What’s your favorite GW experience?
Oh man, can there just be one favorite experience, is that even possible? I think the overall Gravel Worlds Experience is my favorite Gravel Worlds experience, I know that sounds like I’m repeating myself and maybe I am but follow along and it will be come as clear as mud. This will be my 6th GW this year, each of the past 5 have all had a lot of differences for sure but there are a ton of similarities and it’s those similarities that are my favorite part. Check in and now the Expo are a great time for seeing members of the gravel family that come from far and wide, folks you might only see once or twice a year. That gravel family reunion time is my favorite Gravel Worlds experience and the great part is I get to have it every year.
What’s your funniest Gravel event story (i.e. never trust a fart)
He will probably be mad at me for sharing but I’ll tell him you all tortured me to get this story out of me. GW 2017 was my third and (we will call him “Pablo”… mostly because that is his name) Pablo’s first, might have been his first gravel race ever. GW 2017 was a good GW for me and it was the last year we did a true loop around Lincoln. Anyway at about mile 70 or so we roll into Malcolm and several people take the extra time to hit Lippy’s BBQ for food. I didn’t see Pablo at Lippy’s but I’d seen him earlier in the day and caught him again in between Malcolm and the Reinkordt Farm. He must have over done it a bit with the food and sauce at Lippy’s because he was looking a little green at this point. We rolled into the farm at about the same time and he was downing pickles and pickle juice, which I thought might not be the best idea given the current stomach issues but I just watched. About mile 90 when we turned onto Saltillo Rd for a brief jog, we stopped in the shade. I went on a nature break and asked Pablo how he was doing… I believe his response was “I’m doing OKrrrrraaaaaallllllllllllppppppphhhhhh” I turned to see Pablo now sitting on the ground with a large pile of pickles and BBQ on the gravel next to him. Sometimes kids, the best lessons in life are learned through living them. I’m pretty sure only one of us found that story funny but it helped me take my mind off quite a few miles of gravel as it unfolded before our eyes. I’m not a total dick though, I did buy Pablo a Mt. Dew in Roca to wash the taste of hurl out of his mouth. Dew and puke are a winning combination.
How long have you been riding? Has gravel changed your perspective on riding, and if so, how?
I never stopped riding, I think my first bike was a way too big for me, hand me down bike from a cousin. Some old Montgomery Ward special I’m sure but I was bit by the cycling bug, going on 40 years or so now I suppose; f&ck I’m old. As a kid of the 80s I grew up on department store bikes, then graduated to BMX bikes, Freestyle bikes and then eventually Mountain Bikes. Most of my riding before gravel was limited to 20 miles or less for the most part, then in 2015 I discovered gravel and things haven’t been the same since. Gravel opened up a whole new world of riding that was right under my nose but I had failed to see, 20 miles now seems like a good warm up for the real ride. It’s kind of crazy to me that in the span of 5 years 150 or more miles went from a ridiculous distance to something that seemed not only possible but obtainable. Gravel also helped me to find out things about myself, some things you might not want to know and some you do but when you’re 80+ miles into a race, you’re hot, you’re tired, everything hurts and your mind is telling you to stop pedaling… you have nowhere to hide, no place to run from yourself and your inner thoughts, life becomes so simple and so raw at the same time and it will show you who you really are and what you’re really made of. Ain’t nobody else in the world going to help you then, when you’re staring down the darkness that creeps in around you.
Has gravel brought you closer to your community and if so, how?
Most definitely, it’s for sure brought me closer to the cycling community, the gravel community and a shit ton of small town communities I would have never been a part of if not for gravel. Most of us travel a lot of the same roads in our home stompin grounds, we ride to, around and through a lot of the same small towns and eventually you get to know some of the folks that live and work in those towns. Even if you don’t know them by name, you recognize the faces and I think those communities have started to see the economic impact 20 cyclists spending money in town can have on their lives. There are a lot more smiling faces behind the registers or order taking pads then there were even 5 years ago and that’s a great thing.
What does #GravelFamily mean to you?
When it comes to family, blood might be thicker than water but MMR mud works just as well to form those same family bonds when the blood runs thin. My closest friends, who I consider to be family, have all been made in the last 5 years, I would do anything for them and I feel like they would do anything for me if I asked. Total strangers that came together and formed an incredible bond but that’s what the gravel family is all about, making family out of strangers. I can’t explain it except maybe to say that we came together because all of our souls are deeply rooted in the same pile of gravel dust.