You're now somewhat of an elder statesman in the gravel scene. What does being first into this pro-tour to gravel life transition mean and what advice do you have for the folks making that jump now?
It’s nothing short of fascinating to see people migrating to gravel. Let’s take a quick step back, 2016 was my first year of post-ProTour cycling and that year was much more about working with sponsors amid product development and hospitality events, leading rides, hosting camps, and so forth. It was relatively infrequently that I had a number on my bike. Then I was asked to do That Race in Kansas on a whim and the rest is history. Now fast forward to the present and gravel definitely isn't the retirement tour. There are riders consciously wrapping up their professional road, mountain, and CX careers to come to gravel. I’m fielding questions by juniors looking to make a career in gravel. It’s wild.
As much as gravel is a genre of cycling, I think it goes hand-in-hand with a lifestyle. Therefore my first bit of advice, which is as requisite as it gets, is to have fun. We’re not meant to take ourselves too seriously riding on dirty, muddy, grassy terrain with bright, tight clothing. Results — win, lose, or draw — should not define success at an event. There’s a finish line and that’s a place to embrace community with the entire event and all the participants. But there’s the entire rest of the day where you’re also meant to be in community with the immediate riders around you. Talk to each other, cheer each other on, egg each other on!
The sport of gravel is scrappy. If people really want to make a future in it, as much as I usually encourage a dive-all-in strategy, there needs to be something else going on. The King of the Ride podcast and video series represent a ton of hard work. Staying on top of social media, you end up being your own travel agent, constantly being on-call. UnTapped represents a huge portion of my time too, so whether it’s college or a job or teaching yourself computer code, I suggest staying active and diversified to people coming to compete in gravel. And to not take anything too seriously, for anyone just coming to dip their toe and experience gravel.