The path less traveled: Gravel Hall of Fame
Gravel riding wasn't part of my master plan. In 2012, I was a decorated and motivated endurance mountain biker racer dragged into this new sport by a required sponsor obligation. The drop-bar, skinny-tire world had never appealed to me, and I feared it was going to be too much like road racing; I imagined a crowded peloton with natural views obscured by too many butts and lazy riders sitting in and mooching off the group, only putting in effort in the last minutes of a long ride. I was also pretty sure I'd be bored by the monotony of the open road.
I was wrong.
I rode my heart out for 12 hours and 2 minutes that day and finished third overall. I wasn't bored, and I only spent time looking at two other butts, though they were often behind me. I was challenged and inspired, and I realized that riding on dirt roads encompassed many of the things I loved about mountain biking: the technical aspect, the adventure, the hard work, the dirt in the teeth, the navigation, the uncertainty. It was all there. And the other riders relished all those things just as I did.
When I got home, I explored dirt roads in Idaho, then went further out and began discovering places I'd never seen in my own backyard. I realized that gravel riding is actually how cycling began in the first place. I felt connected to the origins of cycling and the future of cycling at the same time. I could feel that riding on dirt roads allowed more people to ride in more places.
That first race led to many more wins on bikes that were yet to be called "gravel" bikes. I embraced the open dirt roads for myself and invited others. Those explorations around the globe and at home led to the inception of Rebecca's Private Idaho, now celebrating ten years and inviting more people into the sport of cycling on dirt. As the gear progressed, so did this segment of cycling, and gravel bikes now grace single-track trails and roads globally.
Last week I was surprised and flattered to be named to the inaugural class of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. I am honored to be recognized, but I want to be clear that my gravel journey is not a singular effort, and there are so many trailblazers who were riding gravel long before I was even mountain biking. The vision and passion of many dirty-teethed explorers brought gravel to the forefront. The nudge (or kick) from many peers birthed RPI from an idea to a world-renowned event. A multitude of coaches, peers, partners, and individuals have helped and inspired me to continue to take the path less traveled.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that this Hall of Fame accolade falls on the tenth year of RPI, the tenth year of my journey into gravel cycling, and the year that Liv Cycling USA launched its Devote Be Good™️ Edition gravel bike; this signature bike is my dream bike in so many ways and allows me to continue to share the Be Good message to cyclists around the world. These innovations in gravel gear continue to make this segment of cycling fun, challenging, and inclusive.
I'm kind of known for riding and spending much of my time alone, but the truth is I'm never alone. No trailblazer ever is. We were all a part of building this gravel phenomenon that is now the fastest-growing sector in cycling. I can't wait to see what it looks like in another ten years. Thanks for the honor, the recognition, the respect, and for showing up to ride.