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Feb 8, 2022

This week we sit down with North Carolina based professional gravel / mtb racer, Dylan Johnson about his 2022 goals, coaching and his popular YouTube channel. Dylan Johnson Coaching

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Automated transcription, please excuse the typos:

Dylan Johnson

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the podcast, we've got professional, gravel and MTB racer. Dylan Johnson.

Describing Dylan is simply a racer would be overly limiting. As Dylan is also a certified coach. And a YouTube personality.

I've been watching a bunch of Dylan's videos on YouTube lately, where he covers. Coaching his personal journey as an athlete and give some detailed overviews of his participation in some of the biggest gravel and MTB races around. What I thought is interesting about his coverage of these events specifically is that I found there's a lot of takeaways from them, for me as a mid-pack rider.

Not only does he describe what it's like to stay on the wheels of some of the top racers? In the united states he takes an honest look at his own capabilities as we all should as we're participating and talks about when he's burning more candles than he should to stay in a particular group and what the net effects of that tend to be at the end of these events i thought it was super interesting and i've really enjoyed his colorful personality on youtube so i encourage you to give it a view.

Dylan has been accepted to race in the lifetime grand Prix series, which covers both gravel and MTB races. So I'm super curious how an athlete like the Olin is going to fare over the course of the year. And I do think that series is going to be interesting because it's going to test a lot of athletes capabilities across.

A pretty diverse set of courses. With that intro out of the way let's jump right into my conversation with dylan Dylan, welcome to the show.

[00:01:47] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, thanks for having me.

[00:01:49] Craig Dalton: I'm super stuck to have this conversation. I've been enjoying your work on YouTube of late, and I'm interested very much to hear about your background. So why don't we use that as a starting point? Let's talk about how you got into cycling and what led you to gravel racing ultimately.

[00:02:05] Dylan Johnson: Yeah.

I think. Cycling seriously. I think my dad got me a mountain bike when I was probably 12 years old and started racing shortly after that. And I think by the time I was 15, I was, I was probably training pretty seriously. And I started in the mountain bike side for most of my. Career, if you want to call it that I've been an endurance mountain bike racer.

And just recently, probably within the last two or three years

made the transition not fully into gravel racing. I still, I still do mountain bike racing, but I would say I'm much more of a gravel racer now.

[00:02:41] Craig Dalton: And what part of the country did you grow up in?

[00:02:42] Dylan Johnson: I grew up in the Washington DC area and it's it's a pretty busy area, but I, I went to. School at Bravard college in?

Western, North Carolina. And that's where I currently live. And I like it a lot better just because there's a lot less people. The writing is a lot better, both on the road side and on the gravel side and the mountain bike side, it's just, it's just all around.

[00:03:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's interesting. I went to school in Washington, DC as well, and started as a mountain biker there. And I will say it is remarkable within that DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. How much decent mountain biking is there?

[00:03:18] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, it's, it's pretty good considering that it's such a densely populated area. I mean, there, there was a, there?

was a kind of rich cycling scene, I guess, just because there's so many people that lived there, there, there just happened to be a lot of cyclists we're in, we're in DC. Did you live?

[00:03:34] Craig Dalton: I w I went to American university, so I lived in Northwest

[00:03:38] Dylan Johnson: Gotcha.

[00:03:39] Craig Dalton: and then for a while I was working for a DC based company and stayed with a friend in Chevy, chase, Maryland.

[00:03:46] Dylan Johnson: So when you ride, what? Like Patapsco regularly?

[00:03:51] Craig Dalton: Yeah. exactly. And then, you know, big trips for mountain biking would be out to say front Royal or something like that.

[00:03:58] Dylan Johnson: Patapsco was a little far from me. I was in, I was on the Virginia side. So I would regularly ride Wakefield down head go to front Royal on the weekend. Yeah.

[00:04:07] Craig Dalton: So when you went down to university in North Carolina, had you already begun your mountain bike racing career at that point?

[00:04:14] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, I was, I, I went primarily just because Bravard college has a really good cycling team. They'd won multiple non-bank national championships as a team at that point. So. And it's honestly the main reason I went there. And I was part of the cycling team, race, mountain bikes for them, collegiate cycling or collegiate mountain biking is all short cross country races.

There wasn't an endurance stuff, but there, there was a brief period of time where I was kind of trying to be a cross country, you know, traditional cross country, mountain bike racer. And I, I think that my strengths and my interests kind of lied more with endurance races. And by the time I was, I was a senior in college.

I pretty much fully transitioned to be a endurance mountain bike racer. So I focused heavily on the NUE series. And for people that don't know what that is, it's a national series for a hundred mile mountain bike racing. And that was my main focus for probably four or five years.

[00:05:16] Craig Dalton: That's interesting. Were you studying exercise physiology? I know it. And we'll get into the fact that you're a coach now, but I'm curious, like what led to that understanding of your own physiology that, Hey, the short track stuff, wasn't going to do it for you. And even as a young man, you should transition to longer form racing.

[00:05:32] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, I was I got my degree in exercise science and it was, you know, sometimes people ask me when they're watching, after they've watched a bunch of my videos, like how. How'd you learn how to do all this research? I, part of it was, was through my degree. We learned how to research certain topics.

But yeah, I, I don't know if, I don't know if I learned that my physiology didn't match shorter distance. Because of what I was learning in college, it was more so just trial and error. Like I, I just found that the longer the race was the better I did relative to my peers. And I think that still holds true to this day.

You know, there, there, there are people that completely smashed me in a short track race. And then if we go do a hundred mile mountain bike race, it's the complete opposite. It wasn't necessarily an understanding of physiology, but more so trial and error, I would say

[00:06:32] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Gotcha. So with this endurance mountain bike racing, what year? Just to give the listener a little bit of a timestamp, what year did you start to see gravel starts to take off and start thinking about it to some degree, whether you pursued it or.

[00:06:47] Dylan Johnson: so 2018 was the year that I did my first gravel race. And I know that gravel was already. Coming up at that point. The first gravel race that I did was the CRO 10 buck 50, which is 150 mile gravel race on the coast of North Carolina, very flat. And then the second gravel race I ever did was at the time called dirty Kanza and now was Unbound as everyone knows.

So yeah, that was my second gravel race ever, but I had a, I had a ton of experience doing endurance. Mountain bike racing. And I, you know, gravel racing is very similar. It's just a little bit less technical and a little bit more tactics. So it's not like I didn't have experience with that kind of race

[00:07:29] Craig Dalton: When you went to Unbound back in 2018, obviously if you were focusing on a hundred mile mountain bike race, How was that leap up to 200 miles. And do you, in retrospect, feel like you weren't prepared for it?

[00:07:43] Dylan Johnson: yeah. I was not prepared for it. I don't think. I, well, I don't want to, I was about to say, I don't think anyone is prepared for their first time, but then again, Ian Boswell literally won the thing his first time doing it this past year. So I don't know about that, but a lot of, a lot of even, even at the pro level, I've seen a lot of racers do it their first time and they had absolutely no idea what they were getting themselves into.

And I a hundred percent fall in that boat as well. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I think the biggest thing is. Longer in duration than what I was used to a hundred mile mountain bike races for me usually take anywhere from the six hour range to the eight hour range, depending on how demanding the courses and Unbound is I've never gotten in the I've done it twice.

And I think this year was in the 11 hour range and I forget what it was in 2018. It's quite a few more hours out there than, than a hundred mile mountain biking. And I think the other thing too, is that it's, it's so exposed all day. There's no shade. You really got to contend with heat. There's, there's, you know, either two or three aid stations on the course, depending on what they decide to do.

So you've got to carry a lot of stuff with you. It's a lot of planning. Yeah, it's a lot of stuff I wasn't prepared for. I made a whole video about that experience. And I don't know, it was, it was quite an experience that first time.

[00:09:13] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. Like you said, I think regardless of how much research you do, it's going to be a surprise, which your body starts to do after 10, 12 hours, because it's impossible to get everything, right. Yeah. Particularly I

[00:09:26] Dylan Johnson: done the race?

[00:09:27] Craig Dalton: I haven't done, I haven't done a Unbound to.

[00:09:31] Dylan Johnson: Yeah.

[00:09:31] Craig Dalton: But I think I've done, you know, I've done these ultra endurance style races and you just, you just don't know where you're going to stack up until that day.

And even you can't compare one day to the other, right? Your nutrition, the temperature out there, your hydration, other riders, whether you're chasing wheels or not, these all come into play at some point during those days.

[00:09:52] Dylan Johnson: definitely. Definitely. Yeah.

And The, the other thing I'll add in with Unbound, particularly, it's a problem with a lot of gravel races, but particularly Unbound is, is mechanicals. It seems like in flat tires,

It seemed like half the pros that were out there this year. Probably half the field in general, not just pros dealt with some sort of flat tire issue.

[00:10:11] Craig Dalton: Yeah, a hundred percent. I feel like we've talked about it on the podcast on a number of occasions. Like you've gotta be prepared for that both mentally, physically, and technically. So if you get a flat, just get off your bike and change it and keep going, because you may be depressed that you've lost the group you were in, but chances are, some of those are gonna guys are gonna in.

Girls are going to have those same issues and you may find your same self back in that group. As long as you're mentally prepared to continue fighting throughout this.

[00:10:38] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, Lawrence 10 damn got second place. I mean, he was in the sprint finish for the wind, got a early flat tire. Had to plug it. I believe Collins Strickland had a flat, had to plug it got fifth place, construct Strickland. When he won, got a flat tire late in the race had to plug it. Any, those were not, those were not the only two riders in the top 10 that got flats. So it's. It is not a race where a flat tire is a race ending mechanical by any means.

[00:11:06] Craig Dalton: So that's 2018. You do your first Unbound kind of first season doing a couple of gravel races. Did you feel the draw at that point, or were you still kind of sticking to the endurance MTV scene for the primary focus of your efforts during the year?

[00:11:21] Dylan Johnson: Yeah,

I mean, I, I really enjoyed gravel racing when I tried it and it was. Probably a slow transition. I would say I started doing more and more in gravel races and less and less mountain bike races. 2020 was supposed to be the first year that I was going to be all in on gravel. And of course you know, there was hardly any racing in 2020 there was a little.

[00:11:44] Craig Dalton: happened as it did.

[00:11:46] Dylan Johnson: Right. There was a little bit, there was a little bit of racing in the fall, but, but I would say for the most part, that was a non season.

[00:11:53] Craig Dalton: That's when you first came on my radar, because I was sort of on the sidelines as a fan of the sport and podcaster looking at 2020 as this potentially breakout year where there's been enough noise about gravel the last few years that anybody with any cycling shops off-road is going to start racing gravel.

And we saw a lot of women come into the field and a lot of men. And I remember seeing your performance, I think, at the sugarcane. W w what became the sugar can one 50 and thinking to myself, oh, there's another name to watch who I haven't been aware of before.

[00:12:28] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. That sugar cane race. I, that was I, that was so early in 2020 that I don't even think I knew what COVID was at that point. It was, it was in January. So, but it was, it was a good thing that I got that race in before everything shut down. Cause, cause that one obviously went well and, and I think, you know, I had already planned to kind of transition to gravel, but that.

You know, it, it made me think, all right, well, this is something that I'm good at. I should, I should pursue.

[00:13:03] Craig Dalton: I'm curious, just from a sponsor perspective, as you're sort of managing yourself as a professional athlete and bringing together sponsors to support your efforts. Was that a difficult transition from people you were working with? Did you wholesale have to get new sponsors who were willing to support you in gravel or was it a more natural?

Yes. And kind of conversation with them.

[00:13:25] Dylan Johnson: It was, it was natural. The bike sponsor that I was, that I had was nine or bikes. I was working with them.

for five years. They make both mountain bikes and gravel bikes. They want to sell both mountain bikes and gravel bikes. The fact that I was raising gravel, I mean, they were, they were supportive of that.

The other sponsors that I have, I mean, it's not, you know, I can't even think of another sponsor that necessarily made only mountain bikes specifically. The equipment. And now I, now I to find a new version of that. So for the most part, I kept all my sponsors and they, they were happy about it because it seemed like gravel was getting more attention in.

[00:14:05] Craig Dalton: Let's talk a little bit about your 20, 21 season then, cause you've certainly put in effort in terms of a number of big races and series. Do you want to just kind of give me some highlights throughout the year? I know you had some great success at BWR and he revisited your, your Unbound experience.

We'll talk about a few of those events.

[00:14:25] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, I think the first big one was gravel Locos, which was the first, this was the 20, 20 or 2021 was the first year that they held it. But they they managed to get a lot of big names there. Warren's 10 dam Pete stet, not Collins, Strickland, Ted king. They were all there. That was my first big gravel race of 2021.

And I ended up getting fourth place in that, which I was very happy with. It was a brutal race, 150 miles. And it, the last two hours of the race were pouring rain. So I was very pleased with that Unbound. I felt like I came in very well prepared physically. Although I think. The tricky thing was Unbound is that heat acclimation is so important for that race.

And it's early enough in the year that for most people where most people live in the country, they haven't fully heat acclimated at that point. Like it's the first weekend of June. It's not like they've been riding their bike all summer in the heat. And I felt like I could have done a little bit better with heat acclimation, but it just, it really just, wasn't hot enough here in Bravard North Carolina.

For the month leading into that race, I did feel like the heat got to me, but by far, my biggest issue that I had with that race was the same issue that so many people had, which was a ton of flat tires. And I never had, I never had to put a tube in, but I, I went through a lot of plugs. I went through a lot of CO2.

I even had to at the second aid station, I, I could have grabbed my spare wheel and I totally should have, but 10 minutes after, after leaving that aid station, the tire went completely flat immediately, and I didn't have plugs or CO2 is left. So I just turned around, went back to the aid station, got the spare wheel and was on my way. I w I was still happy with that performance. I got 12th place there, despite all the issues, but you know, like I said, that's a race. You part of the race is dealing with issues, whether it's flat tires or dehydration or bonking everyone's going to have issues. And then the BWR series went really well, too.

I ended up finishing third place overall in the VWR series, which shows really how.

[00:16:38] Craig Dalton: Yeah, that's a huge accomplishment. When you think back across these races that you've participated in on the gravel side, have you started to hone in on the types of courses that suits your technical skills and physiology better than others?

[00:16:54] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, I usually the longer the race, the better it can get a little extreme with races, like Unbound. That's a V that's a very, very long race. And I think a lot of people, even if they. Physiology has set up for longer races are gonna struggle. So yeah, usually, usually the longer the race, the better, and I'm, I'm very happy that gravel embraced long distance gravel could have easily turned into, you know, 30 mile short races.

And that, that could have been what most people see as a gravel race, but it seems like every single big gravel races is a hundred, 150 200 which is. I'm, I'm a kind of a middle weight writer. I bounced between 150 and 155 pounds. So I'm not a pure climber and I'm not, not a massive guy. What I do find is that if a course has a ton of super steep climbing, then the outright climbers like Pete Stettner or, or someone like that

they're just going to walk away with.

At least from me, they're going to walk away from me on a, on a super steep climb. So I actually, I actually don't mind a fairly flat to rolling course because I, I find that I can at least stay with the front group for a longer period of time and maybe make some, some of the right moves at the end. I think my chances are better.

[00:18:19] Craig Dalton: Do you find that any of these courses are having technical enough sections that make your mountain bike background and asset?

[00:18:28] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. the BWR races have really embraced that most of the BWR races have some sort of single track. The BWR Utah race has a very long section of fair, relatively technical single track. I say relatively because we're talking about gravel racing here. If you're on a mountain bike, I don't think it'd be a huge deal, but when you're 110 miles into a gravel race and you've got 30 minutes of fairly bumpy, single track, that's, that's pretty significant.

I think, I think that played into my strengths a lot. And, and the other BWR races have similar features like that. Some, some gravel races are just straight up gravel for the whole thing, you know, like Unbound and there was no single track. So you really get a mix. I think if there are, if there are technical spots that suits me, if there aren't technical spots, I don't really, I don't really sweat it.

It just means that things are going to be a little bit more tactical, probably.

[00:19:21] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that I don't think we've mentioned it yet on air is that you've got a YouTube channel, which both covers your profession as a coach, as well as doing some race analysis from the races you've done. And for the listener, I'd very much recommend finding Dylan's YouTube channel and I'll put it in the show notes because he does a great job of showing behind the scenes.

And it's not so much as, you know, as a listener, like I don't geek out as to who's winning the race necessarily, but I do think Dylan does an excellent job of telling stories that can translate to everybody in the race. And specifically, as I mentioned to you offline Dylan, I really like that you have a strong understanding of.

How the course is going to play out how, what abilities you have and where to burn matches. And I forgot which one I was watching recently, where, you know, you had laid out the course profile and you had the, the undulating Hills throughout the race mapped out very specifically. And you're able to articulate where you thought you could be successful and where you thought you were going to have channel.

So I thought it'd be great and people will go watch these videos after the fact. But maybe if you could just talk through a little bit, how you think about when you look at a course profile and then you're out there in, let's say it's the top 30 of people that are out there until that breaks down further.

How are you thinking about tackling Hills or technical sections where you're going to have to exert more than the average amount of effort?

[00:20:51] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, I mean, so usually the w the way. That gravel races play out. Is that the front group? I mean, every once in a while, somebody would try a long distance breakaway and it's successful. That's what happened at VWR, California. I really was semi-successful I guess the only, the only person that caught the.

The people that went for it was pizza And he ended up winning, but, but usually what ends up happening at long distance gravel races is that the front group just gets smaller and smaller and smaller as the race progresses until it's a very elite group of riders and they either have to attack each other in the last couple of miles, or it might come down to a spring finish or a final climb or something like that.

So, I mean, if you're, if you're strong enough to make that selection, the last. You know, the last quarter of the race is very important. It's the most important part of the race. So you got to look at what, what the last, you know, what the last quarter of the race has. I mean, sometimes there's a big climb.

Sometimes there's a single track section. I made a video about DWR, Utah, not from this year, but from from the previous year 2020. And it has both, it's got a massive climb and then it's got a single track section that, that definitely played into the race tactics there. And then you kind of have to, you kind of have to get a feel for what your competition's strengths are as well.

Like, you know, I know that if I'm, if I'm riding with Pete stead and I he's, he's a great climber. I know that if I don't know Keegan Swinson's in the group, he's an amazing. Technical writer and an amazing climber. If it's, if it's Ian Boswell, same thing, amazing climber, just all around strong. The thing about Ian Boswell and I did talk about this in my BWR North Carolina video is probably one of his weaknesses is his technical ability.

And we both, I would say me, Russell Fenster Wald and Carrie Warner were trying to. Exploit that at that race. So anytime there was a technical gravel dissent, we were really trying to pin it in order to put some distance between us and an Ian. Unfortunately we didn't, you know, we didn't succeed in doing that.

He managed to catch us back every single time. But that's, that's kinda the thought process when you're, when you're in one of these races. And then of course there's the whole component of, of when do I go hard? You know, when do I save my matches when you. You know, when, when can I pin it? I think a lot of times, you know, if, if you're trying to put the group under pressure, it's gotta be in a section where they are not getting a significant amount of drafts.

So either, either fairly steep climber or some sort of technical section, because otherwise you're just kind of giving them a free.

[00:23:39] Craig Dalton: And when you're at the crux of these races, are you willing to put yourself in a position? blow up entirely, but you know that this is your move. Like this is the moment. If you're going to win this race, this is the moment you have to go.

[00:23:54] Dylan Johnson: Yeah.

[00:23:56] Craig Dalton: And, and let me, let me explain. I, I asked that because, you know, as a, as a mid-pack racer, like I'm mostly concerned about getting across the finish line. And I know there's not a tremendous amount of value in me blowing myself up to stay on a wheel because I've got to be concerned with this overall task of me crossing the finish line.

But as a professional athlete, I do imagine the calculation is slightly different.

[00:24:21] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. So generally generally what happens is, well, I was, I was talking about how the front group gets smaller and smaller throughout the race, but also what, what will generally happen is that the pace at the beginning of the race will be much harder than the pace throughout the rest of the race. I mean, I don't know.

It's just the nature of racing. So. You know, maybe, maybe some mid Packers don't know that it's, we actually don't keep that pace up for the entire race. We, we do slow down halfway through once, you know, once a significant amount of people have dropped off. If you, you, you kind of have to make these internal calculations, like is staying with.

You know, if you're with a group and you see that your heart rate is at, you know, you're at your threshold heart rate, but it's a seven hour race. So clearly that's not sustainable. Is it worth it to stay with this group and hope that they're going to slow down? Or maybe you need to make the calculation that this is too hard to pace and I need I need to go back to the next group on the road, or I need to draw.

And it's kind of, you know, it's kind of something that you learn with experience. Most people when they're doing their first race are going to go too hard at the beginning. In fact, even experienced racers, do that. I would say it's the number one racing mistake in endurance racing in general, let's take gravel racing out of it.

Just endurance racing period. Go into hard at the beginning is, is probably the number one mistake. Yeah, you're making all these, all these calculations in your head looking at your heart rate, looking at your power thinking, Okay.

You know, is, is this sustainable? Is it not sustainable? Is that, you know, are people around me getting tired?

Is the group gonna slow down? Are they not going to slow down? And sometimes you get it right? And sometimes you.

[00:26:06] Craig Dalton: That makes sense. Before we get into your 2022 plans, I just want to do a quick detour towards your equipment. Can you talk about the bike you're running the tire size. You prefer aerobars, no arrow bars. Let's get a couple of details on the table.

[00:26:20] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, well, I don't know when this episode's going to air, but as of right now, I cannot talk about the bike that I'm going to be riding running in 2022. Hopefully I'll, I'll be able to let people know soon. But the, the bike that I was running last year was the Niner RLT nine RDO. I run as far as tires go, I run, I usually run wider than whatever the race promoter recommends or whatever.

Probably the average racer there is on.

[00:26:50] Craig Dalton: And why do you do that?

[00:26:52] Dylan Johnson: Well, I mean, they, so. We're coming to more and more of an understanding that that wider tires are not necessarily slower. And in fact, on rough terrain, they're usually, they're usually faster. Of course it depends on how rough the terrain is. But for example, at, at Unbound, I was running 45 millimeter tires.

I think most people are running 40 twos or fours. That's pretty standard for me to be a size up from whatever everybody else is running. I like I did.

[00:27:22] Craig Dalton: like I, I feel like I need to yell amen or something. Cause I'm all with you on this Dylan.

[00:27:28] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. At the at the BWR California race I never done that race until, until this past. And everybody's talking about how they're running thirties or 30 twos. Like, it seems like, you know, everybody's running their road bike. And I was like, all I had was my gravel bike and I was like 30 twos.

You know, that, that is so narrow. I'm going to go with 36 is I didn't even know the course, but I was like, I'll go 36 is I next year. I'll probably run for. I, that is not to me, to me that there was, there was straight up single-track in that race. Like the single track sections of that course, the fastest bike would have been a hardtail mountain bike and people are on their road bikes. Granted there's a ton of road in that race, but I don't know. I think a 30 mil tire on a road bike is not, I just get the feeling it's not the fastest. And there were a bunch of parts on that course where even a 36. I I felt sketchy on. So yeah, I'm, I'm always, I'm always going with the bigger tire for the most part.

[00:28:36] Craig Dalton: That's interesting because certainly BWR San Diego is the one event that people will, will raise their hand and say, oh, you got to go. Road bike style tires, pretty darn narrow,

[00:28:46] Dylan Johnson: I don't know. I don't know if you've ever written that course. Have you.

[00:28:50] Craig Dalton: I haven't, but I've seen enough details and I've got a crew down in San Diego that has told me about it.

So yeah, I'm with you, you know, it's, it's curious, like at the point he ended the race though, like that you didn't necessarily feel under equipped on the road sections per se, riding 36 mill tires.

[00:29:07] Dylan Johnson: well, most of the time rode sections in a gravel race. I can see that people are worried if they see, you know, that it's going to be 60% road and 40% gravel, it's like that's more road than gravel. You know, I need a, I need to prepare for that, but usually it's, it's the, the gravel sections are the deciding factor, at least at the pointy end of the race.

So, you know, if, if it was a time trial, like you're just, you know, solo for the whole thing, maybe you'd choose, choose a bike. That's more optimal. For what's what you're going to be spending more time on. But a lot of times you got to choose the bike set up. That's going to be optimal for the critical points of the race.

[00:29:49] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And I think that often translates to the mid pack is you also have to worry about your own personal comfort across these events. So having a little bit of extra cushion, I think over a long day in the saddle is super warranted.

[00:30:03] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. definitely. There's you know, Renee, hers has done some interesting work the tire company. I mean, granted, they're trying to sell tires, so, and I, I'm not sponsored by Renee hers, but I just find the work that they've done. Super interesting. I think they, they make the claim and they've got, they've got data to back this up that all the way from a it's either a 25 millimeter or 28 millimeter road tire all the way up to a 50 millimeter.

Road tires, no slower in terms of rolling resistance. I mean, it's probably more aerodynamic drag to have a 50 millimeter tire, but they're claiming that the rolling resistance between the two is not different. So I, I almost, I own, you know, is that true? Is that not true? I don't know. I've done a little bit of tire testing myself

and it it's very hard to do.

Did to do tire testing. What I do is I'll find a section of gravel and I'll write it at the exact same power and then I'll switch wheels and right at the same power and try to see if, see if there's any differences, but, but usually the testing protocol isn't, you know, isn't tight enough that the, the margins are, you know, you're kind of trying to find a needle in a haystack cause it's small margins, but.

When claims like that are being thrown around. I'm like, why not go bigger? You know, why not go bigger?

[00:31:25] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I'll re I'll refer the listener back to my episode with from Renee. And w he, he talks a little bit about that study and I'm with you. It's been fascinating. And I guess I've always been on the big tire side of things, so maybe it's preaching to the choir, but I'm a believer. And from a confidence perspective for me, it's like night and day when I go down to like 38 C tire and I ride what I normally ride a hundred percent.

I miss my, my 43 or 45.

[00:31:55] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. What are you, what are you normally on?

[00:31:57] Craig Dalton: I'm normally on six 50 V by 47,

[00:32:00] Dylan Johnson: Okay.

[00:32:01] Craig Dalton: because I live in a particularly kind of mountain biking part of the country and Marin county. So my daily rides are definitely more on that side of things than any kind of rolling gravel.

[00:32:12] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. And what, what tire specifically do you use?

[00:32:16] Craig Dalton: I use that. Panorai ser gravel king.

[00:32:18] Dylan Johnson: Okay. Yeah. that, that looks like a good one. I've not, I've not tried that one, but I'm. I may a subscriber to bicycle rolling I love that site. I looked so much at that site and it's, it's not intuitive. People think that they can just look at a tire.

and assume they know how fast it is just by how much tread it.

Some of the slowest tires are, are dead slick.

[00:32:44] Craig Dalton: So fascinating. I'm not familiar with that site, so I'll have to check it out.

[00:32:48] Dylan Johnson: Yeah.

[00:32:49] Craig Dalton: So going into your 2022 season, now, you're going to be on a new bike. You've got a new program. What do you have in store on your calendar this year?

[00:32:57] Dylan Johnson: Well, I, I haven't been selected for the lifetime grand Prix. So that that's going to be, that's going to be my big goal. I love the fact that it's it's, it's got gravel races and mountain bike races. I mean, I come from mountain bike racing, so I think that's going to suit me you know, looking at the list of writers.

There's so many fast writers on the list. It's a little bit intimidating, but I'll, I'll do the best that I can. I think I'll probably also try to go for the BWR series again. They're going to do a quadruple crown this year instead of a triple crown. So

[00:33:29] Craig Dalton: And does that work on the calendar that you could, could do both of those series?

[00:33:33] Dylan Johnson: it does, it does. Yeah.

[00:33:34] Craig Dalton: Amazing. It's going to make you a busy man.

[00:33:37] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, it will be a busy season. So there's those, those two series already. And then, you know, and then there's other racing here and there I'll probably be back to gravel Locos. I'll be doing the local

Southeast gravel series here. I'll I'll do some, some mountain bike racing here and there as well.

So it will be a busy.

[00:33:57] Craig Dalton: Great. When you looked at that lifetime grand Prairie as an opportunity with your mountain bike background, it must've made you smile. That it wasn't a pure gravel series.

[00:34:07] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think that when you look at that series, all the races on that calendar they, they all look different. I mean, there's, there's a 40 mile mountain bike race, and there's a 200 mile gravel race. I think that's the point. I think the point is that. So winter of that series needs to be a well-rounded athlete or well-rounded off-road cyclists for that matter.

And I, I think it'll be very interesting. I do think that there's going to be a lot of luck involved because at least two of the races on that, on that series flat tires are, are a real possibility. And, and Some of those races, bonking is a real possibility. There's dealing with altitude at Leadville.

I mean, there's all, there's all sorts of factors. So, you know, hopefully, hopefully the strongest rider wins, but I also think that the person that the, you know, that wins the series is going to need a lot of luck.

[00:35:03] Craig Dalton: As you sort of do the calculations in your head as to how the points add up and that's your. Are you thinking about one race over another and thinking about, you know, this is where I'm going to try to peak maybe more so because it suits my capabilities and some other one, obviously you need to do to get the points, but you're not necessarily going to focus because you just don't believe that your athletic profile matches the possibility of success in that race.

[00:35:28] Dylan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. I talked about this in, in a recent video that I did about. 2022 training plan. This series is obviously my main goal, but it's six races over six months. And you know, any, any coach will tell you that trying to peak six times over the course of six months is, is you know, it's not going to happen.

So I I'm gonna try and go for three peaks this year. And I picked, I picked the three longest races by duration. On the schedule. So that's, that's Unbound, Leadville and then the last one, big sugar and, and like I said, you know, longer races generally suit me better. So that's why I picked those three.

And they're also spaced pretty evenly. There's there's a two month gap between each one which gives me enough time to do a little, a little rest period before I build up again. So, you know, and the, and the other thing too, is I have experienced doing Unbound. I don't have experience doing the other races, although I'm very experienced in a hundred mile mountain bike racing, which I hope will help me in Leadville.

And then, and then the other races on the calendar, I'm going to do them, obviously I'll do all six. And I'll just, I'll just do as well as I can, but I won't necessarily be peaking peaking for those.

[00:36:44] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I think this is going to be super interesting in retrospect, at the end of the year. And maybe we can have a conversation, hopefully I'll be at about a big sugar and just talk about how it went and across all the athletes in the field. I think people are going to have different strategies about what they can be successful, how and when they can be successful.

So, you know, kudos to Lightspeed lifetime. Bringing together the capital to insent people enough to go after this race series. Cause I do think as a fan of the sport, it's going to be an exciting year in 2022.

[00:37:18] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, I think it would be very exciting. Very exciting.

[00:37:22] Craig Dalton: Dylan, thank you so much for sharing your story on the podcast this week, as I said, I'll, I'll refer people to your YouTube channel and I encourage everybody to follow Dylan. He's a colorful rider. He's super insightful and an up and comer and someone we should be having eyes on in 2022.

[00:37:37] Dylan Johnson: Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me on.

[00:37:40] Craig Dalton: So that's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thanks to Dylan. For coming onboard the show. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And I do encourage you to visit him over on YouTube. I think you'll get a kick out of it. If you're interested in providing any feedback, please hit me up over at the ridership. That's www dot the ridership.

Dot com it's a free global cycling community. We've created to connect with other gravel, cyclists, and adventure athletes out there. Uh, encourage you to join the conversations, always vibrant, and there's a wealth of knowledge over there. So feel free to tap into that. If you're able to contribute to the podcast directly, please visit buy me a gravel ride.

I very much appreciate everybody. Who's stepped up to underwrite portions of this show.

Until next time. Here's the finding some dirt onto your wheels