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Aug 27, 2019

A conversation with Omata founder, Julian Bleecker about why we ride and the Omata One bicycle computer.

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Tech Corner Sponsored by: Thesis

Tech Corner Transcript:

Mechanical Versus Electric Shifting

These days electronic shifting is receiving quite a bit of hype, but is it actually better? 

To figure that out, let’s pretend that electronic shifting came first and a mechanical alternative was just invented. What benefits would the marketers be claiming?

A big one would be the lack of batteries to charge or have die in the middle of a ride. Another would be improved serviceability. Shift quality would remain similarly excellent assuming proper setup and cable routing, and this would especially be true for 1x setups. Weights would remain similar as well. And finally, all of these benefits would come at a radically lower cost.

In such a world, why might a rider choose electronic shifting? Well, with a motor doing the work of shifting gears, action at the lever can be near effortless. This can be helpful to those with small hands, or arthritis, or simply for those who prefer a lighter feel. For 2x drivetrains where the front derailleur tends to be the source of most problems, electronic systems can use software to prevent cross-chaining and automate the skill of shifting smoothly between chainrings, making that experience super easy.

As for me, for now at least, I’m sticking with 1x mechanical for its simplicity, reliability, and serviceability.

And with that, back to Craig and this week’s guest.


Automated Transcript (please excuse the typos)

Julian, welcome to the show.

Hey, thanks Craig.

I'm excited to have this conversation after meeting you down in LA and experiencing some of the gravel that you can ride to from Santa Monica. It sparked a lot of thoughts about what I'm interested in as a rider and why our ride, but as is tradition. Let's start off by just learning a little bit about you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as a cyclist and how you came to gravel and then we'll talk a little bit about your background in product design.

Sure. So, um, it might be a bit of a surprise, uh, quite, um, a bit later in life. So, you know, as, as probably like most American kids. Um, I definitely was younger, but it was just, it was just a thing that you kind of, you probably remember pushing up the steeper hill and the neighborhood just so you to, you know, we could ride down and I have a Schwinn chopper with tassels and a speedometer. And remember, all the kids in the neighborhood, they bikes had one little special feature. One kid had a, had a bike that had three speeds, one had a five speed with like a stick shift, uh, on the, on the, um, on the crossbar. And then it was just kinda thing we were just kids, like kind of just having fun with Bateson, never really thought about cycling, um, much beyond that and not really much of a, um, sporting type.

So I never got into like team sports or anything like that. I was, I was a musician, um, kind of coming up, um, through junior high and high school and a bit into college. So that was kind of my main hobby and passion. Uh, and it wasn't until, I mean, Geez, 2009 now, so like 2014, um, a little bit before that I was exposed to cycling mostly cause some colleagues of mine, uh, where I worked at Nokia were, were super into cycling. And the, the studio, the Nokia Design Studio that, uh, I was part of was in this little kind of horse town called Calabasas, just on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains from where I was now, which is in Venice. And they used to always go for rides, uh, during, during lunch time. And it was always a slightly bizarre, um, Kinda, you know, thing. We were just like a bunch of sellers who go traipsing out with their bikes and go right and coming back like very sweaty and, and sort of, you know, I'll sign up for the shower, there's one shower in the studio and I'll just seems like a little bit Kinda strange.

But I, you know, I understood generally, but it was, it was just this kind of ritual that they went through. And I would, you know, good naturedly tease them and say like, Oh, you guys are getting into the costumes now you're putting off some place. Um, and it, it, it wasn't until I actually went to a cycling event with them. Uh, it was a 24 hour race in the desert, 25 mountain bike race cars, 4,000 year old Pueblo. And I went along, uh, I went along as a just cause friends were going. And, um, also, uh, when I'm, I'm a really, really into style, kind of cool, just as a, as a definition that you to do a little photography project. And so that's what I did. And I set up a little photo booth and I took photos of the, uh, everyone who's writing a solo, uh, so not on a team and try to get them each lab through the, through the timing 10. I was like a 16 in change mile, um, a lap route that went around the desert. Each lap, I'd catch them. And I just wanted to kind of capture this kind of general, you know, just slowly decaying humanity as they, as they rode throughout, throughout the night. Um, parenthetically, complete opposite happens. You can, can you point a camera at someone that they didn't, they pick up in there,

smile that she get this

smiling faces throughout the night. But that was fine. It was fine. And I actually did that for two years and I kind of got a sense of like what the whole vibe was there and it's just like, you know, it seemed like a fun kind of community entity and, and people definitely, um, uh, enjoying themselves. And that third year, which I guess would have been 2014 some reserves, um, I might have a yearbook


And sign up and mostly to myself in a way like, okay, so can you, can you learn to ride a bike? You learn to ride a mountain bike, you've learned to ride a mountain bike, kind of, you know, a, um, kind of ethic way and do and do it in mice, you know, roughly five months. And it would go from dogmatic and having a mountain biking and never, never might not even written one to, you know, go into this event and, and, you know, make a showing. And so my, my, my bar for success was like, just don't embarrass yourself. Um, but you know, just try and try to kind of get yourself in the condition that would be needed to do that. And so it was very much focused on the, um, on, um, kind of conditioning, just getting out of, you know, slightly doughy physical state, um, and not really even remembering what it is to sweat for, for physical exertion to be invited, you know, in the, in the summer from better in a better condition to go to this race.

And so, so I did that. So like I signed up to Raj Solo because I didn't wanna, I didn't wanna, you know, I didn't want to be necessarily a flooring went down. You maybe had a different kinds of ambitions that I did and I signed up single speed, which was, I knew at the time like, um, maybe not super well considered. Um, but there's something about the, about it just added something to the mix and it both added and took away. So it took away like complexity and a lot of decision making. Um, so that is obviously the extra requirement that, um, you know, you just learn how to ride and that's just the way that assemble speeds it forces you to ride.

That's pretty amazing. If you, if, if, if you think about it as a listener, that part of the sport of cycling that you entered into 24 hour racing plus single speed, the perspective for most athletes is that's really hard. So it's pretty amazing to hear that story and to think about you kind of starting out that way and setting that goal and riding that equipment. And I imagine it sort of has framed everything ever since to a degree.

Uh, it, it has for sure. And um, the, the, yeah, it was something about like the, the, the purity of that, that kind of constant construction, the purity of that, that, that set of parameters, um, that appealed to me. Even as you know, I reflect on it even as a, as a, as a other aspects of, you know, the, the hobbies that I nerd out on. So like, like particularly like photography, I prefer kind of stripped down equipment. I like working with, uh, with um, with uh, with a range finder. I like kind of reading the scene and not using a lot of automatic settings. Um, I like him without a lot of adornment and so there's something about that that appealed to me once I understood the, the, a bit of the philosophy behind it, like just kind of, you know, really biting into the challenge as opposed to Kinda, you know, do going a little bit soften and nothing about 24 hours and software like it just wanted to pair it back as much as possible.

And there was definitely a component of it that is, um, you know, everyone's got an ego and I've got one and then part of it's ego, Amelia was saying like, seeing if you can do it at this level that's even better and, and people look at you differently as opposed to going at it where you, you maybe, you know, you're, you're making it a little bit, you know, quote unquote easier for yourself. That was my kind of naive, like not really understanding cycling or cycling culture all that well. It just felt like, okay, if I do that and if I'm falling behind or if I'm slow a climb, people will know why. And there's something about that that almost start like that a little bit of a cushion for you. Even though it was, you know, even being able to complete fine without um, uh, you know, like the sort of, yeah.

Referred to as my, like my hygiene right around around here, which is, um, yeah, about, about 1200 foot climb. It's got pitches, but it's basically, you know, pretty much all the climbers, like I'm being able to do that on a single speed without, without stopping and learning how to not stop or learning how to go even slow without, you know, without obviously without changing views. Those are all things that I felt like I learned very quickly or are helping me develop a particular kind of skill technically. But then also, um, a like a mental skill that kind of feast chain, um, you know, some kind of adversity, however mild it might be. Persistence, like just keeping going, just keeping going, knowing that there's nothing that you can fall back on. It's just all dependent on you. And then I think coming to a really deep appreciation early on that it is just you, um, and you know, obviously riding solar, but it's [inaudible] your success in the completion of this task, uh, is, is you gotta you gotta dig deep to something down inside of you in order to overcome this particular hurdle. And that hurdle might just be getting to the end of this pitch of this particular climb and feeling that sense of accomplishment, satisfaction.

Yeah. It's interesting as a former single speed rider, myself, anybody written a single speed knows there's you face pitches where you have to turn yourself inside out to get to the top. But it can be amazingly satisfying when you do. And to add to that in the moments where you're in a state of flow on a single speed, I don't think it can be matched because there's that simplicity of the sound and the experience and the things you're thinking about that is just so pure when riding a single speed mountain bike.

Yeah, that's a really, that's a really nice way for you to put it. It's, it's um, yeah, it's just, it's just really, really nice and it's very, very satisfying. And then also just get, uh, realized that there's a limit. Like, okay, well this is now I'm going to change gears. And it's the push gear and that's okay.

So like I imagine many single speed riders, once you've been doing it for a while and particularly living where you live, there starts to be some limitations about how far you can go and where can you explore? I can only imagine that as the gravel bikes scenes started to materialize, there was some attraction to expanding where you could go and what you could do on a bike.

Yeah. So that is it. The whole, my whole world is just focused on, you know, the, the particular bike I was on and particularly the training rides I was doing and his race, that was all, that was like a laser focus. So I didn't even, I wasn't even thinking about possibly, you know, banding what cycling was to me. It was just a thing. And, um, during, during the race, uh, um, very early in the morning of the, you know, the know four o'clock the morning, um, I was, I was riding and I got to the top of this one to, to the climb and some people sort of stopped there and they kind of take in where they just kind of adjust to or that kind of thing. But it was pitch black out except for the string of lights in the, in the desert that you could really see from a place of this host string of lights.

And all that day I had been receiving this incredible encouragement from, uh, from folk, from folks on, on the course and see like, you know, I'm solo on single speed and, um, uh, B, I'm just kidding. I'm just kinda out there. And it was a kind of encouragement that I don't, there was, it was profound. So you'd have like, I don't know who it was, it was like Cannondale's protein and you could hear them, you know, a hundred meters back if someone's coming up on me. And at the same time it's just kind to try and negotiate this, this, the single track with cactuses on either side. And they came up, come up, really came up really quick and they were like, uh, just going to pass in your left whenever you're ready. So like, you know, they're very conscious in that, that, uh, caused any kind of May m and so I would just kind of nurse over and it's just like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. This went by and the last guy last year, it was just like, where to go? Just said that to me. It was just like, it was like here, it was like, I felt like I was like a 12 year old kid and like, you know, basketball, uh, you know, want to be, and Michael Jordan came up and said like, you're looking good.


It was just, it was just so silly. And so pro-family you know, just like physically kind of like doing okay, but kind of like, what am I doing out here is ridiculous. And it was that and that sense of fellowship and seeing everyone out there that, that at that moment, I just remember thinking in my head, it's like, I'll do, I'll ride a bike until the day I die. Like this is it. And it just, something switched and it was, it was shortly after that that I, I got a, I got a road bike, so okay, this is something different. It's something new, different kinds of rides and different places to go in there kind of thing. And it all made sense. But I was, I was still a little bit kind of sketched out about riding on road and you know, even like Pacific coast highway, which was one of the main thoroughfares to get you to other fun times around here.

So I wasn't really doing that. I was like, I was, so, I was still going on the same way as I was going. I've really taken my, my, my Cannondale synapse, you know, with dyspraxia and um, uh, quite wide tires had like, um, 20, 25 to 28 on it. And I was just taking on the same kind of buffed out, um, fire roads around here just cause I didn't, I didn't really know anybody. I mean, I knew a little bit, it's like, it doesn't quite make sense, but I saw someone go up here and I would buy, maybe it's okay. And it sort of was in a western. Um, so I didn't really have, you know, exceptional by skills. So I would go over a little bit. And at one point I was up in some, some, uh, some logging road and someone said like, Hey, so you know, there's this thing called the gravel bike and other gravel bike.

What's that? Sounds ready. And um, that just, I kind of was, you know, started looking into that into that world and ended up getting, uh, a gravel bike built up by US dinner framework's up in Santa Barbara, which is now my, my main Steve. Just love it cause it's like you said, it opens things up. You can now, you know, you can kind of knit together. The things that I was knitting together on my, on my, on my mountain bike, it was just taking me how long to get from a to B. So I literally ride from my house to the right to, to where I was riding on my single speed. And at some point it's like this is ridiculous. Like I'm basically, you know, you, you spend for like six or seven crying from him, you just kind of coast for a bit and then spend a little bit more. And that didn't make any sense. So getting the gravel by completely changed things up.

Yeah. Especially where you are, I think there's, you know, within 10 road miles there's some really interesting stuff that you can get into and tap into where, you know, if you were to ride up to Topanga on your single speed, you'd probably be quite frustrated by the time you actually got to the town of Topanga and sunburn. So you came to the sport late, but you came with the professional experience of a designer. Were there some elements of the sport that just caught your interest and you thought you might want to apply yourself professionally to it?

You know, that's a really good question. And um, in some regards there probably was. I would say though, initially, yes, in my background as a, as a, as a product designer and designer and engineer, it's very much technology focused. I mean, that's been my thing since whatever I saw my first episode of Star Trek, I was like, I want to be an astronaut. I want to make a can of technical things. I want to write software for computers and that kind of thing. So, um, the, there's, there's quite a gap currently, you know, the way cycling is now between the, the tech world and cycling itself. Um, I mean obviously there's like technical aspects to two bikes and bike accessories and that kind of thing. But initially it was more a sensibility about, uh, about the, I guess the essence of cycling as I came to learn it and understand it and know it.

Uh, there's something about particularly that I would feel when I was, um, when I was training just that calm that can come when you know that you just have to do, you know, today's training, college conversation, you need to ride your bike for eight hours. Uh, you know, what are you going to do, what do we ask him to go, what's your mind and [inaudible] and these kinds of things. And there was an experience I had when I was, I'm one of those longer training rides, um, where it was nothing, it was just about, it wasn't even by distance or anything like that. It was purely about you need to basically be in the saddle hours. Obviously, you know, taking breaks when today is about, you know, kind of getting yourself in the state of mind that you can be sitting and spinning for a long time.

And have you been drawn into using other tools like gps computers or you know, things that you are staring at while you were supposed to be out on these long training rides?

Yeah, I did because I'm like a, I'm like a, you know, engineer and kind of technology guy and data nerd. Like I wanted to somehow capture the experience, um, you know, in a, in an instrumental way, in a technical way, in order to be like, hey look, I did that and have that show up, you know, whatever looked on the gps map or as a set of statistics will say, actually, you know, this is how long you go, precisely how many feet of climbing you did, all those kinds of things. Uh, and, and one of these rides, you know, I had like a Garmin on my bars and it's like, it's, it's telling you that now you've got seven hours and 47 minute stuff to ride and that's just not helpful at all. Um, and so I just, I remember like loosening it and just turning it the other way.

I couldn't get, I couldn't, couldn't get it off. And so I just like left it on. I'm kind of pointing away from me. And that was, that was like maybe just like an early hint of that notion. At the same time you're more on the design side. I'd been working on some projects from the design studio that I was at that were very much focused on at the time. It seems like a little bit kind of old fashioned now, but at the time, uh, about uh, uh, about turning away from kind of screen-based interaction. Like, are there things that we can do that allow us sort of access and allow us to interact with the kind of, you know, the, the see the beneficial side of the information that you might find through an algorithm or on the Internet. But without forcing utilities, stare at a screen.

The project was called heads up cause we wanted to get people to have their head up more and all the kinds of things that we're seeing now. People still saw them, them just people sitting at dinner with the family and everyone's staring at a screen and all that kind of stuff. Um, it was, it was, uh, early days of people kind of recognizing that something's not quite right with these, um, new instruments that we're all kinda carrying around. And yeah, we were trying to figure out what we could do about it. And so that was very much, uh, on, uh, in the front of my mind about how do you create, uh, experiences at, particularly in contexts like riding a bike, which shouldn't be about staring down and just looking at the stream of data. It should be about having your head up, whether you're training them out or whether you're just out on a, on a, on a nice coffee ride or, um, finding a way in which you can enhance the experience of riding that is much more attached to the idea that I'm out here because it's good for not just for my, my legs and heart and lungs, but it's also good for my soul and my head.

The thoughts that I have. And one of the ways that, um, that, that it felt that this could come to be was to not have digital information sitting on your handlebars, not to have a digital display there. There's something about the calming influence. It's like analog, um, aside from the fact that it looks beautiful, it's, it's, I find it much more compelling than looking at a digital readout. Um, it hearkens back to, um, a kind of, um, mechanical motion. That's precisely what you're doing when you're on a bike. You know, things are turning, you're kind of cranking things over and, um, you're, you're moving bits and pieces and parts that are, that aren't digital, which is mechanical. And the most beautiful, simple way.

It's really interesting what you were saying and it really resonated me about you as a designer. You can't ignore the value of information and the desire that we have as humans as it's been now provided to us in these pocket devices. But at the same time finding ways to display, retain and use that information that are less invasive. Uh, it really fascinating Julian.

Yeah. And it's, it's, um, you know, it's, you visit other aspects to it. I think along those lines that is, uh, that is about, you're trying to find a way to kind of cut out the, um, or at least kind of dial back the digital influences on our life and our behaviors and our thoughts and our concerns. Um, this is like one particular way. There's also just like a basically like very emotional aspect to it. Aside from all that, which is just, um, making something that looks like it belongs on a bike. I'm making something that looks like it belongs in a data center, uh, is something that is highly motivating. Um, as well as I would say, um, just from a, from a pure kind of like instrumental mechanical product design, like making a thing like that that translates digital information into analog form isn't, isn't trivial. I'm not crowing about the accomplishment. I'm just saying like as a, as a product designer, that's a, that's a really exciting, exceptional challenge. Uh, how do you do that? Cause it hasn't been done before. Uh, and finding the way to do it in a particular form factor and particular circumstances that people find themselves in when they're riding, um, is, uh, is just as it is just pure fun as a, as a product design exercise and then just making something that looks beautiful.

So this would probably be a really good time to just take a step back and talk specifically. Some of the listeners may not even know what the Amato motto one is.

Sure. A good point.

So the, the Amada one is a, uh, it's a gps based bicycle computer that represents all the information that we feel matters most for particular kinds of rides in an analog form. So it looks very much like you might imagine a cockpit instrument in an airplane or a speedometer in a car looks like, except it shows four pieces of information and uh, and on the dial face. So it shows you your speed, it shows you your distance, it shows your, um, offense. So cumulative climbing and it shows your ride time. And then it also has the ability to record other bits from mason that come through on the, um, over and plus or ble. So for most people that's powered heart rate, maybe cadence. We just choose to show those four things and show them with actual mechanical hands moving. And then, you know, like most, uh, um, bicycle computers.

Um, of course we record that information so you can download it later and do all those other sharing rituals that people like to do or analysis, which was like to do with software and uploading into Strava and that kind of thing. We just choose to keep that information in the device during the ride. And some people don't even, they can't be bothered with strive for that kind of stuff. They just like the way it looks and the way it changes, the way in which they ride to have something in this form that's not showing them, um, information on digital display or not alerting them to the fact that maybe they got a phone call or a message or a tweet or something like that. Yeah. Having just spent one ride at this point on it, it was really fascinating to me to kind of watch the dials move.

So the way I think about it, it's like a beautiful coronagraph watch that I've got on my arm and things are just moving slowly as they do and are in, you know, a typical gravel ride. I'm not, I'm not cranking out high speed. So it was pretty fascinating and I think I had expressed to you during our ride, like I had some fear of the loss of data yet I was excited to lose it. And then what I discovered is I wasn't really losing anything. It was, as you articulated, the display was different, but the information was there. It was just perhaps presented in a, in a friendlier way that kept my mind away from thinking about going up a percentage faster or any of that at the ride just was what it was and it was going to unfold and the data was going to get captured. So I got to my office yesterday after riding in with it, um, hitting some trails and connected it through your app to Strava. And sure enough, I had nothing to be afraid of. Everything's there. So [inaudible] really fascinating experience for me actually.

Yeah. And I've heard from a lot of people, a lot of our customers are just some of our ambassadors and people, um, pros who I won't mention who are riding with it, who say that it just changes the way in which they ride it, it changes the experience of the ride. Um, and that, you know, probably many people have heard anecdotally, particularly some pros who once they, once they either off season or when they, uh, when they retire, just want to get back to the, to the reason they started riding in the first place. And the reason probably wasn't to have your ride analyzed by an algorithm at the end of it to tell you whether or not you actually had a good ride or not. You ride because you enjoy the, the, the exertion. You enjoy the conversation with friends or you enjoyed the thoughts you have, you might have if you're riding with friends or alone.

Um, and, and that's something that I felt that in a way the almond one kind of puts a stake in the ground to say this is about the purity of the ride. This is about what really matters when you're riding. Uh, it's not all the, it's not all the data. It's not all the connectivity to different kinds of analysis and that kind of thing. It's really about, um, you know, turning a crank over the feel of the wind in your, in your face, the, the sounds that you hear. All of a sudden your mind is able to focus on those things. You're not worried about what the representation of the ride is gonna be through data at the end of it. And I feel like, I honestly feel like your device does that. It's like a difference between wearing, you know, like a, like a mechanical wristwatch versus, you know, like, uh, an apple watch and I get their reasons why you might have one or the other and we're the almond the one, I'm not saying that this is, you know, throw out all your other kinds of technology that you might use for training saying for particular kinds of rides is that it delivers a very different kind of experience that very many people find.

Um, yeah, just, just pure and quite enjoyable.

Yeah. I remember at a couple of different points in my cycling career, I just had to give up on using computers because I found they, they just distracted me from the joy of writing. I was working for Avocet computer when they had brought out the Vertex altimeter watch and the avocet 50 altimeter computer. And I remember we would just sort of geek out on vertical feet climbed. And it was in the early days of mountain biking and that data was really exciting to see. But I found after several years in that space, it was just, it's, I stopped riding for the enjoyment of riding in many ways and it was very liberating to get rid of that computer. And I can certainly see today it's even worse. I mean you don't have to be an employee in the industry to have these computers with a vast amount of data being thrown at you and you know it, my mind tends to crack the moment I start thinking about Watson and things like that.

It's just not particularly for me. And I guess I would urge the listener to kind of consider that in the conversation we're having this idea of yeah, data is powerful and, and certainly if you're a competitive athlete, use the data to train, but also think about how it's good to turn that data off, capture it, retain it, still send it to Strava. Cause I know that's important to people, but shut it down and just ride to be with your friends, to hear the crunch of the dirt under your wheels. I think it's important for your soul.

Yeah. And you know, over obviously over the years, um, since the company started, definitely been thinking about the ways to Arctic, Oh, do you have find the analogies. And I think, you know, people come to it, hey me and maybe on their own but there, but there was definitely um, having a conversation with a, uh, with a cyclist who rode with one and he was asking us like, just what? Yeah, what do you tell people? What's the why? Why would they have this when they could have all this other extra data and all this information? They said this riding with that kind of computer, it'd be a bit like bringing your iPhone into church and like checking for messages.


Oh, while you're there you have it.

Take Part in this experience that it's meant to be about a thoughtful contemplation as opposed to, you know, anything outside of those walls. And I P if I've heard people refer to cycling as church, and I think the analogy holds like this is a sacred time and particularly, you know, people have busy lives and busy schedules to be able to get out on an hour or two hour ride on the weekend. That might be all they get, you know, that let the rest of the week, which just might be to gen pack of fans, Emily and work and all those kinds of things like treat it like it, you know, as a, as a, as a sacred moment. And I, and part of me feels like, yeah, like bringing, bringing, bringing a whole digital complex of things into that experience, even if it's, you know, sitting on your bars is, um, just feels wrong in many regards.

Yeah, I feel like the product and the intention lends itself to the gravel market very specifically. I know a lot of road athletes who sort of just got burnt out of on the road riding experience and when they discovered gravel, they sort of marveled in the fact that they could go out on these epic hard rides. That kind of push those buttons in their lives that they were seeking, but they were getting away from cars and because of the variability of the terrain, they weren't necessarily as focused on being the first or beating any PR. Because you know, on a dirt trail PR can be different. On a muddy day, a windy day, a dusty day or rocky day, it just, it's just going to change over time. And being at peace with that I think is super liberating. Your legs still feel like you've been out there for a five hour day and you feel exactly the same way, but your soul is kinda filled up a little bit more from having been out there in the wilderness and just letting the day unfold a little bit more.

Yeah. Let's talk about legs for a second cause, um, that made me think of, you know, it's so I'm not, I'm not a, I'm not a super competitive guy. Like I, I, um, I enjoy riding and you're getting out there and I enjoy kind of like beating myself down. Um, but I am rare. Are they trying to get, you know, at the front of the group at all to, it depends, you know, I'm riding with that just some definitely write the other day like I was in the front of the group. It's just the nature of that particular ride in that particular day with those people. But there, there are, um, the experience of like, of just the feeling in your, in, in my legs or one's legs to feeling in your, in your chest, like listening to your breathing, like really doing it like deeply, like understanding that, that there's this set, there's something going on without any kind of data to tell you.

Like you should be feeling better because you're in the zone or whatever. Whatever the information that would normally be displayed. It's remarkable. I mean, just that level of attention that you can give that kind of like inward, um, uh, you know, I don't know. It is a mindfulness, like, you know, really focusing that your, your thoughts on those, those components of the experience is, is amazing. And it's something that I deliberately like, that's my train. Like I focus on learning how to feel my body. And part of it is because I know, you know, a couple of, you know, a couple of big races coming up, I'll be where I always am like in the happy metal, totally fine, that absolutely happy. Um, but I know that it's gonna push me and I know that I wanted, what I don't want to do is completely bond.

And I developed a sense of knowing where my body is at a particular point in the ride and knowing when I can like kind of die, I should dial things back. And knowing when I've got a little bit to push, um, is, is I, I'm just so excited to have develop this kind of the skill to understand my body and know it and intuit what's going on. And I liken it to, I mentioned that, you know, had a, had a, uh, an early modest, uh, amateur musician career when I was, when I was much, much younger and the musicians who I admired who, some of my peers as well as like, you know, superstar professionals who I just kind of looked up to and I would watch some player do, like they're feeling it. Like that's something that's remarkable to know someone who knows what to do with the music without having to look at the chart or just look around and other give us like, I know what's going to happen. That, and that's a kind of skill that I feel is, um, well it's, it's just, it's just joyous to watch. But it also something that I feel that, how'd you use a lot of instrumentation around us to tell us, are you sleeping well or is it time to eat or, uh, are you riding at your peak performance just takes away from the soulfulness of it. And it's, um, yeah, it's just, you know, like the difference between like a robot trying to play a song and a human. Just intuiting what should be played.

Yeah. I think our, our mountain bike brother and refer to this as the state of flow and you don't, it's not like, you know, it's not like you see downhill mountain bikers using computers or instrumentation on their downhill runs. What's important is that they're there one with the terrain there, one with there. They're connected to the bike in such a way that they can flow through the trails and concentrate on not breaking and going as fast as possible, which is different. Yeah. It's different than looking at a power meter on a climb and knowing, oh I should be going in. I should have a little bit more power coming out of my legs cause I know theoretically I can get there. It's pretty fascinating. I remember because your home is in southern California and I, I rode home by the beach afterwards. I couldn't help but think that there's an analogy between the soul surfer and what we do as gravel riders. You know, I've seen documentaries about professional surfers who have left the tour to just go surf, to just go express themselves in the water and let the compensation and sponsorship flow from their enjoyment of the world and the waves that they're riding. And I feel that way about gravel is that we're in, it's its purest incarnation. It's really about having an adventure. And it's not ever about getting from point a to point B quickly or efficiently. It's just about enjoying the ride.

That's right. I think, you know, it's, that's definitely that sensibility. It's definitely something that, uh, you know, we've tried to imbue in the [inaudible] of one, and it's, you know, it's the things you can probably appreciate. It's, it's obviously it's an instrument. It's a technical thing. It's sound like technology and stuff in it, and it's got gps and, and plus and Bluetooth and all those kinds of things. But yeah, it's kind of, it's kind of wrapped in this, um, this ethos, this philosophy that is very much about writing for the goodness of your soul, which is what I think that, uh, you know, soul surfers are looking for. They're just looking for that, that that's sense, that feeling of, of, of blessing and a connection to the environment, the sounds around them and to the feeling of water and the way in which the wage and moving. And I think it's really, that stuff is so important. It's, um, and I think something that it seems like at least there's like an image of a movement towards, towards that just generally, uh, particularly with the way in which we're, um, kind of

bombarded by algorithms expressing themselves in little screens that we carry around with ourselves. I had to do an errand like earlier and I got in the car and I realized I didn't have my phone with me. And there's like, there's like a slight Pang of like angst and I was like, you know what? It could be absolutely fine. I don't need that. I know exactly where I'm going. And if I, if I get, you know, I'm not going to get lost, but let's say even if I did get lost, it's like, well, you know, there was a time when getting lost was okay. It's part of the adventure.

Yeah, exactly. Jillian, thank you so much for joining us. I hope this conversation sparked some of those thoughts in the listener's mind about where to go with the sport and how to think about your time out there on the bike. It really is less about capturing data and more about enjoying the ride. So Julian, we'll be in touch again and have a great weekend and thanks for the time.

Pleasure, Craig. Thank you.