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Apr 19, 2023

This week we sit down with Bovine Classic founder, Bryan Yates to learn more about the 2023 event. Run out of the central California town of Atascadero, the event highlights this unique part of California with its combination of wineries, rolling hills and views of the Pacific Ocean.

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

[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.

This week on the show. We welcome Brian Yates, the founder of the bovine classic gravel event in California. Brian. And I got connected last year, which was the inaugural year of the bovine classic. And I was super excited about his concept. Super excited about the location of the event. Down there in the mid section of California by Morro bay and San Luis Obispo, being that closest major city to the event in arrest the Darrow.

As you'll hear Brian has put together a course that highlights the rolling Hills, the larger climbs. The vineyards, the breweries, the single track. Everything you'd want to touch in that region. And packaged it all together for a great weekend for family and writers alike. As you'll hear the event has a couple of warm-up rides and shakedown rides in the days approaching it. And then four options of routes to explore the area, depending on how big of an appetite you have for gravel in that given weekend.

The event happens in October. And I encourage you to check it out and I encourage you to listen to the conversation. I'm going to apologize in advance for a few technical hiccups we had during recording.

I did my best to edit it down, but certainly didn't want to lose this conversation and wanted to make sure, obviously that everybody is familiar with the bovine classic. Before we jump in, I did need to thank this week. Sponsor hammerhead. And the hammer had Caru to computer.

The hammer had crew two is the most advanced GPS cycling computer available today with industry leading mapping navigation and routing capabilities that set it apart from other GPS options. As Brian describes the course later in this podcast. I couldn't help, but think about.

The climber with predictive path technology feature that hammer had rolled out last year. This is the type of feature that'll let you know. Are you facing, what are those 45 minute long climbs ahead of you? Or is it some of the punchy stuff that Brian will describe? I found that invaluable when going on routes that I hadn't been on before, because it just gave me, uh, the right mindset for approaching a longer climb or potentially trying to push a little bit. If I knew it was.

Are rolling climb. That's just one of the many features I enjoy on the hammerhead. Kuru to hammerhead software updates and new feature releases allow your crew to, to evolve and improve. Ensuring that the device you get today will be even better tomorrow. I've got my personal device connected to both Strava and ride with GPS.

I can import routes directly to the device. I can export routes. I can do everything that you'd want to do. I also just became aware since I'm borrowing an e-bike right now. That the crew too has a new e-bike integration that delivers detailed battery usage rights to your display. So I need to set that up. If I'm going to be hanging onto this e-bike for a little while.

Right now our listeners can get a free heart rate monitor with the purchase of a hammerhead kuru two. Visit hammerhead IO. Oh right now. And use the promo code, the gravel ride at checkout to get yours today. This is an exclusive offer. So don't forget to use the promo code, the gravel ride. You'll get a free heart rate monitor with your purchase of the Karoo to computer.

Just visit hammerhead. Dot IO today. Add both items to your card. Use that promo code and boom. The heart rate monitor price will disappear.

With that said let's jump right in to my conversation. Brian, welcome to the show.

[00:04:15] Bryan Yates: Craig. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

[00:04:17] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's good to finally get you on the podcast to record and see you face-to-face. I know we first connected about a year ago, and it was gonna be the first year of the Bovine Classic, and there was a lot of unknowns. You hadn't done it before, so great to finally have you.

[00:04:34] Bryan Yates: Yeah, it's great to actually earn my spot in the seat this time,

[00:04:38] Craig Dalton: I'm sometimes sheepish about bringing first year events on that haven't actually happened yet because it's so much of an unknown. Um, not that I had those fears for you because I know in talking to you and just seeing the materials around the bovine classic, you were putting a lot of energy and intention.

On making the event a success, but at least now we have 2022 behind us and we can talk about it in real terms and we can talk about what's changing and why people should be excited for 2023.

[00:05:09] Bryan Yates: Well, let's be clear, I'm still PT baring this thing, right? It's still a lot of smoke and mirrors and a lot of just my enthusiasm.

[00:05:16] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I mean, it seems like the first five years of any event, there's just a lot of learning that goes. Oh,

[00:05:21] Bryan Yates: for sure. Yeah, for sure. I mean, we learned a lot. So

[00:05:23] Craig Dalton: let's start off by setting the stage a little bit, Brian. Yeah, for sure. Let's set the stage where, where are you in California? Just to set the stage for the listener.

[00:05:33] Bryan Yates: All right. I am exactly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, so it is exactly the midpoint. We are about 17 miles inland from the coast, so. Cambria. Moro Bay is out on the coast, but those are our neighbor, neighbor towns. We're on the inland side where things look ranchy farming and Tuscan. And we're also, so our nearest big city is San Louis Obispo.

[00:06:08] Craig Dalton: Got it. So stepping back for a second, how did you get involved with the idea of creating events? How did you get into cycling? I know there's a lot to this question, but I think it's important as so much of event organizing and course design is sort of a love letter to where you've been riding. So how did you arrive at this point and how did you get into gravel cycling?

[00:06:30] Bryan Yates: Oh man, I love that question. That's like one of my favorite questions. So I, I was a really avid cyclist as a teenager. I was the kid who had, you know, spent all of his allowance on in the eighties, the $3,000 Italian bike. Right. And then, Uh, and then I, I, I left the sport behind for a lot of bad habits for a while, and came back.

Came back, you know, like a lot of us do. I kind of popped my head up in my late thirties. What have I been doing? What have, and I came back to cycling, came back to racing. Uh, Racing, uh, cause I'm not very good at it. Right? Completely, uh, completely just above average. So I came back to that and then I'd been coaching, I started really coaching cyclists for about 10, 12 years.

And had been deeply involved with a pediatric and pediatric cancer ride that I'd been the team director and Cocha for many years called PAB Bluff across America. And I'd been living in Los Angeles for, you know, a long time. And about four years ago, uh, my wife and I decided that. We were done with Los Angeles and that our careers were portable enough that we were looking for a place to move, and we ended up in this town called Atascadero, which is just below, uh, pastor Robles California.

For those of you who know that, you know, basically what we're known for here is. It's essentially like the frontier land of Disney. It's sort of a flyover town. We have the mental hos state mental hospital and uh, it's an emerging, it's an up and coming emerging town. But we moved here and we were. Really welcomed by the community super fast, and I took a gap year that first year.

Ended up riding my bike everywhere, riding all the time. In fact, we moved here and I dropped my bags and. I was taking a group of cyclists to New Zealand to go ride and I dropped my bags and said, I gotta go train cuz I'm gonna be riding like hundreds of miles per week for the next, you know, three weeks.

And my wife's like, great, get outta here. I don't want you actually putting anything away. She was like, go ride. Went to New Zealand, then came back, came back and was riding a bunch here. It was like, it's 2019 and it, we had a lot of rain that year as well and everything was super green and I end up all of these places.

You know, writing in a new place is a lot like learning a new language. I think it rewires your brain in a different way because you have to sort of get lost intentionally and find this new persona. Yeah. And find your way around. And I started discovering all these things like this is every bit as good and all of these things I was doing in New Zealand, this is stunning.

And I'd ridden through here a bunch, taking the Pablo crew, but I'd never gone deep. So let's fast forward a little bit. I'm a big Yuri household and I, I have been friends for a million years and I'm a big fan of his Bantam Classic race. It's this little underground race. Can I say that, Yuri? I hope so.

It's his, uh, I, it's a little less underground now, and I, I love it. It's up in Petaluma. It's not a gravel race, but it is, you know, as we talked about Sonoma Road. So come with fat tires. And I kind of thought I got down here, I was like, you know, maybe I'll do a, a fall answer to that, something really cheeky, and we'll call it the bovine Classic, and then I put it away.

And I had been working out of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, had my office there for a little bit and was checking out cuz my home office was built. And at the time I was going off to go work with a bunch of the executive athletes that I was coaching and the president of, uh, the Chamber of Commerce said, oh, what are you doing?

I said, this is what we're doing. Gonna go ride a bunch. He said, anywhere Interesting. I was like, yeah. Here, here, here, here. As a complete aside, this was a complete throwaway comment, like I didn't think twice about it. I said, and we have world class cycling here and nobody's talking about it. Nobody's telling that story.

And said, do you wanna do an event? I was like, absolutely not. So what we ended up doing is I've done a bunch of work. Yeah. I've done a bunch of work with Peloton Magazine in the past as a consulting brand manager and digital manager, and also have had written a bunch for Peloton. I thought, why don't we bring my crew down and we'll do a full on.

Like year long, tell the story of what's going on here and really market it as a, as a cycling destination, as kind of like a Lake Garda minus the lake for cycling. Well, here's the thing. Anyone who's gonna give you money for that wants an immediate return. And so what I quickly found was the only way anyone was gonna do anything is if we were putting heads in.

So the idea of Yeah, that makes sense. Taking Yeah, the idea of taking the slow approach wasn't gonna work. And so all my internal resistance was futile. So we, I, we pivoted and we, I hate that term. We, we, we changed directions and put together a really great story. Um, and a, you know, a long time ago I used to be a, a, a producer at Disney.

And so, you know, you can take the boy outta Disney, but you can't take the Disney out of the boy. And so it was all about the story and started creating this great story and started getting local buy-in. And once I got local buy-in, it was like, crap, we have to do this thing now. That's the long story for our, and now we have to do it.

[00:12:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I love that. You know, it's so interesting the different welcoming reception you get from a smaller community that can benefit from 400 more people coming into the community. And that can have a really significant impact on the livelihood of the hoteliers, the, you know, the, the restaurants, et cetera.

And everybody can get stoked. Versus in larger communities, there's a resistance to bringing anybody else in.

[00:12:48] Bryan Yates: I don't think we could have done this in San Lu Obispo, I don't think. We certainly couldn't have done anything like this in Los Angeles. It, it, it had to be somewhere small and it had to tell a story where people were going, oh, hey, that's interesting.

You know, it's so funny. That's why I, I presented in front of. The tourism board here in Atascadero and like the former mayors on the board, he's like, okay, I want you to come over a Friday and we're gonna have, we're gonna have drinks and dinner with the mayors of San, of, of Pastor Robles and Atascadero.

You're gonna tell, because I love your story. We're gonna, so you know, the next thing I know, I'm like sitting there having, having, having happy hour with the mayors, which is just so.

[00:13:32] Craig Dalton: I love that. It's probably a l I suppose, in the, in the, again, in these like rural markets, like you do get that kind of reception and the event organizers are kind of brought in in a collaborative fashion, which I imagine just sort of opens up a lot of doors for you, whether it's. You know, going through ranch private learn ranch land, and just getting the right introductions to allow access to some of these areas that may not push through in, you know, non race day.

[00:13:59] Bryan Yates: That's really a great, a great question and point, and it's absolutely true. You can get things done a lot more quickly, uh, in these smaller communities when they're receptive. Um, you know, atascadero in some ways. It is in the heart of the Pa Robles wine region, which is arguably one of the most beautiful regions in the world.

And by the way, I, I wanna come back to that just a moment on a, from a cycling standpoint, and yet most people don't know about Atascadero. So some of the work that we had to do was, is around the marketing of saying we, this is the wine region. It's not just the town of Paso Robles. And I think. There might have been a little resistance from, say, the Paso Hotel Ice, which have more money than a Tascadero a hotel ice.

Like, why are we doing this even though you're not gonna be here? So cuz we're selling the whole region and people are gonna stay with you, and we're. Pitching that, and the, the downstream effect is that people are gonna come to your resorts and stay with you when they're not here at the race. So, yeah.

And, but it, it's definitely, it takes a little bit of work. But, you know, we, at one of the meetings with the Paso people, the, the city's, um, deputy manager or economic development director has seen my pitch, seen my pitch a couple times. He piped in, he was like, yeah, let's give this thing money. And frankly, I'm absolutely ecstatic and delighted to know that our dirt roads are actually a luxury item that we can, that we can market.

So when you're telling a story to people that they're not used to hearing, that also goes a long way.

[00:15:42] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. You talked a little bit earlier about how you fell in love with the area through all the riding and exploration you were doing. As you started to think about specifics for the bovine classic, based on the terrain you had available, kinda where did you net out? Like what was your philosophy going in?

A lot of races have mixed terrain. A lot of races now have single track in it. How did you net out in expressing like, what's the. The area has to offer.

[00:16:12] Bryan Yates: So the first thing that I want to come back to, and I'm gonna get into this cuz it's related, is that if you look at the Paso Robs wine region, that total mass is about two thirds the size of the land.

Mass. Mass. If you've put Sonoma and Napa together. But, so we're about two-thirds of that size, so we're huge, but we have one-tenth of the population. So the easy story there is that what happens is that you, I can go out on a five hour bike ride and see 15 cars. So from a cycling standpoint, it's like, this is what happens if, uh, you know, Disneyland creates bicycle land.

Right. And the other thing that, that we really had while moved here is that a couple of bonds came, came due, and there's been a ton of investment just in the actual. Roads themselves. So the tarmac is, the roads themselves are, are a joy to ride on. So the way it went netted out is that we have some public roads that include, uh, that include these dirt roads that are all just marvelous and they cut through different climates within the Paso region.

So, you know, east Paso is very different than what happens to West on on the West Paso. And there are a lot of little surprises that happened on these public roads, just like visual surprises. And uh, we wanted to showcase those. And, you know, there are other rides that have gone through here and done this.

And we haven't done anything incredibly unique with the course. We just let the course be for this year, for last year, and this year as it is. I mean, one thing we did want to add is that because we were coming back into a task at Arrow, pardon? What we wanted to do is that we have, uh, lawn Branch Saloon was one of our, is one of our sponsors, and they're out in, uh, the town of Creston, which is about 15 miles east of Paso.

And we do a pre ride out of there on Fridays called The Fried Pickle Ride cuz it's known for their fried pickles. Uh, but it also has this amazing single track and probably one of the most beautiful that ends up on one of the most beautiful dirt farm roads I know. In the county. I was like, well, we gotta, we have to find a way to put that in.

And it was really, we wanted, there's no way you could do a hundred miles of straight gravel here. Right? I just don't know that that exists in most of California. But what we could do was, Was a course that I sometimes like to call the Estrada Bryon, and it was this combination of dirt to asphalt, to dirt, to asphalt.

And you know, when people come, when riders come off onto the asphalt, they're greeted with beautiful asphalt, with twisty, windy roads. So everything was gonna be. Part of the experience. And then we wanted to hit some wineries along the way. Like we have, we had one winery that opened up doors and they said, yeah, cut through, we'll let you cut through our vineyards to skip this thing.

And I mean, I think it freaked some people out a little bit cuz it had a really hairy descent. But for the ones who were at the front, I was like, yeah, this is great. I love it. Others were, you know, sliding about. That's one of the things that we're also working on is, you know, this is getting that trust that you alluded to, um, down the road.

Like one of our mission pillars is to. Make friends with the, uh, ranching community so that we can change our course up and so that we can do different things to get access to areas that others don't have access to. And so, you know, right now we start with getting small, segmented at. Access to, to vineyards cuz there's all these awesome roads that go through vineyards, dirt roads.

So we get access to that and then hopefully just keep earning trust and keep expanding and earning trust and expanding. And, you know, down the road maybe we will get lucky and be able to turn this into something like Rebecca's the, you know, Rebecca's, uh, stage race. And so we have multiple days of official rides.

That would be, that would be the dream. Amazing.

[00:20:31] Craig Dalton: So where did you net out on sort of the available course distances and course options for riders

[00:20:39] Bryan Yates: for this year or last year?

[00:20:40] Craig Dalton: Uh, if you want to contextualize it with last year, but let's, yeah. We can talk about this year as well.

[00:20:45] Bryan Yates: Yeah. We had, uh, three courses last year.

We had the big bovine, which was about 97 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing. So, you know, I call us America's fourth hardest Cal themed gravel ride in a California wine country in America. Partially cuz we're cheeky. But I think the other part is that it's no joke. I mean, you know, 9,000 feet and 97 miles is no joke of riding.

And we're very serious about that. We want it to be a challenge. So we had the big bovine and then we had, uh, the happy bovine, which was. 65 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing. We had the baby bovine, which was 42 miles and 2,800 feet of climbing This year. This year we have the big bovine again. I keep wanting to add this river section that's as a last segment That is right.

That skirts a tascadero. But we pulled it out last year cuz it seemed kind of unduly cruel at the end of the ride. And we thought, okay, we're gonna put it in this year. And now that whole section has been decimated by all of the rain. So I'm still not sure that we could, like we said, we'll put it in, but I don't know that it's gonna be worth it to go in.

But assuming we can, the big bow vine goes up to 101 miles. And just over 9,000 feet of climbing. Then there's the feisty bovine, which is about 76 miles, and we've added a fourth course, which is the new new happy bovine course, which. Gis, a couple of climb, but it's still like 70 miles and that goes out on some single track.

So that cuts off a different part of the course. And then we have the happy bovine, which is pretty much the same as last year.

[00:22:46] Craig Dalton: On the, longest course, how is that climbing accumulated? Are we, we talking about, you know, a thousand foot long climbs or 25 different a hundred foot climb?

[00:22:57] Bryan Yates: That's a, it's, it's just a proper mix. You know, the funny thing is, okay, when I moved up here from Los Angeles, I used to be a pretty binary rider, cuz that's how the climbing was.

You go up and you come down and you go, and here it is way more Belgian, right? There's so many rollers. Just so, so many rollers. And, uh, you know, those rollers can. Pitch up at 17%. It's no joke. Right? So you accumulate a lot of a rolling and this is a, this is a great question that I should go back and look at the specific percentages, but then we have several long climbs.

There's Kyler Canyon is a five mile ish climb, and so you probably gain 900 feet. Cyprus is. A good 45 minute climb. And so that's probably another, another 900, 900 feet or more. And then Santa Rita Road will probably get, what is that, 1300 feet of climbing and then, And then the single track out on Rocky Canyon is about a mile or so.

So you don't get that much climbing, but you get some tech. It's technical, so, and it comes at mile 72, so it hits you when you're hot and fatigued at that point. For sure. But again, that's all, all that stuff is punctuated with a lot of that, a lot of the rollers.

[00:24:20] Craig Dalton: How long do you think it takes? The bulk of people to finish that. Is this like a, a 10 hour day at that point?

[00:24:27] Bryan Yates: You know, I think our final rider actually, we took off at 8:00 AM last year. And I think our fi, our lantern moge came in at four o'clock. But I mean, he just got sidetracked by something.

Um, it wasn't really anything. So I think he came in at four or four 30, was our final rider last year. So yeah, it's a long day, but I don't think it was a 10 hour day. I mean, I've definitely, um, you know, I was kind of slow last year and actually I was really slow last year and I sat out and did it myself one day to just as a little empathy check for our riders.

And I think it took me seven and a half, eight hours to do it.

[00:25:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I was gonna ask about aid stations and what your philosophy was there.

[00:25:10] Bryan Yates: Great. I love that. So our f. Philosophy. You know, we did well in some parts of our aid stations last year, and we did less well in others. The overall philosophy is that I want them to be expressions of what's cool about the area.

And we have a lot of businesses doing a lot of boutique stuff. I mean, it's a wine region, right? So people are inherently doing creative storytelling through wine and distilleries and products. So our first aid station is a beautiful winery and they were excited to have us, and it came at about mile 20, and it was kind of a bummer that a lot of people skipped it.

Uh, their thing was they were serving hand ups of homegrown home cured homemade prosciutto. So, uh, like stuff that they had grown from, grown and made from their farm was like, here you go. And they were serving it with these apples that the, that the pigs had been fed on. They're like, oh no, you have to taste it with the apples.

So, uh, so we want it to be those kinds of things. And then STR did an amazing aid station out. Top of one of these mountains where people get up, they're exhausted, they're pissed off at me, and slams up there throwing a party, and then people go, wait, that's the Pacific Ocean. Holy cow. They, we have these great bakeries.

And so what Ram did last year was basically created a bake shop. They went and bought all of these amazing pa uh, pastries and people get up there or just chow out on locally made pastries. And then our third aid station needed needs some tlc. We need to put some paninis and things like that in. Then I want people to be, you know, I sort of want people to, to go back to the finish line, you know, heavier than when they left.

And if that means they also get a case of like type two diabetes from good food, then that's, I'm okay with that too. Um, and then our fourth aid stop was out at Long Branch Saloon and. It's so funny. They're like, what should we do? I was like, fried pickles. Give 'em fried pickles, give 'em fried pickles.

And so they were serving up fried pickles and that was, you know, people were stopping and, uh, I'm not supposed to tout this for liability, but people were stopping and ordering b ordering burgers and beer at mile 80, hanging out at the a, at hating it out at Long Branch and then, you know, poodle their way back the last 20 miles.

So it's all about showcasing what's cool and what's the character of the place and what makes it special. And I think there was also someone who hopped in. Did an unofficial aid station where, uh, you know, they were serving beverages that they shouldn't have been serving, but they did it in the middle of nowhere.

They, we love, we loved that they were there, but at the same time it was like, Ugh, I don't wanna own that liability.

[00:28:04] Craig Dalton: may have to check in with that Lantern Rouge winner and see if they ordered a burger at the brewery and, and stopped for libations at mile 80.

, given the, the course you've laid out, what type of equipment are you recommending riders arrive with in terms of like tires, for example?

[00:28:23] Bryan Yates: So I think it's gonna be a little early to tell, because I don't know what the turf is going to be. I will tell you what my standard tire is and then y'all can make decisions what however you want based on this.

But we will get a little, we'll get more to it as we get closer. So generally, I will run, um, The Pathfinder 40 twos because I'm old and lazy and like a plush or the Pelli Cido ages because there's a lot of, there's a lot of, of terrain of asphalt and. And I don't want you to be bummed out by the asphalt.

It's actually super exciting. People get so stoked on those descends because it turns into like roller coasters. So the centra h uh, I mean, during the winter I've been running the rmba, the specialized rambus up front and a pathfinder in back. But it's gonna depend on what kind of trail work gets done on Rocky Canyon, which is our single.

It's going to depend on what happens to some of the dirt roads that we go on because we've had some, some of the dirt roads that y'all road last year have basically fallen into the ravine cuz they've just been so saturated. So the county's been really great about getting in there and fixing stuff. But let's wait until we get a little bit closer.

But right now, you know, the, the Pathfinder's a pretty solid choice. It rolls beautifully. It holds the road beautifully, and you know, it actually for like a 42 seat tire has a relatively low rolling resistance, which makes it fast and fun.

[00:30:03] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think that's so much fun when, I mean, you wanna hate your bike or your tires at least once during an an event to sort of push you and force a decision one way or the other. Where do you want comfort? Do you want speed? At some point there's gonna be a trade off.

[00:30:17] Bryan Yates: It's gonna be true if I talk to, uh, I mean a lot.

The guy who ends up in a lot of our Instagram photos, this is my usual ride buddy. And, you know, he's leaps and bounds stronger than I am and he is talking about riding 32 c Pathfinders for next year is like, you be you, dude. That's, if that's what you wanna do, go for it. It's definitely rideable. You know, I would ask someone after we have Yuri and Allison out, I'd get their feedback and see what they want.

But I think that, you know, I think that on the long course we're not gonna see a lot of improvement on the Rocky Canyon single track, which has turned into a proper mountain biking climb. So that's that, uh, for me says stick with, stick with a wider pathfinder and just go cuz of where it lands in the course.

[00:31:07] Craig Dalton: Yep. Got it. There's a couple other things I wanted to point out about the event. As we were talking about offline, you know, there's many rides and events that people roll into that day, do it and go home. It really seems like the way you're orienting this event, With activities several days before. You expect and have experienced that people are staying in the region for a few days.

Can you talk about the sort of notion of planning a long weekend down there and what the riders might experience?

[00:31:36] Bryan Yates: Oh God, I, I can talk about this all day on all night. I didn't know that when I grew up, I was gonna end up being a tourism guy by accident. Yeah, I think so. I, I think, let's, there are some challenges here for the Sprinter set.

All right. Slow County is relatively strict about what it can, what it deems as public outdoor camping. Uh, in fact, they, it, the county has technically made it illegal to even RV camp on someone's property. It's un unpleasable, basically. So I would just say, you know, if you're coming down with a sprinter, call me and let's put, let's hook you up with some, some place where you can park that.

But like as far as events go, come down with your family. Like there's so much. To do. It doesn't just have to be about wine. I mean, it's a beautiful place to tour. Uh, there is south of here a really fun zip line tour, for example, that is over, that goes over a vineyard. And so that's really fun to take kids to.

You can go out to the coast and, I mean, it's a 30 minute drive to the coast and hang out at the beach, go to Cambria or Bay. So there's all of that. I know. We have one of your, you're in Marin and we know, I know one of your, your Marin crew is coming down. We've got about a crew of 15 of yours who will be coming down and kind of staying together.

And one of the things that we've done is, Set them up with a private in-house wine tasting from a, a well-known winemaker who doesn't happen to have a tasting room, but really wants to show up. So, you know, you know, there's sorts of things that we can do. Like you can get introductions to say, wine winemakers who are doing interesting things where you may not actually figure, find out where they are.

Um, and there's, you know, there's great restaurants. Like one of the things we did last year that was a little, that was different than other rides is we don't do t-shirts. Mostly cuz we find like 40% of the people want t-shirts and 60% saying no, I'm just gonna clean the chain with it anyways. So in our rider bags last year we really tried to keep it with local products and there's a company that makes beautiful, fresh and dried pastas and so our rider bags were had.

Pasta had local, locally made granola bars from a bakery. And so we try to keep it with local goods and kind of give people a bag that's like, here's a taste of pasta, or there was locally made jams. So we, that's sort of the approach is really all about showcasing the cool stuff that's being made here.

[00:34:14] Craig Dalton: And what about riding before the event? Do you have pre rides organized? What does that look?

[00:34:20] Bryan Yates: I should have picked up on that question before you. Thanks for teeing me up. So, Thursday night we will have, uh, Thursday evening we'll have a little ride out of Pastor Robles and that, you know, last year we were totally, we were surprised as heck by our, our pre rides last year.

Um, on Thursday we did one. We'll do one out Paso. You know, we had 20 people show up for that, which was fantastic. And uh, canyon was there. And I Canyon, if you're listening, I certainly hope that you'll be there again. Uh, canyon was there. They, they hosted that ride and we did, you know, 20 miles that Thursday evening, Friday we met out at Long Branch Saloon, where the fried pickles are and.

We did a pre ride out of there and it was so funny, like none of us expected what we got. Like we were there, we figured, oh, we'll have 25, 30 people. Uh, we had 70 people show up for that pre ride. It was so it was, you know, people were full on, ready to come out and play, and then everyone stuck around and had had lunch and beers at the saloon afterwards.

We did another pre ride that day. Um, vole the local kit maker. Which is made and manufactured down in, um, in Pismo Beach. So about 30 minutes from here. They hosted a pre ride out of Atascadero in the afternoon for late comers. I don't think we're going to do a third one this year. It's just a lot to juggle.

I think we'll focus on the two Thursday and Friday, and then we have the packet pickup party on Friday evening, and we had 80% of our people picking up the packets the night before, which I think was a reversal. What bike monkey usually experiences, and I do wanna say this is a bike monkey production, like this couldn't happen without them.

And we're really incredibly grateful to be part of their, their network of rides. So that's a, it's a special thing to do a bike monkey event. Yeah,

[00:36:18] Craig Dalton: absolutely. And for those, listen. Listening if you did not hear my interview with Carlos a few episodes back with respect to Truckee Gravel, we do talk about Bike Monkey as a production entity and some of the other great events that Carlos has been working with the last decade.

So certainly a top class organization to have behind you and provides a lot of confidence. I also wanted to make a personal note about the region you're talking about. I've had the pleasure of riding down there a little bit, and I remember when you announced the event last. I was so enthusiastic about it because I totally agree that it's this gem that's within good driving distance of both LA and San Francisco, where you can get down there and have a completely different experience than you're having to the north or to the south of

[00:37:06] Bryan Yates: that area.

It is such a unique experience for sure. I, I, I still, after four years, I still get up and I will end up at certain sections of this, of the, the region is go, I, I, I can't believe, I can't believe I have this, this is phenomenal.

[00:37:23] Craig Dalton: What's, the cycle camp? What's the story behind that?

[00:37:26] Bryan Yates: Yeah, so, uh, this'll be our third. We have a camp coming up in at the end of April, and this is the third annual one that we've done. It usually brings about seven to 10 riders and people just get here and, you know, for a lot of them it's their opportunity to.

This year we have a lot of new riders, but in general it's like for people to come together and just enjoy some different, the course sliced up in different ways over four days. So, you know, we have it coming back up again in a couple, in a couple of weeks, and everyone's, you know, The, uh, the ribbing has already started and people are already talking about their favorite segments that they're looking forward to.

And so, um, you know, and they get, they, they all come back and like, this is great. I love coming here. This is, is amazing. And I forget that it's, you know, three hours from LA and three hours from the Bay Area.

[00:38:15] Craig Dalton: Love it. A couple other things I wanted to mention and a final question for you. I, I did note in your materials that you have discounts for groups, which is amazing. So if you're listening and you want to go down there, whether you're three people, five people, or eight people, they provide discounts, which as we all know, these events are more fun when you go down with your crew.

And then the final thing I wanted to just ask you about and give an opportunity for you to talk about is you've always had a charity component for the event as well. So could you talk about that charity and why it means

[00:38:44] Bryan Yates: something to you? Yeah, this is really, this is really special to me. You know, just because our theme has been all about the local, we found a local charity that's doing really important national work.

It's called Operations Surf. There is a, uh, movie on them on Netflix, and then there's been a, a, a piece that's done on them on E S P N, and it is an organization that creates surf camps and surfing and ocean education for injured returning veterans. As, uh, as, as a gateway to, to a pathway to recovery. And working through P T S D and really, you know, helping save people's lives.

And I got a chance to do that. I go to one of those camps last year as a volunteer and it's absolutely touching and powerful. So what we have done is we have created, it costs $5,000 to send a vet to one of those week long camps. And so last year we created the mor Mariah Will Wilson ride, like Moe.

Operations surf scholarship to raise $5,000 to send one female veteran to a camp. And thankfully, you know, we hit that $5,000 last year and that felt really great. And if. We got to send two female veterans to a camp this year. That would be so, such an impressive legacy for, for mo. And you know, we thought that surfing, surfing communities and gravel communities, there was a lot of interesting overlap in the two of those, and we felt like, They're both strong about the community.

They're both strong about sense of place. They're both strong and so many about being connected through outdoors in a way that a lot of other sports aren't. So that's So Operations surf, check 'em out. It's operations We're really, really fortunate to have them as charity partners.

[00:40:43] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that's awesome. So good that you were able to kind of cross that threshold of getting at least one person to attend, another veteran to attend that camp. And hopefully we can get to this year, I'll make sure to put links to the event, which is the last weekend of October this year so people know how to register.

And I'll also share a link to that operations surf so everybody knows how to get in touch with that and familiarize themselves with the importance of that charitable organiz.

[00:41:10] Bryan Yates: I appreciate it. I know they will too. It's absolutely lovely. .

[00:41:13] Craig Dalton: Brian, thanks so much for all the time. Thanks for the efforts in putting together an event in this region.

I'd love to see it and I look forward to seeing it firsthand this year.

[00:41:24] Bryan Yates: Thanks so much for having to me on. We love talking about the event. We love talking about it with passionate people and I love what you're doing with the podcast, Craig, so thanks so much.

[00:41:37] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Brian from the bovine classic for joining us. Make sure to check out the bovine classic. You can just search for it, or you can find the URL in my show notes.

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