Athletes in Motion

Athletes in Motion Podcast - EP 021 Jay Williams

May 04, 2022 Tom Regal and Kenny Bailey Season 2 Episode 21
Athletes in Motion Podcast - EP 021 Jay Williams
Athletes in Motion
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Athletes in Motion
Athletes in Motion Podcast - EP 021 Jay Williams
May 04, 2022 Season 2 Episode 21
Tom Regal and Kenny Bailey

One of the fastest growing segments in cycling is gravel riding.  Combing the best of road cycling and mountain biking, gravel riding allows for longer rides on gravel roads without all the traffic.  Jay Williams, owner of RB’s Cyclery, talks about his days as a product manger for a major bike manufacturer, the allure of gravel riding, and how to get started in this popular sport. 

https://www.rbscyclery.com/
NICA Tennessee MTB League for Students - http://www.tennesseemtb.org/
https://gravelmap.com/

https://www.tritomrendurance.com
https://therecoverylounge.co/

On the Web:
www.athletesinmotionpodcast.com

On YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/@AthletesinMotionPodcast

Episodes Sponsored by:
TriTomR Endurance LLC
www.tritomrendurance.com

Show Notes Transcript

One of the fastest growing segments in cycling is gravel riding.  Combing the best of road cycling and mountain biking, gravel riding allows for longer rides on gravel roads without all the traffic.  Jay Williams, owner of RB’s Cyclery, talks about his days as a product manger for a major bike manufacturer, the allure of gravel riding, and how to get started in this popular sport. 

https://www.rbscyclery.com/
NICA Tennessee MTB League for Students - http://www.tennesseemtb.org/
https://gravelmap.com/

https://www.tritomrendurance.com
https://therecoverylounge.co/

On the Web:
www.athletesinmotionpodcast.com

On YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/@AthletesinMotionPodcast

Episodes Sponsored by:
TriTomR Endurance LLC
www.tritomrendurance.com

Narrator:

Welcome to the athletes in motion podcast from race to recovery. With your hosts, Tom regal and Kenny Bailey.

Tom Regal:

Hey Kenny, how you doing today?

Kenny Bailey<br>:

I'm doing fantastic. How are you doing?

Tom Regal:

Fantastic myself.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

We have Jay Williams with us today from RB's Cyclery. Owner of RB's. We're very excited about the topic today because we're going to be talking about gravel. It is, I think one of the coolest new sort of trending things that are going on in cycling. I've haven't seen this level of excitement across the board, from triathletes to road cyclists to mountain folks. Everybody. Oh, cool. Kids are doing it right now. Yeah. And I want to be a cool kid. So before we get into that, though, Jay, you've got quite an illustrious background. You were product guy for specialized you, you rancher for USA Triathlon. Were you just like a BMX kid growing up? How did you always on a bike? Or did you just you just sort of fell into the

Jay Williams:

I've always been on a bike man. Thanks for Thanks for letting me be here. Join talk with you guys. Yeah, I got I got into cycling when I was a kid. I can remember leaving the Schwinn shop in tears. Because my parents would not purchase that black and gold BMX bike. I had to wait for Santa to bring it to me. So yeah, bikes of bikes have been around for me for a long time. And when I got into high school, looking for a job, I got into cycling with some friends. My parents suggested that I go try working at the bike shop. So I did you know start working a bike shop around 16 So got some work experience and just kind of kept falling, falling in love with bikes and fell in love with a bike shop and you know, haven't quit? Did you?

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Did you like race BMX? Or was that just a no, that was a skate for you? Or was it just like, why a bike versus like, I, you know, I didn't get into football or?

Jay Williams:

Yeah, I was a huge soccer player. I played lots of soccer, lots of travel, soccer, soccer all the way up to the end of high school. I was gonna go play in college, and then and then kind of got burnout before I went to go play. So for me, yeah, it was it was a it was a release. It was something something fun to do. You know, we usually get home from school and the three of us my two other siblings, and we'd kind of get shunned outside to go to go ride bikes to go play. So you know, in our, in the code that we lived on, you know, everybody, everybody rode bikes, everybody would pile tires up. And, you know, plywood? Yep, absolutely. Need to get jump, see how far you could jump out. See if you could jump across the ditch. See who could race down the driveway the fastest. So we did all that stuff as kids. So for sure, it was just a good afternoon after school release. You know, and it started turning into racing. You know, you know, in high school. Okay,

Kenny Bailey<br>:

so you're racing in high school? Yeah,

Jay Williams:

I was racing. I was racing mountain bikes in high school night Racing, racing road bikes. Kind of my my senior year in high school.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Which one did you prefer more, Road? Or are they just two different disciplines?

Jay Williams:

Different disciplines?

Tom Regal:

Two wheels....., it was good.

Jay Williams:

They're both they're both. They're both a blast. I didn't care. You know, I got into mountain biking first just because because I had some I can remember being like in in high school and coming into Spanish class, and these on Monday mornings, and these three buddies of mine would be telling me about their Mountain Bike Adventure they had on Sunday, and I felt all super left out. So I went like, you know, at 14 years old and bought and bought a mountain bike from the local bike shop guy. You know, looking back it was just a turd. Yeah. And then my mom would drop me off on Sundays with these other guys and we go ride the Wolf River Trail system along the river. Where's this? This is a Memphis night and we'd ride for you know, four hours Wow Yeah, just goofing off and swinging into the river and getting lost and getting poison ivy you know, you know, whatever. Just just just just casually. I mean catch is not the right word, but just you know, not racing not racing each other just it was an adventure. Yeah, to be lost in the woods. We're not really lost on the trail. But yeah, you get it feels like it. Kind of thing and then that Just there just morphed into, to, you know, gosh, my friends are now slow. I'm going a lot faster than them. What about racing these bikes and then the mountain bike racing became like, well, I need some more fitness. I can't go to the trail all the time, but I can ride from home. So a lot of the guys in the bike shop are saying, well, you should do road riding to get fitness for mountain bike riding. Got it? And, you know, just keeps morphing. Yeah. And then you and then you're on the group ride of road ride. And you realize a lot of these guys are triathletes. And that looks fun too. Yeah. So so it just keeps it gets just keeps morphing into you know, just like Tom said, another another two wheels. Yeah. To ride. Yeah.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Yeah, I know, as a kid. I mean, I had to make sure that my checkered pads matched my vans on my BMX bike. You know, I mean, it was a big deal, right? Like New handlebar, mushroom grips. Were like a deal, right? I was so excited to get mushroom grips on my on my BMX bike. And then same thing you go out and you just jump anything to jump it right. Can you get over that? I don't know. You go first. And then

Jay Williams:

I was like, you guys, I was a big GT guy. I mean, that was that was Oh yeah, that was my bike of choice. And that had to be every

Kenny Bailey<br>:

redline guy. So that's sorry, no,

Jay Williams:

you had all that. You had to have all that stuff. He had to have grip donut. Oh, yeah. Right. Yeah. Had to have like the velcro hub polishers. Yeah. You had to have all these little, you know, silly things.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

It was crazy. So how did you go from from that to go into the corporate man, it specialized. What

Jay Williams:

a man that was just that was just so so I was I was in Texas. I had graduated, I opened a there's a guy. There's a guy in Texas that wanted to open then a bunch of running stores. He put on a bunch of triathlons there. And he wanted to open a triathlon store, but he didn't know the bike part. So I had met him from some races and some other stuff. And so I moved to San Antonio, and then opened a triathlon store for him the bike portion, and then ran that store for him. And then I wanted to, I wanted to purchase a store from him, he didn't want to sell, I wanted to change some things around. It just do some things different. And we couldn't come to agreements on that. And so I said, it's just time for a change. And I'd been working in the had been working in bike shops for you know, 20 years at the time. So I wanted, I wanted something different, I want to do something different. So I want to try something inside the industry instead of kind of on the outside. So I just got to what I did was I did something a little different where I said, I want to move out West. And so I just pulled up the industry directory and said what are all the bikes? What are all the bike companies around the West Coast? Especially? Especially? Yeah, so there's there's a nice locate, right? There's there's specialized there's Marine, there's Shimano, there's felt there's, you know, felt profile design. There's, there's, there's, there's a million west coast, bike shops, bike companies. And so I just started interviewing with a handful of them. And

Kenny Bailey<br>:

that one stuck. So so what were you doing for specialized?

Jay Williams:

So I was a product manager for road and triathlon. Okay. So, PMS job is to kind of figure out what the market is kind of in demand for like, like, it's like, you guys are talking about gravel? So like, what's, what does the gravel consumer want? What different types of gravel bike should there be? What spec should be on there? Should all you know what what price points? Should there be? Yeah. What bike should have one buyer what bike should have to buy? What bike should have suspension? What like, shouldn't it, so that's kind of the PMs job. So they don't really do any designing, they don't really do any engineering. That's kind of another group.

Tom Regal:

You're gathering data,

Jay Williams:

basically gathering data of what of what the bike should be. And then and then once you've got that idea, you're kind of giving the engineering staff and the, and the design staff some ideas. They come back and say, here's, here's the design and the way it worked as specialized was you kind of had some of the design team created design. That was kind of outlandish, and pretty out there. Yeah. And then the engineers would pull that back. You know, they would take that concept and create a, a true engineering piece. They test all that and make it work. And then that would get sent and that design would get sent to now like the art department, the Art Department would create graphic and color and whatnot. And then the and then the then then the Product manager job though comes, okay, I need to source these parts, I need to figure out what parts are going to go on each bike, you know, so, you know, what is it 75 to 100 parts on each bike? Yeah, at times, you know how many other bikes you got? It's a lot of parts to source. Yeah, well,

Kenny Bailey<br>:

I think to your point, because I've been a product guy for most of my career. And it's that it's that marriage between sort of what engineering can do what the market wants, what the price point you have to hit, because you can build a great bike. But if it's $14,000, you're gonna have exactly 1% of the population that's going to be able to afford it where, you know, how do I build a really high quality bike, put the best part parts? I can on it for the best margin? That's right. Right. And that's kind of and then how do I roadmap that out? Where you waterfall you know, that kind of stuff. And

Jay Williams:

that was my favorite part of the job was getting to go talk to dealers? You know, and the, the hard part was, you were you were the face of specialized. So you got a lot of venting? Didn't like, yeah, you got you got what he did, like, you know, your to do that a lot. Right? Yeah. But that's, that's kind of fun to kind of see, you get to see a lot of bike shops, you get to talk to a lot of dealers, you get to talk to a lot of owners, you get you get to you get to hear a lot of the stuff that didn't make sense. You know, the fun part for me was, you know, yeah, creating these ideas, traveling to the places where the bikes are made, you know, sourcing those parts, find the parts.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So as a bike shop owner now, how does that? How does that compare is sort of like now it's your, you know, it's once a year maybe right at that point, so

Jay Williams:

I don't I don't bitch about the bikes. I

Tom Regal:

know how hard it is, I have a better understanding of what's coming down the pike. That's right. Why?

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Well, in from a sourcing standpoint, I mean, I know, I just heard horror stories, like Civello decides to change their, you know, the way their purchase process, right. So now you as a bike shop owner, you have to have a certain amount or a certain, you know, take on certain inventory and all that sort of stuff. So it's never a fun thing. I think as a, as a bike shop owner, at least what I understand and correct me if I'm wrong, but you know, folks walking in are like, Well, why don't you have this? It's like, well, it's, it's right,

Jay Williams:

you kind of have to be a product manager for the product that's in your store, you have to crystal ball, and guess what consumers gonna walk in your door? You know, I think a lot people don't realize that we have to purchase all of that inventory. So everything sitting in the bike shop, the bike shop, owns a bike shop owner paid for it. Yeah. And he's crossing his fingers. Yeah, that the right person is going to walk in the door. Yeah, that's that same size that once that color that wants that price point to take it away. You're ready to that's, that's one of the harder parts of being a bike shop owner is purchasing the correct product? Because we don't get to send it back. You know, all we got to do is discount it. Try to get rid of it. Yeah. But

Kenny Bailey<br>:

let's talk gravel. Yeah, is what we're here for. I'm pretty excited about this. So when did you see sort of so for the folks that don't know, give us a what would be your definition of what what gravel? A gravel experience is versus like a mountain or road experience?

Jay Williams:

Yeah, so I think it's closer to road riding. Because you're on a true road where mountain biking, you tend to be on a one foot wide trail. You're you're riding a bike that more closely resembles in a silhouette, a road bike. And I think your distances also tend to tend to be more road style distances than mountain biking. does. You know there's there's there's no there's no real jumping in gravel riding. There's no real log obstacles. There's no real huge rock obstacles you know, for the most part you're we're talking gravel roads that you're riding kind of out in the country. It's kind of it's kind of the idea. So I think the hard part becomes just like when people walk in the store and they say I'm gonna take I'm looking for a bike that I can take on the trail you have to figure out what the definition of trail Exactly yeah. When you're saying trail are you saying Rudy rocky hiking trail? Are you saying paved trail? What would you mean? Same thing with gravel, I think these days is gravel could mean super groomed, dirt road, right? That's just super smooth with just tiny Sandy crushed kind of kind of dirt. You know, it can mean something kind of chunky, stone, pretty, pretty heavy gravel road, you know, where the gravels you know, maybe half the size of your fist and then kind of you know, roads in between, and then harder stuff like coming across a water crossing where there where the where the water from the creek? Because because they're not gonna put a bridge has washed out the whole road and you got crossing river rock. So, yeah, all between

Tom Regal:

yeah it becomes a little cyclocross where you have to jump off and stuff and hop on a bike and hop back on it. And go again. So what changes on the bikes? I mean, so they so in the geometry setups of the bikes, what makes it if I just put wider tires on my road bike, is that going to work? Or am I going to need? Why specifically to buy another bike? I mean, I really don't need an excuse, but is always n plus one for me. So it's like, what, what is going to drive people to go okay, this is what you should look for in a gravel bike. What's the geometry? What are the changes that that makes it flow on the gravel surface?

Jay Williams:

You do? What's what I think's interesting is is, to me, this is just almost like the rebirth of cyclocross. I mean, it's, it's not but it is because because I remember when we would sell a cyclocross bike to people who couldn't decide, you know, and what I mean by they couldn't decide is they can't decide if they want to ride the road, they can't decide if they kind of want to ride dirt, dirt roads, they can't decide if they want to ride through a grassy field. They want to commute on it, they may want to go on a two day back backpacking trip. And it was always like, here's your jack of all trades. Yes, it's it's the cyclocross bike. Right. And then the SAT cross bike kind of kind of took this divergence where it became extremely racy, you know, right.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

That's the one I bought. Of course, slammed front end

Jay Williams:

just became a really specific bike to cyclocross racing. Yeah. And that, and then that kind of jack of all trades bike kind of got lost for a couple years there, I think in the last bit, you know, and then these crazy guys out in Kansas decided to start start doing this big gravel race out there. And I think that's kind of the birth of, of where all this gravel stuff kind of came from. But in that place is kind of a unique area where you'll have like, paved road at the edge of town. And then, just literally, it just literally the town just turns into gravel road right after. Yeah, we don't really have that here. You know, we have we have lots of lots of paved road, but we gotta go pretty far for gravel. But that's kind of what created it. And then all of a sudden, the manufacturer started seeing this, this this race kind of take place. And people get interested in getting away from cars and getting on a gravel road. And so sorry, tell them coming a long way around, you're at you're all good. But they saw like people are using these not to race with but they're just they're doing adventure. Right? Right. Yeah. See things they're going for endurance, they're going for a long periods of time. So So these days, the gravel bike, the difference between like a road bike and a gravel bike is one, the gravel bike kind of has a longer wheelbase to kind of give it some more stability, when you're out there to give it some more comfort to soak up more bumps. The tires are getting wider and wider and wider. And that's just everywhere. The whole industry, the whole trend is that I mean road bikes now are getting sold with 2828 to 32. It's never happened before, you know, tri bikes are coming in with huge wide rims and 25 tires when they blow out to 28. You know, casual hybrid style bikes are now going all the way into 38 and 40. They're just getting bigger and bigger. So a lot of gravel bikes we're seeing now are starting at a minimum of 40 millimeters. Wow. Right, which won't fit in your road bike now. You know. And then. So the front of the handlebar is on the gravel bikes tend to be higher, you're sitting more upright. There's a lot more mounting spots for fenders mounting for racks mounting for bags mounting for all kinds of stuff to take things with you on these adventures that you're gonna do.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Yeah, I think there's a to me it was an interesting sort of evolution, right? Because I think you're right, the cyclocross was like this is really cool. I think it was in north northwest. You guys did cyclocross, right. Because again, it was born out of necessity. It was sloppy. Yeah. You know, there's a tree in my way I need to jump over it, that kind of thing. Right? And then suddenly, it got to a fine point where you're doing world cyclocross racing and these guys are ridiculous. And the pro road guys are now competing and killing everybody and all that sort of stuff, right? When Peter Sagal shows up, you're dead. Woot. Venner decides to, you know, I'm gonna do cyclocross, thanks. Everyone's fine for a second. So, it seems that the gravel back to your point we were missing sort of technical. I don't to go do single track and try to figure out how to do a hardcore mountain ride, right. And there seems to be this rise in in just anger amongst, you know, cars and it's been there, but it's getting a lot worse these days, right and you just see more and more accidents, you see more things happening. People don't want to ride on the road. And they miss those nostalgic days of like, I just wanna be able to go ride, but I don't, I don't need to kill myself on a single track. And I don't want to get hit by a car on the road because that's becoming more dangerous. So it seemed like it hit this beautiful sweet spot. Is that a? Like, well, you can still go do something really cool. You get a nice adventure. It's not too technical. It's more upright, it fits. It's not you know, is that kind of how this thing really exploded because it's fascinating how, how gravel is becoming sort of everybody likes it triathletes love it. Roadies. Love it. Mountain People love it. Casual people love it. Why do you think it hit that? Is it because it just hits on that sort of sweet spot? Or why is it such a phenomenal sort of rising price point?

Jay Williams:

I think you're right. I want to get back to the car thing because there's something cool going on in the car in the car world to talk about. But yes, I think I think the car thing was a huge driver in doing but yeah, yeah, people people don't people don't feel safe around cars. You know, when they when they have no protection. Myself included, most every road cyclist. And so this was a way to get away from cars. Where we ride, you're getting closer to dogs.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So the real problem trade

Jay Williams:

off. trade off, was worse. So I was talking to this guy and shop yesterday. And I was like, I was like, you know, you know, how was your ride, you know, in in Hickman yesterday, and he's like, got chased by seven dogs.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So now you count the dogs, not the car. Yeah, so

Jay Williams:

he calls him like dog intervals. Pretty good. But um, yeah, I think that's what it was. I think there's been a little bit of need for that in the in the lower price point of the industry. Like where when somebody comes in, and they're wanting to get into road cycling. And their their budget is, you know, you know, 800 to 1500 bucks. They're still in that. I don't know, phase, ya know what I mean? So that gravel bike is a perfect bike for that, I don't know, because it can do everything, right, because you can go road ride on it, you can go gravel ride on it. You can you can take it as a commuter bike, you can just just ride with your kids in the neighborhood with it. It kind of does everything, kind of idea. And then if you really get into road cycling, and you're like, wow, I really like road cycling, and I really like going fast. And I like going far, then your next bike at $3,000 can be a road bike. Yeah. So I think that's also what's happening is it seems like they're starting to get away from entry level rode bikes, and we're starting to go towards gravel for entry bikes.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

And because the diversity,

Jay Williams:

because the diversity because you can do whatever you want. So that's part of what's creating that. In that I think just like a man, just something new, it's just new. Yeah, that newness is creating buzz, kind of idea. You know, just that that's it's something, something different.

Tom Regal:

I think the pandemic might have helped a little bit with that with sheep trying to socially distance but get out and do some stuff. So instead, they're going further, they're going out, they want to be out doing more time to be got a little more time. And I think the newness of the riders with less experience less handling skills on the bike, and cars comes back to that. It just freaks them out. Because there's so not used to it. I don't like it. But I'm so used to cars buzzing by or throwing things or sticking a hand out because of all the writing I did out in LA for years. And it just nothing fazes me anymore. I still hate it, you know, still not happy with it, but nothing spooks me and to the point where it's just kind of like well, they just pull straight by you. And I just put my hand out and just moved over a little bit and just touch the car just because I knew I could do that. And it's like I'm getting less of that out here which is kind of nice. But I'm further and further out on the on the roads. But I think that that nearness and the lack of experience of handling your bike and knowing what your bike can do and how you can maneuver is huge. So yeah, I want to get out get out on a nice on a nice fire road and just get out there and just kind of cruise it but then you need to you need to have the panniers you need to have a little extra stuff because you can't hit the gas station when you run out of fuel. You're out of water. You got to think about a little bit longer trip that way.

Jay Williams:

Yeah. And I think I think we're all just, you know, if we asked the three of us would you rather be inside or outside? We're all gonna die outside. Yeah. And then if you ask us well Would you rather be in the city or kind of like in the woods? Where we're all gonna say? So I think that's I think it's just a lot of cyclists in general, you know, road cyclists too. I mean, would you rather be riding your road bike in the city or out in the country? Out in the country? Yeah. So I think that's just part of that gravel thing. It's just most gravel cyclist? Most most people that are ride bikes want to be away? Yeah. Yeah. And gravel is just a way to get away.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So as a so I know I think are we starting to do gravel?

Jay Williams:

Yeah, we do. We do a ride every month, once a month right now. We're, we're going. We meet we meet at the Gordon house on the trace. And then we write about a it's about two miles of pavement. And then and then we're doing the rest of the loop on gravel. And we got like a 24 mile loop and like a 38 mile loop that we're doing out there.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So when when you put together rides like that, especially because gravel, so if somebody comes in and they're listening to this podcast, or like, you know, I've been intrigued with gravel, you know, the takeaway is, well, there's there it's a, it's a versatile bike. It's a stable bike, it's a little bit more casual on the on the rake, so you're not you're not, you know, slamming the front end. And, you know, looking over the handlebars. One of the things that I guess I'm naive to I did my first gravel ride up in Tahoe, and I'm in Tim's listening, I'm gonna kill him. It was, like 3000 feet of climbing. And one of the climbs it was 1500 feet, and it was basically single track, and I thought we were gonna do this nice fire road gravel Bike Adventure, and it ended up being, you know, the side of a mountain, you know? I was gonna kill him. So what what, what should people expect when they go to rides like this, if you're relatively new to it, or if you're kind of coming over from like a triathlon? Or if you're coming over from a? Or you just you want to get out there? Who do you want showing up? And who do you not want showing up? I guess would be, or what, what would be,

Jay Williams:

I think, I think you want Boy Scouts, you know, be prepared. Okay. But I think you're right, it's, it's a new adventure every time. You don't know what to expect, because so much of the roads, the road is constantly changing. Because it's gravel, right? So a big storm is creating, you know, water runoff, it's creating these, you know, six inch 12 inch ditches within the road that you can get gonna go off into like a rut. It's, it's, it's the water crossing that you came to last month is now raging and, you know, two feet deep instead of two inches deep. You know, your, your, your, your feet are now soaking wet. You know, so maybe you hopefully you brought, you know, some dry socks, you know, to change into,

Kenny Bailey<br>:

I guess how proficient of a writer do I need to be? I guess it'd be the question, right? If I'm a noob, if I'm a beginner, be

Jay Williams:

a noob. Totally, um, you know, the newer you are the bigger tire you want. So maybe if you're a newbie, you bring a mountain bike, okay. Okay, you know, you don't have to have a gravel specific bike. You know, you can do it on skinny tire, you can get away with a 33 or 38. But you got to go slower. Or you got to be a proficient bike handler, you know, kind of thing. Kind of kind of idea. But yeah, I mean, it's very different than a truck on road ride. It's very different than road rides. It's

Tom Regal:

what it's equipment wise for like shoes and

Jay Williams:

mountain bikes and mountain bikes, you tends to work better. Because you got a lot of hike a bike, you've got a lot of walking through creeks, you know, on our side.

Tom Regal:

You know, here so that kind of stuff. Otherwise, the same way you're more towards the mountain bike style pedal. Yeah. That's not going to collect any dirt. Yeah, remember right about this, that now? They're making the specific gravel bike shoes is that is it really?

Jay Williams:

I think they're taken advantage of.

Tom Regal:

That's kind of where I was. Like, really? It's just It looks like a mountain bike shoe with a carbon plate. And it's really Yeah,

Jay Williams:

I think they're bamboozling us. Yeah.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Well, there's always gonna be dead right? If you got to slap a like, I think cyclocross do the same thing right you guys cyclocross specific gear?

Jay Williams:

No, no, you can get away you can get away with a lot of crossover a year you know, make it worse but but no road shoes, road shoes. I don't recommend you know, but yeah, you know, brand new person tennis shoe platform pedal in a standard old tennis shoe pedal. Totally fine.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Just kind of have fun, right and just kind of, yeah,

Jay Williams:

our roads are pretty casual that we do. I think most most gravel rides you're going to do or not. The people you're going to meet are also not serious. They're laid back kind of people. They're out for the adventure. For the

Tom Regal:

A B group, and if there's not an

Jay Williams:

acre it's way more mellow. You know, it's a lot of like minded people.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Yeah, I remember going from like road racing, and I did my first cyclocross race. And I showed up, and I, you know, road racing is like, I'm gonna eat your lunch, I'm going to, you know, tear your head off. You know, I'm going to, you know, use your school as a drink. When I get done beating you at the line. They're all just, you know, trying to kill each other. And the sprint finish is going to be, you know, epic and that whole thing, and I show up to a cyclocross race, and I didn't even think about it, and I'm just like, oh, yeah, and some dudes like, dude, calm down. Like, you know, there's dogs running. There's families and kids are there and they're just having a good time. Right. And that's what's I think, kind of the fun about road feels intense. Right. triathlons are tend to be intense.

Tom Regal:

But getting that way. I think they were much more welcoming in the beginning of the grassroots races are still pretty welcoming. And that's, that's what drew us to the sport. Yeah.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

But now that it seems like people are more casual when it comes to gravel, right? It's not, you're not trying to do like this gnarly, single track. You're, you're having a good time. And if you just bring in a fun attitude and an adventurous attitude, it's gonna be it's gonna be great. Right? Right. Right.

Jay Williams:

Yeah, that's, that's funny. You're talking about like, I remember coming from a red background in triathlon 20 years ago. Yeah. And it was the same way. And I remember like, passing somebody on the road bike, and the guy's like, good job. And I was like, what?

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Exactly? Like what? Good job? Yeah. No.

Tom Regal:

cheering me on. That work.

Jay Williams:

I think it's that way and gravel. It's the same kind of way. It says that first grassroots feel a gravel race sort of super. Yeah. It's

Tom Regal:

like we're all getting through this together. Getting into the longer distances, stuff like that. everybody's the same way. It's just like, they just want to see you get to the finish. They want you to enjoy it. That's right. As much as

Jay Williams:

crossing the creek crossing. Give me your hand. Yeah.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Yeah, one of our last podcast guests was guy named Ian Murray's runs the LA tri club. And one of the things he was super excited about was gravel, triathlons. Have you seen that? Yeah, he's happening here.

Jay Williams:

I haven't we're one of the guys in the shop. And we are talking about trying to start it. So we're trying to the hard part is scouting locations. Yeah. Because you got to find that perfect location, you got to find something. That's where you got to where you got a lake or a river you can swim in that's next to gravel. That you can run that you can also park cars. Yeah. But But yeah, we're scouting some locations, trying to find some stuff. We know there's some stuff up in Michigan, too. That's been going on for a couple years. But yeah, it sounds really cool.

Tom Regal:

There's Dan Enfield of slow twitch fame and Katana roofing was was talking about this about two years ago, there was the triathlon Business International Group that used to used to be in existence, and we get together and talk about all the business and he was talking about creating triathlon based on the terrain, like so the distances don't matter. It's finding the best terrain and then yeah, if it's a short swim, it's short. If it's a long swim, it's longest, whatever. And then using mountain bikes you're using at that point, gravel was sort of starting to come up, but it was basically off road. Right, right, right and starting to do this. And he's always, he's always such in touch with the industry. I was always always impressed with him and enjoyed speaking with him as he extends stuff out starts looking down the road. It's like, why aren't we doing more of this? Why aren't we kind of going this way?

Jay Williams:

He's a good futurist.

Tom Regal:

Yeah, totally. And looking at the gravel try series USAT jumped on that pretty quickly, which is kind of going Yeah, I think it's an I think it's cool. Awesome. It gets us off the roads. Again, it gets us off the roads, it gets us outside without having I mean, you can even do it on a mountain bike. It's perfectly fine. Just just finding those roads.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So is the forgive my ignorance on this one? So it's gonna be sort of a gravel, obviously, a gravel. So you do the swim, get on the gravel. Is it also a trail run then at that point, or is it or your

Jay Williams:

I think it's like Tom saying it's like, whatever is available

Tom Regal:

out there. Yeah. Figured out if it's trail, it's true. If it's, if it's a mixture, it's a hybrid of both run on both the road and the trail you might ride on both the road and the trail. Yeah. I mean, it just makes it

Jay Williams:

or to run on a gravel road. You know? Yeah, I think it's cool. I think I think there's a future for it.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Is there a so one of the one of the dangers and I've read this and I don't know if it's happening, but one of the dangers would have been a cyclocross, right. As a start out, cyclocross was supposed to be just more adventurous and then it got honed into races. And, and there's a there seems to be again, gravel is starting to get a lot more formal people want to do gravel races. Do you see there's a danger? That gravel goes to the same way that cyclocross went where it's starting to where it's getting more and more competitive because anything that you start that's cool, and fun, you got to people that are always going to be like, You know what, a half a wheel in front of somebody and all of a sudden suckers. Well,

Jay Williams:

I was gonna say that's the joke, right? I mean, yeah. When the second bike was built, that was the day the first race. Yeah, you know, yeah. So, I mean, I don't think there's danger in it. You know, that's just like saying like, I mean, you know, on the mountain bike side, I mean, there's there's World Cup racing, but man, most people just get on their bike to go mountain bike to go. Yeah. To go to go round the woods and have fun. Yeah. You know, I mean, that racing components always there. I don't think it's gonna ruin it. You know, I think the hard thing about cyclocross was it is just, it's so specific.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

That's what I'm thinking. I didn't know if Gravel was gonna

Jay Williams:

crash. I think gravel like mountain biking is brought in. Okay. Yeah. To where it's to where I think people are going to just do it for enjoyment. And who cares about racing. And the cool thing about racing, I think, is that racing kind of pushes your limits a little bit, you know, beyond what you'd normally do. It shows you people who, you know, when you thought you were really fit, it humbles you. Wow, you know, maybe inspires you to get fitness like that. You know, a lot of these guys are talking about some of these gravel series that are going on here is that it's showing them new roads, it's showing them new places to ride. Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's like, oh, that race course showed me these other roads that I didn't even know about. So, you know, kind of kind of showing you some other places. Kind of thing. So I don't think you know, I definitely get there's some there's some negatives to racing, but there's, there's definitely some

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Yeah, I think I think I'm nervous about the cyclocross sort of track it took, right because cyclocross was very specific. Even people that were in cycling, you know, it's like, well, what's cyclocross? It's like, oh, well, you jump off your bike, you hop over thing, you go real fast. And it's, you know, zero to 180 beats per minute. Right. And they're still looking. Yeah, right. So it was a but it was also an incredibly it was a sprint right? Yeah. So I think that was part of the thing but it's got so specific to your point that it just wasn't sure I scrambled Yeah, if that starts getting there

Jay Williams:

it is it is it's already the industry's you know, the I mean, the bike industry has man I don't know if it's if it's good or it's bad, but man, they they will take a category and they will slice it into as many slices as they can get. Yeah. You know, like you think about like like my you know, for example of like road you know, a road became like, Okay, you have a lightweight climbing road bike, yep, Arrow road bike, and you have an object Durance road bike check, you know, Cetera cetera in gravel, gravel starting to get the same kind of way where now you have you know, gravel, one by style bike, now, which is what, which is, which is one gear in the front, you know, in a big large range in the rear. How is that is it and then you have like a two by style. You know, we have two gears in the front, right, which is more traditional road, and the one buys more kind of mountain. Yeah. And then you're getting gravel bikes that have suspension? Yeah.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

I got one in back in my day. We used to soak that up with our but we were having our town.

Jay Williams:

Canada has got full suspension, gravel bikes, gravel bikes yet or you have a gravel bike. Oh, there you go. Yeah, right. So they have they have gravel bikes with 650 B, but tire size they have gravel bike with 700 size. So they've already split the category into

Tom Regal:

five or six.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

I think any any genre I'd buy it if you don't have an E version of whatever you're making, like at this point, I haven't seen an E try bike yet. That would be sacrilege. But I mean, imagine the sport blowing up with an E try bike. How pissed would you be? You're just going out in some dudes next to you. 23 miles an hour. Are you feeling I feel I want to kill you. That person down like a dog? Sorry, I didn't mean to go in there. No, no, we try bikes a

Tom Regal:

try. Bikes are only for racing. I really no one gets a tri bike for fun, right? It's just like, casual Sunday ride. Bikes only. All right, yeah. So so that one I think might be a protected, protected, protected, everything else is wide open. I think the thing is gonna be interesting is the speeds that they're gonna allow these bikes to go. And then of course, everyone's gonna break out their wrenches, and they're gonna figure out a way to make it go faster, because that's just what we do. Right.

Jay Williams:

And I don't think they're bringing the wrench out. They're bringing their laptop.

Tom Regal:

Software. Software. Yeah,

Kenny Bailey<br>:

there's gonna be like a black market for tweaking your tuning your bike. Yeah, exactly. Right. Like tuners. Wow, there's a whole market for you guys. Think about that.

Jay Williams:

I want to get you guys talking about technology. So I'll swing this in here. You guys talking about like, you know a car's fearful, man, I think in maybe, maybe 20. Maybe 20 is too early, maybe 40 more years. Road reading is gonna get a rebirth. Really? Like, yeah, and the reason is because of technology. And I think either the, the new self driving cars of the future will be able to see the bike. Or the there's already talked about this. There's a bunch of political debate that I won't get into at all, just talked about the technology where the rider can have some kind of beacon on them. And then the car knows, hey, there's a cyclist, there's a cyclist in the road. I see them through the beacon. Yeah, right. And where cyclists aren't getting hit anymore, because these new technology cars with cameras and whatever can see, you know, what, let the car go into the, to the to the person, I think the hard part of the technology is getting to understand you know, when the cyclist makes a stupid mistake, and then on the far right side of the lane, and they're kind of not looking over their left shoulder, very good, and they just decide to go left. But for the most part that everybody is going straight, no more getting hit on the right side,

Kenny Bailey<br>:

you just need to have a white diesel pickup with that technology. That seems to be like diesel. That's that's I don't know what the color

Jay Williams:

maybe 40 years.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Exactly on the white diesel pickup. It'll trick and avoid that.

Jay Williams:

It'll trickle but but I think I think we'll have a road riding rebirth and

Tom Regal:

I hope having I think having a beacon on the rider helps solve the issue of the cameras not seeing Yeah, because that's been the issue that they've tried now that like son or something is not allowing it to see whatever background is there. Having a beacon that sends the signal back, I think would be pretty cool. Yeah,

Kenny Bailey<br>:

I think Garmin is doing a really good job of on trying to figure out how to have you know, you put on the back of your seat it so our sonar Yeah, I mean, they're trying to really figure out how to make the cyclist. It's gonna be two sides of the fence. Right? Yeah, the, you know, cyclists and do everything they can under the sun, it's still the driver that has to realize that you've got a multi 1000 pound, you know, device that could cause real damage. Don't just realize that right, you know, just nicking somebody on a bike. You know, that's the hospital trip. Right? Minimum,

Jay Williams:

right? Yeah, yeah. But but you know, man, hopefully, hopefully, technology will solve the problem. Yeah, you know, or make the problem better.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So on the back to the gravel thing regarding sort of one of the things that's that's preventing me from doing it other than my wife won't let me buy a new bike. I love i want it i and same thing, sort of like trail runs, right? Is there a place a website? Should we go to you guys, like, I want to get a gravel bike, I want to go out and explore. I just don't know where on a road I know where, you know, I know roads, right? It's outside I just is level of danger on which road but for travel, how do I how do I figure out where to be?

Jay Williams:

So So there's a bunch of so a bunch of bunch of cool information out there. You know, there's a lot of stuff on on YouTube, you know, you can search gravel stuff in your area. And a lot of people publish some rides and stuff on YouTube to start. There's, there's, there's a bunch of there's a good number of websites with gravel, you know, adventure cyclist and some other stuff. There's a cool website out there called gravel map. And you can go on gravel map, and it kind of uses, you know, like a, just like a simple Google Base Map. And then people have highlighted the roads that they've written that are gravel, I've taken pictures of the road. So you kind of get an idea if this is gnarly gravel, or groomed, or what the water crossings like, around there. And adventure motorcyclists are kind of using that map also, because they like to ride on the same kind of stuff. You know, I can a KTM Adventure style bike. So they use that map as well. That's out there. Men even like this, even Strava and you know, Map My ride and ride with GPS, those kind of simple things. There's websites also have kind of where to ride gravel, we're guys are doing gravel rides, that kind of stuff.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

So when you when you have a new person that's wanting to get back into you know, I was a kid I used to ride bikes as a kid or in college. And it sounds like now the number one thing you're looking to do is get those person on a gravel. Get a that seems to be like the new, like you said, the new entry to be able to do that, right? Give them a road, kind of a map to be able to say hey, here's where to go. And good luck. Are you seeing a lot of positive feedback on that? How's it how's the reception been? I guess,

Jay Williams:

reception has been good. These these guys really like the ability to do a lot of things, you know, as their as their first bike. Because I think that's the that's the that's the scare. They come into the bike shop. They're going to spend $1,000 And they're pigeonholed into something. Yeah. You know where that gravel bike could race a triathlon? Yeah. You know, I'll be it you're not going fast but but we find you can read rode with some other buddies by changing the tire. It's down to 28. Yeah, you can put 40 tires on in Gregor gravel. So yeah, lots of lots of lots of choice.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Have you seen a lot more sales? On your side? When you look at like the pie chart? What you guys,

Jay Williams:

it's growing it was really slow for us. I think our areas a little different, you know, you know, and I think all that has to do with how close is the gravel to you? Yeah. You know, so in the shops, where, where the, where the gravel starts really close right outside of town, I think they do a lot better with gravel bikes. For us, we you know, it's nearly an hour drive to work, gravel starts, that's just our county is wealthy and likes to pay

Kenny Bailey<br>:

with no bike lane.

Jay Williams:

But we have really nice road riding here, you know, leapers fork some of the best, you know, riding in the country. And you got it. But you know, gosh, it's it's 30 minute drive to their, you know, and then it's another 30 minutes to the to the next county. You know, in that next county for us is kind of about 90%, unpaved. Wow. So it just depends on where you're at. But yes, it's growing for us. It's, it's, it's steadily growing, it's and I think I think the reason it's growing is the bike. The reason that bike category is growing is because it's a dual jack of all trades kind of bike where for your first bike that's not You're not stuck,

Tom Regal:

and you can commute on it, you can bounce on anything and yeah, just kind of back and forth. And

Kenny Bailey<br>:

if you want to spend a lot of money on it, because you're crazy. And and you have you there, there's a headwind for that.

Jay Williams:

Yeah. $10,000 bikes all day. Really?

Kenny Bailey<br>:

You can get a$10,000 gravel bike. Sure. Oh, my

Tom Regal:

God. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. If you can spend the money they can build for you. Yeah.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

For you, like you like those people.

Jay Williams:

Don't come in enough. I'm trying.

Tom Regal:

I'm trying. So how do we grow the sport? What do we how do we get the kids involved? What do we do? Because you're involved in getting kids on mountain. But tell us about what is what is the organization that

Jay Williams:

you're Yeah, so the organization that my wife started here, she's, it's Nika, national interscholastic cycling Association, which was started out of Northern California, is where they started it, kind of in the Berkeley area. And there was just a, it was just a school teacher that wanted to have wishes that he could race bikes when in high school when he was in high school. So he kind of started getting it going. And it's just grown from California, out to, you know, many other states. So my wife kind of started the Tennessee chapter. here about eight, nine years ago. So we have, we put on five races in the fall. We have about 600 students that race. So we've got we've got some big mountain bike races, our JV field is 100 Boys, our JV boys is 100 Boys kind of start on the line together nice. So it's kind of fun. They kind of find it naturally. You know what I mean? Because Because, because because they're their coaches tend to contend to be cycling enthusiast, you know, that are helping to coach. So they kind of tend to help them. We did a we did a gravel ride, I want to say three months ago, and we had some Nike students come out and ride mountain bikes out on the gravel roads, okay, so they're finding that they're kind of naturally coming into it. That's cool, which is cool. So

Kenny Bailey<br>:

yeah, we'll make sure to put a link here.

Tom Regal:

I think that's I think anything we can do to keep growing the sport growing it, whether it's triathlon, or road riding or whatever, getting getting kids active. I know as a kid, I used to just transportation that was that was my thing. My series, my yellow series tend to be steel. Absolutely. Like I wasn't allowed to do BMX. My parents wouldn't let me do skateboarding or BMX. That was that was not going to happen. So I jumped things on a road bike. I went over the handlebars on that thing. times and I was priceless. Yeah, I wrote in the rain wrote everything, but it was my transportation, I would ride I would ride 10 miles out to my buddy's house. So then we can go for a ride. And then it was 10 miles back home on country roads. Yeah, since I was more upstate New York. And

Jay Williams:

what's what's cool about this is they're trying not to make it about racing. I mean, unfortunately, it always comes back to racing. But yeah, but but but this, this neck organization is just a little different as in that it's just not hardcore racing. It's just more it's almost more about getting together with a team learning that teaming heart for kids. Yeah, who couldn't do other team sports. So it's bringing the team part, you know, scored like cross country. There. Were there. We're still an individual winner. There's still first second third place, but you also score team points so your team can win or everybody. Everybody's kind of kind of scoring points contributing That's right to the west, everybody's kind of when we've kind of got like a big pit zone. It's kind of a big hangout area where all the teams kind of come and put out like a big, big tents sit into their, their chairs. The teams make lunch. So they're barbecuing and stuff out at the race. So it's kind of different than, you know, just you know, here we're just super focused to race straight race. Not. So there's a lot of kids out there that that are racing that are that are Reinhard that they really want to be competitive. And then there's a whole nother set of kids. You know, that are just they're having fun.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Yeah, it's, I think you nailed it, too. It's like cross country. I mean, my kids are in cross country saying what you've got really really fast runners. They're gonna do really well and half the cross country team are just like, I just want to go run.

Jay Williams:

Yeah, right. Right. I just want to be with my friends, and kind of crack fun jokes.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

Cool. Anything else you got going on? That we should know about? What do you got? What do you got? Coming up?

Jay Williams:

Man? I got I don't got too much coming up. I got I got itu triathlon world's coming up in in. Oh, help me it's right near Ukraine. It's next door. I'm a little nervous. Maybe I shouldn't be.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

When is that? It's in June. And so you rent for the ITU. Right? So yeah, so

Jay Williams:

that's coming up. And then Abu Dhabi in the in the fall. Wow, for World Championships there. So that's kind of my travel schedule for doing fun stuff. We got five races to put on in the, in the for mountain bike in the winter. And then trying to figure out some some other like events to start doing. We want to start doing some events like some gravel triathlon, or, you know,

Kenny Bailey<br>:

I think you're gonna get a lot of positive responsibility.

Jay Williams:

I think so. Yeah. I think we gotta find the right venue and stuff. So so

Tom Regal:

there's a, there's a really great triathlon community here in Middle Tennessee that I've been discovering since I got here, and it's pretty cool. It's quiet. Yeah, right. It's quiet. It's simmering. It's all there. I think finding a few more events like the gravel try stuff will will get people Yeah, it's just different. It's different and it's adventurous.

Kenny Bailey<br>:

And it makes perfect sense. Like you said, you can you can get a bike that's not specialized to because everyone freaks out when it comes to like triathlons, right? Oh, I need a tri bike. Or I need clamp ons on my road bike and where you can just come out with your gravel bike. And it's the same one you use to commute it's the same one you're using to go have fun with you can race with it, too. So that's quite a bit

Tom Regal:

and you tend to throw some flat pedals on it. And there you go. You have a faster transition. 35 pounds, your hurling kind of kind of jumping out. Cool. Oh, cool. Well, great. Thank you so much. We really appreciate you stopping by and we'll have to have you back on and talk more. More cycling, more bikes and stuff and tech and gear and all that because we love it. We love talking about that. So thank you everybody for listening and watching on our YouTube channel. Give us five stars. Thumbs up every all that good stuff helps, helps the algorithms helps more people find our our lovely podcasts that were in the year two on I think this is episode 20 or 21. I think so. So we've been having a lot of fun with this. We're doing really great. So we appreciate everybody. Any of the comments and anything just reach out to us. We appreciate it and we'll catch you on the next one.