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Jul 23, 2019

Alison Tetrick Instagram
Alison's Bike Packing trip on the Silk Road

Tech Corner - Sponsored by Thesis.

Thanks, Craig. Let’s talk about seven things to look for in a gravel wheelset.

1. Rims. I look for wide, tubeless, asymmetrical, and carbon. This is going to give higher volume tires a proper base of support so that when you run them at lower pressures, you’re not getting tire squirm. It also reduces the likelihood of pinch flats, improves rolling efficiency, and makes for a stronger, stiffer, more durable wheel.

2. Hubs. Hubs are often the first thing to fail on a wheel, so avoid cheap pall-based engagement systems and small bearings used to save weight and cost at the expense of durability. Instead, invest in hubs with a reputation for bombproof reliability.

3. Spokes. I like a minimum of 24, and ideally 28, lightweight wing-shaped spokes. This offers strength, stiffness, and durability while preventing spoke wind up that can accelerate fatigue and failure, all while maintaining a low weight.

4. Exposed brass nipples. Aluminum nipples split and fail while saving only a trivial amount of weight, and hidden nipples make it a nightmare to true your wheels while offering zero aero benefit.

5. Lacing patterns. I like two-cross patterns for their strength, lateral stiffness, and resistance to torsional loads, particularly when paired with an asymmetric rim.

6. Ignore aero. There are no lightbulb-shaped NACA airfoils for a reason. Unless you’re running tires of roughly identical width to your rim, you’re getting all of the side-wind buffeting with none of the aero benefit.

7. Last, great components can’t make a great wheel without proper spoke prep, strain relieving, spoke balancing, and other hidden details. Therefore, look for hand-built wheels from a brand that sweats the small stuff.

So that’s my take on wheels. Now, back to Craig and this week’s guest.

Main Episode: (automatic transcription please forgive any typos)

Alison, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

Alison, as a fan of the sport, I know you as a woman who is usually at the front end of the field, but regardless of where you are, you always seem to be smiling, which is awesome.

Yeah, I mean, riding a bike is fun and I think, you know, if I'm not smiling and enjoying it, then why do it? So, yeah, you're right. Whether it's racing and going hard or cruising around to the bakery, I think, I think bikes make you smile.

Yeah, that's a good thing for everybody to remember. I always start out the show by asking our guests to talk a little bit about their background as a cyclist, kind of how you got into it, but most importantly like what drew you to gravel cycling because you didn't start as a gravel cyclist.

No, I um, I'm born and raised in California. I actually grew up at a, on a cattle ranch down in Santa Barbara County and then up in Redding. Uh, and I played tennis in college in Texas, so definitely didn't start cycling until I graduated college. And I got into running that turned into triathlon and it was my grandfather, um, who recently passed away, but at the time he was saying, Hey, I'll, you know, you should try out cycling. And I was like, old bike racing and Super Dorky, you know, like you're wearing those like rightly hued neon clothing and spandex. And I didn't really want to partake in that, but eventually I bought a bike and hop into some bike races and did quite well when I moved here to the bay area and I thought maybe I'll try this out. And I got invited to the Italian id camp with USA cycling and with Europe and race the national team.

So I actually had about a nine year professional cycling career that my grandpa would still just be like, I can't believe, you know, everything I said would happen, happened. And it was awesome. And I raced all over the world and pretty much reached a point in my career where I felt um, satisfied with what I had accomplished and was finding, searching to find more inspiration and what I was doing. I'd done all the big spring classics, I'd raced for the national team, I'd won races on those continents and I'm going, okay, I, I, I have that. And also, um, I found a lot of satisfaction with that, but also I'd had some pretty bad injuries in the sport. And so coming back to recover from a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, just the mental and emotional energy that costs me. At one point I remember exactly where I was in a bike race in Belgium and going into the last corner and I break, you know, and like, I just didn't want to take the risk anymore and I thought, okay, now's the time, you know, you need to, to, to choose a different path.

However, I really loved riding my bike and we talked about that at the beginning. Like it does bring a smile to my face. I think there's something so empowering about riding a bike, especially as you know, where we live here in the bay area, I think it's one of most beautiful places in the world to ride. So sense of freedom and adventure and allowing me to express myself made me want to keep in the sport, but figure out where do cry, find something inspiring and find that adventure. And um, you probably know Yuri Wall and Rebecca Rush, they keep like elbowing me thing same way like my grandpa did, hey, try, you know, try some bravo or anything. You'll really love that, you know? Right. And you'll be good at it. And, and so it was with their encouragement. I was like, alright. And I thought I'd done for dirty cans and asked my professional team at the time that they minded, you know, me doing dirty Kanza and they're going, oh, well, you know, you still better do and into California nationals and you don't get slow doing it. Yeah.


I signed up and I was just completely hooked because, um, there's so many things I love about gravel racing and riding on, first of all, of course it's that sense of adventure. It's a little off the beaten path and you know, you're getting on roads you'd never seen before. Your meeting this entire community of people that just think the same way you do, which I think is awesome. And when you're racing a road race, you know, in the streets of Holland or wherever you are, it's awesome and the fans are great. But this way we all get a line up on the start line together at these gravel races. And so you're not operating on this platform. You get a calm and just ride with your friends and also do you have the day, you know, to side. It's just about having fun and finishing and I, and I like that about it a lot too. So long winded answer but there you go.

What was that? What was that like lining up for your first 30 cancer when you're lining up with all the women, all the men, all the participants. At one time. Had you ever done anything like that before?

Not in a race setting per se, but you know, we think about it, we do a lot of that at Gran Fondo then you know, even charity events that you do on a bike. So it's similar but not in a full blown race. Um, but I think it's, it is nerve wracking. You know, there's a lot of people, you know, you're, you have like a chasing stampede behind you when you do those large events. And I know that that often, you know, causes a little stress. But, you know, I think something, I love the all inclusiveness of it and I love everyone starting together. Um, and kind of starting and embarking on this day and, you know, I do get nervous, still are worried and then I have to just remember like I chose to do gravel racing to, you know, lower my tire pressure and lower and my like life pressure. And like we were saying like, you're not having fun. Why are you there? So make sure you're having fun and, and, and know that you just get a tears, your friends at the finish line with some beer and talk about your, your day. You know, we all have great stories after doing those events.

It's such an important part of the sport. I gotta imagine tactically it must feel a little bit different lining up with both the men and the women because obviously there's opportunities to get swept up in packs that will have both men and women in it. Has it, has it changed kind of how you think about racing when you're versus when you're racing in a women's only field?

Uh, yes it does. Um, and you know, tactics of gravel racing are constantly changing as some of these events are offering price versus, and you know, there's a certain amount of glory for certain events. So, you know, not only do you have to think tactically lining up with a massive group of people, but also like now we're seeing team tactics, which is interesting and not why I do it. So that's different. But, um, I think you still have to do your own race. And in a lot of these events, especially the longer ones when you're looking at these bravo racing, you know your speeds tend to be a little slower due to the, you know, higher rolling resistance and the terrain. So even a hundred mile event is going to take no longer than it would on a road bike and dirty Canva, you know, obviously much more extreme in the distance.

So yes you can, you know, you utilize other people's traffic and you can get caught up in pass. But also like for those endurance events, I think an important thing that we have to remind ourselves of is you have to race your own race and that means you have to stick to your plan because everyone feels like 1 million bucks at the start, eight hours in, you know, if you need to make sure you're fueling and hydrating and taking care of yourself properly for that beginning portion, which sometimes means letting groups go by you because their exertion is higher than would be appropriate for you to do so you can finish strong.

Yeah. I think that's, that's great advice for everybody listening cause we've all been there where a group comes by you and you're desperate to get into a draft, but you realize you're just going harder still than you could reasonably expect to finish the 200 mile race in [inaudible].

Yeah. And I, and I think, you know, I've had different tactics, um, approaching a race, like dirty candidate depending on where my fitness is or where my mental state was. And I know this year, um, I finished second there. Um, but it was to not panic at the start when I knew I needed to just for not only like my physical ability but also my mental energy. Like my mental state that day was like, oh, you know, you're going to something with intending do, you're going, okay, what, what can I do to, to a, make sure I'm having fun because I signed up for this, you know, like I registered myself for this event and I been, you know, thinking about this or that for six months. So here I am. So reminding myself, I find out for it, I chose to do this. No one forced me to.

So I better be having fun. And then when you're, you have that dark side in the back of your head where this isn't fun, this is hard, you know, her, I don't want her to sale or what if, and this I kept kept saying, you know, race your own race, do you, do you, you know, like believe in yourself that way and just don't panic, you know, like don't worry about some of those external influences that can cause you to panic because that wastes a lot of energy and you need to stay as positive as possible, especially as longer ones. You need to talk positively to yourself and you need to, you know, kind of get through that whole emotional journey that it takes to do a long um, endurance event.

Yeah, I think that's probably a great piece of advice for road cyclists who have, have only participated in road events because in gravel, certainly in the distance of dirty Kanza you're going to have dark, dark moments. And the truth is everybody is, and the question is how do you rebound from that mentally and physically? How do you kind of stockpile enough tricks in your back pocket to understand it's going to hurt, you're going to have to go deep. But what are the things you can do to bring you back into a more positive space?

Yeah, and that's the thing is I came from like one of my strengths, I don't know the road cyclists with a time trial is so, I mean I, I'd worked a lot on mental focus and preparation, um, which did help me in gravel racing because you know, your equipments dial your plan dials, but now you're taking a 20 minute time trial and making it 12 hours. So that's very different. But something I used in road cycling for time trialing, I'd say we, oh, no matter, you know, everyone loses focus, you know, and now it's just how quickly you can regain focus. But you're looking at it much, you know, fast forwarded version. And so I use that same thing and grab already seen. I'm like, okay, it's really dark right now. I feel horrible, but then how I just kind of have a Rolodex of whether it's mantra songs, you know, anything that can remind me to recenter, refocus, remember why I'm there, what I wanted to accomplish.

And then also like if I start taking myself too seriously, like it doesn't matter like how you do just enjoy the day or you know, like whatever it takes to get you out of that place. And then also a joy and I kind of enjoy those dark places you go because you learn really fascinating things about yourself when you're pushed to those extreme limits. And so same thing kind of absorb it. It's, it's like bike therapy, right? And so maybe even using that to get yourself out of it, I go, you know, are you moving forward and making forward progress checks? Are you taking care of yourself? Eating, drinking, talking nicely to yourself? Yes. Okay. And then you can go into this crazy therapy session where end the day the event was so cool, but you do really learn that every day. Training for that and writing like in preparing for it was also really worth it to be able to see what you're capable of.

Absolutely. And I think that's what those are. Those finish lines stories that get shared, whether you're Collin Strickland doing 10 hours or you're doing 16 hours, you had those same deep dark experiences along the way that make you want to come back and do it again.

Yeah, exactly. I mean maybe you asked somebody right after the event, they'll be like, oh, absolutely not. You know, I would never do this again. And then two days later you're kind of going, all right, well next year we're going to do this. So I mean it, it's fun because I think it is about the challenge and you know, succeeding and whether that's just finishing or conquering the adversity within, um, that's really important. And then it's just finding something I've been kind of watching lately with myself. It's finding goals that inspire me, like inspire me. Like it's not dirty cancer for you then that fine. Is that the local grasshopper series? Is it a grand fondo? I mean, what, what inspires you? Or maybe it's just like a bike packing trip across or something, which I did do last year. Um, so it's finding something that makes you want to ride your bike, enjoy it and finding the right people to surround yourself with and you know, doing a good thing on your bike.

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Are there things from an equipment perspective that you look at differently for dirty Kanza than you do for other shorter events?

Um, you know, obviously I, I ride the same setups. We're primarily most gravel events. I'm super comfortable on it. Um, I I ride for the specialized, so I ride a like an s works diverge. Um, I have the, Oh man, if I had the new strand EatApp force worn by on it with a, uh, a 44 front changing in a 10 50 in the back. So that was a super helpful and I just did that Oregon trail, gravel grinder accept all the gears for high speeds as well as really steep pitches. So I ran that exact set of for dirty Kanza. I'll run the set up, the same set up for fast you to Oregon trail gravel grinder because I do have all those years, the bike, I run the same tires ticker 38. Um, I know there's other options. I'm just super comfortable on that and I trust the equipment.

Um, but for something like Kansas and it's longer, I mean I'm carrying a lot more supplies in case all hell breaks loose. So, you know, I'm carrying two, uh, plugs. Um, camelback, of course I run a chase ass, you know, depending on the event, like how the eight stations works with the duration, like how many bottles are you carrying? Um, of course the camelbaks really helpful for that. And then, you know, how do you on those, um, full design makes this little like snack pack, top two bucks. So that's actually helpful too. So the bike definitely gets loaded down with a lot more necessities, but I think you're not worried about weight, you're worried about survival. So I, I would like to, I like to carry enough to survive and make sure I'm, you know, able to get myself out of a bind if something happens to the equipment worth, you know, care enough to carry extra nutrition to and you know, things like that.

Yeah. One of the tips that Yuri Haswell gave on an earlier episode or the podcast was always packing his camelbaks in the exact same way so that he knows what's in what pocket so he doesn't have to think about it. Is that something that you do as well?

Yes, I um, I have everything exactly the same and so it's really easy. And the camelback, the chase, best of Nice cause it does sit up higher so you can still have access to your pockets when you wear it. So that's nice too. So I know what pocket has what and then in the taste best as well. I know exactly where everything is and I like I said the same thing of how they keep my bikes in this, the bikes, the same setup as well just so I always knew I had like no surprises on my equipment and I'm a huge data dork and I like to be as prepared as possible. So I do, I like, I like structure there. So I agree with you. I think that's good advice.

Nice. Well you've just come off of a massive month of writing between dk 200 and the Oregon trail gravel grinder when you to the five day gravel grinder event. And we did have chat on the podcast as well. So I'm really curious to get your opinion on how the event went. Was it, how was it riding five days in a row? What was the competition element the same as a one day event or was it more of a just an adventure ride?

So, um, I go way back with Chad Sperry and he, I used to do a lot of those road races. He used to put on, so he's, you know, Mount Hood cycling classic and Cascade Cycling Classes. Um, so when he asked me to come out to this, of course, I said, heck yes, it sounds amazing. I'm going to feel awful after dk. Do I have to race it? He said, no, you don't. The race it, I'm like, sweet, I'm going to just ride this. And it was the most incredible adventure, um, coming from stage racing and road, like I'm used to that, which is also why I wanted to make it more of an adventure ride just because I know how hard roof like stage racing is and you're camping, so you're doing these points to the point you're camping. And I'm like, you know, I want to be, you know, sitting in the river, drinking beer with my friends after writing and not worrying about covering and going hard the next day.

So there was a point he part of the race of course, where people were racing it and then there was a huge portion where it was just an amazing like bike touring adventure. And I fully embraced that for the first few days just to enjoy it. I see them taking Instagram stories and it was so beautiful. I mean, you're doing these 20 some mile climbs up to 7,800 feet through the snow and you know, it's just crystal clear blue days and it was awesome. And also really loved the setup and the prep. Like the minute you got done with the ride, you know, your tub aware of your supplies is there your tent set up for you and you know, then they have food catered in. It was really re like ran spectacularly. And I think there is uh, a good place for the competitive part of the group.

But I think there's an awesome place for everything else in between, whether it's just finishing or kind of going slightly hard with your friends but still stop you the aid stations, you know, like not like racing and not enjoying the views. So I really kind of soaked that in the first few days. And then at the last day I was like, I'm going to think I'm just going to go hard today. So I raced the last day, which was at the best kind of fun, right? Like you could mix up what day you want to go hard and the next day you don't want to go hard, you just don't. And stopped at all the aid stations and you know, eat the chips and take photos. Um, but seriously phenomenal. I would put down on anybody's bucket list. It was like, you know, gravel summer camp in the cascades.

Yeah. I'm really excited about that. I'm really excited about that format. I just think it's a lot of fun, particularly for the recreational athlete who might take that as their vacation week for the year to just go out and have someone like Chad lay out what they think are the best gravel roads in their area and take care of all the logistics. I mean I'm like, sign me up.

Oh yeah. And I, I think that's what I was most impressed with. I mean I, I thought I was worried about it cause I know Chad always does a wonderful event, but I was just going, how is logistics spend a work? And it was seamless. You know, I mean rolled out every day at nine and you know, nine in the morning you'd finish your stuff would be there. You know, it was just really easy and you don't have to think about where to ride. And the course was marked perfectly a and you have eight stations that normally, you know, you'd have to pack a lot more water or food with you because you're out in the middle of nowhere with no town, no cell phone service. Um, and so I loved, I loved the way I did it because I got to stop and enjoy it and still go hard a couple of days so I can get maybe training in but also just like meet a ton of new people and go on roads. I never would have known connected that way.

Yeah. Yeah. The funny thing is, I mean, just like a stage race, people are going to have good days and bad days. So there's sort of an ebb and flow to one. People want to go hard even if they are trying to race on the front end of the race.

Yeah, exactly. And that was kind of fun too because you know you don't have to go for the overall, you can just go for one day, which I did, which was super fun.

That is fun. Yeah.

Yeah. It was just, yeah, different like, or he go hard on one climb, but then not pushing on descent and worry. You know about once again, as we talked about risk and things that I find important and for me, it's always that I want to be as safe as possible and I do operate at a high dose of fear, so I'm like, you know, it's really nice. Not that we have to raise this lunge, gravel, descent. It's nice to just to sit up and make sure I'm taking good lines and look at what could the view as I go down.

Yeah. Yeah. So transitioning a little bit, 2019 has been a big year for women in gravel, which is super exciting. There's been a lot of promoters who've been making a concerted effort to invite more women to participate in their events. What do you think is going to help draw more women into the sport? Or are there some elements of it that you think are creating a little bit of resistance for women to try?

No, I, I don't think this sport's offering any resistance for, um, more gender equality at all. If anything, it's um, really accepting. I am, you know, there's a lot of initiative. I know Christy at dirty cabs has done some huge initiatives for women at Canva rescue Tiesta which is an awesome, uh, gravel ration for Mohs. If anyone wants to go to that one, it's in the snow, but they, you know, really huge pushes as far and as well as Rebecca rest for her. Rebecca's private Idaho. Those are just three events I know that do some really big initiatives to get more women. And I think that way it starts also at the grassroots level and me, you know, it's, it's for you and I and, and everyone out there to be encouraging, like to have more people, in general, join the sport, male or female and not making it elitist and Oh, you need this equipment or you need to do this or you know, I always felt people do that in cycling sometimes as in life.

Like they act like what they're doing is so tough and hard that, you know, oh well you're gonna really have to train for that or know they make it kind of this kind of serious thing. And I think that there, it's, it's like our responsibility and my responsibility as a female cyclist too, you know, encourage more participation and also leaving that open and accessible because I would never have found gravel racing as quickly or you know, in the way I did. If it wasn't for a woman like Rebecca Rush or silly meager or you know, these people that reach out to me and be like, hey, come over, come over to the dirty side and like try it out. And instead of being threatened or kg, you know, just going, what information do you need? How can I get you to this event? Like here's your tactic. This is how we can do this, this is how it works. And these women are really powerful. And for them to be accepting and open and leading by example I think is really important too.

Yeah, absolutely. I mean I feel like here in the bay area we have so many ass women triathletes for example, that are these endurance machines that you know, once they get burnt out of triathlon, I think it would be a natural transition for them to get into the gravel scene because it will just key into those amazing endurance chops.

Yeah, I think there's a lot of correlation between travel and triathlon that way. That is like an endurance event that ends up, you end up being by yourself, you know, sometimes. So it's definitely endurance that way and it's kind of a long sustained effort. And also I, that's what I thought. The gravel does a lot like a triathlon where people are sitting at this finish line cheering on all the finishers regardless of where you know, there's still that party at the finish that more community feel versus you know, show up to local currently. Something I liked, I liked that sense of community a lot. I think, you know what just gets intimidating as people on the terrain, you know, they think, you know, gravel is mountain biking or scary or you know, and so I like to also show my fear and vulnerability on things and say, Hey, well this is, you know, don't push yourself past your limits but try it, you know, and just see what you think or like there was some things that challenge your skill levels is great and then also being safe and you know, pushing other limits is fine too.

Yeah. I think locally here in Marin county, the challenge for gravel is it does become technical pretty quickly. Particularly if you're riding out of the city or mill valley. You're hard-pressed to find just kind of a nice flowing gravel road, which can essentially seem like a road ride if you get yourself in the right mental state. I feel like here we're, we're throwing people in a little bit harder than they would normally kind of start at the beginning level of gravel, which is a bit unfortunate.

I agree. I call it mountain biking down there.


I mean, I ride on the, up here in San Omani. I ride pretty much road because we don't really have gravel like where I live on. And then I remember of the week before dirty Canva, the year I won, I, I went down and did two a gravel ride with all those guys, you know, out of the Java hut or whatever down there. And I went and did a ride. And uh, I mean I got so dropped, I like walk to the part of the coastal trails. I can't, I can't do this on my bike. And then they were like, you're really bad at gravel. And like, this is mountain biking. And then the next year, the next week I want cancer. They're like, oh, I'm like, no, but cancer was gravel. That was mountain biking. So I agree. Like we throw people off the deep end. So I don't ride with those guys anymore because I'm too scared

when when you're talking about your 38 millimeter tires, I'm like, Gosh Alison, I ride 50s.

Yeah, that's probably why I'm pressing up the coastal strip.

Yeah. I'm heading out, I'm heading out to steamboat gravel later this year and they keep telling me, oh no, ride 30 twos. And I just, I cannot get my head around it to be honest with you.

Well maybe 38. I don't know. I've never written that terrain. But yeah, I mean Oregon, I will tell you, I wish I had bigger, bigger tires that Oregon. It was um, at least 42 I think I would've been happy with. That's what I was laughing. Cause I just like to run the same setup and, and gravel's not like that. There's different conditions and, and you know, gravel, not gravel for everyone. Some dirt, some sand, some, you know, lava rocks. Um, yeah, exactly. What Rock, all gravel is not equal.

Totally. And I, I, that is very interesting to me about the gravel bike in general. Just the ability to really change the personality of it. I mean, if you think about how a bike feels using a 700 seat wheel and a 32 knobby tire gravel tire versus a six 50 [inaudible] by 50, it can handle way different terrain. It feels way different. And depending on what your intention is for that day or that ride or that event, you can make the bike more suitable or less suitable, frankly.

Yeah, yeah. And it's, um, yeah, there's, there are a plethora of different setups you can do, you know, w depending on, you know, conditions, the gravel and also like rain and mud. I mean, if it becomes pretty equipment intensive if you care enough. And then also when we were talking about bringing more people and the sport, it's also important to say you also can just ride a bike. Yeah. Like I can sit here and geek out on all my, all my techie wonderful equipment. And then also just suggest somebody to pick up a bike on craigslist and

yeah, get out on it.

Trails and ride cause it's always like, it's always better to ride than not ride. Right. So, you know, it just depends what your goals are.

Exactly. I've got a set of more mixed terrain tires that I've been meaning to put on because I want to ride some road and some dirt and some upcoming events and I just can't get around to it because I'm like, I just like to get on my bike and ride. And as you said, that's perfectly acceptable. The important thing is you just getting out there and you're having a smile on your face.

Exactly. I mean that's why we do it. I think it's just seriously think about sensory exploration, adventure, riding your bike and enjoyed it. You know, don't take yourself too seriously.

So Alison, I can't let you go without asking about your trip to Kurgestan because it's a country that I've researched and seen pictures of and it just looks so amazing. It's such a bucket list place for me to go. Can you tell me how the trip came about and but more importantly, what was your experience there?

Yeah, I, um, you know, as we talked about, erased, uh, or, and writers specialize and I got an email from one of my product managers there and she said, hey, do you want to go on a trip of a lifetime? And I'm like, um, please explain. I'm very suspicious. And she goes, well, we want you to go bike pack. You didn't Kurgestan and I will admit I did Google, Kurdistan. Um, and I looked at it and I was like, Whoa, that's very inland and remote and I'd like to click on a couple images. And I was like, yes, yes I do. And they're like, cool, you leave in four days. Like, alright. And I go, what do I need? And they said, I'm free. A spork a 10. And they're like, what do you have? And I go, I've never gone camping. And so they're like, well what do you, what do you need?

I'm like, everything. So I borrowed a sleeping bag, I bought everything cause I didn't have anything. Now look at me, I'm camping in Oregon. So it changed my life. Um, it was really, really, really freaking pretty. And I've written all over the world. I think it was by far the most spectacular and breathtakingly beautiful place I've ever been in. So remote, um, we basically rode point to point along the Silk Road, you know, um, started in on, uh, in Kurgastan and then finishing Catholic Sam. And we wrote through China a couple of times and protect the borders, um, for by tax on, you know, setting up my 10 each day and eating freeze dried food. I bought at Amazon, Thank Heavens for the 24 hour, you know, prime delivery before I left for that trip. Um, and we, we like it. It was like riding through every national park in the u s and like each day, like you would be on these like, Hi Grand Canyon looking red desert thing.

And then you'd go through like the Swiss Alps, you would go through Yosemite. I mean, it was just, it was insane. And we spent probably at least seven days above 10,000 feet. So, uh, it was above the tree line for most of it. Um, and just these like crazy glacier streams. Um, like you've heard of wild horses, like these Mongolian horses running alongside of you and we would see no cars for days, maybe a few nomadic, um, settlements, you know, maybe like a person or two a day. And other than that we were really remote and just soaking it all in. And it was, it was quite the journey. I will tell you.

That sounds amazing. Did the team put together the route for you or is this sort of a known, is it a known section of the Silk Road that would be suitable for a bike packing trip?

Um, we actually worked with, um, Cirque cycling, it's s e r k cycling and he does a bike touring company out of China and he came up with a route. And so I don't think it's a popular route per, I don't think it's been done very many times, but he came up with the logistics and the route which him and his team and it was that, that really helps of course, um, you know, for safety, for a organization. From that perspective, it works really well. So we'll, you could kind of just go with somebody and know like that's what we're peddling our bikes today and you know, cause there's a lot of opportunity to get lost or you know, you need specific things to get through protective borders with China and, and, and um, so yeah, to get through safely with a correct visa that you don't really need, but you need to be able to either bribe or, you know, make sure you can get from point a to point d safely. Um, but it was stunning. I couldn't believe like every day we would just go, you know, insert swear word here. This is like Effie Narnia. Like we're like, where are we? Like it's Narnia. Like it was, it was pretty incredible. Definitely bucket list, um, option there.

That's amazing. Is there, is there some place online where people can get more information about your trip and, and your experience there?

Yes. Um, I did write, um, a story for cycling tips as well as there's a video on there with, you can see the images and I can send you the link so you can put it on here. If you'd like, but I think if you Google out in touch with Kurdistan cycling tips, it would come up. But there's a cool video and then you could also hit a link to certain cycling and, and see also the images because the shots that they got out there were just mind blowing. I can't even, I can't describe.

That's awesome. Well I can't wait to watch that video and read more about your trip. It's just sounds amazing.


So Alison, thank you so much for the time today. I appreciate it. It was great getting your insights about the events you've been doing this year and about women's cycling in general. Um, I hope to run into you later in the year, maybe at SBT gravel. If you're heading out there.

I am going to be at gravel world then actually I'd like to support them.

Nice. Well that's all has been good. Yeah,

the same day, which is a bummer. But yeah, it's a cool, it's really cool of that and I want to make sure we're spreading the gravel love.

Yeah, absolutely. I hate when two great events fall on the same day. It just seems unfortunate given the, we could use more events, not less.

I know, I know, but I think, I think it'll both be able to be amazing events. Um, and I'm, I'm bumped in to steamboat cause that looks like it's going to be incredible. So, but 30 to 32 millimeter sound sounds small, but I don't know. I've never done that.

Between you and I, I can't see myself going down to 30 to 36 or 40 might be my limit. Well, awesome. Thanks Alison. Have a great weekend.

You too. Thank you.