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Dec 6, 2022

This week Randall and Craig have a long overdue catch up session about their Fall gravel travel trips. Covering Bentonville, Girona, Boulder, Austin, Reno and SF, between the two a lot of dirt was covered.

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

In the Dirt

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton:

Hello and welcome to in the dirt from the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host, Craig Dalton. I'm going to be joined shortly by my cohost Randall Jacobs.

It's been a while since we've been able to catch up on the microphone, as we both been traveling and doing our own things. I've been super busy this last quarter. So it was great to catch up with my buddy Randall. And just dig into what we've both been up to. Before we jump in, I need to thank this week, sponsor the hammer head and the hammer head crew two computer hammer heads been a sponsor throughout the year. So I very much appreciate their support. I can't recall if I've ever mentioned this on the show, but.

In my early twenties, I worked for a bicycle computer company called Avocet. And at the time Avocet introduced a product called the vertex. Which provided for the first time an elevation tracking device for bicycle, it was quite game changing, particularly at that time in the world of mountain biking, because it was so difficult to compare one ride to the other.

I still to this day, find vertical feet climbed or the vertical feet of a particular course or an event that I'm riding to be the most important fact. That I need to have in my head in terms of preparing. So if you're going out to a race or an event that has 8,000 feet of climbing,

I know I need to put in the work across my training schedule. I find myself often thinking back to that, as I enjoy the hammerhead crew too, I really very much enjoy the climber feature as anytime I update a course or even now it's got the maps added in there in real time. I can see when I approach a climb exactly what is ahead of me, how long the climb is going to be in terms of miles.

But most importantly, how much elevation am I gaining? It comes into play in a number of different ways. One. I know if it's a longer climb, I need to settle in. I need to climb patiently and just stay within myself or in the case of my recent experience at big sugar, gravel, as I was seeing that these climbs were shorter in nature, I knew exactly sort of how many candles I could burn as I was attacking them.

Attacking them being a generous term for any of my performance. In any event I do these days. Anyway, it was super valuable to know what kind of verb was in front of me. And that climber feature is just always been something I've taken to. The other big thing that I really enjoy has been the navigation features. I mean, it is something that the crew too has always offered in spades, above and beyond anything else out there in the marketplace.

Based on an Android operating system. It kind of has the same kind of mapping capabilities that you see on your phone. So very visual, very easy to see trails and roads and where they lead to pinch and zoom and everything you'd expect. From a phone you get there right there on the screen. It also has a super cool feature I've mentioned before, which is sort of a find my way home feature. Whereas if you're kind of mucking around and a little bit lost, you can just kind of press this button returned to start, and it's going to navigate you directly to your home or the place where you started the ride.

The other thing I just saw pushed to me in a latest software update. Was a choice of preferred terrain. So now layering on top. Oh, Hey, I want a ride home on gravel versus pavement is going to give you different results. So I thought that was super cool. And it's another feature that I've always loved from the team in hammerhead is just the idea that you have software updates. Every two weeks. I feel like I'm getting something pushed to the device.

That's adding a new feature and I get an email describing it. And some of them. You know, background, improvements or something that's maybe only applicable if you have a power meter. But other ones super applicable, like this choice of terrain. I always like to be able to tell my computer that if you're routing me somewhere, take me on the dirt because that's what I'm all about. So anyway, as we approach this holiday season, if you're looking for a new cycling GPS computer, I highly recommend checking out hammerhead for gravel ride podcast listeners, they're throwing in a free heart rate, monitor strap.

So just make sure to put. Put it in your cart and add the code. The gravel ride to any of your hammerhead purchases for that crew to computer. Without business behind us let's jump right into my conversation with randall


[00:04:28] Craig Dalton: Randall. Good to see you, my friend.

[00:04:30] Randall R. Jacobs: Good to see you, Craig. It's been a bit, we've both been traveling. How you been?

[00:04:33] Craig Dalton: yeah, I've been, I've been okay. You know, life continues to throw on challenges in front of me and haven't been on the bike as much as I'd like. But happy to be here. Happy to be chatting bikes for a few minutes.

[00:04:45] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, yeah. I've been very much looking forward to it. Um, you've been, you were in Jerron for a bit and I think you were in, uh, Bentonville, Arkansas before that.

[00:04:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I feel like I stacked all my trips into one period of time, which turned out to be more stressful than I would've liked from a family dynamic perspective. It seemed like I was gone all the time, and I think in the weeks proceeding my. Bentonville trip. There was like a local group ride that I had to, like, wanted to prioritize and kind of block off some time away from the family then.

And then in between Bentonville and Gerona, there was a couple things that seemed like it was all about Craig. When I, you know, obviously I wanna be a, uh, you know, equal participant in my family life as, as my wife.

[00:05:33] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, I can. Uh, I don't have the same family obligations, um, for better or for worse, uh, but can definitely relate to packing all of one's travels all in one go, and having that be, um, while effective, uh, requiring some recovery. I was on the road for three and a half weeks in my case and never stayed in the same place, more in a couple of days.

[00:05:53] Craig Dalton: that's a lot. And I wanna hear about the trip cuz I kept seeing it pop up in the ridership like where you were and shouting out locals and, you know, bringing people together. So it, it sounds like it was an exciting trip and I'm super excited to talk about it with you.

[00:06:07] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Well let's hear about Bentonville first, cuz that's a place that I've explored a little bit, but really wanna spend some more time in. You're there for what? Big sugar.

[00:06:15] Craig Dalton: I was there for big sugar and I was able to go down there. I actually went for the People for Bikes conference, so as, as some people know, I, I do spend some time with a, a non-profit called Bike index. Bike index act org. A little plug for everybody out there. It's a bicycle registry, stolen bike recovery platform.

People for Bikes is sort of the biggest non-profit advocacy organization in the industry by my likes, and they put together a conference called Shift and another one in the spring, but Shift was in Bentonville and I saw the opportunity, hey, if I can, if I'm already getting to Bentonville, I should go to that conference on behalf of Bike.

It was super fruitful and interesting. Lot of interesting topics. There was, there was a, a big thread around diversity and inclusion, which is an important topic in the cycling industry, and an additional thread about sustainability and climate, which again, important across all industries if we wanna keep doing what we're doing out there in the world.

So that was like a really valuable add-on two days to that.

[00:07:21] Randall R. Jacobs: I'm kind of curious, um, cuz actually I didn't realize that you had gone to that conference. Uh, I'm curious to hear a little bit more about the, the topics and the angles and and so on in that experience.

[00:07:32] Craig Dalton: yeah. I'd probably have to bring up the, uh, the, uh, agenda to kind of give you a full, a couple months out. Now, my brain is a little foggy, but on the sustainability front, it was great. They had a, an expert who had written a book about bringing sustainability into the cycling industry, and I could share that in the show notes and I'll certainly share it with you personally.

Um, we went through an exercise of. How would you reinvent your business with a sustainability angle? How do you think about bicycle ownership differently? How do you think about supply chains differently and what are the net effects, both positive and negative to either your price point or your customer relationship?

And I, I've thought it was pretty interesting. I. In a group with the bike flights team. So bike flights provides a service to ship bikes from, from one place to another. And they have these cardboard boxes you can use either like one of your own or you can actually buy a box from them, which is ideally reusable, but you, you know, it's only reusable to a certain extent.

So we were just sort of riffing. How could you extend the reusability of that? How could you use different materials for that with achieving the same result of getting your, your bike from point A to point B safely without damage?

[00:08:54] Randall R. Jacobs: I'd be curious if you, um, I'd be curious to read the report and pull out, you know, one or a couple of the experts potentially to bring on, because it's something that we're thinking about as well. And so, you know, we take the opportunity for, for us to learn, well, at the same time sharing what's going on with, uh, the listenership.

[00:09:10] Craig Dalton: That's a great idea. I'll definitely, I can definitely connect you with the author of that book. The other interesting thing we were riffing about, and as we're both wearing our logos caps today, um, we were talking about, I was talking with another wheel manufacturer and we were talking about, okay, you deliver the wheels in a box.

What could that box be used for down the line? Like is there anything in the garage that it could be converted to that you have like, you know, sort of Lego style instructions of like, cut your box in this way and all of a sudden you can, you know, have a wheel stand for example. You know, if you can imagine if you cut holes in the box, you might be able to like drop the wheels in and that would be a cool way to display your extra set of.

[00:09:52] Randall R. Jacobs: You know, um, that's actually brilliant in that, um, this will, we'll talk about this in a moment, but we're in the process of, uh, building out our dealer network, our, our shop network. Uh, that was the, the pur the main purpose of this recent trip. And one of the things I kept coming up was like, how do I display this in a really attractive way in my shop?

And so that would be a really great development exercise where it's like the box that it comes in gets, you know, has some perforations and. You know, you cut it and you fold it and all of a sudden it is this really interesting display stand with a story. I like that a lot. I'm

[00:10:24] Craig Dalton: Good. I look forward to seeing that. So that was super interesting. You know, I always, whenever I, you know, I do, I've done business development in my career for, for ages and conferences are sort of the bane of my existence cuz you have to go to them and you think you're gonna meet so and so, but you never necessarily do.

But it's important to show up because you do make these random connections.

[00:10:47] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah,

[00:10:48] Craig Dalton: Always yield value. So I feel like a couple of those were.

[00:10:53] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, it's the thing that I, I, uh, one of the things I mourn most about Covid is, um, you know, I'm one of these people who loves going to trade shows. So like I used to go, you know, I still go to Seattle O every year, haven't been to Asia in years. Uh, some folks who are listening will know that I lived in Asia a number of years, uh, mostly in China, um, and a Mandarin speaker and like was doing some, uh, you know, sourcing and product development work for various companies, both in and outta bike.

And it's, it's a big part of me. And, and those relationships are not just great professional relationships where interesting ideas emerge out of, but also, you know, people I really. People whose families I know, um, and people I've stayed with. Uh, and so yeah, that's, that's something that, um, I'm really looking forward to in 2023 is attending more of those, uh, conferences and trade events and things like that.

[00:11:45] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, it's definitely, I mean, it's so critical. I think when you've sort of broken bread with someone and then do business with 'em, you're just so much more likely to be successful in that relationship.

[00:11:56] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, you start to understand people at a different level when say, you know, you're with the owner of this very large factory and you're trying to understand each other, and you do so over a cheap bowl of noodles at his favorite noodle shop down the street from the factory. And that's, and you know, or you, you know, you have.

Uh, dinner with him and his wife and, and kids or her and her, you know, family or what have you, uh, which is the sort of thing that used to happen all the time. Uh, pre covid and hopefully Taiwan is open. Um, and so Taipei will be, uh, in person this year. It looks like in March. China is still closed, uh, effectively, unless you want to quarantine and risk being stuck there for,

[00:12:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah, but, but showing some signs. I was just listening to an economist this morning showing some signs of easing their zero covid policy, which is interesting.

[00:12:46] Randall R. Jacobs: It's interesting and, uh, there's a whole, if we wanna get into, uh, geopolitics and so on, there's a whole conversation we could have there about, um, how that, that might go. They have a huge unvaccinated elderly population, so that's a, a huge concern. And they've largely, uh, uh, rejected, you know, more effective Western developed vaccines in

[00:13:08] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's the

[00:13:08] Randall R. Jacobs: less effective homegrown ones and they haven't deployed them.

And, and so, Yeah. And, and there's reasons for that. That is, is, uh, again, a whole conversation on geopolitics we don't need to dive into. Um,

[00:13:20] Craig Dalton: indeed. The final thing I'll mention about people for bikes is that they did reveal some statistics around sort of the bike industry and some of the things we already knew about. The sort of ebb and flow of supply chain constraints and how early on in the pandemic there was a lot of people flooding to cycling.

Then some of the supply chain finally caught up and, and then there became a little bit of a glut of bicycles in some categories out there in the market. Then now combined with a softening of demand, the sort of supply and demand curves look really funny over the years, and they're sort of,

[00:13:56] Randall R. Jacobs: Hm.

[00:13:57] Craig Dalton: In synchronous, um, out of synchronicity.

And I think we'll continue to be that way. Cause now with an impending recession potentially, it's just, it's gonna be interesting to see where supply meets demand in this coming period.

[00:14:12] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. And we also are in the low of the season because, you know, when people talk about the bike industry, um, oftentimes they're talking about the upper end, you know, and, and when I say upper end, I mean anything that's not a department store bike. So like, you know, anything you'd buy at a bike shop, so like a bike that's, you know, has a minimum level of spec, at least maybe $400 and above.

Um, and you know, the, there's, there's a cycle for that. And most of those, that level of bike is, is in the northern hemisphere. And so as the winter approach is like, demand always goes down anyways, so the question is what will it look like in April when you know the next season is kicking in?

[00:14:53] Craig Dalton: yeah, yeah, exactly. So super fascinating stuff.

[00:14:57] Randall R. Jacobs: you mentioned, uh, about diversity as well

[00:15:00] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I mean, I don't, I don't, I, you know, you and I were talking offline like how difficult it is to find safe women who work in the industry to interview for the podcast. At times, I was saying like it's easy to find women athletes, which is great to see, but often I think there's just, it's just been such a male dominated industry.

So there's certainly discussion around gender inclusion, but more of kind of race and ethnicity inclusion. We had the founder of Legion Bicycle, Justin Williams, just talking about, um, you know, just showing younger athletes, younger black athletes, that there was a world where they're included in the space in, you know, he's got an interesting vision around, you know, rebuilding city based criter racing and creating a league and providing ownership.

To the writers, which I think is fascinating. There's a lot of stuff going on. It just, you know, it's always depressing how long these initiatives take to really show some impact.

[00:16:05] Randall R. Jacobs: It does take a long time to get a critical mass of people who say, you know, look like me, whatever, you know, whatever your me looks like. Uh, so, so yeah. That makes sense. And, um, for anyone listening, hearing us talk about how it can be difficult to find, you know, uh, women or minority, uh, well, uh, Yeah, people of color, um, to represent, uh, the industry, to bring on the pod.

If you have ideas, please reach out and let us know. You can let us know when the ridership in the, um, the Gravel Ride podcast, uh, channel, um, or drop us an email. Um, there's an email set up for the pod I call.

[00:16:43] Craig Dalton: There's not, there might have been

[00:16:45] Randall R. Jacobs: Okay. Well anyways,

[00:16:47] Craig Dalton: you know where to find us.

[00:16:48] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. You know how to find us, find Craig or I, um, cuz always looking for, uh, people to have interesting conversations with and we definitely have a few in the queue.

Um, alright, so Bentonville and then, uh, how about the event itself?

[00:16:59] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So great event. I mean, I really enjoyed it, not my, it was the terrain. I did the little sugar event at Big Sugar. Big Sugar Gravel is the final of the Lifetime Grand Prix series for the year, but it's also been running, I think. This might have been the third year this thing actually went off. Anyway, Bentonville, great community, embraces cycling in a big way, very kind of undulating, so a lot of short, punchy climbs, which isn't necessarily what I'm trained for.

If you can call what I am trained for anything. But the terrain was, I mean, it was loose and rocky. I had my, my rock shock equipped titanium bike with 700 by 40 fives on. I felt super confident and it showed anytime it went downhill on the course. I was rifling by people. You know, I also have a dropper post.

I was looking, you know, people were looking incredibly nervous as I was just absolutely flying by them, and I was talking to a friend after the fact and I mentioned like, I felt like I was racing, which felt good. I like, honestly, I haven't felt like I was racing. In a long time, and it wasn't intentional.

I didn't go in with a lot of fitness, but by happenstance it was a, a road, a road rollout. We were on pavement. there was, uh, Molly Cameron, who's a transgender athlete. Friend of mine, was out in sort of the front of the pack and there was a few quick step pros from Europe over there and I was just kind of curious to kind of be around them.

And I wanted to say hi to Molly. So I am fairly comfortable riding in packs and I got to the front and I front ish, I would say like top 20% of of riders. And I started to realize that I knew there was a heavy, heavy choke. Not like eight miles in where it had to go. You had to, everybody had to go down to sort of almost a single track, and it was a gully that was gonna give people some trepidation.

And so I found myself in the top 20% there, and I can only imagine the carnage that happened behind me

[00:19:04] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah.

[00:19:06] Craig Dalton: Randall, I finished 40th or something out of 400. and I rode, I rode hard to my ability. I was fortunate. It was super windy. I was fortunate that like I, I was always riding with at least one other person and occasionally we'd balloon up to, you know, 10 people or whatever.

But I was riding hard over every hill. I certainly was riding the descent, hard to catch back on when I was getting dropped, but I just wasn't getting past five people and it started to dawn on me that, so, Some carnage happened back there because no one was catching me this entire day.

[00:19:42] Randall R. Jacobs: That's, um, I've actually used the course profiles like that to my advantage in my racing days. It's like, okay, here's a course that starts on a big climb and at the top of the climb goes into a tight single track when no one can pass. I'm gonna be at the top of the climb first, and then I'm gonna, hopefully someone behind me is a lousy technical rider.

[00:19:58] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's almost the only thing that mattered,

[00:20:00] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, good for you. Nonetheless, it's takes something to, to be in the, in the front for that long anyways, so Bravo.

[00:20:08] Craig Dalton: so it was, it was fun. Like I, I just like, I felt good about myself on the bike and it was, granted, it was the shorter course or whatever, but it was fun and it just sort of reminded me that, you know, getting out there and having sort of just the encouragement of event day to go a little harder, go a little deeper is just something I enjoy.

[00:20:27] Randall R. Jacobs: It's a very different experience, like psychologically going, being in an event or even being, uh, you know, as I experienced in, in Boulder in particular on a, on a spirited group ride and just having to hold on right Knowing like, oh, not, it's not only. That you want to finish the overall event, um, in a good time and, and be towards the front, but if you get dropped, you're gonna be out in the wind on your own.

And so you're just like holding onto that wheel, uh, for dear life, knowing that as hard as that is, it's gonna be that much worse. The moment a gap, uh, opens up and you're just doing half the speed on your own.

[00:21:02] Craig Dalton: a hundred percent. It, that went through my mind constantly in, in Bentonville. I was just like, I, it doesn't matter. Bury yourself, because if you fall off this wheel, you're, it's gonna be, you know, you're gonna be out here a lot longer.

[00:21:17] Randall R. Jacobs: Um,

[00:21:18] Craig Dalton: I love it. I love it. So, you know, in some, I know we got, we have a short amount of time and, and ground to cover, but I, I really liked Beville.

I really liked the big sugar gravel event. I, I definitely recommend it if you're a mountain biker. There's so much terrain down there to ride. Um, one, one real just funny anecdote to talk about, like Bentonville as a cycling community, I was staying at a hotel a couple miles, kind of away from down. And as I was riding back, and this happened two or three times, I would come to a crosswalk on a bike path and there'd be a car in the way.

Not doing anything malicious, just kind of peeking out, trying to make their turn, and the car would back up. And I, I was just like shocked. Like of the, of the courtesy towards bicyclists.

[00:22:02] Randall R. Jacobs: did they honk at you? Did they throw anything?

[00:22:05] Craig Dalton: There is no gestures. Maybe even just like a friendly gesture, like, oh, I'm sorry, I was in your.

[00:22:10] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, it's, um, I've visited, uh, Bentonville. I've, uh, some friends, uh, who moved down that way in part for, in, in no small part for the reason that you're siting there. The infrastructure there is incredible is, um, a lot of Walton money, so a lot of Walmart money. Cause that's their headquarters that's gone into, I mean, some of the, like, I've seen bridges that go over, you know, small little gaps that, you know, you could just ride down, ride up the other side and like these ornates, you know, rot, iron bridges that are done, you know, by a local artist, you know, um, real architecture in there.

And, uh, yeah, this is just a, a lot of investment in that scene and it shows and it's pretty cool that, you know, you're starting to see some big events down. Did you bump into, uh, Benini Per chance or,

[00:22:58] Craig Dalton: Um, no, I, no, I didn't. I think I might've saw him down there, but I didn't speak to him. I ran it to a bunch of other journalists along the way

[00:23:07] Randall R. Jacobs: okay. Uh, I, I saw him in, uh, in Boulder. He has his, the ride with, uh, Ben Delaney YouTube channel. So I know that he had done a video from there. So curious if you cross paths. Um,

[00:23:20] Craig Dalton: And then not a few weeks later, I found myself finally going to J in Spain.

[00:23:25] Randall R. Jacobs: Tell me about it. That's a, that's a place that keeps coming up in conversation.

[00:23:29] Craig Dalton: yeah, I mean, gosh, it was two years in the making. I've been talking to Trek Travel about joining their Jer Gravel bike tour, uh, five day trip outta Jer. Um, finally, you know, due to covid delays, it finally happened.

I had a couple buddies from the Bay Area join me. We were a group of six. We had two great guides, Mickey and Rafa. Mickey was a local, so he kind of knew all the little goat paths and different ways. In fact, you know, we were given, we were able to use Trek bicycles for the entire trip, and we had a GPS from Garmin that had all the roots on it.

But oftentimes when we were going outta town, if Mickey was leading us, he would just take us through the little goat path at the little trails, which were a heck of a lot of fun. Gerona appears to have gravel in every direct. And a lot of different style gravels. You know, they set us up on these trek demos with a 35 C tire, so, you know, very small tire and very kind of road plessy setup from compared to what, what you and I normally ride.

But the bikes were, were very capable and a ton of fun for the type of gravel we were experiencing. We did a few rides out to the Mediterranean coast, which was amazing, but then got into some technical stuff and what I, what I really enjoyed about the trip was that there was a little bit of everything.

It was clear the way they designed the days that they could sort of test people's appetite and their metal and their experience for, you know, the days that would come as they did get progressively more technical.

[00:25:03] Randall R. Jacobs: Hmm. I would imagine it's challenging if you, like, if they have a more eclectic group of people who don't know each other and you know, you, you really, I wonder if they do some, uh, pre-screening before they put. People on a ride together to make sure that the abilities are, are roughly equal because when they vary widely, uh, you end up, you know, going at the pace of whomever the slowest rider is, which is fine for a certain type of riding.


[00:25:28] Craig Dalton: Yeah, no, I, I did acknowledge that and I spoke to the guides a little bit about that, and we did feel fortunate that although we did have some varying ability levels in the group, um, a couple of the riders decided to stop at lunch one day and get in the van or opted to do tourist things one day and not actually ride.

So it did feel very much like the pace was dictated by myself and my, my close friends. More than anything else, which was nice. Um, you know, I think on one day we had a guide all to ourselves, so it was just like ripping around Spain and doing, doing what we do. And they, they were very gracious about like, if we didn't have enough riding in any given day, we just, we would just go out and ride more and our, our guide would give us an additional route.

So I think on two occasions, we, we set out in the afternoon after coming back from our, you know, our group.

[00:26:19] Randall R. Jacobs: So am I right in saying that the terrain was like a lot of hard pack, relatively smooth given the the equipment that you were on?

[00:26:28] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So yes, in that there's a lot of kind of rails to trails activity, like long stretches of, of, of former rail lines that are now just basically smooth bike paths that just go from, from miles and miles, but then some, some fairly chunky. Gravel climbs, um, and some fairly technical loose descents.

Honestly, like I, I felt like it was maybe a bit more challenging than I would've thought would've been designed, but they always had out outs for people, I think, you know, if you didn't, if you didn't wanna do a certain section or feeling a little bit too beat up. So I was pleasantly surprised. I think I did an episode about it, just kind of with my contemporaneous thoughts that I recorded well in Jer.

You know, on, on, uh, I think it was day three or four, like it was very similar to riding Tam, like we were on some steep descents. I was, I was wishing for my dropper post cuz it was getting a little bit, a little bit loose. Granted, like with the 35 C tires, maybe if I was on my bigger tire bike, it would've been like, I would've experienced it differently, but still, like, I felt reasonably challenged and satisfied.

[00:27:38] Randall R. Jacobs: Sounds outstanding and, um, I you would, I think it was you who sent me the picture of you and Russ from Pathless Pedaled.

[00:27:47] Craig Dalton: So how random is this? So I'm, I'm out, we're sort of halfway through, I think day four. We had just done a climb that is apparently is George Hank's favorite climb on the road after traversing to it on the dirt. And then we did this big dirt road climb and I was feeling spicy and I, I wanted to , I jokingly said to my friend if, if Rafa, our guide's responsibility, To stay with the lead rider.

I'm gonna make it really hard for him today. And I was just on a day, like I was feeling strong and so I attacked on the climb, attacked, you know, but I just felt good and was pushing the pace and I decided since I had the gps, I was just gonna keep going. So I'm like 45 minutes to the top of this climb and I see a couple riding by me.

And you know, Russ is, Russ often rides in flannel. He's got a, uh, you

[00:28:39] Randall R. Jacobs: fishing shirts.

[00:28:41] Craig Dalton: Yeah, and he's got a, you know, he is got that, uh, bike bag a certain way. Like he's got a visual aesthetic to him that if you've seen him ride you, you know, you kind of recognize it, recognize him, and it, I was like, God, I know that guy, but he went by and I'm like, well, I'm pretty sure that was Russ Pathos.

Pedaled. But I didn't, didn't, wasn't able to connect with him. And then the. Was it the next day, I, I, I pass him in the town of Jerron when we're both riding different directions and I yell, pathless Pedaled and I sort of see him acknowledge, but like, we cannot stop, like, we're just not in a position to, and so I'm like, I've confirmed it's him.

And then later on that afternoon, I actually run into him and Laura and was able to chat and grab a picture with him. And he, he, they've been over there a month as j as a base.

[00:29:33] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Oh, so cool. Yeah, I got a, um, I got an email from him one day just with a picture of him at Tata Bikes, which is a, a really cool shop in Gerona. Um, they're, they're built in. Did you visit their shop, their facility? I

[00:29:47] Craig Dalton: I didn't visit that shop.

[00:29:48] Randall R. Jacobs: It's built in out of an old building, so it's like this beautiful stone, uh, building right in the heart of things.

Um, and, you know, they happen to have a fleet of our bikes for rentals and so Russ had a picture of himself with our, with our bikes at ta, uh, which I thought was, was pretty sweet. Um,

[00:30:04] Craig Dalton: I love it. I love it. Yeah. So much, such a great cycle in community when we visited the new Castelli community store there and uh, we happened upon them when they were bringing together a night ride and we were all kicking ourselves for not having lights cuz it looked like it was gonna be a heck of a lot of fun.

There's probably like 30 riders there and I have a snippet on the last episode with my conversation with Oscar, who's the manager there and really cool and lots of different local brands there. And it's, you know, It's fun to like go to a restaurant and then have bike hooks for you and those little details that happen when you're in a, you know, a cycling first community.

[00:30:43] Randall R. Jacobs: That, that sounds outstanding. I really need to make it out there before too long

[00:30:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah, highly recommend Jer. Hopefully I can get back at some point, but I know we're pressed for time and I, I definitely wanna hear about your trip.

[00:30:55] Randall R. Jacobs: Sure. So, uh, three and a half weeks on the road, uh, started in Boston where I'm now based and was in Austin, Texas, Denver and Boulder, then in Reno and then, uh, stopped in Sacramento and route to the Bay Area, uh, against, seldom staying in the place for same place for more than a couple of days. Um, And it was a, a mix of, uh, visiting bike shops.

So we're in the process of building a network of shops for logos and, uh, eventually for thesis, which by the way, uh, anyone who's interested in our wheels, who wants to buy them from a local shop, drop us a note. And, uh, with your local shop and. Um, the wheels you want, and we'll reach out and we'll get that taken care of for you.

Uh, so really focusing on, um, you know, collaboration with, with these shops that are so, you know, critical to supporting the right experience. Uh,

[00:31:45] Craig Dalton: just for, uh, so I know we've talked about the wheel set, on the wheel sets on the podcast before, but just for as a refresher, what sizes and styles do you have available?

[00:31:55] Randall R. Jacobs: So 6 50, 700, 2 9, and we'll be introducing some more in each of those sizes coming up. And then we have, uh, you know, various end cap solutions, free hubs and so on for people who have different drive trains. Uh, and we have a very particular philosophy, which if you're interested, we did do, uh, you and I an episode on what makes a great wheel set, uh, where we go, uh, deep into the weeds there.

Uh, you can find that a few episodes back.

[00:32:19] Craig Dalton: Nice.

[00:32:20] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Um, so that was, uh, that was wonderful, just like getting to one, get a sense of the landscape once again. And two, you know, really sitting down with, uh, small business owners and understanding like, you know, what's their experience, how do they get into this, uh, what is the nature of their business?

And seeing all the different ways in which people serve, um, their particular part of the cycling community, uh, and

[00:32:44] Craig Dalton: How did you, uh,

[00:32:45] Randall R. Jacobs: and.

[00:32:46] Craig Dalton: how did you decide where you were going and what shops to visit? Was it led by the shops you wanted to visit or the locations you wanted to, to have a presence?

[00:32:54] Randall R. Jacobs: Uh, a mix of both. So Austin was somewhat opportunistic. I had a couple of friends who just had their second kiddo, and so I wanted to, to play with the toddler and, and hold the, the, the newborn while they were both on leave. Uh, and then, you know, visited, uh, a co-founder on another project while there. And then was in Denver and Boulder.

That was, um, again, got a bunch of friends in that area. Haven't been there since the pandemics, uh, or at least haven't spent a good amount of time there since the pandemic. Um, and a lot of the cycling media is centered in Boulder. So meeting with a, a bunch of, you know, industry people in journalists. Yeah.

[00:33:31] Craig Dalton: you, uh, were you driving the Prius?

[00:33:34] Randall R. Jacobs: No, no, I, I flew this time. I'm . I don't really care. I've done the cross country drive eight times now, um, between my racing days and then when I was, you know, moving out to the west coast and when I moved back this way. And, uh, yeah, I could see doing it again at some point maybe, you know, with a, with a partner some years down the road when, you know, you do van life for a few months.

But yeah. Um, rent

[00:34:01] Craig Dalton: Were you, uh,

[00:34:02] Randall R. Jacobs: needed.

[00:34:03] Craig Dalton: were you traveling with, with three wheel sets?

[00:34:05] Randall R. Jacobs: Just the one, I have, the six 50 s with a, a byway semi slick in the rear and a, a venture, um, file tread up front. And that was my everything wheel set, which worked out well though, I'll say that in the Denver Boulder area, um, the. So I, I joined, uh, several group rides out there. People are fast, people are super fast, and the terrain, uh, that, that the group rides are on is generally pretty tame.

So, you know, uh, mixer road, hard packed dirt roads, uh, even the single track is not overly technical. Um, I did hit a little bit of a, uh, technical single track, uh, with actually Ben I just mentioned. Uh, him and I rode together while I was out there and, but, um, Yeah, I was definitely, uh, was riding with some people on, you know, full on road bikes and could have used that little bit of extra edge as it was.

I, I did the aides because, uh, I have the pride of a former racer, I suppose, uh, but was definitely just holding on for dear life, a good chunk of the time.

[00:35:08] Craig Dalton: right. Nice.

[00:35:11] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah.

[00:35:12] Craig Dalton: fun. Should we bring, you brought your bike along with you? As well.

[00:35:15] Randall R. Jacobs: So brought the bike along, group rides, visiting with friends, rolling into shops, talking, talking with shop, uh, uh, team members and owners and so on. Um, some really cool shops, uh, that I got to visit. In that area. And then Reno was visiting friends. Um, again, few shops out that way, but uh, in terms of activities, trail running and so on, in the mountains outside of there, uh, and did some hiking in, in Tahoe, which is stunning, um, at all times of year.

But I'd never been in winter. Uh, there was already quite a bit of snow that we were hiking on, in, in spikes. Uh, and then the Bay Area, which was, I was all over the bay.

[00:35:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So bummed to miss that you being out here. It

[00:35:56] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, well, I'll, I'll be out this way. I'll be out your way again before too, too long at the latest, uh, sea Otter and, uh, probably the highlight of that trip, uh, was put on like a, just, just put out there, uh, a ridership sf, um, ride meet up and probably had 25 or so people show. And it was great. A lot of people who, uh, I haven't, haven't met before, a few friends, a few people I've known for a while.

Um, and then some people I've interacted with over email and so on, uh, or seen in the ridership. And, uh, everyone was stoked to be there and it was really neat to see. Um, We did the headlands and then out to Tennessee Valley. So revisiting these areas that I used to ride twice a week, you know, when I was developing the OB one, those were the, the, uh, the, uh, the test loop.

Uh, and then just. When everyone was out for pizza, uh, afterwards, just seeing people really connecting and exchanging numbers and taking photos and all that. And it was just such a great vibe. And, um, I remember when you and I used to do such things, uh, host rides together and so let's definitely make it a point to do that.

Next time I'm out your way.

[00:37:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I feel like, I mean, gosh, I can't believe it's December and looking back at the lack of group rides I tried to put together this year, cause I really do enjoy it and such, like I said, it's not, it's not about the riding, it's just about the people I.

[00:37:20] Randall R. Jacobs: We also, um, we used the, so we're still kind of playing around with this, uh, mighty Networks tool, um, for like a a 2.0 version of the ridership that's not in Slack. And so like organizing the events in there actually made things a lot easier. So when the time comes, kind of you market it however you wanna market it, and then, uh, just create the actual event and link to.

In the And if anyone else is looking to either organize group rides or manage their clubs, we have a couple of clubs that are managing their teams, uh, within the Uh, if you have any questions on it, just drop us a note in the current ridership, but, um, that, that actually proved really effective.

[00:38:00] Craig Dalton: Were you able to do like messaging to the people who had registered for the

[00:38:04] Randall R. Jacobs: You can do messaging. Uh, people who are registered can also put in comments and so on. Um, and for coordination, uh, you can, you know, if you send an update, everyone can get emailed. Uh, you can have all the, the ride details in the, uh, invite as well. You see who has signed up. Uh, and you can share with people who are outside of the network though to, to rsvp.

You just have to create a. Everything is free. It's really straightforward. So, uh, yeah, it was, it was a useful tool, um,

[00:38:32] Craig Dalton: I'm, I'm glad you're able to go through that. I know like, you know, we've, we've certainly put in many hours in developing that prototype over there and glad to see you using it and getting that real world kind of experience of like, is this tool beneficial to the community?

[00:38:48] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, it's the sort of thing where I think the events are the most obvious application where anyone can start using it immediately. And, um, and again, for, for club membership of which events is a, a, a, you know, a critical component, uh, it's great for that. And again, free, just get your people in there. Um, if you're, if you're a club manager, then uh, reach out, we'll create a separate space.

It's almost like having. Like your own private Facebook. If Facebook didn't have like algorithmic feed and like was, wasn't extracting all your data and would just leave you the hell alone. Um, and without all the, the advertising and fluff and everything else, it's literally just like your own defined space where you can.

You know, coordinate communications amongst your teams and, and manage events. You could even have your membership in there, uh, if you want membership dues and so on. The platform supports that. Uh, so it's a really neat platform and each club can have its own either club or if you're an event organizer, um, you can have your own space within the broader ridership that is, you know, it can be private or public.

Uh, it's pretty cool. So just gotta invest some more time in it. Now that we've got logos launched and I have a little bit more bandwidth,

[00:40:01] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I know the vision's always been to just create a, a, a safe community place for people who love bikes and, you know, have a devoid of distractions, like you're coming there just to enjoy bikes in the community.

[00:40:15] Randall R. Jacobs: yep.

[00:40:15] Craig Dalton: No one's gonna advertise to you. No one's gonna try to draw you away. It's not meant to be a time sink.

I mean, one of our core shared value is, is that we want people to get outside. We're not, we've never looked to kind of create a community to keep people in front of their computers. We wanna,

[00:40:32] Randall R. Jacobs: Quite,

[00:40:32] Craig Dalton: you're in front of your computer Yeah, exactly. We want this to be inspirational. To get outside.

[00:40:37] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. It's a, a vehicle for connection, you know, as, as with all things we try to do. Um, the, the last thing I'll share is I visited Enduro Barings. Visited their,

[00:40:47] Craig Dalton: Oh, their facility.

[00:40:48] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. And, um, it's not their ma they, they have, um, other manufacturing facilities, um, but got to tour the warehouse and see the testing that they're doing, um, on their bearings and comparison testing and so on.

And, uh, it was a really great experience, uh, was with Matt Harvey, who I had on the pod before. If you haven't heard that episode. Um, a lot of deep nerdy on, on, uh, Barings and then Rick Sutton, who you've spoken to before as a representative. Um, uh, HBAR coefficient cycling. Um, I think I'm gonna bring on again to talk about his founding of Sea Oder.

Uh, and he's also with, uh, you know, helping Enduro with marketing, but got to go really, really that much deeper in the weeds on, um, how bearings or designed and the materials and the testing regimens and all this other stuff. Uh, and it just made me that much more impressed with their XD 15. It's the only bearing that they've tested and I, I looked at the tests and it's a, it's a robust protocol.

The only bearing they've tested that gets better as you use it. Pretty much every bear, every bearing, degrades and, and generally degrades, um, somewhat quickly and it gets better over

[00:42:00] Craig Dalton: it's. It's so fascinating when you, when you meet these individuals who are so focused on their specific craft, their specific part of the industry, and you realize like a generalist could never produce a product as good as this person who was obsessed over this thing for their entire

[00:42:18] Randall R. Jacobs: Uh, yeah. Well, and even, even if you, even then you could be obsessed your entire career, but in, you know, in their case, um, you know, getting access to that alloy, they're buying this in like solid bar stock and machining away like 97, 90 8% of it to make these races out of this XD 15 steel, which is the, the designation of the particular alloy. And you know, it's, uh, it's really cool stuff and worth it, frankly. Like I have, I now have an XD 15 bottom bracket in my bike, and that'll probably be the last bottom bracket I ever own.

[00:42:52] Craig Dalton: The last one you

[00:42:53] Randall R. Jacobs: to other bikes. Yeah.

[00:42:55] Craig Dalton: So, so cool. So cool.

[00:42:58] Randall R. Jacobs: So

[00:42:59] Craig Dalton: Amazing to catch up. I wish we had more time today, but we'll do this again soon.

[00:43:03] Randall R. Jacobs: Sounds good.

[00:43:05] Craig Dalton: Cheers.

[00:43:06] Randall R. Jacobs: Be well.

[00:43:07] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of in the dirt, from the gravel ride podcast. I appreciate you spending a little bit of your December with us this year. Big, thanks to hammerhead and the crew too, for sponsoring this episode . And be sure to use the code, the gravel ride for that free heart rate monitor strap. When you order your new crew to computer.

If you're interested in connecting with myself or Randall, please join us in the ridership. That's It's a free global cycling community. We'd lot of great conversations going on every day. If you're interested in supporting the podcast, you can visit buy me a gravel ride.

All your support is greatly appreciated. And if you have a moment, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels.