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It’s a Rally, Not a Race: The People Who (Pennine) Rally

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It’s a Rally, Not a Race: The People Who (Pennine) Rally

Already in its second year of glory, Rapha’s Pennine Rally has easily made its name as a worthy must-experience off-road event here in the UK. Respectfully inspired by the Second City Divide route, the Pennine Rally covers 500 kms of the best unboring, mixed and testing terrain that this (middle-ish) part of the UK has to offer. This special event runs over five days winding, climbing and descending its beauteous way from Edinburgh to Manchester.

Thanks in no small part to the magnificent Louis, the rally’s beating heart, and his socially conscious approach to its organisation, the 2022 Pennine Rally attracted a whole host of keen shredders, many of whom are doing rad things in their communities, and it shows. The Pennine Rally embodies its tag line of ‘its a rally not a race’ and the event as a result is a magnet for many of the change-makers who are working to create a UK cycling scene that is more inclusive, wholesome, and socially active.

I haven’t been hanging around in the UK for very long, but it’s clear that there is a unique scene here and it only feels right to shout about it, so I decided, as part of my own participation in the event, to photograph some of these folks, describe their endeavours and in doing so to some way capture a feel for what is going on here. Please behold and be inspired by this selection of the following incredible humans who make this magic happen.

A Camp of Our Own: How RAR New Haven Built The Community We Needed at Gravel Camp

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A Camp of Our Own: How RAR New Haven Built The Community We Needed at Gravel Camp

I couldn’t stop moving the day before Gravel Camp. I was so excited, so nervous, and full of jitters. For years this camp had been an idea; since last year it was a real goal; and for the past two months, it was practically a part-time job.

Together, my fellow organizers (and friends), and I planned a weekend bike summer camp for femme, trans, women, and non-binary (FTWNB) folks to build the skills, confidence, and community to adventure on their bikes. From all over the East Coast and as far as Colorado, campers were coming to New Haven, CT, to learn about bike mechanics, riding skills, and bikepacking — all while in a community with other Queer, BIPOC, and radically cool riders. After years of dreaming, it was finally here.

Glorious Groads for All: The 2022 FoCo Fondo

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Glorious Groads for All: The 2022 FoCo Fondo

All year long, gravel races and events seem to pop up in towns across the US. With its approachability, it’s no surprise that “gravel” has become so popular with cyclists in disciplines spanning the continuum between mountain and road riding. IMO, the most successful of these races are the ones that embrace and exemplify the values and character of the communities in which they are based. Having lived in Fort Collins, CO for nearly fifteen years, the FoCo Fondo is a special one for me, as it shows off some of Northern Colorado’s incredible mixed surface riding with multiple expertly-curated routes while also fostering an inclusive and comfortable environment for a diverse group of riders.

A few weeks ago, at the tail end of a trip to the Choice City, I jumped in a course car with locals Peter Discoe and Taylor Kruse to document the event.

Rooted in Community: How a Gravel Clinic in Vermont Enriches Relationships On and Off the Bike

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Rooted in Community: How a Gravel Clinic in Vermont Enriches Relationships On and Off the Bike

Open and inclusive environments mean places where people feel safe to explore new things as the fullest version of themselves – Kristin Motley and Laura King of the Rooted Vermont Women’s Gravel Clinic are on track to change the intimidation factor many may feel entering a sport that prior to recent years was dominated by men.

Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Three: Kristi Mohn

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Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Three: Kristi Mohn

Kristi Mohn is something of a legend. A native of Emporia, KS, Kristi started cycling in 2004. In 2008 she became the co-director of the Unbound Gravel event, which was run for the first time in 2006. Since then she’s been the driving force behind gravel cycling’s drive for inclusion. She’s worked to secure equal purses for women, pushed for non-binary event classes, and driven efforts to engage communities who have otherwise been ignored by the cycling industry. Corey Godfrey and Jason Strohbehn, the co-organizers of Gravel Worlds, cite Kristi’s “200 Women Riding 200 Miles” program, as well as their conversations with her, as inspirations behind their own efforts. Kimo Seymour, President of Events & Media at Life Time Fitness, says that Kristi’s work is what attracted Lifetime to buy Unbound Gravel in 2018. I interviewed Kristi in Stillwater, OK at the 2022 edition of the Mid South, but have been fortunate enough to have known her for close to 10 years.

Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Two: Rach McBride

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Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Two: Rach McBride

Rach McBride, Non-binary Professional Triathlete & Life Time Grand Prix Participant: Rach McBride is, in the words of Kimo Seymour, “a fucking badass”. A three-time Ironman 70.3 champion, Rach has committed to racing the entirety of the inaugural Life Time Fitness Grand Prix. They are also the only non-binary athlete participating in the series. This is the second in a series of interviews about the change that’s happening in cycling as seen from the vantage points of people involved in one of the biggest drivers of that change: The gravel cycling world. For each of them, I (Erik Mathy) sit down with the interviewee and have a conversation, recording it so it can be transcribed down to their words.

Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part One: Kimo Seymour of Life Time Fitness

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Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part One: Kimo Seymour of Life Time Fitness

This is the first in a series of interviews about the change that’s happening in cycling as seen from the vantage points of people involved in one of the biggest drivers of that change: The gravel cycling world. For each of them I (Erik Mathy) sit down with the interviewee and have a conversation, recording it so it can be transcribed down to their words. The interviews are then edited for clarity and brevity. This means removing the inevitable “Uh” and “Um”’s that we all use as well as conversational tangents. I also remove myself because, as the interviewer, my voice isn’t important. It’s the words of people like Kimo Seymour, Yatika Fields, Kristi Mohn and others that are important. This will be an ongoing conversation, so please come back often as further interviews are published.

Introducing the 2022 Bespoked SRAM Inclusivity Scholarship

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Introducing the 2022 Bespoked SRAM Inclusivity Scholarship

Having been a regular exhibitor since 2014, I’m super excited to be running Bespoked for the first time this year. Bespoked is arguably one of the most fun and interesting bike shows on the planet because it centers on handmade bikes and their builders. Bikes designed and built around an individual and their use case scenario as they see it are always going to be fertile ground for discourse, throw in a huge number of capable and dedicated individuals ready to make that magic happen over and over again and you have yourself the makings of a fun weekend.