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Aug 9, 2022

This week on the podcast, Randall sits down with Kathryn Taylor, co-host of the Girls Gone Gravel Podcast and Chief of Staff at Feisty Media. Looking at inclusion in the sport of gravel cycling and how Feisty Media is looking to build a brand centered around helping active, performance-minded women find the resources they need to do the things they love. 

Episode Sponsor: Bike Index, a free, non-profit bicycle registry and stolen bike recovery platform. 

Girls Gone Gravel Podcast

Fiesty Media

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

Girls Gone Gravel

[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 podcast, my co-host Randall Jacobs is gonna take the reins. Randall did an interview with Catherine Taylor of feisty media and a co-host of the girls gone gravel podcast,

Catherine. And the team at feisty media are helping active performance minded women find the resources they need to do the things they love.

Many of you may be familiar with Catherine's work with Christie Mon on the girls gone gravel podcast. Christie is also a former guest of this podcast, and you can refer to that episode.

We did about the big sugar gravel event. If you scroll back a little while in your feed, before we jump into the conversation I wanted to thank this week's sponsor bike index bike index is a nonprofit bicycle registry and stolen bike recovery platform. In fact, take a moment, hit pause, and go register your bike. It takes five to 10 minutes. The hardest part is locating your serial number, but once it's in the system, it's a free resource.

Bike index has no business talking to you. They're hoping to just sit there in the background as a utility, but God forbid your bike goes missing and gets stolen. Bike indexes. One of the only resources you're gonna find online to help coordinate the efforts of recovering your bicycle. They're a nonprofit.

Everything they do. Any donation you make is tax deductible. Registration is free, so you really don't have any excuse other than time to register your bikes. Go on, hit up bike and get your bike registered with that said, let's jump on over to Randall's conversation with Katherine.

[00:02:05] Randall: Katherine, thank you for coming on the gravel ride podcast. It's great to have this conversation. It seems like we have a lot of alignment in terms of the types of community building projects that we're most interested in and obviously our shared love of this particular sport.

So, would just love to start with what's. What's your background with the sport? How did you end up doing a podcast called girls gone gravel .

[00:02:26] Kathryn: Well, it's funny. I'm as many of the guests that we've actually had in our podcast, I've learned there's a lot of burnt out triathletes that end up in gravel. And that was definitely me. So I was really involved in triathlon for about 10 years. I raced coached. I even worked at a triathlon store. That was one of the top triathlon online retailers in the company.

And I got really burned out from it because it's all about checking your power and your wants and. A lot of training all the time. And a friend of mine that was in the tri club was doing this race at the time called dirty cancer. And sh because she had heard this woman named Alison Terick on a podcast and she had never rid her bike more than 20 miles, but she signed up for the 200 mile event and was training through the company that I coached with.

So I wasn't her coach, but one of my coworkers was her coach. And so I just heard all about this journey to this crazy gravel. Race. And I was like, oh, this sounds kind of fun. I think I'm gonna get a gravel bike instead of a traveling bike. And so I got a gravel bike and I would go out, she would go be doing like five laps of this local 20 mile loop.

And I would go out and do one lap with her and just started to love it and love the adventure. And then started hosting some rides on the weekends for local community women. And Got into that. And then it's actually a funny story. So I was working at a bike shop at the time. And when I bought the bike, the bike shop owner was like, well, I don't think you're gonna like gravel because it's hard.

And that made me really mad yeah.

[00:04:00] Randall: oh

[00:04:01] Kathryn: yeah. And so I had way too much wine one night and I woke up at two in the morning and I was like, I'm gonna start an Instagram account. It was when Instagram was. Starting to grow. And I was like, girl's gonna gravel, that's it. So I got the handle at two in the morning and I just started sharing like community pictures and it grew.

And that ended up eventually turning into a podcast and now has become a whole brand where we have events. We have a little team, we, you know, go do cover, live events. We're done a few other things in the future, so yeah, that's, that's how it got started.

[00:04:34] Randall: And I'm curious, where were you living at the time and what timeframe are we talking here?

[00:04:38] Kathryn: So it was 2019. It wasn't that long ago. And I was living in Atlanta, Georgia. So, and, and there's not a ton of gravel around Atlanta. You really have to drive. So it was really in the Southeast the gravel scene. Was much behind kind of the Midwest Northwest, Northeast gravel. It was really just starting to come onto the scene.

And the, and people didn't know about things like, you know, Unbound or, or any of those things at the time. My friend Lauren was the first person that any of us ever knew that had gone and done, you know, at the time it was dirty Kansas. So, so yeah. That's, that's where I was living.

[00:05:15] Randall: One of the obvious questions that, that, you know, came up to me prior to us recording today was, you know, what was your inspiration? And I kind of feel like I got a little bit of a taste of it when you're talking about that bike shop person. I think that the industry has catered to a particular audience that mostly looks like me, frankly for a very long time. And there is a dire need for more accessible on ramps to other people who wanna participate. And it seems like you, you feel a niche And half the population. It's not really a niche I'd love to hear more about that inspiration and how you've gone about it.

[00:05:49] Kathryn: Yeah. So I had been a part of Atlanta tri club, which is the. Probably the third largest triathlon club in the country. And I was one of the coaches for Atlanta tri club. I also was on the regional board for USA triathlon. And we were doing a lot of initiatives in the women's space at the time. And so I, I started to see, there were a few things, if you could do, you could really increase women's participation in the sport.

And I had a, a good friend that we were doing. A lot of these things kind of side by side in that. And she, she actually passed away very unexpectedly in 2019 and.

[00:06:27] Randall: to hear that.

[00:06:29] Kathryn: Thank you. It was yeah, she, it was a, a brain aneurysm. So just out of the blue and I kind of looked back at her legacy and I was. I wanna continue this, but the triathlon space, isn't where I feel the passion anymore.

At the same, I was starting to get into gravel. And at the same time I had another friend that was an ultra endurance cyclist. Her name is Danny Gable, and she's done all these crazy ultra endurance adventures. And I started hearing her stories about cycling and how male dominated it was and started looking into it.

And I was like, oh, I think there are some things that we could do. That will really bring women to the forefront that are really simple things like telling women stories, giving women a place to connect with each other giving them a space and, and everything just happened to come together right around the time of the pandemic.

That's when Christ and I started the podcast and we started a private Facebook group. The, I was like, oh, a couple hundred people. And within, I don't know, two months, it was like 5,000 people. And we were doing, you know, all kinds of webinars and stuff. Over the summer, cuz everybody was stuck at home.

Laura King actually had connected with me and she said, Hey, we were gonna do this, this camp or this weekend with rooted, but we can't do it because of the pandemic. But do you wanna do it like just a virtual DIY gravel? Summer thing. And so we did like every Friday we would do a webinar where women could come on and learn for free.

And, and so it just, everything started to come together and the community really naturally formed. And it it's really cool because now I go to races and people will say, oh, I heard the podcast. Or I followed your stuff or I'm in the Facebook group. And that's the reason I decided to come do this event or, you know, This inspired me or so.

And so story inspired me. So, I think I started rambling, but that's kind of my, my very long answer to your question. It was really

[00:08:18] Randall: is entirely the point.

[00:08:20] Kathryn: Yeah, but, but I it's been driven by what the community wanted all along. You know, so.

[00:08:25] Randall: Well, and I was sharing before we started recording that I actually heard about you and your work from one of our listeners who, who came up to me at rooted Vermont, her name escapes me is actually two women. So if you're listening please drop me a note and remind me your name and just thank you for the introduction.

And I asked them, who should we be bringing onto the podcast to talk about community and to elevate their work. And you were the first person that they mentioned. So, there's clearly a deep resonance with what you do. So you have a background having worked in shops, you've been a pretty serious triathlete.

You had your own journey into the sport. I'm curious to unpack that a bit. What was it like when you were first getting into cycling or endurance athletics generally? How far back does that go? And what aspects of that experience do you think were different as a consequence of being a woman versus a man coming into it .

[00:09:16] Kathryn: Yeah. I actually got into triathlon when I moved to Atlanta. So it was like 2010, I think, 2009, 2010, somewhere right around there. And had lived a lot of places. I had moved there. I was living with my parents and I'd always wanted to do a triathlon. I was a swimmer growing up. I was a really bad runner, but I'd never, like, I'd only ridden my Walmart bike around town.

I'd never ridden like a real bike. And so I Googled triathlon. Atlanta and team and training was actually having a info session for their summer training program. So the options were like, sit at home with my parents and watch wheel of fortune, or go meet a bunch of strangers and maybe raise money to do an event.

So I ended up signing up for team and training and, and that experience really informed everything I did from then on out. The, the team in training chapter in, in Georgia is, is one of the strongest team in training chapters. At that time was one of the strongest team in training chapters in the country.

And they were just so great at bringing people in and teaching them everything from, you know, how do you ride a bike? How do you prepare for a race and, and creating a community around it? And I didn't know anything, like I showed up at my first ride with my mom's bike. That was Just a, like a towny bike and Umbro shorts and a t-shirt everybody was there, there, you know, try bikes and their kits and stuff, but people had just made me feel so welcome.

And so part of it, even though I felt like I don't belong here at that moment. And then took me through every piece of it from. Falling over in the parking lot, three times is the first time I tried to clip in and, you know, a woman stayed with me and rode with me that whole day to teaching me, you know, everything about the bike.

And then on the contrary, I'd be like, oh, I'm gonna go to this group ride, which would be primarily guys and primarily a race instead of a group ride, like the Tuesday night race, but they didn't communicate that. And so I remember one time I was up I. Dog sitting with my parents or something. And so I was at their house, which is in the north side of Atlanta.

And it's really hilly. It's kind of, you're starting to get up into the Appalachians. I went on this ride and I didn't have like a Q sheet. They didn't give them out. They didn't communicate. They didn't say hello at the ride. I was like, okay, well I can hang. I'm a travel now. And I got so lost. Didn't know where I was.

Didn't have anybody to call to get back. Finally, like somebody came by and pointed me the way back to town. And I thought if that were my experience, like the first time I showed up at a group ride, I would've never, I would've walked away from the bike. I. Forever. And and I've heard that experience from so many women of just having horrific experiences.

The first time they walk into a group ride or a bike shop. And so I just want women to feel confident and be excited about, you know, that, and, and so, because I had such a great experience with team and training and saw the difference, it just it informed the way I wanted to contribute to the community.

[00:12:23] Randall: That's great. And I have a confession. I was absolutely one of those men who treated every group ride like a race. I came into the sport, very hard charging and just wanted to compete and go hard and crush it and go into the pain cave and all the things that are associated with that very aggressive more ego driven aspects of the sport that make it so inaccessible. And, it's in recent years that I've come full circle and seen the opportunity to not just take what I've learned and to help bring someone in but also the huge benefit that I get personally from just slowing it down and taking the time to connect and facilitating.

So I'm curious, how do you define your community? You have your podcast listeners, you have your Facebook group. What is the extent of the community? How do people interact with you now? How many people are in involved ? What's the structure of it?

[00:13:12] Kathryn: Yeah. That's well, just real quick before we move on from like the group ride. Cause I do want like, it's okay. If you have a really hard, fast charging group ride, right. Like I think that is totally fine. And it's appropriate for some people. It's the communication and helping people understand and even saying, like being able to say.

this isn't for you. If somebody shows up that's not ready or like I'm willing to sacrifice my night for you. So like, I don't wanna get rid of the group rides that people love to go out and smash themselves on. I just wanna make sure there's spaces. What that, when we say we're welcome to new people, that we're actually welcome to do people

[00:13:47] Randall: Yeah. I, I think that that's a really valid point. And if you're going to have a ride that you're opening up to a broader audience, having something in place, whether it be, Points where somebody can break off, to cut the ride shorter or having different groups going at different paces and making sure you have a ride leader for each one of those groups I think goes a long way towards avoiding that sort of scenario that you were describing, where you have a bad experience.

And then it's like, well, the bike is not for me.

[00:14:13] Kathryn: Yeah. Yeah. So at our community, we, we have several different layers. So we have obviously the podcast we have a free Facebook community called women, gravel, cyclists, and that's women from all over the world. I think it's like between 14 and 15,000 women right now. And it's, it's still. I thought it would fall off after the pandemic, but it's still really active.

We have a, when people join, we ask them they're how long they've been riding gravel. And I would say at least a third of them are brand new to gravel cycling. So they're coming to look for advice on bikes, saddles, Shammy, how to train, what events to do, how to find friends. And then we do, we have a small team of about a hundred women Or just a little bit more connected within us.

And then this past year, we had our first gravel festival, our women's gravel festival, which is not a competitive event. It's literally just three days of hanging out, having parties riding and learning. And our first one we had about 220 women and we're getting ready next week to announce the 20, 22 dates.

2023 dates. What year are we in? So we'll be back in Bentonville next year for our next one. And we may be able to bump that number up a little bit.

[00:15:33] Randall: It's a great location, by the way, the bike infrastructure there is, is quite incredible. And the community there too is it's one of the, one of the country's great cycling communities at this point.

[00:15:43] Kathryn: yeah, we were lucky we snapped up Amy Ross. Do you know, have you ever met connected with Amy Ross?

[00:15:48] Randall: I don't believe so. Tell me more about her.

[00:15:50] Kathryn: She has been in the bike world for a long time, worked for different brands like Santa Cruz that she worked for. Wow. One of the big mountain bike things I can't remember, but her husband's NA Ross.

He was a professional mountain biker and they moved to Beville. She was the had a bike Beville. and so she had left bike Bentonville. I was going through, and that's the group that like, if you wanna do an event in Beville you go and you talk to them. So she was, we'd had her on as a podcast guest I'd driven through Bentonville was checking it out.

She was like, well, I'm leaving bike Bentonville. And I was like, do you want a job? and so we hired her as our event coordinator on the ground. Basically two weeks later. So she contracts for us as our event coordinator for that event, which makes a huge difference when somebody is in the community day in and day out to, to put together a really great community event.

[00:16:40] Randall: And in terms of where people gather online and find you online? Is it primarily the Facebook page, what's your software stack look like?

[00:16:47] Kathryn: Yeah. We have a website, girls go gravel. We put, I actually write a lot of the articles and then a woman Celine Jager. Everybody probably knows in the gravel space. Also she works with us at feisty media, so she writes some for us. And then I have another woman from CNN that I pull in a little bit here and there to write articles for me.

Her name is Claire and we write a lot of stuff based on what people ask for in the Facebook group. So we're taking. Somebody's asking a question and we're like, oh, we see tons of answers. And I'm like, well, that's an article. So we create a lot of content. So we get a lot of visitors to that site just because we're creating content that people are searching for.

From our Facebook page we have our Instagram page and then we have just private Facebook communities. We, we tried like things like slack or other communities and it's, it's just hard. It's hard to get people to go off of Facebook. I know everybody wants them to, but it's so hard.

[00:17:42] Randall: We had the same kind of discussion when we started the ridership, we built it in slack initially, or I should say we got it started in slack, the community built itself from there. And there were certain challenges that we saw with Facebook that we wanted to avoid.

But slack is great because it's a great communication tool and it is something that people are already using for work in a lot of cases. But then you can't do a lot of the things you'd wanna do like event coordination or dealing with club membership.

Then again, Facebook has its own issues. I'd actually love to unpack this a little bit because I've had this conversation with Russ over at path, less pedals and Monica Garrison over at black girls do bike.

I'm curious, what are the things that you. Like about the platform and that we're enabling. And what are the things that frustrate you that you would ideally avoid in migrating to something different?

[00:18:32] Kathryn: What I like about Facebook is people. Whether they say it, they people say they wanna get off Facebook, but they're still staying there. And a lot of people are lurkers, but they participate in groups. And Facebook has gone really in, on groups in the last few years, because they've seen that trend.

Right. So. they're promoting that. And I, I also worked for a tech company for a little while in Atlanta, and I learned it's really hard to get people to use something they're not already using from that that experience, you know, that's the biggest challenge. Yeah. And slack, it just felt like the conversation was really, could be really stagnant a lot of times.

Because if people. If they didn't use it for work, it was hard to get them to like, get excited about it. And if they used it for work, sometimes people were like, I'm already on slack all day long. I have PTSD from the dings so, We also one of our communities within Feist, the feisty ecosystem, tried to use my new networks and that also wasn't a good fit for the same reasons.

So, so that's why I've stayed on Facebook. I think I have somebody that helps manage the posts if it were just, and, and then I have another person on our team that actually helps manage like all the people coming into the community now and like, The community is really good actually at, at self-regulating so if somebody, if a spammer gets in or if somebody we have a no assholes rule, I don't know if I can cus on your podcast, but we have a no assholes

[00:19:53] Randall: Oh, go, go, go right ahead.

[00:19:55] Kathryn: And so, they're really good at reporting that and. You know, like we watch it and catch those things and delete them, or just kind of, don't let people get away with being jerks. And I've seen that on a lot of other, especially gravel, Facebook groups that I've been on. There's some real jerks in those groups and the way they can give feedback to people is just it's mean what I don't like is I when not everybody's on the platform and then you.

Facebook sometimes is like, I don't think you need to see that anymore. So you have to go to the group if you want something. So, and then the, the other thing I've seen, and I think this is a characteristic of women, we really like to give advice. And so I'll see somebody post something I'm like, oh, they're about to get overwhelmed with like, so much advice about, you know, like, like, so and so just ask like, I'm just, I'm new to riding and I wanna do this 25 mile event.

What should I do? And somebody's gonna like give them like a step by step nutrition plan. And I'm like, just go ride your bike. right. Make sure you have water and food when you go out. So people and they mean well, but I, I just see I'm like that they're gonna overwhelm this poor person with like so much.

About things. So, so that's why I try to take things and then put, put that into good content. That's a little bit more succinct on our website.

[00:21:18] Randall: What are the things that you either are doing off platform, so off of Facebook or that you wish you could do, but you just don't have a tool that works well with your current

[00:21:27] Kathryn: Sounds like you all are creating a tech product.

[00:21:29] Randall: Well, we've been working on the side with a, like constructing a mighty network and we have a concept for that.

So whenever I talk to community organizers, I wanna understand those issues cuz , our vision is to create something that's like a community of allied clubs that share a common infrastructure, and then that organization, it would be a nonprofit. And so, we're starting to do little things like coordinate group rides in the mighty network.

Chapter for the ridership and then post that within the slack group to, to get people to join. And it's not seamless , but it's a way of slowly experimenting with it. We have a couple of clubs that have brought their members into their club space in the ridership mighty network.

So we're not so much building a tech product as much as we see that there's an opportunity to build a better place for people to come and find out, what to ride, how to ride it and take care of it where to ride, who to ride with and what events are happen. And right now, there's not a one stop shop for that. So maybe you find the girls gone gravel podcast or the podcast that we do or some other resource. So you find some forum, but there's not like a clearing house or one place where you can go and just say, I live here, what's happening near me.

Who's near me that I can ride with. What are the recommended tires for my terrain? Things like this. It's very fragmented.

[00:22:48] Kathryn: Yeah. Yeah. I would agree on that. Like, one of the things that I know the community wants is they would like they would like to find more people to ride with and more local local things. You know, like regional, because we, especially cuz we're a worldwide group. So people are like you know, every day somebody will be like, I'm in Africa, I'm in here, anybody here that I can ride with.

So, those connections and that, you know, that would just become a full-time job in our Facebook community. If you started managing all of those little mini groups and, and like you all, like, we don't, the Facebook community's free. Like it's like, everybody's a volunteer. That's doing it. My job is with feisty media and girls go, gravel came under feisty media.

So I get quote unquote paid as a part of that. But I mean, I spent, you know, thousands of my own dollars and hours building everything for before that ever happened, or we ever made a dollar off of anything. So I wish we had that. And then also kind of the step back from that, one of the reasons I haven't been willing.

Try to create things around group rides, as I would really like some kind of course or training that you need to go through to be a certified like girls can gravel group ride or something like that, just because of the experiences that I've had. And it's not, I don't want like this massive training, but I want things like you should introduce yourself to people when they show up, it seems like duh, but I think people just get nervous a lot of times if they've not led things in the past or.

you know, make sure everybody knows the route, like little things like that. And I just haven't had the capacity to create that,

[00:24:27] Randall: Yeah. Well, and these aren't unique to women or to any particular demographic, one of the folks that we've had on the group is Monica Garrison over at black girls do bike.

She also started that as a Facebook group with people reaching out . And it's now, a hundred plus chapters and a hundred thousand women around the world and they're organizing events and doing all this stuff.

And the challenges that they have are no different than the challenges that we have. And what you're describing too, so there should be some basic toolkit for someone to be able to organize a ride and people need to be able to sign up to post a route, to have a legal waiver.

Right. That covers everybody. You know, you're not getting sued for trying to get people together. But then also having some protocols that are in place, like you're describing, introduce yourself, you're expected to arrive on this at this time. Here's the equipment that you should have. It's self-supported. And I think that these things can be largely standardized in a shared infrastructure. And if that were created, then you could leverage the expertise that this much bigger community of people who just wanna ride. You'll have some lawyers in there, you'll have some people who have a lot of technical expertise in there. And then this toolkits available to everyone, you don't have to be an expert in any domain to leverage it.

[00:25:35] Kathryn: Yeah, that sounds really smart. And, and, you know, back in my triathlon days, I definitely, there were definitely men that I saw that if they didn't come in looking like a triathlon body, they were treated differently often. So it, it is not just a women issue. Like you said, like it's, it's, it's human issue.

And every, I, I just go back to, everybody wants to have a place that they belong and they wanna feel. They're wanted places. And so if we can create those spaces for people, like at the end of the day, when I look at group rides, I'm like one ride a week. Me like riding at the very back of the pack at a super slow pace is not the end of the world for somebody to feel like they belonged.

[00:26:16] Randall: Yeah. Everyone has something to gain from having a, common space for diverse people to come together.

[00:26:22] Kathryn: Yeah, I was actually talking to Abby Robbins. The first non-binary athlete to finish Unbound. And so Abby just received a good bit of attention. And then there was I can't, I don't know which company was doing a, a video about them, but Abby was at Unbound camp and they were tell at the gravel festival.

Abby was telling me about an experience that they were on a ride at a gravel camp. Ended up just like talking to this dude for a long time. Like it was a great conversation. And then the guy was like, oh, well, we should ride some Unbound together. And Abby was like, well, you should know, like, there's gonna be a camera crew following me because of this thing.

And the guy was like, oh, what's the thing. Abby said, you know, I'm a non-binary athlete and the guy as well, you should know, like I'm a conservative Christian. And Abby was like, I would've never, and they had a great conversation and Abby was like, I would've never had this conversation. I'm like, I'm sure this, this, somebody that's like in this very conservative Christian camp would also have never like sought out a non-binary athlete to have a conversation with coming from a very conservative Christian background in my past.

So I'm like, that's the beauty of it. Right? You experienced these people that you would've never experienced in these points of view and these conversations that shape your life. And I, I just love that about our sport, you know,

[00:27:37] Randall: I find that gravel amongst all the different cycling disciplines does seem to be especially amenable to those sorts of really healthy and welcoming dynamics because there's no one thing that is gravel and there's no one type of bike that is a gravel bike. You can, much more so than in other disciplines , ride what you got or get started with what you got. If you ride it on mixed terrain, it's a gravel bike. And yes, you can have fancy equipment, but then also, there's lots of different ways to be a part of it.

And we see that in our listenership and within the ridership and even amongst customers that ride the bikes that my company makes. But it's also, you have people of all different abilities who are going for it.

It's very different than say roadie culture especially competitive roadie culture, or even mountain bike culture had a little bit more of that festivaly type atmosphere, but then also has its aggressive, hard edge to it too.

[00:28:29] Kathryn: Yeah. I never feel like I'm cool enough for mountain biking. I'm like I gotta up my game or something.

[00:28:36] Randall: So tell me a bit more about feisty media and how that collaboration started who's involved and the scope of its mission and what it's doing currently.

[00:28:47] Kathryn: Sure. So feisty media is a, a women focused media company. So it's, we actually all women on our team. Although we, we would hire men and we focus primarily in the endurance sports space and the whole conversation is about creating an empowering culture for women. And, and we go, we really hone in on the culture piece because there's so much within culture that has.

Has given women messages, whether it's about motherhood, whether it's about diet culture, whether it's about equality in sport, that, that if you can address the cultural piece, like a lot of the dominoes will fall. So as an example, one of the reasons that women often under fuel on the bike is because the message of diet culture that you need to look a certain way.

And so if you go back to like, actually. We should be fueled and we should be fed when we're riding. And like this message of diet culture is causing us to not do that. So, so we really kind of, we kind of addressed that, but we're, we're kind of fun and cheeky and yeah, so feisty was started by this woman.

Her name is Sarah Gross and she was a professional triathlete for 14 years. So back in the day when I was doing triathlon, I actually had a. Triathlon podcast with this friend of mine, Bethany who passed away. And Sarah was a guest on our podcast. And then when Bethany passed away, Sarah reached out to me and she said, I'm so sorry.

They wanted to do at one of their events, an award in Bethany's honor. And so, we just kind of got connected through that. She came to Atlanta for the marathon trials. Right before COVID shut the world down, but it was the largest women women's field in the marathon trials ever. So, I helped her do some live coverage for that.

And I was like, Hey, they came out you know, starting a podcast, everybody keeps asking for it, but I don't wanna edit a podcast on my, like, by myself again, so much work. Would you be interested in expanding beyond triathlon? And she said, yes. And so. And then she was also like, Hey, we're starting to really grow.

We could do some contract work. Would you be interested in some contract work? I was like, sure. And so it, it just, we started with the podcast. I was doing a little contract work within. I think six months, six or eight months, I was working full time with them managing some of our brands. We, we have feisty triathlon.

We have our women's performance brand. We have feisty menopause, which is what Celine Jager leads. So that was the brand that I was brought on to manage at first. And then the girls gone gravel brand. And is that all that we have? So within that we have about eight podcasts that fall under. Kind of those different topics.

And yeah, so then when we decided to launch a gravel festival, we just brought girls gun gravel fully under the feisty brand, which for me is so great because that was, we were talking about systems. That was a lot of what was stopping me is like, these are all things I can do. I can figure out the financials.

I can figure out. The contractors, but it's not stuff I wanted to do.

[00:31:48] Randall: Mm-hmm mm-hmm

[00:31:49] Kathryn: being able to say, we have a team that's gonna put this festival on. We have money that we can invest in the front end. So I'm not risking my own money for things. It just really opened up the door for us to be able to, to try and experiment with some more things.

So it's been a, it's been a great partnership and, you know, part of what we do is we highlight what's happening in the women's fields, but then we also create educational materials. For women for training or racing or those cultural pieces. And then we create communities. So that's the third piece of it.

[00:32:20] Randall: Well, I wanna take a moment to highlight. I'm just looking through some of the articles and it's like training and breastfeeding for active moms, or how to handle your period when you're on a gravel ride. These are things that are women's issues, but then also you can look at them as part of accessibility.

As well, and these are not resources that I see in any of the media that I'm granted, it's not targeted at me of course, but

[00:32:42] Kathryn: Yeah. Now you're gonna get the ads. Now that you've come on our site.

[00:32:45] Randall: Yeah. But in just looking at some of the content here, it's obvious why this needs to exist. It is obvious why this is such a core part of making this sport accessible.

And in fact, I would even add that it would be beneficial for some of, at least these headlines to exist in media sources, that men or people who don't necessarily need them are at least seeing so that they're aware that this is an issue for this particular group of people that you may be riding with

[00:33:11] Kathryn: well, because Celine yer, who does our hip play out pause, which is our menopause podcast. You know, she does a ton of gravel writing. Her husband puts on unpaved and she's like I'm out at gravel rides all the time or gravel events and all these guys come up to me that their wives are like hitting perimenopause or menopause.

And they're like, thank you so much for your podcast. I understand so much more about what my wife's going through. She's like, it's so weird having these conversations with guys while I'm racing a gravel of it.

[00:33:36] Randall: That actually brings up a great question, what would be the bits of wisdom or knowledge that you would wanna share? To our audience, either for women listening or for men listening to help them be more aware of issues that women face when they're entering the sport or participating in the sport.

[00:33:53] Kathryn: Yeah. I mean, I think like the more we can normalize conversations around periods and pregnancy and, you know, menopause, all those things even. especially with the guys we ride with. Right. Cuz that's sometimes what makes it awkward is we're like, Hey, I don't wanna say that. I need to stop on this ride because I have my period, but I really kind of need to stop along this ride.

You know, so, or pregnancy it's I feel like a lot of times it's expected that the, the mom is gonna just take this long break while the dad, you know, if they're both into cycling. You see with Laura and Ted king, I just put a post up on Instagram the other day, celebrating Laura, because this is her choice.

Like she, she wants to do this, but she wanted to come right back to writing. She wanted to come right back to directing the event. That's not what the choice that every person wants to make, but for so long, the choice was you're a bad bomb. If you wanna do these other things well, for the, the message for the dad was.

Yeah, good for you. You're making it all work, you know, celebrating them because they were able to, to hold all those things together. And so, so, so I think like that's a, a big thing is just kind of being okay with normalizing those conversations and like, they feel awkward at first, but like, I don't like go around asking women at the group.

Right. If they're on their period and they need to stop, like, don't get weird.

[00:35:14] Randall: But maybe if you're organizing a really big group ride, be mindful of the fact that you need a place for people to be able to access a bathroom, or an isolated patch of woods where they can get well off the road.

[00:35:25] Kathryn: Yeah. Or, or event directors, you know, we've had talk somebody, when we posted that period, article an event director reached out to me and he said I feel really dumb asking this question, but we wanna offer feminine supplies at the aid stops and I don't know what to buy. Can you just tell me what to buy?

And I was like, I love that you asked me this question,

[00:35:42] Randall: Hmm.

[00:35:42] Kathryn: right? Like we're, we're talking to Laura about coming back on the podcast because she's doing Leadville and is it next weekend is Leadville. And she's like, I have to stop and pump along the way. Like this is the first time I've ever done a race. I'm gonna have to stop and pump.

Does Leadville have any place to stop and pump? I don't know. but it'll be interesting to hear. you know, how that plays out for her. So, so yeah, I think like the more we can just say this is, this is normal. Just, just like a guy can just stop and pee on the side of the road, because it's easy. I've been on group rides with guys where it's like, everybody just stopped and is going all of a sudden I'm like, I, I don't know what just happened, but I think I'm gonna go too, since everybody else is

[00:36:21] Randall: I'm fortunate. I have an older and two younger sisters and my older and immediately younger sister both have three kids each. And so children and breastfeeding things like this. I've been kind of normalized in my world. But I see how culturally, it's still something that's very uncomfortable for a lot of people. And certainly I also had my adaptation too, even being surrounded by it in my family or with female friends who had kids and had to stop and pump, and just understanding that and not having it be a big deal. I think it's part of a broader cultural shift that's needed to support mothers, but also fathers in playing a more involved, more mindful role that acknowledges the biological realities, and doesn't push it into the shadows.

But actually celebrates it.

[00:37:06] Kathryn: Yeah, I agree. It's I love seeing, like, I, I love watching Ted and Laura because Ted's like, you know, he obviously was a high level pro he's. They both race in the pro category, but Ted's obviously has more visibility in that because of his background. But, you know, he is also saying, well, I'm not gonna do this event, so Laura can do this event or like, we'll switch.

[00:37:29] Randall: Yeah.

[00:37:30] Kathryn: ride times and just, and just saying, this is a part of our family, this is something that's important to her. You know, and, and just making that the norm. And so I think they're a really great family. That's kind of leading the way for what that can look like. Yeah.

[00:37:44] Randall: Yeah, there's there's a very central role that a mother plays early in a child's life in terms of attachment and so on. But at the same time the gender roles that our society generally has people play, has so much of the burden falling on the woman.

And I think it's a missed opportunity, frankly, for a lot of men to connect with their kids really early on.

[00:38:05] Kathryn: Yeah, and full transparency. I do not have kids. But you know, just having had many conversations with women, seeing, you know, in the sport of triathlon women, once they had kids, they were done. And now we're seeing like all these moms come back and race at the top levels after they've had. Had children and you're seeing that in the sport of running and gravel's such a new sport and especially the pointy under the spear is a really new sport as far as the pro racing.

But I think we're gonna start to see that more and more as well with women saying, I wanna have a kid and I also want to continue to race at this level. And, and we know women can for a long time race those long distances at a high level.

[00:38:47] Randall: One of the formative relationships I had in high school was with a then student teacher. She was somebody who was very supportive of me during the difficult periods of high school. And I reconnected with her a few years ago, and she was doing elite triathlons . She's in her mid, late forties, I believe has had two or three kids and just crushes it just as competing at a very high level.

And it's really impressive to see what is possible. And it also Dispels a lot of the assumptions about what life can be like for women after having kids.

[00:39:21] Kathryn: Yeah, well, Scotty Laga she won the outright Arkansas high country. She's twin boys that are, I can't remember how old they're eight or. And she was racing pro when she got pregnant and decided she wanted to continue racing. And you know, Ernie was racing as well and they just made that choice for their family.

Like she actually has the more potential in her career. So, you know, which isn't the choice for everybody. Right. But it's, it's just like saying it doesn't have to be the way that society's always said it should be that you're a, you're a bad person or you're a bad mom. If you want to do these.

[00:39:53] Randall: There's inevitably trade offs, but I think that there should be a lot more support from the father and the broader community so that a woman can continue to pursue being a complete version of herself even after kids

[00:40:06] Kathryn: Yeah, exactly.

[00:40:08] Randall: So what is the longer term vision for feisty media?

[00:40:11] Kathryn: We really wanna create something. That's a little bit like the south by Southwest for women in endurance sports or women in sports where there's a place where women can come and gather and learn and have experiences together and, and, you know, connect and, and just feel like, feel like all those pieces, the community, the education of what we're learning about women's physiology and how that impacts.

You know, our training and the way we approach life. And and yeah, just like the unique ex opportunity for brands all come together. It was really funny Randall. Like we, when we had our gravel festival, one of the brands there, so 220 women, one of the brands made more money at our festival than they did all three Belgium waffle rides last year because women were coming in an environment.

They just felt comfortable and they wanted to spend money and we heard people were like we wish you would've had more brands there because we went, we came to spend money at the festival. And so, so I, I just think there's so many opportunities for creating those, those educational and gathering spaces.

So, so that's where we're going. We're four years old, so. right now, we're really focused on bringing together the community and, and we really listen to what does the community want? And we try to create, create that from, for the community, instead of saying, this is what we, you know, it's the, the classic tech, right?

Know your audience and then build, solve the problem the audience needs solved.

[00:41:42] Randall: As I think. The initiatives that we're involved in, that reminder to validate the vision, getting out of one's own head and one's own biases and going out and actually listening.

And what is it that, that the people who are already with you, what is it that they need with the problems that they have? So we've covered a fair amount of ground in terms of how you got your start.

Both as a, as a cyclist and with girls gone gravel collaborations and so on. Is there any areas that we didn't cover that you wanna dive into before we split up today?

[00:42:10] Kathryn: I think those are the big ones, you know, I think just the more we're celebrating, we're creating space for all people and gravel and, and just saying when the whole community is there. We're all better. I think that's really powerful. The, the other big thing that we try to do is to, is to support the pointy end of the field.

And it's not because that's who our everyday person is. Right. But I think the more we can elevate the women's field in cycling and, and kind of create fans and create support around that. The more, it gives people opportunities to see somebody. I'll just give an example. My little niece, I was taking care of her.

She had COVID a few weeks ago. So aunt cat got called in to take care of her. And she was feeling much better. She wanted to go on a bike ride. So we were out riding bikes. And then I showed her a video of Kate Courtney when we got back. And she's like, Ugh, she's amazing. Do you think I could ever do that?

And that was she's six and I was. You can, but like, if I, if there weren't women like Kate Courtney, that I could show her videos of that are doing those amazing things at six years old, she wouldn't like, see that and dream, like I could do that. Right. And so, just, just being able to see those, those amazing women out there, I think is really important for the future cycling.

[00:43:24] Randall: Well, I think you definitely set an example as one of those women, who's doing the work to make it a lot more accessible in allowing little girls like your needs to dream. So thank you for coming on the podcast to share your story. And I look forward to continuing the conversation.

[00:43:38] Kathryn: Yeah, we'll have to connect at one of the events soon.

[00:43:41] Randall: Absolutely.

[00:43:42] Craig Dalton: That's gonna do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big, thanks to Randall and Catherine for that interesting interview. I love what they're doing over there at girls gone gravel, and I hope you go check out their podcast. We'll have links in the show notes for everything they mentioned during the show.

And another big, thanks to our friends over at bike index, a nonprofit that's out there helping people get their stolen bikes back. Simply head over to bike and register your bike today. If you're interested in connecting with me or Randall, please visit us in the ridership.

That's That's a free global cycling community, connecting riders from around the world and sharing information about the sport we love. And if you have a. Please drop a rating or review. That's usually helpful in our discovery until next time here's to finding some dirt under your wheels.