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Jun 28, 2022

This week we sit down with Doug Roeder to discuss the 2022 UNBOUND 200. The draw of this event came at Doug from many directions and he has now set an audacious goal to join the 1000 mile club.

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

Doug Roeder

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport

I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.


[00:00:28] Craig Dalton: This week on the show, we've got Doug rotor. Doug. And I actually know each other, gosh, for a couple decades. Now we met through mutual friends and recently reconnected over the sport of gravel cycling a few years back. Doug reached out knowing that I did this podcast and mentioned that. He was heading out to Unbound.

I knew he was also heading back here in 2022. So I thought it'd be interesting to get them on the podcast and just talk through his journey with Unbound. Talk about this year's event. Talk about how he's managing to fit it all in as a professional with a family here in the bay area.

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Would that business behind us? Let's jump right in to my conversation with doug rotor Doug welcome to the show.

[00:03:24] Doug Roeder: Hey, Greg. Thanks a lot. Great to be here

[00:03:26] Craig Dalton: I appreciate you taking the time to join me after Unbound 200. I'm glad you got to the finish line. I can't wait to dig into your adventure out there.

[00:03:34] Doug Roeder: and adventure. It was and yeah, happy to talk. Great to see you. Great to be with you. Can't wait to get out with you sometime live on a bike. This will have to suffice for now, though.

[00:03:43] Craig Dalton: Indeed. So for the listener, Doug and I met each other, gosh, I don't wanna date us too much, but it's probably 20, 25 years ago.

[00:03:50] Doug Roeder: Long time ago. Yeah. Team and training up in the city,

[00:03:53] Craig Dalton: And through mutual

[00:03:54] Doug Roeder: And mutual friends.

[00:03:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. So to set the stage, Doug, are you, or are you not a professional athlete?

[00:04:01] Doug Roeder: No, absolutely not. No, not even anywhere close.

[00:04:04] Craig Dalton: So, so Doug's an endurance athlete, like most of us and, and not an unaccomplished one you've you've achieved multiple Ironmans. If I'm, if I'm remembering correctly and always been fit.

[00:04:16] Doug Roeder: Yeah. So well, yeah. I, I guess right around the time we met, I was very unfit. I had kinda worked 80 hour weeks all through my twenties and didn't. It finally got to a place in my career in my late twenties, where I had a little bit more predictability on my schedule. And so started joined team in training and did one and only one Ironman with team in training.

But in training for that had did a half Ironman and some other events and really kind of felt like, triathlon was a, a great way to kind of get out in the bay area and, and try different things. And so I would never say I was a triathlete. I'd do one or two a year wildflower in particular, the long course there.

But cycling kind of became part of my life at that point. I met my wife on a blind date, bike ride. I started spending time up in Santa Rosa for work every other month. And a gentleman up there took me on a lot of road rides, your pine flat east side, west side, Sweetwater Springs. Always told me that if I ever had a chance to ride king Ridge, I should.

So when Levi started his ride, I started doing that. And so it was kinda I'd pick one or two big things a year to do and train for those. And that was kinda my, my.

[00:05:11] Craig Dalton: That makes sense. And then at what point along the way, did you discover gravel cycling?

[00:05:16] Doug Roeder: So, yeah, I kind of just for a decade plus kind of kept doing the same couple of things over and over cycling with something I would do with work colleagues. I commuted from the city down to the peninsula once a week. Once I had little kids just to get along one long ride in a week. And then it was 2018, I think.

Was the last year that wildflower happened and I was kind of poking around for something new to do. And a buddy on the east coast who I'd ridden quite a bit with and remembered that I was from Kansas said, Hey, you wanna check out this thing? In Kansas, there's this big race, this big bike ride.

It's a gravel ride it's called it was called it's on dirty Kansas. I said that's Ryan that's. That's ridiculous. Why would I, I go to Kansas to ride a bike. Like I go there to go to a chief's game or go see family and friends. That's that's insane. And plus the roads in Kansas, like why would you do that?

Why would I ride dirt roads in Kansas and just promptly about it? Dismiss it outright. No joke. A week later, I'm talking to my father who lives, he's retired in central Kansas. He's got 30 cattle. He's kind of a hobby rancher. And he had been staying with a. At a little town outside, Amoria called Opie.

This was in may. And when he was there, he drove around the Flint Hills. He's telling me how beautiful the Flint Hills were in the spring. The Emerald green, after the ranchers burn off all the grass, it comes back this beautiful green and to someone from Kansas. I mean the Flint Hills, I I'm from Western Kansas central Kansas went to high school and Eastern Kansas.

So I'm kind of from all over Kansas, the Flint Hills are just something you drive past on your. Somewhere else. There's really no, there, there there's, it's too Rocky to farm. There's no major population centers. It's pretty, you see it from the highway, but there's really no reason to go there. So my father lived his entire life in Kansas had never spent any time in the Flint Hills.

And so he, he was there with this old friend toured around the Flint Hills and he's telling me about it and he's like, oh, and there's this big bike race. Have you heard of it? And I'm like, yeah, a buddy just told me about it. I can't believe thousands of people travel. To Emporia, Kansas, which again, to native Kansas, Emporia's kind of the middle of nowhere.

It's like for a bike race. And my father tells me that his friend, they they're looking to, they wanted to rent their house out to some racers, but they didn't wanna rent a stranger. So he said, if, if you ever wanna come to Kansas and do this bike race, you know, you got a place to stay, you can rent this house outside just outside of town.

So I'm like, yeah, no, that's why I'm not. That's ridiculous. Why would I do that? And then a few weeks later, this was like the third, the straw that broke the camels back. Right. We have a friend staying with us, a friend of my wife's it's an ER doc in Philly. And he had come out to do escape from Alcatraz, big multi-sport athlete CYC lacrosse racer, and he was staying with us at our house.

And were we my wife and I had signed, but do escape that. And we're talking to, to Dr. Lambert and he said, Hey, you're Doug, you're from Kansas. Have you heard of this big bike race in Kansas? My coach. And I really want to do it. And I'm like, you're the third person who's mentioned this thing to me in the last, like 10 days now.

I'm, I'm kind of intrigued. And he had a plot to, to kind of hack the lottery at the time. Yeah, they were promoting and I'll just keep talking, you cut me off, whatever, but I figure you can edit a lot of this. So he his, his idea was his coach was a woman and there was a, they were trying to get more women to ride. The race, then 200 for 200 was the promotion 200 women ride 200 miles. Remember that. And Dr. Lambert's coach Amelia woman really wanted to come and do the race as well. And at the time you could, I think you still can, you could register as a group. So it was an all or nothing kind of thing, or up to four people could register for the lottery together.

And he said, well, make Amelia our, our, you know, team captain quote unquote, and she'll get in. Then the rest of us will draft off of that. And I was like, you know, I have this high school buddy. That I've run a couple of ultras with in Kansas. He's just the kind of guy, cause they also gave preference to locals.

I was like, we'll sign him too. I'll give him call. And so the four of us signed up and we got in that way on the lottery. And I don't know if our, our hacks helped or not, but one way, you know, we got in. So now it's January of 2019. And I'm, I've been accepted to Unbound, wildflower had been canceled.

So, you know, now I've got a new thing to train for. And I had to go get a gravel bike and try and figure out what the heck gravel biking was all about. And I had taken an old road bike and put the fattest tires I could on it and kind of started exploring some, some non paved roads down here. And it seemed like a not insane thing to do.

So I went up to my local bike. And they're a specialized dealer. So I ended up with a diverge and set it up tubus and started training.

[00:09:41] Craig Dalton: Great. You know, that's amazing. It, it sounds like you were going to be haunted by Unbound until you did it with all

[00:09:48] Doug Roeder: That's kind of,

[00:09:49] Craig Dalton: you

[00:09:49] Doug Roeder: it was kind of, yeah, that was everybody was coming at me about it. And I then a, a great guy wanted to actually travel to the middle of Kansas. And I think this is a good point to state it's. It's hard to overstate. How preposterous, the notion of Unbound gravel sounds to like a native cans who, who wasn't a cyclist as a kid, but learned to cycle in the bay area.

I mean, the notion that thousands of people from all over the country, or even all over the world would travel to Emporia, Kansas to ride hundreds of miles of the crappies roads. You can imagine in the middle of tornado season. It's just it's ridiculous, but yeah, you're right. I was kind of being haunted by it and there, I was at a point where I needed, I kind of wanted to try something new and so I signed up.

[00:10:35] Craig Dalton: And you sign up directly for the

[00:10:36] Doug Roeder: Yeah. And there was some debate around that. My, my buddy in Kansas who had, who had never, you know, he'd done some writing. He'd never, I don't think he'd ever run ridden a century before. He's like, you sure we should do the 200, maybe we should do the hundred. And I mentioned that to our, our friends from Philly and they're like, no, if we're gonna travel all the way to Kansas, we're, we're gonna, we're gonna get our money's worth.

And I was like, yeah, no, it's kind of 200 or nothing fell. And I kind of felt the same way actually. So yeah, we went straight for the 200.

[00:11:01] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I feel like back in 2019 and, and earlier, like the 200, the, the 100 felt different when you were signing up for it. Not that I've done it, but these days I feel like it's got equal promotion. Certainly the two hundreds, the marquee part of the event, but also that they realized like a hundred is pretty good as well.

[00:11:18] Doug Roeder: Oh, and a lot of fast riders. So yeah, no, it's the a hundred has definitely become a thing and yeah, even the shorter distances are, are filling up with people now, too. So.

[00:11:28] Craig Dalton: And so 2019, that was pre pandemic. Right? So the race actually went off at that point.

[00:11:33] Doug Roeder: The race went off. It was hot and humid and we, it was the north course. It was the first year they had switched back to the north course, which I guess they'd done it a few times. And we had a nice, strong south wind out of the gates. So we flew 60 miles with a tail. made the turn and on that north course, most of the climbing is kind of in the middle section.

So right around the time of day when it gets hot you start putting in some, a lot of kinda steep climbs on rough roads. And our two C cross buddies took off at that point. And I was sticking with my high school buddy. And I think the, the, you know, growing up. Growing up cycling wise here in the bay area, climbing's comes pretty easy.

You get, you can't really ride 10 miles without climbing a thousand feet around here. So, I was having a decent time. The heat's a little tough to deal with. But my friend kind of got pummeled and we emerged from those Hills into the headwind. We got to council Grove and he was suffering from heat exhaustion at that point.

And so I ended up riding, riding it in myself, late in the race and finished after midnight. And that was that.

[00:12:34] Craig Dalton: to get to the finish line in your first one. I think that's pretty amazing. Did you. I know I want to talk about this year's version, but I feel like talking about your first experience is also equally valuable because going, going in there naive about what you were to experience, how did you prepare for it?

Obviously, you you'd done Ironman triathlons. You'd done these long distance events that might have taken you north of 10, 12 hours. How did you get, what was the mindset going into 200 miles? Had you ever ridden that far before? Okay.

[00:13:05] Doug Roeder: No, no. I think the longest ride I had done was, you know, what was Levi had his long course, which had a couple of different names the Panser whatever. And so that was kinda a hundred, 1,320, I think, with a lot of climbing. And I had done the version where you get off road onto some gravels. So I took my, my road bike on some gravel roads up in Sonoma county, which was a great way.

Break a carbon wheel, which I did. But anyway, that's a different story. So the mindset was just to get, and I'd trained for some long runs as well. So I'd done some 40 and 50 mile runs. And you know, when I was training for those, I never, you never go out and run 40 or 50 miles, but yet stack up big days, you know?

So you go run 21 day and maybe 25 the next. So I took the same kind of approach cycling wise. I would do. You know, you know, kind of do my normal early morning rides with my buddies and then maybe get out for 180 or 90 mile and then try the next day to go then ride 60 or 70 gravel miles over in the east bay on the east side of the Dunbarton bridge, where it gets good and windy out there on those salt pond levies felt like that was a pretty good Kansas simulator.

And so I would try and stack up a couple of big days and then, you know, every few weeks kind of build back up to. And the mindset was just survival. We just wanted to finish. We didn't really have a time goal. It was just get her done. And that's kinda, that's sort of how it went,

[00:14:27] Craig Dalton: That's what I always thought about with training here in the bay area, because we have so much climbing, I'm UN very, very unlikely to hit that mileage. Like even if it made sense to ride 200 miles, unless I was riding on the road, I'm not gonna hit that mileage, but I can certainly do a absolutely punishing day of climbing.

[00:14:45] Doug Roeder: Yeah, no. And that's, that is the challenge, cuz I mean, if you go, when I go ride 80 or 90 miles, you're gonna climb eight or 9,000 feet around here. Now you've got the benefit. You can look at some of the Strava's of some of the, the gals up in your neck of the woods who kind of tend to win that Unbound and see what kind of stuff they do.

They'll go do hundred 40 mile crazy stuff. So yeah, I, for me trying to find, you know, in Kansas, the wind is always a factor. Finding a place where you can ride for, I don't know, four or five, six hours where it's a steady effort is kind of hard in the bay area. And so I've found this, you know, again, east side of the Dunbarton bridge, the coyote Hills, regional park, there's a nature preserve.

So you can kind of get a 30 or 40 mile flat-ish gravel loop in over there. And I'll do a few of those. And like I said, it's generally windy in the afternoon, so it's, that's kind of become, I can't get anyone to do it with me. So I'm listening to your podcasts or music and the earbuds, but. So I do do a little bit of solo training for it, but yeah, that's kind a key training

[00:15:39] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's interesting. It's so often I talk and think about the type of gravel that's underneath our wheels. When we go to these different parts of the country, but climate and wind play equally at big factors. And. It feeling hard and different. Like I know when I ride in wind, which I don't tend to ride in a lot of like, that's demoralizing to me.

So imagining like pointing myself a 40 mile headwind section in Kansas might be a little difficult.

[00:16:07] Doug Roeder: Yeah, but it's great. You can go, you can practice it here in the bay area. There are places, but yeah. Getting your it's, you know, psychological training for that kind of torture is is a big part of it. And you know, the other aspect of getting ready for that first one was just preparing to be able to fix my bike.

I've got a great local bike shop here at Melo. They've taken great care of me over the years, but like what, what, what am I gonna do if I, you know, flat my tubus tire or. Bust my chain and a water crossing, which I ended up doing. So I had to stop. I had to pop out a, a link and fix my chain. You know, there's all kinds of stuff you gotta do.

If you, if your goal is to finish you gotta be ready. And fortunately, I've watched a few YouTube videos and had the right tools to take care of that, that first year. But it was, it was non trivial getting across the finish line. And especially, yeah, once my buddy was suffering from, you know, heat exhaustion, We were at the last checkpoint minutes before they were gonna shut it down.

And he packed up his bike and put it in the minivan. And I rode off into that by myself with lights and just kind of chased fireflies and other racers. And at that point in that race, the sun's going down, it cools off. It actually kind of became my favorite part of that race. It's just a different trippy thing on the north course.

You'd end up going across this lake whole lake. You ride across a dam, there's people, boats partying, and you've

fireflies, and it's just so surreal 70 into your day to be in that place that it does kind of, yeah, it's, it's quite an experience for sure.

[00:17:28] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I can only imagine. So of the four of you, it sounds like what just did three of

[00:17:33] Doug Roeder: Three finished. Yeah. The two cycle crossers. I think they, they finished around 10:00 PM. I, I rolled in after my late start and waiting for my buddy at kinda one 30 in the morning. But even then rolling down commercial street Emporia, I had a dozen kids chasing me down the shoot on both sides. I mean, it was just a bizarre trippy thing.

And my buddy was at the finish line smiling at that point, he had recovered. So it was quite it was a really fun thing to finish and a hard, a hard, hard thing to do for sure.

[00:18:01] Craig Dalton: huge accomplishment. Now, are you one of those people that can finish an event like that? And someone puts the sign up form in front of you and you're like, sign me up. I'm gonna do it the next year.

[00:18:11] Doug Roeder: Absolutely not. So the, yeah, you know, the wildflower lawn course is a great example. I did. I think I did that thing 16 times and every time I swore I would never do it again, I was like this, this was awful. I feel terrible. I'm not ever gonna do this again. But then a week later you're like, I think I could probably do it a little bit better next time.

Right. And so, and there was the fact that my buddy didn't finish and he had never DNF anything in his life. He's actually the one who talked me into doing my first ultra. And so he was furious, absolutely furious that he did not finish that race. And so he's like, no, we're signing up. We're gonna go do it.

I'm gonna finish. And I'm like, okay, I guess. And then the pandemic hits and it got canceled in, in 2020. But we signed back and he trained like a maniac all through the pandemic. I ended up spending a bunch of time in Kansas during the pandemic.

[00:18:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah.

[00:18:56] Doug Roeder: So he, and I would go out for rides in the Flint Hills and I would rent bikes at sunflower bike shop in Lawrence, Kansas, and just, they had their divergence set up with tubes and I just was blowing the things up right.

And left. And so, decided I, I bought a Kansas bike found a salsa cutthroat, which is a monster truck of a bike with 29 inch mountain bike wheels and got that, put it in my buddy's garage. And so that's. So he, he, he used that to train on used that as sort of, and, and got himself a better bike as well.

But we were kind committed once and I think had he finished, we may never have done it again, but the fact that he didn't finish, we kinda signed get him the finish line in and had two years to train for it.

[00:19:38] Craig Dalton: and so were you successful getting 'em across the finish line?

[00:19:40] Doug Roeder: We did, we, we got it done. Went out at a nice, slow pace. We did not have the rest of the crew with us. One of 'em had a baby, so it was just the two of us that year. And his 80 year old dad who lives in Bakersfield came to be our support crew. So coverage, Flint, where to the same north course, we kind set up the day before, but we went out and again, south wind, hot, humid just punishing.

But we took our time. Got the nutrition ride, you know, any of these long events, they're, they're eating competitions as much as anything. But he had had two years to train and, and we got it done. We finished around 1230. So again, I guess they call it that the breakfast club. So we both, we crossed the finish line together just a wonderful day out on the bike.

And it was really gratifying to, to get him over the line. And that was when he was, he told me that we were going for the thousand mile cha

[00:20:30] Craig Dalton: And what is that?

[00:20:32] Doug Roeder: So, you know, if you ride the 200 race five times, they give you a CICE and it's part it's on the, you know, in the award ceremony on Sunday morning. And yeah, it's, it's something.

So he, he and I are never gonna, you know, win our age group. That's just not who we are. But we could, we're pretty good at not stop 'em. So that's the goal now, apparently. And so, yeah,

[00:20:56] Craig Dalton: Now you're slightly. You're slightly off sequence with your buddy. You may get there ahead of him. Are you gonna go for six? If that's the case?

[00:21:04] Doug Roeder: I don't know. We'll see. And, and then, and you know, crazy things happen. I may be injured. I may not make one. So you just dunno how these things are gonna go, but become a goal here now in ours to try and finish that thing. And yeah,

[00:21:16] Craig Dalton: Okay.

[00:21:16] Doug Roeder: we're even more off sync. Once we get to 20 to this year's event, I'll tell you about that, but it's become a thing, you know, I go back there.

I see family It's you know, as complicated as life gets later on with work and kids and everything to have a day or two a year, where all you gotta do is one simple thing. And it may a hard thing, but it's just one it's it's it's really enjoy. Wake up in old and try and bang out two miles and miles bike is it's refreshing psychologically.

And it kinda helps me focus my training.

[00:21:46] Craig Dalton: I

[00:21:47] Doug Roeder: Yeah, we're gonna stick with it until we can't here for the next few years.

[00:21:50] Craig Dalton: I love, I love how this all comes back to your connection to, to Kansas, and it's gotta make it even more special just to be there and be on that journey.

[00:21:59] Doug Roeder: It is. And it's yeah, I mean, on that Northern course, there are some of those roads that I swear. I, I hunted pheasants on with my grandfather when I was a kid. And it's just surreal that again, thousands of cyclists from all over the planet are riding down these roads, getting flaps, just dealing with terrible conditions. Know, you might have it's the beauty is stark. And it's, I'm not gonna say it's as stunning as the grand canyon, it's not, but there is a similar discrepancy between the pictures you see and what you experience there. Just the vastness of it just can't on film. And when you're out there with this, you know, huge crowd of people it's, it's pretty stunning and and it's hard and.

Yeah, my relatives, my aunts and uncles, I, I got buzzed by an aunt and her pilot boyfriend in school, bus, Piper, Cub in 20. So it's become a thing everyone forward to coming and doing it's lot for that reason. And then it's kinda crazy too. You've got all these great bay area athletes who come out there and, you know, Alison Terick from Penn, she's a household name in Emporia.

You know, the winner the first year we did, it was Amity Rockwell. It just was amazing to me, the. Bay area cyclists. Who've made their names in Nowheresville, Kansas. It's just kind of cracks me up. So

[00:23:11] Craig Dalton: It really is. You were talking about pacing in your 20, 21 effort. Do you find it hard? Not to get sort of wrapped up in the pace of everybody else? Were you and your, your buddy

[00:23:21] Doug Roeder: yeah, that's

[00:23:21] Craig Dalton: of just specifically disciplined and chastising each other? Don't chase that wheel. We gotta go slower.

[00:23:27] Doug Roeder: that's you know, even though. Our focus, especially after having the one DNF in 19 was to maintain a steady pace, not go out too fast. You get that tailwind, you get in a group. Drafting's wonderful. But then you get to that first rough road. And at that point, You know, we saw Quinn Simmons running along the side of the road.

You know, pros have blown up, you hit the rough flinty, gravel at speed and bad things start happening, but it's also great to be in a pack. We met two high school buddies who were half our age from Wisconsin, from some little town. They were doing their first race together. First bike race ever for the first bike event that I had signed up for the 200.

So we started riding with them and we're trading poles. Next thing, you know, you know, there's not a cloud in the sky, but you feel a spray on, you know, a moist spray on your back and I'm like, what's going on back there? Oh man, you got sealant spraying all over the place. It's like pin wheeling outta your wheel.

And so, yeah, it's easy to get caught up in the fun, especially early on. And man, we sprayed sealant all over two counties, but never went flat. But yeah, then we reeled it in the, the Hills eventually, or the heat will reel you in at some point or the headwind or ball three. But yeah, it is, it's difficult, especially early on when you're riding with a pack.

[00:24:39] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Since I haven't been out there myself, I'm finally getting a picture after having spoken to so many people about this event in particular, my conversation recently with Mark Allen and he was describing, you know, you're following some wheels and you'd see someone get antsy because they wanted to pass someone and they would think, oh, I can just kind of ride over this Rocky section really fast.

And sure enough, those Flint rocks, it's a recipe for a flat tire right

[00:25:03] Doug Roeder: Yeah, it's just right there. And then every water crossing. I mean, I, this year, every water crossing, there were at least half a dozen people in the next quarter mile fixing flats. And I learned that first year in 2019, I, I dinged my chain in the water crossing and ended up having to fix it that you gotta be real careful, especially in that murky water.

You can't see the bottom. You have no idea how deep it is. All, all kinds of sharks and yeah, you learn some things, but.

[00:25:26] Craig Dalton: what's your, what's the technique then? Are you just kind of easing off and not kind of trying to keep full speed through the water sections?

[00:25:32] Doug Roeder: Definitely. Yeah, you gotta slow down. Or if you see people, you see someone hit a line and they emerge safely. You take that line. If you're on your, at that point, depending where you're on the race, the Northern course didn't have that many water crossing this Southern course, especially with all the rain in the weeks, leading up to lot of water crossings.

And I think a lot of flats came out those water crossing. So it's,

[00:25:51] Craig Dalton: Yeah.

[00:25:52] Doug Roeder: you just gotta be careful and they can be slick. And then there's just a whole wide variety of treachery out there.

[00:25:57] Craig Dalton: In 2022 had a new variety of treachery that the last few years hadn't really been known for, as I understand it.

[00:26:04] Doug Roeder: Indeed. And we were all excited. The Southern course, a little bit less vertical kind of had a reputation for kinda more rolling Hills rather than the sharp. I had been in Kansas for 10 days, like leaning up to the race and so knew that it had rained a lot knew that we were in for some wet conditions.

But the temperatures were pretty cool and kinda day before it, you kinda not rain at all, then some popped overnight. And and yeah, but the, the cooler temperatures were just wonderful. I mean, you rolled out in the morning and it was a lot of people were chilly right. Outta the gates. But yeah, not much wind either.

That was kind of a nice thing. And it was just kind of a nice, fun, easy role. And again, we were trying to, trying to get everybody over the line. So we we got to all the first neutral water stop. We were climbing the hill up to that at around mile 40. And I'm on the left side of a double track behind this woman.

And I hear a guy shouting over my shoulder on your. On your left? No, we're coming up the middle and I look over my shoulder and a dozen dudes just blazing up this hill right down the grass between the two tracks. And it was the lead group from the hundred mile race. We the course with them up to that 40 mile point, they, and we kept going south.

But as they blasted by the guy across from me said, Hey, that was Peter Shagan. And I'm like, what? This. time, green Jersey winner just blew by me in the middle of Kansas. How weird is that? And the day just got bizarre, more bizarre from that point on.

[00:27:28] Craig Dalton: So, let me ask you a question. So that going into this one in 2022, it's your third year. what are a couple things you learned in the first two that you took, whether it's changes in your gear, changes in what you had when you were coming to your pit station?

[00:27:42] Doug Roeder: Yeah, lots of real food pit stations be very disciplined about checking the chain. Luing the chain get more water than you think you need. Cause 40 miles might go by in a couple hours, or it might go by if you hit a stiff wind in some obstacles or a flat or something, it could take a lot longer.

And as chilly as it was early in the day, I mean, the sun did pop out later in the day they got real hot. So if you kind of planned your hydration based on. What you were doing early in the day that, that didn't work later in the day. So to always take more hydration than you need real food versus just, you know, all goose, we'd roll up some sandwiches or whatever different things.

And then we carry a lot of extra, you know, CO2 S and tube and, and things to fix punctures, which fortunately we didn't have to use this year, but. I think just being prepared for everything so that you don't end up in a situation where you have a mechanical, that requires you to all the way to you didn't have the right tool or you know, ran out whatever it would be very frustrating.

And so

[00:28:42] Craig Dalton: be a shame, particularly if tr trying to train up to 200 miles, you, you put in so much time and then to go do that and have something that you could have solved toward you would be terrible. So were, were you wearing a hydration pack?

[00:28:56] Doug Roeder: Yes. Yeah, definitely. I got, I take a two and a half hydration pack and then two bottles. The other big learning is you gotta keep the bottles covered or have 'em someplace safe because the water it's all cattle, ranch land. And especially when you're spraying a lot of water everywhere once they get muddy, you don't really wanna drink out of them.

So people will rubber put baggies over 'em things like that. Or some of 'em now have caps on 'em. So yeah, you learn a few things like that.

[00:29:22] Craig Dalton: Yeah, so interesting. Okay. So interestingly, you know, when I've been hearing accounts of the 2022 event, depending on your pace, people seem to have had very different experiences. So when, when you listen to the pros, they seem to have gotten through some of these. Hugely muddy sections either got through it before it rained.

So they just rode, rode the road. When you guys might have been hiking at early slopping through mud, or they had, you know, it just hit 'em at a different point in the race. When were you encountering mud and what was it like?

[00:29:56] Doug Roeder: Yeah, mile 1 25. . We, we rolled into that. And I was on, you know, the salsa cutthroat with the 29 inch wheels and 2.2 inch tires. And I'm like, ah, this thing's, this thing's a mountain bike. I can ride through this. No problem. And I made it, I don't know, maybe 50 yards and just was slipping and sliding.

Then it was time to hike and the smart folks, maybe some. Folks with cyclo cross backgrounds picked up their bikes. So they didn't keep accumulating mud fools like me pushed it along until the mud kind of clogged my wheel. Then I was stuck. Fortunately I had noticed in the shops in Emporia the previous day, everybody was handing out those paint sticks, the paint, stirring sticks.

I was like, huh, maybe they know something that, that I, that I should know. And I, so I grabbed a couple of those and they were incredibly useful for cleaning the mud off. And that's, you know, I kinda. Tried a couple different tactics but pushed through it as fast as I could and got to the end. And there was kinda a stream where you could rinse your bike off.

I hit it faster than my buddy did. And when he, he hit it a little after I did and it slowed him down a lot more. So I ended up waiting probably 20 minutes for him to get through it and it kind of crushed him carrying his bike through that. He came out the other side and was just an absolute wreck. So, and at that point, the sun came out. So we had just kinda, I'd had a nice break. He had suffered through carrying his bike through this stuff,

[00:31:12] Craig Dalton: Yeah. If you think about it, you know, he is got a, you know, call it a 20 pound bike. He probably had 10 pounds of mud on it and gear, you know, it's just backbreaking work, pushing a bike. They just weren't designed to be pushed.

[00:31:24] Doug Roeder: push or trying to carry it with a, you know, a bag strapped underneath it and a bunch of gear inside it. I mean, it was just a freaking mess and. Yeah, everybody was in that stream, washing their bikes off. It was a pretty miserable scene. And there were these two little kids that were, they were promising everybody.

That that was the last. Which it ended up not being, and I'm still those I'm those two little kids sour folks and trying every,

but was brutal was

[00:31:50] Craig Dalton: Yeah.

[00:31:52] Doug Roeder: both through that.

[00:31:53] Craig Dalton: And I just think about that at mile 1 25, having to kind of reset and just having gone through that moment and say, I've got 75 frigging, more miles of gravel to go, not even thinking about there being mud because of the lying kids. You thought you were gonna be cruising back into Emporia. So you guys get back on your bike, you start hitting it is your buddy starting to recover a little.

[00:32:13] Doug Roeder: No, cuz there was a, there was some decent climbing right after that. And around mile one 30, there was kind of a long climb. Like I said, the sun was back out at the time we were doing it and his stomach just failed him at that point. He got sick on the side of the road, tried to remount, tried to keep going and couldn't do it.

He was done. So, he was upset. I was upset, sad for him. Really sad for him at that point I kinda looked at my watch. I was like, If I take off now, I know I'd kind of been resting a little bit waiting for him. I was like, I could, I could get in before midnight. I could, you know, and the party closes down and pour you at midnight.

So I'd never experienced the post party. So I was all motivated to make some, some lemonade outta the lemons and and took off at that point. Yeah, I,

[00:32:53] Craig Dalton: what a tough moment for you. Just, I mean, to know that he had, he had had that issue a couple years back. And to go on and go forward when he's sitting there on the side of the road, which obviously I'm sure any friend would want you to continue, but I'm sure you rolled out with a little bit of a heavy heart.

[00:33:09] Doug Roeder: Well, I just knew that I'd have to come back one more time. So yeah, I, you know, these things happened and he was upset. I was upset. I felt a little bit of a heavy heart, but mostly like, okay, this is just things happen out here. And he called the Jeep and they came to get him. I failed to mention, you know, his dad who's 81, 82 and had been our support crew.

The previous year. He had so much fun being our support crew that he had signed up for the five mile race and had bought a bike and was, and so I was, he was looking forward to just getting back to seeing how his dad, when he'd received some texts from his dad, A picture of him in the pouring rain and saying how much funny it had.

And so he was excited to get back and see his dad and meet me at the finish. So we were actually in pretty good spirits. Surprisingly, it's just, again, it's one of those things that happens and if you can't eat and stomach's, can't go on. So he's a pretty upbeat dude. And so I took off at that point and rode hard for 70 miles.

I finished around 11, 15 in the dark and party was still going on. So I got, got a couple free beers and some tacos and it was it was really fun. And we we had, I didn't mention this. We had given a few folks rides from Kansas city down to Emporia, and that was kind of a crazy experience too.

Two folks two cyclists from New York, apparently there's a New York city gravel scene. And one of the racers was a 25 year old with a, a bike packing background. She was coming to do the 200, the other racer was a 37 year old father with a road racing background. He was there to do the hundred.

Neither of 'em had been to Kansas before. Their flight had been delayed and they got in at like four in the morning. And so their friends had gone down to Emporia. They needed a ride. They got on the Facebook page and my friend had noticed them and we had room in the car. So just riding down to Emporia again with these two folks.

Had never been to Kansas before they're New York city, gravel writers and they're, they're coming here to, to challenge themselves. It was, it was pretty shocking for two like high school buddies from Kansas to see that. And so one of them came across the finish line while we were sitting there around midnight.

And again, it's the range of folks you encounter there. Folks like the last gentleman you had on Peter Sagan gravel writers from New York. It's just, it's, it's very strange to me. And and kind of fun.

[00:35:18] Craig Dalton: Have you noticed it blow up even further from the 2019 experience to now in terms of the scale of everything? Yeah,

[00:35:23] Doug Roeder: The scale the range of backgrounds it's it really has kept, kept going and it's, it's. Again, you know, we have some of the most amazing cycling on the planet here in the bay area. But I still get a big hoot outta going and riding crappy roads in Kansas with thousands of all over the world.

It's, it's a weird thing, but its.

[00:35:42] Craig Dalton: I think that, I mean, the team, we started it always. Had this idea of what the community experience was gonna be like for the event and always, and this is what I, I love about every event organizer that I talk to. It's a, it's a love letter to your local trails, right? You're you've got the opportunity to put on an event and you're gonna just wanna showcase everything that your home town has to offer.

And that's when we get the best events, like when they come from the.

[00:36:09] Doug Roeder: And it's inspired. I mean, there's a, there's a gravel ride in the Kansas or Missouri area, like every weekend now. So it's, there's a lot of folks, you know, and then there are people kind of replicating the model in other states and and I mean, the grasshoppers have been going on out here forever, but it, it it's really kind of created a template, I think for a lot of folks to create races in places where folks hadn't thought to do it before and a lot of fun.

[00:36:35] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think that's, I've talked to with a bunch of event organizers about sort of the economic impact of bringing these types of events to rural communities and the dynamics that come into play. You actually get supportive city councils and land

[00:36:47] Doug Roeder: Yes

[00:36:49] Craig Dalton: Whereas I, you know,

[00:36:50] Doug Roeder: I mean, I, yeah.

[00:36:51] Craig Dalton: Yeah, yeah. You get the high school kids coming out.

Whereas out here in the bay area, you get nothing but resistance cuz no one wants anybody to come ride here.

[00:37:00] Doug Roeder: Yeah. And as big as Levi's rad got at one point, I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people. I think you, you might meet a few locals. Who'd be out cheering on their front lawn, but a lot of folks just resented all the cyclists, you know, hogging the roads that day. And whereas out in the middle of Emporia, I mean, everybody is incredibly happy to see you.

It's it's really kind of fun.

[00:37:19] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I imagine out in the smaller communities or even going by someone's house, out on the Prairie, like they're out there just enjoying the spectacle that comes by once a.

[00:37:28] Doug Roeder: I think, you know, in the, the, what's the name of the town where the second checkpoint was Madison, I think the entire town showed up downtown. You know, and that was, they were just having a big whole party and it's yeah. So the communities where they have the support stops really show up in force You got volunteer kids, you know, Manning the crew for hire.

And it's just a, yeah, there's a lot of enthusiasm for the racers and the race.

[00:37:52] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. Well, thanks Doug, for sharing so much about this story, I love that you've been doing this. I love that gravel's kind of reconnected us socially and we'll definitely get out and do some riding together at some point in the near future.

[00:38:04] Doug Roeder: Congratulations on the podcast. It was it really warm my heart to find this. As I kind of discovered the whole gravel scene, I was oblivious to it. Like I said, until, you know, a few random people clued me into this race in Kansas and it's it's been really fun to reconnect and see, see what you've done with this podcast.

And I hope to get you out to Emporia. We gotta bed for you and Kansas. Anytime you're ready to come out.

[00:38:24] Craig Dalton: I love it. The draw continues to get heavier and heavier for me. So I think I'll get out there one of these days

[00:38:30] Doug Roeder: Sounds good, Craig. I'll be.

[00:38:32] Craig Dalton: upstairs. Right on.

That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thanks to my friend, Doug, for joining us and huge kudos to Doug for. Getting across that finish line of which sounded like a tough deal this year. If you're interested in connecting with me, I encourage you to join the ridership. Simply visit That's a free global cycling community, lots of smart and passionate athletes in there to connect with from all over the world.

If you're able to support the show. Please visit, buy me a gravel ride. Or if you have a moment, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. Another thank you to our sponsor athletic greens. They've been a long time sponsor of the show and a product that I really enjoy and use every day. So be sure to check it slash the gravel ride. That's going to do it until next time here's to finding some dirt under your wheels