The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

In the Dirt 26: Bars, Bags, Bikepacking and weights

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In this week's In the Dirt, Randall and Craig take a look at gravel handlebar trends, new bags from Post Carry Co, Craig's new strength training with EverAthlete, a new Bay Area bikepacking route and tease an ongoing discussion of social media and cycling in The Ridership.

Bay Area Triple Bypass Route

Post Carry Bags

Whisky Spano Bar

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Automated transcription, please excuse the typos and errors:


[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. I'll be joined shortly by my co-host randall jacobs for another episode of in the dirt .

[00:00:12] This episode is brought to you by our friends at thesis bike. Yes. That indeed is Randall's company thesis. Randall donates his time to the gravel ride podcast in the dirt series, out of an abundance of passion for the sport. But he also runs a company called thesis, as you know, is the maker of the OB one bicycle.

[00:00:33] That is actually the bicycle that I ride. If you follow me on social media, you may see my custom painted pink. Thesis, OB one. I affectionately refer to as Mr. Pinky. Anyway, I wanted to give you an update. Thesis has some bikes back in stock. 

[00:00:50] As I mentioned a few weeks ago, they've got some of those SRAM rival access grupos in stock. So they've got bikes ready to go, but more importantly, they've just, re-introduced their bring a friend referral program. That'll get you $500 off an OB one. When you purchase a bike with a friend. Or if you have a friend that has a thesis. 

[00:01:13] You can hit them up for a $500 discount. So coordinate with the team over a thesis. If you have any questions, you can email [email protected] 

[00:01:23] Or check them out [email protected], they offer free one-on-one consultations, which is a great way to see if a thesis. It will be. One is the right bike for you. 

[00:01:33] With that said, let me grab Randall and let's jump into in the dirt. 

[00:01:37] Craig: Hey Randall, how you doing today?

[00:01:39] Randall: I'm doing well, Craig, how are you? My friend. 

[00:01:42] Craig: I'm good. I literally just got done recording the pre-roll. 

[00:01:47] Talking about.

[00:01:47] thesis, your company's new refer a friend program, which I thought was cool. 

[00:01:52] Let I let the listeners know about that, and I appreciate your efforts as a cohost of in the dirt, but separately, when you wear your thesis bike company, hat. I do appreciate the time to time financial support you provide the podcast. Because it really is the type of thing that keeps the balls rolling around here.

[00:02:10] Randall: For sure. Yeah. In our bring your friend program is actually something we did before and had to pull when supply chains went sideways. And now that we have bikes in stock, we'd much rather reward the community rather than. You know, paying Bookface or some ad network to, to reach people. So it's nice to be able to reward those who help spread the word. And then obviously, you know, with what you do, it's been very aligned from the beginning. So thanks for the opportunity to work with you. 

[00:02:35] Craig: Yeah.

[00:02:35] absolutely appreciate it. Yeah. It's so ridiculous that there was like 15 months or more in there where bike companies just didn't bother advertising or promoting themselves because it was so ridiculously hard product into consumer's hands. 

[00:02:50] Randall: Yeah, there's really no point in trying to sell something you don't have. And don't don't know when you'll have it again. That seems to be. That seems to be a phenomenon that's going to continue well into the future for awhile. From what 

[00:03:03] Craig: Yeah. I mean, not to bring sort of macroeconomic trends in here, but I was just, just listening to someone talk about how in Apple's earnings call. There is some suggestion that. Supply chains are improving. They have not improved entirely, but that they are. Improving and that in the grand scheme of things, this will be a temporary blip, but temporary could mean two years. 

[00:03:26] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. In their case, they're dealing with chips too, which I'm getting a new chip Foundry online is a multi-year $10 billion project. So fortunately we don't have that in the bike industry. We're pretty, pretty low on the technology front, even with our. Wireless shifting, which, how did that take so long to come come about? 

[00:03:46] Craig: How are you doing otherwise? Is the weather starting to change on the east coast for you?

[00:03:49] Randall: We've had some beautiful days past several days. We had a nor'easter coming through. So I did steal away for a trail run between, between rains in the should have some good weather on the weekend and otherwise loving being with family here in Boston, it's a very different lifestyle than the one I was living in the bay area. 

[00:04:06] And it's a very much aligned with where I'm at. Yeah. 

[00:04:09] Craig: We get, we got absolutely hammered out here by that rainstorm in Moran. I think we had the highest rain count in Anywhere in California.

[00:04:17] that weekend. I think we got on Tam and there's 12 inches of rain. So it was, it was literally coming out of every pore of The mountain. There were new streams and waterfalls being, being created. 

[00:04:29] I mean, God knows we needed the water.

[00:04:31] and is so nice. I wrote up the mountain for Dawn patrol on a Wednesday and Just to see a little water.

[00:04:36] in places where it has been devoid. Void because of the drought was, was nice. 

[00:04:42] Randall: When I did see your, your conversation or the conversation you chimed in on in, on, on the ridership about you know, opening up a new you know, gullies and things like this in the trails. So hopefully they're relatively intact.

[00:04:55] Craig: Yeah, that was fun. I mean, that's one of those things that you and I have always like thought and hoped would happen in the ridership. Just this idea that a writer could pop a message into the forum and say, Hey, we just got this huge rainstorm. How, how are the trails looking? Is it rideable or is it too. 

[00:05:11] As it a sloppy mess.

[00:05:13] Randall: Yeah, it's pretty neat. 

[00:05:14] Craig: The 

[00:05:14] Randall: been training quite a bit lately, right? 

[00:05:16] Craig: Yeah.

[00:05:16] You know, I was going to say The other good. 

[00:05:17] thing about the rain and not being, Wanting to ride my bike outside.

[00:05:22] lately, as I have.

[00:05:23] committed to a strength training program.

[00:05:25] It's one of those things as I've nagged about my back on the podcast. Many months ago. 

[00:05:31] That I've actually implemented a little bit of a plan And I've been.

[00:05:35] working via a company called ever athlete. And I became aware of them. 

[00:05:41] As one of the founder is Kate Courtney's strength and conditioning coach, Kate Courtney being a former world champion mountain Biker.

[00:05:49] who comes from This area.

[00:05:51] And what, what appealed to me most about. The ever athlete program was that they have a run specific program, a cycling specific program, and then basic conditioning. 

[00:06:03] after chatting with them,

[00:06:04] a little bit online. And I had a phone call with them just as a general consumer. You know, it was advised that I start with beginner strength training. 

[00:06:12] And Totally.

[00:06:14] spot on if I started anything beyond beginner. I would have been absolutely destroyed. And frankly, like some of the exercises. Do you have me sore in places that are not used to being sore? 

[00:06:26] Randall: So if somebody were to ask you, do you even lift bro? The answer would be not quite yet. I'm doing the beginner stuff first. 

[00:06:34] Craig: Yeah. 

[00:06:35] Exactly. Like I don't have tank tops yet and a special weightlifting gear and gloves that I'm using, But I have.

[00:06:42] I'm on weak. I'm proud of myself.

[00:06:43] I just completed week four of an eight week, week block. 

[00:06:47] Just getting my body's too. Basic strength training. I'm using a TRX, some elastic bands. 

[00:06:54] And just a few basic weights. That's not a exorbitant setup, I'm just doing it. And, you know, eight by eight area of My garage.

[00:07:02] every other day. 

[00:07:04] Randall: That's great. Yeah, I've. I've gotten on a reasonably regular routine with a pair of 50 pound power blocks, adjustable dumbbells, which I'm a big fan of I've tried a few different types of adjustable dumbbells and these are the best have had. And just like doing a basic routine with not a crazy amount of weight and then adding some chin ups and AB work and so on squats and stuff like that, with that together with running and stretching, and I'll probably be adding yoga. 

[00:07:30] As the winter progresses and I can't get outside so much. 

[00:07:33] Craig: Yeah, you'll have to put a note in the show notes for me on that one. I'd be interested. Cause I know in ever athletes list of things that I may need. That type of wait setup is, will come into play at some point. 

[00:07:45] Randall: Got it. Yeah. They don't, they don't pay us, but I can definitely endorse the power block sport. And it's totally sufficient for me, even at 50 pounds, because anything that I do with more than 50 pounds, I probably shouldn't be doing anyways. I don't need it. 

[00:07:57] Craig: Yeah, I mean, good God Right now.

[00:07:58] Randall, I'm basically doing almost exclusively body weight exercises. 

[00:08:03] 50 pounds seems a long way away from where my current strength training is at. 

[00:08:08] Randall: Oh, you can get a whole lot of resistance with just body weight too. So there's no need to buy too much expensive gear, but yeah, these are a good one.

[00:08:15] Craig: Yeah.

[00:08:16] totally. I mean, I think I'll walk away from this, knowing that just even, even strictly a body weight program would be hugely beneficial. 

[00:08:23] Randall: Yeah, I think so. I'm curious to hear how your back is feeling in a couple of months. 

[00:08:28] Craig: Yeah, for sure.

[00:08:28] So I've got an a, as I said, I've got another month on basic, and then I think I'll just carry over into their cycling, their first cycling Specific program.

[00:08:36] And I've been chatting with them.

[00:08:37] and I think I'll have them on the pod so we can get just a deeper dive into. 

[00:08:42] Not just Their program.

[00:08:43] but just strength training specifically, and the, and the value for cyclists to take a break and do something different. 

[00:08:51] Randall: I remember hearing a quote somewhere that the biggest problem with cyclists in their training program is that they only ride their bikes. 

[00:08:59] Craig: A hundred percent.

[00:09:00] It's funny. You mentioned that because another guest I've got coming up is a pretty world renowned. Bike fitter, but he from the UK, but he wrote a book called the midlife cyclist. 

[00:09:10] And I'm going to dig into it with him, but yeah, one of the key takeaways is as an average, enthusiastic and passionate, enthusiastic cyclist. 

[00:09:19] we're probably riding more and closer to our, not more by volume, but closer to our threshold than professional cyclists do because We go out there.

[00:09:28] and we hammer, you know, we're just feeling like we're out there for a good time. 

[00:09:31] And the best thing you could do is probably. Lose a workout or two on the bike and change it into some strength training or something. That's you know, testing different parts of your body. 

[00:09:41] Randall: Yeah, I look forward to that episode. That'll be a good one. 

[00:09:44] Craig: Yeah.

[00:09:45] I'm super excited about it. I mean, I've just been thinking about it. In light of my own winter and what I want to achieve and how I want to set myself up for success next year. And success for me just means into being healthy and strong enough to tackle. You know, a big event or two here or there and not have it totally destroyed me. 

[00:10:03] Randall: Yeah. And I think that for some of us do I, I ended up talking to a lot of athletes who are. You know, or later in years, and just being able to know that you can, you have some control over your ability to ride well into old age and maintained flexibility and bone density and injury prevention and all these other things is you know, it's, it's it's a good resource for folks to have to, to know how to, how to approach that.

[00:10:28] Craig: Yeah, totally. I've.

[00:10:28] got another great episode that I'm recording actually immediately after this with Brian McCulloch. Ah, 

[00:10:33] Former pro road racer, former BWR winner, and most recently just won. I think it was The masters category.

[00:10:40] of mountain bike nationals. 

[00:10:41] So Awesome guys.

[00:10:42] super enthusiastic. And one of the things he was telling me in his coaching practice.

[00:10:47] was that, you know, he coaches plenty of athletes whose goal is I want to complete the event and then be totally Pepe for the beer garden afterwards.

[00:10:57] And he's 

[00:10:57] I'm Totally down with it. No one wants to just barely crawl across the finish line And then have to go to their car.

[00:11:04] to take a nap, especially in these gravel events. We want to finish, we want to commune with our fellow participants and, you know, I think that's a. Admirable goal for anyone to not only cross the finish line, but be able to. Party Hardy as the kids say. 

[00:11:20] Randall: Yeah. It's you know, you have the combination of having endured something with, with other people and then getting to connect like the, the vehicle for connection elements shines out of that, that statement there, which is certainly why I ride. 

[00:11:33] Craig: Yeah, totally. And speaking of events I know I did a recap episode of Water, but I thought we chat about that a little bit since it's something you've participated in, in years past.

[00:11:42] Randall: number of times. Yeah, this is actually the first year, the first time in years that I didn't go. It, I just reading the reporting. It seems like the. You know, the new stuff was relatively sparse. There's a couple of things that you and I want to, to jump into in future episodes with the new BMC. 

[00:11:58] Headshot, they're not calling it a headshot, but it's, it looks like a head shock and surrounds new flight, attendants, suspension, and so on. So that'll be fun to dive into, but I'm curious, what else did you see that was compelling? 

[00:12:09] Craig: Yeah. You know, I mean, it's first off for those of you who don't know, it's quite the festival. I mean, you've got everything from downhill and Duro, gravel cross-country road racing. 

[00:12:20] While I find it.

[00:12:21] a bit overwhelming, the sheer number of cyclists and people that are there. At Laguna Seca. It is fun to see someone in spandex and a pro road kit. Riding through the pits next to you, a downhill kid with his full face helmet, shoved back on his head with a neck brace.

[00:12:39] Randall: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. 

[00:12:41] Craig: You know, from a, from a product perspective and manufacturer perspective. The number of booths was down. I mean, it still was quite a Hardy show, but I would say. You know, with the absence of the international. 

[00:12:54] Manufacturers.

[00:12:55] coming is probably like 40%, less sheer booths. So it made it more manageable. Whereas now the last time they held it in person. 

[00:13:03] I felt like covering it in one day was just too much. Like I really needed about a day and a half or a day and three quarters to get around.

[00:13:12] and make sure I poked my head in every booth That was out there.

[00:13:15] this year was a little bit more manageable. I think in three quarters of a day, I had cruised around and seen everything I wanted to see. 

[00:13:22] Randall: Cool. Cool. And you only spent the one day. Yeah. 

[00:13:25] Craig: Yeah.

[00:13:25] I just did a day trip which I think. Made me like it a little bit more. I mean, I think the last time we were down there, It was just such a cluster AF to, you know, get in and out of there with your car and you were parked so far away. So I found that this fit where I was at this this year.

[00:13:42] Randall: Yeah we had a booth last time too. So we had all of that setting up and tearing down and so on. But yeah, hopefully by next year, it's it would make sense for me to get out there again, cause I've always enjoyed that. It's actually the only, the only time I've ever lined up at a race with like international. 

[00:14:00] Racers. 

[00:14:01] You know, just cause they you know, even if you were a low, a low level, regional domestic pro, you could line up in the, the UCI cross-country race. So you're not necessarily racing the same race, but burry stander was there and Christoph saucer was there and it was just like my moment of oh wow. 

[00:14:16] You know, getting to. Line up. 15 rows behind them. 

[00:14:20] Craig: You're like, I'm going to stay on their wheel and 50 meters. And you're like, I'm not going to stay on their wheel.

[00:14:24] Randall: Oh, they, they started 20 seconds before I did. By the time everyone's actually rolling. So there's, there's no staying on any wheels regardless. 

[00:14:32] Craig: That's all. It's the funniest thing. When I'm at these big events, when they, they shoot off the starting gun and you're far enough back that nothing happens. There's no movement. 

[00:14:41] Randall: Yeah, the slinky effect. 

[00:14:43] Craig: Yeah.

[00:14:44] But there have been, you know, there's been some cool stuff dropping lately that I think we should talk about. You 

[00:14:49] know, I think. We should jump in a little bit into the handlebars that have been coming out because I know. In talking to you. You had a particular design in mind that you. 

[00:15:01] thought was what you would design. If you. 

[00:15:04] were going to design a Handlebar.

[00:15:05] from the ground up, and then lo and behold, someone came out with one that was pretty darn close to what you described. 

[00:15:11] Randall: Yeah. So I've called out this Aero Jaya. I think it's called my three T a number of times. And this was the closest thing to what I would design that I had seen. But whiskey just came out with a bar called the Spano. Or Spanno however they want to accentuate that a and pretty much everything about this is the way that I would design a bar. 

[00:15:30] There's a few things I would do subtly differently and I can definitely share that. But You know, it's 12 degrees at the hoods and 20 degrees to the drops and it's a compound flare. And so you don't have to have the same flare. At the hoods and in the drops, because a lot of the leavers these days have some flare built in anyways. I would probably go with a little bit less flare with the hoods to give it a little more roadie position, maybe eight degrees, but still. 

[00:15:53] For, you know, this is well done. It's a flat top design there. It looks like they've had some engineered flex. Built into, you know, what I would call like the wings of the bar so that you get some vertical flex. From the bar, which could help to, you know, negate the need for something as substantial as like a suspension stem. 

[00:16:12] I think that these compliance structures are our real opportunity to add. Compliance to the bike without necessarily having to add mechanical linkages and things like this. 

[00:16:22] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. I think that that, that compliance is something that people would really benefit from. And if, if, if the manufacturers can do it in subtle ways, I think it all adds up. 

[00:16:33] Randall: Challenges that different riders are going to have different needs in terms of let's just say you want to deliver the same experience to everybody. Then, you know, with a given handlebar under a bigger rider, you are going to need it to be stiffer in order for them to have the same experiences as a lighter weight rider. Who's just not exerting the same force. 

[00:16:50] So that would be one thing where, you know, that's hard to do without having two versions of the bar or some sort of tuneable flex mechanism, which is something I've played around with, but adds complexity. 

[00:16:59] I do like how the, the drop is really shallow. It's a hundred mil. The reaches is pretty short, 68. I would have the drop scale with the size of the bar would be one minor thing, because presumably on average, the, you know, the width of the bar is scaling with the size of the rider. But even that there's a huge amount of variation on that bell curve. 

[00:17:19] Overall, like. It's this, this is from what I've seen and what you can do with the leavers that are on the market. Because there's only two companies that make them and they control Libra design. This, this is the most interesting one to me. Hopefully we can get our hands on one at some point and provide a proper review, but it looks really, really compelling. I'm glad to see this direction towards compound flares. 

[00:17:41] Craig: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:17:41] I thought that I was going to key in, on that. Those words you used compound flares, because I do think that's interesting because you know, one of the things that. The F the former roadie in me, I do not like when the, when the shifter lovers are angled into too far. And it doesn't feel, it doesn't feel great. And it seems if there's a. 

[00:18:00] If there's a design way too. Still get the flare you need at the bottoms while not overly adjusting where the hoods are, you know, that's a win. 

[00:18:11] Randall: Yeah. And, and, you know, in our bars, we went with a. Non-compounded 10 degree flare because it is, you know, the best, the most glared you can get without it. Really effecting the ergonomics at the hoods, especially with say ceramides mechanical road leavers that have a kind of a square edge. So if you rotate them too far out, you get a kind of a pressure point in the middle of the hand.

[00:18:31] But yeah, it's a pretty neat handlebar. So

[00:18:35] Craig: Yeah. And with everything. You know, I think you've gotta be tooling costs are obviously like the big concern and changing it. Dramatically. Size wise each time. And so you, haven't got to think about. How many sets of tools are you willing to buy to bring this product to market? Handlebar replacement. I don't know what kind of volume any of these companies do with their handlebars, but it's, it's a little bit of a balance there. I would think from a manufacturing perspective. 

[00:19:03] Randall: Yeah to, to dive a little bit into this without going too deep nerd. So if you're a big manufacturer, like a specialized or a track or something, you can amortize those tooling costs over a large number of bicycles that are specking that this handlebar at the OEM level, if you're doing an aftermarket bar, 

[00:19:19] It's a lot harder. And the tooling cost is quite material on an item like this, where it's low volume and you have so many different sizes. Usually it would be three tools. You'd have. You know, or at least the three component tool. So you have. You know, the two drops and then you have the center section and maybe the center section is a single mold. 

[00:19:38] With different inserts or even like you make one long one and then you chop it to the width that you want. And then you essentially bond on the drops. Which is where some extra weight comes in. So if you see bars like 250 grams or so if you want to drop 50 grams without compromising the structural integrity, that has to be a one-piece bar, which means. 

[00:19:57] An independent, large mold. That's that's moderately complex for every single size. And if you're only doing a few hundred units a year, which is a good volume for an aftermarket handlebar, that's hard to justify economically. 

[00:20:10] Craig: Yeah.

[00:20:10] that makes a ton of sense. I'm actually curious, and maybe listeners can either hit us up on social media or in the ridership, ideally about how often. 

[00:20:18] People replace their bars. And is it the type of thing that When you're building.

[00:20:22] the bike, you get that bar and you never think about it otherwise. Which I suspect, I know I've certainly been there in my bike ownership life. But I do think there's a decent amount of innovation in gravel bars for people to consider and just keep an eye out there for what are the performance benefits? How do these different bars feel? 

[00:20:43] When you put them on your existing bike. 

[00:20:45] Randall: I do think that one of the major constraints here is simply cost and that actually has less to do with the unit cost and more to do with having to amortize the tooling costs over. So few units. But I, you know, handlebars like a carbon bar on the one hand, it's somewhat disposable. If you design it, if you don't design it right. Where if you crash, like you really want to replace it. But on the other hand, the, the opportunities for compound shapes and for compliance being built in. 

[00:21:12] Negates may negate the need for more expensive and complicated solutions elsewhere on the bike to achieve the same goals. You know, I'd like to see if I could do a handlebar at scale, You know, the, the actual cost on something like this is for a tiny fraction of the actual sale price of, you know, 250 to 400 bucks on some of these bars.

[00:21:31] Craig: Yeah.

[00:21:31] That's the thing. I mean, once you've got, once you've got your bike frame. And you're not going to replace that. You really need to look at your attachment points as the, you know, how are you going to tune the bike?

[00:21:41] Randall: Yeah, the touch points. Exactly. 

[00:21:44] Craig: On the other end of the spectrum.

[00:21:46] curve had a bar called the Walmart. Out for a while. And curve is probably best known for their massively wide bars. I mean like 50 plus centimeter bars. 

[00:21:58] Very different riding style. They've actually gone the other way and introduced a narrower version of that. And I just think it's interesting to see them coming in. I mean, I can imagine that she super, super wide bar is a big part of the markets. I suppose it's not surprising. To see them go narrower. 

[00:22:15] Randall: They're also going with aluminum. You know, your tooling cost is. It's basically a jig. So it's not, you can do smaller volume and, and carve out that little niche for oneself, but yeah, they went with a 40 and a 43 with, it looks like here, but the. My concern would be the flare is so great at the hoods. 

[00:22:34] That you'd really want to be mindful of the shape of the hoods that you're using to make sure that it's not going to put a pressure point in your hand. 

[00:22:42] Craig: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:22:42] I think it's a bar for a very specific customer. Follow up question for you on a aluminum versus carbon in the handlebar from a field perspective, what are the what's. How should people think about the difference in feel between those two materials? 

[00:22:57] Randall: It really depends on how it's engineered. It really depends heavily on how it's engineered. And I was. You know, the particulars of the material, how it's shaped, how it's drawn is it, is it. You know, buddied and so on, which is an actual budding process. And with carbon kind of same thing, like. 

[00:23:13] What is, what is the shape? What type of carbon is being used? What is the layup? You can make a structure that is incredibly stiff or very compliant you could add. I think loaf their bar, they're using some You know, some fancily branded. Fiberglass material in order to create you know, some, some even, even greater, even greater flex in the part of the handlebar, just beyond the clamp with the stem. 

[00:23:38] GT did this with their original grade and may still to this day on the seat stays, they actually have a fiberglass wrapped in carbon fiber. So fiberglass is what's used in like a fishing pole. So think about the extremes of flex that you can get with that before it breaks.

[00:23:52] So there's it really just, it just depends, but in terms of the opportunities to tune flex and so on. Vastly greater with carbon, for sure, for sure. But this trade-offs with that. 

[00:24:03] Craig: Yeah. Gotcha. Gotcha. Hey, the other thing I wanted to mention in terms of new product drops recently was our friend mark at post Kericho. I dropped a couple of new bags. 

[00:24:14] Randall: Yeah, let's take a look at these. So he's got a new handlebar bag. Which these, these things are hard to. Talk too much about with action without actually experiencing one, but 

[00:24:27] Craig: Yeah.

[00:24:28] I think the interest, the interesting thing about all Mark's stuff is he's a very thoughtful designer and one of my pet peeves around the handlebar bags, and it's got nothing to do with. Like general use of the bag. Is that with the zipper being up top? 

[00:24:43] With my bike, computer Mount, and oftentimes a light it's really hard to get at them because it's being pushed down and Mark's designed the zipper to be in the middle of the front of this bag. 

[00:24:57] I saw some comments about Alex, stuff's going to drop out. But I think at the end of the day, you're going to know that it's there and that's where it's located. So I think from a practical perspective, it's still going to work, but it would solve my personal problem with trying to get in there without unstrapping the bag from the handlebar. 

[00:25:14] Randall: Yeah. And this bag is also quite compact, this new bag in the mini handlebar bag that he came out with. And so I could imagine. Strapping it to the bar and the little strap on the back around the stem, as opposed to, you know, having to strap it in a way that may push cables or the bag itself into the head tube, which is a very common problem with these handlebar bags. 

[00:25:35] And you know, leads me to actually on my bike packing bag to have add straps in order to have it connect both to the bar and then to like right behind the hoods. So you don't get that rotational flop and it

[00:25:49] keeps it off the head tube. But that's a

[00:25:51] Craig: And are they get minimum? At minimum for anyone writing. Riding. You know, a lot, lots of types of bags, just consider putting some protective film over your frame in case there's rubbing.

[00:26:00] Randall: For sure. For sure. Yeah, we, yeah. Good recommendation. 

[00:26:05] Craig: The other interesting one he came up with was this bomber top tube bag, which is a very long and, and Kind of not, not a big stack height bag that can go along the top tube or underneath the top tube. It's the, maybe three quarters of the length of the top two, but it looks like. 

[00:26:21] We're just, it's interesting. I don't think for me, it's like a daily rider type thing, but I do love the multiple different positions of it. And I could see for a bigger trip or a bigger day out this being like one of those bags that I just add on for specific purposes.

[00:26:36] Randall: Yeah, And presumably it's a bit lighter than his existing frame bag, which I own, I'm not sure if you own as well. I'm a huge fan of that bag for, for bigger days on the bike where I need to bring stuff. 

[00:26:47] Craig: Yeah.

[00:26:47] no. I imagine like running that quarter frame bag and then adding this one on top, you know, if you were doing some epic back country ride and wanted to maybe bring a full pump or what have you I think this is a neat option to add on and augment that kind of storage. 

[00:27:02] Randall: One comment I did see in one of the articles was this idea of, you know, maybe it would be a mountable on the bottom of the down tube. Which I actually think is a a space where, you know, a design, a bag that was designed specifically for that space could both lower center of mass. And Potentially provide some protection for that part of the bike from rocks kicking up and so on, which is a significant concern, especially when you get into more Tundra terrain on one of these gravel bikes. 

[00:27:31] Craig: Yeah. I think some more of the hardcore bike packing pack bag manufacturers have solutions for that area, whether they're building off the bottle cage, that's often down there and a lot of these gravel bikes. We're otherwise attaching agree. It's a, it's an interesting place. There's so many different nooks and crannies. 

[00:27:50] To jam stuff on these bikes with all these new modern bags. It's a, you're not, there's no dearth of options for you, depending on how you want to set up your rig. 

[00:27:58] Randall: Yeah. And the last thing we'll call out here is the the seat bag, which is a pretty standard, but really elegantly designed seat bag. And I just got to, you know, give a shout out for him on just the aesthetics of these bags. Then also the cost structure, like the seat bags, 30 bucks. You know, the, the bomber bag. 

[00:28:13] I'm seeing 35 bucks. So really getting like this high quality construction and design at a very accessible price point. So Bravo mark, keep up the good work. Good to see you. Continuing to put product out. 

[00:28:25] Craig: Yeah, kudos. Speaking of other things that people, we know, people from the ridership we're putting out there in the world. Some cool stuff on bike, 

[00:28:34] Randall: Yeah. So our friends Emily Chung and Seth Hur from over at bike index. So you've worked with, did he do the full triple crossover? 

[00:28:44] Craig: He did. 

[00:28:44] Randall: Yeah. So the bay area, triple crossover, which was published on bike, over the past week or so, 161 miles, three to four days 65% unpaved and a really, a lot of great photography and so on. And it covers essentially from Marin. North of San Francisco all the way around the bay, back to south bay. 

[00:29:06] Maybe in the other direction, maybe that's how they finished up, but it's a, and there's actually a way. Yeah. And there's a way to, and we discussed this in the forum to connect to the bay area Ridge trail through the Santa Cruz mountains. If someone wanted to do an entire loop here, which 

[00:29:21] She, she very well may do at some point in posts, but a really cool to see members of the community going out and having good adventures and sharing the routes with others so that others can follow in the footsteps or pedal strokes. As we may say. 

[00:29:34] Craig: Yeah.

[00:29:34] for sure. It's so valuable to have this sort of bait out there. And I love all the imagery. I. People should go to the bike, Link and you can find it either in the ridership or we'll put it in the show notes for this episode, stunning pictures. And it's so cool. I think there's one picture I'm looking at right now. 

[00:29:52] Of the four of them riding across the golden gate bridge. In part of their journey looks like they're heading towards Marin and this pitcher just starting off. I just love it. I'm in such, such sort of iconic. Imagery around the bay area. And for those of you not in this area, 

[00:30:07] The idea.

[00:30:08] that you could fly into SFO. Take a Bart train into the city with your bags or even write up and then start on this journey. From a major metropolitan area is just awesome. And even from some of the imagery, you would think you're nowhere near any sort of major city.

[00:30:26] Randall: Oh, yeah, that was one of the things I loved about living in San Francisco was if I needed to be out in the middle of nowhere, I could be so with no one around in 45 minutes over in the headphones. 

[00:30:36] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:30:37] exactly.

[00:30:37] So kudos to MLA for all the great photography and her partners on that trip. Super cool and amazing that they put it out there.

[00:30:44] Randall: Yeah. And another thing just to mention with this too, is a. They're in the forum. And so if this is something you want to do embark on one of the motivations, there was to be able to go to a new region and just reach out to folks and say, Hey, what's the beta. Hey, does anyone want to join me for a segment? 

[00:31:00] You know, one of the group rides going on and we've been seeing those dynamics, which is really cool. 

[00:31:04] Craig: Yeah, exactly.

[00:31:05] I mean, it's so it's, so it's so great that there are so many sites out there that are publishing adventures and things like that. But being able to talk to people, locals about current conditions or. 

[00:31:17] You know, even advice for that. Ad-on you described down into the Santa Cruz mountains, like That kind of stuff.

[00:31:22] is awesome. And invaluable. If You're going to spend.

[00:31:25] a week of Your hard earned time and vacation and money in a particular area.

[00:31:30] I don't know about you, but I, I just want to get the most out of it as, as possible. 

[00:31:34] Randall: Yeah, and this is something that you know, a conversation that sprung up organically in the forum and that we're going to be looking to facilitate a lot more conversation around, which is. You know, the role of, you know, what might be called social media, just online tools for connecting with others generally in the cycling experience. And so what is, what is a healthy role? What are unhealthy roles and how do we create something that. 

[00:31:58] Facilitates things that, that help people live live better in gets out of the realm of say what certain large players have been accused of credibly in terms of That's the same behavior that is not, is more in the interest of profit and shareholders. Then the the people that they've disk. 

[00:32:14] Describe as users. 

[00:32:16] Craig: Yeah.

[00:32:17] that, that thread in the ridership's really interesting and some very thoughtful commentary. It's fascinating how different people view different platforms. You know, obviously you've got mainstream social media and then more cycling specific sites that kind of serve similar purposes. So it's something, you know, I know you think a lot about, I've thought a lot about. 

[00:32:38] In the context of the ridership and and generally interesting how other people are expressing their sell themselves. And. What types of things they use and don't want to use.

[00:32:49] Randall: Yeah. So this is something that you know, we're also considering how to evolve the, the forum as well. We built it in slack because that was the best. Tool available. But we're exploring other tools and add ons and things like this. And if this is a conversation that interests you we'd really love your, your feedback and it's, you know, that conversation is happening in the ridership. So come join us there and let us know how we can make it better. 

[00:33:12] Craig: Yeah.

[00:33:12] As always.

[00:33:13] I mean, we are very open to your input about these episodes and any other episode of the gravel ride podcast. 

[00:33:20] The ridership forum is something that, you know, we started from Our hearts but it's really a community run initiative.

[00:33:26] and we want to evolve as the community wants us to and, and directionally where they want us to go. 

[00:33:33] Randall: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

[00:33:35] Craig: Yeah. 

[00:33:36] Cool.

[00:33:36] I think that's about it for this week's edition of in the dirt Randall. I appreciate your time as always. 

[00:33:42] Randall: As always as well. Craig

[00:33:43] Craig: And to all the listeners until next time here's to finding some dirt under your wheels. 

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  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Isabel King - gravel ambassador, racer and queen of color


    This week we sit down with the queen of color herself, Isabel King to learn about her road to gravel from smashing Los Angeles area QOM's.  Isabel King Web | Instagram Join The Ridership Support the Podcast Automated transcription, please excuse the typos: Isabel King [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the podcast, we've got one of gravel's most colorful athletes, literally and figuratively. In a few moments, I'm going to be joined by Isabel king. , Santa Monica, California professional gravel athlete, who got her start in a very interesting way. The conversation actually builds nicely on our conversation from last week with Chris Schroeder and the interesting way in which athletes are creating opportunities for themselves to race professionally in this new world of gravel. I personally became aware of Isabel through our shared relationship with Panner racer tires and I became a big fan of observing what she was doing via Instagram. As he's all has got a kind word to share and is always rocking some powerful kit out there on the trails, in and around Los Angeles. She had a breakout year in the dirt in 2021 and is really looking forward to smashing some things in 2022. With all that said let's jump right into my interview with Izzy. Isabel, welcome to the show. [00:01:09] Isabel King: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me., . [00:01:11] Craig Dalton: I'm excited to dig in with you a little bit, as we always start out on the gravel ride podcast, let's just find out a little bit about how you got into cycling in the first place. [00:01:20] Isabel King: Ooh, always a good question to start with. Cycling was definitely not not my plan since a child. I kind of joked that I fell into this haphazardly five years ago. I could not have predicted I would be where I am today. Uh, so I grew up as a. Uh, as a soccer player, uh, I played soccer through college. So I was a D one soccer player at Columbia and I graduated as a psychology major and jumped into the world of finance. So I worked on the trading floor at UBS for four years in New York city. Before deciding that I wanted to get a more formal, uh, finance education. So I applied to business schools ended up getting into UCLA Anderson. And moved to Los Angeles and kind of in that process and the summer before starting business school I quit my job in, in December and started school in August. And so I had a few months and I signed up for a triathlon clipped into a road bike for the first time. And that kind of spiraled me down into this endurance world which has been fun. So I am now chasing a dream that I didn't know I had, uh, about two years ago. [00:02:23] Craig Dalton: Amazing. It's so funny how that like break as a adults going back to business school, whether it's, you know, for your MBA or graduate school, it just create does create a pocket of exploration for a lot of people. I find. [00:02:35] Isabel King: Yeah, it was great. I don't think, I mean, I stayed active. I ran marathons after, because it's kind of hard. You finished soccer and it's hard. You play for a few, a few, uh, you know, maybe a few months in those co-ed leagues in New York city where you're just waiting for your ACL to get torn by someone that used to be fast. Uh, so I switched to running because it was easier. You just need to choose in yourself. And then when I had the time to kind of. To have a bike. And I moved back to San Francisco and kind of discovered all of those roads in the, in the, you know, the places I would hike and go as a child, I can now ride my bike. And that was kind of, that was kind of it for me. I knew I'd found something that I was going to do kind of forever, which is fun. [00:03:18] Craig Dalton: That's awesome. So you were back in the bay area before you went down to Los Angeles. [00:03:22] Isabel King: I grew up in San Francisco, so I grew up right outside of the Presidio. And then, uh, was now I'm ended up, I stayed in Los Angeles. Again, you grow up with the Southern California versus Northern California bias. But then you spend a little bit of time in LA and you're like, Ooh, this is pretty nice down here. [00:03:39] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. As the listener knows, I spend a lot of time down in Topanga because my wife's family grew up down there and I used to be really down on LA. I thought as the cliche goes, LA sucks for riding. And then you actually explore those canyons around Malibu and Topanga. And you're just like, this is world-class. [00:03:55] Isabel King: Like I'm incredibly thankful that UCLA is, is kind of west side. And I fell into that and I met some people riding and they were able to show me where to go. And, you know, from friends that knew me before riding or people that have grown up in LA they're like, where are you? I'm like, honestly, I'm not very far from your house. You just wouldn't really go there. If you don't ride a bike or a motorcycle or have a, you know, a super fancy car and to go rip up these canyons, which just fine. [00:04:21] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's exactly it. So you, you discovered triathlon, you brought it down to school with you, and then it sounds like you sort of discovered you were fast. [00:04:29] Isabel King: It's a good way to put it. I, uh, did my first triathlon. About a week before school started was the Donner triathlon up in Tahoe and I won and I was like, wow, I like being fast at things. That was great. And I ended up doing, I did the Boulder half iron man the day before school started. So I showed up to business school with the Sharpie number on my calf and the iron man bracelet, like still on. So I was kind of immediately labeled as this like triathlon girl, which was very interesting because I was super new at it, but. I continued to train through school. Had a coach and balance a 20 hour training week with full-time school and full-time networking, which is, uh, going to the bar with your friends. And then, uh, in my, I think it was my fourth half iron man. I won the Maryland half Ironman, which qualifies you to compete as a professional. So then I was kind of posed with an interesting juxtaposition of do I, you know, Continue my MBA I'd finish one year of school. Do I finish that or do I kind of jump into this new world that I'd discovered? For me, you know, any career that has to do with your body can be taken away at any moment. So I wanted to make sure that I finished my MBA before kind of jumping into any pro athletic world. And so finished my MBA in the end of 2019. And the plan was to compete as a pro triathlete, uh, unfortunately, or fortunately the pandemic kind of had different plans for that. So I had to kind of take a step back And say, okay, I'm going to be a pro athlete in, in a time with no racing. What does that mean? And what do I actually want out of this? And that is kind of how I stumbled into, uh, the off-road and, and bikes. Only gravel world of racing. [00:06:09] Craig Dalton: And when you were thinking about approach triathlete career, obviously you've got to finance that and you would be on your way up at that point. Had you kind of cobbled together enough resources to cover your expenses, et cetera, and go for it. [00:06:23] Isabel King: So it's an interesting, I think I had saved from working in finance in New York. I had saved kind of enough. I was like, I'll give myself a year and you know, that's then if it's not working out enough, I haven't managed to get sustainable sponsorship. Then I'll have to go back to working, uh, a regular person job. But it was interesting in the pandemic or I guess for me approaching it, like you go to business school and you learn, uh, originally I was there to learn. I wanted to transition to FinTech, but then also got to live a bit into the brand building classes and marketing and things like that. And so, in the world I am now. You can, you can actually use that to build a brand. So now I kind of treat myself as a business entity and who is Isabelle king. And what are the, what are the brands that I want to work with and partner with to kind of make this a sustainable career going forward. [00:07:14] Craig Dalton: So you got out of business school in 2019 and tending to kind of hit some more of that. More of the professional triathletes seen nothing's happening, you can't race. do you do? [00:07:24] Isabel King: Uh, so I. Came clean with myself that I was a terrible swimmer. I was only good at triathlon because when I came out of the water, nine, 10 minutes back, I could catch people when I was on the bike. So I kind of said, okay, maybe if I actually just focus on only cycling I could be pretty good at this and see where that takes me. So originally the goal in 2020 was to, was to try and sign with the, uh, pro road racing team. I use Strava kind of as my competitive outlet. So in 2020 I got over a thousand QoS, which people have heard me talk about this before, but it was fun. I just went out. I had a little quarantine bevel. I'm lucky. LA is such an incredible place for cycling that there's always someone faster than you. And so my little group of Guy friends was always ready to try and help me pay and go for these big climbs in Malibu. So I got a little bit of attention with that and talk to a few road teams. And, and the biggest feedback I got was like, we need you to do some sort of racing. And I was like, well, there is no racing. I'm a cat five, according to USA cycling. That's still true today. But I was actually able to get some traction just saying, okay, if I take a step back. And look at this new private tier model that people are doing in the gravel world. Maybe I can combine the strength that I have on the road with the little bit of mountain bike and technical ability that I have, and, and, uh, maybe go at it on my own and race the races I want to race and build the brand that I want to build and wear bright orange and see how that works out. [00:08:51] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that's probably something we should drill into this idea of your brand. And I think I became aware of you through the Panorai racer program [00:08:59] Isabel King: Yeah. [00:09:00] Craig Dalton: and we got connected there and I was like, how is it that I've never seen this woman before? Because I totally appreciate your social media. [00:09:09] Isabel King: Oh, [00:09:09] Craig Dalton: just fun and colorful. It makes me want to get out and ride, but that's sort of your hallmark now. Like I always feel like you're wearing a different rad, colorful Jersey to express yourself. Do you want to get into that a little bit? And how you think about that as part of your, your branding? [00:09:23] Isabel King: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like coming as someone that's relatively new in the cycling world. One thing that I definitely noticed was once, once your fast, you kind of are this like untouchable fast being that wears all black and looks really good. And doesn't really say hi to people necessarily. And that shows up to the group bride and keeps her sunglasses on the whole time and things like that. And I. I think that's something that I want to change in cycling and that you can be a little bit unconventional. You can kind of wear the, the crazy colors. And my favorite color happened to be orange, even before I started riding bikes, which is turned into a, kind of a fun version of the brand, but also just the ability. Like I think I approach this so much as it's such a unique opportunity in my life where I get to go and ride my bike. Twenty-five to 30 hours a week. And if I can share that excitement and hopefully inspire others to get on their bike, maybe when they don't feel like it, or, you know, when they're having a bad day. I think that's really important. I think with social media, a lot of people only share. The good stuff and put out this presence of, you know, my life is flawless. And so I think it's important to share both sides of those. You know, the smiles are always real, but then also like the other side of it too I think is really important. And then also In the female cycling world. I think there are the pro female women that ride in the Peloton that are so fast and they post what the team wants them to post. And they don't really, you know, outside of that brand, they don't really do much because they're focusing on racing and that's great. And then the other side kind of the polar end of the spectrum is the women that You have a lot of followers, but are also very well endowed and don't normally ride their bike, their helmets usually off and are posed very nicely on the bike and that's fine. But I think there's somewhere in the middle ground where you can be a female cyclist and you can be really fast, but you can also be engaging on social media. And I think that little middle ground is kind of where I've found success within this. [00:11:20] Craig Dalton: Nice. Yeah. I can imagine that's sort of a, it's just a delicate balance there. Right? Cause people love to hate on you and not you specifically, but one in social media. Yeah. So it's tough. It's tough being sort of a public figure regardless of what you're doing. [00:11:34] Isabel King: I was thinking it's fine, honestly. Like I think it's super flattering. If you get made fun of, and like a cycling meme account, you're like, oh, I don't know. Again, like the moment that you take yourself too seriously, you have to take a step back and be like, we're riding around in stretchy clothing on like ridiculously expensive, tiny bikes. Like this is silly. Like if you take yourself that seriously, like please take a step back and, and, Uh, you know, have a [00:12:01] Craig Dalton: I think, I think even more so when we're riding in the dirt too, to add that element of just being a kid getting dirty. So you're smashing up smashing, going uphill, killing a queen of the mountains around the Los Angeles area. Who gave you the first gravel bike to go try Sullivan Ridge or whatever your first ride was. [00:12:20] Isabel King: Yeah. It took me a while. Actually. I was floundering kind of made mid end of 2020 being like a, got really fast and I haven't gotten any traction. I feel like what I'm doing is cool. And I, you know, I did a few challenges where I raised a lot of money. I raised, uh, over $20,000 for the UCLA health health care fund by riding my bike for three days in a row. And then I partnered. With Reggie Miller and Castelli, we did, uh, say their names Jersey, which ended up the proceeds, went to equal justice initiative. And though we raised over $70,000. So I felt like I was trying to do more with the bike, but still was kind of spinning my wheels and not getting traction. So I. Resorted back to the business school side of the things I made it a PowerPoint deck and said, this is who I am. This is what I would want to do if you gave me a bike. And I reached out on LinkedIn, uh, to the president of canyon and said hi, this is me. Uh, more, it was also just kind of like he's had a really interesting career just in the bike industry. And so I was curious if there was any chance that he answered the email. Maybe just to see if he had any advice for me. And if you ever have the opportunity to meet Blair Karch, he's a wonderful human being. He answered pretty immediately and said, here's my cell phone. Give me a call. We talked on Friday afternoon for an hour and it wasn't even to get, you know, a canyon partnership. It was. just, he gave me a book recommendation and he connected me with a few, you know, You know, a few team directors in the pro world, and then also a few other people that he had worked with in the past. And so I think for me that willingness to kind of take a chance on a stranger. Was kind of What led me to follow up with Ghanian and partner partner with them, uh, for the 2020 season. Which was funny originally my contract for last year was go, go chase Strava QMS, and do it on our bikes and, and, you know, have fun with that. And then I started showing up to these races and they were like, oh, this worked out nicely. So it's fun. So I'm incredibly, incredibly thankful for Blair, for answering. You know, random LinkedIn message from from a total stranger and giving me a chance. [00:14:28] Craig Dalton: What was it about the gravel cycling that has made you sort of want to pursue that more and start entering some of the big events? [00:14:35] Isabel King: Yeah. I think I'd seen it from a distance for me. Like I said, kind of beginning of 2020, when I switched from the triathlon world, the next goal was pro cyclist. Because I didn't have the USA cycling category upgrades, or, and couldn't really do that in a pandemic. I had also gotten into mountain biking. Which I loved kind of, as you mentioned before, like the get yo getting dirty and kind of back to being a child again, like that was so much more my world than the arrow is everything by the racing, you know, the rocket ship of a bike and get the disc and things like that. But mountain bikes are so technical. And at the top of the level, if I want to be the best in the sport, I'm never going to be able to catch up to a Kate Courtney or someone like that. Even if physically I could, the technical skills that she's built over years and years and years are just so much greater than anything that I have. And so kind of serendipitously this gravel world has also exploded and it combines, you know, What the road racing world, kind of what I was looking for in it, in that, in the longer kind of, you know, mass start environment of it. And then it adds to the fun, drink a beer with your friends after people have mustaches and, and, you know, you all have dirt, you know, at the end. And I think, I think that's fun. [00:15:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Where do you, when now, when it comes to the technical parts of gravel riding, how do you feel like you fare on the spectrum of athletes that you compete against? [00:16:01] Isabel King: I think probably my proudest realization last year, BWR, whichever what he says, I guess the video was, it's not a gravel race, but everyone says, you know, It's a lie to roadies race and things like that. But the podium was for mountain bike women and myself, and I was kind of like, Ooh, that's good. That means at least of all the people that don't have, don't have a mountain bike background. I was the fastest of them, which I was pretty proud of. So it's definitely coming along. I think it's amazing how much. Progress you can make. And what these bikes can do. You just have to let them the moment that you're scared of the moment that you crash is my, uh, but I'm kind of lucky. My mom always makes fun of me in a good way that she was, uh, always says that I'm incredibly fearless, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, uh, jumping off stuff that I probably shouldn't. So I think that, uh, probably in a good way has translated to the bike. [00:17:00] Craig Dalton: Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, at the, you have to have a little fearlessness in you, particularly on the dissents and single-track stuff. If you're going to make progress, as you think about yourself as a, as a pro gravel racing. Do you have courses now that you're like, oh, that's for me, I want a massive climbing day or what? What's your sweet spot. [00:17:18] Isabel King: I think it's an interesting. Beginning of 2020 last year I had raised zero races and I was looking at this men super excited. Like I, in my little bubble of corny bubble, I'd gotten pretty fast. And I remember pacing and, Uh, Colin Strickland had come out for their little training camp in Malibu. And I asked Collin, I was like, how do I win on down? And he was like, you don't live here. And I was so offended. I was like, what do you mean? This is the best place to live. Like, look at this trail. Like these Hills. And the problem is like, for me, you climb up a mountain for an hour. You have to somehow get down. So you get that 10 to 15 minute break. Whereas an Unbound of the 13 hours that I was out there, I was probably not peddling for five minutes. Like it's crazy. And so it's an interesting those, some of those longer like rolling Hills races I'm not built like a climber. So I actually, maybe if I lived somewhere else would be really good at that. Just the like constant non peddling. Cause I'm, I'm pretty good at the rollers generally, but the like death by a million paper cuts is harder for me because the place that I train you climb up a gigantic mountain and that's great. You, you peddle hard for an hour, but then you still inevitably have to. Uh, recover by descending. So I think a race like BWR, honestly, it's kind of, you know, it's in San Diego, so it's close. It was similar. It's the one that I did best at last year. That one, I think I had the most fun at, because it was that mix of big climbs with flats, with, you know, road and then gravel and things like that. So I, I think that race, if I look at all the ones in the calendar is probably the best, best suited for. [00:18:53] Craig Dalton: Nice. Yeah, that's interesting. I felt the same way. We both wrote down the coast this weekend, this past weekend, you wrote a lot farther than I did, but my buddy was asking me as we were riding, like, what's going to be your, your issue today knowing that I didn't have a lot of fitness, it was like, it's literally just keeping the pedals going this entire time, because like you here in Marine county, we go up for an hour and a half and then we go down in 20 minutes and we'd go up for another hour and a half. And that's just the way the ride. [00:19:19] Isabel King: Yeah. my, uh, I just started working with a coach and he was like, you didn't, do you understand that you co you coasted for 500 hours last year? And I was like, yeah, that's not bad. I was like, you know, one and a half a day. It's not that bad, but like, it was pretty wild to like, hear that. Never be like, wow, that was like 500 more hours that I could have been in theory, training or pedaling that you just aren't, which is interesting. [00:19:46] Craig Dalton: It's super interesting. And I hadn't, I hadn't really thought about it in the context of Unbound and it makes a ton of sense hearing you describe it that way and hearing what Colin Strickland said to you, [00:19:55] Isabel King: don't live here. [00:19:59] Craig Dalton: but there's other benefits of living here, [00:20:01] Isabel King: Yeah. Why are you here, then? No, it's very funny. [00:20:05] Craig Dalton: So you came out of the gate in 2021 and you had some meaningful successes. I mean, I think you were top 10 at Unbound, 200. [00:20:13] Isabel King: so I finished eighth. So that was my first gravel race. And looking back, it's pretty funny, everyone, you kind of walk around the expo and your eyes are really wide and you're like, this is my first one. And everyone's kind of like, Yeah, it's going to be really hard. There's going to be moments where you want to quit. And I think, I, I don't know. if I'm incredibly thankful or incredibly angry at people for not being realistic with me because that race is insane. And there isn't really a good way to describe it, except for that, like the, this is so dorky, but my only way of describing it is in the fourth book of Harry Potter, when they go into the maze at the very end, it's like this challenging maze and you're faced with all these obstacles. And when you. Are like about to die, you shoot up a red flare and that says like, I'm out, come save me. And the beginning of Unbound, I felt like everybody like was in that maze and needed to have a red flare because like people were like flying off the side of the road. There was flatting and sealing everywhere. There was like a guy like hit this ditch and flew over his handlebars and like broke his collarbone so badly. Like the sound that his body. He, when he, like, when he hit the ground, I was like, I'm gonna, I'm like so nauseous, but also, excuse me. I have to like get around you and continue. Otherwise I'm going to lose this wheel that I'm on. And so it's like this crazy. Like carnage of people. And then in, in, in contrast to that, you say it's a 13 hour race and there's 4,000 people. And I spent the last three hours of the race alone, just like looking forward for three miles and looking behind me for three miles and literally saying out loud, no. one is coming to save you. Like just pedal. And it's so like, it's just pretty, it's a pretty insane race to, to start your career and be like, this is what I've chosen to do, but it went okay. I finished eighth, like it's pretty wild to say, like the race took me 13 hours and I was the eighth fastest. So then you put that in the context of your every day human and, and, uh, that that day gets, uh, quite a bit longer. [00:22:19] Craig Dalton: Had you had experience sort of starting elbow to elbow with that many people? [00:22:24] Isabel King: Not as much like in, I think like in triathlon kind of, but you go in the water and you're immediately kicked in the face and kind of like, this is not great, but bikes, not as much. And then like running races. Yeah. So, you know, kind of like how it works. But it was, yeah. Uh, it was definitely. An eyeopening experience. And then from there I did crush it and the Tasha was completely different. That was straight up a mountain straight down and straight back up. That one was like definitely more suited for myself. I finished sixth in that race. And then BWR I can do my, uh, got fourth in that, and then. Showed up and decided to do the led boat challenge. So the Leadville Steamboat back to back and I finished seventh in that double challenge, which was pretty fun. So overall, in terms of, you know, if I could have asked at the beginning of last year, like what I would expect of that season, like I would have been really happy with what actually happened. [00:23:19] Craig Dalton: amazing. Well, you should be, you should be definitely proud of that [00:23:21] Isabel King: Thank you. [00:23:23] Craig Dalton: So looking forward to this year in 2022, what do you have on the roadmap? And is it all, is it all a gravel events or do you look at your cycling, like you as a cyclist, as someone who does projects, FK teas, various different things that can benefit your sponsors. [00:23:39] Isabel King: Uh, Yeah. hopefully both. It's an interesting, as you talk to companies about potential partnerships. So the next year it's interesting, or it was interesting to me, how little people necessarily care about results. They, I think companies are leaning much more towards the storytelling side of things and the, you know, really, you know, relating to people that would use their brand and things like that. And being fast will always be valuable. But in the end of the day, there's only one person that's going to be on that top step. And so it's interesting to see kind of what people value. So definitely talking to brands and seeing kind of, if they're interested in the storytelling aspect of it and how I can help amplify that So going into, yeah, definitely digging into some, some things outside of racing. What I learned last year, I kind of said yes to all the races and then they were all in that three month period. And I was like, oh my gosh, I haven't been home. And, you know, Two months and I'm just going from race to race. And so definitely kind of, I bought a 12 month calendar that's on my wall and I'm actually, you know, placing staff and being like, this is a block or I'm going to need to like be home or be, you know, somewhere in one piece to, to recuperate because you can't just race and be fast for nine months. Yeah. but definitely I think the, the storytelling and the fun stuff, like I think the coast right. Is a good example. Like those just like day after day fund, like adventures where you're pushing yourself with your friends and you're not quite sure how your body's going to react. Like, I think those kinds of things are, uh, are almost, almost more fun than the racing, but nothing will ever beat the feeling of that morning landing up on the starting line where you're like, no one here has any idea what's going to happen. I think that's one of the coolest things. [00:25:22] Craig Dalton: Now are you in the lifetime grand Prix? [00:25:25] Isabel King: Oh Yeah. We made it, they left the, uh, the lead in the riff rash. So [00:25:31] Craig Dalton: So that's pretty huge. So that's mountain biking and gravel racing [00:25:35] Isabel King: So bring out the, bring out the big tire. So that is, yeah. There's your answer? Not only gravel. So I'll have at least three mountain bikes, some going back to Leadville, they called and, uh, to tell us that or to tell me that they were that I'd been accepted and they were like that. We figured your only way you were ever going to come back to Leadville was if we let you. in. And I was like, you're not wrong. That race was really hard. [00:25:57] Craig Dalton: definitely is. [00:25:58] Isabel King: But I'm super excited. I think that the ability to line up with the caliber of athletes that they've chosen is, is super unique. And then also kind of to see you, I think everyone will have their own agenda. Some people will try and win a specific race. Some people will try and be fast kind of the whole time. And I think the fun of it that everything is. scored the same. You can win Unbound or you can win. You know, the Seattle mountain bike thing and they're, they're the same amount of points. So I think it's cool in that everyone kind of comes from different backgrounds and some people are going to be way better at the mountain bikes and some are going to be better at those super long gravel and some are going to be better at the short track and things like that. So Yeah, it's a fun thing to be a part of. And I'm super thankful that they chose me. [00:26:37] Craig Dalton: Yeah, for sure. I think there's a lot of really talented women. And as you said, from a lot of different backgrounds, it just going to be exciting to see both how they perform in the disciplines that maybe aren't, you know, if they're a mountain biker, how they do on the gravel and vice versa. And then you've got some other athletes just sort of coming out of left field, obviously like renowned cyclists, like, Amber NIBIN, who's coming from like the Olympics and time trialing, like who [00:27:01] Isabel King: Like Ashton Lambie, you're like this guy can go really fast for four minutes on a track. [00:27:06] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. So how it's all going to play out and does that, you know, having one that imitation to that series is that helping crystallize your season? Obviously it probably excludes certain things. [00:27:18] Isabel King: Yeah, it definitely does. It's kind of an interesting, like, You have seven months of, or I guess six months of racing where you in theory are trying to be pretty fast. And so you have to kind of figure out where in there are you going to take a little bit of a break? What ones are you trying to peak for? And then outside of that, like I said, the BWR series is another one that I loved, like. But in both of those, can you also fit in, you know, I've thrown on the idea of going to do like the oat route Alps? I think that's like all my bucket list. And so if I'm still an amateur racer, maybe I can go do that on the road. So I think that, that, and like, am I going to regret trying to squeeze that in right after Steamboat and Leadville? Like probably, but you know, if I'm, if I'm only young once. Like, I dunno, there's a, there's a very limited time that I get to do this and ride my bike and kind of at the top level. And so for me, I'm trying to, you know, use every moment and get every, you know, every opportunity that I can out of this [00:28:19] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it seems like the 20, 22 season is the season where you're going to have a lot of opportunity. And you're going to see how far you can put yourself in which your body does directly. [00:28:29] Isabel King: lots of sleep. [00:28:33] Craig Dalton: Is there anything else on this sort of the 20, 22 calendar that you want to shout out? [00:28:38] Isabel King: Oh, I have a few little ideas. I'm nervous about saying them out? loud because if they don't happen, then you said that, and that was so cool. But there's a kind of lowest to highest challenge that I was looking at. There's an FKG that goes from. The lowest point in death valley to the top of the Whitney portal. So you go from below sea level to 14,000 feet. So I think it's 120 byte, 20 mile bike ride with like 12, 11,000 feet. And then you have to like Mountaineer climb, seven miles up to the top of Whitney. So the women's FKA is 22, I think. And the men's is. The men's might be like 15. So I think I probably, I don't know, I haven't done enough research, but I kind of wanted to go after the men's one go for the overall. I think that would be pretty cool. But again, [00:29:27] Craig Dalton: one to look at. [00:29:28] Isabel King: yeah, it [00:29:29] Craig Dalton: done it where they cyclists [00:29:30] Isabel King: Yeah. So the guy that owns the guy that has it now, I watched his video and. You know, he's kind of, I don't want to make fun of him, but it's like a little bit ill fitting on the time trial bike. And then he does like a switch to a road bike for the climbing part. And then I don't actually know how fast he did the, the, uh, like mountaineering part, but it would be interesting to kind of bring back the, bring back the triathlon and the, and the running and the time trial part and do kind of the flats on a TT bike and then switch to the climbing road bike. And then you know, Could literally climb yourself up a mountain. So that's the thing that's kind of the most the most intriguing. And then also, I don't know if you've seen any of the impossible routes with vegan cyclists and Jeremiah Bishop. I was supposed to do the one in Telluride with them last year. But life kind of happened. So I wasn't able to do that. So we've been throwing around some ideas. They kind of want me to do one on my own. Which I was like, oh wow. Why I have, to be the first one to do it alone. But uh, I think if I kind of, uh, it definitely on the, on the radar to try and do a route that is deemed, uh, impossible. [00:30:34] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Amazing. And then just circling back to your sponsorships situation, who are you riding with this year? And yeah, what's going to be underneath you. [00:30:43] Isabel King: Yeah. So I'm sticking with canyon which I'm super excited about. I loved riding for them last year. The bikes are incredible and then I'm excited to kind of build off that relationship this year. As I said before, last year I was kind of. There Strava racer that happened to show up to races and now kind of have their full support going after the lifetime events. And then also, as I mentioned, like the, the impossible routes and the potential to go do the overview and things like that which is cool, Uh, going to be with pan racer as well. So I don't know if you're sticking with them, but again, knock on wood. I had incredible success with flatting and things like that. Those stars. The best that I've written. So I'm going to say, stay with Panorai serve for this next year as well. And then I'm switching wheels. I'll be riding with envy and Chris king. I figured I needed orange hubs in some way. And if we share a last name, I probably. That partnership would work well. So convinced MV to let me design my own, Uh, my own decals, which I'm sure I'll make them noxious really orange enough as I can. And then cask, uh, and CU will be helmets and sunglasses. I'm not, if you followed on Instagram at all, I'm rarely wearing my sunglasses when I take videos, but mostly. 'cause I usually wear sunglasses when I'm going really fast and then I'm not taking my phone out. But their lenses. Some of the clearest that I've ever written. So actually tend to forget that they're on my face, which I always think is a good sign. And then with their helmets I've personally, uh, crashed, tested three of them and knock on wood, not had any concussion issues. So, again, with the kind of partnering with brands that you actually believe in, besides that they have a bright orange helmet, I also just really, really liked the product and. And, uh, when people are asking me what helmet, I will always say that one, just because I personally know that having hit my head on a rock and on cement it look, it works pretty well, which is [00:32:40] Craig Dalton: Amazing. Yeah, that's so great that you're able to bring together that family of sponsors. It sounds like a good, good situation on that. On the canyon bikes. What are you going to be riding? Like what would be your Unbound bike, for example? [00:32:51] Isabel King: So I think I'm going to stay with the, with the grail. So it's the one with the two for one handlebar deal. It doesn't, so I, I wrote the Grizzle a little bit. It rides a little bit differently. I'm comfortable on the grill. The one thing people had really big chunky tires for unbanned it, the grill only fits forties. I was okay on, on, uh, 38 last year with the Panorama. The big chunky ones, the SKS which were good. So Unbound I'll ride that for Leadville ride the Lux. So I went full suspension last year. A little bit heavier on the uphill, but as we mentioned, like, the technical part is where I'm less comfortable. So I'd rather have a little bit extra cushion, especially because I don't know, like everyone always tells you that Leadville is this like road, race, mountain bike, race. And like, we run down the first technical section of the entire time. I was like road bike, like road, bike road, race, my ass. Like this is very tactical. And I know that for like the real ECC guys. It's not that technical, but I was very happy to have. The full suspension. So I'll stick with the Lux for that as well. But I, [00:33:52] Craig Dalton: have that ability to not get your body beat up as much. I think it's critical on those long events. [00:33:58] Isabel King: absolutely. And then I also partnered with Fox. So I get the, uh, that was kind of an obvious one. They were like, would you like orange, orange forks? And I was like, I would like those forks. Thank you. Those look very nice. [00:34:14] Craig Dalton: That's awesome. Cool. Well, this was super fun. I can't wait to see what 2022 has for you. I'm going to be following along and I encourage the listener to follow along as well. I'll post in the show notes where to find you on Instagram primarily. And we'll be rooting for you. [00:34:28] Isabel King: Thank you. Thank you so much, Craig. Thanks for having me. [00:34:30] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's episode of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thanks to Isabel king for joining us this week. I really enjoyed that conversation and a very much enjoyed watching her grow as a gravel athlete over the last 18 months or so. I encourage you to follow her on the social medias and wish her all the best this year as I do, it's going to be an exciting year in the women's field, just as it was in 2021. I think it's one of the more exciting categories of racing. As always, if you're interested in connecting with me, I encourage you to join the ridership. Simply visit and join the free global cycling community we've created. It's a great opportunity to meet and talk with writers from around the world. And if you have any specific feedback or want to contact me directly, you can simply just direct message me within that platform. If you're interested in supporting the podcast. Please visit, buy me a gravel ride. I truly appreciate everybody. Who's elected to become a member and help underwrite some of the financial requirements of the show. It truly means the most to me. Until next time here's to finding some dirt under your wheels.
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Chris Schroeder - Gravel Racer and Gravel Team Manager


    This week we sit down with Dimond Factory Racing’s Chris Schroeder. We learn about Chris’ transition from professional triathlon to that of a gravel racer. We also look at his decision to start a racing team versus continuing as a privateer. Dimond Factory Racing Instagram Join The Ridership Support the Podcast Automated transcription, please excuse the typos:   Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the podcast, we've got Colorado based professional gravel racer, Chris Schroeder. Chris is not only a racer, but he's also the manager of the diamond factory racing team. His path to gravel racing was from that of, uh, as a professional triathlete. Interestingly, I learned that the private tier model, as it's known. It's something that's quite prevalent. In the triathlon world. But Chris didn't really want to take that model forward. He really wanted to build. Uh, professional gravel racing team. So i thought it'd be interesting to get his perspective to hear about his experience in the gravel world thus far and more importantly hear about what his plans are for 2022 with his teammate. Before we jump in, I need to thank this. Week's sponsor athletic greens. Athletic greens is literally a product I use every single day. I've been an athletic greens user for many years prior to actually starting the podcast. I really didn't have the time nor inclination to take a bunch of pills and vitamins. To get some of my nutritional basis covered. So when I found out about ag one, was stoked about how convenient it was going to be for me. So what's in this stuff with one delicious scoop of athletic greens, you're absorbing 75 high quality vitamins minerals, whole food sorts, superfoods, probiotics, and APTA Jens. To help start your day. Right? The special blend of ingredients supports gut health, your nervous system, your immune system, your energy recovery focus and aging. All the things. This is particularly poignant at this moment, as I just got back from two back-to-back 90 mile days. Uh, riding down to Santa Cruz, California, and backup to my home in Marin county. Athletic greens. I brought one of their travel packs with me to take on Sunday morning as I got up and started my second big day. And when I got home, I blasted another one simply because I needed a little bit more. I knew I'd run the battery down pretty darn low with this weekends, riding and athletic greens all is gives me the confidence that I'm at least covering my baselines nutritionally. Build on top of that a healthy diet and you've got yourself a winning combination Athletic greens will cost you less than $3 a day. You're investing in your health and it's cheaper than your cold brew habit. Athletic greens as over 7,505 star reviews. And is recommended by professional athletes. Right now it's time to reclaim your health and arm your immune system with convenient daily nutrition. Especially in the middle of cold and flu season. It's just one scoop in a cup of water every day. That's it. No need for millions of different pills and supplements to look out for your health. To make it easy. Athletic greens is going to give you a free one year supply of immune supporting vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase. All you have to do is visit athletic gravel ride. Again, that's athletic gravel ride to take ownership of your health and pick up the ultimate daily nutritional insurance. Would that business out of the way. Let's jump right in to my interview with Chris. [00:03:15] Craig Dalton: Chris welcome to the show. [00:03:17] Chris Schroeder: Great to be here [00:03:18] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I'm excited when you reached out to me, I think this is going to be a really interesting discussion. The starting point for all my conversations is always to get a little bit of your background as a cyclist, how you came into the sport and how ultimately you started riding. [00:03:31] Chris Schroeder: So it's hard to say how I came into cycling. I came into cycling and triathlon at the same time. About 15 years old, my family relocated from Telluride, Colorado to New York city. And at the time New York city is has a giant cycling presence. Contrarians are a very big thing there. They do a lot of races in central park and the surrounding area. So as a way for me to find something to do when I was there, I started running of those, the local cycling club. It wasn't a race club. It was. A website or a form, or you just go on there and they say, right, we have a group ride every couple of mornings and you know, it was fun. I had a old road bike and then the same exact time I was getting into that, I also equally wanting to get into triathlon. So that was a great like way for me to start training and start preparing. And as that grew, I did a couple of bike races and at the same time training for triathlons eventually just kept going into triathlon and kept doing more of the. And at the same time, I was always a very big fan of cycling. I would always watch the races. I would always follow the riders and that was like a restaurant, but I was a fan of cycling. So I just kept coming up and triathlon. Eventually I went to college at university of Colorado here in Boulder, and Boulder is a great community for pro triathletes and cyclists of all kinds. It's just a Mecca for it. And I ended up eventually becoming a professional in, I believe 20. 15 though, like end of 2015, I went on and raised five years, professional triathlete, you know, I got a lot out of it. I traveled the world. I raised on like six different continents. I met amazing people like throughout the whole way, but at the end of the five years, I just, I wasn't content with where my career was and I wasn't really, I think it plateaued. I just wasn't moving. I wasn't getting the results. I needed to continue doing the sport. And I just stagnated and going into 2020, I had this mindset and I had signed up for, to just a way out. I was like, know, I'm going to finish this sport by dating my first full iron man. So I went to go, the plan was all right, I'm going to go do Ironman, New Zealand. And a couple months before that there was a race in Oklahoma called the Oklahoma gravel Gower at the time. And I kinda knew that I got this sport gravel. I really liked it because it reminded me a lot of the monuments in cycling, like cargo bay, the dynamic just of the just bad-ass like let's get out here and get dirty and strongest man wins kind of mentality. So I knew going into that race. Not really know anything. I was like, didn't have a gravel bag and laid that on my road bike with the biggest tires I could fit. And I ended up having a great race. So early on, I got a new move of Ted king. We went on for a while. Like I eventually got dropped. I got picked up by two guys behind and then ended up beating both of them in the sprint to finish second. So all of a sudden I had this hot iron. What I use then to go on to use, to create this transition to gravel. [00:06:48] Craig Dalton: Interesting. Yeah, for me, it's not super surprising that you had a great cycling experience in New York. It might've been. 10 years ago before I knew a bunch of people from New York and realized like how great the scene is there for a road racing. It's maybe a little surprising that you got into triathlons out of New York, but obviously there's a lot of great road running there and triathlon. There's a few good races in that neck of the woods. [00:07:14] Chris Schroeder: Yeah, we'll come back to that. When we started talking about diamond and stuff like that. But when I, because I had that result in Oklahoma, when I went on to do Ironman New Zealand, you know, the race went, it was a good way to end the closing. On my drunker and made me feel very contented, very like, all right. I did everything I could and I got what I got out of it. And then I'm probably the only person in the world who this positive came from. COVID where the world's shut down. As soon as like, before I even left New Zealand, the world's start shutting down. It's a miraculous, I even got able to leave the country, the roads shut down. All these triathlon races got canceled. All of a sudden the sport that I don't want to do isn't happening anymore. But I have all these sponsors that need me to do something. So when I was able to do with all my current sponsors to say, Hey, I can't race a triathlon because there was no triathlons. I can go do another gravel race where I already had this giant buzz, this giant pop and a good result or this year. So with that, I was able to just start doing gravel races with all my sponsors, still supporting me. They were just supporting me as they were and things just went well. And then. Mid 2020, we just started really committing to, we're just going to start a team. We're not going to have minimums or anything like that. We're just going to work at the end of the January 1st. We're announcing this team and it can be big, small, whatever, wherever we land, we're going to go with. You know, we were very fortunate in having Jared come on, board, our videographer, and he really is the only reason this team was able to exist in 2021. I did Belgium wall fried Cedar city September, 2020. He came out made. What I think still to this day is his best piece of work, which was a video covering my experience. There really just raw showing that experience. I was able to then all these sponsors I was talking to at the time that were like, eh, we don't really know. I was able to send them this video. And it was like talking to a different person. All of a sudden the conversation went my way and we were able to close a couple of deals with at the time Kenda tires and vision components, both of which were huge. I, we desperately needed both of those contracts. Eventually a hybrid clothing and Lin helmets came on board to help us out. And then we had. We had the support. We had the writers, we had a product, which was our video production and assets, and that kind of launched us into 2021. [00:09:48] Craig Dalton: That's a super interesting story about how athletes need to package themselves up in order to be successful in this. I want to go back a little bit to that transition period. And as a quick side note, I also retired as a triathlete from Ironman, New Zealand, not professional, not fast, but it was my last iron man. And I agree. It's something, if you get into the sport of triathlon, regardless of the level, having that iron man experience is just it. I think it is very similar to these epic gravel events. We're just getting across the finish line can be such a magic. Thing in your history that everybody should try to do it. [00:10:24] Chris Schroeder: Yeah, absolutely. I I it's just like in the moment I was just miserable. Like I was. A lot of stuff, like just in my life and where I was my career, but I, because I finished it. I can just, I don't have to look back cause I'm just I'm so much more content than I would be. Had I not done that? [00:10:41] Craig Dalton: Yeah, a hundred percent. I'm also curious, you know, it sounds like the 72.2 distance was a strong suit of yours. Then you moved up to the Ironman distance. When you started going to these long gravel events, what kind of parallels did you see from the endurance and mental strength required to complete an Ironman or a long distance triathlon to what you were seeing at the gravel of. [00:11:04] Chris Schroeder: Well, it's hard. I don't think 70.3 is Ironman. You can draw a lot of parallel parallels, the 70.3 distance. Not as much because those races are dynamic. You are racing. An Ironman is a lot more similar in the sense you. Not raising, you're all just trying to finish. And one of you happens to finish before the others. Definitely the mental attitude that you have in an Ironman of when you're just trying to finish it. I've nothing else to do today. If always I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will eventually cross the line. That's like the unfortunate gravel mentality for a lot of these 10 plus hour events or. Even the comment, I feel like 125 miles is the common distance for gravel. You're still looking at a seven hour day for the fast guys. Like it's a lot of time out there versus the 71 is really four hours. Most professionals go way under that now. So it's hard to say, like, I think honestly my biggest asset transitioning to gravel was just the amount of time has been being a fan of cycling and why. Professional races and just admiring the tactics. [00:12:09] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think one of the things that has come up on a number of occasions and in my own personal experience with triathlon was just. Stuff's going to go wrong and you just gotta move forward and get on with it. And the events are long enough that you can have a really bad nutrition or hydration moment and come back around. If you just fuel the system in the right. [00:12:28] Chris Schroeder: absolutely. I think in gravel, The gravel, you can get a little more catastrophic with your failures. You're talking about just breaking everything is breakable on a gravel race tire wheel by Canterbury's yourself. Like it's all up in the air. In a triathlon you can bonk or you can get a flat like those. Those are really the two bad scenarios and the gravel is just, you just don't know what's going to go wrong. There's so many options. [00:12:50] Craig Dalton: Yeah, a hundred [00:12:51] Chris Schroeder: Like for Unbound with, you have to basically be able to rebuild your entire bike is rather than. [00:12:57] Craig Dalton: Speaking of Unbound. So 2020, you sort of get your gravel legs underneath you. You have the good fortune of having sponsors that are willing to pivot with you because gravel was going off more than the triathlon world was you fell in love with it 2021, you register from Unbound. And there's a great video of your experience there. So why don't you talk to us about your experience? What was your. Expectations and goals going in and how did it play? [00:13:22] Chris Schroeder: Unmanned was definitely a little emotional. Like it's a, like, it's a lot that goes into it. It's really very parallel to the Ironman world championships in terms of prestige And just the hype around it. I definitely went into it a little ignorant of just like what's about to happen. I made some just blatant mistakes, but ultimately I just wasn't trained properly for it. And completely just melted in the, it's hard to describe for people that haven't done Unbound it's 200 miles. I think the winter did like 10 hours and 30 minutes this year. So you, would expect this, the race to play out in something in a way that would, you know, relate to someone trying to pace themselves for about long race. In the beginning, like three hours of Unbound are just you're on the pace [00:14:20] Craig Dalton: Did you enter that race thinking I'm going to stick with the lead group? You know, this is going to be my tactic in those first three. [00:14:27] Chris Schroeder: yeah, I just didn't do a couple blatant things. I didn't preview enough of the course. I preview maybe the first like 20 miles and then like mile like 25, we entered this just ridiculous Doubletrack section. Bodies everywhere. And it's like, as a easy tactical error, I was 58 wheels back when we entered that section. And this is probably my biggest advice for anyone racing gravel is it's not ever the effort of being in the front group. That's going to get you. It's the effort of having to chase back onto the front group. That's going to kill you and having to do that twice. Cause there was two Doubletrack sections and both of those sections I wasn't prepared. I was out of. And then leaving them. I had to chase back on. And then those efforts are the ones that really take it out of you where you're doing 10, 15 minutes, just like everything you've got to try and chase back on. That's the effort you can't recover from. And that's also the same effort that you're burning. Very precious fuel. You're brewing your body's heating up, like, you know, the internal temperature and all that's just going up and to ever recover from that. Like you almost have to completely just start going easy to even recover from it. So that's like the thing that kind of like led to the, my, a larger downfall in that race was just those big efforts from just not being prepared with the course that resulted in just like catastrophic kind of blow up that I had. It's hard to say like 200 miles is a lot. It's a lot to train for, to being competitive. And I think that perhaps for 2022, I might actually pivot and race the a hundred mile and Unbound with the thought process of just being like at, in the 200, you know, what's realistic from results standpoint. You know, everything goes well, like my best day, where am I finishing? You know, perhaps on my best day, I'm finishing ninth in the laundry. That's a huge result. I think on an average day I could win the hundred. So from an athlete perspective and a business perspective, I'd have to think, all right, where's the optimal value right now? I'm seeing it in the a hundred, you know, the a hundred got a lot of press still. The winner was on a lot of the magazines are not, he's like the news articles that we came out about it. I think that I might be taking a step back from doing the 200 Unbound this year to refocus and prioritize the a hundred and really go after a result there. [00:17:04] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it is interesting, you know, a hundred is a lot more racing distance than a 200, as you said. I think the top men and women, like they know how to handle that a high-octane three hour, first, three hour of Unbound, and then go back to a more comfortable level and then race, you know, another six hours later. But at least [00:17:23] Chris Schroeder: Absolutely. I think that 200 miles, the thing is this, I think eventually Unbound will suffer from this is that it's not dynamic watching 200 miles race. Ironman has the same problem. It's not interesting watching any of our race because not enough is happening to keep you entertained. Unbound is the same thing. The last five hours of it, or even more boring than the first five we're watching the more boring Bard, because everyone's just dying at that point. And they're just dying in a direction towards the finish line. A hundred mile raising is completely different, you know, it's completely dynamic the whole entire time. You're because it's shorter. People are able to stay together longer and makes for more interesting race. And that's where I think the. I get the gravel has this mindset of like longer is more gravel or something along those lines, but there is a line where you need to just like adding miles for the sake of adding miles is just not like, what's it doing? I had this conversation with Jim Miller at BWR at Cedar city where this year they, it used to end where you do. Like a mile, like 105, you'd go from do like five miles of single track. And then you get on a bike path and it was like three months to finish line and they added like 17 miles of like, you face the thing on track and then just do 17 miles of like nothing gravel and an around like construction sites. Like you're on the road going through like neighborhoods, like you're on the road going through an industrial park. And I was just like, why did you add that? Like, it did nothing for the race. You have this beautiful. You know, you're struggling. You Google, these climbs, you get to the single track, just getting there is such an accomplishment. You've finished this very hard tangled, downhill, single track, and then you're on a bike path to the finish line. And that was like, when you think of a race and you're no, one's saying you have to have a certain distance, so you should just try and have the best race course you can. And by adding those extra miles, you didn't really do. You did the opposite. You made us all finish with the last hour of stuff that we saw. An airplane hanger and a construction site and utility soft. Like I just think that some of these race directors need to not have the mindset of longer is better. [00:19:42] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's interesting. It's interesting to get your perspective as someone more towards the front end of the race, because I've got the mid pack perspective. And, but I tend to agree with you. Like, for me beyond a hundred miles just is not something I really can ever get fit enough for being, you know, a professional and a family man. Like that's just not happening in my world. So I'm not. Super pro those things and I can in talking to you definitely get it that you're not going to get a very dynamic race with 20 people battling it out. If it's 200 miles, because half of those people are going to drop out from mechanicals. Others are going to drop out through nutrition, and you're going to end up with this battle of attrition that maybe leaves it as we've seen in the last couple of years, two or three people duking out a little bit. Towards the end of the 200. And then maybe if you're lucky it's a sprint finish. [00:20:38] Chris Schroeder: Yeah, I'm the same way. Like I just visit logically like that a hundred mile to like a fast, 125 mile course. That's my sweet spot. And I think that, I don't know if I would say, like, it was a hard lesson to learn that I'm not in this current state of 200 mile racer. I'm a lot better at that a hundred, 1 25 kind of range. Yeah, accepting, like, look, I'm at a couple of these events, like take gravel worlds, for example, like it's just not, it's not great for me. I can do, you know, really well on a faster, less climbing, 125 mile course, but longer than that, I'm just not ready. Like I just don't have the years and miles of this intensity in the legs. Like, even though it triathlon. Obviously still very bike heavy. I don't have the intensity that these races are run out for that long a time. [00:21:29] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. So speaking of that, What, when you transitioned you talked about this a little bit, but how would you care to characterize your gravel skillset? Are you feeling technically strong or is that still like, you're a horsepower guy from your triathlon days? [00:21:46] Chris Schroeder: it's a hard one. It's definitely something I'm I work really hard to improve. Is my technical skills, not just like Unbound and it's a good example of well early stages. And I would say like the first 30 miles on a mountain, you are in a giant group and you need to be 10. We still don't have to move within that group in a very comfortable way. You need to be really comfortable, bumping elbows and shoulders. And I did a lot to help myself with that. I raised a lot of like criteriums on the local scene. I did a cyclocross this season, all with that in mind. Not only do I want to get better at it. I want to be known as someone who is very proficient at my handling and my positioning, because I think that's one of the biggest gaps in gravel where you can take advantage of is a technical skill, especially for descending. It's very hard. It's not like the road at all. Cause there's so many things going on in any given turn. So just getting better at that skill is something I really wanted to invest in, in the off season. And hopefully that kind of. Pays for itself, this coming season. [00:22:49] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that goes into another one of my sort of desires for the sport. I love when event organizers do throw in technical elements of the course. Cause I do think the best gravel racers that I want to see that I admire. They've got that full bag of tricks, right? They can go well when it's a basic gravel road or pavement, but they also can thrive in the technical elements of the sport. And you definitely see, and it sounds like you're very attuned to. The types of events that are going to suit you well, so maybe you're not going to a super single tracky event today, as you're continuing to build that skillset. [00:23:23] Chris Schroeder: And you're also not going to see me doing like I'm 63 and like 170 pounds. Like I'm not going uphills quick. Like you're not gonna see me a Toshar. I did that race this year and I was like, this is awful. This isn't for the big boys. So like knowing also like, what race am I realistically going to be competitive to that person? What race do I just not like, don't just, don't go do that. Like just don't do that race. You can just skip it. Like there's nothing wrong with skipping a race. So I think it's just a lesson where you have to just sit and go, let's take an honest look at things. This is what I'm good at. This is what I'm horrible at it. So we shouldn't go to races that have a big emphasis on stuff that I'm bad at. I. I definitely agree with you where I think that in gravel, every race should have like one call it feature of just ridiculousness. Like each racing I'll throw in a single track section, throw in some river crossings, you know, something like that. Just to I think it's always fun just to have that one kind of obstacle that race will then become known for. [00:24:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's like a preeminent criteria. It just spices things up. And in this scenario you'd know about it. Right. You know, there's the technical, single track coming up and that it may create a, a. that might be someone's opportunity to take advantage of their particular skillset, knowing full well that, you know, they're less proficient in another discipline. I remember hearing pace and McKelvin talking about the rule of three and racing against the in Boswell. And he's like, you know, Ian's got me in so many different ways, but I did know when, as someone with a mountain bike background, when I hit that single track, it was going to be a huge advantage for me. And I could likely take that to the finish line. And that proved to be. [00:25:01] Chris Schroeder: Yeah, I think that, I think I've even listened to that. Pacing and Ian, where it does, it makes us it up, which keeps gravel interesting. It means that mountain biker has an advantage on the road cyclist. And you know, the flip side of that, of the road psychos has the advantage on the mountain biker and all these different sections. And it just it goes on like BWR, Kansas had like a cyclocross specific section, which favored a bunch of guys from that background. So it just it helps keep grappled fresh. Giving people from all these different disciplines, their chance to shine. [00:25:36] Craig Dalton: A while back, you mentioned your cycling team and the formation of it, the diamond factory racing team. I thought it was interesting as you and I were talking offline. Obviously the director. Professional attitude towards gravel racing is I'm going to become a private tier and I'm going to cobble together my own personal sponsors. And I'm going to overtly take that positioning. You've taken a different approach and you're looking to build a team. And I'm just curious to hear in your own words about that process and why team versus private two year. And what's the vision for the. [00:26:08] Chris Schroeder: That's a hard one to say, like triathlon. It's funny. We talk about private here so much in gravel. All triathlon is private here. That's all you do. So I private tiered for years, five years of private area. I loved it. But the thing when you're a privateer is you have nothing to point at and say like this won't all be gone tomorrow. If you're a privateer, you can wake up the next day. Every single sponsor you have could be gone. It, you know, it sucks to say like, and that's just the business I wanted to. And then when you're done racing, it's all gone completely. It's not coming back. You're if you're not racing, providing them what they want before. Your job's done. So part of the team was I really enjoy the business process of the sport, and I wanted to build something where I can actually transition from being a racer to just being the manager. So the goal was always this long-term vision of, I want to build a program. That's my career. I want my career to be building this team and I want it to be pursued that way. When I talk to people now, I say like the honest truth is I'm in the gravel business. I'm not in the gravel hobby. I'm not in the gravel fitness, I'm in the gravel business and everything I do has somewhat of a business perspective on it. Cause that's just the mindset I have to have for me to ever get this program where I want it to be. And I have, you know, call it a five-year vision board for this team. It's hard to map out because we just don't know what is going to look like every year. It's changing a little bit different regulations that UCI has coming in politics. Drama, it all kind of changes in affects the way that the outcome is going to be. But I know like deep down that I want this program five years from now to be the absolute forefront of this. On the professional scene. I want people entering the sport young age or any aspiration to always be looking to us as that pinnacle of this is what it means to be like a true professional at the same way. Any of us is in cycling or was I guess now it's shuffled a little bit at the. top, but having that team where everyone wants to be on this team means that you've made. [00:28:32] Craig Dalton: So what's step one in that journey. What does 22 look like? [00:28:35] Chris Schroeder: Well, step one was the hardest one. Step one was Brittany and I and Jared coming together and saying, we're just going to start a team. And this was a back in when we first started the program going into 2021, I'm saying we, we decided the biggest thing that we had to put away in our minds was were we had this mindset of rolling to start this team. If we did. Filling the blank. We had to take that away and just say, we're starting a team, no matter what, and we're just going to go with it. So changing that is what led us to step one. And then in 2021, our big gamble, you could say it was, we ended up investing 80, 90% of our budget into content creation. We just said to Jared, and we want the absolute, highest quality possible consistent. I don't care about views. I'm here about likes. We just need consistent high quality content. And that's the investment we're going to make, because we think that's where the value is that we can show it's tangible. We can always point at it and say, here's a product. A sponsor comes, you know, we can show them. This is our asset. A lot of people don't understand when you're talking to sponsors, you need to have definable assets for them to understand for them to latch onto and create value. And that's where the party has been cycling and triathlon where the modern scope of what that is very different than it was five years ago, 10 years ago, simply going to a sponsor saying I raised 20 times a year and I post on Instagram every other week. Do you not really creating value? You're just there. You're just pack fire at that point. [00:30:21] Craig Dalton: Do you have a vision for the type of content that you're aspiring to produce? Is it giving people a closer look at what racing some of these big races is like? Or are you thinking otherwise. [00:30:34] Chris Schroeder: Well, our biggest asset is our series. It's called the equal rod. It's on my YouTube channel and the team's YouTube channel. And that's where we're diverting all of our budget and supporting to creating this series. And we just want it to be a YouTube series. And it's hard to say, like what it shows. We just say that it shows an honest look because you go to these races and everything will go different than you think it will. So we just tell Jared whatever happens, just film it. And it sucks when you're dying on the side of Unbound and you have to DNF and there's a camera in your face and you have to narrate your own misery. It's awful, but that's what we decided to go with it. And it just katelyn Andrew. And you know, there's the flip side of it. I don't know. I had a great race. I'm so happy to talk about it. So we never know what an episode's going to be. We just know it's going to be honest. It's going to be misery. It's going to be glory and everything in [00:31:30] Craig Dalton: gotcha. I'll point people to the YouTube link for that failure in 2021, because I do think it is interesting and it's so real it's truth, right? [00:31:39] Chris Schroeder: Yeah. And that's just the thing is that you have on one of these professionals that will have a bad race and they'll bury it, you know, they'll, they won't post anything about it. Then we'll talk about it. They'll post 10 other things about blah, blah, blah, motivation. And you're like, wait, I saw this build and all of a sudden there's just a gap. And now you're back on this train. Like what happened? Like I want to know, like, I'm following you for a reason. And that's the story. Like I'm not following you. Cause I think you're going to win. I felt like, cause I just want to see your story and your perspective. So we really want to be true to the audience and give them what really happened. [00:32:13] Craig Dalton: that makes sense. So the title sponsor, the team is a company called diamond by. And I wasn't familiar with them. And after doing a little research, I see that they were big in the triathlon world, but they do have a pretty impressive looking gravel bike. Do you want to talk a little bit about the company where it's based and the bike you'll be riding this year? [00:32:35] Chris Schroeder: It's quite the story of how diamond and I came together when I was back living in New York city as a kid at the time before I'd even done my first draft. Ironman hosted iron man, New York city, which was a gimmick. The entire triathlon took place in New Jersey. And then the finish line was in New York city and it was a joke, but I was a kid I volunteered the entire day. I was up at like 3:00 AM. I was just buzzing. I saw all this stuff. It was fantastic. I, you know, it was at the finish line start like, Hey, people that are swim bags and then everywhere I could go, I was, and then at the end of the day, I ended up at the finish line. And if anyone's ever done an Ironman or triathlon, you know that when you cross the finish line, give them more or less just collapse, emotionally, physically, however, they feel like it. So they have volunteers literally there to catch you and you stand in line and they're just young people come in and whoever's first in line catches them one. I was there and you know, this is just 15 year old kid. This pro called TJ Alex and came over in the line. I caught him. I think he finished fifth on the day. One of the coolest experiences of my life. You know, I'm a kid, I just touched a fro. And to me it was just the coolest thing in the world. You know, follow TJ, enjoyed that eventually, you know, a couple of years later I became a pro and then a couple years after that, I went and did a Ironman 70.3 in Argentina. It was in Berlo Chang. One of the prettiest towns I've ever been to. And these races, you know, what they do is they'll put you up and they'll just assign you a hotel room. And I happened to be assigned or hotel room with TJ. So we shared a room in Argentina and we just became friends through that story. And we ended up doing quite a few races together. We raced all over the country. I think TJ, we raised in Argentina, we raised in Peru, we first in the United States and then towards the end, he eventually retired from racing. I went on raised a couple more years, and then eventually I have stepped down from triathlon to gravel and we'd always come in contact. We've always been friends and it was a great relationship. And then he watched what we did in 2021. And then I went to see Otter and I went there pretty much from a business perspective of like, all my sponsors are here. I can sit down and crank out two months worth of emails in two days. Also just a great event, iconic. I highly recommended only considering going, doing that race says any race you want, they have it. And I went there and I saw DJ and it was great. You know, we bumped into there. He showed me the gravel by, we talked, you know, all was good. And we went our separate ways. And then a couple weeks later I kinda got a text from him saying, Hey, I got a idea for you. Let's chat. And six weeks of hardcore negotiating later, we ended with. A multi-year title, sponsorship deal with diamond, and it's become really the linchpin of this team now because of the ability where it guarantees our ability to grow, no matter what happens, we can grow going to 20, 23 now. And that's what this team needs. I need to always have a perspective of what's the next step. If I'm not looking to grow we're stagnating. So closing this deal and being able to have this. Guaranteed to athletes coming on, going to 23, 3, nothing else matters. Everything else can go with that. [00:36:02] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that's pretty unheard of level of security. I imagine for a lot of gravel rates. To put a little bit more color around the brand they're located in Iowa. Is that correct? [00:36:15] Chris Schroeder: Yeah. So this is an American brand, the factories in the morning. I, the bikes are made in Des Moines, Iowa. They're handmade. It's super bespoke, experiencing, if you go on their website, the first thing you're gonna to see is that just like actual diamonds, no, two diamond bikes look the same, every single diamond bike, you get a custom paint job. However you want it funky, traditional everything in between. You work directly with the owner, TJ when you're buying and ordering. And it's just a great experience. I think it's also just unique, you know? You're going to stand out with a diamond. Yeah. They've they launched their gravel and their road bike, their ground bike. The carbide is very new. They launched it mid 2020, and it was a it's interesting. I, when I first saw it, the diamond for the triathletes who are aware of the brand, they made make the fastest triathlon bike on the market. It's non-traditional, it's a beam bike. Pretty much the pioneer for that whole industry of the beam bikes. And when they came to gravel with anything that you said, all right, how can we be the forefront of this? And that's what went into the carbine and just the way that it's laid out the geometry, it's all race focused. Like this bike is a thoroughbred, it's there to win races. And I'm just the thing on top of it pedaling. So That's an interesting perspective. This is probably my first time where it's a lot to say this. I think that we're going to have the fastest bike in gravel. I think the way that our diamonds are built with visioning the mountains, it's weird to say, but I think we are going to have the fastest bike in the sport. [00:38:02] Craig Dalton: That's confidence inspiring. I'm sure. To look down and feel that way. Yeah. It's an interesting bike and I'll make sure to link to it in the notes as well, and fascinating to learn that there's another. Us carbon manufacturing brand out there. Cause there, you know, there's probably only a handful of them in existence in the United States. [00:38:22] Chris Schroeder: Yeah. it's a dynamic that you mainly hear about, like, you always hear like these legendary oh, Italian brands. Five bikes and they cost a million dollars. And I think that was the normal introduction than people think when they think small bear brands, but this one being American, it's just, it's very different. It's very American brand. TJ is American. He tries to be more flamboyant than he is, but he's just a hardcore American and he's a blue collar, hardworking dude. I it's weird. Like he's my boss now, but we've been, we were friends for so many years that it's hard to have. Transitional of like thinking of him as a boss. When I just think of him as like this guy I've traveled the world with, and then he's told me stories about everyone I can think of and you know, we'd sit down and he tells me about his kids and stuff like that. It's just, this guy, when I proposed my fiance and we had a business call and it was like right after I had. We talked, it was like an hour long heritage. We talked five minutes a visit and he, it was like 55 minutes of just mind shattering advice for marriage and life. Like it was these perspectives that just gave me this feeling of someone who really cares about me. He basically talked me into wanting to have a wedding when I really just didn't care. Like he just completely changed my perspective on it. And to have that relationship is really special. [00:39:44] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it sounds like it's going to be an amazing thing to have in your corner this year. And the fact that you guys are building something together confirmed over the next two years, they're just going to be great. It's going to be super interesting to see where it goes. Speaking of this year, what's your, what are your goals this year? Are there big events that you're really thinking about? [00:40:05] Chris Schroeder: It's a little bit up in the air. I just got confirmed for led boat. Like yesterday where I got my Leadville charge on the credit card. Cause that's how they tell you. So that's gonna be a major goal on down. We'll be a major goal in terms of like peak performances, fitness, every race I go to, I'm trying to, when I'm not going to races anymore, that I don't think we're gonna win. I'm gonna win some. Mid-South Unbound SBT, and then a fake sugar and Belgium welfare. I Kansas are all like my main events, but I'm also going to hit a lot of like local grassroots events. I'm starting off my season at gravel, Miami, which is a new event in Miami. And I'm really excited to do that one. It's a flat course, which I'm really excited about a hundred miles. I'm just excited for that race. They're putting us, it's sponsored by Miami brewing company and they rented like three rap video level mansions to house the pros in. [00:41:09] Craig Dalton: Only in [00:41:09] Chris Schroeder: And yeah, it was only in Miami. and it's, you know, it's the treatment that I always dreamed I would get it every race. So I'm going to be a little sad when I come back from it and I realized. Van life and all these events. And I'm really excited for that one. We do, we'll do a couple of other the robot do rendezvous is a hundred mile race in Scottsbluff, just some smaller ones. Like there's something in gravel that is special, that everyone jokes about dying. They call it the spirit of gravel. If you go to these small races, you'll experience that it's special. It's unique and it's weird, but it's still out there, but it's only in these small races. So for me, you know, if I go to Unbound, it feels the same as when I was a professional Ironman. Everyone is, you know, a little tense, a little uptight they're there, everyone's on their peak form. No one really wants to talk and hug and all that. But then you go to these smaller grass root events and it's the opposite of all that. It's, everyone's relaxed. Everyone's just there for the community and the experience and beer. It's great. So I really want to make sure I continue to have those in my schedule to keep me grounded into what I love about the sport. [00:42:23] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. I think those are there. It's a key thing that's going on in gravel that how races are changing and evolving and no one wants to lose that intimacy and camaraderie, but inevitably like as these races get bigger and more important to people's professional careers. It's undoubted bull that the tenor is going to change at the start line. So yeah, long live the community event. [00:42:48] Chris Schroeder: Yeah. exactly. That's just how it is. And we're actually trying one thing I do. From a business perspective as I try to pull from other sports and it's something, this is unique. And I think that's hopefully going to be a good success that we're going to be trying this year is that at certain races, we're actually going to have a diamond booth in the expo where we're going to have, you know, this year will be a little different cause there's just myself and Brittany and Jared we're in, you know, we're going to be there to try and interact as much as possible. We're going to have team bikes. We're even going to have some demo bikes come by. You can chat with us. And we want to grow that very similar to like motorcross or NASCAR, where people get the experience to come into the pits and they get to look at the garage and see the driver and the mechanics, all working. We wanted to bring that as a way for people to interact more of us on a personal level. And especially in a approachable way, you know, we've all been that fan boy at the expo that sees someone we want to talk to, but you know, they're walking around and they're doing their thing and we don't want to interrupt them. So we thought, how can we. Creative approachable environment that is friendly for the fans. And it's a great way for us to really talk to our fans of our sponsors and say, Hey, you know, this is our bike and you want to here's the demo one, go take it around the block, [00:44:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. [00:44:05] Chris Schroeder: Touch it. [00:44:06] Craig Dalton: I think that'll shine through if you set that intention, which is great. And I think based on this conversation, fans of the sport will have a great way to follow you and your team throughout the year on the video series, and hopefully be able to connect with you at some of these events. So I, Chris, I appreciate all the time today. That's a great conversation. I wish you best of luck and really do look forward to seeing your name up there at the front end of these events. [00:44:31] Chris Schroeder: Yeah, fingers crossed that it eventually gets to that. And for anyone watching, like you're going to see me at an event or two this year, come up, give me a hug. I want to interact with you guys as much as you perhaps wanna interact with me. So just don't be a stranger. [00:44:46] Craig Dalton: Right on. Thanks Chris. So that's going to do it for this week's podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Chris and I encourage you to follow the diamond factory racing team on social media. I know they've got big plans to show you behind the scenes about what it's like being a professional, gravel racer. In 2022. If you're interested in joining the conversation, I encourage you to visit the ridership. It's our free online community. Within the community, you'll find gravel, cyclists of all kinds, whether they be backpackers. Racers commuters, you name it. They're all in there. Everybody in the community shares a common goal and it's just to elevate one another. So, whether you're looking to answer some of those hard questions about what tire to buy or what equipment, what bike to buy, or just need some moral support, the community is there for you. I'm always impressed with the level of interaction and comradery that I see happening that I've got nothing to do with. It is also a great place to get in touch with me. So, if you have any feedback for the show, please just hit me up directly in the ridership. I found inspiration for many, a new episode from the questions that I've received. Through the ridership. So remember that's just to get started. If you're interested in supporting the podcast. You can visit me at buy me a coffee. Dot com slash the gravel ride. I appreciate any and all support you can provide to my efforts. And hopefully the journey that I've been on as a gravel cyclist has been useful to all of you. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels
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  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Craig Calfee - Bicycle Industry pioneer


    This week Randall sits down with bicycle industry pioneer, Craig Calfee. Craig has been an industry leader for decades with his work on the Calfee brand and many other collaborations throughout the industry. You cannot find someone more knowledgable about carbon (or bamboo) as a material.  Calfee Designs Website Join The Ridership Support the Podcast Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos: Craig Calfee <> Randall [00:00:00]  [00:00:04] Randall: Welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Randall Jacobs and our guest today is Craig Calfee. Craig is the founder of Calfee Design, the innovator behind the first full carbon frames to race in the tour de France, the originator of numerous technologies adopted throughout the cycling industry, and on a personal note has been a generous and consistent supporter of my own entrepreneurial journey. I am grateful to have him as a friend, and I've been looking forward to this conversation for some time. So with that, Craig, Calfee welcome to the podcast. [00:00:32] Craig Calfee: Oh, thank you. Nice to be here. [00:00:34] Randall: So, let's start with, what's your background, give your own story in your own words. [00:00:40] Craig Calfee: Well, I've always written bikes. I mean, as a kid, that's how I got around. And that's, as you become an older child, you, uh, find your independence with moving about the world. And a bicycle of course, is the most efficient way to do that. And later on, I was a bike messenger in New York when I went to college and that kind of got me into bike design as much for the, uh, desire to make a bike that can withstand a lot of abuse. And later on, I used a bike for commuting to work at a job, building carbon fiber racing boats. And during that time I crashed my bike and needed a new frame. So I thought I'd make a frame at a carbon fiber, uh, tubing that I had been making at my.  [00:01:29] Randall: my job  [00:01:30] Craig Calfee: So this is back in 1987, by the way. So there wasn't a, there were no YouTube videos on how to make your own carbon bike. So I pretty much had to invent a way to build the bike out of this tubing. And at the time there were aluminum lugged bikes, and I just, I knew already aluminum and carbon fiber don't get along very well. So you have to really do a lot of things to, to accommodate that. And the existing bikes at the time were, uh, I would say experimental in the fact that they were just trying to glue aluminum to carbon and it really wasn't working. [00:02:05] So I came up with my own way and built my first bike and it turned out really well. And a lot of friends and, and bike racers who checked out the bikes that I I really should keep going with it. So I felt like I discovered carbon fiber as a, as the perfect bicycle material before anyone else. Uh, and actually, uh, right at that time, Kestrel came out with their first bike, uh, the K 1000 or something. Um, anyway that was uh, that was in 87, 88. And, uh, I felt like I should really, you know give it a go. So I moved out to California and started a bike company. [00:02:48] Randall: So just to be clear, you were actually making the tubes, you weren't buying tubes. So you're making the tubes out of the raw carbon or some pre-printed carbon. then you came up with your own way of, uh, joining those tubes. [00:03:01] Craig Calfee: Yeah. I worked on a braiding machine, so it was actually a a hundred year old, uh, shoelace braider, uh, from back in Massachusetts. There's a lot of old textile machinery braiding is, uh, you know, your braided socks and, you know, nylon rope is braided. So this is a 72 carrier braider, which means 72 spools of carbon fiber. [00:03:25] Are winding in and out braiding this tube and you just run it back and forth through this braider a few times. And now you have a thick enough wall to, uh, I developed a and tape wrapping method at that job and came up with a pretty decent way to make a bicycle tube. So that was kind of the beginning of that. [00:03:47] Uh, and since then I've explored all kinds of methods for making tubing, mainly through subcontractors who specialize in things like filament winding and roll wrapping. And, uh, pultrusion, you know, all kinds of ways to make tubing. And that does relate to kind of an inspiration for me, where I realized that, uh, carbon fiber, you know, high performance composites are relatively young and new in the world of technology where metals are, you know, the metals have been around since the bronze age. [00:04:21] I mean, literally 5,000 years of development happened with metals, carbon fiber, uh, high-performance composites have only really been around since world war two. So that's a huge gap in development that hasn't happened with composites. So that to me felt like, oh, there's some job security for a guy who likes to invent things. So that was my, a kind of full force to get me to really focus on composite materials. [00:04:51] Randall: Were you that insightful in terms of the historical context at the time, or is that kind of a retro or retrospective reflection? [00:04:58] Craig Calfee: I think, I don't know. I think I may have read about that. Um, I a friend who had a library card at MIT and I pretty much lived there for a few weeks every, uh, master's thesis and PhD thesis on bicycles that they had in their library. And I think somewhere in there was a, uh, a topic on composites and comparing the technology of composites. [00:05:23] So. I probably that from some reading I did, or maybe I did invent that out of thin air. I don't remember, uh, nonetheless, uh, the fact of it is, you know, not, not a whole lot of mental energy has been put into coming up with ways of processing fiber and resin compared to metal. So to me that just opens up a wide world of, of innovation. [00:05:49] Randall: Um, and so the first frame was that, um, you're creating essentially uniform tubes and then mitering them, joining them, wrapping them as you do with your current bamboo frames or what was happening there. [00:06:02] Craig Calfee: Uh, it's more like the, uh, our, our carbon fiber frames were laminating carbon fabric in metal dyes, and those are not mitered tubes fitting into the dyes. And that's, that's a process. I got my first patent on. And it, uh, so in the process of compressing the carbon fabric against the tubes, you're you end up with these gussets in what is traditionally the parting line of a mold and rather than trim them off completely. [00:06:31] I, I use them as reinforcing ribs. [00:06:35] Randall: Yep. Okay. So that explains the, the, that distinctive element that continues with your, um, some of your, uh, to tube, uh, currently  [00:06:48] Craig Calfee: them  [00:06:49] the hand wrapping technique from that you currently see on the bamboo bikes came from developing a tandem frame, or basically a frame whose production numbers don't justify the tooling costs. Um, so that's hand wrapped. That's just literally lashed to. Yeah. And a point of note, there is I was a boy scout growing up and, uh, there's this merit badge called pioneering merit badge. [00:07:16] And I really enjoyed pioneering merit badge because it involved lashing row, uh, poles together with rope and the pro you had to do with this one project. And I did a tower and it was this enormous structure that went just straight up like a flagpole, but it was it involved a bunch of tetrahedrons, uh, stacked on top of each other and lashed together. [00:07:41] you know, culminating in a pole that went up. I don't remember how tall it was, but it was, it was really impressive. And everybody, you know, thought, wow, this is incredible of poles and some rope. And here we have this massive tower. So anyway, I was into things together since a young age. [00:08:00] And so I immediately came up with the, uh, the last tube concept. Which is where the, now the bamboo bikes are. course there's a specific pattern to the wrapping, but, um, the concept is basically using fiber to lash stuff together, [00:08:16] Randall: When it immediately brings to mind, what's possible with current generation of additive production techniques. Uh, whereas before you could make small components and then lash them together to create structures that otherwise aren't manufacturable. [00:08:31] Now you'd be able to say, print it out though. Those, you know, those printed out materials don't have the performance characteristics of a, you know, a uni directional carbon of the sword that you're working with currently. [00:08:42] Craig Calfee: right? [00:08:43] Randall: Um, so we've gone deep nerd here. We're going to, I'm going to pull us out and say, okay, uh, lots of time for this. [00:08:49] This is going to be a double episode. Uh, so next up, let's talk about those frames, uh, saw their big debut. [00:08:59] Craig Calfee: Yeah. So, um, we started making custom geometry for a. In 1989 and selling them and so big and tall, and that the idea of custom geometry frames was, uh, you know, pretty esoteric. And the pro racers were, we're using a lot of custom frames. So Greg Lamond, uh, was in search of a carbon fiber, uh, custom frame builder in, uh, 1990. [00:09:31] And, uh, no one really was doing it. We were literally the only company making custom carbon frame bikes. So he, uh, found out about us, uh, effectively discovered us, shall we say? And, uh, it didn't take long for him to order up 18 of them for his, his, uh, team Z, uh, teammates. He was sponsoring his own team with a Lamont brand. [00:09:56] So we didn't have to sponsor him. He basically paid for the frame. Put his name on them. And, and, uh, now we're now we're on the defending champions, a tour de France team. So that was a huge break obviously. And it was really a pleasure working with Greg and getting to know the demands of the pro Peloton, uh, you know, that really launched us. [00:10:21] So that was, uh, quite a splash. And, you know, it always is a great answer to the question. Oh, so who rides your bike kind of thing. you know, you have the, the full-on best one in the world at the time. So, so that was a fun thing. [00:10:39] Randall: And the name of the company at the time was, [00:10:41] Craig Calfee: Uh, carbon frames. [00:10:42] Randall: yeah. So anyone wanting [00:10:45] dig up the historical record, [00:10:47] Craig Calfee: is this too generic? You know, the other to what you're talking about, the adventure bikes. Yeah, we had to stop. I mean, carbon frames is a terrible name because everyone started talking about all carbon fiber frames as carbon frames. So we thought that was cool, you know, like Kleenex, you know, uh, and then we came up with the adventure bike, you know, with very early, uh, adventure bike. [00:11:11] And it was just, we called it the adventure bike. And now there's a classification called adventure bikes that, you know, so, um, I think we, we, we went too generic on how we named our models. [00:11:26] Randall: I've drawn from the rich tradition, a tradition of Greek, you know, uh, philosophy for naming my own companies in the like, [00:11:35] Craig Calfee: Yeah. [00:11:36] Randall: uh, um, and then next up, uh, so you've worked with Greg Lamond on those frames. Carbon frames is up and running and you're, you're producing custom geo frames and you're starting to get at some scale at this point and some notoriety. [00:11:52] next up you were working on your bamboo bikes. When we talk about that [00:11:57] Craig Calfee: Yeah, that was say, I'm kind of at the, at the time, it was just a way to get publicity. So at the Interbike trade show, you'd have a few creative people making some wacky bikes out of beer cans or, or other just weird things just to get attention, just, just to send the media over to your booth, to take a picture of some wacky thing that you're doing. [00:12:20] yeah, we got to do something like that to get, get some attention. And the, uh, so I was looking around for some PVC pipe. Maybe I was going to do a PVC pipe bike, and I wasn't really sure, but I knew that we could just wrap any tube. Make a bike out of literally anything. So, um, my dog was playing with some bamboo behind the shop. [00:12:42] Uh, she was a stick dog, so she loved to clamp onto a stick and you could swing her around by the, by the sticks. She's a pit bull and lab mix. Anyway, we ran out of sticks. Uh, cause we only had one little tree in the back, but we did have some bamboos. So she came up with a piece of bamboo and I was her around by it, expecting it to break off in her mouth because I just wasn't aware of how strong bamboo was, but it turned out it was really quite strong. [00:13:12] And I said, oh, let's make a bike out of this stuff. And sure enough, uh, the bike was, uh, quite a attention getter. It got the quarter page and bicycling magazine so that, you know mission accomplished on that front. And, but the bike itself rode really well.  [00:13:29] Randall: well  [00:13:30] Craig Calfee: Um, when I wrote my first carbon bike, uh, the very first ride on my very first carbon bike, I was struck by how smooth it was. [00:13:38] It had this vibration damping that was, you know, just super noticeable and, and that really kind of lit a fire under my butt thinking, wow, this is really cool. When I built my first bamboo bike, I had that same feeling again, how smooth It was It was amazing for its vibration damping. So, uh, I knew I was onto something at that point. [00:14:02] Uh, that first bike was a little too flexy, but, uh, the second bike I built was significantly stiffer and was an actual, real rideable bike. So, uh, from that point, uh, we just started building a few here and there and it was still a novelty item until about, uh, 1999, 2000. When a few people who had been riding them, or like, I want another one, I I want to know mountain bike this time. [00:14:29] So as it was just starting to get known and, uh, we started selling them through dealers. And I mean there's a lot of stories I can tell on how that evolved and how people started actually believing that a bamboo bike could actually exist in the world. So it took a while though. [00:14:49] Randall: I think there's a whole thread that we could tug on maybe in a subsequent episode where we focus just on the bamboo bike revolution. [00:14:57] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Yeah. That's um, there's a lot of, lot of stuff going on there. I'm actually writing my second book on history of the bamboo bike, because there's so many interesting angles to it, particularly in the. [00:15:10] Randall: in Africa [00:15:12] I'm struck by the juxtaposition of this bleeding edge. Uh, you know, high-tech material that you pioneered and then this going back to one of the most basic building materials, uh, that we have building bikes out of that. And in fact, um, on the one hand, there's this, this extreme, know, difference in terms of the technology ization of each material. [00:15:34] But on the other hand, there's a parallel the sense that like carbon, in tubes is best, uh, you know, generally, uh, when it's you need to write. Yeah, with maybe some cross fibers in order to prevent, prevent it from separating. And bamboo also has that characteristic of having, you know, you need directional fibers that are bonded together by some, uh, you know, some other material in, in the, in the bamboo [00:15:58] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Yeah, it's very, there's a lot of similarities. I mean, bamboo is amazing just because it grows out of the ground and tubular for. And it grows a new, huge variety of diameters and wealth thicknesses. So if you're looking for tubing, I mean, you don't have to go much further. It's amazing that it literally grows out of the ground that way.  [00:16:20] Randall: paint [00:16:21] a picture for folks to, um, most of our listeners I'm guessing are in north America or, you know, other, uh, English-speaking parts of the world. I lived in China and as you've been, you see huge scaffolding, multi-story, you know, big buildings and the scaffolding isn't made out of metal. [00:16:37] It's made out of bamboo lashed together with zip ties and pieces of wire. So it really speaks to the, the structural, uh, strength of the material and reliability of the material. and you know, should instill confidence when descending down a mountain. [00:16:54] Craig Calfee: Oh yeah. No, it's, I, I remember seeing bamboo and scaffolding many, many years. And I thought, well, of course, and the other reason they use it in scaffolding is when a typhoon hits and it, it kind of messes up the scaffolding of a construction site. Um, it's, they're back to work on the bamboo construction sites, much faster than the metal scaffolding sites, they have to deal with bent and distorted metal scaffolding, um, to replace those and fix that takes a lot longer where bamboo, they just bend it back and lash it back together. [00:17:32] It's it's so much easier. [00:17:35] Randall: there's one more thing on this theme that I want to, uh, pull out before we move on, which is talk to me about the, the sustainability components of it. Um, starting with how it was done initially. [00:17:47] And then now with say like, uh, biodegradable resins or, or other materials I can, this frame can be current. [00:17:55] Craig Calfee: Uh, the short answer is yes, the frame can be composted. And the other cool thing is if you take care of it, it it'll never compost, meaning you can prevent it from being composted naturally. if you really want to, you know, uh, dispose of the frame, um, it will biodegrade much faster than any other material that bicycle frames are made of. [00:18:22] So yeah, the, the renewable aspect, the low energy content of it, it's, it's utterly the best you can imagine. And we're kind of waiting for the world to finally get serious about global warming and start to have some economic incentives for buying products that are in fact, uh, good for the environment. Uh, we haven't seen that yet, but we're kind of holding out and hoping that happens. [00:18:49] And then we'll see probably some significant growth in the bamboo adoption in the bicycling world. [00:18:57] Randall: I want to plant a seed that, that, uh, to germinate in my head, which is this idea of bamboos being the ideal material for kind of more mainstream, uh, utility bicycles and recreational bicycles. really it's a matter of the unit economics in economies of scale and consistency of material, which you could make uniform by having, uh, having controlled grow conditions and things like that. [00:19:23] Um, but it could be a very localized industry to anywhere where bamboo grows. this could be produced, which reduces transportation costs reduces, you know, issues of inventory carrying and all these things. Um, so let's, let's park that I want to ask you more about those, about the economics of bamboo in a side conversation to see if there's, you know, explore there. [00:19:45] Craig Calfee: well, there is. I mean, that's, that's what we did in Africa. Same concept is as why, why would bamboo work in Africa better than the imported bikes from China? So that was, that was the whole thing around that. [00:19:59] Randall: Ah, I love it. All right. So though, there will be a bamboo episode folks. Uh, we're going to, going to continue cause there's a lot of ground to cover here. so next steps you've done done the first carbon frame and the tour de France, uh, carbon frames is up and running. You've started getting into bamboo, what was next, [00:20:18] Craig Calfee: Um, then lots of smaller developments, which become really important to us from a business perspective, uh, fiber tandem, we built the first one of those. And then we went to a lateral list, tandem design, and it's pretty optimized at this point. So we're, I would say we are the leader in the tandem world in terms of the highest performance, tandem bikes, uh, and then re repairing of carbon frames. [00:20:47] That was a big one, uh, which we were kind of pushed into by customers. And other folks who heard that we could repair the Cathy frames and they would set a call up. And literally we had a, an in one inquiry per week, if not more, more often about like a colonoscopy that this guy wanted to repair and he heard we could do it on ours. [00:21:10] And we're like, well, by a Calfee don't, you know, I'm sorry, but we can't repair somebody else's frame. You'll have to buy one of ours. And then you'll know that you crash it, we can repair it for, he was trying to make that a, a a advantage for our brand, but we couldn't really, you know, do that. So, uh, we said, well, if we can't beat them, we'll repair them. [00:21:32] And we repaired a first and then some specialized, I think, after that. So we, we accepted repair jobs and pretty soon it became about a third of our, our business. And it's, uh, of course now lots of other people repair frames, but, uh, we started doing that in 2001 or something and, and we've been doing it ever since. [00:21:58] And it's, that part has been really interesting to see, because we get to literally see the inside of everyone else's frames and look at the weak points. You know, they often show up on, on people's frames and get asked to fix them or even redesign them at that point. So that's been really interesting to, to me as a technician, [00:22:21] Randall: and want to come back to this in a second, but before we lose it, what is a lateralis tandem design? [00:22:27] Craig Calfee: uh, that, so traditional tandems had a, a tube that went the head tube, usually straight back down towards the dropouts or or bottom bottom bracket. And it's, it's a way to stiffen up a frame. That's inherently not very stiffened torsion. But, uh, with composites, you can orient the fiber, uh, in torsion to make a tube significantly stiffer and torsion than say a metal tube of similar weight. [00:22:57] So we were able to go a little bit bigger diameter and more fiber in the helical angled orientation and make a tandem, uh, stiff enough and torsion and get rid of that tube. And for a carbon fiber frame, that it was really important because number of times you have to join the tube, the more expensive it is or the more labor content there is. So we were able to reduce our labor content, make the frame lighter and make it stiffer all at, in one design change. So that was a big, a big revelation. And now I most of them have copied that design. So it's, uh, it's, that's another time where we, we did something that, that, uh, now became the standard. [00:23:43] Randall: Yeah. One of many from what I've observed in a written the history. Uh, so around this time, or shortly after you started the repair business, you started doing some pretty, pretty wild frames in terms of pushing the limits of what was possible when we talk about that. [00:24:01] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Yeah, we did. We've done a lot of different types of frames, uh, mostly for show, but, um, like the north American handmade bike show is a great venue for just doing something way out of left field. Um, we did, uh, a bamboo bike made all out of small diameter, bamboo. Um, it's I only made one because it was a total pain in the ass to make. [00:24:26] Uh, and it was also kind of inspired by the, a request from a guy who was not only a fan of bamboo, but he was a fan of molten style bikes. Those are the trust style frames with small wheels. So we built one of those and. With the only small diameter bamboo, and we built another one that was, uh, a real art piece. [00:24:49] So just having fun with that from a, you know, completely artistic direction is a lot of fun for me because that's my formal training. I went to art school and learned about different materials and, and art and composition. Uh, and I was into the structure of materials and how they, they relate to each other. [00:25:12] And my art was more of a forum file form follows function, kind of inspiration. And, uh, so some bikes that I've made were, are not terribly practical, but just explore the, the limits of structure. So another bike I made, uh, we call it the spider web bike, which was literally a, a bike made of just carbon fiber strands. [00:25:36] No tubes. And it, it was kind of wild looking and a collector ended up buying it, which is really cool. But you look at this thing and you just couldn't imagine that it, it, you could actually ride it, but, uh, it actually does ride fairly well. It's a bit fragile if you crash it, it would be kind of dangerous, but you know, stuff like that. [00:25:55] I like to do that occasionally. [00:25:59] Randall: I think of, uh, like biomorphic design or like hyper optimized design that maybe doesn't have the resiliency, but very strict parameters will perform higher than anything else that you could, you could create. [00:26:12] Craig Calfee: absolutely. Yeah. Those are really fun. I'm really inspired by natural forms and, uh, you know, the, the, some of the new computer aided techniques we're designing are, uh, rattled in those lines. so, yeah, I follow that pretty closely. [00:26:28] Randall: a little sidebar. Um, I don't know if you've, uh, no of, uh, Nick Taylor, the guy who created the, Ibis Maximus in front of the mountain bike hall of fame. [00:26:40] Craig Calfee: Um, no, I don't think so. [00:26:43] Randall: I'll introduce you to his work at some point, but he's another one of these people who, very avid cyclist is not in the bike industry, but is. There's a lot of trail building and alike and isn't is a sculptor really focused on, the form of, uh, you know, biological shapes and materials and, and things of this sort. [00:27:02] Uh, I think that there's a lot, uh, I'm actually curious more into your, your non bike artistic work for a moment. Uh, and, and how that got infused into your work with the bike. [00:27:18] Craig Calfee: yeah, so I haven't done a lot of, you know, just pure, fine art sculpture in a long time. But when I was doing that, it was. a lot of things that would fool the eye or, um, some material and, and push it to its limit. So I was doing stuff that was, um, uh, you know, trying to create a, almost like a physical illusion, not just an optical illusion, but a, but a physical illusion or like, how could you possibly do that kind of thing? [00:27:54] And that was a theme of my sculpture shortly after Pratt. So for example, just take one example of a sculpture that I got a lot of credit for in classes at Pratt, it was a, a big block of Oak. It was a cutoff from a woodworking shop. It's about a foot in, let's say a foot cube of Oak. And I would, um, so I, I, uh, raised the grain on it with a wire brush and then I blocked printed on Oak tag page. [00:28:26] Um, some black ink on rolled onto the Oak block and made a river, basically a print off of each face of the, of the block. And then I carefully taped that paper together to simulate a paper block of the Oak chunk that I I had. now I had a super light paper version of the Oak block. And then I hung them on a balance beam, which I forged at a steel, but the hanging point was way close to the piece. [00:28:57] And if you looked at it from three feet away, just, your brain would, just hurting because you couldn't figure out how is this even possible? And because it really looked amazing, super hyper real. Anyway, it just looked amazing and it was fun to get the effect of how the hell did that. Did he do that? [00:29:18] What's what's the trick here. There's something going on. That's not real. Or it's. Uh it's not physically possible. And I kind of got that feeling with the carbon fiber bike. When we, when we built the first bike, everyone would pick it up and go, oh, that's just too light. It's not even a bike. It's a plastic bike it's going to break instantly. [00:29:39] So that was sort of a relation from, from those days to the, to the bike. [00:29:44] Randall: You ever come across Douglas Hofstadter's book, Godel, Escher Bach. [00:29:49] Craig Calfee: No, but I'd be interested to read it. [00:29:51] Randall: Definite short Lister. Um, uh, you've come across MC Escher, of Yeah. And are there any parallels or any inspiration there? [00:30:01] Craig Calfee: Um, not very direct, I'd say. Um, [00:30:08] Who  [00:30:08] Randall: your, who your inspirations or what, what would you say your creative energy is most similar to? [00:30:14] Craig Calfee: I'd probably, I'd say say Buckminster fuller. [00:30:17] Randall: Mm, [00:30:17] Craig Calfee: Yeah. I mean, I studied his work in depth, you know, not only the geodesic dome stuff, but also his vehicles, the dime on vehicle the, yeah. So there's, there's a bunch of stuff that he was involved with that I'd say, I'm parallel with as far as my interest goes, [00:30:37] Randall: what books should I read? [00:30:39] Craig Calfee: all of them. [00:30:42] Randall: Where do I start? If I have limited [00:30:44] time  [00:30:45] Craig Calfee: Yeah. It's a tough one. He's actually really difficult to read too. His writing is not that great. I pretty much look at his, uh, his design work more than His writing [00:30:56] Randall: Okay. So who's book whose book about Buckminster fuller. Should I read? [00:31:01] Craig Calfee: good question. I'll, I'll catch up with you on that later because there's few of them that they're worth. It's worth a look. [00:31:07] Randall: awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Um, let's talk about 2001. you're a dragon fly. [00:31:15] Craig Calfee: Yeah, the dragon fly was an interesting project. It was so Greg Lamanda had asked me, like, I want an even lighter bike. He was constantly pushing on the technology. And I said, well, there are some really expensive fibers that are starting to become available, but, um, you know, this would be a $10,000 bike frame and, you know, it's only going to be a half a pound lighter. [00:31:40] And he said, well, I don't care. I just, you know, I w I need it for racing. I mean, um, you know, when, when I'm climbing Alpe d'Huez with Miguel Indurain and if he's got a lighter bike than I do, then I'm just going to give up, you know, in terms of the effort. So he needs to have that technical advantage, or at least be on the same plane. [00:32:02] So the reason why he'd spend, you know, $5,000 for a half a pound, a weight savings was pretty, pretty real. So, but it took until about 2000, 2001 after he had long retired to, um, really make that happen. So the fibers I was talking about are really high modulus fiber that was very fragile, too brittle, really for any use. [00:32:29] So we came up with a way to integrate it with, um, boron fiber. Uh, it actually was a material we found, uh, special specialty composites out of, uh, out of Rhode Island. Uh, they, uh, do this co-mingled boron and carbon fiber, uh, hybrid material, which was, um, they were looking for a use cases for it and the bicycle was one of them. [00:32:58] So, uh, we built a prototype with their material and it turned out. To be not only really light and really strong, the, the boron made it really tough. So carbon fiber has, uh, the highest stiffness to weight ratio, intention of any material you can use. boron is the highest stiffness to weight ratio in compression as a, as a fibrous material that you can integrate into a composite. So when you mix them, you now have a combination of materials, that are unbeatable. [00:33:35] Randall: Like a concrete and rebar almost, or, quite. [00:33:40] Craig Calfee: I'd say that's a good, um, for composites in general, but now we're talking about the extreme edge of, of performance, where, um, looking at the, most high performance material certain conditions, versus tension. These, these are conditions that are existing in a bicycle tube all the time. [00:34:07] So one side of the tube is compressing while the other side is intention as you twist the bike, uh, and then it reverses on the, on the pedal stroke. So it has to do both now. Carbon fiber is quite good at that, but compression it suffers. And that's why you can't go very thin wall and make it, um, withstand any kind of impact because it's, it's got a weakness in it's, um, compressive. So, uh, it's, uh, it doesn't take a break very well either. So boron on, the other hand does take a break very well, and it's incredibly high compressive strength to weight ratio and compressive stiffness to weight ratio. are two different things by the way. So when you combine those into a tube, it's pretty amazing. [00:34:57] Uh, they're just really quite expensive. So we came up with the dragon fly, um, in 2001 and it was at the time the lightest production bike yet it also had the toughness of a normal frame. And that's that's right around when the Scott came out, which was a super thin wall, large diameter, uh, carbon frame that was really fragile. [00:35:23] Um, so that was sort of a similar weight, but not nearly as tough as, uh, the dragon fly. [00:35:34] Randall: For well, to go a little bit deeper on this. So what is the nature like? What is the nature of the boron? Is it a, like, is it a molecule? Is it a filament? So you have, you have carbon filaments is the boron, um, you know, is that, are you putting it into the resin? How is it? Co-mingled. [00:35:51] Craig Calfee: It's a, it's a filament, basically a super thin wire. [00:35:56] Randall: You're essentially co-mingling it in when you're creating the tubes and then using the same resin to bond the entire structure together. [00:36:04] Craig Calfee: That's right. [00:36:05] Randall: Got it. And this, so then this is, uh, if you were to add then say like to the resin separately, it would be a compounding effect. Um, I don't know if you have, uh, mean, I assume you've done some stuff with graphene. [00:36:19] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Graphing graphing is a really great material. It does improve the toughness of composites. Uh, it's again, also very expensive to use, uh, in a whole two. Usually it's used in smaller components, uh, not so much on the whole frame, uh, and it, and it's, um, it's best, uh, uses in preventing the of cracking. [00:36:46] So it stops the micro cracking that starts with a failure mode. And that that's a great, thing. But if your laminate is too thin to begin with that, all the graphing in the world, isn't going to help you. So for really minor wax it'll help, but for anything substantial, it's going to break anyway. [00:37:08] So you have to start out with a thick enough laminate get the toughness that you're looking for. Uh, graphene is really great for highly stressed areas, which might start cracking from, uh, fatigue or just the design flaw of a stress concentration. So it's got a number of purposes. Uh, it's great for, uh, like pinch clamp areas, you know, places where the mechanical, uh, stress is so high on a, on a very localized area. [00:37:37] Um, so yeah, graphene is wonderful. We didn't get into it too much because, um, it's just, it would just, wasn't practical for our applications and how we make the frames, but, uh, some companies have started using graphene and it's, it's pretty interesting stuff. [00:37:52] Randall: We did some experimentation with it early on in our looking at it for the future. my understanding is. You know, I haven't gone too deep into like the intermolecular physics, but it's essentially like you have a piece of paper and if you start tearing the paper that tear will propagate very easily. [00:38:09] then the graphene is almost like little tiny pieces of tape. Randomly distributed, evenly distributed across the material that makes it so that that fracture can no longer propagate in that direction. And it has to change direction where it bumps into another graphene molecule and the graphing, essentially when we tested it was doubling the bond strength of the resin. [00:38:30] So in terms of pulling apart different layers of laminate, then, um, increasing the toughness of say, uh, a rim made with the exact same laminate in the exact same resin with, 1% graphene per mass of resin increasing the toughness of that rim structure by 20%. [00:38:50] Which is pretty [00:38:50] Craig Calfee: That's correct. [00:38:51] Randall: The challenges that is that it lowers the temperature, uh, the, the glass suffocation points resin. so, you know, a rim is like, you know, there are, if you're gonna put it on the back of your car, you know, that's not a normal use case when you're riding, but, you know, it's, it's something that just makes it less resilient to those towards sorts of, you know, people put on the back of the car too close to the exhaust and they melt the rim. [00:39:17] So we're having to experiment with some high temperature residents that have other issues. [00:39:22] Craig Calfee: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That's rims are a great place for graphing, just cause they're in a a place where you'll have some impacts, but yeah. Temperature management is an issue. Um, yeah, that's the high temperature residents are, are another area that, that, uh, we're experimenting in, uh, wrapping electric motor, uh, rotors with, with a high temperature resonant carbon wrap. [00:39:46] that's a whole nother area, but I'm familiar with that stuff. [00:39:49] Randall: Which we'll get into in a second, park park, that one. Cause that's a fun theme. yeah. And I'm just thinking about a rim structure. It seems like boron on the inside graphing on the outside, um, deal with high compressive forces between the spokes and then the high impact forces on the external, will  [00:40:07] Craig Calfee: the material we use is called high bore. You can look that up. H Y B O R and there they're actually coming back with new marketing efforts there. They, I think the company got sold and then, um, the new buyers are, are re revisiting how to, to spread the use of it. So might be real interested in supporting a rim project. [00:40:30] Randall: mm. Uh, to be continued offline. Um, all right. So then we've got your carbon fiber repair surface. We talked about the dragon fly. Um, it's a great segue into engineering and design philosophy. let's talk about that [00:40:47] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Um, well it's, to me, it's all about form follows function and, uh, when something works so well, functionally, it's gonna look good. That's uh, that's why trees look great just by themselves, uh, that that's, you know, coming back to the natural world, you know, that's why we have a Nautilus shell for, uh, for our logo. [00:41:12] It's the form follows function. Aspect of that just makes it look beautiful. For some reason, you look at something from nature, you don't really know why is it beautiful? Well, the reason is the way it's structured, the way it's evolved over millions of years. Has resulted in the optimum structure. So for me, as a, as a human being artificially trying to recreate stuff, that's been evolved in nature. [00:41:39] Um, I look closely at how nature does it first and then I'll apply it to whatever I'm dealing with at the moment. And so that's how I, that's how I design stuff. [00:41:50] Randall: there's a, the Nautilus shell example, like, you know, the golden ratio and the way that, really complex systems tend to evolve towards very simple, fundamental, primitives of all design [00:42:04] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Yep. Yeah. There's some basic stuff that, that seemed to apply everywhere. [00:42:10] Randall: So with your carbon fiber repair service, so you started to see some of the problems with that were emerging with these, um, large tube thin wall designs that were being used to achieve a high strength or sorry, a high stiffness to weight, but then compromising in other areas. [00:42:28] So let's talk about that. [00:42:30] Craig Calfee: Yeah, it's um, you know, designing a carbon fiber bike is actually really quite difficult. There's so much going on. There's so many, uh, things you have to deal with high stress areas that you can't really get around. there's a lot of constraints to designing a good bicycle frame. Um, and then you're dealing with the tradition of, of how people clamp things on bikes, you know, stem, clamps, and seed post clamps, and, uh, you know, th that type of mentality. [00:43:04] It's still with us with the carbon, which is carbon doesn't do well with. So a lot of companies struggle with that and they'll come up with something on paper or in their CAD model. And their finite element analysis sort of works, but, and then they go into the real world and they have to deal with real situations that they couldn't predict in the, the computer. [00:43:29] And they get a problem with, uh, you know, a minor handlebar whacking, the top tube situation, which shouldn't really cause your bike to become dangerous. But in fact, that's what happens. So you've got, um, you know, uh, weak points or vulnerabilities in these really light frame. And if you're not expected to know what the vulnerability is as an end-user and you don't know that if you wack part of the bike and in a minor way that you normally wouldn't expect to cause the frame to become a weak, then the whole design is a question. So you have to consider all these things when you decide to bike. And a lot of companies have just depended on the computer and they are finite element analysis too, to come up with shapes and designs that, uh, are inherently weak. And, um, people get pretty disappointed when they're, when the minor is to of incidents causes a crack in the frame. [00:44:37] And if they keep riding the bike, the crack gets bigger. And then one day, you know, I mean, most people decide to have it fixed before it gets to be a catastrophic but, uh, you know, it gets expensive and, uh, You know, it's, sad. Actually, another motivation for getting into the repair business was to save the reputation of carbon fiber as a frame material. [00:45:03] You know, these types of things don't happen to thin wall titanium frames. You know, a thin wall titanium frame will actually withstand a whole lot more abuse than a thin wall carbon frame. So it's just hard to make diameter thin wall titanium frames that are stiff enough and not without problems of welding, you know, the heat affected zones. [00:45:26] So carbon fiber is, is a better material because it's so much easier to join and to, to mold. But if you, you have to design it properly to, to withstand normal abuse. And if you're not going to do that, then there should at least be a repair service available to keep those bikes from going to the landfill. [00:45:45] So frequent. And so that's what we do we, we offer that and we even train people how to carbon repair service. So that's, um, that's something we've done in order to keep bikes from just getting thrown away. [00:46:01] Randall: uh, I think I've shared with you, I'm in the midst of, uh, doing, uh, uh, a pretty radical ground up design, which is way off in the future. So I'll be picking your brain on that, but it immediately makes me think of the inherent. Compromises of current frame design and manufacturing techniques, including on our frame. [00:46:20] And in our case, the way we've addressed that is through not going with lower modulates carbon, you know, S T 700, maybe some T 800 in the frame, then overbuilding it order to have resiliency against impacts. But then also these sorts of, um, micro voids in other imperfections that are in inherent process of any, uh, manufacturing, uh, system that involves handling of materials in a complex, you know, eight, uh, sorry, 250 a piece, you know, layup like there's, this there's even that like human elements that you have to design a whole bunch of fudge factor into to make sure that when mistakes are made, not if, but when mistakes are made, that there's so much, uh, overbuilding that they don't end up in a catastrophic failure. [00:47:10] Craig Calfee: that's right. Yeah. Yeah. You have to have some safety margin. [00:47:15] Randall: And the Manderal spinning process that you were describing essentially eliminates a lot of that in you're starting to see, I mean, with rims, that's the direction that rims are going in, everything is going to be automated, is going to be knit like a sock and frames are a much more complex shape. Um, but you're starting to see, uh, actually probably know a lot more about the, the automation of frame design than I do. [00:47:35] Um, what do you see? Like as the, as the end point, at least with regards to the, um, like filament based carbon fiber material and frames, like where could it go with technology? [00:47:50] Craig Calfee: the, the, um, robotics are getting super advanced now and there's this technique called, um, uh, they just call it fiber placements or automated fiber placement, which is a fancy word for a robot arm, winding fiber, you know, on a mandrel or shape, uh, and then compressing that and, uh, know, molding that. [00:48:14] So it's, it's where your, a robot will orient a single filament of carbon fiber. Uh, continuously all around the, uh, the shape that you're trying to make. They do that in aerospace now for a really expensive rockets and satellite parts, but the technology is getting more accessible and, uh, so robotic trimmers are another one. [00:48:42] So we're, in fact, we're getting ready to build our own robotic arm tremor for a resin transfer, molded parts. That's where the edge of the part that you mold gets trimmed very carefully with a router. And, but imagine instead of just a router trimming an edge, you've got a robot arm with a spool of fiber on it, wrapping the fiber individually around the whole structure of the frame. [00:49:10] Uh, no, no people involved just, you know, someone to turn the machine on and then turn it off again. So that's kind of coming that that is a future. Uh, it hasn't arrived yet, certainly, maybe for simpler parts, but a frame is a very complex shape. So it'll take a while before they can get to that point. [00:49:30] Randall: It having to, yeah. Being able to Uh, spin a frame in one piece is, seems to be the ultimate end game. [00:49:43] Craig Calfee: Yeah. I think we need to, I think the, the, uh, genetically modified spiders would be a better way to [00:49:50] go  [00:49:50] Randall: Yeah, they might, they might help us the design process. [00:49:56] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Yeah. Just give them some good incentives and they'll, they'll make you set a really incredibly strong, you know, spider wound. [00:50:05] Randall: Well, it does. It speaks to the, the, the biggest challenge I see with that, which is you have to go around shape. so if you're going through a frame, like it's essentially the triangle. And so you need some way to like hand off the, the S the filament carrier from one side to the other constantly. [00:50:27] you'd just be able to spin it. You know, it would be pretty straightforward. So maybe the frame comes in a couple of different sections that get bonded, but then those don't form a ring. And so you can, you know, you can move them around instead of the machine order [00:50:41] Craig Calfee: Well, there's these things called grippers. So the robot grip sit and then another arm grip know let's go and the other arm picks it up. And then there's like in weaving, there's this thing called the flying shuttle, which invented. That's where the shuttle that, the war [00:50:59] Randall: Your ancestors were involved with flying shuttle. [00:51:02] Craig Calfee: Yeah. [00:51:02] Randall: That's one of the, uh, all right. That's, that's a whole other conversation. [00:51:07] Craig Calfee: Yeah, a really interesting, I mean, it's the Draper corporation. If you want to look it up, [00:51:13] um  [00:51:13] Randall: I  [00:51:13] Craig Calfee: know [00:51:14] they were the manufacturing made the looms back in the industrial revolution in the Northeast [00:51:21] Randall: I'm sitting currently in Waltham, which was one of the first mill cities, um, not from Lowell. [00:51:28] Craig Calfee: Yeah. So all those mills were where our customers and they would buy the Draper looms. Um, and they were automated looms with a flying shuttle was a big deal Uh back then. And so they, they made a lot of, of those looms and, and that's basically what sent me to college with a trust fund. So [00:51:49] Randall: You're a trust fund, baby. [00:51:51] Craig Calfee: Yep. [00:51:51] Yep [00:51:53] From vendors. [00:51:55] Uh [00:51:56] but that's yeah, that's the world I, I came out of. And, so the, the idea of taking a spool of material and handing it off as you wrap around something is really not that difficult. [00:52:08] Randall: Okay. So then you can do it in a way that is resilient to probably 10,000 handoffs over the course of weaving a frame and you can expect that it's not going to fail once. [00:52:19] Craig Calfee: That's right Yeah [00:52:20] It  [00:52:20] Randall: All then that, that's [00:52:22] Craig Calfee: the hard part, the hard part is dealing with the resin and the, and the, uh, forming and the getting a nice surface finish. That was where the harder. [00:52:31] Randall: Yeah. And, uh, uh, I'm thinking about, uh, space X's attempts to create a giant, uh, carbon fiber, uh, fuel tank. And they actually had to do the, um, the heating the resin at the point of, uh, depositing of the filaments. [00:52:52] And [00:52:52] you know, that's a really challenging process because you can't build an autoclave big enough to contain a fuel tank for a giant rocket bicycles don't have that issue, but [00:53:01] Craig Calfee: right. Yeah. The filament winding technique, which is how all those tanks are made is, is pretty amazing in the large scale of those, those big rockets is phenomenal. I mean, a couple of places in Utah that make those, and it's just seeing such a large things spinning and, uh, wrapping around it rapidly is quite inspiring. [00:53:26] Randall: Yeah. It's very, very cool stuff. And that's, again, a whole another thread about the, uh, the Utah based, uh, composites industry that got its start in aerospace, you know, advanced aerospace applications, which NV and others came out of. They used to be edge which you worked with. NBU designed their tubes early on. [00:53:43] Right. [00:53:44] Craig Calfee: W well, yeah, the poles history behind envy and quality composites back in late eighties, literally, uh, when I first came out to, uh, actually I was still, think I ordered them in Massachusetts and took delivery in California, but it was a quality composites and out of Utah, uh, Nancy Polish was the owner of that. [00:54:06] Also an MIT graduate who, um, who started a roll wrapping carbon fiber in tubular forum. And I'm pretty sure we were the first roll wrapped carbon tubes, uh, for bicycles that she made. And, um Uh, evolved to, uh, edge composites. So they, so quality composites became McClain quality composites, and then McLean, the guys who broke away from that went to start envy or edge, I guess, which became envy. [00:54:40] So yeah, those same guys brought that technology and we've been the customer ever since. And now there's yet another spinoff. The guys who were making the tubes at envy spun off and started their own company, uh, in a cooperative venture with envy. So let them go basically. And, uh, we're working with those guys. [00:55:01] So it's just following the, the top level of expertise. [00:55:06] Randall: very interesting stuff. Um, so, so where else do we go in terms of the, I mean, this is about as deep a composite deep nerdery, as we can get in, into composites and so on. And, uh, given that we're already here, we might as just, you know, dig ourselves deeper. [00:55:25] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Um, sir, just on the roll wrapping, the thing that, um, I remember one of the cool innovations that Nancy came up with was the double D section, um, tube where she would roll wrap two D shaped tubes, stick them together and do an outer wrap on the outside. So it was a efficient way to do a ribbed tube or a single ribs through the middle. She pretty much invented.  [00:55:53] Uh, we started doing something with that, um, change days, uh, to get more stiffness out of a change day. But, um, I just, some reason that image flashed in my mind about some of the innovative stuff that been going on that people don't really see it's. And that's what I'm saying before where the, uh, technology of composites has, um it's got a long way to go and it's, there's all kinds of stuff going on that are, are, is brand new. [00:56:23] Uh, most people people don't see it cause it's all process oriented more than product oriented. But for guys like me, it's really fast. [00:56:34] Randall: Yeah, it reminds me of, um, a technology owned by a Taiwanese carbon frame manufacturing, pretty large-scale tier one that I'd spoken to where they're doing, uh, that bracing inside of the forks. don't think they're doing anything especially advanced in terms of how it's manufactured. [00:56:54] I think they just have a, uh, the, the inner, um, you know, whether it's a bag or it's a, you know, EPS insert. And then they're just bridging, uh, between the two walls of the, uh, of the tube of the, the fork leg, uh, with another piece of carbon that gives it more lateral structure zero, uh, impact on the, um, for AFT compliance, which is a really technique. [00:57:21] Craig Calfee: that sounds like Steve Lee at [00:57:24] Randall: Uh, this was YMA. [00:57:27] Craig Calfee: Oh, okay. [00:57:28] Randall: Yeah, the gigantic folks. I haven't, I don't know if I've interacted with them yet, but, um, but yeah, well, [00:57:35] Craig Calfee: Yeah, some amazing innovation coming out of Taiwan. They're there. They're so deep into it. It's, it's a fun place to go and, and see what they're up to. [00:57:47] Randall: this actually brings me back to, um, I, I did had a conversation with over with Russ at path, less pedaled, and was asking like, you know, tell me about the quality of stuff made, made over in Asia. And I was like, well, you know, it's generally best to work with their production engineers because they're so close to the actual manufacturing techniques and they're the ones innovating on those techniques. [00:58:10] And in fact, um, you know, even specialized up until recently did not do carbon fiber in. outsource that, you know, they, they do some of the work in house, but then the actual design for manufacture and all that is being done by the factories and rightfully so the factories know it better, being close to the ground though, dealing with someone with yourself, you're someone who could go into a factory and be like, okay, let's, let's innovate on this. [00:58:35] Craig Calfee: Yeah.  [00:58:36] Yeah.  [00:58:37] Randall: so then 2011, um, first production, gravel bike. [00:58:45] Craig Calfee: Uh, yeah. Yeah. We came up with the, uh, adventure bike, we call it, um, it was also the first one that did the, uh, six 50 B uh, tire size that can be used with a 700 by 42 or So mixing, know, going bigger tire on a slightly smaller rim on the same bike as you'd run a 700 C and, uh, 35 or 40 millimeter tire. Um, yeah, so the adventure bike has been. Uh, a real fun area for us as far as, uh, just developing a, do everything. Be everything, bike [00:59:24] Randall: it's. And the geometry of that was kind of an endurance road geometry, right [00:59:28] Craig Calfee: that's [00:59:29] right. It's a road bike effectively, but with a few, a few, uh, tweaks for riding off road. [00:59:36] Randall: So then this, this word, gravel bike is kind of muddled. [00:59:39] Um, I never liked it, frankly. Uh, it's a marketing term. I remember it specialized when we were doing the, the diverse, um, you know, it was still kind of honing in on what these bikes were. Uh, but you could argue that like, you know, you know, everyone's road bike was a gravel bike. When you just put the biggest tires that would fit and write it on dirt. [00:59:57] But this concept of a one bike, it seems to be what you've planted. But you can have a single bike that will be your road, bike, perform handle, give you that, that experience when you put road wheels on, but then you can put these big six fifties on there and have a, you know, an off-road crit machine that is highly competent in, in rough terrain. [01:00:16] And so, so yeah, that, and that's very much my design philosophy as you know, as well, you know, fewer bikes that do more things. [01:00:24] Craig Calfee: Yeah. We have this. Kind of a marketing phrase for, you know, how the end plus one concept where, you know, how many bikes do you even need? Well, one more than what you've got. Well, we do the N minus one concept with our mountain bike, which can also be a gravel by ache or a bike, but it's, uh, it allows you to change the head tube angle and, and use different, uh, fork travel suspension forks on, on the same frame. [01:00:55] Uh, and of course, swapping wheels out is, is always a thing. So yeah, the end minus one concept where we just need less stuff, you know, [01:01:04] Randall: So I reinvented that when I started thesis, he used to say like, and, minus three, it replaces road, bike, your gravel bike, your road, bike, your cross bike, your, um, light duty cross country bike, uh, your adventure bike actually as well, you know, load these things up. yeah, very much a philosophy that, uh, I think it's so good that the, its efforts to come up with new, subcategories, for example, by having gravel bikes now run oversize 700 wheels and extending the geo and going with these really slack head angles in order to accommodate that wheel size. [01:01:40] I actually think that the form, the form that things want to evolve towards is actually what you created in the first place, which is the one bike that does all the things and does them well. And depending on the wheels you put on them, um, we'll do we'll, we'll transform. Uh, and you know, we've, we've talked a little bit about geo changing, um, You know, and things like this, which you have a bike that, that does that. [01:02:03] And why don't we talk a bit about that in the technology behind it? [01:02:08] Craig Calfee: The SFL, you mean we use the geometry of the head tube and the bottom bracket to, uh, to accommodate what you're using it for? Yeah, the concept there is to, if you're on a long ride to be able to change the geometry of your bike mid ride. So with an Allen wrench, you, uh, basically swap these flip plates out on your head to varia. [01:02:32] And so you climb, you can climb with one geometry with another. And to me, that's, that's really fun because the climbing, you, if you're climbing up a a long steep climb on a bike that you're going to descend back down on, uh, you really don't want the same geometry it's, you're compromising and one or the other, either climate. [01:02:55] Or it descends great. It's rarely both, or really can't possibly be both. Cause they're just doing two different things. So if you can swap out these flip plates and change the head tube angle, which is really all you need at that point, um, you have a bike that climbs great and descends. Great. So for me, that was the goal of, uh, just making a better mountain bike. Um, you know, the fact that it can be converted into other bikes for different disciplines is a whole nother angle. Uh, and you can even do that perhaps you wouldn't do it the trail, but let's say you show up, say you're on a trip, an adventure, uh, maybe out to Utah, for example, where you're riding slick rock, but you're also going to go up, you know, into the mountains. [01:03:45] Um, you'll have you, you might want to have. Different fork travels or different for, uh, options. So you can bring a couple of different forks and swap out a fork, change your flip plates and have a bike. That's awesome for slick rock. And then another one that's awesome for, for the bike parks. So, you know, to me it would, but it's only one bike and you know, you don't need, you know, three bikes. So that, that just, uh, that's the design result of a bike where you can change the head tube angle on, [01:04:21] Randall: and the, in really how much head tube angle adjustment is there on there. [01:04:25] Craig Calfee: uh, it's a or minus four degrees [01:04:28] Randall: that's, that's substantial. [01:04:30] Craig Calfee: that's a lot. [01:04:31] Randall: Yeah. [01:04:31] I mean, that's transformative really. I work in increments of, you know, half a degree.  [01:04:36] Craig Calfee: Yeah. These are half degree increments, um, right now, uh, one degree, but we can easily do half degree increments. find that one degree is, is really. Um, especially when you have the option of, of tweaking the same bike. So reason we focus on these half degree increments on a production bike is to dial in the best compromise between two, two ways that it's going to be used when you don't need to compromise, you can go a full degree in the other direction and not worry about fact that it's not going to perform as well, know, in super steep terrain because that flipped chip is not, uh, the right one for the super steep scenario. [01:05:22] Just change it out or flip it over a T when you approach the really steep stuff. So yeah. [01:05:29] Randall: applicable for mountain bikes, particularly because the, I mean, the slack, the long slack that, that have emerged in recent years make a ton of sense for mountain biking, especially descending, but when you're ascending, it ends up being so slack that you get wheel flop, you get the front end, lifting the bike naturally wants to tilt back. [01:05:49] You don't have that on a gravel bike currently. And if you don't, if you're not adding a huge suspension fork, you're never going to be descending terrain that is so technical that you need those slacked out angles. So it sounds like something that's very much could be applied to gravel bikes, but that, you know, for the mountain bike application is actually pretty game-changing. [01:06:06] Craig Calfee: Yeah, well on gravel bikes or adventure bikes, um, uh, it's actually helpful if you're, if you're, let's say you're a roadie and you're starting to go off road. And so you're driving these gravel trails and then you're starting to get into more interesting off-road excursions with that same bike, but your experience on steep terrain is limited because you're, you know, you're a roadie, you've your, all your muscle memory and all your bike handling memory comes from the road and a little bit of dirt road stuff. [01:06:39] Now you're kind of getting into serious off-road stuff and you want to try. a Uh, shortcut dissent, uh, you know, down something kind of crazy. Uh, let's say, uh, you're not very good at it in the beginning and you take your time and you, you don't have a bike that can go that fast down, such a trail, then you change it out. [01:07:00] As you get better at it, as you increase your skill level and your confidence level, might want to go a little faster. So you a bike that can go a little faster safely and go for that slack head angle, which is designed to get higher speed. So it's great for evolving skills and evolving terrain as you start exploring more radical stuff. [01:07:27] So that's the other reason to do it. [01:07:29] Randall: Yeah, that makes, that makes a lot of sense. And in fact, any, you know, what I'm working on going forward very much as a, uh, one of the core, you know, is, uh, being able to tailor the geometry, um, as close to on the fly as possible. Uh, you know, if you want it to be on the fly, you're going to add a huge amount of added structure and complexity and weight, but having it be when you swap the wheels, there's very little to do, you know, this sort of thing. [01:07:57] Craig Calfee: Yeah. So yeah, the whole idea is to, is to be able to go and have really fun adventures after all I wrote the book on adventures, see, here's, uh, this is a, this is the commercial part of our, our, uh, [01:08:10] plug [01:08:12] is, uh, this book I wrote about a trip. I took back in the, in the mid early eighties. Uh it's it's a kind of a. [01:08:20] Randall: of a  [01:08:21] Craig Calfee: It has nothing to do with bikes, except that there is a section in there where I made a canteen out of bamboo in the Congo, but it's a pretty crazy trip. And, uh, and I just called it adventures. It's on amp. anyone wants to buy it. [01:08:37] Randall: I will get a coffee. [01:08:39] Craig Calfee: Yeah. [01:08:42] Randall: Um, very, very cool. Um, we skipped over one, which is the manta, which is another interesting innovation [01:08:51] Craig Calfee: Yeah. Suspension on a road bike. I mean, that's a, I keep saying that's going to be the future and it hasn't happened yet, but I, I still believe that road bikes will be the main type of bike being written in the highest levels of racing. [01:09:08] interesting  [01:09:08] Randall: So you think suspension versus say. Um, wide tubeless, aerodynamic, the optimized rims with a 30 mil tire run at lower pressures. You think the suspension has a sufficient benefit relative to that, to offset say the structural complexity or weight? [01:09:25] Craig Calfee: Yes. So, uh, the big tire thing, trend towards bigger tires is really a trend towards suspension. It's pneumatic suspension rather than mechanical suspension. [01:09:39] Randall: Well, as our regular listeners know, this is a topic that's very much near and dear to my heart. I talk often about the benefits of pneumatic suspension, so this will be an interesting place for us to stop and really dive in when we follow up in part two of this conversation which Craig and I will be recording on the Thursday after this episode is published. So if you'd like to participate in the conversation, please tag us in the ridership, direct your questions and comments our way, and we will try to incorporate them into part two. And of course, if you haven't already come join us in the ridership, we'd love to have you and there's a lot of innovation that will be happening there in terms of how we use new digital tools in order to facilitate the community that we want for offline connection exchange and experience.  [01:10:21] So with that until next time. It's Craig would say here's to getting some dirt under your wheels. 
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    In the Dirt 27 - Goodbye 2021!


    Co-hosts, Randall and Craig put a bow tie on 2021 with a look back at a few of their favorite bikes and gravel riding experiences. Episode Sponsor: Competitive Cyclist (Promo Code: TheGravelRide) Support the podcast Join The Ridership Episode transcription, please excuse the typos: In the Dirt 27 [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. This is going to be our final in the dirt episode for the year. And we take a look back. At 2021 and a look forward to 2022. Before we jump in, I needed to thank this week. Sponsor a competitive cyclist.  [00:00:23] Competitive cyclist is the online retailer of road. Gravel and mountain bikes, components, apparel, and accessories.  [00:00:30] Perhaps you've got a holiday gift card, burning a hole in your pocket at this point. Competitive cyclist features cycling standout brands like pock Castelli, Pearl Izumi and five 10, and an unrivaled in-house bike assembly operation. They bring personal attention of your local bike shop with the selection and convenience only possible by shopping online.  [00:00:52] I can't talk about competitive cyclists without talking about the gearheads they're equal part customer service and cycling fanatic. Gear heads or former pro athletes. Olympians and seasoned cyclists with years of experience, all available by phone, email, or chat for product recommendations. And hard won advice.  [00:01:12] I know, after my conversation with my personal gearhead, Maggie, I came away with a few ideas on how to fill my personal Christmas basket. Those hard to think of items that I knew I couldn't get family or friends to purchase for me, but I needed in the garage. As I mentioned before, I got a full setup of SRAM replacement, brake pads that I couldn't find elsewhere.  [00:01:35] I found them at competitive cyclist. And now I'm ready for all those dissents here in mill valley. Competitive cyclist has a hundred percent. Return guarantee. So anything you can get, if it doesn't look like what you needed, feel free to send it back to them. And they'll take care of you. I know I appreciate that. As I've often ended up purchasing the wrong item for my bike, something that didn't fit or was too hard to figure out how to install.  [00:02:01] And being able to send it back is a great benefit.  [00:02:05] So go now to competitive gravel ride and enter promo code the gravel ride to get 15% off your first full priced order. Plus free shipping on orders of $50 or more some exclusions apply. [00:02:20] Go right now and grab that 15% off and free [email protected] slash the gravel ride. And remember once again, that promo code is the gravel ride.  [00:02:31] The sponsors of this broadcast are very much appreciated. So be sure to go check them out. Would that business out of the way let's dive right in to my episode of in the dirt with randall jacobs Hey Randall, how you doing?  [00:02:43] Randall Jacobs: I am well, Craig happy holidays [00:02:46] Craig Dalton: Yeah, same to you. It's good to see you. It's hard to believe. This is our last episode of the  [00:02:51] Randall Jacobs: last episode of the year, indeed. So we have a lot of fun topics for today. How would you like to dive in? [00:02:57] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think first off, I'd just like to put out a little public apology. I feel like we've had some audio issues on the podcast recently. Both on the editing side and more recently just voice levels. So I just want to shout out one, I acknowledge that those things have happened. and two, just to note of appreciation to the listeners who reached out with a lot of kindness to just say, Hey, Do you need any help? [00:03:24] Do you have any, can I offer any suggestions? Cause it's, it's well received and noted. And in fact, we're trying a different platform today, which comes super well-regarded. I know it's used by NPR and a bunch of other broadcast podcasts. Um, so hopefully the audio turns out great. And it's definitely a goal of mine in 2022 to just make sure that the audio levels don't distract from the conversation. [00:03:47] Obviously to the listener. I never do any fancy editing. I don't do a lot of stuff around that, given our, my personal capabilities, but we do want the conversation to be enjoyable, to listen to. And just for you to be able to get to know the guests or hear the conversation without anything getting in the way [00:04:06] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, and I certainly want to own my part in being a little bit overzealous with the editing capabilities of the last software platform we were using. We were using, there's a certain perfectionist tendency that I've been working through in public as a consequence of being a, you know, a part of this podcast. [00:04:24] Uh, so the other feedback that we received and the ridership was super helpful and. I will be, well, this platform doesn't allow so much, but then also just recognizing that it doesn't have to be perfect to be really good.  [00:04:36] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think, I think, you know, part of the feedback and I had gotten this early on and it was intentional on my part to just people speak the way they speak. Right. And it's not up to me or us to edit out too much of the conversation, obviously. dog barking or fire alarm. I want to address that. But if someone says like, or as are needs of a couple of minutes or repeats a word, I don't want to feel overly compelled to edit that out because at the end of the day, the gravel ride podcast is just talking about connecting with humans and talking about the subject to gravel cycling. [00:05:10] So I think there's just some good notes for, us to take for 2020.  [00:05:15] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, well, you know, um, like, uh, I guess that's okay. Sounds good to me. [00:05:22] Craig Dalton: um, maybe.  [00:05:25] Randall Jacobs: Yeah,  [00:05:27] Craig Dalton: But otherwise, you  [00:05:27] Randall Jacobs: keep that in there.  [00:05:28] Craig Dalton: it's been a fun year. I mean, I'm, I'm personally proud that we've published episodes every single week of the year. It was a lot of effort to get to that point. I think certainly a lot of listeners have acknowledged that And I, I would be remiss in not thanking those who have become members of buy me a or supported the podcast in any other ways, because it, it has taken a lot of effort to achieve this goal. [00:05:54] A couple of years back, I was just doing two episodes a month. So this seems like a pretty big momentous year that we should celebrate  [00:06:02] Randall Jacobs: yeah. And just looking every so often, I'll go and buy me a coffee and read the comments. Uh, just when I need to pick me up and just the, the, you know, the appreciation there really makes the effort worth it. So thank you for that as well. [00:06:13] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I mean, obviously like this isn't a money-making venture, so it's really the kind of kudos and kindness that, uh, you know, really propelled me forward.  [00:06:22] Randall Jacobs: You're not the Joe Rogan of the gravel cycling world. [00:06:26] Craig Dalton: Yeah. You know, I don't think Spotify is going to be coming, knocking on the door to purchase the gravel ride, but, uh, I'm proud of the community we have and what we do every week.  [00:06:34] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, absolutely. [00:06:36] Craig Dalton: Yeah. A couple of ones I just wanted, you know, we've had so many great episodes this year and fun ones for me. Like this has always been a journey of discovery and just these conversations I'm following my personal interests and, And hope. [00:06:50] That aligns with what the listeners are looking for. But a couple of my favorites I really did enjoy having Patrick carry on doing gravel bike skills, 1 0 1, I think that was a super useful episode. And he did a great job. Just sort of breaking down some fundamentals that newer riders may not be aware of or need to work on. [00:07:10] So that was a lot of fun. And then a couple product ones really enjoyed John Freeman from Rafa talking about shooting. Just getting into kind of the ins and outs of the construction of the shoe was an area that as, as you know, a hardware guy hadn't really explored that much. So it was pretty fascinating. [00:07:26] And then have to give a shout out to my buddy Whitman for cab helmets, just doing 3d printed helmets, I think is really interesting. And I do think is one of those trends that it's going to continue to be present in cycling gear, going for. [00:07:42] Randall Jacobs: And I particularly like the, kind of the more foundational episodes that we've done. Uh, another example, being the conversation I also had with Patrick on bike fit 1 0 1. Uh, it's great to be able to point people to a resource that was very carefully structured. But, uh, it's also digestible, uh, to help people understand an important topic that affects how we ride. [00:08:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah, a hundred percent. I wanna, I wanna, um, kind of partition those off because I do think over the course of the last three years, there's been a handful of just critical episodes that I think if you're only going to listen to five episodes of the gravel ride podcast, you should be hitting bike fit 1 0 1. [00:08:22] You should revisit our gravel bike 1 0 1 episodes. If you're thinking about purchasing a bike, the gravel bike skills episode, and there'll be a few more that I'll kind of package in there and I'll find a way in 20, 22 to point people to that to say, Hey, if you're looking to have a starting point, grab these episodes first and then. [00:08:40] get into the flow and go through the, you know, over a hundred episodes in the backcountry.  [00:08:46] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And you know, that brings us into kind of the next phase and being part of this experience, which is community. Um, another episode I want to call out is the one I recently did with Ryan. Uh, Russ Roca over at pathless pedals. Uh, his content is very much about, uh, you know, the non-competitive aspects of cycling and makes the sport much more accessible. [00:09:09] Uh, and that's a value that you and I hold very dear and is a big value of the ridership. And, uh, you know, was the primary motivation for getting the ridership off the ground, you know, uh, uh, community of riders helping. [00:09:22] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think that's been a theme that we've brought up in the end of dirt episodes And constantly encouraging and reminding people to join the ridership. it's something that, you know, we've depended a little bit of energy, but not as much as we would want, would have wanted to in 2021. [00:09:38] I think some of our desires were hamstrung by the ongoing pan down. The idea of getting people together and using the ridership to facilitate, you know, regional ride events and things like that. But the kernel is there and the interactions of, you know, continue to be positive and improve. [00:09:56] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And it's at a point where. It has a certain degree of validation that allows us to access resources that might not be, uh, accessible early on in terms of partnerships with technology partners or adding new functionality and things like this. And these are conversations that we have been deeply involved in behind the scenes and hope to start seeing, uh, implementation in 2022. [00:10:19] It'll be a significant focus for me, uh, now that, uh, you know, I'm in a very good shape, uh, with, with my primary business. [00:10:27] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think community is such an interesting topic and it's so, you know, I've always, in retrospect, always looked back at communities I've joined and discovered how much more value you get when you put in. And I think that's sort of the core of the ridership, right? The expectation it's not. Uh, Randall and correct conversation by any means. [00:10:47] In fact, there's weeks at a time that I'm just lurking and watching conversations happen. And, you know, I just encourage people to get in there. And whether it's the ridership or other communities in your life, it's just important to put yourself out there. Because you get so much more in return when you find out that, I mean, maybe it's selfish and you get a question answered that you need answered. [00:11:09] But if you can answer a question for someone else or point them in the right direction, I don't know about you, but I just get such extreme satisfaction out of that. That are really just fills me up. [00:11:19] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, it think if we're doing this right. Um, increasingly people don't know who we are when they sign up and it's, it's, it's its own thing and the ownership and the governance is decentralized and so on, and that's kind of the vision going forward, but we can learn about that a little bit later. [00:11:36] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I think you sign up and you bring your friends in and it becomes, it becomes something that you can use to connect with your local riders, your friends that you ride with every week. But then, you know, the goal has always been to just have this, this forum where people can communicate. [00:11:52] Any question they have. So obviously bike related questions, tire related questions. These can all happen at a super high level, but these regional questions and those group rides you're arranging every month will happen at an interpersonal. [00:12:05] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, who do I ride with? Also, another thing that's been really heartening to see is, uh, we have a channel in there that's just for, you know, buy, sell, gift, seek whatever. Um, and yeah, people just putting stuff up saying, I have these things that I'm not using. If anyone wants them come pick them up or pay for shipping. [00:12:22] And that like really just speaks to the ethos. Um, and, and is, is, is something that, um, I wouldn't say I'm proud of. It's something I feel grateful to be a part of and that's happening.  [00:12:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:12:33] a hundred percent, a hundred percent. And it's only gonna get better as it grows. I think this community has self-selected towards kindness and generosity, which is really, really great to see and something that I know it's important for both of us, that, that those values continue to get fostered going forward.  [00:12:51] Randall Jacobs: Hmm. Yes, yes. Yes.  [00:12:53] So bikes of the. [00:12:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I mean, seeing that we're at the end of the year, I just thought it, it would be cool to kind of, um, talk about bikes that caught our eye, just the bike each to kind of set the stage for maybe what we hope to see the. [00:13:09] industry doing next year.  [00:13:11] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, and I know we have very different perspectives on this, so why don't you go ahead with yours for. [00:13:16] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I mean, I still have my vision for what the perfect bike is and I don't think anything out there necessarily matches that just yet. I think there are a lot of trends. By companies are capitalizing on and they may grab one trend, I think is on point, but not another. So I'm still holding my breath for. [00:13:34] that. [00:13:35] Perfect Nash. Next gen model that'll come out. But one that I did want to highlight is the BMC ERs, L T um, I think it's unrestricted, something or other I'm kind of forgetting what the acronym was, but it was a  [00:13:51] Randall Jacobs: something that looks about right. [00:13:52] Craig Dalton: yeah, exactly. I had the S right. So it's, uh, the BMC ERs has been around for actually a couple of years and, and, uh, Tom boss over at, uh, Marine county bike coalition has one, and he's always raved about it as did, um, a contact of mine over at SRAM and RockShox, and it's a bike that has built in some suppleness into the rear. [00:14:17] I have experience with BMCs on the mountain bike side, as I was riding a 29 or hard tail for quite some time, and all is found that did a really great job of matching suppleness with performance. So it was quite interesting when this year they came out with the LT model, the LT is actually adding a micro suspension fork on the front end. [00:14:41] It's from a company called high ride over in Europe. It's only 20 millimeters of track. But I think they've matched that delicately with the amount of travel on the rear end. The suspension is right in the steer column, so it's not telescoping. So my imagination suggests that it's a fairly rigid front end, and I know they do have a lockout on it as well, but more and more, and it could be a sign of my age. [00:15:05] I'm just appreciating. Anything or any bike that can add a little suppleness to the ride. As You know, from riding out here in Marin, I'm riding the rough stuff all the time. So as we've talked about on previous episodes, there's sort of a bunch of different ways, including your body that creates suspension parts. [00:15:27] You can add the frame and it's just been interesting to me to look at the. This manifestation of those ideas in the BMC ERs LT. Uh, and I think it would be a really great bike to ride around. One thing I don't like about it, which we rant about on the show all the time is it's got a proprietary seat, post shape. [00:15:47] They did have the force forethought of this DC D shaped seed posts to add a, a shim mechanism. So you can easily go to a standard 27 2, but if you're a bike manufacturer out there and listening to me, just give me around 27 to that's fine. I need to put a dropper post in it. I don't need a fancy arrow shape and my seat posts. [00:16:09] Thank you very much.  [00:16:11] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And the arrow shape doesn't really do anything though. D just, um, the D shaped seat post is not about arrow. It's generally about compliance. So you get a little bit more flex in the, after the post, but if you're running a 27 2 posts, that is, you know, with a decent carbon layup, that's designed for some compliance, you can achieve the same thing. [00:16:30] Uh, so it's kind of separate fluid. Um, but at least they had the forethought yeah. To, to do the, the adapter. Uh, so I don't have a huge problem with that being, being a, an avid, uh, advocate for round posts. [00:16:43] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I remember talking to you, gosh, you know, a year And a half, two years ago, just about your experience working for a bigger manufacturer. And there's so many constraints along the way that, um, get, get hoisted into the conversation. It's it's often not necessarily about is this the thing that ultimate thing that I can make. Is this thing hitting the right product life cycle, the component availability, blah, blah, blah, that that often kind of shaped the design. [00:17:12] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And there's also, can we tell a story around this? And I've seen a number of examples. Um, one is a candy called certs. That was, there was a technology that I think rhymed with that, that ultimately was just a bolt on Alaska. Um, literally was compromising the structure of the bike and adding weight in order to give a cosmetic thing that told an untrue story about compliance. [00:17:38] Uh, so, you know, you see these things less and less, uh, fortunately, but there's still some of them D shape posts. I definitely include in there. [00:17:46] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. How about you? I know you struggle. Whenever I ask you to tell me about your favorite bikes out on the market, other than thesis, obviously, you know, what do you think, what was short of your bike of the year?  [00:18:00] Randall Jacobs: Honestly, so my bike of the year. So, so my philosophy is I want a one bike. I don't want suspension. Um, that is compromising the road experience. Uh, I want a bicycle that can do all the things really well. And the bike, you know, I looked at the allied echo and I thought that there were some really cool things happening there. [00:18:20] It's got flipped chips, front and rear. You can get a true performance road geo with a 73 head angle on the larger sizes. Um, but the first off, I don't think it's necessary to have a flip chip in the rear go with four 20 mils. Jane stays that'll work fine for an endurance road G. And if I was to do a flip chip, but just do it in the fork and have it be one that uses two different rotor sizes. [00:18:43] So you get more braking and off-road in the more upright position and I'm a smaller one 60 rotor for on-road with a more aggressive position. Um, my bike of the year is actually a bike that's been around for a long time and is still in my opinion, um, though it's expensive, uh, the category leader and that's, that's the open up, uh,  [00:19:03] Craig Dalton: And would you, would you call out the up or the, uh, or the, um, the one with the dual drops stay stays.  [00:19:10] Randall Jacobs: Um, not the upper, because I think the upper is a great bike for people who want a dedicated dirt only. And who are okay with a, you know, a less spirited on-road experience, but the, the head angle is pretty slack. You don't have enough weight over the front axle with that amount of, you know, with the head angle. [00:19:27] That's that slack, um, it's not built around the, the road wheel size. Really? You, you run 700 by 35.  [00:19:34] Uh,  [00:19:35] the open  [00:19:35] Craig Dalton: that's actually the wide, sorry, sorry to throw you off. That was The wide, that  [00:19:39] Randall Jacobs: Oh, correct? Correct. Yeah. the  [00:19:40] wide, right? Yeah. [00:19:41] Craig Dalton: lighter weight  [00:19:42] Randall Jacobs: the lighter weight one. Yeah. Yeah. Lighter paints, maybe nominally lighter layup.  [00:19:48] Um, I, yeah, I like that bike because of the geometry. [00:19:51] It's a proper endurance road, geometry generous tire clearance. I think it's 2.1 at least. Uh, I think the tire volume on wide rims run tubeless is the best way to do suspension if you want. Um, I have a design for like a, a handlebar with a little bit of suspension built into it. I like suspension stems, if you want even more. [00:20:11] And then you don't compromise the on-road experience and add all that weights and slop. Uh, so yeah, an external cable. That's easier to set up, easier to service, easier to adjust. If you need to ship your bike or pack it up for a flight, uh, it's going to be much less of a hassle. I find internal routing the way that it's done by most companies to be. [00:20:35] A very expensive weight, adding complexity, adding experience, ruining technology to make it look, um, look a certain way. And to be able to tell a story about saving half a watt or a watt of power, I find it quite silly, uh, the way it's done. So, yeah, that's my, that's my bike of the year, uh, is the open up. I do a few things differently and I will do a few things differently in a, in a future generation, but that's a great starting point. [00:21:01] It really. Uh, drug room and did it right initially. [00:21:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah. it's so funny. I mean, that was my, my second gravel bike. The one that I decided I was going to sell my road. It was going to go all in on gravel, sold the original Niner that I had, that just kind of wasn't fitting, fitting the bill for me and people ask me why I sold that. Like, you know, I loved it. I think it's great. [00:21:25] I think it ticks all those boxes that you, that you've described. You know, I, I didn't, and I've told this, I probably said this publicly and I've certainly said it privately. I didn't find, I found going to the thesis was very similar to writing. [00:21:39] Randall Jacobs: exactly. [00:21:40] Craig Dalton: You're not paying me to say this, but it's my personal opinion.  [00:21:44] Randall Jacobs: Yep. [00:21:44] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:21:45] I mean, it sort of slightly different intention on the bike from a design perspective, not maybe as lightweight as the, the open was or is, but very comparable in kind of performance. And, and for me, what was critically important was the fit. I am concerned about some of the trends around geometry and two blunts that. [00:22:05] Becoming popularized in the gravel bike market right now. And I'm concerned. And I had the same concern when this happened on mountain bikes. That it's actually not favoring me like where we are today from a certainly too blunt that I'm talking about the trend towards going longer, top tube slacker, head tube, short stem, and longer top tubes just never, never worked for me. [00:22:29] I've sort of in. You know, on my thesis, on the open, I would tend to ride a little bit shorter stem. [00:22:34] than maybe was customary. Um, given my height, just cause of my torso and now not to get into this trend too much. Cause I'm sure we'll cover it in 2022, but I'm a little bit concerned about getting my fit right on some of these newer.  [00:22:48] Randall Jacobs: Mm. Yeah. And where is this significant? There, there are benefits on the mountain side and really no downside, assuming you can fit to the bike properly because a mountain bike is generally. You know, the range of applications that you use a given mountain bike for is generally narrower than say, you know what I'm describing as a one bike where you'd have, you know, performance road experience all the way to a borderline cross country mountain bike experience, to a bike packing experience. [00:23:13] Um, I find that the, you know, the argument for going with a longer top tube, shorter stem is so you can fit bigger 700 C type. Um, I find it kind of silly because you could go higher volume six 50 B. You could still fit big enough, 700 C for certain applications and not compromise the on-road experience with a front end that doesn't have enough weight kids to leave it over, over the front axle for control and cornering and descending and so on. [00:23:40] I think it has as much to do with trying to differentiate. Gravel bikes enough from road bikes to justify people owning both. Uh, I think it has as much to do with that as it does to do with any sort of ostensible benefits, um, to a very, you know, increasingly narrow set of applications that such a bike is useful for. [00:24:01] Craig Dalton: yeah. I mean, you would think for me being like an entirely off-road rider for. [00:24:04] the most. This new trend would be helpful. And I am curious, try kind of these bikes. I've, I've got a couple in the garage of the haven't been a good fit. Um, I am looking to get one with a better fit just to sort of see if it, if it fits the bill for me, but I think you're right. [00:24:19] I think it is creating a greater amount of separation between the road and the gravel bikes. And to me, I don't necessarily strive for that since I don't have a road bike in the garage. Right.  [00:24:31] Randall Jacobs: Difference without distinction. It's I see it as all down. Um, that, that that's obviously I have, I have a horse in this, in this race, but, uh, that's, that's my perspective in anything I do in the future will not use that geometry philosophy.  [00:24:44] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Okay. Well, that's interesting to hear Rondo, you got an a on that, on that front. I was gifted for my wife, a bike fit this this year, and it was something that I obviously put on my Christmas list. Um, I'm increasingly concerned and, you know, should I go down the route of getting a custom bike or should I have a demo bike be offered to me in 2022? [00:25:06] I just sort of want to understand my personal parameters a little bit more and with a little bit more confidence. I know. And I appreciate you being a friend and ally on my journey. Trying to explore fit and understanding of frame geometries. Um, I'm much better equipped today at the end of 2021 than I was earlier in the year. [00:25:26] And I do think going through this fit exercise is just going to be another step forward in my understanding of, of my personal body and how it's changing over time with the.  [00:25:36] Randall Jacobs: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Well, um, I refer you to the bike fit episode and, uh, you know, my phone number. [00:25:43] Craig Dalton: yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. So I've got it. I'll go through it locally and you know, I've listened to that episode again, just to get some more thoughts in my mind. And, uh, yeah, I know you're always there when I need to riff on bike stuff. [00:25:56] Randall Jacobs: So when we got coming up next, [00:25:58] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I mean, I think it'd be cool to just highlight maybe your favorite ride of the year.  [00:26:03] Randall Jacobs: Sure. Uh, so this is a ride that my, my dear friend Marcus Gosling invited me on. It was a group of us, I think, uh, uh, three men, two women, uh, rode from top of skyline in the Santa Cruz mountains above San Mateo, south of San Francisco. Um, where I was actually living with Marcus for a few months during the pandemic, amongst the redwoods, uh, up on the Ridge there, it was a great place to be. [00:26:29] When it wasn't, you know, when, when everyone was staying in and we went through, let's see, we went down to the coast and to Aptos, and then up through 19 marks, uh, along summit coming back north, uh, was near Mount Nominum. And so on 130 kilometers, a lot of climbing, some fun stops along the way, really wonderful conversation, uh, with people that, uh, Uh, a couple of people I hadn't met before, and then one woman I had met, but not really, uh, connected with in that sort of way. [00:27:02] And when you have that many miles, you can really get into it. And, uh, that's one of my favorite things about the ride experience. The train was fantastic too, and very varied. Uh, but it's, it was the people that really made that. So that was my ride of the year.  [00:27:14] It was called, it was called the business meeting by the way. [00:27:17] Cause, cause I think it was a weekday, I think I took the day off. So, uh, yeah, when you work in the industry that that can, that can qualify.  [00:27:24] Craig Dalton: A hundred percent. Yeah, [00:27:25] I might have to coerce you into sharing that link with me, or maybe even putting it in our ride with GPS club for the ridership. Cause that sounds like a neat loop.  [00:27:34] Randall Jacobs: sure. Yeah. Happy to. [00:27:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I have to say like, um, I guess it's a factor of me being limited for time, but I typically don't ever get in my car to drive and there's so much interesting stuff that I've seen in the ridership, um, in that neck of the woods and out in Pacifica that I really. [00:27:51] Get down there because it doesn't, you know, they don't have to get on an airplane to go do something interesting.  [00:27:57] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So how about yourself? What was your ride of the year? [00:28:00] Craig Dalton: Well, speaking of airplanes, it was the one solitary time I got on an airplane with my bike this year? [00:28:07] Do you remember in the June July timeframe when it felt like we were getting a hold of the pandemic, we were on top of things, boosters or, you know, shots were getting rolled out vaccination shots and it felt like things might be getting back to that.  [00:28:21] Randall Jacobs: um, it felt like things were normal for a period. I always expected it to just be a low so, but yes, I do remember that time. [00:28:29] Craig Dalton: so I was leaning into that moment in time and our friends at envy composites out in Utah, we're putting. Uh, together an event called the , which was a ride combined with their builders, Roundup, which they bring, I forget how many, like 20 different frame builders out to Ogden, Utah, and kind of display their bicycles throughout Envy's facility. [00:28:54] So it was, I, it was too much to her exist, um, going on.  [00:28:59] Randall Jacobs: um, with NABS not happening this year. [00:29:01] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. Which was so fun when we went to NABS a few years ago, just to, I mean, to stand next to someone with their creation, their hard work is just something special. Like if you, as a listener, if you ever get a chance to go to a bike show, do it, like, it's just, I mean, for the eye candy alone, it's worth walking the Isles  [00:29:20] Randall Jacobs: well I'm for reference north American hand-built bicycle show is what NABS is. And a lot of what you see from the big brands, a lot of ideas and concepts, uh, emerge from small builders, doing cool things in basements and garages, uh, which is one of the great aspects of those shows. [00:29:38] Craig Dalton: yeah, exactly. When you get a, a fabricator with a torch and some tubes, they can, they can just try different things. And it's really, what does help propel the industry for?  [00:29:48] Randall Jacobs: Very much, so very  [00:29:49] Craig Dalton: so. [00:29:49] I saw some great bikes out there. It's, you know, as far as the builder Roundup goes and I've published a bunch of episodes and, and, uh, and a summary episode that kind of has some quick hits from a number of the people I talked to, but that ride, since we're talking about favorite rides of the year, Every year, I tend to sign up for an event that probably pushes my personal fitness capabilities. [00:30:10] And I love to do that just to kind of keep me honest and keep me getting out there and finding the time to ride the bikes. And I definitely wasn't feeling prepared for a 92 mile ride and 8 8300 feet of climb. At some elevation above sea level already out there in Ogden, Utah. But I set out on the course, pretty small event, maybe 200 people, um, got to the first aid station and there was talk amongst some of the builders of flipping it around right there. [00:30:38] But when I got there, I learned that I was just going to be a straight out and back if I did that and I just couldn't resist it. If you haven't written in Utah, it's beautiful in the Wasatch mountains out there. Uh, so I kept going and like every great gravel event that I've ever participated in. You end up linking up with riders, um, out there on the course that you just share the pace with. [00:31:02] And I met a guy from contender cycles out in Utah, which was actually where I bought my open from originally. So that was cool. We chatted for many, many miles. Yeah. Very late in the day, I managed to connect with Dave from gravel stoke. And I can't remember whether he caught him. He caught me or I caught him, but we ended up together and we'd separate on the climbs. [00:31:23] And we both look at each other miserably tired at times, but we, we crusted the final climb and hit the aid station together And um, rode maybe the last. 20 miles or so together, we were staying in the same hotel room. So it was like, it was just like a great experience to have, to, you know, to connect with a friend and be able to ride. [00:31:45] And it just happened serendipitously because I don't think, you know, when you're signing up for a 90 mile ride or a hundred mile ride, it's foolish to think that you're going to ride with your friend the entire time. Like you just need to take care of your own needs. And that, for me, it's all about. I've got a ride, the climbs, my own pace. [00:32:03] I want to descend at my own pace. So it's really got to happen naturally. And when it does to me, man, it's just magic. [00:32:10] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And Dave, uh, for anyone in Soquel, uh, gravel. Puts on some of the best rides I've been a part of as well, a really great routes, really good people. Um, you know, a lot of, a lot of social interaction and so on and just a really great ethos. Uh, so if you're in the SoCal area, check out the gravel stoke and by the way, this is, um, you know, gravel. [00:32:30] Those, a lot of those folks are in the ridership too. So if you want to connect with Dave or others, that's a great place to do it. [00:32:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So hopefully more of this for 2022, speaking of which, what are you, what are your hopes for 2022? I mean, I don't think we need to go into a laundry list, but what are a couple of things that are, you know,  [00:32:49] Randall Jacobs: So with regards to what we do here. Uh, so I moved to new England and living outside of Boston with, uh, with family. And I want to build out this region. I, we hosted a couple of group rides, uh, before the, the season changed to ski season. Uh, and as. The spring approaches. I want to build out this region and I want to facilitate more in-person connection and an experience like this, what the ridership is about and have that be, um, you know, something that, uh, extends to other regions as well, where there's a critical mass where people can actually meet people in person and have real in the flesh experiences and maybe. [00:33:28] Craig Dalton: I'm really excited for you to do that. I know when I spent my sort of formative years as a mountain biker in the mid Atlantic, I always looked to new England and it was a place that I would go up and race every once in a while when I can make a trip. And it. At that time, there were so many great new England bike builders. [00:33:47] And I know like Boston has just an incredible cycling community and history behind it. And that whole region up through Vermont, like I'm super excited to hopefully get out there at some point this year and ride.  [00:34:00] Randall Jacobs: You can have come, come by. You can have my apartment.  [00:34:04] Craig Dalton: I can, I can see a couch behind you where I could be sleeping. Right.  [00:34:07] Randall Jacobs: Now I'll set you up properly and I'll, I'll stay. I'll stay in a different part of the place. [00:34:14] Craig Dalton: Nice. Speaking of travel. I mean, for me, like I've been longing to ride my bike internationally. I've been fortunate that I've, I've raised my mountain bike overseas. I've also done some road touring over in France on a couple occasions and a little bit in Italy, but I really got my eye on riding gravel and specifically out in general. [00:34:35] I've been talking about a trip in March, uh, that I'm going to certainly extend to the ridership community to join me on. So if I can work out the details on that in January and obviously pandemic willing, um, I'd love to pull that off because there's just something about putting your bike on international territory that, that makes any riding fields.  [00:34:57] Randall Jacobs: yeah, Jarana keeps coming up in my conversations with these bay area folks who are of a certain means and, um, certain level of obsession with writing. Uh, you know, I have friends who've, uh, we're looking to move there and things like that. Uh, so definitely on the agenda for me as well, keeping in the loop. [00:35:15] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:35:15] I feel like if it's a, if you're a cyclist, it's just one of those destinations in your life that you need to get to, to find out why the pros are living there. And I did do an episode with our friends at Trek, travel about their trip to Jarana, which is the one I'm kind of eyeing. And you, you, you hear about all the great road riding there, but then to talk to the team over there. [00:35:36] How much dirt there is available and how special it can be. I'm just super stoked and excited to explore that possibility.  [00:35:44] Randall Jacobs: Very cool. Very  [00:35:45] cool. Yeah. And it's I want to do, I think that speaks to a theme generally of more, more group rides with the community in, in a general sense, wherever  [00:35:54] Craig Dalton: yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like you, I mean, in 2021, early in the year, I like, I definitely had high hopes. Getting our bay area, ridership community together more and getting some routine and having it, frankly not involve me as much. Like I'm happy to facilitate rides, but I also want others to feel compelled, to raise their hand and say, Hey, just, you know, meet me in Fairfax, California. [00:36:16] And we're going to do this route or meet me in mill valley, whatever it is.  [00:36:20] Randall Jacobs: Wait, which brings us to our shared goals for the year. [00:36:24] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. Like as we talked about earlier, I think we've got a lot of big goals for the ride.  [00:36:31] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, I think, uh, building a critical mass in the region so that you can have those in-person interactions, um, you know, talking about having other people, being able to facilitate group rides and so on. Well, there's, we, we need certain features. We need, uh, we need to update our technology stack, potentially migrate away from slack to something more powerful. [00:36:51] Uh, we have a technology partner that we're talking about. Some tools that if realized, could be very helpful in coordinating rides and having, you know, being able to verify vaccination status or have a waiver or, you know, other things that are essential to, uh, making this a good tool, not just for impromptu. [00:37:10] Group rides amongst people, but also like your shop ride and things like this. They need certain tools for these, these events as well. Uh, amongst other features. [00:37:18] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:37:18] Yeah. exactly. I mean, it's, it's tough to even consider leaving the platform around on today just because. Everybody's comfortable there, but I do think the only reason we would leave is to add more features And add more things that I think can be beneficial to the rider community. Cause it's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass. [00:37:38] Let's call it like it is. If we ask people to move and there's going to be a little bit of effort and undoubtedly, we're going to lose a few people, but I am optimistic that if, and when we make that decision, that the types of things we're able to offer. Are going to be so next level, whether it's, you know, group conversations or tea times we can have with people or different sort of more high tech features that you were just discussing. [00:38:02] I think that can be a meaningful step forward and really something that we can lean into. [00:38:07] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And marketplace features having a wallet that facilitates exchange between people, um, and having a different way of establishing trust on the. Like being able to look not at, not just somebody's, you know, score on eBay, how many stars they have, but look like how does this person contribute to the community? [00:38:27] Um, how have I seen them engage? Uh, and having that be part of what provides safety and say like, you know, buying a bike and having it shipped across the country,  [00:38:37] you  [00:38:37] know, this sort of thing.  [00:38:38] Craig Dalton: I think there's a lot of interesting things there. And then on the podcast, you know, I think, you know, I just want to continue the journey I'm on. I would, I would stop if I didn't feel like as a, as an individual, I was not learning every time I have these conversations. And, um, I'm looking forward to talking with more event organizers, because I think as hopefully 20, 22 kicks up and we can have more and more events again, I can highlight them because I think events are a way of highlighting regions. [00:39:07] And their events happened in a moment in time, but the, the legacy of the course creation carries on and people can go out there and commune and ride together on those type of things. So I think there's a lot there. Obviously we're going to continue to see new products come to market, and I also want to continue talking to interesting athletes alone.  [00:39:29] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. [00:39:30] And for me, I think my, you know, my next few episodes, uh, I'm quite excited about, I won't say share who they are yet. Uh, but one is a woman who started a community that I admire. Uh, both her story and her ethos and what she's doing and the scale that she's achieved with it. Uh, and then another, who's one of the key innovators in our industry, like in the early days of carbon fiber and has, has, uh, uh, created a lot of things that have seen diffuse use throughout the year. [00:39:57] And then diving more into kind of the psycho-spiritual aspects of cycling, um, with, with guests who can speak to that more deeply, I've done, uh, you know, you and I have had a couple of conversations that have delved into that a bit. And I did one episode with, uh, Ted klong, a sports psychologist early on. [00:40:14] So exploring those seems a lot more, uh, things that I'm quite excited about in 2022. [00:40:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah, well, it's going to be an exciting year. It's a lot of work doing what we do. We wouldn't do it. If we didn't get great feedback and support from the listener community. So as always keep that feedback coming, keep out there, riding and. I appreciate the time as always Randall and look forward to doing more of these in the dirt episodes and 2022. [00:40:39] Randall Jacobs: appreciate you much, my friend, and to everyone listening. Thank you for being a part of this with us.  [00:40:44] Craig Dalton: Jaris. [00:40:46] So that's going to do it. My friends for this week's edition of in the dirt from the gravel ride podcast. It's our final edition of the year, 2021. I very much appreciate you joining us each week for this journey. As we explore gravel cycling and how it fits into our lives. Big, thanks to competitive cyclist.  [00:41:06] For supporting the podcast. I remember competitive gravel ride and promo code. The gravel ride. We'll get you 15% off your order. If you're looking for information about our global cycling community called the ridership, simply visit And if you're interested in able to support the podcast financially, please visit buy me a gravel ride. I love seeing the comments and your support for the podcast over the years.  [00:41:39] Is greatly appreciated. Until next time here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Moriah Wilson - 2021 Breakout gravel racing season


    This week we sit down face to face with Moriah Wilson to learn her backstory and what set the stage for her breakout racing year in 2021. Episode sponsor: Competitive Cyclist, use code 'TheGravelRide' for 15% off Join the Ridership Support the Podcast Episode Transcription, please excuse the typos: Moriah Wilson [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton this week on the podcast. We have Moriah Wilson. A local mill valley, California resident, at least as of the time of recording who had a breakout year in 2021 on the gravel scene. I first started seeing Moriah's results in the grasshopper series. And if anybody knows the grasshopper series, if you're doing well there, you're likely going to do well anywhere.  [00:00:30] This proved to be true for Moriah with great success out at Unbound at VWR and many other places on the calendar. Culminating with a win at the end of the season at big sugar, gravel. [00:00:42] This conversation happened to be recorded in my backyard. So please enjoy the ambience that nature can provide. Before we jump in i need to thank this week sponsor competitive cyclist.  [00:00:54] From derailleurs to bar tape nutrition, to racks trainers, to tires, helmets, to bibs the cycling kind and beyond. If you spent hours of online researching your dream bike. Some people love this stuff almost as much as the experts that competitive I've mentioned the competitive cyclist gear heads before.  [00:01:14] They're equal parts, customer service and cycling fanatics. They're former pro athletes, Olympians and seasoned athletes with years of experience. All available by phone, email, or chat for product recommendations and hard won advice.  [00:01:28] If you're like me and constantly confused about brake pads, whether I should get steel, organic steel centered or aluminum, and want to figure out the differences once. And for all. The gear heads are there for you. If you have questions about gravel, bike frames, gravel tires, et cetera. I found the gearheads incredibly knowledgeable in this domain.  [00:01:51] I mentioned early on that had a conversation with a gearhead named Maggie, and I kind of walked her through what type of bike I was wanting to buy if I was going to buy a new bike and she really nailed it. Competitive cyclist as a wide range of gravel frames and bikes available that can suit any type of writing need.  [00:02:09] I very much appreciated the hustle of the competitive cyclist team and my last order as I was down to the metal on my brake pads. So it was great to get some replacements in there.  [00:02:19] Fortunately, they've got a 100% return guarantee. So if I screwed up the order, like I have been known to do in the past with brake pads. I know they've got my back. [00:02:28] Go on over to competitive gravel ride and enter promo code thug, gravel ride to get 15% off your first order. Plus free shipping on orders, $50 or more. Some exclusions apply. Go right now and get that 15% off and free [email protected] slash the gravel ride. And remember that promo code is the gravel ride.  [00:02:54] Would that business out of the way, let's jump right into my interview with Moriah Wilson.  [00:02:59] Moriah. Welcome to the show.  [00:03:01] Moriah Wilson: Thanks for having me and Craig, [00:03:02] Craig Dalton: welcome to the backyard.  [00:03:04] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. Great to be here. Great to be in person with you. As I was  [00:03:06] saying, this is rare instance for me. I think it's about a dozen people. I've got the opportunity to interview face-to-face so it's awesome to have you as a local guest. [00:03:15] Well, when you're in the bed, You make  [00:03:17] Craig Dalton: sense? Yeah. Actually I was super stoked to start seeing your name and seeing mill valley after it. Yeah. Earlier in the year. So that was great. But I'd always like to start off the show by just learning a little bit about your background and how you found your way to gravel cycling, because I know it's a fairly recent affair  [00:03:33] Moriah Wilson: for you. [00:03:34] Yeah, it is definitely the competitive side of. Of cycling is pretty new to me, but I have roots in it, going back to when I was pretty young. So I guess like a quick background, I grew up in Vermont to pretty active, like outdoorsy family, grow up doing a lot of skiing. My dad was an Alpine ski racer and album. [00:03:56] Ski racing coach when I was younger. So I got into racing competitively doing that for a while and ended up racing in college. And. Mountain biking with my parents. And then my friends in the summers in middle school, there's not a lot to do in the town. I grew up in Vermont. It was kinda like just a hobby. [00:04:17] And then I used it to train for skiing as well as I got older. And yeah, so it was pretty like casual, I think for a while. And then when I graduated from college, I moved out to the bay and. Bought a gravel bright bike and well was a cross bike, but I used it as a gravel bike and got connected to some women who were trying to raise cross and invited me to go to some cross races with them. [00:04:43] So I said, why not sure? Like I like to compete. I miss kind of ski racing. And so I did that ended up racing like a full season of cross in 2019. Went across national. Did a couple of gravel races as well. And then COVID happened that early winter, obviously, and nothing, no more racing for a while, but I just kept getting more and more into riding. [00:05:08] Didn't like, yeah, it didn't really step back. Just traveled a lot and rode as much as I could. And then. Earlier this year, I'm signed up for all the races that I could not really knowing what I would get into and having no expectations really at all. And like the results side of things, but just like really excited. [00:05:31] Do some more racing because I had so much fun in 2019 and yeah, I ended up having a pretty great season, nice.  [00:05:38] Craig Dalton: So when you, when collegiate ski racing ended, did you figure that's the end of what you wanted to do in ski racing? And yeah, like  [00:05:46] Moriah Wilson: ski racing is really hard. It I don't know there are other sports like running or something where you maybe have avenues after college, but it's a little bit like. [00:05:55] Like biking, but you really need like a solid program and a lot, it requires a lot of resources, right? Like you need, you definitely need a coach. You pretty much need a team to keep doing it. And like after college, unless you're at a certain level where you're going to world cups or on an Olympic trajectory, like there's not a lot of. [00:06:18] Reason to keep doing it, so yeah, I think most athletes at the end of their college career, pretty much like rapid.  [00:06:27] Craig Dalton: The cyclocross scene, must've been a fun, attractive way to start cycling. It's just so irreverent and so often, particularly in the bay area, just easy to get to the events you sucked in by the community element of it. [00:06:39] Moriah Wilson: Yeah, definitely. Like the vibes at cross races are always so fun. Oh, I cross national. So it's amazing. Just like the energy, the heckling, like it's such a fun spectator sport that I think you end up like. Yeah, with kind of just a good vibes all around. And I really liked that and it did remind me a lot of skiing. [00:07:01] Cause I think there's a lot of that in skiing as well. And so I think that was attractive to me. Did  [00:07:06] Craig Dalton: you immediately recognize that you had a great engine for the sport?  [00:07:10] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. I've I've known that I had a good engine. Like I've. Been more naturally I don't know, fueled for endurance sports, even from a young age, probably should have been a Nordic skier instead of an Alpine skier. [00:07:27] People tried to convince me to convert, but I was like, no. Downhills more fun, too much fun. And, but yeah, I ha I grew up, or one of my ski coaches growing up was really into biking and he always said oh, you could go to the Olympics for mountain biking once you finished skiing. And I always had that in the back of my mind oh, maybe someday, like I could become a good cyclist of some sort and. [00:07:53] I didn't really know what that meant or what that would look like, but I definitely had an idea that mountain bike racing of some sort would be interesting to try out after college. And I did actually do a bit of cross country racing in high school and college just dabbled in a little bit like one or two races a year in Vermont. [00:08:14] And really liked it. So thought maybe I would give it a try. That's why I tried the cross thing  [00:08:21] Craig Dalton: where you living in Marin when you started on  [00:08:23] Moriah Wilson: the cross bike? No, I was living in the city at the time. Okay. Yeah.  [00:08:27] Craig Dalton: Well, you doing longer rides, I know it's obviously cyclocross racing is the shorter course racing, but since the, you have the capable bike, a lot of people ride across the bridge and go, oh  [00:08:35] Moriah Wilson: yeah, no, I was definitely riding in the headlines a lot. [00:08:38] Like I wasn't riding. Doing as long of rides as I'm doing now, because I was still getting into it. But I was building up to at that point, just riding my bike every day, which hadn't been something I'd been doing before that it was like a ride my bike. Do you know, maybe once or twice a week and then two to three times a week. [00:08:54] And so I was just building up at that time. But yeah, the Headlands were definitely where. Learned to grab a ride, I  [00:09:01] Craig Dalton: guess. Yeah. It seems like with the cyclocross race season being in the winter, you've got this bike, you've got these great Hills out in Marin. It's natural that you're going to continue to ride. [00:09:11] Is it some of your cyclocross friends that sort of talked about gravel racing or obviously you were going to be aware of it? What was the first race that you signed up for?  [00:09:20] Moriah Wilson: The first race that I did, I think was old growth. In 2019. Yeah. In August or September, maybe. So I guess it was actually before I did. [00:09:35] I can't quite remember. And then I did grind Duro as well, that year in 2019. So  [00:09:40] Craig Dalton: it's a two quite different races. Old growth classic. I find it to be, it was a great adventurous race. Like you just felt like you were way out there so far. It had some really stern climbs and  [00:09:51] Moriah Wilson: The, I will never forget the end of that course. [00:09:53] Like how Steve, this is so steep.  [00:09:57] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. That's a great one. And then Grindr obviously is one that tests. Your full bag of tricks. It's got very mountain biking type stuff. We on a mountain bike. I was  [00:10:06] Moriah Wilson: on my cross bike for that. And yeah, but had a blast. Like I, since I like have a background in mountain biking, it was, I felt pretty comfortable on it. [00:10:16] And I think at that, by that time I had, ridden that bike in the Headlands enough that yeah, at first I remember riding in the Headlands in. Skinny gravel tires and being like, what is this about? I need my mountain bike for this, and now it's like nothing. But yeah, the Headlands, they do have their, technical sections at times. [00:10:37] Yeah. That's why  [00:10:38] Craig Dalton: it's great. On drop our bikes, it can make any of this stuff exciting if you go fast enough, for sure. Yeah.  [00:10:44] Moriah Wilson: Yeah.  [00:10:45] Craig Dalton: So then. Presumably, you went into a full cross season and then did that drop you at, through the beginning of the pandemic in 2020?  [00:10:52] Moriah Wilson: And then I did two grasshopper races. [00:10:55] I did a low gap and Sweetwater and that was like January and February of 20, 20, 20 before everything shut down. Everything  [00:11:04] Craig Dalton: shut down. Yeah. Yeah. And then it goes quiet and you were doing some other things. Had you had in your mind that 20, 21, assuming that events were going to open back up, that you are going to really go for it and register for a bunch of events? [00:11:16] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. I was like, I'm going to register for as much as I can. And I signed up for Unbound and Everything that I could. And really just wanted to use the years, like a learning experience. I think like it's rare to go into those events, as a beginner or first timer and see a lot of success. [00:11:33] And yeah, I know that like maybe I have the fitness. No, all the details. I don't definitely still don't have all the details dial. There's a lot. I made a lot of mistakes this year that costs me some races. And so I had a lot of good learning experiences and that really was just my goal this year. [00:11:49] And to have had, some of the results that I. I did have was just like a cherry on the top. Yes. Had you  [00:11:58] Craig Dalton: forged some of the relationships you must have now with some of the other female athletes that live around this area to get a gauge for oh, I can ride with Amedee or,  [00:12:07] Moriah Wilson: yeah, I think like between the races that I did in 2020, before COVID and then like some of the, or like earlier races this year, like the local one. [00:12:21] I guess I did one or two hoppers and a couple others. I knew that I probably had what it took from a fitness standpoint to compete with the top female athletes, just because, there are so many really strong female riders in the bay. It's pretty crazy. So it was nice to have. [00:12:43] Like confidence, I think, going to Unbound and going to, some of the other races that draw a wider range of athletes. So yeah,  [00:12:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That must have been interesting. So going into 2021 signing up for all these races where you just planning on self-finance. The races, or did you have industry contacts that you could leverage at that point? [00:13:06] Moriah Wilson: No. Everything was pretty much, self-financed the only thing that like I had one sponsor this past year that was Sporkful as a kid sponsor. And they were able to help me out from a financial standpoint. But other than that, it was like, I'm trying to think. I really didn't. Any other help. It was all just, yeah. [00:13:27] Yeah.  [00:13:27] Craig Dalton: It's funny. For me, it's being a fan of the sport. 2020 was this interesting black box where there was all particularly on the women's side of the racing scene. There's all these great women coming up and showing like a little glimmer, maybe. Like a couple of races before the pandemic, or did some major personal effort, like an F Katie or a Strava hill climbing all these different things that you're like, gosh, there's a lot of talent out here and then racing starts opening up, but you're not traveling super far. [00:13:57] So it's like the Northern California women you were seeing who is fast in the grasshoppers. Are the things that are going on in the Midwest. And then eventually it all started to come together when you have like a BWR or something like that. So it's been super fascinating as a fan to watch all these great women come out of nowhere and, see your name on top of the leaderboard. [00:14:16] It's been a lot of fun to watch.  [00:14:18] Moriah Wilson: Yeah, it was really fun to get to know the group of women that's out there. I think this is such a diverse. Field coming from lots of different backgrounds and everyone's super strong. And I think on any given day, given whatever conditions, certain amount of luck, like anything could happen and it's really dynamic racing going on right now. [00:14:40] It's really fun to be a part of. I've really enjoyed it. And you've  [00:14:43] Craig Dalton: been tackling things that have very different profiles, obviously BWR San Diego, long long road section that really pay it, play a big part in it. Unbound having that super long distance of 200 miles, all these different races. [00:15:00] Draw on different skillsets and you seem to be doing pretty well across the board. Is there an area or a type of course, that you feel more confident in than others?  [00:15:09] Moriah Wilson: Yeah, definitely. I think courses that have a lot of climbing definitely suit me. I'm not really. Flats are hard for me. I'm not the best group rider like drafting holding onto wheels is not something that I've quite figured out yet. [00:15:23] I'm working on it really hard. I hope to get a lot better this year. Yeah, so stuff that's got a lot of climbing and doesn't require like a lot of team tactics. Definitely suit me at the moment. And then anything that's also. Has some sort of technical component to it, maybe a little bit of single track. [00:15:41] I think that played to my advantage at BWR, even though there were, there was so much road in it. And I'm trying to think of what else it was like that this year.  [00:15:52] Craig Dalton: Okay, where you went down to big  [00:15:53] Moriah Wilson: sugar, right? Yeah. Big sugar had a little bit of that. Yeah.  [00:15:57] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And the least the chunky roads require a little bit of confidence coming downhill. [00:16:01] Totally. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's one of the reasons I enjoy interviewing so many event organizers is that there's such an art to creating these events and With a mountain bike background. I'm always pro the single track sections. The more technical  [00:16:15] Moriah Wilson: sections. I love that stuff. Yeah. So  [00:16:18] Craig Dalton: fun. [00:16:18] And I think, you know what it's going to be, what keeps the sport interesting because you can't road racing dynamics. Aren't going to play in that type of environment. So I always love when it advantages given to the more off-road type athletes.  [00:16:32] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. It's really cool. To see how different courses can favor certain writers. [00:16:39] And it'll be interesting how, like what to see what happens with the lifetime like grand Prix and how, because that's such a diverse series now you've got Leadville and then unbounded, sea Otter, and like all those are so different. It's cool that there, there will be a way to. Figure out who's the best like diverse writers. [00:17:01] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I think it's really neat that there's an even tighter integration between the mountain epic mountain bike kind of rides and gravel racing these days. Yeah, because I do think that's, that's where the fun and the sport is.  [00:17:13] Moriah Wilson: Definitely. Yeah.  [00:17:14] Craig Dalton: Have you heard any word from lifetime as to like their selection process or I'm assuming you're throwing your hat in the ring for that? [00:17:21] Moriah Wilson: Oh yeah, for sure. I don't know what the selection process involves. I have no idea. So yeah, we'll see. I forget when they did, they're like announcing who everyone is. I think it's in the next couple. Maybe I can't remember. But yeah. I'm excited. I hope. Yeah.  [00:17:43] Craig Dalton: So what, what does 2022 look like for you? [00:17:46] What do you what are some of the races you really want to do well at either? Because they were just a hell of a lot of fun or you think that prestige is going to be good for your career?  [00:17:55] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. I think the whole lifetime series Leadville, for sure. I think finishing second was so incredible this year, but I really want to win to be honest. [00:18:10] Like I, I want to win that one.  [00:18:13] Yeah. I think it suits me really well. I had a lot of fun on that course and  [00:18:19] Craig Dalton: being up at elevation,  [00:18:20] Moriah Wilson: I felt amazing. Like I actually felt really good at elevation. I did acclimate for a couple of weeks leading up to it. But I, my theory and I there's no nothing scientific about this. [00:18:32] I have no idea if this is the case, but because I've spent so much time at altitude as a ski racer, I lived everywhere. In November, December, I would move out to Frisco, which is super close to Leadville. It's like 9,000, 8,009,000 feet. And spend a month there training, going to Vail and copper. [00:18:53] And yeah, so I've lived and trained at altitude in a much different way than like an endurance athlete, would train. But I still think that. From such a young age. Like I started going to Frisco as, I don't know, 12 year old. So I think I've have a lot of years of spending time at altitude. [00:19:13] And I think my body is, has somehow adapted to it is my theory.  [00:19:19] Craig Dalton: What do you think the mix between mountain biking and gravel racing, it's going to look like when your calendar pans out,  [00:19:24] Moriah Wilson: That's hard to say. I think it's, I think it's going to end up being still quite gravel focused. Maybe like 70% gravel, 30% mountain. [00:19:36] If I had to put a percentage on it right now. But yeah, I definitely hope to do a bit more mountain it's just so fun and yeah.  [00:19:44] Craig Dalton: So on the gravel side, what are the events you're stoked to go back to? And why? On the  [00:19:49] Moriah Wilson: gravel side? I am excited for Unbound because I want some redemption there. Yeah. I got, I had, I flooded three times and yeah. [00:20:03] Had to tube every time and it was just a disaster. Like still finished the race. Like it was good to. I think it was good to have faced that adversity and have to like, adjust my goals and expectations halfway through such a big event like that. It was good practice. But. [00:20:22] Yeah. I remember finishing that race and being like, I just want to do it again. I want to do it again right now. And not be a little bit more prepared. Like we probably shouldn't have run the tires that I ran. And there were some other details that, I think after this season I will. Be more prepared for going into all the races. [00:20:42] Craig Dalton: And I think going, having the determination to fix those flats and still ending up in the top 10 shows you that it's just important to keep moving forward and moving forward, it's just fixing the flat, getting back on the bike. Cause you never know what's going to befell your other competitors. [00:20:56] Moriah Wilson: Yes, totally. And I think there's a lot to be said for. Running into sort of those obstacles. It's always easy to keep going or, it's still not easy, but it's easy to keep going when you're having a good day and you don't run into any challenges, but when you run into challenges and adversity and it maybe puts an end to the result that you hoped to accomplish on that day. [00:21:19] It makes it a lot harder to keep going. I definitely. Oh, I had some dark moments there where I really wanted to quit and I was super proud of myself for just keeping, going and finishing that race  [00:21:31] Craig Dalton: at huge. And no one can ever take that away from you. So anytime you're facing adversity in the future, you're going to look back and say I know I can do it. [00:21:39] I'm going to have those sucky moments, but yeah, I'm going to get through it.  [00:21:42] Moriah Wilson: Exactly. Yeah, I think. You learn a lot more from the challenges that you face than you do from any of the smooth sailing moments, so yeah that's one that I'm excited for. I'm excited. I'm think I'm going to do rule three. [00:21:56] I'm really excited for that one. I love Bentonville. I had a great time there this fall. Big sugar, I think will always hold a special place in my heart. That was a really fun race. And yeah, I think the the diversity of that course is going to  [00:22:09] Craig Dalton: be really interesting. That one looked like a lot of fun. [00:22:12] And you can always tell, I think by some of the writers who have been drawn to it, the type of experience that it's going to benefit pace. Winning over there and talking about how he just understood the skill set of the people around him and even talking to Ian Boswell about it. And he just, the, I know I'm going to fall apart when I hit the single track. [00:22:30] So I'm just going to do everything I can within the place. I know that I can Excel.  [00:22:34] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. It definitely everyone's going to have a different strategy, which is pretty cool. So yeah, I'm excited for that one. I'm trying to think what else? Oh, I think I'm going to do Vermont Overland. I skipped that one this year. [00:22:47] It just didn't really work with my schedule. But I'm really excited to do that. I'm from Vermont and I've heard amazing things. I love those roads around that area. It's like near where I went to college. Yeah, that'll be a fun one. You must  [00:22:59] Craig Dalton: still have friends back in that scene in Vermont. [00:23:01] Moriah Wilson: Oh yeah. Yeah. It's always fun. I did rooted Vermont this past year and then that was probably one of my favorite races just from a memory standpoint. The community was so great. It was the first time my parents like had watched me, got to watch me race. And ran into a lot of old friends, a lot of old friendships skiing and from biking and just growing up and stuff. [00:23:23] And I think the same thing will be the case for Vermont Overland. So yeah, I really  [00:23:28] Craig Dalton: want to get over to rooted. I, my first mountain bike race ever was at Mount snow. Oh, Vermont, because I grew up on the east coast. I've got like great memories. Similarly. Like it was like an event that my parents came to and it's just so beautiful in that area. [00:23:41] Moriah Wilson: Rooted was so fun. Like I loved that course. It was really fast. Yeah. Really fast. Some really fun class four sections. It rained, which like I had just, it was like BWR two weeks earlier or something. And BWR was the hardest race I've ever done. It was so hot. Yeah, I definitely suffered from the heat on that race and then going to Vermont and having it rain and be like really nice temperature. [00:24:16] It was amazing. I enjoyed that too.  [00:24:19] Craig Dalton: One thing, the longer you stay here in the bay area, the worse you're going to get it riding in hot weather.  [00:24:23] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. I need to get better at I feel pretty good about how my body. At elevation, but the heat is something I need to figure out because I don't think I'm very good at it. [00:24:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. So same, like I'm just destroyed from living in the fog belt. Yeah.  [00:24:39] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. We'll have to see I'm to, I don't know. I don't know how to, I there's definitely ways you can, adapt your body to it. Need to do some research. Or just avoid those places. [00:24:49] Craig Dalton: Let's shift gears a little bit. Why don't you talk about the type of equipment you're riding?  [00:24:54] Moriah Wilson: Like which specific by,  [00:24:56] Craig Dalton: yeah. What bike or bike are you riding and what kind of, what tire with do you like to ride?  [00:25:01] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. So I just got a new specialized crux that. One that just came out in October. Before that I'd been racing on a diverge, an older diverge, actually it's like a couple of years old. [00:25:16] And I've only raced let's see, big sugar. It was my first time racing, my new crux. And I could not love that bike more. It is an app. Weapon. I don't know how to describe it better. It's so light and so nimble. But still I feel very comfortable on it and feel like it handles very well and it's very capable. [00:25:40] And I don't know. I always, I like, I prefer to be a little bit under biked. Like I, whenever I only have a hardtail mountain bike and I, but I. Bride that on, trails that most people would ride a pretty big, full suspension bike on. I like pushing the limits of what a bike is capable of doing. [00:25:58] So yeah. And then for tires I have been running Pathfinder 40 twos on my crux. That's what I ran a big sugar. That's what I've had since I got it. And I've been loving those.  [00:26:13] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that seems like a good size. I definitely had been in the 47 camp for a long time, but moved back down to 43. [00:26:20] He was like you, when you have solid off. Capabilities then you can handle a little bit narrower attire. Yeah. Although for a lot of people, particularly in Marin county, I recommend going as wide as they can. Cause a lot of times people that just aren't comfortable going downhill and you look at their bike and it's totally optimized around going up the hill. [00:26:39] Yeah.  [00:26:39] Moriah Wilson: All my diverge, I was mostly on 38 and I didn't ride it a ton around here, but And I didn't really like to ride it around here. Now. I think that I'm on 42 is I think it makes it so much better. And especially without having, the future shock on the Crocs and having it be just a pretty rigid, stiff bike having 48 versus, or 40 twos versus 30 eights. [00:27:06] It's nice. Yeah,  [00:27:07] Craig Dalton: it helps a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. And for the listener, you may recall, I spoke to Ben Edwards from specialized at about that bike. So you can get a little bit more details if you go back in your feed and listen to that conversation with Ben. Yeah. So have you had any, you've had such a great what I'll call a breakout season this year in 2021, have you been able to navigate the private tier sponsorship model and get a little bit more support going through. [00:27:32] Moriah Wilson: Yes I have. And it's still still figuring out the final details. And I definitely took my time sorting it all out. I debated maybe joining a team. There are definitely a number of teams that reached out to me and I thought maybe, that could possibly be the way to go, but I've been talking to a lot of people and reflecting on what I want to get out of this. [00:27:55] Really being able to set my own schedule and be in control of where I go and what my sponsors are and all that. The private tier like avenue seemed like the way to go. So that's definitely where I'm headed. And. Yeah, I'll be supported by specialized for next season and wahoo as well as a sponsor and the feed. [00:28:21] If you're familiar with a feed for nutrition and scratch as well. And then working on a couple others styling in, but I won't say, cause they're not finalized yet, but those are the ones that are pretty much. And yeah, I'm excited. It's definitely, taken some time to sort all that stuff out. [00:28:39] But I think no I'm pretty excited to be working with those brands and it'll be great to have their support. Yeah.  [00:28:46] Craig Dalton: A hundred percent. I guess that's the challenge with the private tier model. You just have to be stay on top of those discussions and meet the right people. Yeah. Cobbled together the right program. [00:28:56] That's going to make it all work versus a team. Maybe handing you a, a single document that says, here you go.  [00:29:03] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. There's some thing, certainly that's simple as an athlete, if that's not something you want to deal with, that makes a lot of sense. And, but I don't know. I think this is I want to be able to manage the. [00:29:16] Relationships more personally. And  [00:29:20] Craig Dalton: yeah. And are you gonna keep your day job at specialized  [00:29:25] Moriah Wilson: exam for this season? We'll see what who knows what's going to happen in the future? I have no idea. But yeah, I'm really fortunate. Be part of a great team who has given me a lot of support and flexibility in terms of, when I actually work, I definitely take time out of my day to train and work odd hours at times, work on the weekend, work at night. [00:29:46] I'm lucky to have that flexibility and that support and Yeah, we'll see how it goes. I think it'll be manageable this year. I'm definitely going to be traveling a lot. But I'm also fortunate that my job is I can do it remote very easily. I'll be going to the office. But otherwise like doing it on the road is really not too big of a  [00:30:08] Craig Dalton: deal. [00:30:09] That's great. It's great to have that supportive. Employer that just understands, like they can give you the flexibility. And the nice thing is a lot of times as a cyclist, you want nothing more than to be sitting up on a couch with a computer on your lap.  [00:30:21] Moriah Wilson: Totally. Like when I get home from a long ride, I'm like, I like, I don't want to go, like sometimes yeah. [00:30:30] Sitting at my desk or sitting on the couch, responding to emails is like the perfect thing that I need to do. Like it's great. Yeah. You need that rest and that recovery and it does balance each other out.  [00:30:44] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's been a lot of fun. As the listener knows I work at a nonprofit called bike index is one of the things I do at my time. [00:30:50] And one of our communications director was on the Olympic track program. And it was hilarious, like getting emails from her immediately after seeing her like race ATrack world cup or, be at the Olympics. It's funny. But she said the same thing. It's. What else am I going to do? I'm just, I'm a legit legitimately needing to just sit around and not do anything. [00:31:10] So might as well exercise my brain and get some  [00:31:13] Moriah Wilson: work done. Yeah. Yeah, totally.  [00:31:16] Craig Dalton: Well, it seems like the bay area has been agreeing with you. And as we were saying offline, there's just so many great female athletes and male athletes around the area. Have you found that it's just a great place to train and make  [00:31:29] Moriah Wilson: connections? [00:31:30] It's the best place to train? I've definitely. Yeah. Now that I could feasibly go fully remote. Technically I'm not a remote employee right now. So I need to be based out of the bay, but, I've thought about moving out of the area and I just, I don't want to leave. [00:31:47] It's too good for where, like for the riding and where, what I want to be doing with writing right now. I just am always in awe of. The riding around here when they leave and come back getting on these roads and the trails and it always takes my breath away and I feel very motivated, I think when I'm here. [00:32:07] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's so interesting. Living in the city, just riding across the golden gate bridge and San Francisco is such a vibrant city and then to come into Marin and be able to. Do a 50 mile loop and essentially be off-road the entire time is just such a luxury.  [00:32:19] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. It's you take it for granted? [00:32:22] Sometimes I think I'm like, growing up in Vermont, it's similar to, but you don't have the year round aspect of it. It can go for a gravel, endless gravel rides from my house in Vermont without ever touching pavement, but You can only do that, from may to October and then it's no, either us the time. [00:32:44] So being able to ride here year round is it's pretty special. Yeah.  [00:32:49] Craig Dalton: And I think you mentioned this with respect to BWR San Diego. It's like we don't have those long peddling miles necessarily. Everything is so up and down here that it, I don't know, it feels different on your body. So I'm with you when I get into a race. [00:33:03] We're an event with a lot of just rolling mile after mile these long distance things. I'm just not used to peddling that much consistently.  [00:33:11] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. I'm definitely going to try to get up further north this  [00:33:15] Craig Dalton: cat on [00:33:17] Moriah Wilson: this this winter get up to Napa Sonoma and kinda, I think the riding up there's a little bit. More aligned with,  [00:33:25] Craig Dalton: I think it's describing. Yeah. I think that's going to be more similar to maybe some of the mid-west miles you may get in your racing calendar.  [00:33:32] Moriah Wilson: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. [00:33:34] Yeah. Definitely. It can be hard to find flat miles. It doesn't really exist. I know that's  [00:33:40] Craig Dalton: why my trouble, like I just, there's no easy days. And it's so blessed that like within 10 minutes of here, I can be on some trail going up hill that I just, I want to be, off-road so much more than I want to be on a road that it's always ends up being uphill. [00:33:54] Yeah, definitely. I feel that. Yeah. Well, this was a lot of fun. I appreciate you coming over and giving us a little bit of an overview. It sounds like the cat is demanding that this interview is over. So maybe we have to listen to my feline Lord up there.  [00:34:09] Moriah Wilson: Well, thank you for having me. I'm really glad I was able to come and chat with you in person. [00:34:13] Yeah. Best of luck next year. Thank you so  [00:34:15] Craig Dalton: much.  [00:34:16] So that's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big thanks to Moriah for coming by the backyard and for representing mill valley. So well out there on the national gravel calendar.  [00:34:28] Another thank you to competitive Go over to competitive gravel ride and enter promo code thug, gravel ride. To get 15% off your first full priced order. Plus free shipping. On orders of $50 or more.  [00:34:43] I wanted to remind everybody who's listening to come on over to the ridership and join our free global forum for gravel cyclists. You can visit And join the conversation. We'd love to hear from you. If you've got any feedback about the podcast, you can direct message me there directly in a channel dedicated to the podcast, but much more importantly, you can talk to gravel, cyclists from all over the world to get beta on your local rides and to learn where to ride.  [00:35:13] If you're traveling.  [00:35:15] If you're looking to support the podcast directly, you can visit buy me a gravel ride. Any, and all of your contributions are appreciated. And if you have a moment, ratings and reviews are hugely important for this podcast. I read everything that's written about the podcast and absolutely appreciate your feedback.  [00:35:35] Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels. 
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Carly Fratianne - Muscian and Gravel Racer


    This week we sit down with Carly Fratianne, musician and gravel racer. Carly turned a period of professional unrest due to Covid into a passion for gravel cycling. We look at how her miles and miles of riding led to artistic inspiration and to completing UNBOUND 200.  Episode Sponsor: Competitive Cyclist use code 'TheGravelRide' Carly's music: Lui and Wyd  Join the Ridership Support the Podcast Automated episode transcription (please excuse the typos): Carly Fratianne [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel rod podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. For those long time, listeners, you may have noticed a little different intro music today.  [00:00:19] That's because on today's show, we're interviewing Carly  [00:00:23] That intro music was courtesy ever band. W Y D she also just recently released a music under the artists name, Louis.  [00:00:32] So why is Carly on the podcast today? Pretty valid question. If you ask me, [00:00:39] As you can imagine the pandemic has not been kind to musicians and people who earn their living, playing out in live stadiums, et cetera. Carly is one of those musicians who turn that kind of available time into something different. She became a gravel racer and actually completed. Unbound in 2021. I thought it was an interesting conversation. As you know, I love the fact that gravel is such a inviting community.  [00:01:08] And to hear Carly's story and her journey to gravel cycling, I just think is really interesting. And I thought it was a unique opportunity. At the end of the year to expose us all to a little new music. So i hope you enjoy this rather unique episode of the gravel ride podcast. [00:01:26] Before we jump into this week show, I need to thank this week. Sponsor competitive cyclist. Competitive cyclist is the online specialty retailer of gravel and mountain bikes components apparel and accessories Be trained, cycling standout brands like pock castelli pearl izumi in five 10 it's unrivaled in-house bike assembly operation they bring the personalized attention of a local bike shop along with the selection and convenience only possible while shopping online. [00:01:55] As I've mentioned before, the real difference that competitive cyclists are the gearheads they're equal parts, customer service, cycling fanatics gear heads are former pro athletes, Olympians and seasoned athletes. With years of experience, all available by phone, email, or chat for product recommendations and hard won advice. I had a great experience with my personal gear head maggie but as i mentioned on the last episode is on the competitive site and i think i spent 45 minutes just cruising around looking at all the great gravel goodies over there. [00:02:32] I ended up way, overfilling my cart and had to edit it back down for my budget. But I got a few important, nice to haves and some critical maintenance items that I haven't been able to find in stock. Anywhere else says stoked to actually have brake pads. It turns out they're a very important component of breaking.  [00:02:52] Anyway, I encourage you to go check out competitive gravel ride. And two promo code, the gravel ride, and you'll get 15% off your first full price order. Plus free shipping on orders of $50 or more. Some exclusions apply. I mentioned the other day that I placed the order in the morning and saw it actually got a shipping notification that afternoon. So there's still time to get those holiday orders in.  [00:03:18] Go right now and get 15% off. Plus free [email protected] slash the gravel ride. And remember that promo code is the gravel ride. Would that business out of the way, let's jump right into my interview with Carly.  [00:03:34] Carly welcome to the show. Hey, thanks for having me. I'm excited to have this conversation because it's going to be twofold. I get to talk to you about being an artist and a gravel cyclist, which is a unique position on the pod. [00:03:48] Carly Fratianne: It's a pretty interesting D person dish world too.  [00:03:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah, absolutely. Let's start by talking about, just a little bit about your background, both as an athlete and a musician, and then maybe we can talk about how the pandemic kind of brought them two together, for sure.  [00:04:05] Carly Fratianne: As an athlete. [00:04:06] I'd say I was fair to Midland in as a cross country runner in middle school and high school, but that was about the extent of my organized activities. There were some like childhood soccer, but nothing to clinical. And then I was always skateboarding and riding my bike around after school, in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio which was where I got my first taste of freedom. [00:04:34] And that's definitely. Carried with me for the remaining years of trying to just pursue that musically and I guess athletically, but I like to think of it more as adventuring.  [00:04:49] Craig Dalton: That's so funny how, like that. Baseline of endurance athletics, like running track or cross-country in high school or swimming. [00:04:58] So many people I talked to they do that and then they might not do anything for many years. And then they pick up the bike and all of a sudden they're like, oh wow, I already have this fundamental engine that makes me halfway decent as a beginner in this.  [00:05:10] Carly Fratianne: Yeah, totally. It definitely makes it like more immediately fun, I think, too, which like, you don't have to do so much the legwork, no pun intended, but to get yourself into a position where you can really like go out and do some serious efforts and then once you build on that, Kinda just like how cool are your routes? [00:05:32] Just like how much of this can you do before you get bored?  [00:05:36] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. So it sounds like you laid the groundwork for adventure and at least an appreciation for the outdoors, but presumably given your vocation now, you were also pretty actively pursuing.  [00:05:49] Carly Fratianne: Definitely. Yeah, that was, I think that was probably my first real love. [00:05:53] I've been doing that since I was a kid as well. And that is what's driven me to explore, in a less. Less on the bike, but just in general, I think like the pursuit of, a new inspiration and new muse and just a different, like geographical place has always inspired and informed the art. [00:06:17] And I think thusly, like having cycling as like a. Like another means of propulsion is they're just so intrinsically woven  [00:06:26] Craig Dalton: together. And in the years prior to the pandemic, was that one, your kind of effort towards music and your kind of commitment and the number of hours was really spiking up. [00:06:37] Carly Fratianne: Yeah, for sure. I, so I was in w Y D and Southern were to time. Projects for me. And then I also, had I worked at a job as a screen printer and in Columbus, or I was, waiting tables. And we were gigging out, but I between the two bands, it was at least two or three weekends out of the month. [00:07:00] And just traveling as much as we could and Recording all the time. And that was a pretty serious time commitment there. And. It was no longer such a heavy presence from, due to the COVID lockdowns and stuff. It was, there was just like a lot of empty space there.  [00:07:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It must've been it's so shocking to have all those live venues, which in addition to playing, I'm sure you were an active participant in listening and going out to live events and knowing others in the industry, including my cousin, like just that dramatic. [00:07:35] Removal of that entire part of your life. I can only imagine how jarring it must've been.  [00:07:42] Carly Fratianne: It was crazy. If I'm honest, I don't even like really remember a lot of that time period. I would just like, so just like devastated and it's almost like I'm only now realizing like what like at serious, like depressive time that was personally. [00:08:01] But yeah, like the venues, in Columbus, they're all owned by people that we know, like they're like close friends and it's a very like tight knit scene there. Being worried about him, maybe they're not going to come back online or who's going to be able to make it through this. [00:08:15] Are we ever going to be able to do this again? It was a lot of big questions and really just nothing to do, but wait, see how it pans out.  [00:08:25] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And I remember certainly personally in the early days you were thinking, oh, weightings going to look like two weeks or a month.  [00:08:32] Carly Fratianne: Yeah. I remember getting so we had shows lined up, obviously like before the thing I was actually in Texas when the initial lockdown happened and I came back up to Columbus and we still had. [00:08:46] Between the two bands, at least a half a dozen shows that were scheduled to happen and within the next like month or two and yeah. A domino effect where everybody was trying to figure out if like what we needed to do to postpone things or like how to, work with the logistics. [00:09:02] And it would, he'd get emails from promoters. Yeah, I think. We'll schedule it again for next month or something, or we're going to postpone our tour date here for a month or two. And we'll see about whatever September, I don't even remember what the actual dates were, but then it was just like, everything just went to a screeching hole and it was like, okay, we're looking at 2024. [00:09:26] Okay this is happening now.  [00:09:29] Craig Dalton: Devastating. So when you're, as you're going through that moment, obviously, they've, they're like this big sense of loss and transition. Was the bike something you immediately, you sought out for solace or did you have to go through a process and then discover the bike again? [00:09:44] Carly Fratianne: You know what I is, it's actually funny. So I had just kinda started getting into doing some like more long distance stuff. In the, probably the year before, like the year leading up to it, I was riding, but it was mostly road riding. Cause I just didn't really know that gravel existed yet. I knew it existed, but I didn't know that there was like a community in Columbus or, in the world. [00:10:10] That was accessible to me. And I met some people in Columbus. One of them, I started work at a bike shop in Columbus called Velo science. And the owner, Jeff Clark. He was one of my first gravel buddies. And he introduced me to a bunch of people and there's actually the Ohio gravel grinders is a little community that yeah. [00:10:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah, for the frequent for frequent listeners. I've had Ray George on the podcast before and love, love all the effort that Ray and everybody involved in that community has put into Ohio and putting, just putting such great information out there for wannabe. Yeah, gravel, cyclists. It's  [00:10:49] Carly Fratianne: yeah, it's awesome. [00:10:50] That was how I started getting into it. I would just go, on ride with GPS and see what they had on their page. And there's always something that looked like fun and there's like you said, they're so like, informed and like the routes themselves are all uploaded with like awesome like notes and there's a huge dog here or bring a shit ton of water because there is none. [00:11:13] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I feel like there's one ride that there's a signature animal, like a donkey or something that you come  [00:11:18] Carly Fratianne: yeah. Donkey March Yeti. I, yeah, I was just seeing some friends when I visited him the other day, the thing is hilarious. I only, I knew he existed. But I never seen him. And I was on a ride one day. [00:11:32] I was training for Unbound with my friend, Melissa, and we were riding down this road out it's out in Homer is the little town. Okay. And we were just going down and I saw just like a F we okay to rewind for a split. Second, we had been chased by more dogs on this ride then like you would believe was humanly possible. [00:11:54] It was like five or six of them. And we were just, we were like pissed and stressed out. It was like, it was traumatic in a funny way that, you know, we as cyclists to understand. But. So we're coming down the road and she's a little bit in front of me. And I just see this flash of brown movement come from behind this like really thin tree line. [00:12:17] And I didn't see that there was like a wire fence or anything. I was just like, oh my God, Mel look out like screaming at her. Move cause she didn't see it. And I stopped the bike cause I realized it's not a dog and I didn't even know what it was. And this donkey just reached his head over the fence and uttered the loudest most hilarious, two minutes of sound. I have ever heard in my life. I wish I had recorded it. It was so funny and I just stood there and Mel just stood there and we were just like, what is this creature? Then obviously figured out that it was the infamous donkey machete. We felt really bad that we didn't have any extra food for him. [00:12:55] So  [00:12:56] Craig Dalton: I feel like that's a Ohio badge of honor to visit that donkey.  [00:13:01] Carly Fratianne: Gotta do it. Yeah, you got, it's really funny. Such a thing now that when we met him the first time, the. Came out with a huge carrot and was just like, oh yeah, I figured you guys didn't have any food for him. So I got to give him this. [00:13:17] Otherwise he'll just stand there and do that all day. He's just so used to the cyclists coming through she's we don't even really feed him anymore. Each just gets enough food.  [00:13:27] Craig Dalton: That's so funny. I'm sure Ray, who I'm sure you interact with would love to hear. Like the work that he and the community have done felt inviting, felt informative. [00:13:38] We talk about that so much on this podcast. Just the idea of the importance of locals, building community around gravel cycling, because it is intimidating, like even here and wherever you are, when you go out into the wilderness, like it's a little bit confusing, can be a little bit scary. It can be a lot intimidate. [00:13:56] When you're first getting into it. So having someone who's out there just putting information out there, and it sounds like their ride with GPS files are filled with, notes of where to get water and where the donkey is and all kinds of good stuff. It's such a powerful effort that locals can do wherever they are to put good vibes out there in the gravel. [00:14:15] Oh, my  [00:14:16] Carly Fratianne: God. Absolutely. And to, yeah to tap on your point about him being like intimidating in the wilderness and stuff. Like I was pretty, I'm a pretty small bodied female in. I think that I'm like, I was not brought up socialized to just go off into the wilderness like that and throw caution to the wind. [00:14:37] But, and I don't think that a lot of young girls are, or, young people in general these days and to. I have even just a little bit of guidance too, just to show you what you're capable of and help you get your foot in the door has built like an immense amount of confidence for me. [00:14:55] And I'm sure for plenty of other people and just knowing that you can go out there and like most of the people you meet are actually going to be pretty nice. And like you don't have to be afraid of coyotes usually. And there's just like a lot of. I don't want to say irrational fear, but like a lot of unchecked fear that kind of, if you can just get over it a little bit, you can get over it a lot, a bit. [00:15:21] And having the guidance of a community is like pretty crucial to getting over  [00:15:25] Craig Dalton: that first step. Absolutely. Yeah. I think once you get that right bike, that right. Gravel bike that's capable, even if your notion is that I'm going to start on the right. Then you start seeing little dirt paths and maybe you take a quarter mile on the dirt and you start to realize, yeah, not only am I capable of doing this, not only is my bike capable of doing it, but I'd like to do it more and it's better than the time I'm spending on the road and safer, et cetera. [00:15:50] Yeah.  [00:15:50] Carly Fratianne: It's safer. More interesting stuff. I always joke with my friends that I have to meet a new cow every day. It's like a hilarious little mantra of mine just to continue to explore, even if, you're landlocked in an area, just keep looking for more different stuff.  [00:16:09] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So in those early days of the pandemic, as you started to discover gravel riding a little bit more, it sounds like you're available time to explore also expanded because you weren't able to gig the way you were and maybe your other employment wasn't as as fruitful. [00:16:25] Carly Fratianne: Yeah. Yeah. It was a lot of long days. I did I did my first century ride. I don't even remember when that was. It was probably right about when I got back from Texas, I had been working at rogue fitness as a like assembly line worker. I was just like building squat racks for like the CrossFit scene. [00:16:51] I was, that was very hard work. And I like took a day. And I wrote a century ride with one of my friends Alex, who was the basis in Southern. And I had never done a ride that long before. And I was just like, oh my God, I can just go and spend the whole freaking day on the bike if I want to this is amazing. [00:17:10] And so I just started going out or like long days, at least a couple of times a week. I loved it. I just love I would listen to music sometimes, but I really just loved the solitude. And I hardly even rode with anyone. Like when I was first getting into it, I'm into like the longer rides. [00:17:29] And then I guess it was when I started riding with with Jeff that I got really super hooked on the gravel and just that sort of became the primary focus is just to find new roads and just get off of the, get off of the beaten path. So to speak,  [00:17:47] Craig Dalton: not that there were likely any events, but were you doing any events at that time or was it all solo riding or with friends? [00:17:54] Carly Fratianne: It was all similar writing and occasionally with friends they canceled all their races. I think I was signed up to do my first advantage. It wasn't a race it's called the tossers just stands for a tour this side of river valley. And it's it's 200 miles, but it's like in two days, so you get taken out and back a hundred miles. [00:18:17] And that was canceled. I was like training for that. When I was. Coming back from Texas. So that was going to be my first event and they canceled that. And then everything else just tumbled off  [00:18:31] Craig Dalton: during this period of time where you're getting all those miles in. What was going on with your kind of musical career? [00:18:37] Was it, were you working on stuff at the time? Does writing help you come up with lyrics or ideas?  [00:18:44] Carly Fratianne: Yeah, yeah, it's a lot of songs were written on a bike this past year. It's an amazing place to process. You get out there and you just have, the wheels spinning and you just start thinking about stuff. [00:18:57] And I tend to think really rhythmically when I'm writing lyrics. Okay. And something about being on the bike is just it's a really like good like rhythmic activity. So it I don't know why, but it just stimulates your brain a little bit. And so I was, yeah, I guess to, to answer your question, I was writing and recording like a little bit In had a little demo studio set up in the house that I was living at the time with my partner in the band, w I D a, we were trying to track stuff, but it was slow going, I wrote a lot that year, but I didn't really, I wasn't really, for any specific. [00:19:42] Purpose, like I haven't even really recorded a lot of that music and it was just a really like strange black hole of time, wherein it didn't really feel important to be making art that was like for a purpose. I guess that's just like the nature of like human crazies, but Yeah, it was mostly just for expression. [00:20:07] And I guess that like break period was informative to I think on I don't want to say better physical level, but there was something in my like, spirit that just deeply needed to just turn everything off for a while.  [00:20:24] Craig Dalton: Interesting. I want to come back to the gravel cycling side of things, but before we do the culmination and then this year in 2021, you've actually launched a solo project. [00:20:35] Is that correct?  [00:20:37] Carly Fratianne: Yeah. Yeah.  [00:20:39] Craig Dalton: Oh, yeah. Is that just personal curiosity? Is are there complexities, obviously you're continuing to work with WIDS as a band or their complexities and kind of managing those interpersonal relationships or was it pretty clear oh, this personal thing is, feels so different than it's a different expression of my art. [00:20:57] Carly Fratianne: It's you know what? It's a little bit easier than I thought it was going to be. Actually, I was worried about that too, but. Keeping communication open is always key. But I think also like it, this material that I was working on for when I started working on the Louis project was definitely very different or at least if it felt that way to me. [00:21:22] And I think I, if you asked anyone that was involved in the project, they would either project, they would probably agree. So I don't think there was a ton of I don't know there wasn't really much friction, but it is you bring up a good point that there were some conversations that had to be had. So yeah,  [00:21:38] Craig Dalton: that for the listener, you won't know this, but in the intro, I've played a little bit of the w Y D track that was shared with me. [00:21:46] And I'll just drop in right now, your need for now track under the artist's name of Louie and let the listener take a look at it. And. Awesome. [00:21:58] Yeah.  [00:24:33] Cool. So that was great. I, it's funny. I was playing it last night for my seven year old son and he yelled in from the other room.  [00:24:39] He's I really [00:24:40] Like. that song. [00:24:41] He's very he's very musical, so it's super cute. And he periodically yells things like that to me. So for the seven year old crowd, I guess you nailed it. That  [00:24:51] Carly Fratianne: is awesome. And got started from young.  [00:24:55] Craig Dalton: Exactly. Exactly. I'm sure it's going to be a cool journey and hopefully, you'll be able to get back to both gigging as a solo artist and back with the band. [00:25:03] Cause it sounds like that's where you really come alive on stage.  [00:25:07] Carly Fratianne: For sure. Yeah. I, it's been a lot of solo, small shows this year, so far which has actually been really nice. I do miss being up there and being loud. W I D is had the opportunity to play a handful of like bigger, full capacity shows. [00:25:24] And Madison is strange drug. I tell you what it'd be ended up there. It's the kind of energy that I feel really privileged to have gotten to experience even just in the years that I've been doing it. But yeah, there is a good intimacy with the solo thing. That's been enough to hold me over,  [00:25:44] Craig Dalton: yeah. Yeah. I I think a drug is probably an apt comparison because I imagine that it just feels electric to be on stage and in front of people and to feel the energy and the enthusiasm. Yeah.  [00:25:57] Carly Fratianne: Yeah. It's it's absolutely on paralleled. When you're, especially in a hometown show and you're in a room full of people that are like really stoked on what you're doing. [00:26:08] You can just feel the energy. It's like a force of nature and it just comes right back at you. And it's it takes days for you to be able to shake it off even really  [00:26:19] Craig Dalton: yeah. Now for the most awkward segue in podcasting history, talking about community and feeling that energy, I did want to come back to you did Unbound, which is crazy to think about, obviously you've been active your whole life and it's not like you're a new athlete, but to go from, Hey, I like this gravel riding thing to knocking out on. [00:26:41] It's quite a journey. So why don't you talk about like maybe how you got exposed to Unbound and what made you think it was a good idea to go for  [00:26:48] Carly Fratianne: it? Oh my God. Okay. This is I truly couldn't have recreated this. If I had to re-engineer my life it was just very happenstance. I knew of Unbound. [00:27:01] Just cause I had watched, YouTube videos of, cause I, once you get into it, you're like, oh my God this is crazy. Like these people do this stuff. This is just nuts. So I had watched a couple of videos about it and I was just like, man, like that is some wild shit. I don't even know how you can do that. [00:27:18] And. I was, I had just joined there's a cycling team called lady NAR shredders in Columbus. And obviously they were no amendments. We were just organizing smaller group rides or, going out and a couple of people at a time to just hang out and get to know each other. And I. [00:27:37] Meegan Gerkey who is, I don't know if she's still the, one of the administrators, but she was she was doing the recruiting and she sorta took me under her wing and helped show me a bunch of stuff, just about like how to do bike riding in a real, like more scientific way. [00:27:55] And then Melissa wick who had also just joined that year. And we were, the three of us were like the ones that were into the gravel the most. So we got together and did a gravel ride. It was cold. I feel like it was probably, I want to say December, maybe November, December of that, of the year before. [00:28:15] We had just all met and we're just riding or riding along, talking about stuff. And Meagan heads, she was set to do it in 2021 or 2020. Oh yeah, 2020. And then when it got deferred, she was going to do it the next year because they announced that they were going to have it. And Melissa had also signed up and they were talking about it and I was like, oh my God. [00:28:41] You guys just do that. You guys are going to do that race. Like you gotta be kidding me. And then they're both just you should do it too. And I was just like, okay whatever. So it was funny. The lottery opened like that. It was like that week. I think it was like a couple of. Later. And I like set an alarm on my phone and everything. [00:29:05] I like typed out my little submission and I sent it in and didn't really think I was just like, alright that's in there. And all known like a couple of months, I just keep riding my bike and whatever. And then I went down to Texas in, I think February late February. And it was just doing a bunch of training down here. [00:29:27] Cause it's nice out and it's boom, not snowing. I was able to keep getting some like longer endurance rides in without getting frostbite. And I got, I was like headed out to go camp in hill country and I got an email on my phone and it just said you're in. And I looked at it and I was like, oh shit. [00:29:48] Okay. All right. So immediately I called Melissa and me. I'm just like, okay, you guys we gotta get serious. Like we gotta go do this thing. And they're just like, oh yeah, whatever. So I went I spent another month in Texas and then I went back to Columbus and the three of us just started training like crazy. [00:30:07] And. Yeah, we were doing some really absurd rides, just trying to get as much gravel and as much distance as possible. And I think the training for that race was like some of the most fun I've ever had in my life. Just like the amount of like insane experiences that were had on bikes between the three of us is just I didn't, I wouldn't have thought it was possible to like, have that much fun and be doing a freaking bike ride. [00:30:39] Yeah. Then we did the race and we all finished and we were just like okay. That was crazy. And that what we do,  [00:30:46] Craig Dalton: how would, how did that feel lining up at the starting line with such an energy and large field at Unbound? It must've been crazy compared to what you'd been experiencing previously. [00:30:58] Carly Fratianne: Oh yeah. So my, I did my first race. It was a 50 mile race in Ohio, and then I did the gravel Locos race in Texas. So those were the only two organize events I'd ever done. And they were both like, super-duper small. Like the one in Ohio is I think I was the only person in my age, like in my wave for that And then the Heico race was like super small. [00:31:23] It was the first year they'd done it. Awesome. And then gravel Locos is awesome. But that too is just I don't even, they were like a hundred people or something there, and this was like nuts. Like you see like videos, people post of like the start lines at these events, but like you, when you have that, when you're in the middle of it, and this is just Unreal. [00:31:45] And to just to think if you've never done the event before, you're literally just sitting there, like you have no idea what to expect. All the training in the world could go out of the window in a second. Like it's just such an intense place.  [00:31:59] Craig Dalton: The interesting thing is like you think about gravel riding. [00:32:01] And for many of us, it's like a small group or solo affair. And when you're riding on a 12 foot wide gravel road, You've got a lot of room to pick lines, right? Your, you can go wherever you want. And then all of a sudden you join one of these events with a thousand people in it or more, you don't get to pick your lines. [00:32:18] Like you're 12 abreast on a 12 foot road, and you'd never know what's going to come up. I imagine in those first few miles, at least, right? Oh my God.  [00:32:27] Carly Fratianne: Yeah, there were, oh God, there were so many sketchy areas in the first 50 miles of that. I saw quite a few wrecks or near wrecks. And it, you're just like on top of each other and nothing employer is like just such an interesting mix of. [00:32:51] Perfectly graded, flat roads. And then just like the gnarliest, like it's just like a washed out Creek, but like no same motorist would drive a car on it, but it's like the same problem. And you're just like, how can this be? And when you're proud on top of each other, like you said, there's, you can't see any lines, let alone a good one. [00:33:11] So you're just. Holding the bars and like praying, you're just like bunny hopping from rock to rock. Just like hoping you don't get a  [00:33:20] Craig Dalton: flat. Yeah. Yeah. You imagine the PR pros and fast people at the front of the race trying to get out ahead of it. But when I'm doing these events and imagine like you there's no getting out ahead of anybody, like there's always going to be someone ahead of you and behind you. [00:33:33] Carly Fratianne: Oh, yeah, you're definitely just in the pack until the pack explodes and it can start, they can take a while to get get spaced out. It's it is it's super wild too. Cause you know, you ride the first half of that race and you're just like sardines and then, by mile one, 20 or. What you're like riding past people that are taking a nap, it's just such a different experience in the second half. [00:34:00] Craig Dalton: Did you spend a lot of time thinking about that second half and how to make sure you were fueled up and fit enough for it? Cause I imagine, the first half of the. Obviously like many of us can get to a hundred mile fitness, but beyond a hundred miles, it's both a different story from a fitness perspective, but also from a nutrition and hydration perspective, any corner you've cut is going to be a problem. [00:34:22] Carly Fratianne: Oh my God. Absolutely. That was, that was one thing that I really actually did have to train for. Specifically was like being able to like, take enough nutrition on the bike. Because you it's true, like you, your body it stops being able to like process things after awhile when you're working that hard. [00:34:41] And the heat is a huge factor that I think doesn't always get taking it in deep and as it shifts really quickly, and once you have started to dehydrate, you can. Really eat any more than what had guessed, which basically renders you in a state of almost bonking for like until you figure it out. [00:35:07] And I don't even, I had a couple of like really like weird, bad nutrition choices. But I think I was able to kind of phone it in a little bit as far as like being able to keep the food down. So the the actual training from a fitness standpoint was basically just a get as much gravel as you can. [00:35:31] And because. By the end of a hundred miles or whatever, you're like your whole body starts to just a it's it's like your legs are tired. Sure. But like also, like you're carrying your water on your back and you're just like riding up and down rocks. And everything is just like shaking around, like constantly. [00:35:51] And I had to just prepare for that by I guess just like doing rides with like fully loaded, even when I didn't need that water on my back. I would take the camera back with me. And then nutrition, I. I experimented with a lot of stuff, because I knew that I was going to need something that was not going to be like invasive to the gut. [00:36:12] And what Mel and I landed on was we made some of those recipes out of that scratch labs the portables book. Oh my God. It was amazing. Yeah. We just basically made like a bunch of different kinds of rice cakes and just wrap them in foil which it worked really well. And it was like super cheap. [00:36:31] I will say if I had to do that again, I would have probably brought more gels actually, because I was trying to stay off of them because they typically upset my stomach as probably most people tell you as well. I think between the dehydration, it was just like, it's got to be super hard to process solid food towards the end. [00:36:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I think to your point earlier, it's you need to have variety. Like when you're training rides, it's pretty easy to at least for me, like I can eat the exact same nutritional plans. For a five-hour ride every single week, like no issue whatsoever. But when you're talking about, anything beyond six hours and 12 hours, like you, you're just going to want to have different things. [00:37:15] And some of the things we talked about this before on the podcast, just this idea that, you're going to have horrible moments in these events sometimes. And that could be a mechanical moment. That could be like a gut moment or even a mental moment. And the important thing everybody's going to go through that from the professional riders to the last place person on the event, you just have to know that it will pass. [00:37:38] And the only thing you need to be concerned about is continually moving for.  [00:37:43] Carly Fratianne: Yeah exactly. And like the, yeah, I think the one 20 mile mark is like really where it starts to like, get real. That's when you just see people like, coming apart on the side of the road and you're just thinking wow, okay, what do I have to do to make sure that doesn't happen to me? [00:37:58] And as long as you're able to like, eat and drink, you'll probably be fine, but there's definitely a moment where. You just don't want anything like you just can't like, you just can't. And think of a single thing on earth. That sounds good. And your w your drink mix just makes you want to puke. Like I bought a huge bag of the strawberry lemonade scratch because it was my favorite flavor. [00:38:24] I was like, okay, this is great. I will have to buy a new bag of this for forever. I'm telling you by the end of this. I was like, man, I need to just get rid of this whole bag. Like I'll never be able to drink this shit again. It is. So just like sickly, reminiscent of a horrible feeling in my  [00:38:40] Craig Dalton: body PTSD by hydration,  [00:38:45] Carly Fratianne: literally. [00:38:45] Yeah. It was such a even still I still have the bag every once in a while. I'll throw some in my bottles. I share every time I'm just like, oh, okay. It's still just reminds me of that.  [00:38:57] Craig Dalton: Okay. So as hopefully we look forward to a future where your, know, your musical endeavors can become a bigger time in your life and we can get back to going to live music venues. [00:39:08] Are you going to continue gravel cycling? Do you have ambitions for 2022 to continue doing.  [00:39:14] Carly Fratianne: Yeah, I'm I'm not sure which I know I will probably, I will try and do Unbound again. I would like to beat the sun. That's a small goal, but as far as events go I'm less compelled to events this year. [00:39:28] And I will probably be spending a bulk of my time doing some bike packing. Right now, I'm in Texas, which is one of my favorite places to ride. There are lots of race routes and stuff that you can find that are, pre there maybe an hour out of town, but they're pretty accessible and it's all like ranch road. [00:39:46] So you can get, I you can go a day without seeing the. Really and it's, it's beautiful and it's temperate. So I'm going to spend some time down here and then I'm going to head out to Arizona and a little bit to do some bike packing on some of the the trails out there. I would, I will probably make an attempt at the monument. [00:40:09] I don't know that I'll do it all in one go. But if the weather holds out over the next couple of weeks, I'll probably see which one looks the most enticing and go for it.  [00:40:21] Craig Dalton: Awesome. That sounds amazing. We're happy to have you. I'm happy to have had this discussion. I love, I just love, it's just a great story. [00:40:28] The inclusiveness of gravel and how everybody's welcome. And whether it's doing events or bike packing, or riding with friends, like we want all comers to the sport.  [00:40:38] Carly Fratianne: Yeah. It's a, it's an awesome sport. It's like probably the most inclusive sport I can think of as far as any, fitness level can find something, any person of any age can find something you can just like. [00:40:57] Kind of make it into whatever you want. And I think that's the beauty of it is that, there, there are a few, there are a few barriers to entry. The only one really is do you have a bike? And is your spirit adventurous?  [00:41:11] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Awesome. I think that's a good place to end. Thanks Carly so much for the time. [00:41:16] Carly Fratianne: Thanks so much for having me, Greg.  [00:41:18] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. I hope you enjoyed this show. Happy to have your feedback. Obviously I'm not a master editor. So weaving some of that music in was a bit of a challenge for me, but it was a great conversation. I really enjoyed getting to know Carly and her journey into this gravel cycling community that we all love so much.  [00:41:42] Big, thanks to competitive cyclists for sponsoring this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Remember it's promo code the gravel [email protected] for 15% off. If you're looking to connect with me, I encourage you to come and join us in the ridership forum. It's  [00:42:05] And if you're able to support the podcast financially, simply visit buy me a coffee. Dot com slash the gravel ride. Continuing with the theme of this show, I'm going to drop in one of Carly's other songs, a full track for you to listen. It's the same one that we opened up with, but I'll let it play into its conclusion.  [00:42:26] As a peaceful way for you ending this podcast. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels [00:42:34] 
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Russ Roca - Path Less Pedaled


    This week Randall sits down with Russ Roca to explore the origins of Path Less Pedaled’s thriving YouTube channel, the #partypace ethos, and the future of cycling community. Path Less Pedaled  Episode Sponsor: Athletic Greens Support the Podcast Join The Ridership Episode Transcript (please excuse the typos): GRP: Randall with Russ Roca of Path Less Pedaled [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. Well, at least for about the next 90 seconds before I hand it off to my co-host Randall Jacobs. This week, we've got a unique episode. Randall was able to catch up with ross Rocha from path less pedaled on his live stream we got an opportunity to interview russ and all the great stuff he's doing to build a community over at path, less pedaled. many of you may be familiar with his work but if not this will be a great introduction to another content source that i personally appreciate a lot and i know randall does too. [00:00:44] I hope you enjoy this conversation about cycling community and the future of community.  [00:00:50] Before we jump into the interview. I need to thank this week's partner sponsor athletic greens and AIG one. This is a product that I literally use every day. I started using athletic greens post my cancer treatment because I was quite concerned about the overall nutrients that were getting into my body and felt like I was going down the slippery slope of having to take.  [00:01:18] Many, many different pills to get what I needed. I discovered athletic greens, I believe through another podcast. With athletic greens, you're absorbing 75 high quality. Vitamins minerals, whole food source, superfoods, probiotics, and APTA gins to help start your day. Right. It's a special blend of ingredients to support gut health.  [00:01:41] Your nervous system, your immune system, your energy recovery focus and aging. Simply all the things. So it became a pretty obvious choice in, gosh, I can't even remember how long ago I started at this point. It's probably at least five years and I'm a daily user. I basically start my day with. Getting my athletic greens, AIG one shaker out, putting some ice in, putting the required amount of powder, mixing it up and just drinking it down.  [00:02:13] I just feel like it puts me ahead of the game every single day.  [00:02:17] So suffice it to say I'm a big fan and super appreciative. Of the long-term sponsorship that age. One has provided to the podcast. [00:02:28] Right now it's a time to reclaim your health and arm your immune system with convenient daily nutrition, especially heading into the flu and cold season.  [00:02:37] It's just one scoop and a cup of water every day. That's it? No need for a million pills and supplements to look out for your health. To make it easy. Athletic greens is going to give you a free one year supply of immune supporting vitamin D.  [00:02:50] And five free travel packs with your first purchase. All you have to do is is it athletic gravel ride again? That's athletic gravel ride to take ownership over your health and pick up the ultimate daily nutritional insurance.  [00:03:07] Would that business behind us,  [00:03:08] Let's jump right into this live stream between Russ and Randall.  [00:03:12] Russ: Welcome everybody to another live stream today. We've got a really interesting one. It's a. Livestream. I'm going to have our guest Randall Jacobs. He's been on the channel before, and he's actually going to be recording his podcast on this live stream. I thought I would double up the content and you can see how the sausage is made. [00:03:32] So welcome to the show. Randall Jacobs.  [00:03:35] Randall: Hey, we're finally getting to do this together. It'll be a lot of fun.  [00:03:40] Russ: Yeah. So Randall is the founder of a thesis spikes. He's the co-host of the gravel ride podcast, which will record recording today as well as the co-founder of the Ridership community. [00:03:52] I think people know what a podcast is. What thesis bikes is. Can you talk about the ridership first and then. Do the podcast part. Sure.  [00:03:59] Randall: The ridership emerged as a slack community that we started for thesis writers. And then on the other side the Facebook group that Craig had started for the podcast. [00:04:09] So Craig Dalton is the founder of the gravel ride podcast. The primary host, he has graciously invited me to be his sidekick and occasional content creating partner. We're at about 1500 or so people really lively and Helpful sorts of communication. So it's a community of riders helping riders. And the dynamics that we see in there is something that, we're quite proud of.  [00:04:31] Russ: Yeah. Community is like a huge thing, especially now when a lot of us feel so disconnected with the COVID. And you said it's a Facebook group in a slack channel, is that right? So it started  [00:04:40] Randall: as those two things, and then we merged them into a single slack group called the ridership. [00:04:45] Okay. Yeah.  [00:04:47] Russ: Yeah. If you guys are interested in checking out the ridership, I will put links in the description below after the live stream.  [00:04:54] Randall: Yeah. The is a link where you can go to get an invite if you'd like.  [00:04:58] Russ: Yeah. Cool. We've got 40 people in the chat. Thanks for joining us. Didn't expect so many, frankly. [00:05:04] Mid-morning on a Monday again, this was a totally last minute. Randall asked me to be on the podcast. I thought it'd be fun to do, to show you guys how the sausage is made. So if anyone has any quick questions for Randall, leave those in the comments. Otherwise we'll hand over the reins to Randall and he will steer the ship for the rest of the show. [00:05:24] Randall: First off, I want to thank everyone who joined us at the last moment. [00:05:26] It's quite an honor that people are so interested in participating in this conversation that they show up, especially on such short notice. So thank you for that. I'm really quite interested to hear where are you from? What's your background? How did bikes come to play such a significant role in your life?  [00:05:42] Russ: Quick background. I feel like my journey into bicycling is a little bit different than what's typically represented in bike media. [00:05:49] I didn't discover the sports side of the cycling for a very long time. My basic origin story is I was very unhealthy smoking, two packs of cigarettes a day, eating hotdogs, and I knew that I needed a life change. And then my truck died and that CA super lazy at the time, this is post-college just graduated from UCLA. [00:06:09] So I started walking, taking the bus, taking transit, then discovered skating, and then finally the bicycle, because it was way more efficient than the pair of inline skates while carrying gear. So from very early on I think my Genesis in cycling was very transportation and utility focused. And a couple of years later discovered bike touring, which is like commuting with all the things. [00:06:34] And that's when pathless pedal the website started. This was back in oh nine and. Yeah, we did our travels traveled for about three years, mostly on the road. It spent some winters in Portland. And after that, after we stopped actively traveling pivoted towards the bicycle tourism. So working with tourism with destination marketing organizations to, to promote cycling. [00:06:58] And it was also around that time that I started experimenting more with YouTube. I saw it as a really viable medium to communicate, messages and information that just, a blog post couldn't do. So that's 15 years in a nutshell.  [00:07:11] Randall: And I'm curious to tease out a little bit more about those early days. [00:07:14] Was there some intentionality around getting healthier or was it strictly I needed a means to get around after my truck died and it became something.  [00:07:23] Russ: It was primarily a means to get around. I do remember having one moment where, I have a very obsessive personality, so when I get into something, I really get into something. [00:07:34] So I borrowed the neighbor's bike. And I think now I'm biking up and down the beach path in long beach all day. And at the end of the day I was like Hocking up like half a jar of phlegm. And that's when there's oh, this could be healthy too. But it was primarily because it was fun. I always try to, follow my folly, do things, while they're fun. [00:07:53] Randall: You and I have that element of a pattern of obsessiveness on a certain thing. Definitely have that in common. Resonate with you. They're very much And so you grew up around LA.  [00:08:03] Russ: Yeah. Yeah. So I was born in the Philippines. We immigrated here when I was really young. [00:08:08] So for the most part I grew up in Southern California, like Glendale Burbank went to high school at UCLA. And after that lived in long beach for a span of time traveled lived in Portland for a span of time. And now we're here in Missoula, Montana.  [00:08:24] Randall: Do you speak Tagalog?  [00:08:28] Russ: I understand it fluently, but I can't speak it fluently anymore. [00:08:31] Randall: Cool. So bikes now are how you make your living and, you mentioned a little bit about the Genesis of PLP share a bit more about the inspiration? What were your hopes for it at the time and how did it come to be? [00:08:43] Russ: Back when we got into the bike touring, there was very few resources, there was a text-based website, like a crazy guy on the bike. There's bike, things like bike, didn't exist. The rather this didn't exist. I think he may have existed as probably not probably but there's very few resources. [00:08:59] So it's not like the Instagram rich landscape of a bike touring today. So what few resources we did see inspired us to go out? At the time I was a working photographer in long beach, I was doing new magazine shoots food and portrait. And I had this very romantic notion of, w we'll just travel the world on bike. [00:09:19] And I will book for the shoots wherever we land and we will travel endlessly that way. That was a grand vision. Didn't quite turn out as plan Probably a big part is, people aren't necessarily going to be willing to hire hobo, looking people on bikes, thousands of dollars for a photo shoot turns out. [00:09:36] But that was a big dream initially. That didn't work out. So we had to find different ways to make a living and keep the dream happening. But those were the, that was the early dream.  [00:09:45] Randall: So there's a theme that I hear there, which is common amongst a lot of entrepreneurial slash creative types which is, looking to solve a problem that they themselves had. [00:09:53] So you're not doing this full time. So this is your job. Is your primary income.  [00:09:58] Russ: That's a job.  [00:10:01] Randall: And how long has that been?  [00:10:02] Russ: I had been a full-time YouTuber sounds like, so teeny bopper, right? Content, creator, content entrepreneur. I would consider a, since we landed in Missoula and a lot of it was, my hand was forced. [00:10:14] Like we moved to Missoula cause we were, super broken Portland. Laura got a job at adventure cycling and that was finally a stable income for awhile. So we moved here and I thought, all our expertise and all the work that we'd done with travel Oregon would translate to the Montana state tourism and the local GMO's and I could get production work that way did not turn out, did not turn out like that. [00:10:36] So I buckled down and I was like, okay, we have I have to make this YouTube thing work because Missoula, Montana, they don't spend the funds like they do, like in Portland or Oregon for kind of production. It's a very small cities, small funds, a small talent pool. And they tend to only hire people that they know and as complete outsiders. [00:10:57] Was not getting any work. So that's when I really buckled down and it was pretty lean, we relied heavily on Laura's income, adventurous cycling for me to follow this dream. And it wasn't until maybe two or three years later that it could support me. And now it's supporting both of us. [00:11:13] Randall: So she was bringing in those big bicycle industry journalist dollars, right before the thing. And if you don't mind sharing, how did the economics work? What percentage of it is YouTube? What percentage of it is your Patriot?  [00:11:26] Russ: Yeah, I can tell you very little it's from YouTube ad sense, but as a creator, that's where that's probably the lowest hanging fruit because, after I think 10,000 or a thousand subscribers, you can monetize all that stuff. But that is not the, that's not the dream that chase there because it pays very little like to this day. [00:11:44] I think the channel is at 120 something subscribers.  [00:11:48] Randall: 120,000? [00:11:49] Russ: Yeah. 120,000 subscribers. If you work at, in and out 40 hours a week, you were making more than I do an ad sense just to put that perspective. So there was a really make or break moment a couple years ago where I was putting out four, sometimes five videos a week just trying to, generate AdSense. [00:12:08] And I was on the verge of giving up. Couple of friends say, Hey, you should try Patrion and you should try Patrion. And I was like, oh, I don't, I'm already making five videos. I don't have time to, to manage another community. But then I was like, okay, we have to do it because it's not working financially. [00:12:22] And people show that, first it was a lot of people that we knew and then it became lots of people that we didn't know, which is pretty cool. And so that starts to give us like, on top of Laura's income, another kind of pool of cash that we could count on every month So that slowly grew. [00:12:39] And then ultimately we started selling stickers which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but a lot of people bought stickers. We've sold thousands of stickers. And I like to say I'm really just a sticker salesman with a YouTube. 'cause it's true.  [00:12:54] Randall: It's one of those things where, people value what you do and align with it enough to want to advocate for it in the world and just find any means any excuse to support you. [00:13:03] So that's pretty cool that you've been able to, make that work.  [00:13:07] Russ: Yeah. And that's what we discovered about stickers. Like no one needs stickers, it's not like a life or death necessity, but it was a means for people that wanted to support the channel to create some kind of transaction, so we started stickers. [00:13:18] We've done other Merck. We have some shirts recent, most recently stem caps is sold pretty well are selling pretty well. So it's just a cool way for people that, you know, like the content on the channel to help support the channel.  [00:13:31] Randall: And so we've talked about YouTube. We've talked about your Patrion. You also have a discord.  [00:13:36] Russ: Yeah. The discord. A big need that I saw was people wanted to find other cyclists that had the same kind of party pace mindset, but I've discovered a couple of years ago, is that what really brings people together isn't a common interest. It's the common belief and value system around that interest, right? We all ride bikes, triathlete is going to have different values than the fixed gear rider and in a really hardcore endurance gravel athlete. So it wasn't enough to say, Hey, we're about bikes, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. [00:14:05] It's part of the pace. These are values and people wanted to find other people with those values and who ride like that. So instead of being the point of contact for everyone, I wanted people to really talk with each other. So I looked at different things like slack and ultimately try that discord, I think, because it was free or more free and Patrion and discord have a good synergy where. [00:14:30] Yeah. Some of the Patriot and perks are different roles in discord. So that seemed like a natural fit. And at first, people got really excited. We had a couple 100 people sign on and you know how it is like with slack or disc or people, are active at first and drop off. [00:14:46] But now I feel like there's a really cool core group of people. And what I love seeing in the discord and it happened, it started to happen more this year is other people within the discord would find people within their area and they'd ride together. They do things together. And that was so satisfying to see that I didn't have to be the only channel that we had created this space where people could discover, other like-minded cyclists. [00:15:10] Randall: Yeah. What we're calling social media, I think would be better re-imagined as online tools for facilitating generative, offline connection and experience and. And that's not the current social media paradigm. It seems like you've created a space and I feel that we've created a space, really co-created spaces together with other values aligned people, where you can find that you can find, a place to get advice. [00:15:36] You can find a place to to connect, to get a sense of belonging, to plant adventures and so on. And that's something that's a really great opportunity in the cycling space specifically, because there are a lot of people who gravitate for cycling in part for those reasons, whether it's wellness, whether it's utility or oftentimes it's "I moved to a new place, I want to make some friends". [00:15:57] There's something very deep about that need, that cycling seems to satisfy for a lot of people, certainly myself.  [00:16:03] Russ: Yeah. This court's been really interesting for that, the discord constantly impresses me because there is such a high level of bike nerdery but also respect amongst the people in our discord. [00:16:15] And I hope that's because the channel sets a certain tone or I set a certain tone, it's really, it's far less toxic than other bike spaces I've seen on the internet, like people, they'll they're pretty good at self policing, which is cold.  [00:16:30] Randall: Yeah. The early members of any given community the founders. [00:16:34] Yes. And then the early members really set the tone for how the thing evolves, because it's just a set of norms and hopefully you have a certain value system that's very clear and people who don't align with that, they're not attracted to the community in the first place. [00:16:46] Not that they're not welcome, but this is not a space for acting out. This is a place for connecting.  [00:16:51] Russ: Yeah. And there, there are people in our discord that are like way smarter nerdier than I am. Like, I'm constantly impressed at the level of knowledge that they share. [00:16:59] But it is one of those things where at first I promoted the discord a lot, but I'm hesitant to now.  [00:17:05] Randall: Okay.  [00:17:06] Russ: It's because I've loved how the people in there have jelled. And for me, it's not about the qual, the quantity of members, but the quality of interaction. [00:17:14] So I'd almost artificially keep it small until things really gel before, saying, Hey everybody, we have loans doing it now, Hey, everybody, we have a discord.  [00:17:25] Randall: We've been thinking much the same. Up until now, the community has grown very slowly and organically and largely through our invites or through us, and not just talking about it on the podcast and people will show up and be like, Hey, you heard the pod decide to finally join here. [00:17:39] And I fully agree with you. Quality over quantity. At the same time, I suspect that there are orders of magnitude more people who could benefit .From and contribute to these communities. And there is, there are certain types of Activities, for example, like coordinating group rides you need a critical mass of people in a given area. [00:17:56] And so those offline connections are really enabled by having, a bigger community. And so I think this is a conversation I would love to have with you maybe now is not the space, but figuring out how scale can be created in a way that doesn't undermine the ethos that made the community so healthy in the first place. [00:18:16] Russ: For me, I see like a diff like a series of funnels. So YouTube is probably our largest funnel. It'll take, all people interested in cycling, boil it down to people that are interested in this idea of party pace. And for those that want to dig down a further, there's a Patrion and then the discord, but no, it's not intentional, but in that way to see it like, okay, YouTube is a big net and the more you get invested in the channel and dig what it's about, then you'll go the extra step and slowly discover that this scored on your own. [00:18:47] Randall: well, I'm curious what do you see as the limitations of the current technology stack that you're using right now? And is there anything that you're looking at in terms of other tools to adopt or even migrate to going forward? What's on the horizon?  [00:19:00] Russ: I think the biggest limitation is that's, it's not one thing, it's several things. It's YouTube it's Patrion, it's, the website it's discord. I don't sign into one thing and control everything. They don't all necessarily integrate smoothly. And it is like multiple steps for people to have the full experience. And I don't know that there is an existing plan. Or app with a big enough base that does all things. [00:19:24] So at the moment, and I'm at the whim of using all these kinds of widgets and piecemealing together a community.  [00:19:31] Randall: And then a platform like YouTube they take a pretty big cut.  [00:19:36] Russ: Yeah. And what's interesting is like Patrion is going to start doing their own video, which I think is interesting because typically a YouTube creators that have Patriot they'll usually do an early release. [00:19:48] So they'll set a YouTube video and private Patrion viewers can do it first. Then they turn it on to the rest of the world. You're still using YouTube. Yeah. But if you can just have that content live on Patrion, I think that would, that'd be interesting. Interesting move. I don't know if I have the bandwidth to do patriarch specific content, but it is something that I'm keeping tabs. [00:20:07] Randall: It's one of the great challenges. You could consider YouTube is a web 2.0 company. They have a platform and they gather the viewers and the content creators and ultimately the advertisers, the viewers being the product, and you get to a certain critical mass and, YouTube is first and foremost, arguably a search engine. [00:20:27] And if that's where people are going to find content and get content recommended to them, it's hard not to be there. But I think ultimately, the paradigm that I hope for, and that I see slowly emerging is one where content creators own their content, and own the rights over that content, and have access to means of distribution that are not so extractive, maybe, a couple of percent versus a 50% and we could de-monetize you and D platform you at any  [00:20:54] time. [00:20:55] Russ: Yeah. Yeah. That's definitely the dream. That's why, in kind of the creative entrepreneurs space, there's still emphasis on email newsletter. That sounds like so web 1.0, but it's one of the few. Yeah. Pieces of content and like constant communication that you can actually control. [00:21:12] That's not at the whim of an algorithm or in someone else's hands.  [00:21:17] Randall: And it's one of the original open protocols of the internet. Any client can communicate with any other client versus, on Facebook, it's a walled garden. And if you try to do something that they don't like on Facebook, or if you do something that is really successful they'll kick you off, or they'll, deprioritize you in the algorithm, or they'll just create a copy of it and go from there. [00:21:36] Russ: Yeah. At one like one switch that is turned on in my head recently is you. I used to be that my goal was, I want to be a YouTuber when I hit a hundred thousand subscribers and get this thing. And she's very nice. But after having achieved that, that is no longer the goal it's to turn whatever, virtual community we have into IRL, into. [00:21:58] And try to translate that into real human interaction. YouTube is a facet of that journey, but it's not, it's no longer the, the end goal.  [00:22:05] Randall: Yeah. I'm a hundred percent with you there. And in fact, it's, it was one of the major motivations for me reaching out for this conversation, because I see the good work that you do and the quality of connection that you facilitate within, within your community. [00:22:18] So Bravo to you on that. How many people in your discordant.  [00:22:22] Russ: I don't know. I feel like it's over 1500.  [00:22:25] Randall: Okay, so similar scale.  [00:22:27] Russ: Yeah. The most active group is definitely smaller. But it's a decent number and I feel like a lot of people that sign on to Patriot and do do you claim the discord like benefit and, you can see them light up, which is cool. [00:22:39] Randall: Very cool. Have you have you done any events have you coordinated events, have you gotten to meet any of the  [00:22:46] community members?  [00:22:46] Russ: That was our plan before COVID  [00:22:48] Randall: Same. I was going to do a tour.  [00:22:51] Russ: Yeah. It's funny, like the year that COVID happened, we had just started doing that. We coordinated a series of art shows at bike shops. So I paint watercolors and we'd have an art show with a local bike shop. We did transit cycles in Arizona golden saddle in LA golden pliers and in Portland. Cause I wanted to give a focus to the event rather than people just drinking beer. [00:23:11] So there's a fun way for people, fans of the channel and people that want to do bikey things without just drinking beer, a could attend. And then the last one we did was was in at transit in Arizona. Then that's when, COVID blew up and we're like, ah, you gotta pull the plug on this tour. [00:23:25] Randall: Do are people able to buy your art or prints of your art because I've seen some of your watercolors and they're really cool. I was going to ask you at one point, can I get attention?  [00:23:33] Russ: Yeah, we've got a big cartel shop, again, very disjointed. We're going to migrate to probably Shopify so it can live on the actual website next year. People can buy originals, which are expensive, but then they go so buy smaller postcards and prints. The prints are pretty, it's like a G clay print on the watercolor paper, and it's about as close as you can get to an original without spending that much. And it's really high quality, so yeah. [00:23:56] Yeah. People can buy th there, there are options for people to purchase prints.  [00:24:01] Randall: Yeah. It falls into that category of feeling like a part of something and, getting the psychic income of supporting the contents that you want to see in the world.  [00:24:09] Russ: Yeah. I know your podcast listeners can't see it, but behind that veiled curtain there that's, there are picking station where we've got a bunch of shelving with a stem caps and stickers and prints, and Lauren,  [00:24:21] Randall: you're doing your own fulfillment. [00:24:23] Russ: Yeah. Lord, I outsource it to Laura.  [00:24:25] Randall: Speaking of Laura, how's Laura doing?  [00:24:27] Russ: She's doing well. If you guys aren't familiar she got diagnosed with breast cancer. A little bit over a year ago, and I really threw a wrench in our plans. And so we had to navigate that, but she's on the other side of, all the major surgeries, she's just taking a maintenance drug for the rest of the year, but she's doing well enough that she starting to ride the bike again. [00:24:49] Like I think she's going to do another trainer session today and hopefully get into some shape so we can do some actual writing in California.  [00:24:56] Randall: Excellent. That's really great to hear. And I see even your email addresses is Russ and Laura. So share a little bit about what was her role in the Genesis and development of the channel and what does that dynamic like building something like this for the partner?  [00:25:12] Russ: Yeah. So we've been together for about 19 years. When we first met, neither of us were into bikes. I just, yeah, I know. I discovered by commuting and at the time she, we lived in long beach and she worked in at seal beach. [00:25:27] So the commute was like three miles and then I got her into bike commuting, and then we both fell in love with bike touring. And it was then that we decided " Hey, maybe we could make a blog out of this". So it was definitely a joint venture. I've been very fortunate in so far as I've been able to get. [00:25:47] I want to say, get Laurie into the same interest, but we come to things at the same time or we appreciate the same things. So we both love bikes and she's definitely an integral role to PLP. She does all the bookkeeping being the shipping fulfillment the contracts she handles all the logistical stuff that a lot of people don't see, but are crucial to making a living. [00:26:10] Randall: Yeah. It's one thing to be the face of something. My case same deal, with thesis. So little of what it takes to create the product and get it delivered is done by me. But I contribute my small part and I convey a message. I do product development and so on, I have team members who are managing the orders. [00:26:31] There are factories, there are people working hard to actually produce the things. There are logistical companies that are getting the things to the right places and assembling them and que seeing them and handling all of that. And so acknowledgement of that. I think it's  [00:26:44] Russ: yeah, we had that pretty early division of labor. [00:26:47] Like we knew, like what are our strengths where I'm definitely more of a creative, pie in the sky kind of person. And she's very grounded. Typically I'll bounce idea off of her and she's that's dumb and you have no time to do, or, I'll know if something has legs, if she thinks that it's feasible. [00:27:05] But we definitely fulfill, I think that the two kind of the two personalities that's needed in the business,  [00:27:12] Randall: yup. Yeah, that that, that has been my experience as well. So really great to hear about how the two of you worked together and 19 years is a long time. [00:27:21] Russ: Yeah. It's a long time.  [00:27:23] Randall: So good on the two of you. So, what are you nerding out about these days?  [00:27:27] Russ: I think a lot about, where the holes are in cycling and particular in cycling meets. And I still think the non-competitive side, the cycling is grossly underrepresented and there's probably a lot more people that are into that style of riding. Then there's, the sharp pointy end of the of racing. I feel like that's overrepresented because, the people that get hired at those media agencies or at those brands tend to be X racers. So it creates this echo chamber. And so I really still think of myself as trying to break the echo chamber, insert a different voice and speak for, that the large group of people, that there are bike enthusiasts, but don't ever see themselves necessarily depending on the number. [00:28:10] And I think, I was trying to come up with a good analogy. I was describing it to a friend recently. And I think there were like two types of people, right? There's people that they view life as a puzzle to be solved or like a competition to be one. And there's others that do life, as a fine deal at a restaurant that's going to end and your goal is to not eat the fastest, but to save her every bit. And I'm definitely on that latter part. And I feel like a lot of cycling media views it primarily as a sport. So just trying to broaden that message and reach people they feel left out. We've got a channel trailer and I think the title is misfits welcome and trying to find,  [00:28:48] Randall: I love your analogy. And I resonate with both parts of it. I definitely started off cycling ultra competitive. Like I am your classic skinny shaped, like a white guy in Lycra who was out trying to rip people's legs off. And, I wrote as a kid and I'd go on adventures and so on. But when I stopped doing competitive team sports, I was believed in not a linebacker and a fullback in high school about 30 pounds ago, and got into racing. In part, because I wanted the sense of belonging and being on a team, but also in part I was because I was good at it. And I was like, oh, here's the thing where I can prove myself. And in fact, I really got into it because it's oh, I want to do, I want to get to a really high level in something. And here's the thing that I have the, the greatest ability to get that in. So I was definitely fitting into the first category first and now I am very much in the other category. Writing for fun writing primarily for connection, with nature, with other people and community and ultimately with myself, the rolling meditation  [00:29:50] Russ: Yeah. And my stance is like I'm not anti racing or the competitive side by any means. I just think that's overrepresented. I'm just trying to give an alternative voice by saying, party paces as a thing doesn't necessarily mean, racing is not a thing, it's not like pizza where there's only one slice to be shared. [00:30:06] Randall: Let's talk practically here to. It is, I believe the bigger opportunity. The ethos of it. I also very much align with at this stage in my life. I think it's this great vehicle for connection, but then also for everyone who's racing or everyone who's following the racing, there's 10 people who could benefit from the health and wellness and community and belonging and everything that comes with this activity that we so love. [00:30:30] Russ: If you think about, if you took all the people in the world that could potentially ride bikes, these are grandmothers, grandfathers, small children, and, you filtered it down to, the small percentage that would race competitively. I think the number of these non-competitive cyclists would vastly outnumber the people that could do that and elite level, or even a quasi competitive level. [00:30:49] And yeah, that competitive and takes lion share of bicycling imagination. Like a big eye-opener is during COVID right. Huge bike, boom. Very little racing. Yeah. We've been told this, I don't want to say it's a lie, but this is truism that cycling needs racing to sell bikes. And it absolutely doesn't,  [00:31:12] Randall: there's a reason why we don't sponsor anyone other than we'll offer things sometimes to like community leaders or people who are doing good stuff to build community.  [00:31:21] Russ: Yeah. think it's such an old model, like a, this is sponsored athlete thinking that it'll drunk bikes. [00:31:27] To some extent that works, but also there's other more kind of creative ways, more effective ways, it's 20, 21. It's it's not like 1950, we don't need like a celebrity endorsement from someone with these boxes that sell something.  [00:31:40] Randall: I remember riding with a pretty accomplished European pro early in my very short career, and I asked him about sponsorship and equipment and so on. And he's listen, you pay me enough. I'll ride a shopping cart. That is the truth of it. The bikes are coming out of essentially the same facilities, right? They're all using the same components, largely their parts hangers for swam and Shimano, all these Aero claims about this and that it's a lot of very careful selection and representation of the data. This is much more arrow on the graph, but it's only showing this section of a graph, that's this tall, things like this. But yeah I'm a hundred percent aligned with you on that one. [00:32:16] Russ: And I also think the, I think the consumer is a lot more savvy, I feel like, it's not when we were fed advertising in the fifties and you took everything at face value, people read reviews, they do their own research. More people are being content creators, so they understand the ins and outs of messaging. [00:32:33] And yet it seems as if, bike advertising still the same, it's not very sophisticated.  [00:32:39] Randall: It's well, it's advertising. It's let me tell you how to think. As opposed to let me present some information and let you figure out what resonates with you.  [00:32:48] Russ: Yeah. It's like looking at how different industries use YouTube. For example, I think it's pretty, pretty telling like a lot of brands still use YouTube as a showcase for their brand video. Whereas if you look at the camera industry, they send out stuff to everyday people, they give their impressions. They probably do product release videos, but they understand that's not like the main driver to sales. People talking about the product and real world situations and normal people, they're not given, cameras to Annie Liebowitz or James Nachtwey and then  [00:33:22] Randall: well, people that others can relate to. In fact, I tend to trust the reviews from smaller channels, much more than I trust the ones from channels that have advertisers, depend on making the manufacturers happy in order to generate their income. This is a profound conflict of interest that even if it's subconscious has to be influencing that content versus somebody who just spontaneously this thing was so good I had to talk about it" or this thing is crap. Or, and I just had to talk about it or I just wanted to create content. Cause I thought it would be valuable to other people in the world, which is very much the dynamic going back to community that we see in the ridership. And it sounds like you're seeing in your in your discord. [00:34:06] Russ: Yeah. Yeah, I'm going to go back to what you said earlier about, trust reviews. That's definitely something I take super seriously on the channel. At this point I reviewed about 80 bikes was not paid to review any of them, and the bikes I kept I ended up buying, and that's the promise. I tell the viewer I tell our Patrion community because in my freelancing days I did stuff for bicycle times when they were still around the momentum, adventure cycling. And, it was always aware of the advertorial aspect of things. And I didn't want to participate. [00:34:37] So it wasn't, we started the YouTube channel. Like we get no sponsored money from the bike industry. We don't get paid by salsa by, whoever zeros dollars I'd rather have the viewer support the channel and that's why we pushed the Patrion so much. Yeah. Most recently I've been buying more products like small goods. To some extent we PR we participate in that, we get review stuff, but then I still give my honest feedback on it, but more and more, I want to transition to a hundred percent like buying everything just because I feel like it lends more credibility. [00:35:06] It's very difficult to do because as a channel, we don't make enough money to do that a hundred percent. But where I can, I will, buy the product like everybody else and give our review when the. The channels that really inspire me is actually in the copy industry, this guy, James Hoffman, who has a massive following, I think, million subscribers, he'll compare these, thousand dollar espresso machines, but, he has a large enough Patriot. [00:35:30] We can buy them all, review them and then give it away on this Patrion. And that is what I aspire to is to not be supported by the bike industry, by everything, and then give it away on the Patriot.  [00:35:42] Randall: It makes me think of like a a much more organic form of what consumer reports used to do. And that was the go-to trusted source for reviews before, the internet era I admire the hell out of that.  [00:35:54] Russ: Yeah. And it's a long road. When I started taking the YouTube channels. Seriously, I did the maths, as okay. There's a handful of bike brands would probably potentially be interested in and supporting our content. Truthfully, they're going to give that money to the Rabis or bike first. In my head, I was like, how can we turn this weakness into a strength? [00:36:12] So I really leaned into it. I was like, okay, fine. We'll just take no money from the bike industry and really rely on the Patrion supporters and the sticker sales. It's a longer road because you don't get those big influxes of cash or a right upfront, but, we can slowly grow the supporter base. [00:36:29] I can't grow more brands that would be willing to support this. I can hopefully, keep making more content to attract more viewers to support this. So that's the tactic we've chosen.  [00:36:38] Randall: And by the way, the route of this was recently acquired by the pros closet. They do great content. And we've certainly benefited from their kindness and taking our press releases and publishing and so on. That it is hard. What you're doing is hard. Yeah. And with Craig, right? We have a quick set of buy me a coffee and, that brings in a few hundred dollars a month. [00:36:57] This is not a money maker. All that money goes to Craig by the way, and just, offsets basic costs associated with not just the software and so on, but you have to think about the amount of time that goes into scheduling and doing the interviews and then the post-production work and promotion and social media and all this other stuff. [00:37:16] And there is a degree to which the current web 2.0 paradigm makes it harder than necessary, given the level of our technology, to support the content you want to see in the world. And one of the things that I'm seeing emergency is very hopeful is the advent of micropayments and things like this. [00:37:34] And so hopefully those are things that we are looking to adopt in the next, even six months to a year that hopefully will unlock more opportunities for people to support the content they want to see in the world in a way that is aligned with what they have, you don't have to sign up for five bucks a month. [00:37:51] You don't have to pay a membership fee. It's everything here is for free. If you value it, contribute to it. And here's some really easy ways to do so that don't have some, company taking 10% or 50 plus percent in the case of YouTube. [00:38:03] Russ: Yeah, that was definitely an aha moment where you know, shifting the focus from being a hundred percent viewer supported, as opposed to chasing that traditional model of getting advertising from a bike brand or being a sponsored athlete or something It's hard, but I think it's worthwhile and it's ultimately proving the most sustainable.  [00:38:24] Randall: Yeah. Part of my motivation here was " this is one way that I can support the content that I want to see in the world". So to the extent that we can collaborate to support what you do please let us know.  [00:38:33] So we've been chatting for about 40, 45 minutes here. Anything else that you think it would be fun to, to jump into before we open it up to questions from people who are listening in, on the live stream?  [00:38:45] Russ: I think we hit the big ones that the huge untapped well of the non-competitive cycling market. [00:38:52] We have I have an alternate channel called the old cycling with where it's a goofy video live stream with a bunch of other bikey tube creators. And I saw recently that, ultra romance adopted cycling for his Northeast. Events. So now it's a thing. [00:39:06] All cycling. There you go.  [00:39:08] Randall: I haven't seen this. Please send me a representative link to a video  [00:39:12] Russ: he just wanted to hear for bikey trooper. Just complain about being a bike. Easy, [00:39:16] Randall: very inside baseball.  [00:39:17] Russ: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's it. We can open it up to a live stream questions if you want. Yeah, let's do it. Okay. So if you guys are in the live stream still, there's 111 of you. I'm breaking the fourth wall. Is it the fourth wall or the third wall? Of the walls of the podcast. [00:39:35] If you have questions for either immediate or Randall  [00:39:38] Randall: back in your own ideas and perspective on how we can do  [00:39:43] Russ: yeah. So putting on your your bike industry hat, what do you think most brands think of YouTube? Do they think it's like a, it's not as serious as like pink bike or whatever, or it could, I feel like as a creator, like most brands are still like, huh? What's YouTube.  [00:39:59] Randall: I have no idea. We take a very different approach. So I don't know how it was viewed. I do know, some of the things I see from big brands, it tends to be your classic promotional video, or here's some athlete we paid some money and sent a camera crew out and did some adventure thing that you can then live vicariously through or whatever. [00:40:17] Russ: Can I make a confession that I'm totally bored of that style?  [00:40:19] Randall: I suspect that you are not alone at all.  [00:40:23] Russ: It reminds me of around 2012 when people were making artisinal everything and they had all these artisanal brand videos and it just jumped the shark. [00:40:30] And I feel the adventure bike video genres is getting to that point.  [00:40:35] Randall: I'll say that early on in thesis, there was definitely a pressure to engage in that. And, it never felt authentic. It never felt quite right. At some point I was like, you know what, screw this. [00:40:45] We don't need to do this. We have an existing base of writers. If we just take care of them, they'll tell their friends. And if we just do good in the world and show up at credible and helpful and make content that is a valuable to people and help people to get their needs met,,, this is where the ridership and so on comes in, then will be taken care of as well. [00:41:05] That's been our approach.  [00:41:07] Russ: Yeah. I've hit that point to where initially my goal was to grow the channel as big as possible, but after a certain point, it's, if I could, if I can serve the people that are raised, subscribe better. Yeah. That's actually all the viewers we would ever need. [00:41:23] If all 125,000 joined Patrion, it would be amazing. Like you said, focusing on the audience that you do have giving them the content or products that they want and making them happy rather than some elusive unattainable goal of. Number down the line. It  [00:41:39] Randall: depends on what your goals are. Like, if your goals are to go big and get rich and whatever, then do some big crowdfunding pump and dump, whatever scheme, collect a bunch of money and then bail or whatever. But if your goal is to do good in the world, then it requires a slower, more intentional approach. And maybe it doesn't become as monetized, but ultimately the psychic income is worth a lot more.  [00:42:01] Russ: Yeah. I saw an interesting study that came out about YouTube creators and the largest niche of creators where they're actually doing this full time is in the education space. So educating about the topic. [00:42:16] And that makes sense, right? Because people go to YouTube to learn things, to discover new things. And, I think to last as a creator, you really do have to have a service mindset. What is that people want to know about what problem can I solve? There's very few creators that can just do their weird shit and be successful. [00:42:34] The PD PI's of the world, being solely personality based and not serving some kind of educational.  [00:42:41] Randall: And I don't end the the attention seeking drive that often drives some of that content. I'm okay to have a smaller community of people that are more ethos aligned. [00:42:52] Yeah. Let's dive into some of the comments that we're seeing in here. Cause there's a bunch of good ones.  [00:42:56] Russ: Anything jumping off, jumping out to you.  [00:42:58] Randall: So I'm just taking it from the top. T Shen, oh, this is very kind. The ridership is a great example of what online community can be helpful, focused friendlies, zero snark, unless you guys edited out, we don't edit it out. [00:43:09] I've, there've been two instances where I have moderated and it's always been starting a dialogue with the person and about Hey, this comes off in this way. And what do you think about taking it down and so on? And those people have gone on to be really great contributors to the community. [00:43:24] The type of people that it attracts have those values. So thank you for being a part of it.  [00:43:29] Russ: Yeah. Our discord is similar. I think I've only in the history of discord had to ban two people and they were actively, it was clear that they were not going to contribute in a positive way, but for the most part everyone's and treats everyone pretty well. [00:43:48] Randall: Here's another one. I love the path, less pedaled approach, such a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the leg shave and GNC cycling performance, weight weenies. [00:43:56] Russ: Yes. Yeah.  [00:43:59] Randall: I used to be one of those people be kind we're just dealing with our insecurity.  [00:44:03] Russ: Yeah. I've been noodling through a video and I think the title is going to be something like why fast as a matter, or why fast as ever rated. Because this is my take on that. I'll give you guys a sneak peek on the video is typically let's say we take the status quo lens of a bike. [00:44:18] It's always going to be viewed through a racing perspective, right? So that attributes of a bike that are going to be praised or lightweight aerodynamics. Chris shifting, but that assumes if you're racing. And I'd say that's the wrong perspective instead of asking, what's the fastest we should be asking "what's the most efficient for the task". So if you've got, a mom with two kids, is an arrow, lightweight bike, and to be the most efficient for tasks, know it, that's going to be a cargo bike, or if you have a racer and you give them a cargo bike is the most efficient for the task. No, but, stepping back and asking, okay, what is the task that we're talking about? [00:44:53] There's one lens to view bicycling. And not the only lens  [00:44:58] Randall: I tend to distill things down to first principles in the sense of what is the deeper goal? Is it to be fast or is it to be able to keep up with the people you want to ride with? Or is it like some, need to be recognized as fast, some need for esteem or whatever, in which case there are other ways to get that met and, a bicycle is a vehicle. [00:45:18] So it's ultimately, I think about the experience, right? And it really focusing on the experience, which means, a bike that can do a lot of things. And it's very versatile, like that holds up and doesn't hold you back. And things of this sort  [00:45:31] Russ: yeah, question. Herbalists how big is a European part of the PLP community? Looking at her analytics and where we ship product. It's a big, the big part. We ship a lot of stickers to UK stem caps and stuff to Germany Finland although that part of Europe like Australia and New Zealand was a big purchaser of stickers until recently because a us postal service. [00:45:57] Delivering there. And to, for us to send something to New Zealand or Australia has to go by ups and it's 30 bucks, regardless if it's a stem cap or a sticker. Cause that really sucked. How about on the ridership? Do you guys have a big European contingent?  [00:46:11] Randall: Predominantly north America. I haven't looked at the metrics on that, to be honest, I have been followed that super closely, but we do have a few people interspersed around the world and even a few who've taken it upon themselves to try to. Local riders so that they can have a critical mass in their area, but definitely early days. [00:46:29] And definitely quite us focused with some, density in the bay area. The front range I've been focusing on new England for obvious reasons of late and things like this. So yeah.  [00:46:40] Russ: Yeah. And they other discord, someone shared with me a story that they were originally from New York, moved to Berlin and was able to find someone else on the discord in Berlin. [00:46:50] And now they're, they become fast.  [00:46:51] Randall: Oh, that's great. Isn't that the dream isn't it, the dream oh, you're traveling, just sign up for that channel. Make some friends go have an experience. I have an idea that talking to our technology partner on about like a friend BNB where you'd be able to earn a stay credit. [00:47:07] That is a token where you know, Hey, I'm going to be in Montana. And you'd be able to like publish, I have a room available and then I would apply and you'd be able to accept or deny. And if you accept, I have a one deficit and you have a one credit, and then I can share my space to somebody who's coming into town and have that really facilitate community. [00:47:26] Obviously this is maybe more of a post COVID idea. But it does speak to the possibilities once you have a certain critical mass. So that's a really great anecdote that you got there.  [00:47:37] Russ: Yeah. I've been thinking about looking at the, what rock, the RCC, the Rapha cycling club offers and trying to see if what we could do virtually to our membership, adopt some of those things. [00:47:51] I don't know what all the offer, because I'm not part of any of them, but I've been looking at other membership models in the cycling space and okay. If you stripped away all the competitiveness, where could we plug in?  [00:48:02] Randall: Let's have a let's continue the conversation offline. Cause I think there's a very rich thread there. And in fact, I know that there are some people in the ridership also who work in the space, it might have something to contribute. I see a comment from Richard shomer Dean. There's a duplicating question I pose in the ridership, but what thoughts do you have on organizing group rides with respect to liability and lawsuits? [00:48:23] Russ: I'll let you take that one first.  [00:48:25] Randall: So yeah, we live in a litigious culture and it is very expensive to defend oneself but very cheap to Sue and it's an unfortunate paradigm. You definitely want to, Be mindful of who you have joining is a big thing in the values there. Waivers can be really helpful. [00:48:43] Again, I've mentioned some advising that I'm doing for a technology partner, looking at how to have a digital platform where you would have say an idea. And on this identity, you could have everything from, an attestation that you're vaccinated to, a waiver that you signed to attend a particular event, and then having the events coordination, whether it be, Hey Russ, let's meet up for a group ride all the way to a 2000 person, gravel events being able to be coordinated on the same platform with the waivers and payments and everything else handled in one place. [00:49:20] Right now a lot of bad is disjointed or really expensive in the same way that say, Patriot on takes, takes a substantial cut or YouTube takes us substantial cut. It's definitely a concern and the deeper your pockets, the bigger the concern it is, or the deeper your pockets are perceived to be the bigger of a problem it is. [00:49:38] There are solutions. And it takes a critical mass of people in the types of communities where those are being incubated in order for these to come to fruition.  [00:49:46] Russ: Yeah. Yeah. That's definitely a sticky topic. Lauren, I have toyed around with the idea of having either an event, an overnight event at the base camp and looping gravel rides or something or this winter meeting up with folks and doing rides to our favorite places. [00:50:03] Definitely the potential litigious nature has turned us off as well as the cupboards. So we're still navigating those waters.  [00:50:10] Randall: You mentioned that you're going to be in Soquel coming down. So Craig Dalton, founder of the gravel ride podcast also spends a good amount of time. [00:50:18] And so Cal, maybe we could make something happen at some point. I don't know if there's demand out there, let us know. And we'll coordinate.  [00:50:26] Russ: Yeah. Yeah. Right now we're trying to figure it out all, it's going to be a big content trip basically as well as vacation. [00:50:33] So definitely looking for opportunities to, to make some interesting videos.  [00:50:37] Randall: I don't know if you're familiar with the gravel stone. Yeah. So Dave malware it's San Diego, it's a great group of people. I've been down there and done a group rides with a hundred plus people, which is pretty astonishing and become a good friend over the years. [00:50:54] Another one of these people who, he doesn't make money off of it. He's spending money on it, but it's, he just values community values, the the connection and the creative outlet that the space provides.  [00:51:05] Russ: Yeah. Let's see. There's still 115 of you sticking round, which is pretty awesome for a Monday. [00:51:13] You didn't think we'd get this many people did,  [00:51:15] Randall: And I'm recognizing, we have quite a few people from the ridership. And I just posted that several hours ago.  [00:51:20] Russ: Yeah, I find that, promoting a live stream ahead of time, doesn't make too much of a difference unless it's in a super well-known personality. [00:51:30] Otherwise like people are going to be on the live stream when it's convenient. So I tend not to sweat The live stream promotion too much. YouTube does help out in that, a few minute intervals before it lets all the subscribers know that it's going to happen. So that's best thing it could do. [00:51:46] Randall: So Rick urban has thrown in a bunch of comical questions, including Russ. Why do you hate beer and Randall? Have you ever successfully gripped a leg off? [00:51:56] Russ: So I do hate beer. I just like whiskey more. It's like beer concentrates and less puffy. Like when I drink beer now I just get bloated feeling. So I'd rather have whiskey. I'll let you take the ripple. I GFE question.  [00:52:11] Randall: I don't like beer either. No.  [00:52:14] Russ: So it's almost like a sacrilege in the bike industry. [00:52:17] Randall: Oh yeah. Alcohol generally. Isn't my chemical. I'll have a glass of wine here and there. And I have not actually ripped legs off. They figure of speech. I should be more careful with my vocabulary. But what else do we have here? I'd Krispy says I'd like to see a PLP and gravel ride podcast, bike packing, or bike fishing adventure video. [00:52:37] Let's do it. Yep. Yeah. Yeah. I'll come eat someplace warm.  [00:52:43] Yeah. If you come to the west coast or the Rocky mountain west, we can coordinate yeah, definitely looking forward to more outside videos. This winter has been such a hard year. So Jen Harrington ass do you know percentage of women on the channel? [00:52:58] That's a good question. I can tell a little bit by. Analytics at least on the YouTube channel, it's probably less than 5%. I know it's less than 5%. I think when you have a male presenter on the channel, it's just how things are gonna shake out. [00:53:14] I think our Patrion is it's not parody, but there, there are a lot of women that support on Patrion and very few that participate in on the discord. How about for you guys?  [00:53:25] Russ: I don't know about the pod. Craig manages all the analytics there. But the ridership, if I had to guess, it's probably on the order of maybe 10% or so, which is still quite low. [00:53:34] Maybe for some of the same reasons you said. I've actually had some conversations, including with Monica Garrison over at black girls do bike. I don't know if you've seen the work that she's done, but really just bringing people together, creating events and contents that make cycling more accessible to a community that, you just don't see very well-represented and, it begs the question why and one of the things that I've been quite curious about is, w what is what role can I play in making cycling more accessible? [00:54:03] And there are some easy things to do, which is one, engaging, but then too, figuring out what the needs are. At the same time, it is good to see that there are those communities being created that serve people who, maybe don't find things like PLP or the ridership, or maybe aren't quite clear if it's for them or not. [00:54:21] I will say this we want you with us, right? And we want your feedback. We want your ideas. And ultimately my personal goal is for the ridership to become something much bigger, which I don't control. So maybe it has a board it has a decentralized governance structure. [00:54:39] So we're looking at DAOs decentralized autonomous organizations built on blockchains and things like that. It's a potential structure going forward to allow people to help decide the direction. And I think that sense of first representation, but then ultimately a sense of ownership in co-creation hopefully will help to merge these communities so that they can join together. [00:55:01] Yeah. Yeah. Do you think reviewing so many bike products, discourages people from riding without specialized, but to some extent yes. In a sense of if I don't have these bags, I can't go by packing. Yeah. I do think that, when people watch reviews I don't intend for people to buy them. [00:55:21] They're just usually things I'm really interested in, but they're, for some people. Feeling of oh, I need that thing or else I can't do this thing. Maybe I should try to communicate better that you should, bike or go bike packing with what you have. And don't worry about. All the small stuff. [00:55:37] Randall: Yeah. People were backpacking before there was bike packing gear, just like people war gravel riding before there were grappled bikes.  [00:55:44] Russ: Yeah. Yeah. I do find there's this one camera YouTube, very watch. And he had this interesting video talking about the dark side of tech YouTube. [00:55:54] And the purpose of the video was he was feeling overwhelmed because he's getting sent to all this stuff. And, he himself is like a mindless by nature, but he has to play with all this stuff and, seemingly promoted and he feels bad when people feel bad that they don't have the same stuff. [00:56:10] And that really resonated with me from the bike perspective, because there's a few things I truly, really and they're fairly attainable. Like I love friction shifting. I love flat pedals, but I do. All the latest gadgets, just because I have a interest in them, but not necessarily because I want people to buy them. [00:56:28] Like I never, I try not to frame my reviews as you must absolutely buy this thing. It's just this way I think about it. It's kinda cool. You might like it. There's very few things where I said, this is. You should buy this. So I was thinking of doing something, a video like that because there's boxes of lots of things which is how overwhelming  [00:56:44] Randall: I often in conversations will tell people, actually, you don't need this. [00:56:48] We offer a carbon rail saddle option. It saves 55 grams for 49 bucks. And unless you have too much money and you're trying to squeeze every gram out. You don't need this. This is not going to affect in any way, your experience. Maybe that, that one's a little bit more obvious, but same applies to a lot of gear, hyper, specialized, non versatile gear that we're told, you have to have in order to engage in this experience. [00:57:11] Russ: Yeah. I've started saying no to lots of things. And there's some things that I just don't review anymore because it's, I don't feel like it can add anything meaningful to the conversation, or I just don't use it. Actually don't like I've said no to so many bike packing bags. It's I don't like, I don't like the little, the poop bag or the sausage roll. [00:57:29] It's just not my style. I'm not going to talk about them anymore. You can buy them if you want, but I wouldn't personally use them. I think there's, they're all about the same. And yeah, so don't more bike packing bags on the channel. I'm not reviewing carbon wheels anymore just because I can't add anything meaningful to it. [00:57:48] I can say that they're light and they feel fast, but I don't have the scientific background to do any testing or something. So unless someone wants a purely anecdotal experiential review, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna review products where I can't add to the knowledge base. [00:58:03] Randall: So you saying I shouldn't send you any new fancy creping wheels.  [00:58:07] Russ: You could, I won't review it [00:58:08] Randall: a man of integrity,  [00:58:10] Russ: But it's there's like I'm not an engineer. I could read the press copy and make it sound convincing, but unless the wheel to shatters as I'm writing there's nothing meaningful I could add to the conversation. [00:58:23] Randall: I actually believe that is generally the case. And wheels are a prime example of a tremendous amount of marketing bullshit. There are differences, there are fundamental differences, but those aren't what's being marketed, like the basics of good wheel design. Maybe I'll do an episode on this at some point, but they are what they are. [00:58:40] Russ: Yeah. Like I I've been given the opportunity to review like, $3,000 wheels, $2,000. It was like, it just can't do it. I'm not gonna, I'm not willing to read your press release.  [00:58:49] Randall: Sorry. I see a comment here from Jeffrey Fritz. He says I am a cancer survivor and was recently thinking about Laura, glad to hear she was winning the battle. [00:58:56] Thank you for your share Jeffrey and yeah, I resonate with that fully. Yeah,  [00:59:01] Russ: You hear, cancer battle and it is an extended campaign is a war of attrition in between your body and the disease. It's if there's no like quick in and out, and there's always, there's a lot of collateral damage in the process. [00:59:17] Randall: Yeah.  [00:59:17] Could you share your discord link?  [00:59:19] Russ: Yes, I will put that in the description after the live stream, I think I have to create a new invite or something. I think I made one video about the discord channel, like months ago and they haven't promoted it on the YouTube channel since. But yeah, I'll put the, I'll put the invite in the description below. [00:59:35] Randall: Jordan Kwan says Jacob Jacobs, that's me the ridership merge. We want to do a Jersey. It's in the works. We just have not had the bandwidth to focus on it, but expect one for, next riding season. So save your ridership Jersey. We'll get that done. And we'll probably put it out to the community to, provide input on the design and so on. [00:59:57] Russ: Yeah, we've been looking at other products that we could sell beyond just, stickers and and stem caps. Ideally I'd like to help design the bag. It would be fun to do a collaboration on a bike. I do have the idea for a hard, good, which solves a very specific problem, but I don't know if it's sexy enough for people to invest in it. [01:00:19] But we're constantly thinking of ideas of, what's a bike product that we could present that we'd feel good about. That's hopefully a new and But it's tricky  [01:00:28] Randall: if you ever need guidance on the manufacturing side of things. It's a thing that I've done we've talked about. [01:00:34] Russ: Yeah. Cause we're the weird place where we have a audience, but not that many products to sell as opposed to having a product and having no audiences. It's like this inverse weird inverse problem.  [01:00:45] Randall: So I looking through here, a lot of comments here and a lot of just not calling most of them out because most of them are just kind words. [01:00:56] And I just want to say really appreciated. Yeah. What else do we have here?  [01:01:01] Russ: We've got 106 people. I'm not seeing any question really jumped out, so maybe we should start taking it home. And then we can talk offline a little bit more if you want.  [01:01:13] Randall: So that's good. And I'm curious and I've encourage folks to provide this feedback, if you're a member of the ridership or if you're a member of PLPs discord do you see a place ,for a more interactive forum where we would create a video conference. [01:01:28] And maybe it's not for outside consumption, but it's more, just a way for us to communicate. And it's not about, two people having a conversation and others typing in questions, but really I would view myself more in that circumstance as a facilitator, facilitating connection and exchange between people. [01:01:43] It folks think that's a good idea. It's been something that Craig and I have talked about in the past.  [01:01:48] Russ: Yeah. It's something Laura and I have talked about too. It'd be fun to do an all bike summit or you have a, grand Peterson from Urbandale there maybe Yamaha and Anton for pitch, just like interesting personalities and have it be like a interactive video conference. [01:02:02] But it's not going to happen this winter. I can guarantee that.  [01:02:06] Randall: Let's say intention set.  [01:02:08] Russ: Yeah. Cool. I think I'm going to take us home. Any last things you want people to know about the ridership or anything?  [01:02:14] Randall: Yeah, the podcast is the gravel ride podcast. I think that probably the most valuable content for a lot of people, especially newbies would be some of our, bike fit 1 0 1 and, five skills that every gravel riders should know and things like this. [01:02:26] We really try to cater to a beginner audience as well as, going deep nerd into the esoterics of competitive cycling with events, organizers, and athletes and things like that. Definitely more Craig's domain on that regard to. The Is where you can go to get a link to sign up. [01:02:44] We also bought a Robert UBS account for the community. And by joining you get access to that free Robert GBS account that we acquired. And we do have good things that are happening there. Russ is in there too, not super active, but he does chime in when when people tag him . [01:02:58] And yeah, that's how you find us. And then we do, with thesis and other commercial projects that I'm involved in, we have some interesting things in the pipe, but I'll be ready to talk about those probably, Q1 of 20, 22.  [01:03:09] Russ: Yeah. Cool. I'm going to take us home a Randall. [01:03:12] Thanks for being an awesome guest. Once again, definitely check out the ridership, these spikes and subscribe. The ground rights podcasts. [01:03:20] Craig Dalton: Thanks everybody for listening this week. I hope you enjoyed that discussion between Randall and Ross. It was quite enjoyable watching live stream. So I hope that translated over the audio only format of this podcast.  [01:03:34] After all that discussion about community. I hope by now, if you're not already in the ridership that you'll head on over to  [01:03:41] and join the conversation. If you're interested in able to support the podcast. There's a couple easy ways you can do it.  [01:03:52] The first would be ratings and reviews. They're hugely important to any podcast out there. And I can speak on behalf of this podcast or that. That I read everything that's written about the show, and I really enjoy your feedback. So that's a simple way you can help me out. During this holiday season.  [01:04:09] If you have the financial wherewithal. We also accept contributions via buy me a simply visit buy me a gravel ride. Until next time he used to finding some dirt onto your wheels
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Bryce Wood - Alchemy Bicycles


    This week we sit down with Bryce Wood from Colorado's Alchemy Bicycles to discuss the companies' titanium and carbon gravel bikes. Presenting Sponsor: Competitive Cyclist.  Code THEGRAVELRIDE for 15% off Support the podcast Join The Ridership Automated Transcription (please excuse the typos): Alchemy Bicycles [00:00:00] Craig Dalton:  [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to the gravel rod podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the podcast, we have Bryce wood from alchemy bikes in Colorado. You may recognize Bryce's voice from my Sea Otter Roundup episode, where I got to know the brand a little bit, but I was certainly curious to dig deeper. So I was happy to have him on for a full show.  [00:00:27] Before we jump in, I need to thank this week. Sponsor competitive cyclist.  [00:00:32] Competitive Cyclist and the online specialty retailer of road, gravel and mountain bikes, components, apparel, and accessories, featuring cycling standout brands like pock Castelli, Pearl Izumi, and five 10, an unrivaled in-house bike assembly operation. They bring the personalized attention of the local bike shop along with the selection and convenience only available while shopping online.  [00:00:57] The real difference that competitive cyclists are the gearheads. Equal parts, customer service and cycling fanatics gear heads are former pro athletes, Olympians and seasoned cyclists. With years of experience. All available by phone, email, or chat for product recommendations and hard won advice.  [00:01:15] You may recall from the last couple of episodes that I had a really great experience with my own personal gear head, Maggie, as she walked me through the various gravel bikes they have available for sale on competitive Today. I have to say, I wasted a lot of time perusing items on competitive cyclist. I'd been given a gift certificate and I wanted to pick up something for myself. So I found myself going through the clothing, the gloves, the components, all kinds of stuff. I think I filled my cart with $500 worth of stuff before I backed it off and got down to my gift certificate amount.  [00:01:52] I'm somewhat proud of myself. I ended up with a nice mix of practical things, as well as some things I've been lusting after for a while, I got some replacement disc brake pads, and also a digital tire gauge. I talked about that a little bit before on the pod, how I thought it would be curious to be able to really see precise.  [00:02:11] Measurement as to what PSI I'm running between the different wheel sets, just to make sure that I'm getting out there and understanding what various tire pressures are going to do. I've got some tests coming up in the future that I'd really want to know what range I'm in. As I test some new tires and new some new products.  [00:02:29] The team over a competitive cyclist has generously offered 15% off for all podcast listeners. So go to competitive gravel ride and enter promo code the gravel ride. Get that 15% off your first full price purchase. Plus free shipping on orders of $50 or more,  [00:02:48] Some exclusions apply. Go right now and get 15% off. Plus free [email protected] slash the gravel ride entering promo code the gravel ride.  [00:03:00] I mentioned that was on the site this morning, picking out some things for myself. I actually got a shipping notification today already. So they're doing same day shipping in some instances. So you can be [email protected] They've got your back for holiday gift purchases, things you need to get in a timely fashion. Go over to competitive gravel ride [00:03:23] With that business behind us, let's jump right into my interview with Bryce, from alchemy bikes. Bryce. Welcome to the show.  [00:03:29] Bryce Wood: Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.  [00:03:32] Craig Dalton: Yeah, definitely. Ever since our brief conversation at , I've been super excited to get you on board and just learn a little bit more about the alchemy brand. You're done some super interesting stuff in gravel. [00:03:44] So why don't we just start by a little bit of the backstory of alchemy.  [00:03:49] Bryce Wood: Yeah. So alchemy was founded in 2008 in Austin, Texas by Ryan who still owns the company still comes into the office every day. And there he met our designer and engineer. Matt met shoes that they aligned on. [00:04:05] You know what they wanted to do in the bike industry. And Matt was a crit racing and as a six foot four, 230 pounds guy, he was having a hard time finding frames that were rigid enough for him and could support him during that kind of a race. So he was really interested in building his own frame. [00:04:27] And so that's how alchemy got its start. Moved to Denver, Colorado, where we currently are about two years after the fact. So we've been here in Denver for a little over a decade. And this is where we. Design and produce manufacturer and also bring customers in to have that experiences is all right here in Denver. [00:04:49] So we're really fortunate to have the Colorado people supporting us  [00:04:54] Craig Dalton: super interesting. So of those first bikes that were made, were they manufacturing out of steel or titanium or carbon at that?  [00:05:01] Bryce Wood: So Matt was actually doing he was experimenting with a wet carbon play app. And those were the first carbon bikes that he produced, not really under an alchemy badge. [00:05:10] We started building out a metal and a carbon fiber is a more expensive and In depth product to work with, you need a lot of specialized tooling. And it's relatively expensive. So carbon fiber didn't come until a few years into Alchemy's existence.  [00:05:29] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that's super interesting. [00:05:30] Yeah. I feel like the number of people. Manufacturing with carbon in the us is pretty small. So I was super excited when I learned that you were doing that in Colorado. So can you walk through the sort of carbon fiber construction process that you're using on the frames? [00:05:48] Bryce Wood: We do everything here starting with a CAD rendering. So we designed the frame, make sure that it looks good to us on a computer screen. After that we're gonna 3d print out a model so that we can hold in our hands and make sure that we've got the design cues that we're looking for. Everything is where it needs to be. [00:06:07] From there we do a pre preg carbon construction. So we get sheets of unidirectional carbon on our large rolls. And we use the CNC plotter to cut those sheets into shapes that we can lay up. So we use, different orientations of the fibers for different components. We build all the. [00:06:28] The frames in a tube to construction so that we can change the carbon layup of a change day or a bottom bracket shell, which needs to be really rigid. And that layup is going to be very different from the seat stays are the top two or the down or the C2 where we need compliance. So building in that tube to tube construction, really not only allows us to offer a custom geometry really easily, but also allows us. [00:06:55] Tune and dial in the ride, feel of that bike to a degree that we don't see from a lot of manufacturers,  [00:07:03] Craig Dalton: are you alternating some of the sort of tube dimensions or the layups on a size by size basis?  [00:07:10] Bryce Wood: So how we have it Plotted out for like our Atlas line on the Ronin line is we make these tubes extra long and then we can MITRE them down and MITRE them in different angles to create a unique geometries for the new rogue. [00:07:29] It's a little bit of a different venture for us. We're doing an advanced monocoque construction where there's. Tube the tube, but there are less components. So like the down tube and head chamber are one piece that allows us to have less junctions, which means less weights and more strength. [00:07:48] But it means that we do need different sized molds for every different sized frame.  [00:07:54] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. On that tube to tube construction, how has, how are the tubes bonded together?  [00:08:00] Bryce Wood: Yeah, the tubes are bonded through an overwrapping process. So basically we put a very fine layer of a proxy that holds the tubes together. [00:08:09] Once they've been mitered and put into a jig to hold the geometry in place, and then we take Dozens of sheets of carbon. And we wrapped them in different orientations to join those tubes together. After they'd been wrapped, they go into a vacuum bag and then into a large oven and they're cured in that oven so that those overwrap pieces become part of the frame itself. [00:08:37] Interesting.  [00:08:37] Craig Dalton: And then once that process is done, is there like sanding and finish work that happens on carbon.  [00:08:44] Bryce Wood: Yeah, there is. So we use we, we machine our own molds and house and we use a silicone and latex bladder. So we get really good compression out of our tubes and they come out of the molds extremely smooth, the overwrap process that vacuum bag tends to add a little bit of texture on those wrapped surfaces. [00:09:05] And we do need to sand those to be.  [00:09:08] Craig Dalton: Got it. Got it. Thanks for that. I, I think about carbon fiber as more of that model. Production process and less. You know what you've described, which is really interesting. It for me it share it. I start thinking about the visuals of, it's steel or titanium frame building process, where you're putting it in a jig and you're bonding and you're welding them all together. [00:09:27] So it's interesting and clear to me and hopefully the listener. You can really make a lot of adjustments pretty easily in the process by having those tube forms that are a little bit longer and just chop them down and MITRE them to the appropriate size for what the customer's looking for. [00:09:44] Bryce Wood: Yeah. It's definitely unique. And. And you don't see that in, in any mass produced frames, it's all going to be a monocot construction, which is easy to produce. And you can to a certain degree still tune those tubes to do what you want them to. You add different layers here. And there but you lose the ability to do that custom geometry, which is something that our customers, I think really value and something that is one of the pillars that we built alchemy on. [00:10:12] And we'll do that forever.  [00:10:14] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's certainly rather unique that you can get a carbon fiber frame custom fitted to your own personal specifications.  [00:10:23] Bryce Wood: Yeah, there's really only a few companies in the country doing that. So we're really happy to be helping to lead that charge. [00:10:31] Craig Dalton: Let's talk a little bit more about Alchemy's journey. You mentioned that the co-founders started out by building road bikes or criteria bikes to fit their needs, and eventually started to offer them under the alchemy brand. At what point did it start to expand to the mountain bike and gravel road? [00:10:47] Bryce Wood: As soon as we noticed that there was a market for gravel we dove into that head first. So we, we offered pretty early on a true gravel bike, not just a cyclocross frame that we build as a gravel bike, but a true gravel frame. That took on all the cues in design and performance that people were looking for out of that discipline. [00:11:11] Mountain bikes came because. A lot of us rode mountain bikes and we really wanted to be able to have something under us that for our company name and that's actually really taken off and become probably the biggest department at alchemy is our Arcos mountain bike.  [00:11:29] Craig Dalton: Yeah. [00:11:30] Interesting. I imagine. One sitting there in Colorado understood pretty hard, pretty darn hard to not want to build a mountain bike being in that location. And to imagine, as far as the mountain bike landscape goes again, being able to offer these custom capabilities for the bike is pretty unique in this space. [00:11:49] Bryce Wood: We've found that there's not a lot of demand for custom mountain frames. The bike itself and the discipline itself is so dynamic. It's not like a road or gravel where you find yourself in a stagnant position for long amounts of time. You're always pivoting and and moving on the bike and. [00:12:12] That combined with your suspension means that there's not a huge demand for it. We still offer custom geometry on our hard tail mountain bikes, because that's a little bit more similar to the road in gravel side of things. But we are not currently offering custom geometry on the full suspension, carbon Pikes. [00:12:30] Craig Dalton: Understood. So on the gravel bike, you mentioned, you saw the trend beginning and you started to design a bike specific for gravel. Can you talk about some of those design considerations in the original bike and was that original bike? The Ronan,  [00:12:45] Bryce Wood: The original bike was actually the eighth on a map bike. [00:12:48] We wanted it to not be as, as. As a cyclocross bike or a road bike but we wanted to stay away from something that was too slack. We wanted it to be really comfortable and capable and just have that extra clearance that you need on a gravel bike. As this sport has evolved. [00:13:09] We've. Notice that the original eighth on is not looking like what gravel bikes are looking like today that they're getting longer. They're getting slacker there. The demand for Mount mounting points and racks and fenders has really increased. And it looked a lot like a cyclocross bike that I would think of today, but for the time it was a little bit different than that. [00:13:31] The new rogue is really moving into that contemporary design where we've got really slack had tubes and bikes really meant it's purpose built for adventure.  [00:13:42] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. So let's talk about your, you've got two models currently, and one of them has two materials. So you've got the Ronin in both carbon, fiber and titanium. [00:13:53] Why don't we start there and talk about the intention of that bike, the type of writer it's looking to serve, and maybe spend a moment or two in terms of if a writer sort of keys in on the Ronin as being the bike for them, how do you talk to them about titanium versus carbon?  [00:14:10] Bryce Wood: Yeah. So the Ronin was the next iteration of that original life on and had just expanded and dialed in what a gravel cyclist is looking for. [00:14:21] We kept it True to that same design element of the Aidan, where we wanted relatively steep geometry that makes the bike feel really lively and responsive. But we wanted that, that clearance and the capability that comes from a grapple machine. That bike's been in our stable. [00:14:44] A couple of years now two and a half years. And it's still relevant. I think for those people who are interested in gravel, but also want to be able to ride on the road from time to time. And also those people who. Our maybe racing gravel. So that's the bike that I would recommend if somebody is looking to do Unbound gravel and be competitive. [00:15:05] I push them towards the Ronin instead of the rogue. If you want that quiver killing bike, that bike that you can maybe have two wheel sets for, and it's going to be really capable off-road, but still be able to keep up with your group ride with your friends on the road. That bike is going to be. [00:15:20] It's going to serve you really well. The distinction between carbon and titanium, just like on the road it's gonna, it's gonna be really dependent on your goals and your riding style and what you want that bike to do well. So if you live here in the foothills and you're riding up mountains all day long That carbon fiber, the responsiveness and that the rigidity, and it is really going to serve you. [00:15:46] And in that purpose if comfort is your main concern or you spend a lot of time doing endurance riding the forgiveness and the compliance and the titanium frame is really going to benefit you and make you a lot more comfortable. It, the weight gain between carbon and titanium. [00:16:04] Titanium being a little bit heavier is really not a huge consideration for most people. It's about 200 grams in our frame, depending on frame size. So it really comes down to do I want this bike to be fast and responsive or would I rather it be comfortable and easier to live with on those longer rides? [00:16:26] Craig Dalton: Are both the titanium and carbon fiber versions offering the same accommodation for tire size.  [00:16:33] Bryce Wood: They do. Yeah. So we called form our titanium tubing and house, and that's how we achieve the rear tire clearance. We do an S bend seat, stay and chain stay to allow the exact same clearance. So you can fit a 45 seat tire and both C carbon and titanium. [00:16:51] Craig Dalton: And then on the six 50 tires, I think I noted that you can go up to two, want 2.1.  [00:16:57] Bryce Wood: That's correct.  [00:16:58] Craig Dalton: Yes, sir. And with the two Ronin models, correct me if I'm wrong, but these are models that if a customer is working with you, you do offer a custom geometry and modifications.  [00:17:10] Bryce Wood: Yeah. So every bit of that from the build spec to the frame, geometry, to the finish options for all. [00:17:17] Craig Dalton: Cool. And now let's talk about the rogue. Say you began your journey with model one, then you moved over to the Ronan and then this year you've introduced the rogue. Tell me about the philosophy behind it and where you see this sitting next to the Ronin lineup.  [00:17:34] Bryce Wood: Yeah. It's that next progression and gravel, right? [00:17:37] Everybody this sport has really Taken over a large part of the industry. And it's really growing exponentially year over year. And the people as they keep riding, they find out. What they need out of a gravel bike. And so this is that answer to the last decade of people riding gravel and expressing their needs. [00:18:03] We'll still be keeping the Ronin in the lineup, but the road is just a great compliment to it. If you're that cyclist to is expressly riding off road, you want to get out of traffic and off the road. The road is going to be your bike. If you want to do light bike packing and you want to get lost the rogues, the bike for you. [00:18:25] So it's not going to be as steep or as racy feeling as the Ronin is. It's going to be that bike that can take you anywhere and keep you comfortable and have all the Accessories and accompaniments that you want when you're on a long distance ride away from civilization.  [00:18:45] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. [00:18:45] So when talking about how you've made it a little bit, slacker, wider tires, tire clearance, any other bits of the geometry that have changed for this style of.  [00:18:56] Bryce Wood: Yeah. Definitely. So we've dropped the seat stays and we have carved out the lower section of the seat tube. And both of these design elements are going to give that rear end a lot more compliance. [00:19:09] So we've actually got a couple millimeters of travel built into that rear end just through. The carbon construction of the frame that paired with those larger tires is really going to help to keep you a lot more comfortable. Also with the rogue, we've added more mounting points so that you can add racks and pioneers and make that. [00:19:33] A little bit more capable and other design features the SRAM universal derail your hanger, or D H we added that because we've, it's been around on the mountain bike side of things for awhile. And I think for a bike that you're really taking off road and adventuring and exploring with that makes sense to have that product on the bike, because it really protects your drive train when you're in. [00:19:58] Those situations where you might have tight clearance of rocks around your things get really muddy. You've got that re rail feature to keep your chain where it needs to be. And if you do happen to go down, it's also going to protect your derailer so that you don't find yourself in a bad place when you're far away from  [00:20:16] Craig Dalton: This might be a little bit difficult question to answer, but could you describe what that Ude H looks like and how it differs from a traditional derailleur hanger? [00:20:26] Bryce Wood: Yeah the UDA H is It bolts on to the rear dropouts. You've got a bolt that enters the driver's side and bolt onto the actual hanger. That's on the non drive side of that. Right dropout. It has a feature on the inside that helps to re rail your chain. So if you're on a really bumpy surface or your drill is not properly adjusted and it's, and you shifts into that first position instead of your chain going in between the cog and the dropout and jamming up the drill, you're hanging. [00:21:03] Spit it back up onto that, that first cog. So you're not going to have that situation anymore where you miss shift or the chain gets rattled off into your frame. Another great feature of it is that it actually rotates because of how it's Because of how it's attached to the frame. It rotates backwards in the event of a crash. [00:21:22] So instead of it breaking your derail yer as a knuckle or at the melting point, it's just going to rotate and get your derail your out of the way. So hangers have been doing this for us for years, but only in a lateral capacity. So if you crash on your side, Your hanger is built to, to break right? [00:21:42] To protect your earlier. This kind of takes that a step further in an oblique impact. Or if you just catch it earlier on a rock or something, it's just going to rotate that back and give you a better chance of your drill. You're surviving that situation.  [00:21:57] Craig Dalton: Got it. And when you're removing the rear axle to take the wheel off, is it still attached to the frame or is it, does it come off with that removal of an axle? [00:22:06] Bryce Wood: Nope. It's the exact same once that drill your hangers now said everything works the exact same as your traditional through actual system.  [00:22:13] Craig Dalton: Got it. Thanks. I appreciate that. So would the rogue, if I'm someone who fits the bill, but still does a little bit of road riding with this bike, what do you slap a road wheel set on this? [00:22:25] What am I feeling that's different than the Ronan?  [00:22:28] Bryce Wood: Yeah, it's still a road configuration, right? You still got dropped handlebars. You still, you're still going to be in relatively the same position. But this bike is going to put you in a little bit more upright position. It's a little bit shorter. [00:22:42] And you're gonna, you're gonna notice that the bike is not quite as responsive when you're sprinting or climbing up the hill as a Ronan or a road bike would be. So while it's still going to be perfectly happily written on the road, it really is built to Excel off.  [00:23:00] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that makes sense. I think something you said a few minutes ago was really interesting to me just talking about, the decade that we've been riding gravel and how this bike is the culmination of that. [00:23:11] And I have to say, when I met you at sea Otter and I looked and understood the specs of this bike, I really do feel like it's on point with the moment and the journey that certainly speaking for myself that I've been on as a rider and where I want to see the speck of these bikes.  [00:23:26] Bryce Wood: Yeah. It just takes everything that, that one step further. [00:23:30] It's like gravel without limitations, right? Where a Ronan's going to serve you. In 90% of the situations that you find yourself in. But it's lacking a little something. If you're a true gravel, officiant auto, and that's where you spend most of your time writing, you're going to want the option to run a larger tire. [00:23:47] You're going to want mounts on your forks and your rear end. You're going to want that, that slacker more comfortable, more stable geometry on those rough roads. So it's really built for.  [00:23:59] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's interesting. I certainly have been public about my journey. And I think when I originally started gravel riding, I sold my road bike and said this is going to be my road bike and my gravel bike. [00:24:10] And I made certain compromises to accommodate for this notion in my head that I would still ride on the road a lot. And over the years, absolutely. I've just discovered that. Nine times out of 10, I really want to be off-road immediately as quickly as possible and stay off the roads. And my choice of equipment has gradually moved towards that acknowledgement of, Hey, if 90% of my riding is exclusively off-road and being where I live, it's fairly technical. [00:24:37] I do need to optimize around that. And as you said, certainly I've got to drop our bikes. I want to put a road wheel set on it. It's fine. I'm not going to win any criteriums on it, but I wasn't going to do that.  [00:24:49] Bryce Wood: Exactly. Yeah. If you're riding nine times out of 10 on the gravel, that one time out of 10, that bike still gonna, still going to be fun to ride on the road. [00:24:56] But you're going to have all the capability that you really need those nine times out of 10. So yeah that's really how we do this. Yeah, I think it  [00:25:06] would  [00:25:06] Craig Dalton: be interesting if people coming from the road side of the market are willing and able mentally to make that leap all the way over to the rogue right off the bat. [00:25:14] Or if they still like me needed an interim step on a bike that quote unquote felt like it was going to be more of a road.  [00:25:21] Bryce Wood: Yeah. It's been really interesting working with all of our customers and seeing that transition on their own journeys. And we've got a true road bike. We've got an all road bike, we've got the racy gravel bike, and now we've got the rogue and we're seeing people that are. [00:25:40] Are a little hesitant and they're going to just step up to that all road bike and get the 38 C tire clearance and go off road, 20 or 30% of the time. And I think that it's a good thing to have, all those steps in between because there all those bikes are gonna really be tailored for each individual riders needs. [00:25:58] If you're on the road all the time, Craig, who's got a bike for that. If you want to get off the road a little bit. Cool. We've got something that, that suits that need as well. I don't think we're seeing a lot of people make that transition, that full transition from roads to rogue right now unless, they, in that situation where they can own multiple bikes in which case that's the best case scenario is to have that true road and to have a true. [00:26:24] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, no doubt. It's a good segue. I would love to just hear from you about the customer journey. So what does it like alchemy bikes sells direct to consumer from the website. Why don't you talk through what that experience looks like, how you tend to work with customers and what type of timeline it takes to get one of these bikes underneath them? [00:26:46] Bryce Wood: Yeah. While we do offer all of the bikes available for immediate purchase on the website. We find that not a lot of people go that route. Most people when they're spending that much money on something like this, they want to talk to somebody first. So we, most of the bikes that we sell, we've got that conversation with that customer before they actually makes a purchase. [00:27:08] I'm the main point of contact at alchemy for all of our road and gravel customers who are looking to purchase a bike. And if they've got questions about specking it out or they need a fitting first I'm the person that they're going to talk to about it. So the customer journey really starts with that first phone call. [00:27:24] Hi, my name is blank. This is what I'm looking for. And then we can talk a little bit more about their individual needs and we can land on. That platform first. Okay. You need a rogue. And then where are you going to be riding? What's your riding style. That's going to bring us to determining what kind of gearing or drive, train that you need. [00:27:47] And then the hardest part of the whole process is what color do I want the bike to be? Everyone gets hung up there. So after, after we've determined all that with the customer. We send them a copy of their geometry. We send them a rendering of their paint and we send them a build sheet, detailing all the components that we're going to build their bike with and we get approval from them. [00:28:09] And then we take a deposit and the production team gets to work and we start ordering components. Typically we like to try to keep the customer updated as their frame moves through the production. So I'll send them a picture of their frame after it's been over wrapped before it has paint on it so that they can be a part of that bike coming to life. [00:28:28] The question. A timeline and delivery is a tricky one in this day and age and largely it's dependent on their component choices. So we can turn around a custom geometry custom painted frame. And about eight weeks we have stock sizing that's paint, ready that we can paint and turn around in about two or three weeks. [00:28:51] And the main holdup right now is going to be components. Every small builder as well as the big guys are also feeling that squeeze right now. There's some components that we've got decent availability of, and we can turn that bike around in 10 or 11 weeks on. And there's some stuff that is in such high demand in such short supply that it's gonna, it's going to be a couple months before. [00:29:14] Before we can deliver that bike. The great thing is that we can make concessions and we can work with that customer and say, Hey, this product is going to be out of stock. We can get you the bike quicker. If would entertain moving to one of these other options. So we can work with you every step of the way to get you that bike when you need it at the price you need it. [00:29:33] And. I'm really hold your hand through it. That  [00:29:37] Craig Dalton: makes a lot of sense. I certainly love getting those check-in points with manufacturers on what the supply chains looking like, because it has been grim and reported as grim on multiple episodes of this podcast. So I think everybody at this point is accustomed not happy about, but accustomed to the idea that they may have to be flexible or. [00:29:58] Bryce Wood: Yes. We're very fortunate to have excellent customers and most of them are completely understanding and, they'd like their bike next week, but they know it's going to take a little bit longer than that. And they're very nice to us. And and we're very appreciative of. [00:30:14] Craig Dalton: 100%. You mentioned the paint jobs and the option to get custom paint. I think you have about a half dozen stock colors and then unlimited options on the custom paint. Are you doing that painting in house or is that a partner? They're in the Denver area?  [00:30:30] Bryce Wood: Yeah, we have our own pain studio here in the facility. [00:30:33] So we're doing all of the wet paint and all of the cerakote here in house.  [00:30:38] Craig Dalton: The rogue that we looked at sea Otter had that cerakote paint technology. And it, can you describe what that is and how it differs from a wet paint?  [00:30:48] Bryce Wood: Yeah. Sarah code's been around for a little while. It started to make its way into the bicycle industry in the last year or two. [00:30:56] It is a polymer ceramic coding And the actual, the colors are suspended in five that that polymer so that makes it extremely Finn and a lot more tough than it's a wet paint counterparts. So it's about a six, the thickness of a wet paint. And. Easily twice as strong, so we can still expect to see where out of it. [00:31:27] Just because that's it's not impervious to it, but it's toughness related to its thickness is quite remarkable compared to wet paint. We can't do as many unique things. We can't do a lot of pearlescent colors. We can't do color shifting But we can still do a lot of different design details and Sarah code. [00:31:48] So it's a really a perfect coding for the road that we're expecting to see a lot of off-road usage. And we don't want your down to, to get chips in it from Erin rocks, flying up from your front tire and leaning it against a tree. All of that stuff is gonna hold up a whole lot better with. [00:32:10] Is  [00:32:10] Craig Dalton: the cerakote applied in a different way than a wet paint.  [00:32:13] Bryce Wood: It's applied in the same way and that it is sprayed through an air gun. But it needs to be baked and that's really where it achieves that toughness. So we have to bake it for a couple hours after the coatings applied. [00:32:26] Okay.  [00:32:27] Craig Dalton: Cool. Thank you for letting me explore some of my sort of deep personal questions on this. I love what you've been doing with the brand and super excited to expose listeners to what alchemy is all about.  [00:32:39] Bryce Wood: Thanks. We're really excited about the direction that cycling is going and people wanting to get off road, and we really want to be a part of that, and we appreciate you bringing in Some visibility, not only to our brand, but to, to gravel cycling in general. [00:32:55] Craig Dalton: Fantastic. Thanks for your time.  [00:32:58] Bryce Wood: Thanks a lot, Craig. Nice to talk to you.  [00:33:00] Craig Dalton: Big, thanks to Bryce for joining us this week.  [00:33:03] I really like what they've done with the alchemy rogue bicycle. I think they're spot on in the spec and the versatility of that bike. And it looks like it's going to be a. A hell of a lot of fun to ride. I also want to give a shout out to our friends at competitive cyclist. Remember visit competitive gravel ride and enter promo code.  [00:33:22] Gravel ride  [00:33:23] To get 15% off your first full price purchase.  [00:33:26] If you're interested in connecting with me and other gravel cyclists around the world, I encourage you to check out the ridership. The ridership is a free global gravel and adventure cycling community. [00:33:37] I think of it as an online forum where you can ask any question you want connect with other riders, create group rides, and generally share our love and passion for the sport of gravel cycling. Simply visit for more information.  [00:33:54] Finally, just a quick shout out to those of you who have become members or [email protected] slash the gravel ride. It means a ton every time a new contribution comes in and just helps pay for the overhead of the show and a portion of the time that I dedicate every week to bringing you the best gravel cycling content.  [00:34:15] Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    EverAthlete - Dr. Matt Smith


    This week we are joined by Dr. Matt Smith, Founder EverAthlete. Matt walks us through the importance of strength training for gravel cyclists. Presented by: Competitive Cyclist Join The Ridership Episode Transcription (please excuse the typos): EverAthlete - Dr. Matt [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel rod podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the show, we've got Dr. Matt Smith from ever athlete coming to talk to us. About the importance. Once of strength training for cyclists.  [00:00:14] Before we jump in, we need to thank this week. Sponsor competitor. cyclist.  [00:00:18] Competitive cyclist is the specialty online retailer of road, gravel and mountain bikes, components, apparel, and accessories.  [00:00:26] Featuring some of your favorite brands like pock, Castelli, Pearl Izumi on the gravel bike side. They feature frames from evil Niner. Ibis. Really creating a big selection of gravel bikes for your perusal [00:00:41] But the real difference that competitive cyclists are the gearheads equal parts customer service cycling fanatic gear heads are former pro athletes, Olympians and seasoned cyclists. With years of experience. All available by phone, email, or chat for personal. Product recommendations and hard won advice.  [00:01:00] Last week you heard me talk about my personal experience. With Maggie. I brought her through an exercise to help me find the. Perfect gravel bike for 2022 and perfect for me not. Perfect for what they had in inventory, or really put her to the fire and asked her a lot of tough questions. About designing a bike that was going to fit the type of writing that I do as an individual. So it's not like I was building, a bike for someone.  [00:01:25] In a different part of the country or a different part of the world. She really listened to me. And as I tried to point her to bikes that I thought were flat. Flashy or good-looking. She reminded me that those bikes were all good, but based on what she told me about the riding I was looking to do. She would recommend that I  [00:01:42] key in on a couple specific bikes. And to be honest, she was spot on all the bikes that she recommended. I think it was the IBUs haka. To a lesser degree and the pivot we're spot on for the types of. Bikes that i would want to ride here in marin county. [00:01:58] One of the things that might be a concern for any product you're buying online would be returns. Competitive. Cyclists has a. A hundred percent guaranteed returns. So you can shop in confidence, whether it's a component or bike, anything you need competitive. Cyclists, this has your back. So go to competitive  [00:02:16] Slash the gravel ride. And enter promo code the gravel ride to get 15% off your first full price order. And free shipping on orders of over $50. Some. Some exclusions apply to go right now and get 15% off. Plus free shipping. [email protected] slash the gravel ride. And remember that.  [00:02:37] Promo code is the gravel ride. We very much appreciate their sponsorship and appreciate that they're sending a discount your way.  [00:02:45] Would that business out of the way, let's jump right into my interview with Matt from ever athlete.  [00:02:51] Matt. Welcome to the show.  [00:02:53] Dr. Matt Smith: Thanks so much for having me. [00:02:55] Craig Dalton: I'm super excited to learn a little bit about, more about your background and about other ever athlete. As I'm about seven weeks into my first program and I'm eager to talk about my experiences, but also look forward to some of the other ride strong programs. So why don't we start off by just setting the stage for the listener a little bit about yourself and then about the. [00:03:17] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. So ever athlete is now an online platform. That's dedicated to helping athletes to perform outdoors on trails in the water on bikes. W our goal is essentially to create longevity to that journey and help people improve their performance. I started out I'm a sports chiropractor and a strength coach and started ever athlete as a sports injury care clinic, actually back in 2015. [00:03:46] And since then, through the pandemic and a few other things we have transitioned into doing some in-person one-on-one work, we work with a lot of different athletes and. Different people, but, we've transitioned a lot of our efforts to the online atmosphere. [00:04:03] And I've taken a lot of the lessons that we've learned from working with high level athletes and also amateur athletes and have started creating training programs, recovery tools, and injury rehab programs online. To rewind a little bit, to give you a little bit more background about, how we started, again, we started as an injury care clinics, primarily focused on athletes and quickly. [00:04:27] Transitioned into strength training as well. We work with a variety of people, but our goal is really to meet any athlete, wherever they are on the healthcare spectrum or the health and performance spectrum, whether they're dealing with an injury or looking to make it to the Olympics. [00:04:44] That's been the premise of ever athlete since we began. And that's just been amplified in the last few years. So that's a little bit about us.  [00:04:52] Craig Dalton: That's interesting. When you started, obviously what you went through chiropractic college, did you act as a traditional sports focused chiropractic professional originally, and then see that these were all different pieces of the same puzzle you were trying to solve for your clients? [00:05:08] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. So before I ever went to, I went to a school called Palmer west for grads. And before I went to Palmer and throughout my time going to Palmer I was working as a strength coach. And so I've worked in strength conditioning for about 15 years. And so when I graduated, I went to work at a pretty cool sports therapy clinic out in Austin, Texas where we were not traditional chiropractic. [00:05:34] So it was. A lot of people think about chiropractic as, if you're going into a chiropractic clinic you're coming in to get adjusted and it's a mill, I've never practiced in that way. I've always been more focused on soft tissue therapy corrective exercise, rehab work in a lot of other modalities. [00:05:53] And so from the beginning of ever athlete, we've always. W we've always worked in a non-traditional sense with people, going through soft tissue work, teaching exercises and then leveraging for the more functional training and exercise now as a preventative and wellness model. And so it's always been a little non-traditional, it's always been athlete focused. [00:06:17] Especially from the beginning phases, but initially it was a little bit more like I think of our company as a company that just solves problems for athletes. And initially we were very focused on solving solving the problems that athletes would have when they're dealing with injuries. [00:06:33] And now we're diving far more into the performance space and also preventing injuries.  [00:06:40] Craig Dalton: That's super interesting and resonates with me personally. I know the relationships I've had with the chiropractic community, the ones that have been the strongest have always been the ones that looked at my problem or my challenge holistically and never, just simply as a chiropractor, because honestly, as a athlete, I could care less about whether you call it chiropractic work, what you're doing on me, or it's stretching or strengthening or advice. [00:07:07] I just want to have that session. Get through whatever hurdle I'm going through and learn tools and techniques to prevent me from, arriving at whatever acute injury probably led me through the door in the first  [00:07:20] Dr. Matt Smith: place a hundred percent. And I think, to, to your point, I've never cared if anyone called via chiropractor, I've never really, I don't know if I fully identify as any one. [00:07:32] I don't fully identify as a chiropractor. It's certainly a part of what I do and has taught me a lot, but it's like a piece of it. And for me, the chiropractic profession, there are a ton of really great practitioners who do a phenomenal job and focus on educating people and creating self-reliance in patient groups. [00:07:52] And that was really the big thing for me, especially early on when. Transitioning out of this role of having people rely on me constantly. And, especially with our online stuff, creating more affordable avenues for people to get good high performance, health care and performance training has been a huge form of wellness. [00:08:15] Whereas a lot of times, if you're thinking about wellness from a chiropractic sense, it's, going to see your chiropractor once a week for, your entire life. And for me, just from a professional mindset, I've never wanted a hundred percent resonated with, having that be my life's work, I've always, really wanted to educate people more and provide. [00:08:36] More self-reliance through practical resources and that's really what we've evolved into has been fast-tracked due to the pandemic, but but it's been a really interesting, this project, this online platform has been this like second evolution I've ever athlete that have been very stoked. [00:08:54] Yeah,  [00:08:54] Craig Dalton: a hundred percent. It's never one single thing. And I think if for the listener, if you've got a relationship with a chiropractor that just feels like they just have to keep coming back in and they're not advising you on how to change your life or how to avoid the situation you're in. And it just becomes this weekly crutch that becomes one expensive and two, in my opinion, just not in your best in. [00:09:16] Dr. Matt Smith: A hundred percent, and a lot of those models are based off of what insurance companies will pay out for, in terms of getting reimbursed as a professional. And I've always worked outside of those lines, from the beginning, we've never been a part of the insurance game. [00:09:32] And so it's been, for me, that's forced me to provide value in a way that is. Far different than trying to fit into that type of model. And that's pushed me forward into saying how do we provide maximum value and self-reliance, and, empowerment for people not on a one-on-one basis. [00:09:53] And yeah, it's been, it's not to downplay Cairo. There's a ton of really great chiropractors out there. There's phenomenal. Hands-on practitioners. And a lot of times, people go through injuries or situations where they need some guidance. But I think the bottom line for me in terms of, what I pride myself on is teaching it's helping people become more resilient on their own. [00:10:17] And that's really been our focus with every athlete from the.  [00:10:21] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think I became aware of ever athlete probably first through Kate Courtney on Instagram, going through her exercise routine. And I'm pretty sure it predated any of the kind of ride strong and run strong and try strong programs that you've put out there. [00:10:38] So I know when I started to see those things arrive in this online platform that you guys had been working on throughout the pandemic, I guess it really spoke to me in a different way. To see these programs being very specific to me as a cyclist was just one of those pushes that helped me get off the dime and start. [00:10:58] Can you talk about why strength training is important for cyclists and why it might be important for us to back off a little bit in our riding routine, particularly in the off season, quote unquote and what we should look forward to throughout a strength training? Yeah.  [00:11:15] Dr. Matt Smith: I think, the conversation about how strength training can fit in for cyclists can go in a lot of different directions. [00:11:23] I think the, one thing to constantly come back to is the fact that sitting for long hours, Is not like it's pretty new for the human body. This is in terms of our evolution and what we're really designed for. That's not exactly in line, even though it's very fun. It's not exactly attuned to what is most healthy for us movement wise. [00:11:48] And so it's not to say that riding a bike is bad. It's just to say that there's an expense. And one of the ways that you can combat that expanse. And ensure that you can do it for longer and potentially with more effectiveness, more power is to implement some strength training. And the identification that, Hey, riding a bike, being in a flection posture pedaling for long hours, the posture that you have to be in while you're on a bike is not super beneficial for the overall. [00:12:22] Human body. And again, one of the ways that we can bring the body back into balance, bring it back to a healthier state is to implement some strength training techniques. And one of the biggest misconceptions when people start thinking about, Hey, I'm an endurance athlete. I, I don't want to train like a powerlifter and I don't want to train like a bodybuilder. [00:12:44] You know that's, those are barriers that, you certainly don't need to start becoming a powerlifter. If you're going to implement some basic strength principles as a part of your training plan. And you can have a tremendous effect. By just implementing some basic movements, getting some good hip extension, thinking about turning your glutes on and driving your hips all the way forward. [00:13:05] We sit in hip flection constantly on the bike, and that can be pretty detrimental for the low back long-term and the hips long-term. And strength training is a really great way to start. Counteracting some of the repetitive stress that you'll find on the bike and it doesn't take that much, it doesn't take a huge commitment. [00:13:22] It's the simple things that you implement over time that can have a pretty tremendous impact on your overall health, but also your performance on the bike. Yeah,  [00:13:32] Craig Dalton: that makes sense. I think most listeners have probably had one of those days where they've just spent so long on the bike. [00:13:38] By the time they got up, it was difficult to stand fully around. Yes. And that's a very acute sign that, that's the way your body feels on every ride, probably to some small degree. And I know for one I need to work at a standing desk because I just don't want to add any more sitting position in my life for the amount of time I'm actually riding. [00:14:01] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. I think that's a super smart move and, . Your comment about, seeing some Kate Courtney's exercises and some of the stuff that she'll put up on, on Instagram, and I've worked with Kate for years now. And I think even with the stuff that she puts out, it's super cool to see what an elite world-class athlete can do. [00:14:24] But I think when it comes to, the audience, who's listening to this podcast and also just like the endurance community over. There's a lot of really high level endurance athletes that are novice strength athletes. They just don't have, they haven't developed the same skill set that they have aerobically when they're in the gym. [00:14:44] And, the bang for your buck that you can get out of like really simple things that don't look cool on Instagram. Bodyweight rose and simple deadlifts or even bridges. I think that, the more exposure that we can give to like how simple it can be for people to implement, very effective tools in their training program. [00:15:03] That's a critical thing because a lot of people think, when they see Kate's stuff or they'll see some of the things that Ali. It's making a little bit more flamboyant than it needs to be. And so a lot of the programs that we put out get to the bare bones of, simple patterns that bring the body back into balance and build a more resilient system overall. [00:15:24] Craig Dalton: Yeah. For the listener, I can attest that in the beginner program, I have not. Balanced on a balance board and brought a dumbbell around my head, like Kate has done in our recent Instagram post. She was just  [00:15:36] Dr. Matt Smith: doing that 15 minutes ago in the other room.  [00:15:39] Craig Dalton: That it's awesome. And funny because I do have a balanced board, so I like dream of getting there, but time will allow that  [00:15:46] Dr. Matt Smith: to happen. [00:15:47] Yeah. And that's a great, I think that's a pretty good segue in terms of. How you parse out your time? Like how can you, everything costs when it comes to training, right? Like it costs time. It costs energy and how to be most effective for a lot of people doing some like simple stuff, not getting too overwhelmed with balance board stuff or anything like that. [00:16:10] Stuff is very effective and can be very fun. But starting with the foundational principles of just good healthy positions and movement can be. Equally, if not more beneficial and as much more accessible. So  [00:16:23] Craig Dalton: for sure. And I know when I reached out to your team originally, and I came in the front door as any other customer would, and it just said, here's the deal. [00:16:31] I, I'm a lifelong cyclist and may have done some strength training. Many years ago, but essentially I'm a beginner in this, where should I start? And the recommendation was this eight week beginner strength program, which I'm seven weeks into at this point of the recording. And it's been good. [00:16:48] We started at a very basic level, half an hour long workouts, maybe at this point, they're about 45 minutes long, but they add up and you're not asking. You've never asked me to do any massive weightlifting or anything like that. It's just been about getting these basic motions down and introducing these concepts to my body, which it's been paced out in a great way. [00:17:13] For me. I've never felt overly sore from an exercise or anything like that. It felt very appropriate and I feel a lot more confident reaching the end of this program about what's next than I did when I first start.  [00:17:25] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. And that's the whole premise. It's one of the most challenging things. And I really commend you for being such an inexperienced athlete and also saying, Hey, this is a new skill set or one that I haven't visited for a long time. [00:17:42] Let me start with victories. Let's build up some victories in the bank and give myself some things that are fairly simple to do. And I'm just going to continue to hammer them out and take bite. A bite sized approach to the whole thing is really the premise behind the beginners program. It's that the program is designed to be very simple and progress over time. [00:18:06] And. And what that allows you to do is to reintegrate some of the software programs in your body and your brain that it takes to squat well, or to activate your glutes or to hold a side bridge position or whatever else. The things that you lose from not doing. And especially if you've been riding a lot for many years and have not done any strength work, that's where you get the most bang for your buck. [00:18:34] It's like integrating these simple patterns in bite ways, and then you can make it more complex and add volume and add more load over time. But that's really the premise behind the beginners programs like to be ultimately accessing. And then lead in to some of the other ride strong programs that we have that give a little bit more specific to positions that you'll find on the bike and get you a little bit more, we'll we add in little, different tempos to exercises, more load increase the stability demands and, we add difficulty in a variety of ways, but starting out with foundational movement where you're just learning good patterns. [00:19:12] And practicing those things so that you can load them more effectively later without getting injured is really what our goal was when developing that, that  [00:19:21] Craig Dalton: program. Yeah. That's certainly been one of my focuses is to really look at the instruction and make sure my body to the best of my ability. Is it a hearing to the correct shape and. [00:19:33] 'cause I know, like anytime we're adding dumbbells in that if I have poor form, if I'm curling my back, if I'm not getting the squat in the right position, that's not going to serve me well, as real weight starts to be added into the equation. Yep.  [00:19:48] Dr. Matt Smith: And one of the biggest misconceptions, I think that's out there right now is like, there's this like global agreement that strength training is good for endurance health. [00:20:01] But poor staff, poorly executed strain training could be the absolute worst thing for an endurance athlete. And, you get a lot more out of performing a good unloaded squat or lunge or hinge without heavy loads. If you just do the pattern well, you get just as much, if not more out of that than using really heavy load. [00:20:26] And having poor form or potentially hitting, faltering in your movement pattern in a way that could injure you. And coming back to Hey, what's the point of all this, the point of all this is to reintegrate healthy patterns for the body and bring it back to balance and then start to add some load to build strength and power is really where we come from. [00:20:47] Craig Dalton: So as a cyclist, one of the things I noted in this beginner strength program, which I think of your programs, that this is obviously more generic to just get me started, but there is a fair amount of upper body work that goes on. And as a weak upper body cyclist, that was, that's probably one of the bigger transitions. [00:21:06] Can you talk about why we're working kind of the upper body and arms as well as the legs and these moves.  [00:21:11] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah, in that specific program. So in the beginner strength program, the goal of the program is really just to develop not only strength, but just overall athletics. And a robust system. And so in that program specifically, it's really teaching you different patterns with the upper body so that you get a little bit more balanced. [00:21:32] And I think when it comes to, our ride strong programs and some of the upper body work that we do more specific to the bike, that stuff is critical. For a couple of different reasons, it's critical in the same way that like building up foot strength is very important for running. In the sense that that's your, it's like one of your primary contact points on the bike. [00:21:53] And if you don't control well with your provider, if you don't have strength, endurance, grip, strength and solid control of your upper body, especially in gravel riding with the. Amount of time that you're on the bike, you can start running into not only acute situations where you crash or, you just lose control of your bike. [00:22:14] But also longterm, you can just start running into poor posture on the bike, which leads to all kinds of issues, not only in the upper body, but also sometimes in the lower back in the neck. And building up a certain degree not again, not we're not doing like bicep curls and heavy bench press with our programs. [00:22:33] It's more like integrating pushups, grip strength from hanging. Pull-ups all these different things that can be very beneficial just in terms of like control, just in terms of like confidence and control on the bike and maintaining healthy posture with your.  [00:22:50] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that resonates with me. It might be a good time to take a moment and just talk about the type of equipment that is necessary to follow these programs. [00:22:59] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. So we have a variety of programs up on the site, including no equipment programs. So we have we have a body weight strength program that's eight weeks long, and if you're looking for kind of a generic program to follow that will build up, lower body, upper body core strength. [00:23:17] That's a great one. If you've got nothing available, we also have kettlebell programs that just require one kettlebell that are also generic, very similar to the beginner strength program. But build up overall athleticism when it comes to our ride strong program. There's a pretty good amount of equipment that you need. [00:23:35] But any, Jim will have these things and then if you wanna, if you want to get pretty robust at home, you can a few of the things that we have in our programs, I'm actually looking up our equipment list right now, but we have everything. Many bands. So there's a little bands that you see people wrap around their legs and do like sidesteps or squats with long bands with handles are one piece of equipment that we use quite often that can wrap around a door handle, or a pole or a pull up bar. [00:24:06] We use barbells in our new restaurant. So we're currently putting out a 20 week ride strong program. It's like a slow release right now. But we do have a strength cycle in there with barbells. So barbells bumper plates, all that we use dumbbells, we use benches for box jumps and then for a few other exercises. [00:24:30] And I'm trying to think here,  [00:24:32] Craig Dalton: what else do we use? Yeah, I've I was lucky in that I already owned a TRX that was gathering dust and TRX that's right. Yeah. And the TRX was useful in that there were some modifications. So if you didn't have a pull-up bar, which I don't currently have a plan on getting you could do a TRX derivative of that. [00:24:52] And I, the, just FYI for the listener those stretch bands, I think for $29, I got a set of the long ones and the short ones that pretty much cover all my needs. And then I ended up just recently finding a deal on a barbell set. So ended up getting barbells thinking, I'm going to want it for this next stage, but you can take these things in incrementally and that's what I've been doing. [00:25:15] Just acquiring them when I have the finances to do.  [00:25:18] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. And just to be clear. So last year we put out six months of rod strong program. Actually more than six months, we put out a full off season of red, strong programming that required no barbell. So it was all dumbbell work, all bands, a suspension trainer, and we have all of our. [00:25:39] The one thing that I didn't mention so far was a Swiss ball. We do Swiss balls, particularly in the registrar program. Good. Because I  [00:25:46] Craig Dalton: Got one of those and didn't see it in the beginner strength program. So I was hoping I would see it in the future.  [00:25:51] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah, you will see it. If you follow the 20, which I do recommend falling that the 20 week ride strong program that we have coming out. [00:25:58] Now, if you follow that, you'll see that in core routine. Like we like to play around particularly in like kneeling positions on the ball, using it for hamstring curls and a lot of different drills. Yeah,  [00:26:12] Craig Dalton: right on. That's actually a good segue into my question. So I've, I've, I'm fortunate that I got the bug early and I'm finishing my eight weeks sort of the beginning of December. [00:26:22] What would you recommend? I move on to it. It sounds like it's that 20 week program. And if so, could describe the journey that you've created?  [00:26:31] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. And so to be clear, like what I recommend to you now, And really like the conversation should revolve around a goal. So everything that we every th the premise behind everything that we're putting out is to help people set goals and create a path from a to B and so create, do you have any races coming up in the. [00:26:54] Craig Dalton: I'm sure I will. And here's my challenge in my coachability is it's difficult for me as a family guy to plan out my race calendar. And it's often driven by balancing my desire with family obligations and, ability to travel. But so I typically end up at. Two to four gravel events, big gravel events a year, and then a smattering of local ones that I can drive to. [00:27:19] Typically they're not going to start until, March or April, I would say.  [00:27:25] Dr. Matt Smith: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And that's that's pretty common. So if you're finishing up this beginner's program, I was looking at a calendar here and you're in the first week of December, you've got a bow. 12 to 16 weeks until you're actually racing. [00:27:43] And, you can jump into our 20 week program. I'll send you a note about this offline, but. I do recommend like our 20 week program that we're currently putting out is based on a lot of the work that we've done with pro riders and essentially have taken those concepts and made them more available to amateur and lower level competitive writers. [00:28:05] And. We start out with a six week stability phase. That's broken up into three parts. So three, two week phases, and then we go into an eight week strength cycle. That's broken up into two different four week strength blocks. And then we finished with a six week power and power endurance cycle. [00:28:27] And so the way that we've created the program, Is to allow for flexibility. So say you have 20 weeks from an event or versus having 12 weeks from an event, we can clip things out and give you a custom program to have you peaking for your event. Just based on the programs that we currently have out, and we have a few other programs outside of the 20 week program that we're currently releasing. [00:28:54] We have a five week strength and power blend. We have a six week strength and power blend and we have a 12 week progressive strength program. So there's a lot of different things that we can pull from. To basically figure out what's right for you. And this is a lot of what we're doing with people right now. [00:29:08] It's we're doing calls with people pretty often. And we include this in our membership where you can set up, you can shoot us an email and say, Hey, here's what I have going on here. My goals, do you have any suggestions for my path? And this is a lot of what we're doing day to day is trying to answer these questions for people. [00:29:24] So for you, I would recommend, jumping right in, hop right into. Our stability phase one, for this new ride strong program it'll pick up in a similar way with where you left off from the beginner strengths. And, it's in the front half of this thing it's pretty low volume. [00:29:43] It's the same concept of working on patterns. Some of the patterns in the stability phase are a little bit more specific to the bikes. You'll get that feeling a little bit more. And then the volume starts to pick up as we start getting into the later phases of the stability program and then furthermore, into the strength phase. [00:30:01] Craig Dalton: For those who are unaccustomed to strength training in their winter of their cycling season is the conflict that if you're if I'm in a power lifting phase of this program, come March and I want to go out and race. I'm just going to be too fatigued and played out to pre.  [00:30:18] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. So the way that our program works is it peaks in volume during the strength phase, because usually during that phase, like we're really timing it with a like a seasonal schedule for say, cross country, mountain biking. [00:30:34] There's a time when the writing volume is low enough to where we have an opportunity to build up in the gym and we can do a little bit more volume and can boost that there becomes a secondary time in the spring, or like the early, like late winter. We'll say where that's not the case. [00:30:53] The writing volume kicks up at. We're in full preparation mode for race season to start. And that's when the gym starts to take a back seat a little bit more and our volume needs to go down. And that's really what we do in our power, endurance phase. And we do recommend being conscious of volume. [00:31:10] Particularly if you are doing, if you're a cyclist who's competitive and you're doing a lot of time on the bike, many hours per week. Then you need to be careful with, overwhelming your system through just too much strength work. That's a huge piece of all this. And pretty much all of the, this 20 week program that we're putting out currently is very careful about volume. [00:31:33] In reference to Hey, what should I do leading up to a race. If I'm not following the direct timeline that we've written out, you can parse different things. I would take out part of the strength cycle and Mo I would like skip strength B, which is the second four weeks, and then move into the power. [00:31:49] And during. Psych part of things leading up to your race.  [00:31:52] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. And one of the fears maybe from the listener and certainly in my mind is, okay. I commit to this program. And I think in these, in the strength phase, a it might even be three workouts a week, trying to figure out how to squeeze that in with riding and riding for pleasure. [00:32:10] I think for a lot of my listeners writing as an outlet, that is, is not. Necessarily about the competitive nature of it. It's like what we crave every week to get out there and get in the wilderness. Can you just talk about, R D would you advocate lifting and riding in the same day? Is there a certain number of rides per week that you think about that athletes would typically have in their program? [00:32:35] In addition to these, the strength training routine?  [00:32:39] Dr. Matt Smith: It really depends. This is a pretty subjective. Topic, because different writers who are doing, there'll be writers who are doing high volume on the bike, but really this is like the first time that they've done any strength training. [00:32:55] Versus there are writers who are not doing as much volume on the bike who are very familiar with strength training and have that cash in the bank. And so their response to strength volumes can be. And the way that I typically like the way that we've structured this whole program is to be two days of strength. [00:33:13] And then you have, and these days are like 30 to 45 minutes in the starting phases. And then they kick up to about 45 minutes. And then we have a third session each week, which is a 20 minute core routine. And you can repeat that throughout the week whenever you'd like, so you can do it once a week. [00:33:30] You can do it twice a week. And so you can stack things to whatever makes sense for you. And part of the reason that we did that is we want to have a fairly flexible plan for people because it is, there's just such a variety of. Have, not only people's schedules, but also how they respond to training what their life off the bike looks like. [00:33:50] Nothing is going to be perfect. And so in terms of, what would be ideal, usually we'll stack strength days on very light low intensity riding day. Is historically what I've done and, I've had other writers that try and do strength and an intense ride on the same day. [00:34:11] But if you're just a recreational rider, who's doing it for the enjoyment which, everyone should be doing it for the enjoyment, but I would recommend maximize your enjoyment on the bike. Don't let any part of your training program steal that from you. Consider your strength work as like you're contributing to the longevity of you enjoying your time on the bike and don't have your strength work, be so intense that it starts pulling away from that. [00:34:39] So think of it as a long-term plan, we don't hit home runs with this program is all singles and doubles. And you really if you're starting strength work as a masters cyclist this year, consider it like a 20 year. And don't try and change everything in your first year of doing that. Dip your toes in the water. [00:34:57] Just add maybe one to two days of strength, per week. And just see, I would say two days is probably the. The like optimal range, particularly for someone who's riding quite a bit add that in and do it in a way that doesn't completely disrupt your writing schedule. Particularly if you're like very comfortable with, a fairly strict writing schedule and you know exactly how you're going to respond to that. [00:35:21] Just add a little dose of strength. Don't try and go ham on the. Yeah, that  [00:35:27] Craig Dalton: makes a ton of sense. It's been interesting for me personally, as this eight week period, it just happens to be a period where for whatever reason, I just haven't had a lot of opportunity to ride. So it's been, I don't feel like I've got that. [00:35:41] Balance yet. So as I enter this next phase and feel a little bit more compelled to get in quote, unquote, riding shape, I want to get out there more. So I'll have to circle back with the listener and inform them how I'm doing on finding that balance between the strength training and the riding I love to do for pleasure. [00:35:58] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah. And I think that you're certainly not alone in that it's a. It can be fairly tricky, especially if you haven't done strength work for a long time, or you've never done it. It's this new habit that you it's no one can address it the same way. No one can implement it the same way. [00:36:20] And so figuring out. What works best for you and playing around with, scheduling and, allowing yourself a little bit of flexibility on the front end to see how you respond to strength, work and see how you feel on big rads after that, taking the time to really observe and see what works for you. [00:36:38] Not necessarily everyone else is a critical piece to making sure that, strength and recovery work stays a part of your game plan for a long.  [00:36:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah, right on. That makes a ton of sense. And I think for the listener, check out the ever athlete website, I'll link to it in the show notes. [00:36:54] There's, as Matt's described, there's a lot of programs there that the subscription is quite affordable. From what I've seen out there, I was really pleased and I didn't get hit by some massive dollar number. So kudos to you and hope you get the volume you need. Cause I know the production values high and the effort you guys have put into designing these programs is quite substantial. [00:37:14] Dr. Matt Smith: Yeah, no, we. Our whole goal with it is to make the lessons that we've learned with different athletes and also working from an injury care perspective. Making those lessons accessible to people is that's the. That is the thing. That's the legacy that I would want to leave behind, for my career. [00:37:37] And so in terms of the dollar, the pricing of our platform will not go up from what it is. It'll probably go down at some point, but. Our goal is to make stuff accessible, particularly for people that we love hanging out with, which includes gravel cyclist, mountain bikers, road, cyclists, like we love supporting people's active lifestyle. [00:37:56] And in terms of covering our costs and all that, like w we're doing great and more than anything, it's been a really interesting project. And, we're excited to keep. Yeah.  [00:38:08] Craig Dalton: Thanks so much for all the time and insight matter, really enjoyed the conversation, hopefully for the listener, it wasn't too much of a Greg's journey to strength training. [00:38:16] I feel like I got a lot out of it, but hopefully it's translated to everybody listening and you can find your own journey.  [00:38:23] Dr. Matt Smith: Oh yeah. Hey, thanks so much for having me on Craig. This is spot cheers  [00:38:27] Craig Dalton: Huge. Thanks for Matt for joining us this week, I learned a ton on my personal journey to strength training. I actually just knocked out another exercise before recording this outro. So I'm finishing week eight and feeling good about my journey and continuing on through the winter and hopefully hitting 20, 22 much stronger as a person and as a gravel cyclist.  [00:38:50] Another huge, thanks to competitive cyclist or appreciate their support of the podcast. Remember, visit competitive gravel ride and enter the promo code, the gravel ride for 15% off your order.  [00:39:05] Finally, if you've got any feedback for the show or would like to connect with other gravel cyclists around the world. I invite you to join the ridership. Simply visit to join our free community and communicate with thousands of other cyclists around the world. Until next time.  [00:39:25] Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels.  [00:39:29]   
  • The Gravel Ride.  A cycling podcast podcast

    Phil Cavell - The Midlife Cyclist


    This week we sit down with Phil Cavell, co-founder of Cycle Fit Studio in London and author of The Midlife Cyclist. The Midlife Cyclist take a comprehensive look at our bodies and mind with an eye towards successful cycling in mid-age and beyond.  Episode sponsor: Competitive Cyclist - Code 'TheGravelRide' Phil's CycleFit Studio and The Midlife Cyclist Episode Transcript (automated, please excuse the typos): Phil Cavell - The Midlife Cyclist  [00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the podcast, we're joined by Phil Cavell.  [00:00:10] Phil is the co-founder of pioneering European fit and cycling analysis studio cycle fit. And the author of a book called the midlife cyclist. [00:00:21] Before we jump into this week show, I need to welcome a new sponsor to the gravel ride podcast. Competitive cyclist.  [00:00:28] Whether you're looking to buy a new bike, that's ready to go. Need expert advice, or want to customize your current build competitive is your one-stop online bike shop.  [00:00:38] Now, obviously there are lots of places to shop online, but the real difference at competitive cyclists are the gearheads. They're equal parts, customer service, cycling fanatics. Gear heads, our former pro athletes, Olympians and seasoned cyclists with years of experience, all available via phone, email, and chat for product recommendations and hard won advice.  [00:00:59] Last week. I wanted to experience it again for myself. So I called up competitive cyclist and I got a gear head named Maggie.  [00:01:07] Out of curiosity, I gave Maggie a brief rundown of the type of bike I was looking to buy the type of riding I want to do. And she was able to quickly narrow down the products from a competitive cyclist and find a few bikes that absolutely fit the bill. A couple of the models that are available, that fit my style of riding.  [00:01:27] We're the Haka. The pivot vault and one other bike. I also mentioned that I was super excited about the way the Ridley Canzo fast looked for example, but Maggie was quick to point out that based on what I had told her. That I wanted a bike that was going to be great for where I lived in Marin county.  [00:01:47] A little bit of racing and a little bit of bike packing. She reminded me that that particular bike. It might not do well. If I wanted to do kind of adventurous bike packing, that it was probably better off for me to choose. A bike with a little less aggressive geometry than that particular Ridley. And she actually introduced a bike to me, a model from Ridley that I'd never heard of before.  [00:02:09] So it was really great to just chat with her. And, you know, I know part of the journey of this entire podcast for me has been learning about different bike brands and so many questions that I had when I got into the sport. And it was just great to know that you can call a gear head and kind of riff on what you're looking for.  [00:02:29] And they can break down the different models they're available and get you onto that right. Bike with confidence.  [00:02:36] So, whether you're looking for gravel bikes, gravel parts, or any of your cycling needs. Go to competitive gravel ride. And enter promo code the gravel ride. To get 15% off your full price purchase. Plus free shipping on orders of $50 or more. Go right now and get 15% off. Plus free shipping.  [00:02:58] At competitive gravel ride. Entering promo code the gravel ride. . With that said let's dive right into my interview with phil [00:03:08] Phil, welcome to the show.  [00:03:10] Phil Cavell: Thank you, Craig. It's great to  [00:03:11] Craig Dalton: be there. I'm excited to have this  [00:03:13] Phil Cavell: yeah. I suspect that you are.  [00:03:14] Craig Dalton: Let's talk just to set the stage for the listener. [00:03:16] Let's just talk a little bit about your background as a cyclist, and then also I think your day job, not being a writer, what you do as a day job at cycle fit studio.  [00:03:27] Phil Cavell: Yeah. Sure. I used to race everything. Come from a time and a place where you didn't really just raise one format. [00:03:33] We used to race cyclocross, rode mountain bike, time trials, team time and trials and getting back over 30 years now, but it just the team and club I was with us, just, it was a group of people and we just wrote everything. And living in London, you could raise a criterium on Tuesday. At crystal palace, the famous crystal palace. [00:03:51] And then you could do a time trial on Wednesday and then you could do, or mounted bike race on a Wednesday or Thursday was a big criterium day at the glorious east way circuit. And then you do a mounted by race or a road race on the weekend. So that was in the seat. That's just the diet I grew up on. [00:04:08] You just raised everything all the time. And until by the end of the season, all of a sudden you couldn't move or speak any muscle in your body. And so that was normal to me until I got injured and until my co-director and a psychopath found pat and I found her got injured and then we couldn't do anything. [00:04:24] And that's what made us interested in the subject. And so yeah, the cycle fit, we that it was born in the late nineties. And it's all really came on, tap in the early two thousands. So it's been going just over 20 years.  [00:04:37] Craig Dalton: I want to dig into cycle fit a little bit, but before we jump in. I know your injury was quite serious and actually took you off the bike for a really extended period of time. [00:04:48] I think that's really interesting just to hear it in your words, and the fact that you were able to come back to the bike is, you know, maybe news and some enthusiastic news to some of the lists.  [00:04:58] Phil Cavell: Yeah, it wasn't that injury actually, the original injury that made me interested in bike fitting was 25, 30 years ago. [00:05:04] The injury, this injury was 2011, hit a pothole and spammy me over the bars and very innocuous, really commuting crash, spammy me over the bars and a ambulance picked me up and took me to hospital and Yeah. And then I had a S a, quite a bad spine fracture there, but their feeling was, it was probably an old one that I'd reactivated or, and so it just got worst over it got worse and worse over the next few weeks. [00:05:31] And I could feel it degrading. And it was I'd missed that period in British medicine when you're treated as an emergency. And so I was almost always trying to get back into the system, but it got worse and worse until I had to have spine fusion surgery that failed quite badly and got an infection and made things worse. [00:05:51] And yeah, I really, it was. Six seven years of just trying to find where ground, you know, that the kind of base level was like a kickoff. Again, every time I thought things couldn't get worse, they did, which is bizarre because I was working in an, in, you know, working at my day job was helping people who were injured and I was the one I'd run up through, but I couldn't think of myself and a knock and my co-director jewels. [00:06:14] And you know, he felt awful because, you know, there was no fix. And obviously like most professionals, you know, I opt for the least, you know, you want ops for the least, least invasive corrective therapy. You know, I already had one round of surgery and that didn't go great. So you're a bit gun shy for the next round. [00:06:31] So you're trying to manage everything with physio and physical, you know, physical therapy. And of course being in my business, I know a lot of them very good ones and bless them. They were all trying to. But it's one of those situations where no one could help. I couldn't help. Nobody could help. [00:06:44] And it just, so I couldn't really ride at all between 2011 and 2000 and late 17, early 18, I had spine revision surgery in 2017 and it was successful.  [00:06:57] Craig Dalton: Glad to hear that. Yeah. Yeah. What a journey. And I can only imagine how bad it was, you know, having to service athletes at cycle. If it's studio, meanwhile, not being able to, you know, enjoy the sport. [00:07:10] That's been a big part of your entire life. [00:07:12] . I remember you'd mentioned that you and your partner both had differing injuries that led you to starting this cycle fit studio. [00:07:20] Can you just talk about that process and what philosophy you brought to fit?  [00:07:25] Phil Cavell: Yeah, I mean, we both had injuries. So we were sidelined from racing and it just made us it, we came from a traditional racing background, you know, which was, you know, you didn't really think too much about your position and didn't think too much about anything at all, or even doing other things other than just racing. [00:07:43] We just raised and rode all the time. And then we got, when we got injured, it made us reevaluate everything. And then we worked with Paul swift, a lot, one of your, you know, and we went to Ben serratus classes. Ben was great. We really, you know, those early, but Ben shorter classes were amazing. And then it just got it, gave us an appetite for the subject. [00:08:04] So we just constantly learned and trained and sought people out who could help us learn. People about podiatrists because podiatry for us was where a lot of the gold was buried. We thought, and, you know, I think we were right about that. You know, we just trained and learn from everybody, whether it was a hip surgeon or a podiatrist or a physio, we just kept going. [00:08:24] And so developed our philosophy from there. And the philosophy hasn't really changed. It's just changed, you know, to help us deliver the philosophy. And I guess that philosophy for that, sorry.  [00:08:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah, no, I was just going to say, I mean, it seems yeah, I'd love to hear you summarize the philosophy and obviously like the cycle fit studio grew and you started working with a lot of professional teams and individual athletes of really big note. [00:08:51] Phil Cavell: Yeah. Yeah, I guess the philosophy is that cycling is prescriptive. It's a very prescriptive sport. I think your ranges of movement and that can either be good because it's prescribing good movement for you or it's good. It can be bad. It's prescribing your body to do bad things that are out of alignment with what you can tolerate. [00:09:11] And so for us, it really is about anatomy. It's understanding each individual on quite a deep level and what their body wants to do and how their body wants to move. And then try and express that on the bicycle. I guess that's our philosophy encapsulated that, you know, when cyclists come in and say, you know, geez, I'm really uncomfortable in pain. [00:09:29] The bike's hurting me is don't beat yourself up. It's a very prescriptive environment. And right now the prescriptions are wrong. You're being prescribed the wrong. And we need to know, I found out what the right prescription is, and for that, we need to really understand how your body wants to move from function. [00:09:45] And then possibly part of that is even saying, okay, there's things you can do yourself to make things better here. You know, no, one's a finished project, actually. Everyone's working progress, everybody, especially mid-life athletes things are changing quickly. So you've got to stay on top of it. [00:09:58] So I guess that in essence is our philosophy.  [00:10:00] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I was curious. I mean, I think it's a good time that we move on to the book that you've written the midlife cyclist, but were you seeing some of the things as you had older athletes come into cycle fit studio was, and as you were aging yourself, were you starting to see things very starkly about how the aging athlete was fitting onto a bike that led just another thread of why you wanted to write this. [00:10:24] Phil Cavell: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, we were seeing clients come in trying to do extraordinary things and often not coming from a cycling background. And so we were, you know, it made us very curious really about, you know, you try not to see everybody through the same prism, you know, we're all X races, all races, that cycle of it. [00:10:42] So it's very tempting to see things through that prism and, you know, The inspiration behind the book was what don't, let's not see people through that prison. Let's see. Pick Trump usually see people through their individual prison. My teachers did right. Looking at it. Thank you very much, Donna. So yeah, the hiding behind that was to really explore that subject. [00:10:59] You know, someone doesn't come from a side, combat run, they come from a rugby background or a soccer background or and you know, what's the best evidence and advice for them to progress as quickly as they can in the sport safely. And that ultimately is. To try and hold people's hands so they can get the most out of themselves and the most out of their bikes and the booklet. [00:11:18] The book really is a philosophy discussion about that subject to think.  [00:11:22] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think that's probably meets a lot of gravel riders where they're at, because your statement around meeting athletes who were trying to do extra ordinary things that maybe hadn't been riding their whole life to do that. [00:11:34] Is commonplace in gravel. I mean the tent pole events around the world can be a hundred plus miles, maybe even 200 miles in the case of Unbound out in Kansas, these events that people read about and think, oh, I'm just going to go out and do that because gravel is so inviting, but the idea of coming off of even just a solid fitness background and riding 200 miles off road, quite a tall order. [00:11:58] Phil Cavell: Yeah, that's right. And. It's beholden and everybody who wants to do that kind of event to really understand what they're demanding of their body, what systems are they going to be stressing? Which systems should they be fueling through? It's not just, it's just not enough to get yourself fit or to keep pushing up your FTP because of the net. [00:12:18] You're a high FTP isn't necessarily going to get you through a trans continental ride or some of the great big events. It's just not, you know, you need to be working. In an oxidative efficient state. And that requires specific training. And a lot of us amateurs, certainly midlife athletes who have come into the sport late or trying to catch up all the time. [00:12:38] They're trying to cram the homework is it won't work. You know, you know, you've got to you. I think I say in the book, you've, you know, you've got to put some foundations down before you can move into the penthouse, you know? And if you don't do that, you know, you know, you are not going to perform at your best. [00:12:52] And so you've got almost slow down to go fast. Even me, you know, I come from a racing background race for decades. If I was going to go and do one of these events and I absolutely want to go and do the trans continent or something like that just absolutely speaks to me. I would completely change the way I ride. [00:13:07] You know, I absolutely would, you know, I'm by nature, I'm a crit rider, you know, All fast, short distance, 45 minutes or an hour, and I'm gone. If I was going to do the trans continental, I would totally change the way I ride. Totally. You know, you've got to start fueling different. Yeah. You know, it's  [00:13:24] Craig Dalton: interesting. [00:13:25] No. It's interesting to hear your perspective on this stuff, obviously. That's why I invited you on the podcast. You know, to that vein, you know, it wasn't, I spent a little bit of time in my life, as a, as an amateur road racer. And then I did a bike tour and I realized as I strapped those bags on my road bike, the day was going to be different. [00:13:45] I wasn't going to be sprinting. Out of the blocks. It was going to be a long day with a lot of weight on the bike. And it really was instrumental in shifting my mentality around what would eventually in my life become a passion around these Endurant long endurance events. And it is to your point, you just have to think about it entirely differently than an hour long criteria. [00:14:09] Phil Cavell: That's right. And I remember Joel signed me up for the first Everett tap to tour and, you know, I didn't even know what it was, frankly. And Jules is juices. My co-director is a vet. He's a very intelligent, very disciplined rider and trainer always a much better trainer than I was. I was his lead out man. [00:14:27] And I, and he was, you know, he was a very good sprinter and he signed me up for this event and I'm like, oh, okay. So we'll do it. So we went out to the tap to tour. I had no idea what it was, no idea what it was. And I got. And we started, I still didn't really know what it was. I didn't even know where it went. [00:14:40] I honestly didn't know where it went or what climbs it went over. It seems madness now, but it's a long time ago. Anyway, it started and I thought, great race. You know, let's go get into, get my race head on and off we go. I was in the front group to start with the first hour and 10 minutes. I was literally in the front group. [00:14:55] There's a group of us and I'm going through an orphan. It's an hour and 10 minutes hits and that's my normal distance. And I'm gone. I'm done. I'm not going to blow my. That's it lights went out after burners off, shut down at which point Jules came out next to me on this climb and said, oh, you worn out old Labrador. [00:15:12] Look at you in touch. I'm sorry, chores. I'd completely blown my biscuit. And I had that five hours left. Yeah, very expensive education. Crazy.  [00:15:21] Craig Dalton: For sure. You don't have to say, you know, I mentioned that, I felt like this book hit me at the exact right time. You know, I've been suffering the last few years with some lower back issues and felt you know, this was the year I was really gonna change my mentality about writing and, you know, I had been one of those. [00:15:39] Ride five days a week. That's what riding is all about kind of athletes. And I knew I needed to make some changes when I was reading through maybe the first third of this book and maybe it was chapter three in particular. I was starting to think, oh my God, You know, I'm probably fortunate that it's only my back that's hurting because it could be my knees. [00:15:58] It could be my it band. It could be my hip. And I started to get in this doom and gloom mentality. So I was super happy when it started to come around in chapter four. You know, the midlife cyclist, it is possible to still go fast and achieve these major milestone events in your life, but the mentality needs to shift. [00:16:20] So it'd be interesting to just talk about some of the elements of the mentality that needs to shift and how we can think about, you know, writing to.  [00:16:29] Phil Cavell: Yeah. And I'm sorry, some people have reacted to the book and said, look, you know, I find the book a little bit, you know, I find it a bit, chapter three, you know, is tough. [00:16:38] And some of it I think is you know, you just a bad news bear. You just, you know, it's relentlessly bad news. And I don't, I just don't intend it like that. I just think the book to me is going into this with your eyes open, there's no point in being Peter pan about this understand the constraint, understand the challenges. [00:16:53] And once you understand the challenges and the constraints have Austria. You know, and then you can do the best you can do, to go into this, you know, there's no point I didn't want to write a book. It was just a training manual, ignoring the fact that, you know, any other century you'd be dead, you know, 51, 50, 2 years old. [00:17:10] How old are you? I'm nearly 60. So 51 51 in any other century, Craig, you wouldn't be alive, you know, unless you were kind of royalty, it's just as simple as that. You know, it's, you know, we need to, we need that kind of leveling moments. Okay. It's 300,000 generations of bypass. Every one of them would be dead by now, but not only am I alive, but I want to train and act like an Olympic athlete. [00:17:33] Okay. All of that's great. I love it. Understand the challenges, you know, and this is people my age and your age, trying to push their bodies hard is a very recent event in human history. So I think it's beholden all of us to understand. And then understand what's happening to our bodies as we do this and challenge our bodies in these ways. [00:17:54] Not because I think not because I think we shouldn't be doing it, not because I'm trying to be depressing, but because I think the goal is buried in understanding.  [00:18:04] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And I think by the end of the book that comes absolutely shining through, and that chapter three is a distant memory and I was more on. [00:18:14] Gosh, I just need to do the things that I need to do correctly. I need to think about my cycling career differently at this point. And there was a bunch of things in the book. That were put out there in a way that sort of makes you think about it. One that I'll highlight that is, I think for a lot of gravel athletes, maybe it's top of mind these days, just because of some of the athletes, we follow just the idea of recovery and you've got products like whoop out there talking about HRV, and there's obviously a number of other ways you can get that, that that stat out of your body. [00:18:45] But if you could talk a little bit about recovery and maybe. Alongside that over-training syndrome. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on that.  [00:18:54] Phil Cavell: Yeah, it's a good point. Oh, cyclists seem to be born with a great work ethic and it's, you know, and if, you know, and it's you know, we're made mad by miles. [00:19:03] We just, you know, we're mile hungry. And if in doubt, put more miles on your belt, you know, I come from that background, you know, the old generation I come from was like, you know, it's all miles, it's all miles under the saddle, you know? And there's, that's partly true. When you get to our age, my age, I'm older than you. [00:19:18] It's also too to say that you need to respect your body more and you need to rest more. You need to recover more. Remember that you get fit, not when you're training, but when you're recovering, you know, what you do is you have a, you introduce a stress to your body, a training dose to your body. And that stimulates something on a cellular level, and then you need to super compensate and your body then gets stronger to adapt to this. [00:19:42] You put your body under. So you're actually getting, you're actually gaining fitness, not when you're training, but in the super compensation stage. Now everyone knows that, but cyclists, we seem to, it's no, we never, we don't allow our body to go into the super compensation stage and rest. And we get to my age and degree your age, you just need to have, be more conscious of not just the amount of rest, but the quality of rest sleep is absolutely. [00:20:07] Go dust to you know, to our generation really, because that's when all the good work gets done. And if you're in any doubt tool bag as to whether you should train, I wouldn't necessarily use heart rate, which is our old gold standard. You'd take your pulse if you know, and you'd say, okay, I'm at 45. [00:20:23] I'm good to go. Or 50 good to go. You know, a lot of a lot of endurance athletes have bradycardia, which is slow heart rate. So a better way to look at it is HRV heart rate variation, which is the beat to beat changed. And that gives you an, a better metric to work with as to whether you're fully rested and should train, or in fact, you're still tired and you've got inflammation in your body possibly or you're fighting something and you probably are best served to rest. [00:20:45] Not best served to rest in health, but all certainly that is true, but best health best to rest for performance. Because training, when you're tired really has no benefit, it just doesn't have any benefit. Certainly our. You know, you want to be fizzing with energy when you train, you want to be go out there and think, oh, I could just, can't wait to do this. [00:21:03] That's the mindset you need. I believe post 50 to train properly.  [00:21:07] Craig Dalton: It's super interesting. And I think, you know, recovery has been something I've been focused on a lot more this year and just my understanding of it, you know, the HRV number, it's just this quantifiable metric that you can look at some days to be honest I feel like I have. [00:21:21] The mentality to go out and thrash myself when I have a low HRV number. And I, you know, it takes a bit of discipline to dial myself back and knock, go after it or take the day off. But I think it's just layering on something very simple and a very important reminder, particularly for older athletes about the importance of recovery. [00:21:41] Phil Cavell: Yeah. And I think. It's a sign of a mature athlete. If they go out and Jules was talking to me the day he went out for a ride and turn back, you know, he went out for a ride and said, you know, I just didn't feel right. Turned back you know, got 20 K in and went, you know what, this isn't going anywhere and turned back and went home and got cold the next day. [00:21:57] You know, how did he stayed out for his three to four hours? He was planned and got cold and wet and really worked hard. You know, his age, she's two years younger than me. That would have been more, you know, more damaging as it was. He could shrug it off. So it's mature and sensible go out and say, do you know what? [00:22:13] I'm not as sharp as I should be here. Now if you're a 25 crack on shore, Stop for a few beers. It doesn't matter. You know, you can do all that stuff, but post 45, 50, 60, yeah. You can't, you know, you can't because that stuff in beds, in, you know, that's a layer of inflammation in there that you don't need. [00:22:29] Craig Dalton: And we've just recently had a coach on talking about just the need to control the things you can control when you're out there in these gravel events. And I think it's even more highly. For an older athlete, just to make sure you don't do something still in not hydrating or not getting the right nutrition in your body, not getting a good right rust, because as you said, we could all do that in our twenties and thirties, but in our forties and fifties and sixties, it's just going to have dire repercussions. [00:22:56] Phil Cavell: Yeah. And I remember being a mounted by race. I think it was in Scotland years and years ago, probably 30 years ago, 25 years ago. And then the tent next. You know, or the camp, little campsite next door, they were having a party. They were drinking, they were solutely completely blasted. And then they weren't in our race. [00:23:14] But, and then I remember coming back to the tent later, after we'd finished our race and the kid who in the morning was vomiting over his tent. Cause he was drunk in the morning. Still won his race. Shouldn't be, I remember talking to the you one new. You know, I was probably 30 at the time and he was already 18. [00:23:32] Yeah. Yeah. Why don't you? And that his preparation was getting completely drunk, staying up all night and then vomiting over his tent. Now try that at 50, just to try that Jordan mean that isn't going to work. And that doesn't mean that was a good strategy. It just means he got away with it 18. I'm not sure that I'm not sure how that anecdote helps anybody anyway. [00:23:53] Yeah. If  [00:23:54] Craig Dalton: anybody does take that challenge on at 50, please send us a note. After the fact  [00:23:58] Phil Cavell: you post a video like,  [00:24:00] Craig Dalton: So chapter five, you go into bikes, bike, fit, and biomechanics. And I'm curious, I know you mentioned offline that you're, you're passionate gravel cyclists at this point. You know, how have you seen bike? [00:24:12] Change relative to the equipment that's coming out for gravel bikes these days and the aging athlete. Yeah,  [00:24:21] Phil Cavell: it's a good question. I just think it's a marvelous time. I think a lot of older athletes, my agent are embracing gravel because it means they get a bite. That you know, they don't have to have, you know, there are some in the air and you know, hands round by their knees, they can get a sense of a bite that can do lots of different jobs. [00:24:38] It can be a robot, it can be you know, and so they, they're taking more sensible approach to their cycling. They. Once they've tried having a bit more rubber on the road or on the trail. They don't go back to riding a 23 and, you know, a 25, they, the minimum becomes a 28 or 32. So I think they're taking a much more pragmatic and I would say. [00:24:57] Reassuring route through their cycling career. And it makes me much happier. I always, you know, when when a client walks out with a bike with a 32 Rhode Tyro, 28 or something. Yeah, it's good modem, you know, cause it's, you've got more grip there. You've got more comfort. You've got more control. You've got more safety margin. [00:25:12] So I just think it's been a really, I think the whole gravel movement has been a altogether, very positive. I have to say for my clients for bike design. And of course it's all been liberated by disc brakes. Isn't it? I mean, seven was doing this a long time ago, one way or another, but I mean, you know, as were other manufacturers, but this has all been bought a life by the advent of disc brakes, isn't it? [00:25:32] You know, and allowing the frame designer morph.  [00:25:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah, a hundred percent. When you look at some of your professional athletes on the road that you work with, are you seeing like some of these elements of a little bit more comfort or are we still looking at these, you know, flat backs and high seats and long stems for the road athletes? [00:25:51] Or are there actual like performance benefits that can be gained by pulling that back a little bit and making them a bit more relaxed? [00:25:57] Phil Cavell: Yeah, I don't, I'd like to say I did see a bit of the latter and I think some, you know, some of the pros, the younger ones, you know, they look at it, look at Tom peacock. I mean, he comes from a cyclocross background, mountain bike background, you know, it's not, it's never too early, you know, he, you know, he has that background. [00:26:14] You know, I'm not saying that his rope position is an aggressive. There's a good chance that, you know, he's going to have some, you know, he's crammed some smarts about him when he sets up his road bike. We, you know, I don't see necessarily that they are setting their Roebucks road bikes up any different, but they all do ride gravel. [00:26:30] They all got gravel bikes. You know, one hopes that at some point they're going to take some, you know, some kind of recalibration by osmosis between the two, two formats. Certainly my amateur. You know, th they're now becoming category sensitive, you know, they, you know, they're no longer, they're no longer seeing these pigeonholes. [00:26:49] They just, you know, there's getting bikes at work for a number of different environments. And I think that's brilliant and I love that. Yeah.  [00:26:56] Craig Dalton: The other thing that's been talked about this book was and I heard you speaking on another podcast and referencing that you didn't think people were going to hang their hats on it as much as they have, but just this notion that amateur athletes are riding much closer to their threshold than professional athletes are on a weekly and monthly basis. [00:27:13] Phil Cavell: Yeah. That, yes, that w the podcast, I was that too. So John Lewis is the  [00:27:19] Craig Dalton: baseline podcast,  [00:27:20] Phil Cavell: I think. Yeah. Yeah, it's been picked up on a lot that, I mean, the thing is data doesn't lie, you know, th the fact is that amygdala amateur athletes tend to spend more of their time as a proportion, closer to the red line and professionals per year. [00:27:34] So we're 50 years of all 50 years of age, you know, in any other century we'd be dead, but there we are literally thrashing our bodies to destruction. Not literally, but metaphorically compared to professional writers. So they're writing at 60 something percent and we're writing 80% of our potential. [00:27:51] You know, one has to think, what is that sense of, or, and the book really is trying to answer that. It is that sensible, rational, sustainable and you know, and it, what it means is that professional cyclists are more ordered and structured in the way that they ride and train more cognizant of what they should be doing. [00:28:08] We tend to ride in this kind of mid sort of mid watch the whole time, you know, where are hard, bits are not hard enough. And our easy bits are too easy to just ride in this. What John Baker calls whirlwind of doom, you know, we're just and I can recognize it in myself, you know, decades gone past, I can recognize that, you know, where I'm riding in that kind of just in that uncomfortable zone all the time.  [00:28:30] Craig Dalton: It  [00:28:30] Resonated with me for sure. Only because as I mentioned offline, you know, I live in a little bit of a hilly place and I prefer to ride almost exclusively off-road so I, I do find myself grinding like a diesel engine up these Hills, never particularly having a super easy day and but never really doing anything that would resemble an interval either. [00:28:52] Phil Cavell: Yeah. And that's right. I've worked with so many professional athletes and amateurs. And when they're forced to take things easy, you know, injury or illness, they always come back stronger, but they come back renewed and rejuvenated. It's yes, because your body's been desperate for this for so long. And yeah, and I think that's absolutely right. [00:29:12] Whereas now I actually literally make myself ride really easy. Oh my God, this is lovely. I can feel my body's rejuvinating as I write. And then if I want to have a little pot and go a bit hard, I do. I definitely never ride hard unless I want to ever it, you know, I, I use that rule for myself unless I'm fizzing with energy and really want to ride hard. [00:29:31] I don't. Yeah. And the rest of the time, I just knock it back. A couple of gears. I know that I'm building mitochondria, I'm working my oxidative system. It's all good for me. The other  [00:29:41] Craig Dalton: thing that I picked up was just this notion of. Getting your head around dropping a cycling workout, picking up a strength training workout, or stand up paddle board session in your week. [00:29:52] And again, with this holistic idea that it's actually going to make you a faster cyclist.  [00:29:59] Phil Cavell: Yeah. And I think that's right. You've got to take one step back, take two steps forward as a midlife athlete because. Yeah. So I think we'll do nothing for bone density or bone minerality. It'll do nothing for sarcopenia or muscle loss. [00:30:12] It'll do nothing really for flexibility. There's so much of the, you know, you'll do nothing for balance. Really. There's so much of your potential. That's not being challenged by cycling and not being developed. So you're not building, you're not building resilience in your Shasti. Do you want to build resilience in your Shasti? [00:30:27] You've got to put the bike aside for a second. And do other things and that will make you faster. It's it's a tool. It's a tool. I was going to mix my metaphors. It's a big pill to swallow that one.  [00:30:37] Craig Dalton: Totally it very much is. And I struggled with that a little bit myself, but I realized it to be a hundred percent true. [00:30:44] Like I need to do these different things in order to be successful. And it's been an exploration. I've got a future podcast, guests just talking about why we need to do that. And I think it's critically important.  [00:30:56] Phil Cavell: Yeah. And I don't athlete in the, in photography today. Very good athlete, you know, was he 47, 48 hours, incredibly strong, very powerful, doing big events. [00:31:05] You're doing that event where they ride tour stages, you know, back to back tours stages before the tour or whatever. And, you know, I did a single X partial, single leg squat with him and he couldn't do a partial, single leg squat. It's you know what, you know, that's a pretty simple thing to do a partial single as to what you know, Yeah, I see that a lot. [00:31:23] It's nice. Not a new, that's not, it's not atypical, you know, see a lot, you know, where you got super fit people and they can't do simple things, you know?  [00:31:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah. No, I think that's so true. And I remember maybe in my forties, patting myself on the back that I'd selected a sport that you can ride, you know, you can ride a bike your entire life, but I didn't realize at the time that yes, you can, but you're going to need to do other things to support that goal. [00:31:47] Phil Cavell: Yeah, that's right. And we've all heard stories where you've got a friend or a colleague and they're, you know, midlife, cyclists, and they have an accident which is quite innocuous. And the damage is more, you know, more than you, one would expect. And you know, they didn't have a DEXA scan or, you know, looks, which looks, you know, the sort of bone minerality and it's low they're, what's called osteopenic or osteoporotic. [00:32:08] And it's because all they've done is cycle all their lives and not done anything off the bite whatsoever. And now they've got a bone density issue. You know, you know, if we're going to build resilience in the chassis, one of the things we need to look at is bone minerality, bone D.  [00:32:21] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it makes a ton of sense. [00:32:23] The book is great. I really enjoyed it. As I said, hit me at the right time. I hope for those listeners, like if your late thirties, early forties get on this book earlier, rather than later, because at 50, I've got some catching up to do. I'm committed to the cause. Cause I want to see everybody out there on the gravel events in 2022. [00:32:42] So Phil, thank you so much for the time. Thank you for writing this book and putting such good work out there in the.  [00:32:48] Phil Cavell: You're so welcome, Craig, it's been a pleasure to talk to you. Have a great weekend.  [00:32:52] Craig Dalton: Cheers.  [00:32:53] Big thanks to Phil for joining the show this week. I hope you all go out there and take a look at the midlife cyclist book, whether you're a midlife cyclist, yourself approaching midlife or otherwise. I think there's a lot of value in understanding.  [00:33:07] What our bodies are going to go through as mid-life cyclists. I know this is something that I wish I was more attuned to as a younger lad. I think I would be in a lot better shape today.  [00:33:19] And another big, thanks to competitive cyclists for joining us as a sponsor this week and the coming weeks. Be sure to visit competitive gravel ride and enter promo code to the gravel ride. To get 15% off your full price purchase and free shipping on orders over $50. Some exclusions apply as they always do.  [00:33:40] Thanks for spending a little bit of your week with me this week. Until next time here's defining some dirt onto your wheels      

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