Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Welcome to the Pod!  Our feed is available on all major podcast platforms and is supported by a small number of advertisers and directly by people like you.   If you've made it this far, please consider subscribing to the podcast and if you like what I'm doing, please consider supporting financially via the link below. 

Support the Podcast: Buy Me a Coffee

Feb 4, 2020

This week we speak with @cyclingtips, Chief Gravel Correspondent / Man in a Van / Gravel racer, Marshall Opel about his 2019 gravel tour and take-aways from the numerous great gravel events he attended over the year.

Cycling Tips Website

Cycling Tips Instagram

Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos.

Good day everyone, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the pod we've got Marshall Opal, he's the chief gravel correspondent for cycling tips and last summer he went on a journey all around the United States racing gravel races out of a van. He was affectionately known as the man in the van. What's awesome about Marshall's experience last year was that not only did he get to experience all these phenomenal races that we'll get into in the podcast, but because he was camping out in his van, he really got a sense of the community in these events, which is something I think we all look at when choosing gravel events. We want to go somewhere that the racing is going to be fun, the terrain's going to be awesome, but the community's there. That's really the big draw. That's why it's so worth traveling outside your comfort zone and outside your local area to get into one of these races.

Because the community, it's just fun to hang out and meet people. And what better way to do it then spending your time in the van and driving between races and just taking advantage of everything the local community has to offer. Marshall's a talented racer in his own right. So he got to experience some of the front end excitement in the race, but also that deep level of community across the country. So I was super stoked to meet Marshall down in Bentonville at the end of the year at the big sugar gravel reveal and talk to him about his opinions on where gravel's going, where it's been, how do we keep it fun and awesome. So I really looked forward to recording this interview with Marshall and I hope you enjoy it. So with that, let's dive right in. And Marshall, welcome to the show.

Craig. Thanks for having me. I am stoked to talk about the endless summer of gravel you had in 2019. But before we get started, let's explain to the listener a little bit about your background and how you came to riding bikes off road. I grew up in Montana, so a lot of our riding is off road in the first place. But yeah, we used to have a, a road race called the Rocky mountain route Bay and that had a gravel section on a circuit. And I remember it being, you know, Oh, it's a off road race. I'm gonna put 20 fives on. And so it was very much riding road bikes on, on dirt and gravel. And it's only been pretty recently that I have gotten in this, the new wave gravel. I would say I did Belgium Walsall rod in 2016 and I did the way for that year and that was, I would say that was when I really started to see the, the new gravel movement. And you'd spent a couple of pretty intense

Years in as a junior and later as an older, a rider racing on the road. Right?

Yeah. I was determined to be a European professional road cyclist from the time I was like 12. I was like, Oh, this is definitely going to happen. And I'm, I chase that pretty hard. Dropped out of college and lived in a campground in Brittany France and raced for a French team and spent some time with the U S you train three national team and you know, looking back it was cool that I chased, chased the dream to that level, but I also, it was, it was an opportunity where I kind of realized that I needed to make adjustments for for myself that that wasn't going to be for me to be a full time pro cyclist. And I never really left the bike world though. I became a bike tour guide and then I got a job at Rafa. And now I'm sort of in the cycling journalism world and so bikes have never left. But the racing is, has evolved quite a bit.

That makes sense. And the equipment has as well. So your, your role at at cycling tips puts you basically on the road, I would say beyond the summertime. It looks like you started out in April last year when all the way through October on this this gravel journey where you were living in a van part of the time and traveling around to some of the country's biggest and most diverse gravel events just to name a few Belgian waffle ride, dirty Kanza, the moots ranch rally crusher in the Tuscher, Steamboat gravel grinder row. You were really all over the place. And one of the things we're always exploring in this podcast is just sort of the, the regional nature of the feel of riding on gravel. And I thought when I met you, who better to co kind of comment about that than someone who's been across all these events all across the country this year?

Yeah. You know, I did gravel events in small event in Northern California. I was riding gravel out in Northern Vermont and the Midwest dirty Kansas. So I definitely got a good perspective on the state of gravel in the U S in 2019 and yeah, stoked to share some thoughts.

So when you were traveling, were you, were you modifying your equipment based on what was in front of you in any given course?

I think that's one of the fun things about gravel is that there is like a, a conversation about what's the best equipment for, for an event. And I don't think you necessarily have that in traditional road cycling. But yeah, it was fun. I worked with Donnelley tires. It was fun to always be wondering what tire to use and I didn't really have to do too much with, I wrote a, a Niner gravel bike and you know, it was, it was a great bike all year. And so the only real adjustment I was making was my tires.

Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, there is a, obviously a plethora of equipment choices out there and I always want to be the first to say, ride what you got. It's going to work in most of these events and then it's fine tuning from there. I think if you're in the front end of this sphere, you have to sort of think about, you know, do I want to go a narrower, faster tire? But usually for most people it's stick with what you got, get some nice, comfortable to you, rubber on there and just hit it.

That's, so I definitely, it took me this season to learn, you know, like I said, when I was first road racing, when I was seriously road racing, I was on 21 tubulars like pinner little tires and I brought a lot of that sort of road mentality into gravel. Like, you know what, I was riding 32 [inaudible] at Steamboat gravel, which was nuts. I, you know, it took me the year though to realize every time I went with a bigger tire, I never once regretted it. And I think for anyone listening for almost everyone in gravel events, I just so wholeheartedly recommend, bigger is better when it comes to tires. I think there's probably a limit there, but if you're trying to optimize for gravel event and thinking about going with a smaller tire, I just, I don't see that being a smart choice for almost beyond the, like you said, the very pointy end of a race. Even those guys. Ted King was, was never on smaller than I think 36. And so yeah, those,

Ted had mentioned that in my conversation with him as well. He's like, I've never regretted going fatter on the tires and it, I mean, it makes sense. I think there's, there probably is an edge to that as you said. I mean, if you're racing a salsa cutthroat 29 to four, you're probably a little bit got a bigger weapon than you needed for Steamboat gravel for example. But stick in that, you know, the 700 by 40 category and you're pretty good, you're still still fast. But you know, if you're a middle of the pack rider, you can still plow through plenty of stuff comfortably.

Exactly. I think between 35 and 42 is sort of the sweet spot.

Yeah. Yeah. And then depending on where you live, I mean, I, I'm a broken record on my six 50 B 40 sevens here in Marin County, but that's just what I have in front of me.

Well, that's sort of my next step is I just I was in a revolve wheel launch this fall and it was actually the first time that I rode six fifties on gravel. And so I'm a new to that world and I liked I was on I think a 46 or 48. And yeah, it was great. And like, so every time I've stepped up to a little bigger tire, I'm like, Nope, this is even better. So I think next year I might be messing around with six 50 and even bigger tires.

Yeah, you think about it, you and I, you and I met up in Bentonville this year pre-writing, the big sugar gravel course, and I brought 700 by forties with me thinking, Oh, this is going to be sort of more Midwest ms Midwestern style, rolling Hills and gravel and I won't need something big. And I left thinking that when I come back in 2020 probably ride six 50 B just so I just don't have to think about it on those chunky Rocky gravel roads they have in Arkansas.

I've heard people say that six 50 B, we'll soon, it's in a couple of years it'll be this standard for gravel. So I think that's interesting to note where we are now and I'm in a couple of years. It might even be just that. That's, that's the norm.

Yeah. And hopefully that'll push course design a little bit as well. So shifting to that, you know, as you sort of traveled across the country that you've obviously participated in a wide variety of events from, you know, like a Belgian waffle ride, which really demands a big road skillset to stay at that front of that race with a majority from a mileage perspective being on road, obviously the off road portion often dictates who's going to win or lose. You've got that, you've got crusher in the Tuscher, which is very road off-road, mixed terrain. And then you've got something like Kanza and I dunno, maybe Steamboat gravel, which is majority dirt. How do you think about those different courses and what were your experiences, you know, sort of in the front end of those races?

Well, I don't know that I was always in the front end. I was in, I was lucky enough to be up there sometimes. I like the mixture of road off road. It feels so cool to get on pavement after you've been on a big section of, of gnarly gravel. It's like, you know, tarmacs never felt so good. And so that's a fun experience. But you know, something that I questioned with that is just these gravel events all of them that I've done have been on open roads. And when you get big groups of riders on open paved roads I just worry about that. Especially when there's a competitive nature to the, the ride. So I would prefer that these events stay as rural as possible and away from as many cars as possible. So usually that means majority dirt. And so I, I think the, as the sport evolves, I think it will just stay more and more gravel.

Did you see, you know, on the events that had a mix of road and, but a mix literally mixed into the mileage. So my understanding of Belgian waffle ride is it's a lot of road up front and then the bigger off-road sections. But I'm curious like how the tactics evolve when you hit road sections in the middle of the course, if people tend to group up and that becomes a big differentiator between you're either in a pack or you're not in a pack. Yeah,

I mean at a ride like Belgian waffle, if you're alone and you hit the road, if there's a group within sight you know, that's, you have to make an important decision there to either buckle down and try to close that gap. Or what I actually recommend is taking a break, you know, get off your bike and take a pee, grab some food and get in the next group. I think people, you know, these rides are so long. I think you'd be, I'd be surprised if you regretted that decision. And that's what I did a lot this year. If I was, even if I was in a group that, that I was, it was too hard for me. There were a lot of times where I'd, I'd eat food, take a stretch. And then, you know, in traditional road racing, when you get dropped from the group you're in, your sort of, your only goal is to get back in that group. But in gravel it's like you, there's just another, you just hop right in this next group and it's a whole new group of people to chat with. And I was one of my favorite aspects of gravel. So

I'm remembering a moment of great regret and grind Duro where a riding buddy of mine was futsing with something right before the road section and a big group rode by us and we clearly didn't leave in time to join it. And he's like, no, no, no, let's chase. And I agreed and it was a horrible mistake and we just chased the entire road section where, and then when we stopped at the lunch stop, we realized there was a group of 40 that came in about a minute later that we could have [inaudible].

Yeah, totally. Yeah. It's I think that's one of the most interesting aspects of gravel. I think it shouldn't be overlooked that, you know, I spent a lot of time as a road racer getting dropped. I think a lot of road racers experience that and you, you're dropped from the group and it's like your day is over and that's just not the case in gravel. And you, you had these really nice chance to reset and rejoin a group and I think that's the best.

Yeah. And I think you can even generalize that point even further for the listener who maybe hasn't signed, ever signed up for a gravel event. You literally can start with the top pros that are racing this sport and all your friends and lots of people you've never met and you toe the line with them and you're going to drop back. It's going to separate it, but it's rare you're ever riding by yourself and you always will have an adventure in these well-designed events and it's going to be a great day out. And you don't really, I find personally like I have no concept of where I am in the race. I just have a concept that I'm enjoying myself.

Well that's because where you are, the race is pretty irrelevant. The relevant thought is yeah, how am I doing? How am I, have I been eating? Am I looking around? Am I enjoying this? Am I chatting with people? Like you could, that's totally you. You hit it spot on that there is no single narrative of the race. I mean, people will talk about the winners, but with an all day experience, it's so individual. There just, there isn't a a need to compare yourself versus a group that's an hour in front of you or three hours behind you or whatever. You're just all out there on the bike.

Yeah, and I think there's a, there's an interesting parallel for me too. My experience is mountain biking where you know, you go to a place like bend, Oregon and you, you ride there awesome trail systems and you finish a section and you just want a high five and hug the person next to you even if you don't know him. And gravel has those elements. And you know, that's one of the things that I, I hope course designers always keep in mind. I don't want it to be just as a straight up a contest of who has the most horsepower. We want skill to be involved and we want the writers to push themselves out of their comfort zone. So for some it may be, you know, riding a, a steep paved or sorry. Yeah, you know, off road fire, road climb, that may be, it's a pure test of skill. But for others that may be a Rocky single track section that they, they've never experienced anything like on a drop bar bike.

Yeah, clear the line. It was fun at grind dura this year, you know, the, the final climb was just a beast and people were off walking. But then if you were able to ride it, everyone was cheering you on. And I love that. It's like we're all just out here playing bikes and I'm celebrating the effort

From your, your 2019 calendar. Are there a couple events that really stood out as being awesome and can't miss?

I would spit. A lot of people have asked me that question and I keep going back to the Oregon trail gravel stage race outside of bend. That was a five day point-to-point race and I would really I'm excited to see more events of that style where you're out for multiple days. Something changes within the individual. And I think within the group when you're a few days into it's like, it's the feeling that you have at the end of a gravel ride where people are high five in and smiles and hugs and laughter, but then you just get to do it again the next day and it just, it grew and, and by the end it felt like there's like a little family and I didn't want to say goodbye to people. It was so fun. So that was definitely a major highlight. And I think I'm surprised that there aren't more events already like that.

I thought, I thought you might say that. And we did interview Chad Sperry earlier on about the Oregon trail gravel grinder before the event had actually happened. And I hear ya. I have done a couple you know, week long mountain bike stage races where they were moving tents every night and there's a sense of community and really this sense of adventure that's unlocked in a way that a single day race can't touch.

Absolutely. Yeah. If there's something special about it, it's the same feeling you'd get if you do a river trip or those multi-day, you sort of feel almost like, I think it may be taps into something primal for us. And we're like these nomadic creatures moving along. It's just a very it's a fun way to spend a few days with, with other great people. I highly recommend it for anyone considering their calendar of 2020 for a stage race.

Absolutely. And I mean similar, I'd similarly recommend just the concept of bike packing, whether it's going hotel to hotel or carrying your own stuff. Just the idea of pointing your bike in a direction and going is so good for the soul.

Yup. Yeah. And this is like this bike packing. Totally. There's something special too about, you know, having your, just your stuff for the day and your bike. It's really nice to ride without gear. Your bike just handles so much better. You, you F you can climb better. And so the, the experience is just, it's such a delight. I guess. It's a treat to not have to carry all your stuff and just makes the riding that much more special.

Yeah, exactly. And then you get a course like the Oregon trail gravel grinder that is taking you into real wilderness. You get so much deeper in than you ever could have in a one day race obviously. And you get this just this massive adventure all under the guise of racing your gravel bike

With a bunch of other people. And that's the real, you know, anyone can go out and ride the Oregon trail route for free whenever they want and they should. That's, people should be doing these events with friends on non-event day. But I think something that's so special is the people that you end up meeting at these events is really what makes it, you do it because everyone else is there.

Yeah. And you, there's this unique thing where you might show up with your friends to start a race like that, but at the end of the day, the, each terrain and your individual ability levels are going to dictate where you sit. And it's this great opportunity that you find other people at your exact talent level that you just sort of randomly run into every day and they become your riding buddies even though you'd never met them before. It's such a cool thing when I guess the combination of when you find someone that you ride with well and then you also find out that you can jam conversationally. It's, that's one of the best things. It's like there's something magic there. It's it's very special, no doubt about it. So you've been involved in the gravel scene for a number of years, both as an athlete and a journalist. The last few years we've seen a lot of professional road athletes start to either dip their toe or embrace fully these quote unquote alternative calendars. What do you think about the influence of these new pros, perhaps big name pros from the roadside of sport jumping in? Is it, is it a risk of changing gravel? Is it a, is it a net positive?

Actually, it's great. I think no one at the New York city marathon is bummed that the fastest runners in the world are up front. Trying to break world records. And I think that that atmosphere at big running marathons is it helpful for it? It's just like these are the best athletes in the world doing their, their craft at a level that's, that's truly remarkable and I think that it serves to inspire the rest of the field. So I, I'm full favor of having pros at these gravel events.

So, you know, obviously there's such great mass participation numbers emerging with gravel and you have these events that are selling out lickety split. I wonder how the sponsorship model is going to change because I think it would be a shame to sort of imagine the team in iOS of gravel coming in with a massive war chest of money and hiring, you know, literally the, you know, the best 10 athletes and gravel and sort of dominating the scene. What do you think, how do you think the sort of sponsorship dollars are gonna flow and what would be a sustainable model for gravel to kind of envision? Well I hope

That that doesn't happen. And if it does almost sort of feel like we've been down that road with other aspects of cycling that have grown and then receded. I think gravel is just fundamentally a different game. And I think success in large tr in like a, on a macro level for, for gravel comes from focusing on the everyday rider. The person that invests in a gravel bike and goes out with their buddies and does some rides, maybe does a backpacking trip, enters an, I think that's the focus. And if we start seeing gravel teams and tactics, and I mean, maybe that will happen, but I don't think that to me is nearly as interesting as, you know, when we saw, what was it, 16,000 people trying to sign up for big sugar. That's, that's where we're, that's the interesting part of gravel these days.

Yeah, I think, you know, it's interesting as someone who sort of tries to put it two or three big events on the calendar, for me that means it keeps me honest in my training and you know, I have to stay focused to stay fit and healthy to get to the start line. Yeah, it's, it's, it's great for the industry because it gets me out on my bike. It's not like, you know, I had a year of doing crits for example. I didn't really think too much about it. I could just show up to a crit and do it and my sort of weekly fitness was, was fine. But with these gravel events, you really just need to put your equipment through the tests, through your body, through the test, and that leads to more purchasing decisions. You're going to go through tires, maybe you're going to think about things differently in terms of your equipment set up. So it does have all these positive elements for the bike industry as a whole.

Sure. And there's been so much great innovation in the bike industry around the gravel world. And I think that's only gonna continue. And so it's fun as a consumer. I think the bike industry loves it. It's yeah, I wonder, I guess how far can we innovate at the end of the day? These are just, it's a bike going across a, a rough road. I guess the next big question with the bike industry is E bikes in these gravel events.

Yeah. And I, I, I want to say I've witnessed one or two sort of sitting in there that that could be a warm hole that we may or may not want to go down.

Yeah. Well it's a, it's a wormhole for the future cause I think it's not going to go away. It's e-bikes are, you know, they're not, they're everywhere in Europe. They're coming to the U S they're coming to gravel line and you're going to see an E an E category in each. I think each main frame that these big manufacturers are going to have a, they're going to have a regular, what do people call them? Analog bikes and an e-bike version of, of every bike they make.

Yeah, I suspect you're right. And I, you know, I'm certainly one that I don't begrudge people who need help to get out there and experience the wilderness to get the help they need. Hm. Yeah. I will stay away from the rabbit hole. Yeah. I wonder if there's other, other sort of mass participation models that the industry needs to be looking towards. Like marathoning you mentioned earlier to kind of see the, of

How we can continue to grow and have it so that, you know, of the 16,000 people that were trying to register for that race and how do we actually get more of them to safely participate in these races so they can have the experiences? Yeah. Well, I think part of it is celebrating the effort and you know, gravel is these, these events are long and difficult and there's nothing like having that beer at the end of a, of a long, hard day on the bike. There's something so rewarding about it. And I think to try to think that gravel is just for fun and just it's like you have to continue to, I guess celebrate that it's difficult and that, you know, running a marathon is difficult and that's why people are there. And instead of, I guess making that seems to Epic, it's like you can just embrace that, Hey, this is gonna be physically challenging and and yeah, I signed up for it and here I am.

And that's just accepting that that's part of the experience. And it's actually part of what makes it feel so rewarding at the end. Yeah, absolutely. And that's something that all event organizers need to kind of be conscious of. You know, you, you want to embrace someone who wants to ride a short route. But I do think, you know, the marquee level events should all all be long enough that it's a day long test of your fortitude and adventure and strength. It's really interesting actually. Yeah. As these, you know, a lot of these bigger events have a 30 or a 50 mile, which I'm not here to say that we shouldn't be trying to get as many new people in the sport, and maybe that means doing, you know, a shorter event, but you don't see that at a marathon. Yeah, that's a big marathon.

They don't have the little or aK category, or at least I don't think they do. Yeah, that's a good point. I hadn't thought about that. You do see it in the ultra marathon scene where you might have, you know, a 10 K at 20 K and a 50K and a hundred K on the same course. Yes. Umut it is, it is interesting to think about. I, I think someone mentioned to me, like, for them it was great because their partner could come and show up and do an event that met their ability level and it meant they could come on that trip versus being excluded from a trip. You know, one thing that I think is important, so here's, here's my take. These shorter distance events are rad. Umnd they're important in getting new people in the door. I don't think that they should have awards and podiums and metals and that just shouldn't. To me, this is again, my opinion. Umhat's not the focus. I don't even think that should be the focus in the, in the, in the long events.

But especially getting people interested. I just, I dunno, I th I think it, it leads us down a road. We've already traveled in the road racing sphere mountain bike racing just traditional racing and focusing on podiums and results in awards, I think isn't how we stoke this fire the best going forward. Yeah, I'm certainly hoping we do not evolve to having short track gravel racing. Some might call that cyclocross, right? That is, that is actually just another word for cyclocross. But I could see, you know, what if they had a, a fun night race before the event that was on a, on a short, you know, like there, there could be a, you know, gravel's gonna continue a format. It doesn't have gravel, doesn't have to be this hundred, 150, 200 mile all day. Schlog it's gonna evolve and there's going to be little niche events and all sorts of different styles. So I think we'll see that actually coming from going forward. It'll be interesting. I remember sort of racing mountain bikes back, back at Mount snow and they had sort of even random community driven events during the Norman national weekend where they, they, they even had a naked parking lot. Correct.

Yeah. I, yeah, I think those, those style of riots are fun and just keeping them low key, keeping it about connection, celebrating the bike, just there it is. It's, it's fun first with those and then you can have sort of the all day suffer fast where the fun is in just accomplishing this, this big, this big goal and you know, overcoming the day. But I think those less Epic events matter as well. Yeah. I think Jeremiah Bishop said something that I think is t-shirt worthy, which is keep gravel weird. Yeah, totally. That's something worthwhile. So you're, you're actually, you've got another big year ahead of you in 2020. What are your plans and what are you most excited to do? You know, it's funny, I going into 20, 20, I was thinking I would really like to do more low key small events. Last year I was at kind of all these main events. And I, it looks now there's just, there's so many big successful, well-run events that I can't not go to them and it art, it almost just filled up my whole calendar. So I think, I think maybe if and when this endless gravel is no longer endless, I'll look forward to doing some smaller, more local events. But yeah, I'll be at sort of all the main gravel events of the season. Starting off.

Yeah. Yeah. Are you looking to sort of follow a similar path where you're, you're spending a lot of time in the van

Between events? I'll be out in the van and it's actually, I'm really looking forward to being, I missed the van already and yeah, I'm looking forward to being back

Back out there. Fun. Well, hopefully you'll have to find some smaller events in between point a and point B that you can hit to kind of break up the drive and fill your quotient. [inaudible]

Yeah. And I really think that's where you find that weirdos of gravel is that small events and sort of off beaten places. That's where there's the soul of gravel is still very much intact and you don't see, you know, big sponsor expos and fancy finish line presentations. It's just a bunch of people out riding bikes and maybe drink a beer afterwards. So are you saying,

Can I have a finish line without a pump up banner and big flags? Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Well, right on Marshall. Thanks. I appreciate spending the time talking to me and I, you know, I appreciate your perspective on gravel in the future and am looking forward to following your journey across the States this summer.

Yeah. Craig, thank you. And thanks for what you're doing. I think it's important to keep these conversations about gravel going and I think answering questions, helping people. I think all of us that are in the gravel community right now that are fired up and stoked and have gravel bikes and gear, it's our duty to spread this to people that might be, that are on the verge of, of interest and to say, Hey, this could be for you. Invite people out for a ride, invite people to sign up for an event. This is how we grow the sport. And I think it, it's, it's everyone that's already in it that already understands how cool it is. I'm saying, Hey, this is, this is for more people to do it. So I'm excited to keep doing that. I think you're doing that and to all the listeners out there I hope that it's the same. So let's stoke the fire

Right on. I think that's a great takeaway. Thanks, Marshall.

Yeah, great. Thank you.

Thanks again to Marshall for joining the pod this week. What an awesome journey he had in 2019. And what an exciting year he's got planned in 2020. Definitely check out his musings, his writings. He's a great writer and it's got great contacts in the sport, so I encourage you to follow him on social media channels and check out his work over at cycling tips in this week's can't let it go. I wanted to talk a little bit about good rain gear. It's been a wet winter here in Northern California and I was really fortunate to have invested in some great rain gear. In many ways this goes hand in hand with a previous, can't let it go about gravel bags because when she have a bag on your bike you can just shove rain gear in and have it there. In case of an emergency. I've been riding in some Gore gear, which has been phenomenal.

I can't believe how compressible these jackets are. You can get it into a pocket or into one of these small bags pretty easily and they double up nicely as an extra layer coming off the mountain. So what I've found is I've just been leaving it in my frame bag and anytime I get to the top of a climb, I'm just pulling on that jacket, whether it's raining or shining. Just keeping that extra warm thin, which has been awesome. But in the rain, you know, these shake dry jackets have been phenomenal in that you literally can stay dry in a downpour, which has been amazing and super useful, at least in my commuting lifestyle. So whether it's this year or next year, definitely put that on your list of gear that you want to get. I can't recommend having a nice lightweight rain jacket in your arsenal of gravel gear. As always, I appreciate you listening. If you're wondering what you can do to help support the podcast rating and reviews are incredibly helpful in discovery. It doesn't take much time and five-star reviews really go a long way in spreading the word. So I'd love it if you could take a moment and do that for me this week. As always, I welcome your feedback. Hit me up on social media channels or directly

Until next time, here's to finding some dirt under your wheels.