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Jun 22, 2021

This week we sit down with UNBOUND 200 winner Ian Boswell. We get to unpack his big win, but also dig into a new partnership between Wahoo and The Migration Gravel Race / Team Amani in Kenya.


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Automated Transcription, please excuse any typos:


Craig Dalton: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the podcast, I'm excited, very excited to welcome Ian Boswell to the show.

[00:00:12]We scheduled this interview many months before Unbound, knowing that Ian was participating. But certainly not expecting that he was going to end up with the top spot on the podium. 

[00:00:22]This episode also kicks off a new relationship for the podcast and Wahoo.  I've been a longterm Wahoo customer on the computer side. Having first started with the ELEMNT BOLT and now using the ELEMNT ROAM. I've also been a big fan of the Wahoo frontiers series on the web. I love the videos and getting access to these writers, having adventures and just the stories behind it so when i connected with the team at Wahoo and learned about some of the initiatives they have going this year i was super super stoked to bring them on board as a sponsor.

[00:00:56]On the podcast, we'll get the opportunity to talk to some of these Wahoo athletes and get a little bit of the behind the scenes. Look. At some of the adventures they'll be having this year

[00:01:05]I'm very much looking forward to these conversations and I hope you will be too. For those of you who don't know Ian Boswell, Ian had a career in the world tour riding for teams like Sky and Katyusha before retiring and moving on to a full-time role with Wahoo as an employee.

[00:01:25]Additionally, he set his sights on participating in the gravel racing scene. I don't know about you but i recall that time the beginning of 2020, just questioning where ian would fit into the roster of these pro tour athletes who were moving into gravel and what the impact might be on the sport.

[00:01:44]We all had to wait quite a bit longer than we expected to find out what that impact was going to be. So when the 2021 season finally kicked off, And Unbound was on the calendar. It was inevitably going to be thrilling to see where Ian was going to fit in. And to see him win. The biggest race on the calendar this year was quite exciting because it really couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.  

[00:02:08]We get to dig into a little bit of as experience at the Unbound 200 this year. But equally important, we get to dig into a new initiative from Wahoo

[00:02:18] In conjunction with the Migration Gravel Race in Kenya, East Africa. I won't get into too many details in this introduction, because I want you to hear from Ian. And with that, let's dive right in to this week's episode. 


[00:02:31]Ian.  Welcome to the show

[00:02:33] Ian Boswell: [00:02:33] thank you for having me.

[00:02:35] Craig Dalton: [00:02:35] It's funny. I cannot believe that your win at Unbound is going to be the second, most exciting thing that we're going to talk about today.

[00:02:41]Ian Boswell: [00:02:41] Yeah, it's yeah, it's been a very fortunate couple of weeks I've had and more fortunate for what's coming up.

[00:02:48]Yeah, excited to chat about, Unbound, but more importantly, the next couple of weeks of of travel and racing and cultural experience. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:02:56] Craig Dalton: [00:02:56] Yeah. So let's get into your victory at Unbound. What was your mindset going into Unbound? Obviously, when you retired from the pro tour and expected last year was going to be your first year as a quote unquote gravel athlete.

[00:03:10] It didn't go as planned and you had to wait a long time to get to a start line. Let's talk about what your mindset was going into Unbound. I know you had one an event, the rule of three under your belt previously, but Unbound being the sort of world series or Superbowl of gravel is really a next level experience.

[00:03:29] Ian Boswell: [00:03:29] Yeah.  In hindsight, in all honesty, it probably benefited me that I didn't race last year, cause I had just come off of, seven years in the world tour and I don't know, 10 years prior to that, racing road bikes, and trying to climb this ladder to the top of the sport on the roadside.

[00:03:45] And, I retired and was very much, still felt like a racer. I took a position at Wahoo, so I just had less time to ride and move back full-time to Vermont where the weather is not the south of France, where I was living for the previous seven years. So there was very much this constant underlying level of not stress or anxiety, but just oh, I'm not doing what I used to do.

[00:04:06]And it was very much a transitional year where, I was still had this mindset and this, feeling, whether it was, internal or psychological of  I'm not training the way I used to. And lo and behold no race has happened. So I spent the first ever, I guess probably is the longest I had spent in one place since I was 14 or 15 years old.

[00:04:25]Just riding in Vermont and my mindset over the last, I guess throughout 2020 really shifted a lot to very much alright, I'm at a very different chapter in my life now I'm not a professional world tour, a road cyclist. There are things in my life that are, far more.

[00:04:42] No, I don't say important, but I just, I became interested in so many other aspects of my life. Things I've always longed to do, garden and, we got chickens and we got a puppy and I joined the volunteer fire department. That's actually where I am right now with the volunteer fire department.

[00:04:55] Cause we have terrible internet at our house. So I got involved in all these other kind of aspects to my life and, Which kind of led to, the return to racing this year. And I was very much of the perspective of is I'm looking forward to races happening again, but if there's another year of kind of pandemic and no events, great, I get to spend another year at home and riding and, maybe going for some KOMS here and there and doing some, some small group rides.

[00:05:17]So my mental state. Long answer here, but my mental state going into Unbound was very much have that mindset. Hey, this is an awesome opportunity to be here, but I'm no longer, a athlete or an individual who's putting my sole focus and soul and time and energy into performance at the highest level, which. In all honesty is probably a great way to approach a 200 mile race because, you can burn a lot of nervous energy early on in a race that is going to take 10 hours and you can finish three or four hours in and just feel like I am mentally fried. And, I very much had a fun and enjoyable. Race just because I was so happy to be there. I'm so curious about.

[00:05:59]   I think that's the other thing is there is a culture and the etiquette to gravel events that I'm still very much learning, so I'm much more. An observer than I am a kind of a leader or, someone like Strickland is very much a, a patrol of the Peloton, he knows what's going on and people respect him.

[00:06:16] And, there were countless people that I met, the day before, or even at the start line. And, they had no idea who I was and like, that's great. I'm happy that no one knows who I am, but where I've come from, because they're not gonna look at me to take a big pole or control the Peloton or attack.

[00:06:29]Which was great, but I don't think that's going to be the case in events going forward.

[00:06:33] Craig Dalton: [00:06:33] I think you're right. I think you might be a mark man at this point. Those are really interesting comments. And I really appreciate what you're saying about mindset and I can't help, but ponder, if some of the other sort of.

[00:06:45] Quote, unquote, big name athletes that showed up at that event. Might've had more of a race mindset. And when the terrain, when the course, when the other competitors dictated something unexpected, they really didn't have the mindset to thrive that you've clearly acquired in your time and run up to the event.

[00:07:06] Ian Boswell: [00:07:06] Yeah, definitely.  And it was the first event, I was there almost a week in advance to do some other stuff with specialized and with Wahoo and, it was the first time really since probably the tour de France in 2018, that felt that not nervous energy, but just There was a lot happening, and it was, and I think for a lot of people, whether it was myself or, someone like Amity Rockwell who had won before, it was the first time in a year for most people that there was this, just journalists and interviews and, people wanting to take picture of your bikes and ask you questions about your equipment and all these little things But yeah,  I just, I didn't have to answer too many questions in detail because I was just in very, in a very simple way.

[00:07:44] I was almost naive to the event.  I had Pete stepped in as mechanic lend me a pump on the start line because I didn't pump up my tires in the morning which is brings it all back down to earth. It's rather than being worried about my start position or, the first 10 miles, I was like, oh cool.

[00:07:58] Like I should probably pump up my tires right now because tire pressure I guess, is awfully important and gravel. And I had pumped off the night before, but I just didn't have a pump in the morning to put air in them. So I was like, cool. This is a nice distraction to put air in my tires at the start line.

[00:08:12] And it's also, there's I had other missions on the start line as well. I had 10 of the trans pride. Sweat bands with me as well. And so I was trying to find, some people who I knew wanted one and some people who I thought, would appreciate receiving those.

[00:08:26]I had other kind of things on my mind at the start, which, brings it back full circle to thinking about the bigger. Topics around the event rather than just the race and being worried about my performance and my kind of expectations internally. That's great.

[00:08:40]Craig Dalton: [00:08:40] And I just want to pass along just a personal note on that front, a close personal friend of mine been in the bike industry for a long time, reached out to me and just, he knew I was interviewing you today and yeah. Acknowledged how important that was to him and his family that you made that gesture and having listened to your interview with Molly Cameron on the breakfast with boss podcast, it just came full circle.

[00:09:03] And I think it was, it's little gestures like that, that show your character and the type of things you believe in and are willing to put forward in your life.

[00:09:12] Ian Boswell: [00:09:12] Yeah I appreciate that and very much wasn't a PR stunt or something I was doing to get attention, cause if I had finished even second or third or hundreds, no one cares, just by nature of winning people pay attention to it, it has become something that I'm more aware of and, back to this whole mentality over the last, 12 months in pandemic and just reflecting on my life up to this point and realizing, how incredibly fortunate I have been and, realizing that so many people haven't had that same life experience that I have, and just been more aware of, different people from marginalized communities or backgrounds or upbringings and realizing that, There's a lot of people who are suffering a lot in this world and are fighting for something far more important than a victory at a gravel race.

[00:09:55] And, just to be able to shed a little bit of light on, on those topics and those, movements and groups, it really does bring me a lot of. It makes me feel so good just to receive messages from people and, hear their stories. And it opened up this whole dialogue of conversation, which is so amazing that, such a simple gesture and, really my response to most of these people, it's it's literally the least I can do.

[00:10:14]I spent a hundred dollars on wristbands and passed them out. It's that's nothing, but. It's created this, just dialogue and really awareness, which I think, for me, it was the first step in just, learning more of it's just awareness. And I think that's really, can make the industry and just the world and, so many people more informed and more connected and more understanding just to.

[00:10:34] To be aware of these different, points in our society and our culture and our world. I think if we can just open our eyes a little bit and be a bit more aware, then it's going to be a better place for all of us. Yeah.

[00:10:44]Craig Dalton: [00:10:44] It's so true. It's the cycling industry, the world, it seems to move so slowly towards these things.

[00:10:50] And I think it is these baby steps that are critically important.

[00:10:55] Ian Boswell: [00:10:55] Yeah. And it really is, and having spoken with Molly, I, realized that more. That, Molly's in this for the long run, this isn't something where we're going to wake up tomorrow and there's going to be radical, change and reform.

[00:11:06] But if there is a critical mass, and I think, for individuals like myself who have come from a very privileged background can just be aware that people have had very different life experiences. And to be understanding to that, that, we can. Move in the direction of change and it, it really does just start with that with conversations and with, knowledge, that's such a powerful tool that we have in our quiver.

[00:11:28] Craig Dalton: [00:11:28] Yeah, absolutely. And I'll put our link to your breakfast with BAAs episodes, because I think it's important for everybody to listen to that one while you're at the start line, how different was it to line up with another thousand athletes at the same time, that's gotta be one of the largest races you've ever started.

[00:11:45] Ian Boswell: [00:11:45] Definitely. Yeah.  Most you think most world tour races are races. I had done as a junior, under 23, most maybe you have 200 riders. Yeah, it's it was crazy, thankfully I was able to be near the front just to, squirm through the first few turns, but, with, and I had a friend who had done the event a couple of years ago and he said, man, just make sure you look back at some point.

[00:12:02] And we'd had a couple, L turns early on and, because you're in these relatively flat open Plains, looking back with the sunrise and just seeing as far as you could see. A group of riders. That is cool. And that was like the first time I think, in the event that I really realized what a special  day it was going to be.

[00:12:21] And you're not just for performance and trying to win, but just how many people decided to, travel to employ Kansas, to take part in this event. And, I really didn't understand what it was and what it meant until I looked back early on and just saw this, Stretching Peloton as far as the eye could see.

[00:12:38] And that was yeah, it was cool. Definitely it was nice being, being near the front cause you just have less chaos to happen in front of you. But very quickly from there, it turned from, alright, this is beautiful and gorgeous to okay, like the pace is picking up and I should probably keep my eyes on the road in front of me and make sure I'm in somewhat of a reasonable position to make sure I'm just stay out of trouble.

[00:12:58] Craig Dalton: [00:12:58] What did those first 50 miles look like? I imagine that at that point, there's still a lot of jockeying for position and whether you're a pro or a talented amateur athlete, there's still a lot of people around you. How did it start to break up?

[00:13:12] Ian Boswell: [00:13:12] Yeah.  To be honest, and I know multiple writers have said that the beginning was fairly sketchy and I think there were a few crashes and punctures and whatnot.

[00:13:19]I didn't find the first, I think 26 miles was the first unmaintained section. Up until that point, I felt relative, surprising. I felt actually really comfortable in the Peloton. I hadn't done a big race like that and I did the rule of three, but that started on a hill and broke up instantly.

[00:13:34]But because it's flat, it stayed together really up until that first section. And because it has gravel roads and the surfaces are different, the Peloton is just naturally more, there's more space within the group. And, having raised in the world to where we have, someone's hip on your handlebars and someone else's handlebars on your hip, I was like, wow, there's actually a lot of space in, in the bunch to move around and, a lot mutual respect that all change when we did hit the first section at mile 26, because then people start seeing red and that's when the race picked up and people start taking these risks and forgetting the fact that they have a hundred and.

[00:14:07] 75 miles to go, but it's that was kinda where the race first started to split up and people started flatting and puncturing and crashing and, having mechanicals my, again, even up until that point, my mindset was still very much just find a safe spot in the Peloton.

[00:14:21] You're not gonna, You're going to be much better off making it through here safely with your wheels and tires and intact than you are, on the front of the bunch, taking, taking risks that you know, could potentially in your race. So that was very much my strategy.

[00:14:35]Did I didn't really discover until we got to that point, but just having not done it, I didn't really know what to expect and what the Peloton was going to be like. But yeah, I found myself pretty far back compared to the other contenders early on, but just knowing it was such a long event and there's no, teamwork or team dynamics I was happy to just surf the surf, the wave for the first, I guess probably 30, 35 miles.

[00:14:57] Yeah.

[00:14:57]Craig Dalton: [00:14:57] And then 35 miles to 65 miles, did separations begin to occur? And did you find yourself having to hop and bridge up to different groups?

[00:15:06] Ian Boswell: [00:15:06] Yeah.  Separations happened a lot quicker than I had thought just through crashes and the level of rider is big at a race like that.

[00:15:12]You think you have someone like, Quinn Simmons or Mateo Jorgensen who, he just came off the Jiro one of, the, probably the hardest races in the year up to this point, regardless of the surface. And then, you have people who, have been training five, 10 hours a week at, in the same Peloton.

[00:15:27] So it broke up fairly. Quickly. And it wasn't really until, probably around nine 40, when we, the group got down to maybe 30 riders and, just kept becoming, it's funny to say it's a race of attrition in a very much is, but the fact that 40 miles and you're already starting to see this, people sir come to the conditions was a little bit puzzling.

[00:15:48]But again, I think a lot of that just has to do with the expenditure of nervous energy and, people over exerting themselves. I don't wanna say unnecessarily, pushing harder than they need to make these splits. But yeah, we rolled into the first aid station at mile 68.

[00:16:02]With probably only 15 riders. And I thought it was going to be much bigger than that. I thought it was going to be a group of a hundred people and it was going to be chaos rolling in there because there were so many writers, but yeah, a relatively small group after, just 60, some odd miles.

[00:16:17] Craig Dalton: [00:16:17] Yeah. I imagine at that point, the incentive to work together was pretty strong for the remaining riders.

[00:16:22]Ian Boswell: [00:16:22] Surprisingly not definitely. Yeah. I was really surprised with that. And, we had, there are people who are definitely rolling through and, hats off to people like Ted and Pete and Colin, those, those individuals were always up there rolling through, like they never drifted to the back.

[00:16:38] They never, Didn't pull even, Robin carpenter was there and there was some writers who understood like, Hey, we have a really good thing going here. Let's keep it rolling. And even myself personally, I realized that, just with my physiology, it's much easier to roll through at a steady pace than it is to like, try and drift off the back and then, catch up with five guys and then drift off and then catch up.

[00:16:56]And that was an incentive, not too long after the aid station, when Colin Strickland came up to me and said, Hey, it looks like he's a lot of people are really hurting in this group. And I was like, just happy to be in the front group of 15, almost, over a third through the race.

[00:17:11] And I was like, all right, man, let's hit it. So I went hard up a little roller and I can't remember if I jumped across to Robin carpenter or if I did a little surgeon, he came with me, that very quickly whittled it down to eight riders. And once we had those 8, 8, 8 of us up front That's when it became more, more cohesive.

[00:17:30] And then again, after little Egypt, when, Pete really, shredded the race through little Egypt, and that was when the selection of the five of us went away. And that's when the, the front group of us, stetting on myself, Ted Lawrence and Strickland, that's when it became this.

[00:17:46] Incredible group of very committed and very, cohesive group of riders just rolling through. And that was, still over a hundred miles to go, I think still 110 miles to go. We, was just five of us. And that was really cool to see that, we got to the point where you had made these separations and it was just a group of people who are willing to ride and just keep rolling through also knowing that there was a lot of headwind coming back towards Emporia.


[00:18:11] Craig Dalton: [00:18:11] And it sounded like from the accounts that, and what you just said, you guys were willing to work together. I'm curious, at what point does it come into your mind to do something, to make an attack in that scenario?

[00:18:24]Ian Boswell: [00:18:24] That was one of my biggest questions. And I did a ride with Ted and I asked him, on the ride, I was just like, how?

[00:18:29]And it felt so evenly matched and because there was a headwind. That kind of nullified anyone trying to go for a long range of attack like   Strickland did in 2019, just because, it's a pretty, it was a pretty smart group, tactically of riders, knowing that, okay, if if Colin attacks and the remaining four of us had any sort of intelligence, we'd be like, all right, let's just stay together, let him do his thing. And we'll just keep rolling steady. And there's so much wind that he's going to be, he's going to be brought back. So the wind did play a huge factor. I think in how the race was tactically being played out. And, once we got closer to aid station 2 there's a series of kind of pretty big rollers and some steep sections on a, an unmaintained road. And, Pete kind of hit it there as well. And, it became very apparent that everyone was very equally matched. And because the wind, if you're not going to get it, if you're roll over the top and you have a.

[00:19:21] Three four second gap and you look back and there's four, four guys behind you. You might just consider like, all right, I don't have a big enough gap to keep pushing on. So I'll wait for the guys behind me. We also had a group of people who have done a lot of road race, and,  you think myself, Laurens, Ted and Pete had all come from the world tour.

[00:19:38] And I think with Colin's experience of crit racing and red hook, he's very tactically savvy and really understands the benefit of drafting and wind dynamics. So yeah, I was definitely one of the questions in my mind was how is this gonna break up? Because everyone is so equally matched and the wind is such a big factor.

[00:19:54]I thought there was a reasonable chance that, maybe we'll all roll into back onto the pavement and Emporia with five of us. Wow.

[00:20:02] Craig Dalton: [00:20:02] And what ultimately happened to create the separation that left you alone with Lauren's ten Dams?

[00:20:08] Ian Boswell: [00:20:08] Yeah. So with it's about 30 miles, maybe 25, 30 miles to go.

[00:20:11] We hit the last kind of unmaintained section of road, which I had actually written with Laurens the prior Wednesday. And so I upped the pace there, knowing it was a crucial section and also it wasn't incredibly technical, there was times when, like there was one path that was definitely the best path to take. And if you didn't, if you weren't on that route, then you know, it was either Rocky or you might be riding to a puddle. And that's when Pete hit it pretty hard over the top of me. And then Laurens went over the top of him and we'd all strung out.

[00:20:37] And, I looked back at one point I saw that Strickland was distanced. I think we, between the rest of us, Ted was probably the, probably one of the better sprinters out of, Us kind of three climber, former climbers. So we knew it was like, okay, the races on here, if we can, every time you lose one rider, it's your odds increase of winning you go from five to four and.

[00:20:57] Then Pete had a mechanical. I think he somehow, I don't know if he was trying to go down to a small ring or up to his big ring, but he had some chain suck and, had to jump off his bike to adjust that at which point, I went around him and caught up to Lawrence and Ted was just behind us and wound up catching on just after the last unmaintained section ended.

[00:21:15]At which point I was like, wow, we're going to like the three of us. We'll probably roll to the line. If we continue working at At a good pace because it's less, Colin comes back to Pete, and that's still, two chasing three is harder, even though, Colin can definitely roll quickly on the flats and downhills.

[00:21:29]But yeah we just kept rolling for not too long. And then we hit a small climb and I think Ted just hit the wall, he made a big effort to bridge across to Lawrence and I and so he got popped maybe around 20 to 23 miles to go. And at which point it was just Lawrence and I still felt good and he felt.

[00:21:45]He felt well. And we just realized that this is our chance, and if we can keep pushing the pace, the most likely the writers behind aren't going to be able to come back together and, bridge across if we keep riding. But at that point you're also catching riders in the 100 mile ride.

[00:21:59] So it does become a little bit more confusing, especially when you're looking back, trying to decide, is that Pete and the red Jersey, or is that, someone we had just passed in the a hundred mile event and because you're. Nearly 10 hours into an event, you don't really remember what color jerseys of the people you passed are.

[00:22:16]So we just knew we could had to put our heads down and keep riding. And, another factor is we also, neither of us had aerobars in our bike which I think mentally for both of us was. Really cool to be upfront. And Laurens made a comment to me, probably 10 miles to go where he, yeah, he said, yeah, I won't use the word here, but anyways, yeah, he was happy that we weren't that both of us on aerobars and, knowing that we knew we had to work even more efficiently together because the people behind did have aerobars and, they probably are faster and, they did have a slight advantage, especially on the, the flat more.

[00:22:49]Smooth roads. Yeah, but thankfully we still had enough. Both of us had enough kind of reserves in the tank to keep pushing it all the way back into town. Now in that

[00:22:58] Craig Dalton: [00:22:58] situation, obviously both of you understand the tactics you've been in the world tour. You understand how races are won. Do you have to speak about what needs to be done or is it just so innate in both of you that you knew where you were going to work together as far as you needed to go to keep the chasers off?

[00:23:16]Ian Boswell: [00:23:16] I don't know. I don't know. Laurens has history with races and winning. Road races with someone else. But I had never really been in that situation, maybe as a junior, when I was 14 years old I knew we had to work. And, at that point I think we both realized being first or second in this event is a huge result.

[00:23:30] And so many things can go wrong in that race. The fact that we had made it that far, neither of us having any. Any major issues. I do know that Lawrence had a small puncture early on, but was able to make it back, before mile 25 or something. So the fact that, we knew that regardless of the outcome, we were both ecstatic that we were still there and we were off the front and we were gonna come into more than likely come into town together.

[00:23:54]Other than having a catastrophic meltdown or a puncture in the last few miles Yeah. W we did speak about it. We talked about I think I said to him, and he said to me like, Hey, let's just, let's roll into town and we'll sprint it out. Which is then, that's when you're ultimately going to get caught, you have the opportunity to finishing first or second.

[00:24:09] And then you decide to start, cat and mouse in it and attacking each other and stopping and attacking and stopping. And before you know it, Pete's back with you and Ted's back with you and maybe Colin's on. And then you wind up finishing fifth when you could have almost had a guarantee first or second, and then you wind up, being the worst sprinter out of the five riders and, finishing in fifth place.

[00:24:27] So we were both aware that, it was. Most beneficial to us to keep rolling through just knowing that neither of us were, an excellent sprinter, had it been someone with a better sprint, Ted or, maybe even Colin that's when I think the tactics get a bit more complicated because you may want to.

[00:24:43]If you're calling, you may be like, Hey, I don't need, there's two of us. I'm probably going to beat you in the sprint anyways. And I'll beat the riders behind me in the sprint. So I don't need to work here. I'm going to save my effort for the sprint. But I think sprint is very much an unknown strength of both Laurens and I.

[00:24:57] So I think we are both willing to go to the line and just see what happened once we got there.

[00:25:01] Craig Dalton: [00:25:01] Yeah. What a great result for both of you. I think it's fantastic.

[00:25:06] Ian Boswell: [00:25:06] Yeah. I think we're both pleased. And I think of the five riders up front, I don't think either of us really meant or knew what it meant to win that race.

[00:25:13] And I knew that Lawrence had won the gravel Locos a couple of weeks prior. So he probably had a little taste of kind of the thirst and the, interest in gravel cycling and. Globally, but really here in north America. I had no idea what it meant. I knew it was a big event and I'd seen the attention that Colin had drawn in 2019, but even without, I didn't realize the weight that is put on the shoulders of, the individual who wins, whether it's the a hundred mile event or the 200 or XL, male and female, there's an incredible amount of attention put on.

[00:25:44] That event and an importance, not just from media, everyone who is involved with, your support team and partners and sponsors, everyone is so happy to see those results and to be part of that, really that team of, people who, get behind it from, The week out and get together and make sure that everything's ready to roll.

[00:26:04] Craig Dalton: [00:26:04] And particularly in this moment in time, as we hopefully put the pandemic in the rear view mirror here in the U S and eventually around the world, just to have an event of that scale happen and have the community just have that collective release of energy. I think it was just super exciting.

[00:26:20] Ian Boswell: [00:26:20] Yeah, it was, and that was one thing, I was a little bit curious about was, the energy around the event compared to last, prior years. And I, I had thought about that a lot in 2020 was, oh man, did I miss this kind of golden window of gravel? When you know, it is fun and there's this party like atmosphere and, post pandemic.

[00:26:37] Is it going to be a completely different world? Is there going to be no samples anymore at, at the expo booth because it's, not COVID safe. It is cool to see that, a lot of the excitement and buzz and party and just community atmosphere, didn't really change all that much in an eye.

[00:26:54] I heard from a few people that the expo is slightly smaller and there are a few people, in downtown Emporia at the finish, but, compared to, what I had expected, it was a lot more and there was a lot more excitement and energy around the event then, I had feared would not be there due to the pandemic.

[00:27:08] Yeah,

[00:27:09]Craig Dalton: [00:27:09] I'm glad you got the full experience. That's amazing. So it's really funny to me that we scheduled this interview way in advance of your race at Unbound. We knew it was happening, but you had mentioned, it was a total unknown, so it was great to get that overview, but I'm equally excited to jump into your day job  with Wahoo and a partnership with the Migration Gravel Race in Kenya.

[00:27:34] Can you give us a little bit of an overview of what that race is and what this partnership is all about.

[00:27:40] Ian Boswell: [00:27:40] Yeah a couple of colleagues brought it to me probably back in, in January. It's, Hey, there's this, there's this event happening in Kenya and we're going to partner with this, this African cycling team called the Amani foundation.

[00:27:52] And I was like, cool. When is it? And it's mid, late June and. The same time as an event that was happening in Oregon, the Oregon trail race, which is, the race, really, if there was a hometown race. And that's where I grew up was in bend. And I was like, sure, Kenya sounds awesome, but it's probably not likely that we're going to go.

[00:28:07] This was still in, January when it still very much looked like things were closed down and shot and travel, wasn't going to be possible. I put my hand up, I was like, I've never been to Kenya and it sounds like an awesome, an awesome trip, but it has evolved into so much more than just.

[00:28:22] A bike race, get some context. Wahoo  has partnered with the Amani foundation, which is, like I said, an African cycling team and really just trying to provide opportunities, resources, and, the chance for these African riders to travel and also show themselves on a global stage.

[00:28:36]We've been providing them with the products they need, whether it's head units, heart rate monitors, trainers which is, a huge resource, but I think the most beneficial thing, and which I think is probably the coolest thing that we've been able to provide is, access to having them work with the Wahoo sports science center out in Boulder, Colorado and work with a coach like Neil Henderson who also coaches, Rohan Dennis, who's getting ready to go to the Olympic games in Tokyo. And when you look at the. Just the difference in culture from, Western Europe or north America to Africa, there's some phenomenally talented. Athletes globally. You look at, in cycling the growth of, grand tour contenders coming out of south America.

[00:29:15]It's because someone went there and invested in those athletes and gave them the opportunities and the resources to show what they're capable of doing. And I think it's very much a similar situation in East Africa. When you look at Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, There are athletes that are performing at the highest level in the world when it comes to, marathon running or athletics, but there's not a whole lot of athletes who make the transition to cycling.

[00:29:40] And a lot of that it's, it is a barrier of entry, both financially, but you think logistically as well, there is all this equipment and, the. The tradition of, training in cycling is so much different than running, running is becoming a more complicated sport, but it's grassroots.

[00:29:56] It's very simply, and you can have a pair of shoes and you can go run, but cycling, there's the equipment and there's power meters, and there's, SU so many kinds of obstacles to jump through which is. Making this trip, all the more valuable, the fact that, having had one Unbound and having Laurens Ten Dam   finished, second, we're both attending this race and we both were, gonna attend it prior to Unbound, but to go and actually race with these athletes and, hopefully, we do well, but I think it's even cooler, just.

[00:30:25] To have the opportunity to give these African riders an opportunity to show what they're capable of. If I look at, my story of coming up through the ranks here in north America, it's really defined by excelling at these very few opportunities that you had to go against the big riders, whether that's national championships or, jumping into a pro on two race.

[00:30:45] And they just happened to be a world tour rider there and you performed well. And then all of a sudden, everyone noticed you. And when you think about, these riders who are currently racing in Africa, they're very much racing in a bubble where, there may be one or two riders who are winning every race and they might be doing, these amazing power numbers.

[00:31:00] And they might be, Tactically and technically, perfect, but no one knows what they're capable of because they're not racing against, somewhat more recognizable names. So by, heading over to this race and having Lawrence go and, some other, prominent figures in the cycling and gravel community, it's giving these athletes really the opportunity of a lifetime to show what they're capable of, which is, all that really someone needs to really changed their entire life. And, cycling has brought so much joy and privilege and opportunity to my life. How cool is it's now being a position where I get to go to Kenya and do a bike race, and potentially, change or alter the course of someone else's life through. Hopefully having them beat me in a bike race.

[00:31:43]How cool would that be if a couple of these riders from the Amani foundation just absolutely hand it to Laurens and I, and that sets them on a course that changes their entire life. And Yeah, it's just such a cool opportunity when you think about it and, when I reflect on my upbringing and moving through the ranks and cycling but on top of that, with Wahoo, we're taking the three best riders from the gravel race of the highest three performing athletes are then coming to the U S later in the year to, to participate in SBT GRVL up in Steamboat Springs, and then Belgium Waffle Ride Asheville, which, performance aside, like how cool is that an African rider gets to perform well on a race and then gets a trip to the U S to see our country.

[00:32:23]I get to go over to Kenya and see their country. And it's just the, really the beauty of cycling and the international exchange of cultures and traditions. And yeah, I actually just received a message from one of the Kenyan riders I reconnected on Instagram. And we've been a F.

[00:32:37] Doing some WhatsApp back and forth, and he's Hey man, like when you get to Nairobi, let's go for a ride. And I know some roads and he's you're a, you're such a big deal over here in Kenya. Everyone was watching the Unbound gravel. And I'm like, it's crazy to think that, you're doing this race in Kansas and people in Nairobi are watching the event.

[00:32:54] Craig Dalton: [00:32:54] That's amazing. Amazing that the technology allows you to communicate with people all over the world at this point.

[00:33:00] Ian Boswell: [00:33:00] Yeah, and it really is. And and thanks to technology, it does make it feasible for someone like Neil to coach someone in Kenya, the same way that he would coach me.

[00:33:10] Had he been, my coach here in Vermont. So it's, yeah, it's a very cool event on so many levels, and I talk touched on a lot of, the cultural and, Opportunities, but I'm also going to Kenya to, just to see Kenya it's a four day. I guess I should explain the event a bit more.

[00:33:24]It's a four-day gravel stage race in the Masai Mara. Which, I've seen quite a few documentaries is an absolutely stunning place. And, I just, yesterday I got my vaccines that we're recommended by the CDC and I guess the travel advisory board here in the U S so yeah, hopefully I'm set to go.

[00:33:43]But Bike racing aside. What a trip to be able to go to Kenya and spend four days in Maasai, Mara riding my bike around.

[00:33:51] Craig Dalton: [00:33:51] No, I there's. No doubt. It's going to be a spectacular experience. We talked a little bit about the migration gravel race on an earlier episode of the podcast. When I first caught wind of it, it immediately caught my eye having done a couple of stage races in Africa, myself.

[00:34:06] It's otherworldly to be racing and look across and see some zebra in the field or some other animals. It's just unbelievable. So I'm super jealous and excited for you to have that experience.

[00:34:19]Ian Boswell: [00:34:19] If I may, I want to ask you a question, what should I prepare for? I'm about to pack my bags.

[00:34:23] What should I be? Packing as far as, Is there any, are there any items and the race has done a phenomenal job of sending out a manual of like things to bring. But is there anything that you did not have that you would have liked to bring when you went?

[00:34:36] Craig Dalton: [00:34:36] The guy I was in the mindset of this is going to be an adventure.

[00:34:40] So as much as any races getting from the start to finish line every day and getting your body ready for the next day, I think I made sure to have. Ample gear on my bike for unexpected catastrophes, much like I'm sure you did it Unbound in just things are going to get thrown at you and you're going to have a wilderness experience out there.

[00:35:04] So you need to make sure you're

[00:35:06] Ian Boswell: [00:35:06] self-sufficient. Okay. Yeah. Good tips. I'll make sure to pack some extra tubes. And I did from a previous trip a river fishing trip. I did have ordered a LifeStraw. So if I do find myself a puddle, hopefully I'll be ready and I'll yeah, I'll throw it in my swap box.

[00:35:21] So I I always have it with me. How

[00:35:23] Craig Dalton: [00:35:23] many athletes has Wahoo sports science been working with in preparation for this race?

[00:35:28] Ian Boswell: [00:35:28] So there's a team of 10 athletes and we've been supporting all of them. Which is awesome. And there's only 75 riders actually participating in the Migration race. So it's a relatively small field, which, coming off Unbound, which is, a huge event.

[00:35:40] And, there are people that I had meant to connect with prior to the event. People I knew from Oregon or from California, who, I didn't get a chance to chat with. That's another cool aspect of this event is it's going to be very. Intimate. And, there's a lot of time around the camp to, to speak to these athletes and riders.

[00:35:57] And, I'm just, I'm really curious to see there. You know their setups, but also just answer questions about, tactics and drafting and, there's so much to be learned as well, just through observation and, by, myself and Lawrence going, having that direct ability to be able to ride with athletes and, obviously Neil and the sports science team at Wahoo have been.

[00:36:16] Coaching the athletes, which is, a huge part of performance is just having the motor to pedal and push and ride these distances. Another aspect that, and I think this is probably one of the most challenging things for people coming from countries that don't have a super strong.

[00:36:31] Cycling race background. And, I know that, Rwanda has, a big cycling history and culture, but it's so different when an athlete comes from there and races in Europe or north America and the etiquette or the tactics and the dynamics of the races are different. That's the.

[00:36:46]Almost my job on the ground is, to be able to speak to the writers of the Amani foundation, after the races or during the races and, give them small pointers about, drafting or cross winds or where to put their tire on on a rough section of road.

[00:37:00]And by no means, am I a great expert at navigating rough and technical descents, but, There's ample opportunity to be there in-person and providing, not so much the training aspects that's already been covered, but the application of, okay, you have this power, you've done the training now, how do you maximize, The race side of it, and I'm happy to be a I don't know, maybe a director in the race, telling people, Hey, this is a great time to attack.

[00:37:24] You should go for it. Cause I know Laurens is going to be, he's going to be out there to win and I'm sure he wants to get one over on me after unbalanced, if I can yeah. Employ some of the African riders to try to get them up there and potentially PIP Laurens for a stage or two, then you know, that would be awesome.

[00:37:41] Craig Dalton: [00:37:41] I can't wait to follow this. And I do think, as you mentioned, the fact that this is a multi-day stage race and having a camp at night, it's just going to be this really intimate opportunity with that gravel community. For everybody participating in the race, to learn from each other, to have a laugh at the inevitable folly that happens in a gravel event stage.

[00:38:04]It's just so much fun. Unlike maybe some of the stage races you've experienced before in Europe, where you went off with your team and you had your bubble and it was just people you knew. I think the community much like you described and experienced in Kansas is going to be there in droves and they just think there's going to be a lot of love at that event.

[00:38:22] Ian Boswell: [00:38:22] Yeah and I've already said this to a few people who were heading over there, like inevitably something is going to go wrong and not just because it's, we're heading to Africa, but it happens that, I spoke to people who did Oregon trail and like it's a gravel stage race.

[00:38:35]Something is going to, you're going to break something, hopefully it's not your body. Hopefully it's a piece of your bike or, a buckle on your shoe or, a random thing's going to go wrong or you might get food poisoning or dehydrated. So I think it's important for everyone attending to also realize that, things could very easily not be optimal, which I think is the beauty of going to events like this is, it's facing adversity and, really integrating into the location and the landscape and the environment.

[00:39:02] And also the culture, which I think is I don't want to go there and, eat pasta and red sauce. I'm not sure what the what's on the menu, but I would love to, Be exposed and open to trying new foods and flavors and fruits. And I think that's one of the coolest things about traveling in this era that we live in, where, you can fly almost anywhere in the world and experience a culture that is so different than the one that we live at home.

[00:39:26] Craig Dalton: [00:39:26] Whatever I love about this program that Wahoo has put together, it's not only as fans of the sport and just interested. SA, if people on the sidelines we get to see not only what happens during the migration, gravel race. But then later in the year in Asheville and at SBT gravel, we're going to see a few of these athletes make the trip over and what a great way to just round out the year and see how these athletes progress and see what that investment, that Wahoo  has a company and other partners have made to bring them over there.

[00:39:59] And hopefully, as you said, make this a stepping stone for a great future career in cycling.

[00:40:05] Ian Boswell: [00:40:05] Yeah, exactly. And just the opportunity to meet them and become friends, because like you said, we are hanging out around a campfire at night, so the opportunity to be a friendly face and what, the same way when I go over to Kenya, someone who is completely out of my element, for them to have a friendly face when they do come to the us to, be a friend on the start line and help them at registration and, lead them on a local ride and talk about the rules of the road in the U S compared to how they are in Kenya.

[00:40:31]It's those little things that, I've traveled enough and, Been alone in foreign countries where you just feel like you're on an island and everything is moving so quick around you. So to be able to, make those connections early and then, really welcomed them to, to the U S later in the year is such a cool opportunity.

[00:40:45] And, the Masa Mari is up at over 6,000 feet. So these athletes are very well equipped to, race up in. Steamboat Springs, at altitude. Yeah, it's cool. And I'm sure we'll see, regardless of the level that they're out now, I'm sure that we'll see them, at a completely new level, once they do come to the U S just through the experience and observation of, riding with people from a different racing background.

[00:41:08]Craig Dalton: [00:41:08] So for the listener, this is going to drop on a Tuesday. Ian will be starting this race tomorrow. So hit the social media channels. Follow him. Let's all try to follow the Migration Gravel Race. I'll put links in the show notes to everything we've talked about. Ian, best of luck over in Africa. I can't wait to revisit this conversation when you come back and and follow the journey of these athletes.

[00:41:30]Ian Boswell: [00:41:30] I really appreciate it, Craig. And yeah, I'll do my best to keep everyone in the loop. I'm not sure what my. Connectivity will be out in on the Masa Mara, but yeah, I'll do my best to keep everyone posted and I'm sure there'll be some some feeds and some posting from the from the race organizers as well.

[00:41:46] Craig Dalton: [00:41:46] Right on. Thanks Ian.

[00:41:47] Ian Boswell: [00:41:47] Thank you, Craig.

[00:41:49]Craig Dalton: [00:41:49] So that's it for this edition of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thank you. And congratulations to you, Ian Boswell,

[00:41:56]And thank you for Wahoo for their support of this podcast. I'm super excited to follow the migration, gravel race. I've been stoked about it ever since I heard it announced at the end of last year,

[00:42:08]For those north American European athletes attending the event, it sounds like a great adventure. And for those east African athletes participating in the race, it sounds like a great opportunity. Not only do they get to test their metal against some of the best gravel racers in the world. They get potentially the opportunity. To come do it on us soil.

[00:42:29]I'll do my best to keep you updated on the podcast and in the ridership community. But I also encourage you to subscribe and listen to Ian's podcast. Breakfast with Boz. I think he's going to be picking up some very interesting conversations. While he's in kenya and that's going to be a great place to follow what is going on. 

[00:42:48]Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels