in what I'm writing without doing a bunch of, of searching and Google searching, and I don't want to have to do that. [00:22:15] Randall R. Jacobs: Nor should your average rider need to rely on that in order to be safe like that. That's the part that I find kind of, kind of bonkers. [00:22:23] Caley Fretz: Average rider doesn't even know to do that. That's the problem. [00:22:26] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah. True. And the la the last part of that is why do the tire pressure recommendation charts kind of go to 70 proportional with the weight and then they just kind of taper off. You know, that that also kind of tells you something about the confidence in this you know, particular combination of tire and rim and, and pressure and so on. But all right. Should we, well, I guess we hop off this high horse then. That was good fun. I could do this all day. So you mentioned Ben Delaney, and he's an interesting person to bring up because he's a, a mutual acquaintance. Also somebody who's writing, I've been reading since my early days in the industry and also somebody who has been trying to figure out how to navigate the changing landscape in cycling media, which the business model for, for media in general has undergone a dramatic shift. And in his case, he's has his new YouTube channel and is doing freelance work for certain publications and is making a go of it that way. But how would you describe the industry dynamics as having changed during your time in the media side? [00:23:29] Caley Fretz: Oh, I mean, I would say I was relatively insulated from it personally for a long time. And until I kind of reached a, a, a level of management, so to speak, that it became my problem , I didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. Yeah, Ben was unfortunately the, the, the, the victim of a, an outside layoff a, a while ago. So he's been making a solo go of it since I think May or June of, of, of last year. Or this year, 2022. And yeah, like his, his he's experimenting and, and it's, it's good to, I like watching him trying to figure this out, right, because I feel like he's kind of doing it for all of us at the moment and, and trying to figure out exactly, you know, various ways to, to make this thing work and. He is, got his, his YouTube channel's. Great. I mean, I watch it all the time. I'm actually gonna be on it sometime soon. I just, just recorded a thing with him picking our favorite products of the year. I think I went in a slight, I think I went in a slightly different direction than, than probably most of his guests. Cause my favorite product was bar Mitz for my cargo bike. So slightly different place than, than probably a lot of folks he's talking to. But the, the media as a whole, I mean, it's rough out there. It's rough out there, right? Like I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this and trying to figure this out over the last couple years as has like weighed my former boss at C T E before he left over the summer. As is everybody, I mean, frankly, like as is Robin Thurston the CEO of outside, right? Like he is genuinely trying to make this thing work. And at the moment as layoffs kind of. It's hard, right? It's really, really hard to, to get people to pay for something that they haven't had to pay for historically, you're, you're trying to put the genie back in the bottle, right? That's what we are trying to do. And it's really, really, really difficult. And then, frankly, it's one of the things we were most proud of at Cycline Tips is that we did have this core, hyper engaged audience that was willing to pay us for, for what we did. And not only just pay us for like, the content that they had access to, but pay us for the whole community that we had built. Right. I mean there, there's a, there's a Velo Club, which is the, the sort of membership program. Atip, there's a Slack group for Velo Club which I, which I'm concerned about right now. But that group of people, couple thousand people not, it's not the entirety of the membership. It's, it's like sort of the most hardcore of the membership, I would say. And it's a couple thousand people. It's sort of like its own little private forum, right? And, and they support each other and they ask each other questions, and they ask us questions asked, past tense, asked us questions. You know, when, when, when they had a tech question, they, they, they ping James and they had a racing question. They, they would, they would ping me or they would ping Matt e or something like that. And they would also just answer each other's questions. And they've built this, this incredible community there. That for me, underpins any successful, particularly sort of niche media or, or, or, or vertical media business. Because those are the people that not only are they giving you money to, to keep lights on, but they're, they're your, they're your biggest advocates, right? They're your, your most important advocates in the space. They're the people that, that tell their friends. They're the people that get other people signed up. They are, they're more important than any marketing spend you could, you could ever possibly utilize. Right? So that, that was one of the things we were really proud of the last couple years. And I think that that is a model in some ways for, for, for going forward. So, you know, like I said, I'm, I don't have a non-compete. I can start anything I want right now and, and I, and to be, to be very blunt, like I fully plan to I think that, [00:26:54] Randall R. Jacobs: think you absolutely should at this. You clearly have an audience that that misses your voice and that values what you brought to the table. [00:27:00] Caley Fretz: Yeah. And, and I would say it like, honestly, it's, it's even, it's less my voice and it's more like Dave Rome and Matt and like the rest of the crew because I, I, I do like to put, you know, put the folks that that were writing day, day in, day out for ct, like, well ahead of anything that I was doing. But I, I did spend more time than they did thinking about how to, how to build a media business. And so, yeah, I, you know, we wanna, we wanna, we wanna do something here. That there's it's only been a couple weeks since we were, we were. Let go. So we're still figuring out what the details are. But like I said, you know, we've already kicked off a little podcast. We know that there's a lot of people out there that are kind of waiting for this. And we will, we will just try to give them what they want, I guess. I mean, my, in my mind, the, ideal sort of media entity of the future and I, I've used this term a couple times with, with Dave in, in talking about these things is, is essentially an aggregation of niches or niches if, depending on which pronunciation you prefer. So rather than try to go really broad and talk about a little bit of everything, which, which tends to be kind of the model across most of cycling media, I prefer a concept where you, you essentially allow editors to. To dive into their, their interests and their strengths. Right? You know, you take, you take Dave Rome and you say, Dave, you love tools. You're real weirdo about it. But we appreciate your weirdness and we, we, we embrace it and, and do it. Like, tell me everything you can possibly tell me about tools, because I'm pretty sure there's an audience there. And even if it's not that big, even if it's a couple thousand people, if they are hyper engaged with you, a couple thousand people in a recurring membership model, recurring revenue model is enough to pay Dave plus some, right? And then you sort of, you take that concept and you, and you expand it out. And yeah, it's, it's, it becomes the basis by which you can build a, a, a media entity. That I think is, is sustainable. Not none, nothing I'm saying here is wholly original, right? Like this is the broadly the direction that a lot of different media entities are going. Anybody sort of follows that world. There's, there's like, there's a new politics site called S four that is essentially the same rough concept, right? You, you dive headlong into, into particular beats. You provide a ton of depth in those beats. You hit the, the audience, people who, who really care about that particular topic, and you pull that group in and then you do the same thing over here and you pull that group in, you do the same thing over here, and you pull that group in. And there's for sure people that care about more than one obviously. But you really, like, you focus really deep on each one of these things. And that's the, that's the, if I could build something and, and I, you know, like I said, I, I intend to try, that's the concept. I think that that makes the most sense to me from a. from a business perspective, from an editorial perspective, from from every perspective I can, I can think of, basically. [00:29:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, so I've had folks like Russ Roca from PathLessPedaled. On the pod. He has a YouTube channel you may or may not be familiar with, but that's become his livelihood, right. And he has sustainers through Patreon. He doesn't do endorsements and things like that. I don't think he's doing any sort of sponsored episodes or anything of that sort. And he's been able to make a living. And there are obviously plenty of YouTuber influencer types who may have less scruples about promoting things and things of that sort. But who I'm curious, either within bike or, or outside a bike what projects do you see succeeding in the model that you could imagine emulating or building upon? Because I've seen a bunch of attempts at it and it's, it's a really tough nut to [00:30:43] Caley Fretz: it's a tough not to crack. I, I would say that the biggest and most obvious is the athletic, which was just purchased by the New York Times for something like, I think it was 425 million. Now, so the sort of caveat around that is that that's probably less than they were actually hoping for. This is a, a VC funded media entity that, that primarily covers ball sports. And their whole thing was you take, you, you, you essentially apply the beat reporter model of like a local newspaper. You know, you, you, the, the, the Denver Post for example, will have a Broncos beat reporter. Then all they do is talk about the Broncos, right? And, and they're even allowed to kind of be fans of the Broncos a little bit. They take that and they apply it to every single ball sport. So both types of football, you know, baseball, basketball, all the rest. And they apply a beat reporter to every major team. And sometimes more than one beat reporter to, to really big teams. You know, like if we're talking English, English Premier League you know, Manchester United has a couple different writers on it. Aston Villa has probably won, right? So, but, but, but even so, if you're a massive Aston Villa fan and you just want your Aston Villa News, you can go, you know that the athletics gonna have it cuz they have a person who is dedicated to your team and nothing else but your team. So you can also get like, okay, well I want some broader, I want World Cup news, I want, I want the Manchester United news. I want the Ronaldo news, but I really want my Aston Villa guy, right. That is essentially the same model that I'm talking about where like, I believe that people really want Dave Rome's tool. They probably also care about lots of other things that, that we will write about. But they really want Dave room's tool stuff. And that's probably the thing that's actually gonna get them across the line from a, from a membership perspective, right? Is that deep, deep, deep love of this one thing that a content creator they like is talking about. That's the kind of thing that, that, that moves the needle in. So yeah, the athletic is, is kind of the biggest, most obvious example of this kind of working. They made I think some strategic areas early on in the way that they pulled staff together that made it quite an expensive organization to run. And I think that's part, probably part of the reason why they didn't get quite as much cash for it as they thought. But still building a media a media entity from nothing in the last, I think it started five years ago or so. I remember sitting at a Tor de France press buffet with some of the. The British. So at the time it was, you know, sky Era. A lot of big name British sport writers, sports writers were coming over the tour, and a couple of those guys were talking about job offers from the athletic and actually like how insanely well paid they were going to be So I think [00:33:13] Randall R. Jacobs: And the, these are full, full-time positions. We're not [00:33:15] Caley Fretz: oh, yeah, yeah. [00:33:16] Randall R. Jacobs: Just shifting everything to freelance. Like so [00:33:18] Caley Fretz: No, no, no. These are, yeah, [00:33:20] Randall R. Jacobs: models Do. [00:33:21] Caley Fretz: no, I mean, I don't, I mean, perhaps they're contractors or something, but like, you know, the, the, these individuals are writing a, a story a day most of the time about the particular beat that they're talking about. A story every other day, depending on the, on the, on the writer probably. But anyway, yeah, about about five years ago. So you see, you know, you've got a media entity that's only about five years old and just sold to the New York Times for half a million or whatever it was, or sorry, half a billion. [00:33:43] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. [00:33:43] Caley Fretz: a pretty, that's a success story in my mind. And shows that the. The model can work, I think. There's no guarantees and that's a scale that I don't really have any need, want, or desire to come anywhere near. But I do think that the core essentially value proposition of membership that they, that they showed worked, can work elsewhere. It can work in cycling, can work across endurance media, I think. [00:34:12] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and again, with my kind of very cursory understanding of the space, they were required by the New York Times, which itself went through its own economic model crisis and had to make the switch to a paywall. And the quality of the content was sufficient that they're, they're making such large acquisitions, so they must be doing something right. They're, they're not the failing New York Times. As some folks called them a few years ago. I think there's also something to be said for consolidating quality and having the interaction of the sort that you did at at cycling tips, not just through Velo Club but also just the comments section. It, it was a very unique space and your team was in there. Interacting and the, the nature of the communication that I saw, the way that your readers were engaging there, it didn't seem hierarchical at all. It was a conversation with, with you and your team and that that was very, very cool to see. And that was something quite special that I think is more a consequence of the people involved than of the particular platform as special as cycling tips was. And I was one of the early readers that was, those are my racing days when it was literally just the blog and it was pointers on how to train. It was the cool thing at the time. And. Actual cycling tips. Yeah. That name was, was a direct, directly correlated with the contents. But I don't know if I've shared this with you, but in addition to the podcast, which is founded by Craig Dalton we also started this Slack community called the Ridership, which also is bit over a couple thousand members, and also has these like healthy dynamics. We call it a, a community of Rogers Helping Riders. And that was directly inspired by what you guys do at Velo. like saw what you were doing over there was just something that wanted to emulate, found inspiring saw a place for. And I'd be curious one of the things that Craig and I have talked about, is some form of shared platform that's somehow democratically governed. Where content creators and those who are engaging with their content who wanna support them and so on, can all meet and having that be something centralized in the sense that it's all meeting in the same place, but decentralized in terms of the governance structure, and then maybe even set up as a non-profit. I'm curious if you've had any thoughts around that sort of thing. [00:36:35] Caley Fretz: Yeah, I've actually sort of played around with similar ideas. We, yeah. In this, well, and again, in the sort of couple weeks that I've been thinking about, really thinking about this now we thought through, so, so ironically, one of the things that. There's been a fair number of complaints around with outside was was essentially like web three and, and NFT stuff. However some of that technology would actually make something like what you're talking about potentially work quite a bit better. Again, I haven't spent, we, we didn't go too far down this, this, this rabbit hole cause we feel like getting something off the ground relatively quickly is, is, is a priority. But I agree that, that something platforms work, right? Like that's essentially, that, that's all YouTube is, is just a platform for other people to, to, to put content on. They monetize it over top. They give you a cut, they take most of it. That's a, it's a pretty good business actually. So like could you do that for endurance sports, perhaps? Probably. Are there enough? Are there enough really high quality individual content creators out there to make that work? Probably, maybe like, are, are there enough Ben Delaney's, who would love to probably work with a platform that, that increased their visibility? But, you know, in, in exchange for a cut of whatever he's making, probably. I mean, that's essentially the, the deal that he's made with YouTube, right? Like we were saying. I think there's something there. I don't, I think it'd, I think it'd be incredibly difficult to, to get off the ground and would almost have to be quite organic and you'd have to be kind of willing to, to sit on it and let it grow for quite some time or, or sit on a bunch of investment money and, and do it that way. Which I don't necessarily have the time for at this point in time, but I like the idea. I really, I like, I genuinely, you know, I've, I've had a lot of conversations with other people in, in bike media over the last couple weeks because for obvious reasons, people giving me a ring. They're saying a lot of 'em are saying basically like, Hey, I'm sorry just checking in on you. Stuff like that. And we, and we get to talking about this sort of thing. And one of the things that keeps coming up is this desire to stop competing so directly with each other as bike media, right? Like the space is too small. We all do our own thing. We talk to maybe the same audience in general, but we talk to them in very different ways. And you know, like I I I, I, I've been on the phone with editor in chiefs of, of, of a couple different major bike outlets in the last week and all have said something along those lines. And I think that some sort of collective would, would hit the same. Yeah, it would hit, it would hit the same. there, right? Of a, of a desire to provide a space for everybody to just create really good work that they actually get paid for. Cuz that's the hard thing again, you're still talking about putting the genie back in the bottle. You're still talking about trying to get people to pay for, for something that they historically haven't paid for, or you're running an advertising based model, which is incredibly difficult. And in part, and this particular moment is very, very difficult. I mean, you know, Robin, the CEO of outside mentioned that specifically in the letter that came along with with these layoffs is like the advertising world out there right now, particularly in endemic media, like cycling is bad. It is bad news. You know, they're, they're looking into 2023 and seeing and seeing steep drop-offs in the amount that that is being spent. So you've run up against kind of similar problems, I think with that model. But it is certainly something that is The incentives to me feel like they're lined up for creators in a, in a model like that, right? Because they, if done right, they would directly benefit from their, their work. Whereas, you know, something that's always kind of frustrated me in this space is like, the value of myself and, and, and editorial teams have increased the value of entities tremendously o over my career. And then they get sold and I see none of it And so like that, that the incentive, [00:40:24] Randall R. Jacobs: and [00:40:25] Caley Fretz: structure is not, is not great within most of bike media [00:40:29] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. It's bad enough in the tech space where there are stock options, but generally to the founder goes most of the spoils. Even though and I say this as a founder, I don't create most of the value, right? Nothing that, that I could do would get off the ground without all the other people who make it happen. And so, it's only right that there be a distribution of ownership and a sharing of the rewards if there's success, which in turn incentivizes success. In the case of cycling tips, in reading the comments it's very clear that the readership knows it. They're not there for cycling tips. Cycling tips is the bander under which all the people whose perspectives they valued. It's where those people are. And so, your standalone brand and that of your colleagues, has value and has value in particular, if it's brought in a single place where people can interact with you as, as they had in the past it's a terrible thing to lose. And you know, whatever the reasons for it, obviously there are economic headwinds. But it's, it's unfortunate. But there's a saying that I, I live by that seems to apply, which is change happens when the fear of change is less than the pain of staying the same. [00:41:36] Caley Fretz: Hmm. [00:41:37] Randall R. Jacobs: And there's nothing quite like a radically changing economic model or layoffs or things like that that make staying the same, really painful. And so whether the fear has changed or not, time to take the leap and people like yourself and Ben and others have been making that leap. I wonder you mentioned that some sort of platform would have to. Either be funded by a bunch of VC money, which honestly I don't, if you wanna end up with a small fortune, start with a big one. Throwing VC money at things is a really good way to end up with Juicero. I don't know if you recall that [00:42:10] Caley Fretz: Oh, yes. [00:42:11] Randall R. Jacobs: 130 or 160 million of Sandhill Road money lit on fire for a a glorified electric press for If anyone's curious, look this up. It is. It'll, it'll make you feel that yeah, it, it'll make you question the judgment of, of Silicon Valley in a way that I have learned too from the inside over the years. But the organic piece let's, let's unpack that cuz I, I have a couple of ideas that I'd like to bounce off of you. So platforms like YouTube, I suspect it's gonna be very hard for somebody who has an audience on YouTube or who wants to build an audience to leave YouTube. But having a platform that is essentially an a. So if you're a content creator, wherever your content is, this is the one place where you can find all of it along with, categorized content from other players. So you want to learn about tools you have, Dave Romes YouTube videos about tools. You have his podcast about tools. You have other content creators content there. And then it becomes kind of platform agnostic like you can be anywhere, but this is the place where you go to find it. And this is the place where you go to interact. Cuz the YouTube comments, that's not an interaction space that's largely a trolling space or, or it's a largely one directional sorts of conversation happening. Even, even the healthiest version of it is still not a conversation. But if you have a YouTube video embedded in a a community, [00:43:27] Caley Fretz: Mm-hmm. [00:43:28] Randall R. Jacobs: Now all of a sudden people are in digital community together and not just over say Dave and his tool-based content or his tool focused content. Not to say that's all he does, but using that as an example, but also Dave in community, in his local chapter, right. In his local riding community. And in the context of a place where people are also going for, James' bike reviews and you know, your Twitter de France coverage and, and things like this that's one model that I've wondered, like if there was such a platform. [00:43:59] Caley Fretz: how, how, how do you monetize it? Is it, is it pay? Walled, [00:44:03] Randall R. Jacobs: That's a big question, right? [00:44:04] Caley Fretz: Well, so, so, the reason I ask is because I, I, like, I would see a couple different options, right? And, and we're getting into real sort of media theory here, but , [00:44:11] Randall R. Jacobs: This, this was actually part of the conversation I wanted to have with you long before all these changes. And it's something we've discussed on the pod before as well with other content creators. [00:44:19] Caley Fretz: I, I think So I, I'll say that first and foremost that I'm, I'm not anti paywall. I know some of the, some others are in, in the media space, but I fundamentally believe that if done properly you're essentially only targeting. So, so, so I'm, I'm a big advocate of what, what we call meter paywall, which is basically you get a couple free stories in a given amount of time whatever the number is, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, whatever you want. And then at some point you, you pay right? Now, the nice thing about that is that you know, if we, if we take a, let's take a hypothetical cycling media outlet with somewhere in, you know, we, we'll call it, we'll call it 2 million unique users a month, right? You've got 2 million people showing up at a website every month. The number of people who are actually gonna get to the paywall that are gonna go to enough stories to get to that paywall is probably something in the neighborhood of like, Less than 5% of those people. It's a tiny, tiny, tiny number because a huge number of those people are coming in from Google. They're, they're, they're seo, they're coming into SEO stories, they're coming into, you know, how to bet in my disc brakes. And they're, they're in and they find out how to do that and they're out. Right? And that's the only interaction you have with them. And they're useful from a page view perspective if you're monetizing that. But they're not particularly useful from a membership perspective cuz who's gonna pay to get one story, right. That, that's, that doesn't make any sense. So you're really only trying to monetize your super users. So your super users are that 5%, the people that actually end up hitting paywall. And part of the reason why I'm not anti paywall is because those people that, that, that small group of people that is coming back day after day after day after day, they value you. And if they truly value you, they should pay for you. , like, I don't have any problem with, you know, we put a ton of time and energy and effort into this and it is our jobs. And we need to get paid. And if people, if people appreciate what we're doing enough to come back every single day and they're not willing to pay for that, then as far as I'm concerned, they need to look at themselves and, and, and ask why. Right? Like, all I'm asking for is, is, you know, eight bucks a month or whatever to continue doing so that, so that you can do something that you do every single day that you enjoy, that you, that you gain information and entertainment from inspiration from even. I think that that's a pretty reasonable trade off. I don't really have any problem asking the super user to do that. I think that there are other paywall versions of a paywall that, that I, that I don't agree with, sort of philosophically, I don't agree with paywall in a hundred percent of content. I also think that that just ruins your discoverability and it, it, it doesn't allow anybody [00:46:49] Randall R. Jacobs: was, I was gonna say, is [00:46:50] Caley Fretz: Yeah. Then nobody, [00:46:53] Randall R. Jacobs: thing or is it more just practically like, you're, you're gonna cut off all the channels for discovery? [00:46:58] Caley Fretz: Both. Yeah. I, I, it, it realistically, yeah. Like I said, your discoverability goes to zero. People can't tell that you make good content. I have kind of a similar issue with the, the like premium content model. So you, you know, you give away your, your crappy stuff for free and the really good stuff you gotta pay for, like, I don't like that either. Cause why then anybody's strolling around your website, it's gonna be like, well, it's the only thing is I can read are crap. So why would I pay for the, i, I don't know that [00:47:23] Randall R. Jacobs: poor, it's a poor pitch. [00:47:24] Caley Fretz: It's a bad pitch. So, so I have issues with that. I also just like philosophically, you know, the, the sort of fully hard pay wall that you can't read anything without paying beyond the discovery of discoverability problems. I just kinda have issues with that because like if we do write a, how to bet in your disc brake so they don't make noise story. Like, I want people to be able to access that, right? Like, then I don't have to listen up. people's loud disc breaks. You know, like people, I, I have no problem sort of providing that much content to somebody for free. And I think that the fully pay well in that is, is, is isn't great. But again, I I'm not against paywalls in general. Meter paywalls I think work quite well. They yeah, we know that they're effective. They can be incredibly effective, particularly if you have this sort of requisite essentially story volume to make them work and, and sort of audience size to make them work. So given that like the, the sort of concept that you are talking about, paywall seems like a, like a, a, a good way forward because again, you're sort of avoiding the avoiding the need to, to chase advertising dollars constantly. And this is, this is gonna be somewhat a reflection of what I'm thinking for, for. For myself going forward, obviously you're avoiding, you're, you're avoiding chasing advertising dollars incessantly, which, you know, I'm not against advertising either. I think the right advertising partners can be, can be crucial, right? They provide lots of actually value to an audience at some point, right. You know, the fact that you get bikes to test the fact that you have a good relationship there. Those, those are all valuable things. So not, not anti advertising either. I'm just more anti, constantly chasing every single cent you can possibly get out of advertising. And the, and the sort of the, the, the extra resource that, that very concept requires. And so yeah, some sort of like membership driven thing lines up with the sort of ethos of what you're talking about, which is very community driven. We know communities are willing to invest in their own space where they can be a community. And so that would make sense as well. And if you start to do things like add too much advertising to something like that, then you do the incentives start to shift. Cuz you start working for the advertisers instead of working for the community. And that I think goes against the whole ethos that you're talking about of the sort of communal thing. So that would be my, that would be my 2 cents on, on, on how to build something like that. Like I said, it is a concept that, that we played around with and I've played around with in my head for, for some time actually. I personally, again, it's more of a, more of a time issue for me than anything. Not that I don't think it could be cool and don't think it could work. I just think that the, to build that community would take quite a bit of time. And also figuring out the precise method of paying. So the other roadblock that I, that I came across when I was thinking through this was the precise method of paying content creators in that scenario, it's quite complicated. Cause are you paying them? Are you paying them by page view? Are you paying them? Is there a tip jar? Is there some sort of, of, you know, rank voting system when people sign up, like, I like these three creators and I don't like these three, and so the top three get, get my money. And the, and the other three don't. That starts to create some perverse incentives toward bad content as well, right? And, and essentially that's the, that is the YouTube problem. The YouTube problem is that YouTube is incentivized for clickbait. It's incentivized for garbage content, , because that's, that's the stuff that gets picked up. And think about, think about your average, like YouTube headline or YouTube sort of, title card. Versus what you would find on a, a site like cycling tips these days. Right. It's a dramatic difference. Like we, we would have to change headlines depending on whether it was going on YouTube or going on on the site back in the day. Cuz YouTube is incentivized to be like all caps and exclamation points and somebody crashing in the title card and all these things that we kind of hate because that's what you end [00:51:25] Randall R. Jacobs: Kaylee, Fritz destroys X, Y, [00:51:27] Caley Fretz: Exactly. So after the monetization question, how do you actually split up that money with the content creators? It's a, it's a, again, I like, I love the, the idea, I love the concept, but the sort of those particular decisions. Be crucial to success and crucial to it actually working for the people that, that you, that you know, that you want, want, would want it to work for. And it'd be hard. It'd be really hard. I I don't have the solution to those questions, which is why I, again, thought through a lot of this and, and thought through a similar concept, not, not identical but a similar concept and, and basically came to the conclusion that in the near term, a a slightly more traditional model is not the worst thing in the world, right? Like, build really good content, pay people for it make people pay for it. , that's essentially the, that's the, the, the three part business plan of most membership driven media entities these days. Does that all make sense? I feel like I went in a bit of rant there. [00:52:31] Randall R. Jacobs: Not at all. Not at all. And in fact, it's a conversation I'd like to continue cuz I have a few ideas that probably we, we don't want to dedicate a whole episode to just this conversation. But certainly appreciate you pulling back a curtain on the sorts of questions that you as an editor in the space and an editor for one of the most respected publications in the space and for good reason, providing that perspective in the sorts of things that you are thinking about from this new Vantage point is very much appreciative. So thank you for that. I wanna go in a completely different direction. What are the pieces that you've written that you most enjoyed or found most challenging, or that were most meaningful for you as a writer? [00:53:08] Caley Fretz: Hmm. Internally at cycling tips. We called them riddles. It was a, it was a coin, a term that I intro coined for his little, the little essays. Right. There's a couple of those that I, that I really enjoyed writing and, and liked writing. It's just sort of the pure act of, of, of sort of language, basically like playing with language. Which is still fundamentally like why I started doing this to begin with is cause I really enjoyed doing that. And the last couple years have stepped away from writing almost entirely. Not entirely, but almost entirely. And, and so when I did get a chance to write, it was always, it was always meaningful and I, and I liked it. That tended to be at things like the Tor de Frances where, you know, I would essentially send to myself cuz I, I wanted to go cover the to Frances again. I had plenty, plenty, plenty of, plenty of talented, talented writers that, that reporters that could have gone instead of me. But at some point you pull the boss card and I'm like, I'm gonna the tour So, so yeah, there's a couple pieces on that front. Actually one of the first pieces I ever wrote for segment tips it's, it was called The Road to Niro's House. And it was about a trip that my wife and I and two friends took to Columbia. And it, it, like half the photos are broken on it now. It's, it's, it's from like 2017 like 6,500 words of a trip around Columbia and all the sort of things that, that riding in Columbia. Particularly in 2017 meant sort of keeping in mind that that, you know, a relatively large and disastrous war there only kind of wrapped up around the 2010 mark depending on who you ask . So I, I, I really enjoyed that piece. And then, yeah, like these, these little riddles, you know, there's a couple that I've written over my career that I that you tend to write them in 20 minutes, right? Because something just hits you in the head and, and you just, I mean, you just get it out, but it, because of that, it's, they're very pure. I think. I wrote one about the toe strap that my dad would use to attach a sock full of Tube tire, co2, you know, flat fixing implements underneath his saddle. Right? And he would, he would strap this thing underneath his saddle with a, with a strap, like a tube sock underneath his saddle with a, with a, with a tow strap, like a leather tow strap. And, and I, and I wrote this story about how, like, you know, I just remember when I was 12, 13 years old. And you know, my dad is obviously a much stronger cycl cyclist than me at that point. And just like, you know, trying to stay on his wheel with this like, toe strap dangling in front of me as like the, you know, I'm just, I'm just, I just need to stay on the tow strap. Wrote a piece about that at some point that I, that I ended up, I, I really liked. And it was meaningful to me because of my, my relationship with my dad is like very tied into my relationship with cycling because we grew up doing it together and, and still ride together when we can and things like that. There was one about eating Castle and Carcassone during a rest day, Tor de France that I liked. Again, these, you know, [00:55:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Castle in Per, [00:56:01] Caley Fretz: Castle is is like a, [00:56:03] Randall R. Jacobs: I'm, I'm, I'm not so [00:56:04] Caley Fretz: is like, is like a meat, like a meaty stew thing you know, white beans and, and, and some, some meat. And Carcassone is a town in southern France with a big kind of world heritage site castle over top of it. And it's always hot as hell there. They often have restage there at the torque. It's always hot as hell. And I have yet to find a hotel or an Airbnb there that has air conditioning. So you're always just like baking, you know, second rest day of the Tor De France. You know, I, I think I was sitting in a cafe. And I had a couple roses like you do and, and eating a castle, which is also hot. So I'm like, I'm hot eating a hot castle and just watching the world kind of go by like the sort of Tor de France rest day world go going by and, you know, like Greg Van Ama coming up and, and stopping at a red light. I'm this, I've wrote the story a while ago and I'm trying to remember what I even talked about. You kn

    In the Dirt - Fall travel

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 6, 2022 44:24


    This week Randall and Craig have a long overdue catch up session about their Fall gravel travel trips. Covering Bentonville, Girona, Boulder, Austin, Reno and SF, between the two a lot of dirt was covered. Episode Sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 Support the Podcast Join The Ridership  Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: In the Dirt [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to in the dirt from the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host, Craig Dalton. I'm going to be joined shortly by my cohost Randall Jacobs. It's been a while since we've been able to catch up on the microphone, as we both been traveling and doing our own things. I've been super busy this last quarter. So it was great to catch up with my buddy Randall. And just dig into what we've both been up to. Before we jump in, I need to thank this week, sponsor the hammer head and the hammer head crew two computer hammer heads been a sponsor throughout the year. So I very much appreciate their support. I can't recall if I've ever mentioned this on the show, but. In my early twenties, I worked for a bicycle computer company called Avocet. And at the time Avocet introduced a product called the vertex. Which provided for the first time an elevation tracking device for bicycle, it was quite game changing, particularly at that time in the world of mountain biking, because it was so difficult to compare one ride to the other. I still to this day, find vertical feet climbed or the vertical feet of a particular course or an event that I'm riding to be the most important fact. That I need to have in my head in terms of preparing. So if you're going out to a race or an event that has 8,000 feet of climbing, I know I need to put in the work across my training schedule. I find myself often thinking back to that, as I enjoy the hammerhead crew too, I really very much enjoy the climber feature as anytime I update a course or even now it's got the maps added in there in real time. I can see when I approach a climb exactly what is ahead of me, how long the climb is going to be in terms of miles. But most importantly, how much elevation am I gaining? It comes into play in a number of different ways. One. I know if it's a longer climb, I need to settle in. I need to climb patiently and just stay within myself or in the case of my recent experience at big sugar, gravel, as I was seeing that these climbs were shorter in nature, I knew exactly sort of how many candles I could burn as I was attacking them. Attacking them being a generous term for any of my performance. In any event I do these days. Anyway, it was super valuable to know what kind of verb was in front of me. And that climber feature is just always been something I've taken to. The other big thing that I really enjoy has been the navigation features. I mean, it is something that the crew too has always offered in spades, above and beyond anything else out there in the marketplace. Based on an Android operating system. It kind of has the same kind of mapping capabilities that you see on your phone. So very visual, very easy to see trails and roads and where they lead to pinch and zoom and everything you'd expect. From a phone you get there right there on the screen. It also has a super cool feature I've mentioned before, which is sort of a find my way home feature. Whereas if you're kind of mucking around and a little bit lost, you can just kind of press this button returned to start, and it's going to navigate you directly to your home or the place where you started the ride. The other thing I just saw pushed to me in a latest software update. Was a choice of preferred terrain. So now layering on top. Oh, Hey, I want a ride home on gravel versus pavement is going to give you different results. So I thought that was super cool. And it's another feature that I've always loved from the team in hammerhead is just the idea that you have software updates. Every two weeks. I feel like I'm getting something pushed to the device. That's adding a new feature and I get an email describing it. And some of them. You know, background, improvements or something that's maybe only applicable if you have a power meter. But other ones super applicable, like this choice of terrain. I always like to be able to tell my computer that if you're routing me somewhere, take me on the dirt because that's what I'm all about. So anyway, as we approach this holiday season, if you're looking for a new cycling GPS computer, I highly recommend checking out hammerhead there@hammerhead.io for gravel ride podcast listeners, they're throwing in a free heart rate, monitor strap. So just make sure to put. Put it in your cart and add the code. The gravel ride to any of your hammerhead purchases for that crew to computer. Without business behind us let's jump right into my conversation with randall Randall. [00:04:28] Craig Dalton: Randall. Good to see you, my friend. [00:04:30] Randall R. Jacobs: Good to see you, Craig. It's been a bit, we've both been traveling. How you been? [00:04:33] Craig Dalton: yeah, I've been, I've been okay. You know, life continues to throw on challenges in front of me and haven't been on the bike as much as I'd like. But happy to be here. Happy to be chatting bikes for a few minutes. [00:04:45] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, yeah. I've been very much looking forward to it. Um, you've been, you were in Jerron for a bit and I think you were in, uh, Bentonville, Arkansas before that. [00:04:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I feel like I stacked all my trips into one period of time, which turned out to be more stressful than I would've liked from a family dynamic perspective. It seemed like I was gone all the time, and I think in the weeks proceeding my. Bentonville trip. There was like a local group ride that I had to, like, wanted to prioritize and kind of block off some time away from the family then. And then in between Bentonville and Gerona, there was a couple things that seemed like it was all about Craig. When I, you know, obviously I wanna be a, uh, you know, equal participant in my family life as, as my wife. [00:05:33] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, I can. Uh, I don't have the same family obligations, um, for better or for worse, uh, but can definitely relate to packing all of one's travels all in one go, and having that be, um, while effective, uh, requiring some recovery. I was on the road for three and a half weeks in my case and never stayed in the same place, more in a couple of days. [00:05:53] Craig Dalton: that's a lot. And I wanna hear about the trip cuz I kept seeing it pop up in the ridership like where you were and shouting out locals and, you know, bringing people together. So it, it sounds like it was an exciting trip and I'm super excited to talk about it with you. [00:06:07] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Well let's hear about Bentonville first, cuz that's a place that I've explored a little bit, but really wanna spend some more time in. You're there for what? Big sugar. [00:06:15] Craig Dalton: I was there for big sugar and I was able to go down there. I actually went for the People for Bikes conference, so as, as some people know, I, I do spend some time with a, a non-profit called Bike index. Bike index act org. A little plug for everybody out there. It's a bicycle registry, stolen bike recovery platform. People for Bikes is sort of the biggest non-profit advocacy organization in the industry by my likes, and they put together a conference called Shift and another one in the spring, but Shift was in Bentonville and I saw the opportunity, hey, if I can, if I'm already getting to Bentonville, I should go to that conference on behalf of Bike. It was super fruitful and interesting. Lot of interesting topics. There was, there was a, a big thread around diversity and inclusion, which is an important topic in the cycling industry, and an additional thread about sustainability and climate, which again, important across all industries if we wanna keep doing what we're doing out there in the world. So that was like a really valuable add-on two days to that. [00:07:21] Randall R. Jacobs: I'm kind of curious, um, cuz actually I didn't realize that you had gone to that conference. Uh, I'm curious to hear a little bit more about the, the topics and the angles and and so on in that experience. [00:07:32] Craig Dalton: yeah. I'd probably have to bring up the, uh, the, uh, agenda to kind of give you a full, a couple months out. Now, my brain is a little foggy, but on the sustainability front, it was great. They had a, an expert who had written a book about bringing sustainability into the cycling industry, and I could share that in the show notes and I'll certainly share it with you personally. Um, we went through an exercise of. How would you reinvent your business with a sustainability angle? How do you think about bicycle ownership differently? How do you think about supply chains differently and what are the net effects, both positive and negative to either your price point or your customer relationship? And I, I've thought it was pretty interesting. I. In a group with the bike flights team. So bike flights provides a service to ship bikes from, from one place to another. And they have these cardboard boxes you can use either like one of your own or you can actually buy a box from them, which is ideally reusable, but you, you know, it's only reusable to a certain extent. So we were just sort of riffing. How could you extend the reusability of that? How could you use different materials for that with achieving the same result of getting your, your bike from point A to point B safely without damage? [00:08:54] Randall R. Jacobs: I'd be curious if you, um, I'd be curious to read the report and pull out, you know, one or a couple of the experts potentially to bring on, because it's something that we're thinking about as well. And so, you know, we take the opportunity for, for us to learn, well, at the same time sharing what's going on with, uh, the listenership. [00:09:10] Craig Dalton: That's a great idea. I'll definitely, I can definitely connect you with the author of that book. The other interesting thing we were riffing about, and as we're both wearing our logos caps today, um, we were talking about, I was talking with another wheel manufacturer and we were talking about, okay, you deliver the wheels in a box. What could that box be used for down the line? Like is there anything in the garage that it could be converted to that you have like, you know, sort of Lego style instructions of like, cut your box in this way and all of a sudden you can, you know, have a wheel stand for example. You know, if you can imagine if you cut holes in the box, you might be able to like drop the wheels in and that would be a cool way to display your extra set of. [00:09:52] Randall R. Jacobs: You know, um, that's actually brilliant in that, um, this will, we'll talk about this in a moment, but we're in the process of, uh, building out our dealer network, our, our shop network. Uh, that was the, the pur the main purpose of this recent trip. And one of the things I kept coming up was like, how do I display this in a really attractive way in my shop? And so that would be a really great development exercise where it's like the box that it comes in gets, you know, has some perforations and. You know, you cut it and you fold it and all of a sudden it is this really interesting display stand with a story. I like that a lot. I'm [00:10:24] Craig Dalton: Good. I look forward to seeing that. So that was super interesting. You know, I always, whenever I, you know, I do, I've done business development in my career for, for ages and conferences are sort of the bane of my existence cuz you have to go to them and you think you're gonna meet so and so, but you never necessarily do. But it's important to show up because you do make these random connections. [00:10:47] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, [00:10:48] Craig Dalton: Always yield value. So I feel like a couple of those were. [00:10:53] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, it's the thing that I, I, uh, one of the things I mourn most about Covid is, um, you know, I'm one of these people who loves going to trade shows. So like I used to go, you know, I still go to Seattle O every year, haven't been to Asia in years. Uh, some folks who are listening will know that I lived in Asia a number of years, uh, mostly in China, um, and a Mandarin speaker and like was doing some, uh, you know, sourcing and product development work for various companies, both in and outta bike. And it's, it's a big part of me. And, and those relationships are not just great professional relationships where interesting ideas emerge out of, but also, you know, people I really. People whose families I know, um, and people I've stayed with. Uh, and so yeah, that's, that's something that, um, I'm really looking forward to in 2023 is attending more of those, uh, conferences and trade events and things like that. [00:11:45] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, it's definitely, I mean, it's so critical. I think when you've sort of broken bread with someone and then do business with 'em, you're just so much more likely to be successful in that relationship. [00:11:56] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, you start to understand people at a different level when say, you know, you're with the owner of this very large factory and you're trying to understand each other, and you do so over a cheap bowl of noodles at his favorite noodle shop down the street from the factory. And that's, and you know, or you, you know, you have. Uh, dinner with him and his wife and, and kids or her and her, you know, family or what have you, uh, which is the sort of thing that used to happen all the time. Uh, pre covid and hopefully Taiwan is open. Um, and so Taipei will be, uh, in person this year. It looks like in March. China is still closed, uh, effectively, unless you want to quarantine and risk being stuck there for, [00:12:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah, but, but showing some signs. I was just listening to an economist this morning showing some signs of easing their zero covid policy, which is interesting. [00:12:46] Randall R. Jacobs: It's interesting and, uh, there's a whole, if we wanna get into, uh, geopolitics and so on, there's a whole conversation we could have there about, um, how that, that might go. They have a huge unvaccinated elderly population, so that's a, a huge concern. And they've largely, uh, uh, rejected, you know, more effective Western developed vaccines in [00:13:08] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's the [00:13:08] Randall R. Jacobs: less effective homegrown ones and they haven't deployed them. And, and so, Yeah. And, and there's reasons for that. That is, is, uh, again, a whole conversation on geopolitics we don't need to dive into. Um, [00:13:20] Craig Dalton: indeed. The final thing I'll mention about people for bikes is that they did reveal some statistics around sort of the bike industry and some of the things we already knew about. The sort of ebb and flow of supply chain constraints and how early on in the pandemic there was a lot of people flooding to cycling. Then some of the supply chain finally caught up and, and then there became a little bit of a glut of bicycles in some categories out there in the market. Then now combined with a softening of demand, the sort of supply and demand curves look really funny over the years, and they're sort of, [00:13:56] Randall R. Jacobs: Hm. [00:13:57] Craig Dalton: In synchronous, um, out of synchronicity. And I think we'll continue to be that way. Cause now with an impending recession potentially, it's just, it's gonna be interesting to see where supply meets demand in this coming period. [00:14:12] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. And we also are in the low of the season because, you know, when people talk about the bike industry, um, oftentimes they're talking about the upper end, you know, and, and when I say upper end, I mean anything that's not a department store bike. So like, you know, anything you'd buy at a bike shop, so like a bike that's, you know, has a minimum level of spec, at least maybe $400 and above. Um, and you know, the, there's, there's a cycle for that. And most of those, that level of bike is, is in the northern hemisphere. And so as the winter approach is like, demand always goes down anyways, so the question is what will it look like in April when you know the next season is kicking in? [00:14:53] Craig Dalton: yeah, yeah, exactly. So super fascinating stuff. [00:14:57] Randall R. Jacobs: you mentioned, uh, about diversity as well [00:15:00] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I mean, I don't, I don't, I, you know, you and I were talking offline like how difficult it is to find safe women who work in the industry to interview for the podcast. At times, I was saying like it's easy to find women athletes, which is great to see, but often I think there's just, it's just been such a male dominated industry. So there's certainly discussion around gender inclusion, but more of kind of race and ethnicity inclusion. We had the founder of Legion Bicycle, Justin Williams, just talking about, um, you know, just showing younger athletes, younger black athletes, that there was a world where they're included in the space in, you know, he's got an interesting vision around, you know, rebuilding city based criter racing and creating a league and providing ownership. To the writers, which I think is fascinating. There's a lot of stuff going on. It just, you know, it's always depressing how long these initiatives take to really show some impact. [00:16:05] Randall R. Jacobs: It does take a long time to get a critical mass of people who say, you know, look like me, whatever, you know, whatever your me looks like. Uh, so, so yeah. That makes sense. And, um, for anyone listening, hearing us talk about how it can be difficult to find, you know, uh, women or minority, uh, well, uh, Yeah, people of color, um, to represent, uh, the industry, to bring on the pod. If you have ideas, please reach out and let us know. You can let us know when the ridership in the, um, the Gravel Ride podcast, uh, channel, um, or drop us an email. Um, there's an email set up for the pod I call. [00:16:43] Craig Dalton: There's not, there might have been [00:16:45] Randall R. Jacobs: Okay. Well anyways, [00:16:47] Craig Dalton: you know where to find us. [00:16:48] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. You know how to find us, find Craig or I, um, cuz always looking for, uh, people to have interesting conversations with and we definitely have a few in the queue. Um, alright, so Bentonville and then, uh, how about the event itself? [00:16:59] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So great event. I mean, I really enjoyed it, not my, it was the terrain. I did the little sugar event at Big Sugar. Big Sugar Gravel is the final of the Lifetime Grand Prix series for the year, but it's also been running, I think. This might have been the third year this thing actually went off. Anyway, Bentonville, great community, embraces cycling in a big way, very kind of undulating, so a lot of short, punchy climbs, which isn't necessarily what I'm trained for. If you can call what I am trained for anything. But the terrain was, I mean, it was loose and rocky. I had my, my rock shock equipped titanium bike with 700 by 40 fives on. I felt super confident and it showed anytime it went downhill on the course. I was rifling by people. You know, I also have a dropper post. I was looking, you know, people were looking incredibly nervous as I was just absolutely flying by them, and I was talking to a friend after the fact and I mentioned like, I felt like I was racing, which felt good. I like, honestly, I haven't felt like I was racing. In a long time, and it wasn't intentional. I didn't go in with a lot of fitness, but by happenstance it was a, a road, a road rollout. We were on pavement. there was, uh, Molly Cameron, who's a transgender athlete. Friend of mine, was out in sort of the front of the pack and there was a few quick step pros from Europe over there and I was just kind of curious to kind of be around them. And I wanted to say hi to Molly. So I am fairly comfortable riding in packs and I got to the front and I front ish, I would say like top 20% of of riders. And I started to realize that I knew there was a heavy, heavy choke. Not like eight miles in where it had to go. You had to, everybody had to go down to sort of almost a single track, and it was a gully that was gonna give people some trepidation. And so I found myself in the top 20% there, and I can only imagine the carnage that happened behind me [00:19:04] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. [00:19:06] Craig Dalton: Randall, I finished 40th or something out of 400. and I rode, I rode hard to my ability. I was fortunate. It was super windy. I was fortunate that like I, I was always riding with at least one other person and occasionally we'd balloon up to, you know, 10 people or whatever. But I was riding hard over every hill. I certainly was riding the descent, hard to catch back on when I was getting dropped, but I just wasn't getting past five people and it started to dawn on me that, so, Some carnage happened back there because no one was catching me this entire day. [00:19:42] Randall R. Jacobs: That's, um, I've actually used the course profiles like that to my advantage in my racing days. It's like, okay, here's a course that starts on a big climb and at the top of the climb goes into a tight single track when no one can pass. I'm gonna be at the top of the climb first, and then I'm gonna, hopefully someone behind me is a lousy technical rider. [00:19:58] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's almost the only thing that mattered, [00:20:00] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, good for you. Nonetheless, it's takes something to, to be in the, in the front for that long anyways, so Bravo. [00:20:08] Craig Dalton: so it was, it was fun. Like I, I just like, I felt good about myself on the bike and it was, granted, it was the shorter course or whatever, but it was fun and it just sort of reminded me that, you know, getting out there and having sort of just the encouragement of event day to go a little harder, go a little deeper is just something I enjoy. [00:20:27] Randall R. Jacobs: It's a very different experience, like psychologically going, being in an event or even being, uh, you know, as I experienced in, in Boulder in particular on a, on a spirited group ride and just having to hold on right Knowing like, oh, not, it's not only. That you want to finish the overall event, um, in a good time and, and be towards the front, but if you get dropped, you're gonna be out in the wind on your own. And so you're just like holding onto that wheel, uh, for dear life, knowing that as hard as that is, it's gonna be that much worse. The moment a gap, uh, opens up and you're just doing half the speed on your own. [00:21:02] Craig Dalton: a hundred percent. It, that went through my mind constantly in, in Bentonville. I was just like, I, it doesn't matter. Bury yourself, because if you fall off this wheel, you're, it's gonna be, you know, you're gonna be out here a lot longer. [00:21:17] Randall R. Jacobs: Um, [00:21:18] Craig Dalton: I love it. I love it. So, you know, in some, I know we got, we have a short amount of time and, and ground to cover, but I, I really liked Beville. I really liked the big sugar gravel event. I, I definitely recommend it if you're a mountain biker. There's so much terrain down there to ride. Um, one, one real just funny anecdote to talk about, like Bentonville as a cycling community, I was staying at a hotel a couple miles, kind of away from down. And as I was riding back, and this happened two or three times, I would come to a crosswalk on a bike path and there'd be a car in the way. Not doing anything malicious, just kind of peeking out, trying to make their turn, and the car would back up. And I, I was just like shocked. Like of the, of the courtesy towards bicyclists. [00:22:02] Randall R. Jacobs: did they honk at you? Did they throw anything? [00:22:05] Craig Dalton: There is no gestures. Maybe even just like a friendly gesture, like, oh, I'm sorry, I was in your. [00:22:10] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, it's, um, I've visited, uh, Bentonville. I've, uh, some friends, uh, who moved down that way in part for, in, in no small part for the reason that you're siting there. The infrastructure there is incredible is, um, a lot of Walton money, so a lot of Walmart money. Cause that's their headquarters that's gone into, I mean, some of the, like, I've seen bridges that go over, you know, small little gaps that, you know, you could just ride down, ride up the other side and like these ornates, you know, rot, iron bridges that are done, you know, by a local artist, you know, um, real architecture in there. And, uh, yeah, this is just a, a lot of investment in that scene and it shows and it's pretty cool that, you know, you're starting to see some big events down. Did you bump into, uh, Benini Per chance or, [00:22:58] Craig Dalton: Um, no, I, no, I didn't. I think I might've saw him down there, but I didn't speak to him. I ran it to a bunch of other journalists along the way [00:23:07] Randall R. Jacobs: okay. Uh, I, I saw him in, uh, in Boulder. He has his, the ride with, uh, Ben Delaney YouTube channel. So I know that he had done a video from there. So curious if you cross paths. Um, [00:23:20] Craig Dalton: And then not a few weeks later, I found myself finally going to J in Spain. [00:23:25] Randall R. Jacobs: Tell me about it. That's a, that's a place that keeps coming up in conversation. [00:23:29] Craig Dalton: yeah, I mean, gosh, it was two years in the making. I've been talking to Trek Travel about joining their Jer Gravel bike tour, uh, five day trip outta Jer. Um, finally, you know, due to covid delays, it finally happened. I had a couple buddies from the Bay Area join me. We were a group of six. We had two great guides, Mickey and Rafa. Mickey was a local, so he kind of knew all the little goat paths and different ways. In fact, you know, we were given, we were able to use Trek bicycles for the entire trip, and we had a GPS from Garmin that had all the roots on it. But oftentimes when we were going outta town, if Mickey was leading us, he would just take us through the little goat path at the little trails, which were a heck of a lot of fun. Gerona appears to have gravel in every direct. And a lot of different style gravels. You know, they set us up on these trek demos with a 35 C tire, so, you know, very small tire and very kind of road plessy setup from compared to what, what you and I normally ride. But the bikes were, were very capable and a ton of fun for the type of gravel we were experiencing. We did a few rides out to the Mediterranean coast, which was amazing, but then got into some technical stuff and what I, what I really enjoyed about the trip was that there was a little bit of everything. It was clear the way they designed the days that they could sort of test people's appetite and their metal and their experience for, you know, the days that would come as they did get progressively more technical. [00:25:03] Randall R. Jacobs: Hmm. I would imagine it's challenging if you, like, if they have a more eclectic group of people who don't know each other and you know, you, you really, I wonder if they do some, uh, pre-screening before they put. People on a ride together to make sure that the abilities are, are roughly equal because when they vary widely, uh, you end up, you know, going at the pace of whomever the slowest rider is, which is fine for a certain type of riding. Uh, [00:25:28] Craig Dalton: Yeah, no, I, I did acknowledge that and I spoke to the guides a little bit about that, and we did feel fortunate that although we did have some varying ability levels in the group, um, a couple of the riders decided to stop at lunch one day and get in the van or opted to do tourist things one day and not actually ride. So it did feel very much like the pace was dictated by myself and my, my close friends. More than anything else, which was nice. Um, you know, I think on one day we had a guide all to ourselves, so it was just like ripping around Spain and doing, doing what we do. And they, they were very gracious about like, if we didn't have enough riding in any given day, we just, we would just go out and ride more and our, our guide would give us an additional route. So I think on two occasions, we, we set out in the afternoon after coming back from our, you know, our group. [00:26:19] Randall R. Jacobs: So am I right in saying that the terrain was like a lot of hard pack, relatively smooth given the the equipment that you were on? [00:26:28] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So yes, in that there's a lot of kind of rails to trails activity, like long stretches of, of, of former rail lines that are now just basically smooth bike paths that just go from, from miles and miles, but then some, some fairly chunky. Gravel climbs, um, and some fairly technical loose descents. Honestly, like I, I felt like it was maybe a bit more challenging than I would've thought would've been designed, but they always had out outs for people, I think, you know, if you didn't, if you didn't wanna do a certain section or feeling a little bit too beat up. So I was pleasantly surprised. I think I did an episode about it, just kind of with my contemporaneous thoughts that I recorded well in Jer. You know, on, on, uh, I think it was day three or four, like it was very similar to riding Tam, like we were on some steep descents. I was, I was wishing for my dropper post cuz it was getting a little bit, a little bit loose. Granted, like with the 35 C tires, maybe if I was on my bigger tire bike, it would've been like, I would've experienced it differently, but still, like, I felt reasonably challenged and satisfied. [00:27:38] Randall R. Jacobs: Sounds outstanding and, um, I you would, I think it was you who sent me the picture of you and Russ from Pathless Pedaled. [00:27:47] Craig Dalton: So how random is this? So I'm, I'm out, we're sort of halfway through, I think day four. We had just done a climb that is apparently is George Hank's favorite climb on the road after traversing to it on the dirt. And then we did this big dirt road climb and I was feeling spicy and I, I wanted to , I jokingly said to my friend if, if Rafa, our guide's responsibility, To stay with the lead rider. I'm gonna make it really hard for him today. And I was just on a day, like I was feeling strong and so I attacked on the climb, attacked, you know, but I just felt good and was pushing the pace and I decided since I had the gps, I was just gonna keep going. So I'm like 45 minutes to the top of this climb and I see a couple riding by me. And you know, Russ is, Russ often rides in flannel. He's got a, uh, you [00:28:39] Randall R. Jacobs: fishing shirts. [00:28:41] Craig Dalton: Yeah, and he's got a, you know, he is got that, uh, bike bag a certain way. Like he's got a visual aesthetic to him that if you've seen him ride you, you know, you kind of recognize it, recognize him, and it, I was like, God, I know that guy, but he went by and I'm like, well, I'm pretty sure that was Russ Pathos. Pedaled. But I didn't, didn't, wasn't able to connect with him. And then the. Was it the next day, I, I, I pass him in the town of Jerron when we're both riding different directions and I yell, pathless Pedaled and I sort of see him acknowledge, but like, we cannot stop, like, we're just not in a position to, and so I'm like, I've confirmed it's him. And then later on that afternoon, I actually run into him and Laura and was able to chat and grab a picture with him. And he, he, they've been over there a month as j as a base. [00:29:33] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Oh, so cool. Yeah, I got a, um, I got an email from him one day just with a picture of him at Tata Bikes, which is a, a really cool shop in Gerona. Um, they're, they're built in. Did you visit their shop, their facility? I [00:29:47] Craig Dalton: I didn't visit that shop. [00:29:48] Randall R. Jacobs: It's built in out of an old building, so it's like this beautiful stone, uh, building right in the heart of things. Um, and, you know, they happen to have a fleet of our bikes for rentals and so Russ had a picture of himself with our, with our bikes at ta, uh, which I thought was, was pretty sweet. Um, [00:30:04] Craig Dalton: I love it. I love it. Yeah. So much, such a great cycle in community when we visited the new Castelli community store there and uh, we happened upon them when they were bringing together a night ride and we were all kicking ourselves for not having lights cuz it looked like it was gonna be a heck of a lot of fun. There's probably like 30 riders there and I have a snippet on the last episode with my conversation with Oscar, who's the manager there and really cool and lots of different local brands there. And it's, you know, It's fun to like go to a restaurant and then have bike hooks for you and those little details that happen when you're in a, you know, a cycling first community. [00:30:43] Randall R. Jacobs: That, that sounds outstanding. I really need to make it out there before too long [00:30:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah, highly recommend Jer. Hopefully I can get back at some point, but I know we're pressed for time and I, I definitely wanna hear about your trip. [00:30:55] Randall R. Jacobs: Sure. So, uh, three and a half weeks on the road, uh, started in Boston where I'm now based and was in Austin, Texas, Denver and Boulder, then in Reno and then, uh, stopped in Sacramento and route to the Bay Area, uh, against, seldom staying in the place for same place for more than a couple of days. Um, And it was a, a mix of, uh, visiting bike shops. So we're in the process of building a network of shops for logos and, uh, eventually for thesis, which by the way, uh, anyone who's interested in our wheels, who wants to buy them from a local shop, drop us a note. And, uh, with your local shop and. Um, the wheels you want, and we'll reach out and we'll get that taken care of for you. Uh, so really focusing on, um, you know, collaboration with, with these shops that are so, you know, critical to supporting the right experience. Uh, [00:31:45] Craig Dalton: just for, uh, so I know we've talked about the wheel set, on the wheel sets on the podcast before, but just for as a refresher, what sizes and styles do you have available? [00:31:55] Randall R. Jacobs: So 6 50, 700, 2 9, and we'll be introducing some more in each of those sizes coming up. And then we have, uh, you know, various end cap solutions, free hubs and so on for people who have different drive trains. Uh, and we have a very particular philosophy, which if you're interested, we did do, uh, you and I an episode on what makes a great wheel set, uh, where we go, uh, deep into the weeds there. Uh, you can find that a few episodes back. [00:32:19] Craig Dalton: Nice. [00:32:20] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Um, so that was, uh, that was wonderful, just like getting to one, get a sense of the landscape once again. And two, you know, really sitting down with, uh, small business owners and understanding like, you know, what's their experience, how do they get into this, uh, what is the nature of their business? And seeing all the different ways in which people serve, um, their particular part of the cycling community, uh, and [00:32:44] Craig Dalton: How did you, uh, [00:32:45] Randall R. Jacobs: and. [00:32:46] Craig Dalton: how did you decide where you were going and what shops to visit? Was it led by the shops you wanted to visit or the locations you wanted to, to have a presence? [00:32:54] Randall R. Jacobs: Uh, a mix of both. So Austin was somewhat opportunistic. I had a couple of friends who just had their second kiddo, and so I wanted to, to play with the toddler and, and hold the, the, the newborn while they were both on leave. Uh, and then, you know, visited, uh, a co-founder on another project while there. And then was in Denver and Boulder. That was, um, again, got a bunch of friends in that area. Haven't been there since the pandemics, uh, or at least haven't spent a good amount of time there since the pandemic. Um, and a lot of the cycling media is centered in Boulder. So meeting with a, a bunch of, you know, industry people in journalists. Yeah. [00:33:31] Craig Dalton: you, uh, were you driving the Prius? [00:33:34] Randall R. Jacobs: No, no, I, I flew this time. I'm . I don't really care. I've done the cross country drive eight times now, um, between my racing days and then when I was, you know, moving out to the west coast and when I moved back this way. And, uh, yeah, I could see doing it again at some point maybe, you know, with a, with a partner some years down the road when, you know, you do van life for a few months. But yeah. Um, rent [00:34:01] Craig Dalton: Were you, uh, [00:34:02] Randall R. Jacobs: needed. [00:34:03] Craig Dalton: were you traveling with, with three wheel sets? [00:34:05] Randall R. Jacobs: Just the one, I have, the six 50 s with a, a byway semi slick in the rear and a, a venture, um, file tread up front. And that was my everything wheel set, which worked out well though, I'll say that in the Denver Boulder area, um, the. So I, I joined, uh, several group rides out there. People are fast, people are super fast, and the terrain, uh, that, that the group rides are on is generally pretty tame. So, you know, uh, mixer road, hard packed dirt roads, uh, even the single track is not overly technical. Um, I did hit a little bit of a, uh, technical single track, uh, with actually Ben I just mentioned. Uh, him and I rode together while I was out there and, but, um, Yeah, I was definitely, uh, was riding with some people on, you know, full on road bikes and could have used that little bit of extra edge as it was. I, I did the aides because, uh, I have the pride of a former racer, I suppose, uh, but was definitely just holding on for dear life, a good chunk of the time. [00:35:08] Craig Dalton: right. Nice. [00:35:11] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah. [00:35:12] Craig Dalton: fun. Should we bring, you brought your bike along with you? As well. [00:35:15] Randall R. Jacobs: So brought the bike along, group rides, visiting with friends, rolling into shops, talking, talking with shop, uh, uh, team members and owners and so on. Um, some really cool shops, uh, that I got to visit. In that area. And then Reno was visiting friends. Um, again, few shops out that way, but uh, in terms of activities, trail running and so on, in the mountains outside of there, uh, and did some hiking in, in Tahoe, which is stunning, um, at all times of year. But I'd never been in winter. Uh, there was already quite a bit of snow that we were hiking on, in, in spikes. Uh, and then the Bay Area, which was, I was all over the bay. [00:35:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So bummed to miss that you being out here. It [00:35:56] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, well, I'll, I'll be out this way. I'll be out your way again before too, too long at the latest, uh, sea Otter and, uh, probably the highlight of that trip, uh, was put on like a, just, just put out there, uh, a ridership sf, um, ride meet up and probably had 25 or so people show. And it was great. A lot of people who, uh, I haven't, haven't met before, a few friends, a few people I've known for a while. Um, and then some people I've interacted with over email and so on, uh, or seen in the ridership. And, uh, everyone was stoked to be there and it was really neat to see. Um, We did the headlands and then out to Tennessee Valley. So revisiting these areas that I used to ride twice a week, you know, when I was developing the OB one, those were the, the, uh, the, uh, the test loop. Uh, and then just. When everyone was out for pizza, uh, afterwards, just seeing people really connecting and exchanging numbers and taking photos and all that. And it was just such a great vibe. And, um, I remember when you and I used to do such things, uh, host rides together and so let's definitely make it a point to do that. Next time I'm out your way. [00:37:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I feel like, I mean, gosh, I can't believe it's December and looking back at the lack of group rides I tried to put together this year, cause I really do enjoy it and such, like I said, it's not, it's not about the riding, it's just about the people I. [00:37:20] Randall R. Jacobs: We also, um, we used the, so we're still kind of playing around with this, uh, mighty Networks tool, um, for like a a 2.0 version of the ridership that's not in Slack. And so like organizing the events in there actually made things a lot easier. So when the time comes, kind of you market it however you wanna market it, and then, uh, just create the actual event and link to. In the ridership.org. And if anyone else is looking to either organize group rides or manage their clubs, we have a couple of clubs that are managing their teams, uh, within the ridership.org. Uh, if you have any questions on it, just drop us a note in the current ridership, but, um, that, that actually proved really effective. [00:38:00] Craig Dalton: Were you able to do like messaging to the people who had registered for the [00:38:04] Randall R. Jacobs: You can do messaging. Uh, people who are registered can also put in comments and so on. Um, and for coordination, uh, you can, you know, if you send an update, everyone can get emailed. Uh, you can have all the, the ride details in the, uh, invite as well. You see who has signed up. Uh, and you can share with people who are outside of the network though to, to rsvp. You just have to create a. Everything is free. It's really straightforward. So, uh, yeah, it was, it was a useful tool, um, [00:38:32] Craig Dalton: I'm, I'm glad you're able to go through that. I know like, you know, we've, we've certainly put in many hours in developing that prototype over there and glad to see you using it and getting that real world kind of experience of like, is this tool beneficial to the community? [00:38:48] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, it's the sort of thing where I think the events are the most obvious application where anyone can start using it immediately. And, um, and again, for, for club membership of which events is a, a, a, you know, a critical component, uh, it's great for that. And again, free, just get your people in there. Um, if you're, if you're a club manager, then uh, reach out, we'll create a separate space. It's almost like having. Like your own private Facebook. If Facebook didn't have like algorithmic feed and like was, wasn't extracting all your data and would just leave you the hell alone. Um, and without all the, the advertising and fluff and everything else, it's literally just like your own defined space where you can. You know, coordinate communications amongst your teams and, and manage events. You could even have your membership in there, uh, if you want membership dues and so on. The platform supports that. Uh, so it's a really neat platform and each club can have its own either club or if you're an event organizer, um, you can have your own space within the broader ridership that is, you know, it can be private or public. Uh, it's pretty cool. So just gotta invest some more time in it. Now that we've got logos launched and I have a little bit more bandwidth, [00:40:01] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I know the vision's always been to just create a, a, a safe community place for people who love bikes and, you know, have a devoid of distractions, like you're coming there just to enjoy bikes in the community. [00:40:15] Randall R. Jacobs: yep. [00:40:15] Craig Dalton: No one's gonna advertise to you. No one's gonna try to draw you away. It's not meant to be a time sink. I mean, one of our core shared value is, is that we want people to get outside. We're not, we've never looked to kind of create a community to keep people in front of their computers. We wanna, [00:40:32] Randall R. Jacobs: Quite, [00:40:32] Craig Dalton: you're in front of your computer Yeah, exactly. We want this to be inspirational. To get outside. [00:40:37] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. It's a, a vehicle for connection, you know, as, as with all things we try to do. Um, the, the last thing I'll share is I visited Enduro Barings. Visited their, [00:40:47] Craig Dalton: Oh, their facility. [00:40:48] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. And, um, it's not their ma they, they have, um, other manufacturing facilities, um, but got to tour the warehouse and see the testing that they're doing, um, on their bearings and comparison testing and so on. And, uh, it was a really great experience, uh, was with Matt Harvey, who I had on the pod before. If you haven't heard that episode. Um, a lot of deep nerdy on, on, uh, Barings and then Rick Sutton, who you've spoken to before as a representative. Um, uh, HBAR coefficient cycling. Um, I think I'm gonna bring on again to talk about his founding of Sea Oder. Uh, and he's also with, uh, you know, helping Enduro with marketing, but got to go really, really that much deeper in the weeds on, um, how bearings or designed and the materials and the testing regimens and all this other stuff. Uh, and it just made me that much more impressed with their XD 15. It's the only bearing that they've tested and I, I looked at the tests and it's a, it's a robust protocol. The only bearing they've tested that gets better as you use it. Pretty much every bear, every bearing, degrades and, and generally degrades, um, somewhat quickly and it gets better over [00:42:00] Craig Dalton: it's. It's so fascinating when you, when you meet these individuals who are so focused on their specific craft, their specific part of the industry, and you realize like a generalist could never produce a product as good as this person who was obsessed over this thing for their entire [00:42:18] Randall R. Jacobs: Uh, yeah. Well, and even, even if you, even then you could be obsessed your entire career, but in, you know, in their case, um, you know, getting access to that alloy, they're buying this in like solid bar stock and machining away like 97, 90 8% of it to make these races out of this XD 15 steel, which is the, the designation of the particular alloy. And you know, it's, uh, it's really cool stuff and worth it, frankly. Like I have, I now have an XD 15 bottom bracket in my bike, and that'll probably be the last bottom bracket I ever own. [00:42:52] Craig Dalton: The last one you [00:42:53] Randall R. Jacobs: to other bikes. Yeah. [00:42:55] Craig Dalton: So, so cool. So cool. [00:42:58] Randall R. Jacobs: So [00:42:59] Craig Dalton: Amazing to catch up. I wish we had more time today, but we'll do this again soon. [00:43:03] Randall R. Jacobs: Sounds good. [00:43:05] Craig Dalton: Cheers. [00:43:06] Randall R. Jacobs: Be well. [00:43:07] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of in the dirt, from the gravel ride podcast. I appreciate you spending a little bit of your December with us this year. Big, thanks to hammerhead and the crew too, for sponsoring this episode . And be sure to use the code, the gravel ride for that free heart rate monitor strap. When you order your new crew to computer. If you're interested in connecting with myself or Randall, please join us in the ridership. That's www.theridership.com. It's a free global cycling community. We'd lot of great conversations going on every day. If you're interested in supporting the podcast, you can visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride. All your support is greatly appreciated. And if you have a moment, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels.  

    Girona Gravel with Trek Travel

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2022 47:07


    This week I recount my recent trip to Girona, Spain with Trek Travel. Our knowledgeable guides took us on a 5 day adventure throughout the region exposing us to Girona's plentiful and diverse gravel. As a bonus, we were able to connect with a number of local cycling brands contributing to Girona's reputation as the hub of European cycling. Trek Travel  Support the Podcast Join The Ridership  Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Girona Gravel Live [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 show, I'm releasing some recordings I did during the tractor on a gravel tour. I participated in, in November. It was a great trip. I encourage you to check it out on Trek's website and I appreciate Trek's support in getting the over there to have this wonderful experience. With my friend. Was able to sit down with our guides as well as some other members of the Jarana cycling community. To give you a flavor for this wonderful cycling city. I hope you enjoy and let's dive right in Day 1 [00:00:56] Craig Dalton: Right here we are, day one, Trek Gerona Gravel tour here in Gerona, Spain here in the hotel. Nord got set up on my Trek demo bike. Not the one you'd expect for these gravel trips, but it turns out the gravel roads here in Gerona are pretty smooth and you don't need the big wide tires that I typically ride at home. So we're riding a 35 C Pirelli tire on these Damani bikes. The great thing was, Sent them over. My fit measurements had everything dialed, so it was just some quick adjustments Right before the ride. Today we did about 25 miles today as a shakeout ride. Riding along, essentially along the river, out and back on either side of the river, which a lot of fun. We got into some single track. Super smooth. Not a lot of elevation today. That's gonna come tomorrow where I'm excited that we're riding off to the Mediterranean. So great first day. Great intro. The guides. Rafa and Mickey are awesome. Mickey's a local here in Jerron and Rafa's from London. Bringing a little bit of international flavor to the trip. We've got a group of about six of us, so it's pretty easy to keep people together. I've got two friends from San Francisco along for the ride, so that is a joy and a pleasure. More later in the week, and I'll get some commentary, a little bit more specifics about the writing from Mickey Rafa along the way to to give you an idea about what to expect. It's a five day experience here in the Jonah Gravel tour. They've got some other options I think, coming online next year, but super excited for the days to come as the mileage is gonna creep up, and I'm told the technicality is gonna creep up as well. So super excited for that. We'll see how these 35 C tires on the demos go, but I'm confident we've got the right equipment for the job. Day 2 [00:02:50] Craig Dalton: Okay, so on day two of the Trek Gerona gravel tour today, we did about 60 miles of gravel, about 1800 feet of climbing on our way to the Mediterranean beach, the Mediterranean Ocean. We started in Gerona and followed the prominent river all the way to the east. Surprisingly, the whole ride, we were on gravel roads, beautiful gravel. Started out getting outta town on some small paths right next to the river. Some real fun single track to wake you up and then onto some amazing roads through forests. There's a lot of forests here. We were told that the trees that were being planted there were for the paper industry. They were super beautiful tall trees and lined in rows, and we just weaved throughout them until 29 kilometers later. We met the van, the Trek travel van, and our second guide Mickey, who had water refills and food and everything we needed for the second half of our ride out there to the coast where we went through orchards, basically this incredibly smooth gravel road. Very, very little car traffic. I think maybe we saw a few, maybe three vehicles out there the whole day, but super pleasant ride. Relatively flat for 60 miles, only 1800 feet of climbing. We got to the ocean to meet Mickey in the van again. Had an amazing lunch and a few of us decided we were gonna jump into the. It wasn't exactly warm, but it wasn't unpleasant. It was so fun to kind of get off the gravel bike in the middle of your ride and go for a swim and play around. And one of the riders, James, my friend from San Francisco, took a nap on the beach while we were in the water and we had to rouse him to get him back on the bike for our 45 kilometer return home. Adding up to, as I said, 60 miles and no idea why I'm converting miles to kilometers and vice versa. Including them in the same sentences. But anyway, I'm a bit groggy from the ride. The legs are taken a little bit to get used to it, but it's been amazing. The town's been amazing. We, we spent sunset at, on the wall here in Jerome, next to the big church, and you can see the purities and the sun was setting right over the pys. Pretty incredible Second day. Getting ready for the third day, which I guess is a little bit more technical. I'll get some of the guides on to describe some of the terrain, excuse me, that we're going through and we'll see how the legs hold up. Day 3 [00:05:29] Craig Dalton: Day three of our Jer gravel cycling tour with track travel. Today was a little bit more technical, especially with the 35 Sea Tires. We got out into some rolling farm roads and definitely off into some single track and double track. That was pretty amazing, the first 30 K or so, rolling farm roads. Just a little bit punchier than we've been experiencing. A little bit looser gravel in most cases. But nothing too technical on the. 30 K of the ride. We had this amazing stop at Ro Roca corba cycling, a new 17th century Chateau kind of building that's being converted into a cycling. Kind of lodge and Airbnb pretty amazing. They took the kind of areas that used to house the cattle underneath the building and made them into kind of the bike room and a little cafe. It's a super like rustic arc, arc ceilings beautiful stonework on the grounds. This beautiful old building, it's being renovated by a couple professional cyclists, ones who's already retired, and one who's in the Women's Pro tour today. So that was really special. Kind of get to tour that facility and definitely something. It's about 30 kilometers outside of. Jer. So kind of an interesting place to stay. You know, the ideal might be stay in Gerona for, you know, four or five days and then go out there for three or four days, or two or three days to just get a little bit of different starting point. It's a little closer to closer to some of the climbs particularly for the roadies. So, you know, if you're interested in getting out and hitting some of those climbs and having a little less distance in your legs from Gerona, that's a good option. Once we left there, the riding got a little bit more technical through some farms. Took a lot of single track. Some punchier climbs actually reminds me of what I recently experienced at, at big sugar in Arkansas. Kind of loose gravel, the sense definitely some loose gravel pushed the technical capabilities. Clearly. Track is the, has done a really good job of making roots that are gonna explore different areas of your gravel cycling ability again today. Was definitely on the more technical side, particularly if you were a newer rider of which we had at least one in today's ride. And you know, you could. Some of them were, some of the dissents were definitely making them think, but everybody went through fabulously. We even got to stop at the property, which my one of the guides fathers owned, and I'll get him on to talk about that a little bit. But it was great being able to reminisce with him and he learned to swim up there. His father owned a restaurants, a typical Catalan food restaurant in this really beautiful building, which was kind of cool to see. Then we rolled back into, I'm always looking at the GPS and amazed that, you know, we could be within seven kilometers of Jerome and still in these amazing forests and woods, riding gravel, basically all the way back into town. So another great day out there. It's interesting how they've explored. The first day was kind of getting to know your bike a little bit. Second day was that long. Ride out to the beach. Not very technical. Beautiful, beautiful gravel roads today being more technical, and we'll see what the next two days have to bring us. Day 4 [00:08:46] Craig Dalton: All right. Day four, Gerona gravel. Definitely woke up feeling a little tired, not gonna lie. Fourth day riding in a row with some big climbs. Yesterday. Got a massage yesterday afternoon, which was awesome and quite affordable here in Gerona, which was a bonus. Got up this morning, got the bikes ready. We got the route loaded up. We were riding through the fields. Kesier de Las Selva known for the cork. It's cork production. So they actually, it was kind of interesting. They, the trees kind of about five feet kind of from the ground up. Five feet they chop and that's the cork that they used to make cork bottles, flooring, everything. So that was super cool to see. We continued rolling through some dirt roads through there, through the mountain range of Lis gravis. Then we tackled a famous road climb called Santa Aea, known as the George hie Climb for Local. This was awesome. I mean, I know we're here to talk about gravel and the gravel was great that first half of the morning, but that road climb was spectacular as well. I kind of felt like it was a bonus, obviously, like we signed up for a gravel trip, but to be able to do kind of a famous climb, road climb was amazing. It was great gradient, fantastic descent. Right at the bottom of it, we turned up another dirt road and had a a 12 K climb to lunch. Great climb kind of loose. Actually more similar to riding I do at home than the first couple of days. So that was interesting. Got up to a church where Salvador Dolly was married, had some lunch, then we dropped down the kind of backside of that climb. But before we got to the bottom in Jer, we took another hard right and got into a trail system right above. Rode some steep descents through and down back into town. Those steep descents were very much like mount ta. You know, maybe 12, 15% grade going down and loose. A lot of fun. I discovered by the time I got back to town that I managed to cut the sidewall of my. But fortunately the sealant held and it was all good for me to roll back into town. We dropped a few people off and ended up going on an extended loop, a pretty vicious climb on the extended loop they call extended loops for the avid riders. My legs were screaming at me, but it was a, it was a lot of fun. We were kind of just, again, in that same area going up into the ELs Angels climb area. Steep dirt climbs pretty loose. We grinded that climb for a while, but the descent was a hell of a lot of fun. Pretty gentle loose rock, but pretty easy to handle at speed. Fun. Coming back into the town the way that route did was a lot of fun. It really felt like you were kind of entering a village, not downtown gerona like we've done in some other, the the entrances back into town. Anyway, another great day out there for day four. Super fun, super varied. The team has done a really good job of kind of making each day feel different and like many areas around the world, kind of directionally where you head outta town, the, the dirt and the gravel. Has just a different feel to it. So it's been fun to explore. We've got one more day on the official tour, and then I've got an extra day here. So we're gonna do a sixth day of riding where I think we'll head back out to the Mediterranean Ocean. Cuz how, how cool is that? Day 5 [00:12:17] Craig Dalton: All right. Day five of the Jarana. The gravel tour with truck travel, bit of a shorter day, as most of the clients were leaving today, it's the end of the official tour. So our guides took us on a really fun kind of single tracky tour through a different part of the surrounding area that we hadn't visited before. Lots of fun. Just kind of a great community day where we got to interact with the other riders a bit, and the writing wasn't too challenging nor too long as the ideal schedule had you back by noon and getting checked out of the hotel. Fortunately, we don't have to leave today. So we decided at least a few of us who were staying on a couple extra days to go out and climb the LA angels. Road climb again. We had such a good time. The day before on that climb, we thought it'd be fun to go back up. And we had some energy in our legs and a little bit of time in the afternoon to go tackle that. So we said goodbye to the other members of our tour group and our guides and headed off on a road loop. It was great. We talked about the climb a bit the other day. Just a fun group. Growed climb we saw a bunch of pros climbing up at which was always fun got to the top crews back down and put another day behind us in the books Day 6 and 7 [00:13:31] Craig Dalton: All right. Well, the official tour from track is over at day five. We had a couple extra days on our hands over in Gerona and you better believe we wanted to go out there and ride Mickey. One of our guides that you'll hear from later in this broadcast was nice enough to share. Another route. Out to the coast for us. So we really enjoyed that ride out to the coast, just super satisfying to kind of hit the Mediterranean. I shouldn't come back. Over to Gerona, but he had us go over some great trails on the way out and then a really, really fun road climb. Just gradual great fun descent down into the Mediterranean. You got to the top and you could see the ocean just super satisfying. We sat around in a cafe for gosh. Probably an hour and a half, just drinking some teas and coffees and having some snacks. We were having a great time, but we realized we needed to head back to Gerona. And Mickey's rude had us go through some similar type of terrain that we were on in our coastal roots, a few days back, those nice long flat undulating gravel trails that seemed to be pervasive in this area. So we're super appreciative of Mickey. Sharing one of his favorite routes that he loves to do with his friends, with us. So we could get another big day. You know, on the bike. I'll move on to day seven. As I'm recording this after the fact day seven, we didn't have a bunch of time left. So we decided we were going to basically revisit the route from day one, some of that nice single track and double track along by the river, it was actually fun without the group with just two of us remaining on the bikes, the kind of rip the single track a little bit harder. We were comfortable with the bikes. We'd been on them for seven days at that point. So really fun to just kind of rip the single track and nail it a little bit harder. Knowing that we could go as hard as we wanted because we had an overnight in Barcelona and then we were going to be on a plane saying a sad goodbye to Gerona. Overall. It was a fantastic trip. Jarana is a very special community. There's a reason why so many cyclists flock there it's clear whether you're a gravel cyclist road cyclist, or even mountain biker that there's ample terrain every direction outside of Jarana. And then the town itself is just really special, special. Between the old world, the old town roads and the city. City walls, the church walls. It was just a really great experience. Our guides from track were phenomenal and I wanted to introduce you to them. So I've recorded some tracks. That'll play immediately after this commentary. So you can get to know Mickey and Rafa, who were our guides throughout the week for track travel. I also was able to capture a little bit of audio from a few different sources. We talked a little bit about Roca Corp, but cycling. Both the 17th century Villa that's being converted into a cycling Airbnb, as well as there's Roca, Corbus cycling clothing, which was founded by a gentleman by the name of a test who's happening to be opening his store this month in Jarana. So it was able to get him on the mic. I had Andrew from the Airbnb. Cycling house. And then also Oscar from Castelli Castelli just opened up a flagship community store in Gerona that week we were there as well. We witnessed a number of group rides going out from the facility. So it was great to hear what Castelli's perspective was for opening that facility. And I was surprised to learn it had. Had little to do with selling. Jerseys and clothing and bib shorts, as you would imagine, and everything to do with promoting the cycling community and creating yet another hub. In Jarana for cyclists. Which brings us back to why you should all go to Jarana. As i just mentioned it's a great place to go and i highly recommend it and i hope you enjoyed this overview of my experience there. With that said let's jump right into those conversations Rapha - Trek Travel Guide [00:17:33] Craig Dalton: Okay, can I get your name and what you do with Trek? [00:17:36] Rapha: My name is Rafael and I'm a second [00:17:38] Craig Dalton: guide for Trek Travel. And [00:17:40] Rapha: where are you from? Well that's a good question cuz originally from the Philippines grew up for most of my life, 20 years in London and now anywhere in Europe. So I'm a resident of France, but I gotta find a place to live , so. [00:17:54] Craig Dalton: And how long have you been guiding for truck [00:17:56] Rapha: travel? This will be my fifth year now, guiding for truck. [00:17:59] Craig Dalton: And what does that look like? Are you always based here in Jer or are you all over the place? We, we [00:18:03] Rapha: sort of congregate here in the beginning of the year and then come back at the end of the year, but in between, we're all over [00:18:09] Craig Dalton: Europe. And are you leading, I know Trek Travel has got many, many road tours. Probably a lesser degree of gravel tours. Are you leading trips on the road and gravel [00:18:21] Rapha: for now? Yeah, and we're, we're starting off gravel next year and so it's a mainly road for the beginning. Next year we're gonna bring in unpaved which is gonna be a whole gravel series. So we have a whole unit of bikes just traveling throughout Europe, and it's gonna be exciting for next year. Yeah, [00:18:37] Craig Dalton: it's exciting. I heard, I heard from the, the extended team that you're gonna really build out the gravel experiences for next year, which is great. I think if my experience in Jerome with the gravel tour is any indication there's gonna be a lot of magical trips across Europe, helping riders discover gravel all over the. [00:18:56] Rapha: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I do a lot of the road tours and I'll see just a patch of undiscovered area and I'm thinking, Hey, where does that go? Or I'll be traveling along the hills and in between you're gonna see these gravel patches of fires and you just want to go and explore. And essentially that's what the guides that went into design these trips or, or want to do, they want to do that. They want to find out those roads. Where does it lead to? Can I connect these dots and see the town and where am I gonna. [00:19:25] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think it's one of the things I've talked about on the podcast a lot, just the power of local knowledge as we're following the GPX files or following you guys' guides through Jer here. You know, there's a lot of nuance, a lot of little trails that you can pop onto that would be easy to miss if you just sort of saw a heat map of the area. You might just choose the carriage way instead of the the nice trails. So it's really cool and important. I. To have guides that are local to kind of pick apart the best of the best for us to ride on. [00:19:57] Rapha: Yeah, I mean this is what we do. We, this is what we do for fun. So on our time off whilst we do a lot of road riding for work on our time off, we want to go out there and ride gravel. And so this is why we get to know the places. We live around here and in the places that we research gravel all we're doing is just riding and riding and riding and then through. Time, just knowledge. You build up tracks in your head and you wanna put that onto design and then maybe create a trip around it. Find a hotel, find a restaurant, the best restaurants, best hotels to stay and yeah, it's awesome. [00:20:30] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I feel that way. Whenever anybody comes to Marin County, I just wanna show them the best of the best and not the most obvious trails, but the, the ones only the locals know. Yeah. [00:20:41] Rapha: You, you wanna share it? I mean, it's, its more fun riding a gravel. It's more fun with people, friends and random people that you meet up on [00:20:48] Craig Dalton: trails as well. Yeah. When we were, when we first arrived during the week and you were giving an overview, you were talking about kind of the progression of roots that we'd be doing during the week. I thought it was very interesting, like the thoughtfulness in, in how you guys conceived of the roots and the, the relative challenges, whether they be distance or technic. Can you talk about, you know, if someone's come coming into one of the spring trips for the Trek Travel Corona gravel tour, what would how would you describe it? [00:21:16] Rapha: Well, so, well, there was no brief in the beginning, so actually when we rode this, For the research we rode 500 kilometers in five days and it looked like a picture of a lung with all the trees of just dead ends. But once we put it all together, we decided to, okay. Day one is a bit of an introduction. Let's get you used to the surfaces, the mixed surfaces, but we're gonna keep it flat. And on the second day we're gonna add on a little bit of distance just to make sure you have endurance for grab, because it's a lot of work. You know, you're doing a lot of cadence. Mind work as well, trying to figure out what's coming up. And then day three we add technicality. Now we're having multi services, soft sand, big rocks, technical climbs, and technical descents, which, you know, your wheels dig in, you gotta react to it. And then we put all of that together for the fourth day where you. Pick up all the skills you've had and we put it all in a fourth day for you to enjoy. Yeah. Right [00:22:11] Craig Dalton: on. And can you talk about the bikes that people are offered for this [00:22:15] Rapha: trip? Okay. For this trip, we are currently running Damani 2019 s SL seven. So it has gravel wheels on it for 35 millimeter. And it's just fun. That's what it is. So it's, it's not an all out gravel. It tests your limits on this ride and you get electronic shifting. So when you really need that gear on those technical climbs, you're gonna get it. Of course you're gonna prepare for it, but you're gonna get, get the gears. Yeah. When [00:22:39] Craig Dalton: I first saw that, that was the bike spec, I mean, it almost immediately had me thinking of more the trails that we took out to the coast when the carriageway, the, the, you know, the reclaimed rail line. Right. But at the end of the day, like now, four days into this, You're pushing the limits of these bikes and it's been a hell of a lot of fun. I mean, it, I really do think it's one of, it is kind of a perfect bike for this situation because it did everything you needed to do if you were ever on the road, it felt snappy and lively and it could withstand some of the abuse we were putting it through today. [00:23:11] Rapha: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, these, these can do rock gardens and slick rock on, on good terrain. Good. These bikes are perfect around your owner. Of course, you know, you can always go wider. You can get flat bars and you go, world is your oyster. When it comes to gravel. I mean, you ask anybody what is gravel to you and they'll give you a million answers depending on who you're talking to. So every, everyone's got their preferences, and next year, you know, who knows? We have Wider checkpoints next year and it's it's gonna cater up to 50 mil tires and it's gonna be amazing. So we have sneak preview, we have a few in the warehouse at the moment in, and we can't wait for next [00:23:48] Craig Dalton: year at a checkpoint. Yeah, I think it, I mean, the checkpoint's obviously like gonna be a little bit more versatile and you can imagine the opportunity if you have a rider on day one that's seeming a little nervous. Maybe you spec it with a 40 to begin with and maybe you swap out the wheels and maybe you put him or her on 50 millimeters just to give them additional comfort. And who knows, maybe it's even for day four, we put you on 50 millimeters cuz we know it's gonna be kind of more challenging, technically speaking. [00:24:17] Rapha: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. We're gonna, as guides, you know, we're gonna test write these. We have a few in now and we're gonna have fun and check it out. So to checkpoint with all this capabil. It's gonna be more forgiving and hopefully you'll get more people coming in and not be so scared about gravel and check it out and try, try something different from [00:24:37] Craig Dalton: road riding. Yeah, for sure. As someone who didn't grow up in gerona, what have been some of your favorite things that you've discovered in town? [00:24:43] Rapha: Oh, you know what? Last night was probably one of the best nights ever because it was random. Mickey invited me down to the cast Telluride, and we did a Night Gravel, which is absolutely epic. Like, it's add just a different layer of difficulty, not seeing too far around and the group dynamic and you know, getting to know people and. Absolute blast. [00:25:04] Craig Dalton: Yeah, we were more than a little jealous that we didn't have lights with us and our legs were probably cooked enough that we shouldn't go for another eye, but we probably would've been excited to do so. Craig, maybe next time we're gonna invite you around. Exactly. Outside of Jer, since you've done Trek travel trips in a bunch of different places, what would be like one other trip that you'd recommend? Gravel or road? Either way. Oh, that's, [00:25:26] Rapha: it's like choosing between your children really. Like I adore all the trips and, but for me, this. The classic climb of the Alps. It's so stunning. It's beautiful and it's challenging. That's one of my favorite trips. And what, [00:25:39] Craig Dalton: what classic climbs, if you can recall, some of 'em are on that [00:25:43] Rapha: trip. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, we start in a place LA Luce and the first ride you're doing quarter cord Qure. Okay. And, sorry, my mistake. Yeah. Qure. And it's a, it's a first. Already you're getting like 1500 meters of elevation in a 55 kilometer ride. So it's just day one and you're already getting straight up, okay, we're here to climb and we're gonna go all out the whole week. Nice. Of course, we, we do the epic outdoors at the end trip, sort of the icing of the cake and so that's the last climb of the, [00:26:20] Craig Dalton: of the trip. Yeah. It's certainly nice for anybody who's been watching the tour to come over and knock off any one of those climbs that are bucket list. [00:26:27] Rapha: Yeah, it is, it is a backless trip. I was fortunate, fortunate enough to climb outdoors on the TDF day in 2022, and the atmosphere there is unbelievable. Just the, the crowd cheering you on it, it just gives you an extra beat and you are just hammering up the hill just because of the people cheering you on. It's absolutely epic. And then of course you get more quieter climbs. So Wears is a great climb, but like Holyland. It's not celebrated enough for just Serenity, and it's, it's still challenging. It's 21 kilometers and but it's a good, it's a good time. Yeah. It's underrated my opinion. Amazing. My favorite call. [00:27:05] Craig Dalton: Awesome. I love your passion for it, . Thank you. Cool. And I, again, I wanted to thank you for all your help this week. It's been great getting to know you and riding with you. If it's, if it's unclear in anything we've said before, Each day we've had one of these guys riding with us and so one person's in the van and we've got one person on a bike with us. So we've had good camaraderie and lots of miles to get to know one another. So thanks again for everything [00:27:28] Rapha: this week. Thank you to, to you guys. Cause without you we wouldn't be here. And it's an absolute pleasure to be guiding you around here and it's so fun just doing own gravel. Cheers. Thank you. Miqui [00:27:38] Craig Dalton: All right, sir, can I get your name and what you do for truck travel? [00:27:42] Miqui: Yeah, so my name is Mickey Mic Reta, and I'm one of the guides of the truck travel ju gravel. [00:27:50] Craig Dalton: And not only are you one of the guides, you're a local here [00:27:52] Miqui: in Gerran. Yeah, I'm local. I'm born and raised in Gerran and I'm very happy to have you guys here in Gerona. Let's, let's [00:28:01] Craig Dalton: actually start with that. You've been in Gerona your whole life as you just. What's it been like growing up here? How has the town changed and as cycling has become more of a hub, how has it been infused into Gerona culture? [00:28:14] Miqui: So I would say cycling has always been a part of Ger. I remember as a kid going to a bunch of mountain bike races with my brother, probably. I did my mountain bike race, my first one when I was like six years old. And then, After that, it's just, it's been growing like crazy and I remember probably about eight years ago as one, it just went insane. Like all the pros started moving here and somehow it created a community that is just like a magnet for all the cyclists anywhere in the world up until the point that now I would say Juran is the cycling capital of the. [00:28:55] Craig Dalton: What is it about the roads and trails around here that you think attracted them people to gerona? Obviously, you've given us a great sample these five days of what the gravel has been like, and it's been spectacular. We've touched on some of these roads. I'd just like to hear in your words, why do you think everybody's coming here? [00:29:14] Miqui: So I would say Jona has everything you are looking for in. Or anything related to cycling? The weather is good all year round. It's true we have a rainy season, which lasts for a couple weeks or a month. We have a very few weeks in summer, which is very hot in very few weeks in winter, which is very cold. But the rest of the year is incredible. It has an. Endless options of road riding. If you wanna ride to the peer, you can, it's a long ride, but you can actually do it if you wanna ride from ju to the coast and do a nice short loop, short-ish you can do it if, yeah, I would say in ju you could be riding for almost a month and you would never repeat a single ride. [00:29:58] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I believe it. I mean, just from sampling it for this week. Yeah, for sure. And I mean, I think it's great that you've. Flat options. You've got hilly options. I think today we were up on kind of the local climb you would probably do after [00:30:12] Miqui: work. Yeah. You guys were up on Los Angeleses, which. I feel like it's just incredible to have a climb like that starting at three kilometers from the center of Una and yeah, it's, it's a long climb. It's about 10 kilometers and on top you get views of the purines. You get views of the ocean, well, the sea. Yeah. I feel like we are very lucky [00:30:33] Craig Dalton: in here. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like it's like probably one of those climbs that every local athlete knows their exact time to the top. Yeah. [00:30:41] Miqui: I would say that. People's fitness, you always ask, what's their time of Los Angeles ? [00:30:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That'll tell you if you're a compatible rider with them. So let's talk about the, the Trek Jer Gravel tour. I think you had a hand in a lot of the mapping, being a local and figuring out all the roots. How did you go about kind of, I always say whether it's an event organizer or a tour, it's almost like a love letter to your community and your trails, right? You're. You've got guests coming in from out of the country or out of the area and you wanna show them the best of the best. How did you go about thinking about the, the trails and roads we were [00:31:17] Miqui: on? The thing about this trip is that I had, I had to think that I couldn't make it super intense cuz sometimes we are taking guests at not super experienced on, on gravel riding or they just come from the. So I couldn't make a trip very technical, but as you guys saw, we have a few avid options after the look we do every day, which are a little more technical. But yeah, I feel like I, I was really happy when they actually said, Hey Mickey, do you want to give us a hand with this trip? Because, It's Una, I'm, I'm, that's where I started riding and I love grow riding, so actually my favorite ride of the trip is the one where we go to the coast. So we start in Una. It's super flat. We actually did on an incredible day. It was super sunny and we stop at the at the sea and yeah, we have lunch by the sea. Then after you guys went for a little swim and then we brought back to Una, we tried to stop at the brewer, which was unfortunately close that day. But yeah, I just think it's, I was very happy when Trek Travel said, Hey, do you wanna give us a [00:32:23] Craig Dalton: hand on this? Yeah. It's interesting. I think it's, it's sort of, you know, I imagine Trek travel draws a lot of road athletes Yeah. Onto their trips. So I think it is very approachable, but definitely had moments where you needed some skill. Not, you know, I think for more experienced gravel riders, riders, there was, there was no fear. It was just fun and exhilaration. But for a couple of the newer rider, When they were going down the looser descents, they were probably a little bit scared but exhilarated when they got to the bottom. Yeah. [00:32:54] Miqui: I don't think it's, it's nothing crazy. We haven't put anything on this trip, which would be like dangerous or scary for like total beginners. We've had intellectual, we, we classify rider in four levels, four being the, the most expert. And we've had people on this trip, they're like level twos and they've. They've loved the descents, they love the writing. Yeah. I think it's, it's got a great balance of hardcore and not hardcore, so. Yeah. [00:33:23] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's super interesting. I mean, we, we sort of weave through the farmlands and into little villages, and it's been a real pleasure to kind of pop out of some woods and go through some, you know, 17th century sanctuary buildings and then back out onto some trails. It's, it's super fun. So, [00:33:39] Miqui: and that's the thing about Juran, right? So everyone, Toronto is for road cycling, but as a local, I'm a hundred percent sure that there is actually a lot more gravel riding than there is road riding in Toronto. Yeah, I [00:33:56] Craig Dalton: believe you. I mean, I think within four kilometers of town every day we've been on the dirt. Yeah. [00:34:01] Miqui: The extension of like farm roads and Yeah, just unpaved roads. I mean, I'm not talking about single track, I'm just talking. Real, what I like to call the real gravel, which is smooth and fast. [00:34:15] Craig Dalton: Yeah. You were telling me about that railroad line that used to go from the Yeah. The sea to the purities, and now it's all a gravel road. Yeah, [00:34:23] Miqui: so I would say it's about 50 years ago when they removed the, the train line, the, well, the railway, which there was a train that went from sun follow g. Which is one of the towns on the coast. And then it run all the way up to Ola and now yeah, they just remove the whole railway and they lay gravel on it and it's just an incredible, it's, it's actually a bike path, so on the weekend it's gonna be full of kids on bikes and yeah, the extension to the Villa Verde, which that it's included on the Villa Verde, is just incredible. How [00:35:02] Craig Dalton: many kilometers do you think that that trail. It's over a hundred kilometers. That's amazing. I mean, to be able to cruise, I mean, and relatively flat presumably, until it gets to the purity side. Yeah. It's [00:35:14] Miqui: totally flat. But since a train used to Yeah. Be on it, so they made sure it was super flat [00:35:20] Craig Dalton: for it. Yeah. Miles and miles and miles. Going back to the community in Ger, what are some of your favorite kind of, if a cyclist is coming to town, what are some of the go-to businesses they should [00:35:30] Miqui: visit? So if a cyclist comes in, ger, I would say most people, they would come here for about at least a week. So you're gonna have time to visit all of them, which they are all a hundred percent worth visiting. But there is a couple of places. You should a hundred percent go see if you're here for a short period of time. One of them being a coffee shop called La Fabrica, which it's only open in the mornings and lunch, so it's, it's the perfect place to brunch. Yeah. [00:36:05] Craig Dalton: Quick aside, I literally ran into someone I know, know from the United States today, and they told us to go have brunch at [00:36:13] Miqui: Left Africa Till Africa is owned by Christian Mayer and Amber Mayer. He was, well, he's a, he's a former, Yeah, they were the pioneers in Una, so they were the first ones to open a coffee shop, only focused for cyclist, of course, for everyone. And now it has become like a super great, like it's, it's a tourist attraction right now, but that's what kind of triggered the whole cycling movement in Joran. Okay. [00:36:41] Craig Dalton: So La Africa, and what's the [00:36:42] Miqui: second one? La Africa. They also have another coffee shop, which is only for. Which LA Fabric is more like brunch and food. The other coffee shop is called Espresso Mafia, which is one meal walking from La Fabrica, and that's basically where Christian roast the coffee and then you can drink it at Espresso Mafia. And then another place you should go visit in general, well, mid January. Trek and track travel. It's opening the first track store in the world, which is gonna have truck travel inside of it. And with a rental fleet, we are going to be the biggest, as in space, we're gonna have the biggest bike shop in ju, which it's pretty exciting. [00:37:29] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that's really exciting. And then finally, what's one sort of cultural place within Jerron that a tourist should visit? [00:37:36] Miqui: The whole old town itself. If you go to Juna, I highly recommend getting a walking tour of the Old Town because you're really gonna see what our culture is here and how it was in the past. And everything around the old town is just, it's just incredible. [00:37:55] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's fun. You recommended we go up onto the wall for sunset. Yeah. And we've, we missed it the first night. The second night we, we made it up. We may have had to like randomly climb over a fence to make it there in time because we couldn't find the way up. But we got there and it was spectacular with view. Is that the purities that you're looking at out there? Yeah. You [00:38:14] Miqui: get to see Purees, you get to see a bunch of things and yeah, there is a restaurant called Aro. Which is in one of the steps. Well, there's like, Juna has 200 million cathedrals, but in one of them. On the stairs there is a restaurant called , which they actually film Game of Thrones there. And the terrace of the restaurant, it's actually on a little like flat section it has on those stairs. And I think it's a really cool location. [00:38:45] Craig Dalton: That's super. Cool. Well, thank you so much for coming on. Thank you so much for all the hospitality this week. It's been great to getting to know you and the local terrain [00:38:55] Miqui: here. Yeah. Thank you guys for coming. Girona Cycling Friends [00:38:57] Andrew - RocaCorba: All right. Can I let me get your name and let me know where we're at. What's this beautiful place? So my name is Edward Green. I'm the guest, the general manager slash I don't know what, at Rocka Culpa cycling. So we are a cycling tourism business just outside of Jer Corona in a town called Bans. We are based on a 17th century Catalan estate, or Maia as it is in Catalan. And we are basically trying to be a boutique hotel with some villas attached, which is exclusively for cyclists, road, gravel, mountain. Whatever you enjoy on two wheels is, is what we wanna do. And how far away from Ger are we? So we are currently 18 kilometers from Gerona, or 10 or 11 miles depending. Country. And about a 30 to 45 minute ride depending on, on how you get to us. Can you describe where we are in, in the villa right now? So we're downstairs basically in what used to be the old like area for the animals. So we've got some troughs around us, but we've done huge renovations to basically create our cycling dungeon down here. So we've got beautiful old vaulted Catalan ceiling. Rustic concrete floors, beautiful stone work, and then cycling history all around us with some beautiful frames. Cycling jerseys. Good coffee from the rocket espresso machine. Everything you can need for a good cycling stay. And what time of year is best to come here? Pretty much all, all year. To be honest. I don't think there's necessarily a bad month anymore, like December and Januarys tends to be quite quiet, but we see strong gravel riding in October, November, and the rest of the year is a lot of road riding. Summer is quite warm, so unless you like waking up early, probably avoid summer a little bit. But like June and September, October, probably buffer the. I'll note when you said strong gravel riding, you looked right at exactly a hundred percent. You are the epitome of what we see in November. . Tell us a little bit about the rest of the. So we are on 37 hectares and it's basically an old, what was an old family estate of the Campier family. The estate dates back to the 17th century, so 1673, and it was with the same family until 2018 when we took it over to create. What we want to create is basically cycling paradise all you need in one place. Out in the countryside, but close to Gerrin. And how many rooms do you have available here? So currently we're at eight rooms, but we'll be at 13 by April next year. So we're currently in the process literally starting today, which is very exciting of putting in five beautiful unsweet rooms in this main can poly manor house, partially they'll have views over down towards the lake onto some vineyards, but also into the courtyard and just generally over the rolling hills of, of Jerome. And tell us a little bit about the village. So just on our doorstep, we have the town of Olas which has a beautiful lake in it. It's where they had the rowing for the 92 Barcelona Olympic. It's a great place for like active people, for families, et cetera. But there's a lot of rowing. A lot of of the British university teams come out and train here. A lot of the national teams come and train as well, but generally just a fantastic place to be. Good quality of life and just down to earth and authentic. Amazing. And how do people find out about staying here? So if you have a look on Rocka coba cycling.cc, you'll find us and you can kind of do anything from there. Or if you are enjoy climbing, just Google Rocka Coba, you'll find the climb, and then you'll find us and the clothing. Amazing. Thank you. Perfect. That was great. [00:42:14] Oscar - Castilli: Okay. Can I get your name? Hi, my name is Oscar. And Oscar. Where are we standing today? Well, today we are in the, the first flag shipper store in the, in the war from Costelli here in Una. And what's the plan for the store? What are you trying to do with the community here? Well, una, you know, is the Jamaica for for European cyclists, I think all over the world. So, right now Castelli store, it's coming to. The big cycling club in Giona and well, why not in Spain? Nice. And we, we rolled by here last night and there was a big group ride going out on the gravel. Yeah. We have almost 40 people doing the full moon ride. It was amazing. So always we keep a surprise for all the riders. We stop in a food truck in the middle of the forest with fire. Some dinner and and beer. So it was super fun. That's amazing. And if someone's coming to Jerone to, to visit, do you have a calendar of events that they can look at? Yeah, they can, they can follow us on our Instagram and yeah, you can check. So, but every week we have a ride, so, and 2023, especially now it's coming a low season for the weather, but from February. So it's coming. A lot of events. Yeah. Amazing. Thanks Oscar, and congratulations on opening the new Castelli store. Yeah, big pleasure. Thanks for coming. [00:43:30] Mattias - Rococorba Clothing: All right. Right. Can you tell me your name and your shop? Mattias from Roco, COBA Clothing, Giron Mattias. Tell us a little bit about the brand. Yeah, it's a brand. It started in 2017 in the top of the mountain of Roco Coba. It's a very famous climb here in Giron, and I decided to, to put a food truck up there and to start at the same time closing brand called Roca corba. And yes, five years. Later. I just opened a new shop in GI selling all my stuff, selling online, gold wide, and really happy too. Have, what are some of the products that you sell? I sell Jersey t-shirts, shorts accessories, bags, Macs, beat ons. A lot of things sucks. Yeah. Amazing. These jerseys I see on the wall are beautiful, very colorful, very expressive. What inspires you and the, the designs? Yeah. Yeah. Right now I have like more or less 50, 60 different designs and I inspir it from everywhere. My slogan is cycling apparel inspired by the rob because we have so many different landscapes or different places and always I, I have inspired inspiration in the. In our region. Yeah. And when is the shop opening up? I hope next Thursday it will be open. Now it's ready and I have to do some things, little things, but next Thursday, big opening here in J in the center. Amazing. I'm excited. We got a preview. We are able to pick up some of your lovely clothing. You said you, you're available worldwide. Where can people find you on the. Yeah, we can find in ro.com. We have online shop with all the products and we we ship worldwide. Amazing. Thank you. Thank you. Pleasure, . [00:45:22] Craig Dalton: So that's going to do it for this first international version of the gravel ride podcast. I've been talking and dreaming about international gravel travel for some time. So I was super excited to have this opportunity with track travel. To explore Durona with their Gravel cycling tour. It was amazing trip. As I said before, I highly encourage you to check it out. As Raffa mentioned. They're unveiling a whole new series of gravel adventures for 2023. So they're really leaning into this gravel travel concept. What I loved about it was that unlike a gravel event where you might be focused on. Simply one ride when you visit somewhere amazing. Here. We were able to focus on riding every single day and there was no one ride that we needed to save ourselves for to get across the finish line. It was really about. Exploring as much as our legs could handle. I wasn't as fit as I had normally been when I've gone over to Europe in the, in the past, but it was still an amazing trip, still an amazing experience that I highly, highly recommend. If you're interested in connecting and learning more about the trip, please visit truck travel.com. If you're interested in pinging me, please visit the ridership's that's www.theridership.com. If you're able to support the show, please visit buy me a coffee.com/the gravel ride or ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. Until next time here's to finding some dirt under your wheels

    Matt Conte -Outbound Lighting

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2022 48:16


    This week we sit down with Matt Conte, Co-Founder of Outbound Lighting. Matt discusses the origin story of the business and details the benefits of Outbound's approach to lighting (hint: it has its origins in the automotive world). Outbound Lighting Support the Podcast Join The Ridership  Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Outbound Lighting [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 show, we welcome Matt Conti, one of the founders of outbound lighting. You may remember outbound from a number of years ago when they originally launched the company via Kickstarter project. I, for one, pay a lot of attention to Kickstarter cycling projects. For some reason, I'm a sucker for them, and I was sort of curious, you know, with so many industry stalwarts in the lighting business, how this company was gonna make a mark. Well, they successfully funded the campaign and have successfully built a. Manufacturing in the United States, which is absolutely amazing. But what was equally amazing was Matt's description of the technology that he applied to the bicycle lighting industry. He came from automotive lighting and had a lot of, advanced engineering skills specific to how to light the world in front of you at night. And it was fascinating to just hear his take on the existing bicycle light in. Further how he evolved the very specific lighting options that outbound uses and offers customers. Today I've been using their helmet mounted light as well as their bar mounted light and definitely appreciate a number of things about the design that Matt will get into you for you during this episode. So I hope you enjoy it. And just a quick note, I apologize. A little bit of sporadic release of episodes these days. I've been traveling and had a ton on my plate, and it's been a real struggle to get to the editing and everything else involved in the podcast, so I appreciate your patience. There certainly will be another couple weeks towards the end of the year where I take off just to decompress, but look forward to getting many, many more great episodes out the door to you in the coming year. With that said, let's jump right into my conversation with Matt. Matt, welcome to the show. [00:02:16] Matt Conte: Hey, glad pleasure to be here. I'm [00:02:19] Craig Dalton: excited to dig in and learn a little bit more about outbound lighting. Why don't we start by just letting the listeners know where you are in the world, and then let's talk about what led to you starting outbound light lighting in the first place. [00:02:32] Matt Conte: Yeah, so we are located in just north of Chicago, Illinois in Skokie, just kind of a middle suburb and stuff. And then we got Tom, my co-owner. He's out in Olympia, Washington. Kind of the Mecca Mountain biking out there for him. Couldn't convince him to move to the city, unfortunately, but yeah, so we are, we got our headquarters here. It's where we design, assemble, ship, every bike light that we make. And yeah, I guess from like far as what got us to start this company like you sort of mentions that kind of interestingly, like I'm not that kind of guy who. Hardcore biker who saw an opportunity to make something. I came from the automotive lighting ex world. Used to design l e d headlights, off road lights stuff like that, like Baja trucks and things like that. And I was really into rally car racing where you're on gravel roads, slinging cars, and a hundred miles an hour at night through the woods to blast. But at the time I was kind of looking to how. Basically branch out and take my experience from developing lighting products to something else. I just kind of wanted to do my own thing. And so I looked at experimental aircraft. I looked at exterior architectural lighting and all that kind of stuff. And wasn't until a friend of mine posted on Facebook basically a selfie of him writing at night Asia being like, Oh yeah, I heard night riding. And I was like, Huh, that's. You got a couple headlights on your bike, like what is that? Like, what are you using? And oh, I got the night rider, 1800 pros, the best light out there, all that kind of stuff. And I looked it up and it was like 350 bucks and I was like, it's a flashlight. And talked to him for a bit, kind of like, Hey, can I come over and check this thing out? Kind of seems like this is possibly an opportunity to take what we, what I've done in the automotive space and bring it to bikes. And so yeah, he took me out on a ride and I enjoyed it. Had a lot of fun and kind of was like, Yeah, I could definitely do way better than this. And from there I designed a prototype gave it to him. He liked it, loved it. Ran a Kickstarter campaign, was able to wait enough money to pay for the initial tool in the product, and bought a bing, bought a boom. Five years later. Here we are and we've now got three different products. We've gone through a couple iterations of stuff and yeah, now the goal is basically just continue to build the best bike lights that we can using all of the experience that I used to have from the automotive sector. Interesting. [00:04:50] Craig Dalton: So that was, that goes back to, was it 2017 for that original Kickstarter [00:04:54] Matt Conte: project? Yeah, just about I think I was starting to kick the idea around like 2016 or so. And then, They drew out some sketches, made some models pro, pretty printed a bunch of stuff, and I was doing this all like after hours from my normal job. Kind of trying to keep those two things completely separate. And yeah, so it was about a six months, eight months of just prototyping, validating, doing a bunch of stuff until it was like, All right, we've got something that looks production enough. Let's make a Kickstarter campaign and let's see what happens. I kind of use that as sort of that litmus test of either all my friends and family are wrong and it's not really a great product, or we do have something that other people who are outside of our little in sphere of influence actually find useful and want to have and all that kind of stuff. So that was kind of my testing ground just to see if this is what people wanted and turns out enough people wanted it that we were able to get that started and into production and all that kind of. That's [00:05:53] Craig Dalton: such an interesting kind of validating ground for new products Kickstarter. It's, it's got both incredible advantages, but also risks in terms of like getting, getting your fundraising across the finish line, et cetera. [00:06:07] Matt Conte: Yeah, it's certainly not as good as it used to be. Like I feel like Kickstarter usefulness, we were on the tail end of it. Not as ma a lot of people have been burned in the past by products that just never came to market, all that kind of stuff, and. It was kind of a challenge to like advertise and get the word out that this is what we're doing. And it's even harder nowadays. I think Kickstart has sort of pivoted their entire model away from my products to artists and creators and games and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, it's certainly not as, not as good as it used to be but it's definitely one of the best spots to kind of figure. Is this what people want? Yeah. And it's sort of a low cost, low risk kind of method before you go and dump two 50, $60,000 worth of tooling just to find out that you don't have a market, which I'm sure some people have done that, unfortunately, but that's. The way it goes. [00:06:58] Craig Dalton: I do remember when the product came to market on Kickstarter, simply because I sort of follow Kickstarter and certainly bike projects on Kickstarter with a lot of interest. And it had me thinking about the sort of decades of bike lights that I have experienced or have in the garage dating back to when you used to have the battery in your water bottle cage. Attached by a wire to your headlight and if you could get 250 lumens out of that setup, it was sort of miraculous. Yeah. And then I remember the sort of escalation of lumens being the sort of main driver of innovation. Like the, the form factors weren't changing too much. I just kept seeing this escalation of lighting power so much so that you know, when you got up to even north of 500, 600 lumen. You were getting outshined from behind. If the person behind you had a brighter light than you, it created this weird shadow, and it was worse than having your own light on the bike because they were so powerful behind you. And I think we'll get into this a little bit, but they were very sort of flashlight like and very directional in their beams. So it's, it's interesting and I wanna get into it for sure, your form factor and how that evolved. But let's, let's start what, you mentioned that you had a cyclic fr cycling front. You kind of showed you his lights that were state of the art at that moment in time. What did you see in that light that, given your experience in the automotive industry, you felt was, you know, dramatic shortcoming and the thing you could improve upon very easily? [00:08:32] Matt Conte: Yeah, definitely. So the first thing that. I kind of noticed just because a lot of the bike lights were kind of similar to sort of like the cheap off-road lights that I'd see in the automotive side where it was basically just an l e d sitting inside of a reflect bowl. It's kind of your most common, typical. Standard flashlight type of optic. And the problem with that is that gives you one pattern. It's just gonna be a straight up circle. You're gonna have a tight hotpot from where all of the light was bouncing off through a reflector size and concentrating on the middle. And then you're gonna have like a secondary ring of all the spill light coming straight from the l e d. So you end up. A very concentrated hotspot, an outer sort of just dimmer ring, and then a hard, sharp edge around the outside. And that's sort of what creates that sort of tunnel vision effect, like when you're riding quickly with behind one of those kind of lights. Basically we have not done that in the automotive sector since the sixties. We've all been shaped light with lots of, I mean, if you look at any headlight on a car anywhere the ones that are super basic with just a reflective, even like the old hoens, they're all segment reflectors and they're all doing very little things to redirect the light into certain. Because the automotive lighting inject is so heavily regulated. You have lighting targets that you have to hit, you have to get a certain amount of light at zero degrees, zero left and right, and zero degrees up and down. Like it has to be a hundred. I'm thinking off the top of my head, like 200 Ls or something like that, but then off to the left by 15 degrees up, five degrees down, you have to have a certain amount of Candela requirements to legally sell a vehicle. So the D o T and all that kind of stuff have set up basically all these lighting standards for high beam, low beam turn signals, brake lights, every kind of lighting you can think of. It's been standardized for targets, but in the bike lighting world, Especially offroad kind of step, especially in the US It's kind of very interesting how Europe and US are completely segmented. We can get into that later, but in the US there's absolutely no targets. There's no requirements. So the goal there was always just build a brighter looking light. Not always necessarily make it more useful. And I kind of feel like that segment was always so small and niche. Nobody was taking the advanced software packages that we use in the automotive side to bikes because I have personally designed reflectors and stuff for clients and things like that, and it gets expensive really quick. The software package that we use costs 25 to $30,000 a year just to license because it's such a niche automotive specific lighting package. There's only maybe 50 companies in the world that are using it. But it is what lets us redirect and shape light the way it is. And so when I rode with those older night Rider lights, and I, I don't want to call 'em out specifically cuz pretty much every brand is almost the same. That kind of what I noticed that these were all just flashlights. They were the same beam patterns that you would expect. From a flashlight that you're gonna use around your house, walking down the woods and all that kind of stuff. And I saw that opportunity to basically be like, All right, let me sit here as a driver. Not so much a writer, but like, how do I, how would I approach this problem if I was doing this from an automotive perspective? I could, Okay, I'm gonna be my eyesight eyelines here. My lights mounted two and a half feet below me. Six inches in front. Okay. I know that I want to be able to see with a reaction time of 10 seconds while riding at 35 miles an hour, the fastest, like super fast downhill. I know that I need I know that in order to recognize an object, you need three to five looks of light. Okay? If I know I'm doing 35 miles an hour. And I want 10 seconds, I can figure out that distance that I need to have something illuminated with three to five lus and then backtrack that to figure out how much cannella that I need. And that sets my minimum target in the center. And then basically I can then shape the beam pattern so that we hit that minimum target so it feels bright enough. And then we take all the other lumens that we have and kind of spread that around so that we build essentially a wall of light. Which is exactly how we do it in the automotive sector. A lot of fine tuning and figuring out what targets we wanna hit at what beam angles. All right, let's go into our software programs. Let's spend a couple weeks iterating, optimizing, simulating all these different types of beam patterns. Tweaking, reflect your facets individually until we get what we feel is inappropriate beam powdering for that Pacific type of light. Then we can prototype it. Test. Make changes. It's a very iterative process there. But yeah, it was pretty much that first night ride that I had was very eye-opening as far as, yeah, like if this is the best we can do so much better. And there's so much more opportunity to develop good lighting, utilizing the automotive sector and bring it to bikes rather than being just another bike and enthusiast who's putting together a really bright l e. Into an off the shelf reflector and calling it a bike light kind of thing. So, that's kind of how I see like our paths to arriving here being a little bit different than other companies especially in the logging space. But it does seem like a lot of biking companies start from bike and enthusiast, which obviously that makes sense. And so that's kind of how we arrived to that point and got. Yeah, it's super [00:14:12] Craig Dalton: interesting taking it with a kind of first principal's fresh eyes look and taking what you learned in the automotive industry. You know, one of the, the sort of hallmarks of the outbound lighting visual is it's sort of wider. You know, you think of a lot of these lights and they're, you know, essentially akin to a flashlight or circular or just square light right in the center kicking out a lot of lumens. As you just described, the outbound lighting profile is quite a bit wider. What do you do with that extra space? You mentioned how you sort of can really fine tune where you want the, the extra lumens to go to, et cetera. What are you doing across that big visual front plate of lights? [00:14:51] Matt Conte: Yeah, so that's also kind of playing into the whole like physiological way that our eyes respond to light. Our eyes prefer very. Evenly lit spaces as you can kind of imagine, like when you're riding in, driving in a tunnel and you come outta the tunnel and you get that like big flash of brightness, how it takes a little bit for your eyes to like auto expose. I guess like from a camera perspective. The same thing happens when you're riding a night. If you're riding behind a light that's like very bright, the center and has harsh edges, when that light is moving around, like your eyes are constantly trying to balance. This bright object moving around in front of you versus when you have a very wide even beam pattern, it feels a lot more like daylight. And that's kind of like why we feel so comfortable right around in the day because everything is evenly lit from, not only from like where you're trying to look, but also all the ground in front of you from like where you're looking all the way out to the front of your tire. And so that is definitely like one of the biggest challenges. And as far as like developing an optic. Is to set up the, the beam, and again, the, the surfaces on these things have to be so precise. The tooling for them is very expensive, but it's part of like, why it's so good. Basically what we're doing after we set that target hotspot that we want to hit, then like you said, we're taking all that extra lumens and stuff. And then first of all, I'm trying to like make the lighting from the, where you're looking all the way to the front of your. As evenly as even as possible on the ground. So I'm able to basically set up like a sensor plane in my software for brightness and then set up like a driver perspective, or in this case a writer perspective. But since we use an automotive software, we're always using driver. So I set that up and then basically I'm able to like do cross sectional curves and make sure that we don't have any like weird ripples or really. Peaks which you can kind of see if you study a lot of different beam pattern all over the spectrum from like the cheapest lights to the most expensive lights. You'll see, like there's blotchy areas where lights just gets a little bit more concentrated. You might not notice it, but isn't until someone like me points it out kind of thing. But it's a really, really tough job to try and do that. And that's sort of like where I find the value in the software that we. To be so valuable because yeah, once we set like the ground plane to be evenly lit from the front of your tire all the way out you're looking, then that's where I try to expand the width and then more importantly, try to taper the brightness so that it's, you get all this peripheral spill light to decide that never shows up in pictures, never shows up in video because it's just so. That camera sensors can't really pick it up unless you start pull a Photoshop and brightening stuff and all that kind of stuff. But our eyes are incredibly sensitive optical in instruments, so our eyes start to pick this stuff up and then from the very outside corners, I very progressively try to ramp up that brightness to the center so it feels very smooth and progressive. And that's sort of one of those things. . That's why like when you shine one of our lights, like against the garage wall or the back wall, it's not gonna seem as bright compared to some other lights because we spread it out so much. But it is one of those things like once you're on a trail, on a road pitch dark, and you turn on our step and you give your eyes a few minutes to adjust, and it's one of those things that people just never wanna go back to another type of light. And it really is all those little. Details and days of simulating and tweaking and simulating and tweaking, and simulating, tweaking over and over and over that it really pays off. And I'm pretty sure that, I mean, I notice kind of like why our lives have been so well received. It's a, yeah, it's, it's something that no one else has really done before. Because it is a very expensive it of process that if you try to hire that out to somebody, . Like you have to give them the targets. You have to say, I wanted to be this bright, I've got this much light I can do, make it work and that, and I'll give you 10 or $15,000. And that guy's gonna do two days, three days worth of work and be like, Oh, here you go. Versus like us, we're obsessive about it. I've been up till two or three in the morning just simulating, tweaking. Cuz every time I simulate I'm like, All right, I'm gonna let this simulate. I'm gonna go to bed and be. Wait five minutes, like, Oh, but I'm so close. Let me tweak this again. And Right another five minutes, ah, if I just move this another degree to the left, it'll be all right. And then boom, three o'clock in the morning. And my wife's wondering why I'm not in bed yet. It's, it's that kind of obsession with lighting is like, it's why I enjoy what we do. I love what we're doing, making lights and all that kind of stuff. And I think that really shows in the products. And customer. Yeah, [00:19:39] Craig Dalton: there's a lot of, there's a lot of detail we can get into on the lights. So after the Kickstarter project goes off, you've, you've amassed a little bit of capital to presumably pay for some tooling and get some of the basic products off the ground. What was your vision for how you would, you would assemble the product? Where are the components coming from and did that change from the original Kickstarter first version to, to what you guys are doing now? [00:20:02] Matt Conte: Yeah, so. At first, like the previous company I was at before, we did a lot of stuff overseas. Just cause like the tooling's cheap, all that kind of stuff. And so initially, like after we ran the Kickstarter, we raised like 30 grand. I still needed like another 40, so I ended up getting a home equity line of credit against our house at the time. So I was literally betting the house on this working. Thankfully it did but. It was one of those things where I wanted to work with domestic tooling companies and all that kind of stuff. But the problem is, is that you need a lot of scale. So these guys usually don't even wanna like start talking to you until you're doing like 5,000 units, 10,000 units. At the time I needed 500. I just needed enough to get going. So in order to get the company off the ground, we had to go overseas as far as like getting the tooling going because they'll do the tooling cheap and they'll do it with low minimum quantities, cuz all they really care about is the tooling. While domestic suppliers are more for the recurring orders that come in every day or every quarter or whatever. And so we were able to get stuff started and make the initial shipments and all that kind of stuff. And the tooling, all the tooling was done overseas. The PCBs the actual printed circuit boards and the assembly was done still stateside. At the time I was using a company out in Kansas City. We've always kept the electronics state side because that's, that's the part of developing these products. Needs a lot of hands on experience and needs a lot of like quick turn reaction parts will be out of stock and alright, quickly we gotta find another resistor that can drop into this and all that kind of stuff. And that's where you need that good kind of communication lanes which don't always get going overseas, but when it comes to like a rubber strap or just a guy cast piece, like yeah, you can go overseas and do that kind of stuff. My goal was always to try and build the company up to the scale that we could do more domestic manufacturing. And we finally have kind of reached that point where we're building 10,000 EVAs this year, well, I think we did about eight or 10,000 this year. And once you get to about six to eight to 10,000 units per year, that's when domestic manufacturing makes a lot of sense. Not just from, but the tooling's gonna be more expensive. The lead time's a little bit longer, but the per unit cost is gonna be a little bit cheaper. And more importantly, you're gonna save a ton on shipping shipping, tariffs, all that kind of stuff. And so, as well as just being able to quickly react to different changes and things like that. So we now have a fantastic supplier out in Michigan. They, they do automotive components as their bread and butter, but they also like working with small manufacturers like ourself and. , we're able to now utilize a lot more advanced materials. We're using thermally conductive plastics and everything, which I think is an industry first. We're able to get it. It's one of those things, like the quality just gets so much better as you're able to bring things domestically, but you can't do that until you get the scale. And so it's kind of like a chicken before the egg thing where either you're gonna have a ton of money and you can do it right away and just make a big risk, which I couldn't do because we didn't have investors. We didn't have anything. It. Me betting the house against some tooling that I hope works in an industry that I don't have a ton of experience in. But now we've gotten to that point where every single new product that we develop is almost a hun a hundred percent stateside developed. We do all the assembly and manufacturing in-house. I've invested a lot into automation, robotics stuff like that. Mostly because I love playing with them. I'm an engineer and I love programming them and trying to figure out how to make things better, faster, quicker. Not just from lights, but also how we can build things better. So we're able to build 30,000 lights a year, which is one production guy overseeing three or four different robotics systems. Wow. That autonomously dispense grease. They autonomously sold. I've got an order right now for a cobot arm, so we're gonna have like an arm that's picking up pieces, snapping 'em together, checking the torque on all the screws, checking the force to snap those pieces together. Basically, you can turn it on on an optical sensor, make sure that the light output is exactly what it needs to be. If it's not great, kick it off to the side. Someone else will look at it. But for the most part, trying to do everything I can. Basically make this business run as smoothly as possible so that we can just continue to focus on building better products and as well as like the customer service and all that kind of stuff. Cause yeah, for me it's one of those things that as if you build a great product first, everything else becomes easy. If you build a product that just works every time, you don't need a huge customer service department that's handling warranties and all this kind of stuff. Build a product that's just simple to operate. You don't need complex instruction manuals telling you how to turn on the light. Like it's just turns on, it goes and all that kind of stuff. So to me it's kind of one of those things like we'll always spend the extra couple bucks on genuine components and all that kind of stuff automotive grade sealants and plastics so that this stuff just won't break. And if it does break, we just fix it. We just. You know, if it breaks, it's an engineering issue, we'll be able to figure out how to make it not break and we'll be able to work with our suppliers quickly to modify the tool, and three months later we'll have the product with that problem solved. And so our stuff is incredibly iterative. The product that you buy a year from now is probably gonna be very slightly different than what you would get today, just because we're constantly trying to stamp out every little issue that comes up. And so, Yeah. Yeah, I love [00:25:41] Craig Dalton: that. I love that that benefit of us manufacturing and having that tight relationship. So you can take the customer feedback if you're listening and just put it right back into the product. And sometimes it's minor, but it's always a step in the right direction, whether it's for performance, durability, [00:25:57] Matt Conte: what have you. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it's, yeah, it's one of those things that it sounds easy on paper. It's shocking, like how many companies don't actually do that. Yeah. [00:26:07] Craig Dalton: Listening to customers is surprisingly hard and actually doing something about it, I found. [00:26:12] Matt Conte: Yeah. Yeah. It definitely is. But, you know, let's, [00:26:15] Craig Dalton: let's, let's talk about the, the outbound and lighting lineup as of today. What are the different models? And I'd love to just talk a little bit about the intention of the various [00:26:24] Matt Conte: models. Yeah, yeah. So like, that's sort of another one of those things that makes us unique in this space is, We make a different light for each specific purpose. We're not just making one light at three different power levels or five different power levels. We first, we've got our like bread and butter, which is more for mountain biking. Its so a trail evo that's like a handlebar mounted bike light that's designed to go into handle bars. It's pretty heavy, so it's not gonna fit on your helmet. And it's just an incredibly wide even beam pattern. So that you can be moving your handlebars, you know, 30 degrees to the left and you'll still be able to see where you're going. And then we have our hangover light, which is an ultra lightweight, very slim, low profile helmet light that's designed to go on your helmet can work on the handlebar, but it's not great because it is a narrower spot. Because wherever your head is pointed is probably your eyes are looking. So we can kind of take that beam powder and narrow it down. And still get, have half the lumens, but still the same peak output as I like handlebar light, if not a little bit more. That's so [00:27:28] Craig Dalton: interesting and, and sorry to interrupt Matt, but I, I spent a bunch of time with the, the helmet mounted light. The hangover recently Loved it by the way. And hearing you describe kind of the very purposeful difference, honestly, my entire lighting. I've stuck handlebar mounted lights on my helmet. Yeah, and there was no distinction between the two. It was just like, Okay, great. For the uninitiated night rider, like having a helmet light is important because as you turn your head, as you're going through sweeping corners, A lot of times, certainly with traditional lights, the the light on your bar can disappear. All of a sudden you're going through this arcing turn and you're actually not seeing the trail you're seeing off in the woods. And, you know, you've touched on this in a couple different ways. One, on your handlebar lights you've described how you've tried to purposely widen that, that lighting profile mm-hmm. so that you can turn that 30 degrees and still be in. But the addition of the handle, or sorry, the, the helmet mounted light just gives you that additional ability to kind of look even further. So from by my likes when I'm mountain biking, the ultimate combination is definitely that Evo Plus hangover helmet. Helmet mounted light. [00:28:38] Matt Conte: Yeah, definitely. And that's where those two lights, we also designed to work in concert with each other. So like, the exact same color tempera. Pretty similar being punched strain, so you're not like one light isn't overpowering the other, but it is once you're like looking off down into a hair pan or something like that, that's where it's like you get the brightness of the helmet light. But we make sure that the peripheral spill blends well enough that you're not ending up looking at like two distinct lights. Like it's still feels like an unbroken wall. And so that was like a really important part of the design constraints that we set up when we set the initial lighting targets. Both of these lights was they need to work well together, so, I think it was like 135 degrees off center is like what I aimed for. So basically you're looking your hand, the bars are dead ahead and you're looking like way back behind you. And I still wanted to make sure that there light was blending a little bit so it didn't feel like you saw a black hole basically in between. Yep. Where you're looking and where your hand of eyes are pointing. So it always feels unbroken. Cause as long as you do that, then your eyes are not gonna like. I keep saying like auto exposure, but it's not really the terminology. But basically your eyes aren't trying to adjust for the blackness here and the bright intensity. So as long as it keeps it unbroken. Yeah. Also it's like as you write with it longer, your eye, your pupils start to open up. Cuz they're so used to it, they're not having to contract and expand and contract and expand with the varying brightness levels. As long as it's consistent, you have people who can slowly expand and take in more light. So even though we're working with Lower Lu. Because we wanna have a longer battery life. By just having that unbroken wall of light, it ends up feeling brighter as you get used to it because of the fact that you were, i your eyes are physically opening up more and able to take in more light. Just like when you sit in a room for five minutes in the dark, your eyes start to open up and you can start to see a little bit better. The same thing effect happens with just dim lighting. And all that kind of stuff. And so that's sort of where that philosophy of make sure everything's evenly lit, ultimately ends up helping a lot more as far as like having to like feel a lot brighter, even though the numbers on paper don't seem that impressive. But of course that's one of those things that you can't really, you can't break that down into a one line item on an ad. You can't show that in a picture. You can't show that in video. It's one of. . You just gotta get out there. You gotta ride with it. You gotta try it. And so that's why like word of mouth for us is our biggest yeah. Seller pretty much. Well hopefully [00:31:10] Craig Dalton: this deep dive in the podcast will be a good mechanism for people understanding like the depth of the. Engineering that go into these products and the thoughtfulness that you guys have put in there. Yeah. I think at, before I interrupted you, you were gonna talk about the third lineup, Third light, your lineup. Yeah. [00:31:28] Matt Conte: Yeah. So that's our newest light which is called Detour. It's basically like a road beam headlight. It's designed for gravel riding and road riding. The main difference is being, is that it's, it's basically like a low beam on a car headlight. It's got a cutoff. Where, basically a horizontal line where the light doesn't go above it. So that way you can aim the light up and flat and still be able to see really far down the road where you want to go. Cuz you can put the brightest part of the beam right there, but you're not blinding oncoming traffic. Which is a big deal especially for gravel riders, road riders, or you're approach. Other rider coming towards you, pedestrians and stuff like that. Definitely don't really need it for mountain biking. Cuz a moose doesn't really care if you don't blind him or not. He's still gonna be in the middle of the trail. So, so yeah, that's our newest one. Which again, it's a very specific type of light. It's designed to be a hand of our light, designed to be front and center on your bike. And designed to be aimed in a certain way so that you're not blinding oncoming traffic and stuff. And that's still very wide beam pattern, very progressive lighting from where you're looking all the way out to the front of your tire. I've got side market lights and stuff, so you have better side visibility for traffic or things like that. But yeah, it's just another one of those like. We're not gonna come out with a detour of 1500 or detour 2000 like it's, that's, this is the light. It does around 1200 lumens. You're able to get a lot brighter hotspot because the fact that you, you're not putting half that light in the sky, but to get the cutoff beam pattern so it feels brighter than actually is, you can get good run times and all that kind of stuff. So, Yeah. Cause I was, it's still, [00:33:06] Craig Dalton: it still boggles my mind as someone who started out with a 200 lumen light back then as being like the pinnacle of performance that now you can get 1200 lumens in this incredibly small package. No battery, no external battery. It's all right in there. It's, it's just [00:33:23] Matt Conte: astounding. And you still get an hour and a half, two hours of run time and weighs, was it 135 grams or something? Yeah, and I mean we've got some other designs in play right now that get set even smaller. I'm really, that's sort of like, you know, looking towards the future. Cause you know, like you said, it, it started out with like halogens and car batteries. That was kind of how it started out 20 years ago, 30 years ago. And then IDs bulbs came in and they came out with a little really miniature IDs that again, they did 250, 300 lumens. But they were power sucks. As you waste most of that energy and just heat, like heat coming out of the lamp. But then in around 2005, 2006 is kind of when LEDs became a lot more mainstream. You were able to get them cheap enough that you could build cheap products with. So you saw that explosion, not only the automotive side. Cause that was like when I was really into that, went. The H I d Offroad Lights to Rigid Industries coming out with all their LED D stuff. And the same thing, the bike side. That's like when Night Rider came out, their first I think it was the new or the Lua, their first Lua, like 2005, 2006. Again, 300 lumens. 400 lumens maybe. All that kind of stuff. But then over the last 10 to 15 years, LEDs have gotten, I'd say there's about a five or 10 year stretch where LEDs just every year, just huge leaps. Huge leaps, huge leaps, and then kind of slowed down and stuff. Now the biggest technological leaps in LEDs have basically come from the miniaturization of them. So, And that ultimate that's been driven by the automotive sector, that the automotive sector requires smaller and smaller optics, which means that you need a smaller and smaller source, AKA D L E D. The l e d has to be as tiny as possible so that we can control the rays that are coming, the rays of light coming outta the l e d. So we can control that on a very small optic, and you can put that exactly where you need to. Cause if you put a huge l e. Inside of a tiny optic, you're just gonna get scatter everywhere. It's not gonna be well optimized and all that kind of stuff. So the automotive sector has driven the LEDs to become smaller and smaller and smaller, and they come out like the lumen values don't look impressive on paper. They'll be like, Oh, it's only 300 lumens on this. But that's kind of like why our trail Evo has nine of these LEDs. Cuz you can put these tiny, tiny LEDs into a tiny optic. And still get incredible beam control versus if you try to take like a Cree X H P 3.0 whatever, whatever the biggest l e D is that can do 1300, 2000 lumens, but it's massive. It's like a centimeter wide. You need a ginormous optical reflector to put that into for it to be of any use. Otherwise, you're just scattering light everywhere, uncontrolled. And you see that a lot on a lot of cheap lights. You could tell. They looked at the data sheet, they saw who? 1300 lumens. That looks great. And they're like, Well, let's just, but we gotta fit in this little thing, so let's just taste this l e d, slap it into that. Cool. We got a really bright light. And it's like, Yeah, but it doesn't do anything. Well, it's either extremely concentrated or it's just blown out. Uh um, and so, man, I kind of go off on tangents a lot if you can't tell So, yeah, like the technological jumps, LEDs have kind of slowed down a bunch. And now there's incredibly tiny, incredibly power dense and it's great for us, but there's not, there's not much more that LEDs can do. Like we've kind of reached the final form, I guess you could say. But the next big technological leaf that's gonna be really interesting to jump into is batteries. You know, all these automotive company, again, automotive is leading the, the sector to kind of then drips down into bikes. All of the solid state batteries that every single automotive company is investing into companies like solid power, all that kind of stuff. They're basically promising these batteries that can charge instantly, they can put out huge amounts of power. They won't be as affected by thermals as much. So you can run 'em really cold or really hot and they won't lose a lot of life. And just a lot more power dense. And so to me that's gonna be like the next big generational leap. Not gonna happen next year. It's not gonna happen two years from now, but maybe like five or six years. We hope that we can get, you know, 21 700 cell batteries in a solid state battery for a reasonable price. And that's, These bike flights can either be twice as bright for the same run time, or last twice as long for the same brightness. And that's gonna be, and also incredibly lightweight. Those graphing batteries, I think are like half the weight of a single 21 700 cell. Wow. So that's gonna be, that'd be refreshing. Yeah. And that's gonna be really exciting once those can start coming online. But again, that's probably five years until that becomes more mainstream. They have these technological breakthroughs that they keep promising. Thankfully it's not as vaporware as like hydrogen energy, but we're getting close I feel like. And so a couple [00:38:29] Craig Dalton: nuance things I wanted to point out before we let you go is correct me if I'm wrong, but you can actually charge the light while you're running it. [00:38:37] Matt Conte: Yeah, that's, Yeah. Which of the, [00:38:38] Craig Dalton: It may seem counterintuitive to people that, that doesn't exist across the board, but mm-hmm. , I'd say the vast majority of lights I've ever run. You could not have an external battery pack to kind of top it off if you needed to. [00:38:50] Matt Conte: Yeah. Yeah, pretty much most bike flights, you do have your external battery pack that you have to plug in into, and once you unplug it, it dies. Cause obviously you don't have any power or you plug it in, you can't turn it on because it's just simply charging. Or if you can plug it in and turn it on, it's just gonna be stuck in a low mode because the charging current going into the light isn't enough to like actually power the light. So what we've done knowing that we had a lot of customers who do 24 hour races and all that kind of stuff we do USBC pass through charging where you can basically plug in the light and sort of the way that we can do it is that the. Is being powered off the battery, but we're charging the battery with an external power bank. So you can technically, if you're running like