Returning to the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Pre-Race Interview with Cantu Ambassadors James Griffis and Lee Allen

2018 Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race james griffis [left[ and lee allen [right]

2018 Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race james griffis [left[ and lee allen [right]

Last year in 2018 our Cantu Ambassadors, James Griffis and Lee Allen conquered their first Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race. This weekend they are back for their second go. The 100 mile out-and-back course starting at 10,000 feet elevation climbs to over 12,000 feet and is one the most sought after destinations for mountain bikers and endurance athletes alike. James and Lee both from the Woodlands, Texas, are ready to tackle these unforgiving climbs and enjoy the rewarding views once again. Let’s dive into their experience!

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: How did your journey for your first Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race begin?

James Griffis [JG]: It began by putting my name in the lottery. I was surprised to discover I got into the race. Given the challenge of entering the race and the prestige of the event, I felt I needed to commit to the challenge of completing the race. I was not a mountain bike rider and did not have a serviceable mountain bike rider. I recently purchased a gravel bike to start riding gravel rides and within a month researched and bought a full suspension mountain bike. My wife Sue, is very supportive of my love for riding. She is my best fan and supporter! Once I had the mountain bike, I proceeded (and continued) to receive bruises and cuts trying to stay up with the Houston area mountain bike veterans (John Worzel, Kevin Franklin, Lee Allen, Christian Colonello, John Wilmeth, Kevin Landry, John Pickering and others) that have more experience and strength than I. I thought learning how to ski at the age of 60 was a feat. Learning mountain biking over 65 is …er… fun! So here I go again for my second time at Leadville!

Lee Allen [LA]: Back in 2009 I went and watched "Race Across the Sky" with a bunch of my old Woodlands Cycling Club teammates when it was released in theaters. Here was this mountain bike race, on the big screen, and to a new cyclist at the time it seemed completely crazy....and just a little bit intriguing. My consciousness said "that's nuts"....but my sub-consciousness held onto it!

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: How has training been leading up, any changes from last year's training?

JG: Training for me has been a challenge.  I have all the time in the world since I am retired but at 66, rest needs to be factored into the equation.  Also, I have been training for diverse distances and types of races this year which may not be the best approach to do well in a given event.  I have been training on road, gravel and mountain bikes as well as running.  I did the Land Run 100 and the Dirty Kanza 200 this year. Both were memorable experiences and I hope to be able to get into both again in 2020.  I really like gravel cycling.  I also raced in the standard (10k-40k-5k run-bike-run) and sprint distance (5k run-20k draft legal bike-2.5k run) National Duathlon Championships in mid April and got a 5th and 4th respectively in my age group. Then I raced in the Standard Distance Duathlon World Championships in Spain late April and got 10th place in my age group. I am also training for the long-distance Duathlon World Championships in Switzerland (September 8th) which is like the Kona Ironman for duathlons.  It is a 10k run, 150k bike and a 30k run, all up and down hills. So my training has been a bit varied. 

Changes this year: I got fitted on my mountain bike which resulted in a raised seat and longer stem.  I think this has helped.  I also have used the long gravel rides and training as a way to bolster my base.   Last but not least, I have some Cantu wheels that will definitely make my day in Leadville!

LA: Training has been good - for the most part it's gone exactly according to plan. I've tried to mimic a lot of last year's training since it worked out pretty well. But I've been a bit more specific during my weekday training and got in a few longer weekend rides. I've mixed in some more "elevation" (slight chuckle) with rides in Chappell Hill, and I've rode with some really strong guys. A couple of weeks ago I did Triple Bypass ride in Colorado as a final test, just like last year, and it's "all-systems go". The Triple Bypass is a good measuring stick: it covers three mountain passes and gets up to similar elevation over 120 miles. It's really a roadie ride, but I do it on the mountain bike to simulate what I'll experience on race day. I could see a definite improvement from last year's Triple, so I guess I'm on the right track!

Training ride in the sam houston national forest

Training ride in the sam houston national forest

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: How did your race day play out last year in 2018?

JG: It was my first time and had a goal to try to get under 11 hours.  That goal quickly evaporated when I got up to the turn around on Columbine.  

Combined with some time lost getting caught in initial traffic jams going up the initial climb (St Kevin’s) and getting behind on the nutrition curve going up the Columbine Climb, my power output finished quickly by mile 70 and started to get cramps in my hamstrings.  After walking up Powerline, time was leaking out of the hourglass for me.  The last 25 miles were tough. I finished after 12 hours but under 13 and got a medal.

LA: Overall I would have to say it went pretty well. Throughout the day, especially early on I basically tried to ignore everyone else and just race my race. Not get caught up in the excitement and just pace myself for a long day in the saddle. At elevation if you go red-line, it's really hard to come back and recover. I did get behind on nutrition halfway through. I had been drinking and eating at specified intervals - but at a certain point going up the goat-trail on Columbine I realized my Garmin was on "auto-pause"....and at some point it had stopped recording time! Not knowing how much time had actually passed, I had a hard time doing the math compared to my watch at 12,000 ft...... so I had lost track of how long I had actually been out on course. I just resumed my schedule as best I could, but on the return to the Powerline section at mile 80 I started to feel the 'bonk'. I ran out of fluids & food, and reached a point where I was in desperate need. Bottles that had bounced out of cages and were laying on the trail started to look really good... I just didn't know what was in them or how long they'd been there! I just kept moving forward, pushing that bike back up Powerline. When I reached Carter Summit around mile 85 there were some folks with Cokes and Snickers bars, like little sugar-dispensing angels! That and a water refill for my bottles completely re-energized me, and I felt pretty strong from there to the finish. But I was never so glad to finish a race!

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: Have your expectations changed from last year's experience at Leadville?

JG: Yes, indeed they have changed. This race is humbling and my fear of the race has changed to respect. I know what to expect. I still have a healthy amount of fear on the down hills. I need to eat and drink, keep focused and be safe on the downhills. My goal is to get a belt buckle which means finish under 12 hours.

LA: Most definitely! Last year everything was a mystery, and in some respects your goal is simply just to survive. Your first time the whole race is a big "unknown". Being from Houston at basically sea-level with little to no chance to train at elevation, you don't know how your body is going to perform at that altitude over that distance. Now that I have the experience, a lot of the pressure of "can I do it?" is gone. So I'm going to be more prone to push myself a bit more and take a few more chances for a faster finish. Plus having knowledge of the course goes a long way - you'll recognize spots in the race that were tough to get through, and why they were so tough. That helps to push through mentally and just keep your momentum going.

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: What are you most looking forward to this year at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race? Can you share some of your goals/expectations?

JG: I look forward to the camaraderie with those I have been training with this year.  While it is ultimately an individual pursuit, I take great pride in witnessing this experience with great amateur athletes who are my friends. They all are a great group.  

Leadville as a small town is a fantastic place to visit.  The people are friendly and being among a tribe of fellow mountain bikers is pretty awesome. The landscape, the environment is breathtaking.   I look forward to the challenge. 

LA: Mostly, I'm looking forward to being out there in some beautiful country and racing my bike with some great guys. I met my goal last year by earning my buckle, and it'd be really hard to improve on that from a standpoint of personal satisfaction. It's actually the one race I've done where afterwards I said "never again!"....but here I am, about to toe the line anyways! Many of the guys I raced with last year wanted another crack at it, so much of my motivation to return was to train with them and maybe help out in any way I can.


Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: Any pre-race rituals, favorite hydration, and must-have nutrition?

JG: I have been training with Maurten products this year and will use them at Leadville.  Similar to last year I will use a camel back with 1.5 liters of Maurten 320.  I will have a swap out bladder at mile 40 and also at mile 60. I will also carry a number of gels and one bottle of water.  I will also drink a bottle of water or Maurten 160 at the 40 and 60 mile aid stations. I am considering carrying pickle juice or taking magnesium citrate for preventing cramps. 

I will have some coffee, high protein oatmeal with some blueberries for an early breakfast.

Similar to last year I will line up again in the white corral at around 5:30-5:45 a.m. to get a good position.  This year however, I will be graced with the company of many Texan racers in the white corral who will give initial support at the start of the race! 

LA: No, no rituals here. I'm pretty simple and straight-forward. I've never been too picky with race-food....just as long as I have it. The only "plan" is to make sure I'm getting enough calories. I don't care what the source is, as long as I'm getting in ~300 calories per hour.


Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: Favorite and least favorite part of the LT100 course?

JG: I like the outbound single track which is mostly down hill in the open meadows.

The least favorite: Pushing the bike up Powerline inbound. 

LA: One and the same....the infamous "Powerline" descent! During the film "Race Across the Sky", the pros make it look so smooth and flow-y. It almost looks easy. But in person it's a different story.... last year on a pre-ride of the course, we got up there and realized just how steep and long it is. And's covered in loose stuff and you have to feather both brakes all the way down, otherwise your rear wheel starts sliding everywhere. That was the part of the course that I told myself if I can make it down Powerline, I'll finish the race. It comes up quick at mile anxiety was a bit high for me getting there that first 20 miles. Then you're suddenly on it and going down, and it's over in few minutes. Going back up at mile 80 just plain sucks.... This year it's been graded, which will make it smoother but also likely faster. I hear the right-hander at the bottom is tricky too, so I'm going to need to pre-ride it again!

*Photos below of the steep climb up Powerline and enjoying the view at the top.

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: How do you push through the lows of the race?

JG: I use many techniques: I break the distances into smaller segments to make small achievable goals, whether it is a mile or counting the high wire tension poles on Powerline.  Also think of my father who passed away last year - he gives me strength and focus.  Finally, I just get into a zen like mode and simply think of the present moment and endure and focus on the pain to push through.

LA: I learned long ago that training and racing is as much mental as it is physical. And that winners are often determined by who's the most mentally tough, not necessarily who is the fastest/strongest. I've never seen myself as someone who naturally has a lot of talent, so I gotta make up for it elsewhere. Being willing to outwork others and put up with the 'suck' part of it and just grind. So a lot of my own successes have really just come down to trying to be mentally tougher than the competition or making the decision that a particular course (or section of a course) isn't going to beat me. It comes down to that for me, making that decision and then being willing to accept the consequences that come with it: It's going to hurt. You're going to be tired. You're going to be hungry. You're going to be thirsty. You feel like crap. BUT if you're hurting, everyone is hurting. And it will pass, it's only temporary. Not that long ago I recently read an article on mental toughness from Peyson McElveen, in which he essentially stated if he can make it halfway through (race, workout, interval, fill in the blank....) he can make it through. I've sort of adopted that as my mantra. If I can make it halfway through.... I can make it.

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: Three tips for riders on race day?

JG: 1-It’s a long day, race within yourself, pace your self, and be safe. 2-Eat and drink even if you do not feel or want to eat. 3-Enjoy and embrace the highs and lows during the day, you will experience all emotions.

LA: 1-Disable auto-pause on your bike computer, just let the clock roll!. 2-Eat: think of it like an eating contest on your bike. All day long. Even when you don't want to, all day, keep stuffing your face, eat. 3-Keep moving forward. All the time. No sitting, no hanging out at aid stations, move. There are time cut-off's, and they are fairly aggressive. They have to be for safety reasons, they don't want to be searching for you in the mountains in the dark. So if you want to stay in the race, you have to be ahead of the clock. Don't take any time for granted.

We want to wish James and Lee good luck and an amazing day at Leadville! Lee is riding the Cantu M730 (27.5) MTB Wheels and James will be riding the Cantu M930 (29) MTB Wheels. Hand built and lightweight performance for the climbs and durability for the descent. A course like the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race will be sure to put these wheels to the test. Let’s cheer them on. Go get ‘em guys!

Athlete Spotlight: Angela Man - Team USA/Zoot and Shama Cycles

We welcomed Angela on as a Cantu Ambassador as she set off for ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Brisbane, Australia this past September. Recently she traveled to Miami Man earning a National Championship jersey in her age group and 2nd in the Aquathlon National Championship. We enjoy watching her focus and strength coupled with her positive attitude in all regards of any discipline she decides to conquer. Angela is on a mission to accomplish her goals and earn her pro card. A great athlete to know and support, her journey continues to inspire. Let’s dive in!

Angela Man
Houston, TX
Teams: Team Zoot (Tri), Team USA (Tri), Shama Cycles (Road)
Racing Age: 30
Category: 3 Road
Years of Racing: 4
Wheels: Cantu R5C front + Cantu 88C rear

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]: Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and your athletic background?

Angela Man [AM]: I was born and raised here in Houston, although I did spend a few years in Toronto, Canada where my aunt and grandparents raised me. They knew me well before I did. They nurtured my love of the outdoors and knew I needed to be active. They'd take me to parks and not yell at me for climbing trees or rolling down grassy hills in a dress.

I grew up a runner and burned myself out after 4 years of Junior Olympics Track and Field. I later picked up basketball, football, and soccer.

CW: What do you enjoy about triathlons and bike racing?

AM: Nothing! Why am I doing this? Haha

The cycling and tri communities have been unlike any other sport community I've been around. They've taken caring and sportsmanship to another level. It's a family on wheels.

I enjoy the individual aspect of triathlon, where your own hard work and determination gets to be displayed but you also get to share the experience and course with others. I've always been a team player, so with cycling, being able to use my strengths and sacrifice myself for a friend or teammate is preferred. I don't like being in the limelight anyways.

Enjoying a mid-ride photo opt with friends.

CW: In training, what has been your biggest challenge?

AM: Learning how to really hurt. I've always been hesitant to give it everything because I'm trying to save something for the end or for the run. Every time I think I've pushed hard, I find out I have way more left in the tank. This was the main reason why I switched from long course to short course this year. I want to learn how to really hurt, to sit in that pain box for a long time, and to be able to drain the tank completely before crossing the finish line.

CW: How do you choose your races?

AM: I used to choose my races by proximity or whatever was offered nearby, but as I progressed as an athlete, I started targeting races that'll allow me to test my abilities against the best in the nation or world. 2017 was the first season where I specifically chose races where I could earn money and return home with a profit. This sport isn't cheap! Any extra cash is appreciated.

CW: What is one of your most challenging races to date?

AM: 2016 ITU Long Course World Championships. I had my entire season focused on this race to become a world champion. The course and weather conditions played perfectly to my strength. Everything was going to plan and I had worked my way up to the front before a sharp pain popped up in my right foot and got progressively worse as the race continued. I could barely pedal or walk. It was a very tough decision to make at the first medical tent where the doctors advised me to end my race. I knew I could push through the pain, finish, and still be in contention, but at what cost? It's hard to give up a goal that you've worked so hard for, especially on a day where it suits your strengths perfectly. It took a while to get over that one.

CW: How do you stay motivated?

AM: I'm huge on growth. I always want to be better than I was yesterday in and out of the sport. More patient, kinder, humbler, wiser, stronger. I've always been very driven as a kid and adding that quality to a vivid dreamer, there's lots of crazy goals and standards to meet.

CW: Any other hobbies outside of tris and bike racing?

AM: I love to camp, hike, rock climb, and go on outdoor adventures. It nurtures my soul. If I can't be outdoors, then you can find me solving crossword puzzles or sticking my nose in a book.

CW: Any fun pre-race rituals?

AM: I drink coffee! And have a jam session while eating breakfast.

CW: What are you looking forward to in the next year?

AM: Traveling! I'll be traveling out of state to bigger races next year to try to earn my pro card and some money! (or break even :P).

A moment on the beach in Brisbane, Australia for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final.

CW: Favorite song, artist or playlist to train or warm up to?

AM: I'm not too picky on music. Anything with a sick beat pumps me up.

CW: Where is your happy place?

AM: Riding, running, or hiking through a forest up a mountain with a nearby waterfall or babbling brook.

CW: What is off-season like?

AM: I wouldn't know. I haven't had a true off-season in a while. This time around, I plan on taking a few weeks off of any structured training and go rock climbing, camping, hiking, and mountain biking. Things I couldn't do during race season to avoid any injuries or because I needed rest and recovery. It'll be nice to rejuvenate the mind before starting the grind back up to prepare for 2019.

CW: Best advice you've been given?

AM: Enjoy all the achievements and wins along the way, even if the performance wasn't up to my standards. When you have big goals, it's easy to forget to celebrate the little victories too. Soak in the rewards of the hard work, so the passion and love for the sport can continue to grow.

CW: How has the journey been chasing your pro card?

AM: Ridiculously tough and heartbreaking at times, but I wouldn't trade these last few years for anything. All the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears have been worth it. I've grown tremendously as a person and an athlete, and this lifestyle is creating the best version of me.

You can follow more adventures of Angela on Instragram.

Cantu Wheels welcomes two Missouri riders onto the Cantu Gravel Ambassadorship

It never ceases to amaze us. There are some awesome people in the gravel world. We want to welcome aboard Don Buttram and Jim Phillips as Cantu Gravel Ambassadors. Much like our other gravel ambassadors, these guys have a knack for crushing gravel and bringing out the smiles, even on the toughest rides. Well known in the gravel community and both getting ready for their upcoming event, DKXL. Two of the 34-riders invited to take on the new 350-mile challenge created by the Dirty Kanza promoters. Don will be riding the Cantu Rebel wheels. Jim will be on the Cantu Rova wheels. We are honored to have them on board and look forward to their adventure at DKXL. Get to know a little bit about them below.

Don looking strong at the front of the pack at Gravel Worlds photo:  Gravel Guru

Don looking strong at the front of the pack at Gravel Worlds photo:  Gravel Guru

Don Buttram

Hometown: Lebanon, Missouri
Day Job:  Process Engineer / Project Manager
Bucket list Gravel Events and why?: Belgian Waffle Ride: Because it Looks Brutal! :-)
Top Race Results/Resume: 016 TransIowa Finisher / 5 Time DK200 Finisher / 5 Time Leadville Trail 100 MTB Finisher (Sub 9 hr Finish in 2017-Big Buckle) / Time Gravel Worlds Finisher
Upcoming Races: Bantam Classic (Petaluma CA) / Hairy Hundred (olumbia MO) / DKXL (Emporia KS) / Gravel Worlds (Lincoln NE)
Gravel Bike Setup: 017 Salsa WarBird

Jim looking chill and relaxed at Gravel Worlds photo:  Gravel Guru

Jim looking chill and relaxed at Gravel Worlds photo:  Gravel Guru

Jim Phillips

Hometown:  Springfield, Missouri
Day Job:   Legal Assistant
Bucket list Gravel Events and why?:  All of them.  I love riding new roads and having new experiences.
Top Race Results/Resume:   Placement is never my first goal.  I like to have fun and I like to finish.  When I finish I’m happy and when I don’t I’m sad.  
Upcoming Races:    DKXL, Gravel Worlds, Santa Fe Trail Race
Gravel Bike Setup:   Lauf True Grit Race


Give these guys a follow!
Jim's Instagram
Don's Instagram

Two new riders join the Cantu Gravel Ambassador Crew

We're excited to welcome aboard Thomas Adams and Gabbi Shelton as Cantu Gravel Ambassadors. Our gravel ambassador program is designed to support the working athlete who is enthusiastic and engaged within their cycling community, and have a great sense of adventure on two wheels.  We met Thomas and Gabbi first at Gravel Worlds in 2016 and quickly took note of their raw passion for gravel riding. Their excitement for the sport is contagious on and off the bike. On top of that, they leave everything they have out on the course when it comes to gravel events such as the Dirty Kanza, Land Run, and Gravel Worlds. We can't wait to see what adventures they take on the Cantu Gravel Wheels, the Rebel and the Rova. Representing the Mid-South gravel region out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, home to the Land Run 100, there is no doubt they will put our wheels to the the test in both training and racing. Get to know a little about them below:

2017 Gravel Worlds. photo:  Gravel Guru

Thomas Adams

Hometown:  Stillwater, Oklahoma

Day Job:  Product Manager with J.B. Camera Designs

Bucket List Gravel Events:   I would love to make it over to Reba's Private Idaho. I'm really interested in a Gravel Stage Race/Event, and plus it's Reba and in the mountains of Idaho. It just sounds like a weekend full of adventure, and I think somewhere during day 2 you really get down to what gravel is: finding out what you're made of.   

Upcoming Races:  This weekend! I'll be at the Epic 150 again. After that, I'll be racing the DK hoping to defend my 2nd place spot.. but always looking for more. We'll race Gravel Worlds in August, and maybe a hand full of smaller races that are closer.

Race Results:  
2015/16 Land Run 100 - 3rd SS on a fixed gear bicycle
2016 The Epic 150 - 3rd SS
2017 Maisie's Pride - 1st SS
2017 Dirty Kanza - 2nd SS & completing my comeback to gravel. It had all built up to that event. 

Bike Setup:  I ride a custom, hand built frame made by Scissortail Cycles in Norman, OK. 
TRP drillium SS levers/TRP HY/RD callipers
Frame is not SS specific, and can run gears.. but currently training at 44/17-19T
Thompson stem/ setback seat post. TRP Carbon Cross/Gravel fork
Tires: Bontrager LT2 Team issue- super flat resistant, and have made a thousand miles way easier with little maintenance. 
Wheels: CANTU ROVA baby!!! 

Thomas's Scissortail Cycles hand built frame sporting the hand built Cantu Rova wheelset.

Gravel Worlds 2017. photo:   Gravel Guru

Gravel Worlds 2017. photo:  Gravel Guru

Gabbi Shelton

Hometown:  Stillwater, Oklahoma

Day Job:  Stillwater Summit Co. - local gear shop

Bucket List Gravel Events:  Tour Divide, Grinduro, Rebecca’s Private Idaho stage race, TransIowa... there are so many bucket-list worthy gravel events nowadays.

Upcoming Races:  The Epic, The Dirty Kanza XL, Gravel Worlds

Race Results:  
2016  Land Run - 1st Women SS
2016 Gravel Worlds - 1st Women SS

2017 Barry-Roubaix - 3rd Women SS
2017 The Dirty Kanza 200 - 1st Women SS

2018 Land Run 100 - 2nd Women SS

Bike Setup:  All-City Cosmic Stallion w/ Cantu Rebels set up single speed with a Phil Wood eccentric bottom bracket. 

2018 Land Run 100. photo:   Gravel Guru

2018 Land Run 100. photo:  Gravel Guru

Give these guys a follow!
Gabbi's Instagram
Thomas's Instagram
We're fortunate to have them on board and we're looking forward to their experience our the Cantu Rebel and Rova! #UCantu #CantuAttitude

Adam Blake from Gravel City Adventure & Supply Co. - Emporia, Kansas


This week we take you Kansas! In the land of the Flint Hills nestles the Gravel City of Emporia, home to the Dirty Kanza. With off-road adventures abound there is no place like Gravel City Adventure and Supply Company to well equip you for your next ride or race, but more than just that, they take pride in creating a community. 

We had the pleasure of interviewing Co-owner of Gravel City Adventure and Supply Co., Adam Blake. After meeting Adam at last year's Dirty Kanza his energy and passion for the cycling community was contagious. We clicked from then on and we're proud to have Gravel City Adventure & Supply Co. as a partner and our 2017 Dealer of the Year.  Without further ado, let's dive in!

Presenting Dealer of the year award.  John Wilmeth (left) and Adam Blake (right)

Presenting Dealer of the year award.  John Wilmeth (left) and Adam Blake (right)

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]:  Tell us about how Gravel City Adventure and Supply Co. started?

Adam Blake [AB]:   Gravel City started as a way to support the sponsors of Dirty Kanza. They gave to us and we wanted to give back by stocking and selling their products. That was in a pop up store behind DK promotions. Quickly, with the addition of bikes, we outgrew our space and had to move into the current location. We expanded our offerings and created a true Gravel shop with full service on all makes and models of bikes. 


CW:  The cycling community is strong in Emporia for many reasons. What does building a community mean to you?

AB:  Community is a primary focus for us. "Building community one adventure at a time," is our motto and we strongly believe in that. Building that community takes many forms and doesn’t just mean selling bikes. It means putting on socials, hosting clinics, expanding the customers usages for their bike, whether bike packing, gravel riding, commuting, or trail riding. Building a strong cycling community of all age and skill levels solidifies Emporia as a destination for people to come enjoy and experience.

CW:  What do you enjoy about helping people find the right bike and equipment for their needs?

AB:  It's all about finding the right value for people.  I love when someone can come in and test ride bikes and dedicate some time to their search for “the right bike”. We believe we carry the right bikes for success in our niche and the right accessories to make your ride more enjoyable. Ultimately, I try and listen more than talk and act as a personal guide for all things gravel and cycling in general. The connection you make when you spend the appropriate amount of time with someone is invaluable. Making friends and bolstering the cycling community is where it's at!

CW:  Tell us about your first gravel experience?

AB:  Well I grew up in small town Iowa, so gravel was all around, but my first real gravel experiences, at least at longer distances, came from the Cup O’ Dirt.  It is a challenge that encourages riders to participate in 100k and 100 mile gravel or off-road rides in search of the elusive (literal) Cup O’ Dirt.

Adam blake (far right) enjoying off-road adventures with friends. photo:  Scott o'mara

CW:  If you could take a 2-week long bikepacking trip anywhere, where would it be and why?

AB:  Man taking two weeks off seems like a dream!  I’d really like to explore Iceland.  The topography and scenery seem like ones that were made up in a fairy tale.

CW:  What big events are you looking forward to this year?

AB:  First and foremost I’m looking forward to Dirty Kanza- "The World's Premier Gravel Grinder".  The DK really brings our community together.  People from far away and locally here in Emporia all banding together to cheer on riders and embrace gravel… there’s nothing like it.  Beyond that I’m not personally participating in anything big, but I love to follow the dots on the Tour Divide.  We have a few customers tackling that beast this year and it will be great to support them from afar. Bobby Thompson, one of our shop mechanics, is an avid gravel rider and will be riding in gravel events throughout the year.

Dirty Kanza week

Dirty Kanza week

CW:  Favorite part of Dirty Kanza week?

AB:  Just being in the shop, wrenching and selling.  So much excitement and so much energy flows through our shop that weekend. They are long days, but the interactions we have with people (and coffee) keep us going.  Making friends, telling tall tales, and watching the finish line as personal goals are accomplished…awesome.

CW:  Where is your happy place?

AB:  HA, I just answered this question to myself a few weeks ago out loud.  It's DEFINITELY around a fire, with friends and my fiancé, maybe a root beer, eating dehydrated food from a bag.  Can’t beat it.

photo:  Scott o'mara

CW:  What has been your biggest bike adventure to date?

AB:  On the bike, my best and biggest adventures have been centered around 3 day tours.  Up to Chequamegon [Wisconsin] or here locally.  With driving they take up about 5 days and usually that's about all I can manage to get out of the shop for.  They’re not too daunting and nothing major, but fun and refreshing.

Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival - Cable, Wisconsin  photo:  Scott o'mara

CW:  What advice do you have for a someone who is interested in looking to start riding gravel or bikepacking?

AB:  Visit your local bike shop.  Try bikes out- you should be allowed to test ride (and for a little while).  Try to focus on features that stick out to you and seem to resonate.  Bikes are very feature packed, but if it isn’t something you’d use then it loses its value.  As far as bags go: look for rental bags, we rent handlebar rolls and seatbags as well as some other camping equipment.  Find a friend and go on an overnighter, somewhere close… try it out!

Salsa Warbird featuring the Cantu Rebel as part of the GC Signature Series.

For more information checkout the Gravel City Adventure & Supply Co. website. Be sure to follow Gravel City Adventure & Supply company on Facebook and Instagram

Featured Interview with Kelly Barrientes, Team Manager of Wolfpack p/b Hyperthreads

Wolfpack p/b hyperthreads Photo credit:   Michael Johnson

Wolfpack p/b hyperthreads Photo credit:  Michael Johnson

If you live in the Austin area or have traveled to a recent Spring Classic race in Texas, there's a good chance you've come across these fast racers in green and black aka the women of Wolfpack. They have kicked off road season with a bang, recently stepping up to multiple podiums in the Pace Bend and Lago Vista road races. What also makes us proud as sponsors is what they continue to do for women's cycling. Created in the Fall of 2014, Wolfpack has developed into a solid 8 women elite squad and 10 women club team out of Austin, Texas. Giving back to the sport, this team sets a great example for any women looking to get into cycling or starting a team. We interview Wolfpack Team Manager, Kelly Barrientes to learn more on what Wolfpack is all about.

kelly Barrientes, wolfpack team manager Photo credit:  Michael Johnson

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]:  Kelly, thank you for taking the time for this interview. To begin, what sort of sporting background did you have growing up?

Kelly Barrientes [KB]:  I was a jack of all trades and a master of none! I loved competing, and was lucky to go to a very small school where I could be involved in any sport I wanted. I ran track (very slowly), played basketball, ran cross country, and played volleyball. 

CW: When did you take up cycling and what got you into it?

KB:  I was an aerobics coordinator for LA Fitness and my cycle instructor quit and I had to start teaching the class. I had only taken one cycling class in my life and had HATED it. The teacher was playing show tunes and it was torture. Once I started teaching the class, I fell in love. About a year later one of my friends told me to quit being a poser and ride out on the road. One Sunday we went on a 20 mile ride and the next day I bought my first road bike. Three months later I started racing!

CW:  When and how did the team Athlete Architecture/Wolfpack get its start?

KB:  I had been on a women’s only team based in Ft. Worth that was going to merge with a men’s team. I was living in Austin and felt very strongly that I wanted to be part of a women’s only team, so I called up my coach (Chris Toriggino with Athlete Architecture) and asked him if I could start my own team and wear his kit. It was super late to start a team (November 2014), but I managed to convince the girls to join me on this new adventure and never looked back!

CW:  What does the roll team manager entail? What do you enjoy about the team dynamics?

KB:  I’m basically the team mom! I handle securing sponsorships and maintaining sponsor relations, team finances, selecting team members, coordinating our major races outside of Texas, support at races, basically doing what I can to make the girls lives easier so they have the freedom to train, show up, and crush at races! I couldn’t be happier with the group I have. The girls work so incredibly well together. It’s a well oiled machine. I’ve been lucky to have kept the same girls I started with and have hand picked the ones I’ve added over the years with a focus on personality and how they would gel with the other teammates. I genuinely love each and every girl on this team, and it makes my job so much easier!

CW:  What are some challenges you’ve come across when creating a team?

KB:  I would say the biggest challenge for me is finding time to do it all. I’m a mom of two boys, a wife, and work a full time job, so finding time to manage the team and make it look relatively easy has required many late nights and lots of tears lol. My poor husband. I’m also actually super introverted and tend to stay very much to myself. It has been very difficult at times to open myself up and assume that PR role that being a manager entails. I have grown immensely the past year and couldn’t/wouldn’t do it if it weren’t for the support of my family and the girls.

CW:  What inspires you throughout the journey as a team manager?

KB:  Seeing the girls race together is such an inspiration. I believe in them and know together they can accomplish anything. There is nothing like seeing them kitted up, rocking the wolf logo, knowing they believe in this dream of mine as much as I do.

CW:  We’re extremely impressed by the commitment of each rider on the team. Tell us a little bit of about how your riders are able to balance a work and racing schedule.

KB:  These girls are amazing. They will get up at 5 in the morning to train for a few hours before heading off to their jobs or school. A lot of times they’ll incorporate their commute into their training plan. They’ve been super motivated this season, in part due to the USA Crits series the team is involved in.

CW:  Can you give us a quick overview on some of the big races you’ll be traveling to this year?

KB:  So many exciting things are in store! One of the biggest races on our schedule is Joe Martin Stage Race in April. This is a UCI race, so many of the pro teams will be battling it out on the hills in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We are also going to be one of the 10 D1 teams to race in the USA Crits Series.

CW:  Congratulations on being a part of USA Crits! Can you tell us more about the series and #racefororange?

KB:  Thank you!!! We are so excited about being a part of this incredible program. We will be one of 10 “D1” teams participating in this series. This is USA Crits 11th year and what they do is kind of piggy back on to some very well established criterium races all over the country, such as Athens Twilight, Oklahoma City Pro Am, and Gateway Cup. We will be competing against 9 other teams for a part of the $50,000 purse for the women alone. What sets this series apart is the ability for our friends, family and supporters to watch us via live stream for each of these races. Look for the link to subscribe so you can watch us toe the line and compete for the leader’s jersey!

CW:  What are some team goals you have this year that you can share?

KB:  Mainly to continue to gel and show our competitors we aren’t here to just show up, we’re here to race. 

CW:  Off the bike, your team gives back to the cycling community through hosting bike maintenance and racer clinics to rides. Tell us more about that and how important it is.

KB:  We have been super lucky to have partnered with Bicycle Sport Shop here in Austin for this season. They are well known for their support of the Austin cycling community and especially for women cyclists. I remember when I first started riding I was completely clueless about how to take care of my bike, what to do when I got a flat, how to ride, how to race. It was overwhelming, and had I not had a few great friends to guide me along the way (and a stubborn ‘I can do anything’ attitude) I would have been lost in the shuffle and my bike would have collected dust in my garage. It’s very much a male dominated sport. A lot of times women racers can appear unapproachable to beginner female cyclists. What I have loved about hosting these clinics with Bicycle Sport Shop is:
They have locations all over Austin. We aren’t just limited to women in the downtown area! We can reach those who live north of Mopac and 183, and even in the suburbs of Cedar Park, Round Rock, and Leander!
We all have things to learn. After racing and riding for 8 years, I have learned something new at every maintenance/race clinic we’ve held.
This whole process has been so empowering to these women. I have received many messages from the participants saying how much more comfortable they feel taking care of their bike and how motivated they are to ride harder, ride longer, and ride smarter.

CW:  Where do you want to see women's cycling progress a year from now?

KB:  My dream is to have at least twice as many women out there riding their bikes! I would LOVE to see more women “opt outside”, more women’s events, more competitive women’s only teams. I get so excited when I see these women’s teams popping up on the scene. 

CW:  What has been the best advice you’ve been given?

KB:  “Walk as if.” If you want something, assume it’s yours and claim it. 

CW:  If someone was interested in starting a team, what are some important factors to take into consideration?

KB:  Personalities are number one. Having people that you could ride with for 100 miles and still want to hang out with for some grub afterwards is key. Also, set a precedence for your team. A lot of racers out there have the mentality of “what can you give me?” Turn that around and have the racers focus on how they can give back to their sponsors. We wouldn’t be where we are without their support.

CW:  Where can people follow you and the team?
Watch us race at
Follow us on Facebook at
Instagram @teamwolfpackracing
Twitter @atxwolfpack
Website (coming soon!!!)

Thank you for your time! We look forward to cheering you on and wish you and the team the best of luck this season!

Photo credit:  Michael Johnson

Bike Feature: All-City Cosmic Stallion + the Cantu Riot 650b Gravel Wheels

Dubbed the "The Gravel / All-Road / Endurance thoroughbred!" by All City Cycles this Cosmic Stallion built from the ground up by Gary Rogers from Race Ready Repair Bike Shop is one for endless adventure through many varying terrains. Sporting classic details with golden touches, and equipped to handle big gravel grinders, such as the Dirty Kanza to your road races. All City has worked to check off all the boxes to achieving their "all-road riding and racing" steel frame design. From riding events such as the Land Run 100 to the Texas Gran Gravel 500, Gary has experienced the roughest conditions and uses both his experiences and expertise to help riders build a solid forever bike!

Full Build Specs:
Frame /Fork:    All City Cosmic Stallion steel ACE Tubing/Whisky  Fork
Headset:    Cane Creek  40series
Stem:       Thomson X2
Handlebar:    Easton AX EC70
Bar Tape:    All City Gel
Brakes:        TRP Spyre SLC
Rotors:        Avid XX
Shifters:        Rival 1
Rear Derailleur:  Rival 1
Cassette:     Sunrace 11-40
Chain:         YBN Gold 11spd
Crankset:    Easton EC90 1x with 44t
BB:        Easton external cup
Bottle cages:     Carbon Whisky
Wheelset:  Cantu Riot 650b Gravel Wheel
Tires:  Panaracer GravelKing 27.5×1.90 (650B×48)

Athlete Spotlight: Brent Turner of the Cantu Cycling Wheels CX Team

This week we talk with our cyclocross teammate, Brent Turner (BT), a true all season racer in the Texas Bike Racing scene. With Cyclocross Nationals in sight this coming January, he continues to dominate the Master's 40+ 1/2/3 races, plus race a second race with the Men's P123. That's four races in one weekend also known as the BT Special. The results speak for themselves. This season you can find him on the weekends crushing a cyclocross course on his Cantu Wheels (look for the red helmet). 

Brent Turner
Cantu Cycling Wheels (CX), Bike Barn (Road)
Racing Age:  45
Category:  1 Cyclocross, 1 Road
Residence:  Beaumont, Texas
Years of Racing:  30
Race Wheels:  Cantu CX Disc Brake Series (CX), Cantu Rebels (Gravel)

Cantu Wheels [CW]:  Take us back to your childhood, where you grew up, and athletic background.

Brent Turner [BT]:  Well, I grew up in Inez, Texas. Needless to say it was in the country. So hunting, fishing, and messing with horses and livestock was a part of daily life.  I went to a small school where all the boys played football, so I did too.  Eventually, I moved away Victoria and Levelland, continued playing football.  At some point the team was in trouble for some prank or something someone did and the coaches had us running as punishment. I decided that day, that was my last year to play football.  Besides, I was only 110 lbs in high school.

CW:  What inspired you to start bike racing?

BT:  About the time I decided to quit playing high school football, my mom saw in the Lubbock newspaper that there was a century (100 Mile) ride coming up in 2 weeks on September 8, 1988.  So the weekend before we drug out two old Raleigh bikes and went for a 40 mile ride.  I thought I was going to die.  I didn’t touch the bike all the following week.  The day of the century we showed up and started the ride.  I did 85 miles of the 100 miles and my mom did the whole thing.  A couple months later I did my first race.  It was a stage race.  I knew nothing about racing, but I survived.  I even won the TT for the juniors.  LOL

CW:  Any favorite pastimes and hobbies outside of cycling?  

BT:  Well, I like staying busy, so other hobbies include working on things, mowing the yard, or something along those lines.  Keeping up bike maintenance is thrown in there too.  In the past I did a lot of off-roading in Jeeps and buggies. I also play some on the guitar and dabbled in golf.


CW:  What do you enjoy most about the Texas bike racing scene?

BT:  I like the Texas classic road races.  Lago and Pace Bend to be on top of that list.

CW:  Favorite cycling discipline(s) and why?  

BT:  My favorite discipline hands down is cross. This discipline has grown so much over the years.  I looked back to the 90’s when there was only handful of races to what it is today. Today, there is non stop racing every weekend for 3-4 month in the fall.  Each race is normally friendly for spectators and supporting your team and others.  The camaraderie at a weekend is great.  I have met so many friends through cross, and I look forward to seeing them the following weekend.  


CW:  Can you give us a recap of one of your most memorable races?  

BT:  Couple years back I was in a four man break with one teammate.  We came to a four up sprint and everyone was watching my teammate when I launched my sprint for the line.  I clearly won the sprint.  When I came to a stop I noticed I had won the sprint on a front flat. 

2017 Training camp with bike barn

2017 Training camp with bike barn

CW:  Top 3 favorite races on the TXBRA calendar?

BT:  Only three, that is tough.  1) Lago Vista 2) Pace Bend 3) Georgetown Cross Race

CW:  How do you stay motivated throughout the year?  

BT:  I change up my disciplines to keep myself motivated.  If I start to get tired of training, I go race, and get re-energized.  Throw in some running and going to ride different terrains.

2016 Men's Open Texas Gravel State Championship

2016 Men's Open Texas Gravel State Championship

CW:  What has been the highlight of this year so far?  

BT:  I would say winning the Houston Grand this year was a nice highlight for the year.  I also managed to win my first cyclocross race this year, thanks to some help of John Wilmeth.  Since then I went on to win four more.

Taking the top step at the 2017 Houston Grand Crit.

Taking the top step at the 2017 Houston Grand Crit.

CW:  Best bike setup you've ever ridden?

BT:  I have ridden a bunch of bikes over thirty years of racing.  My favorite road bike is my Trek Emonda SLR10.  For cross it the Trek Boone.

CW:  What events or races are you most looking forward to in 2018?  

BT:  Cross Nats in Reno, plus a few of my local state favorites coming up in the next 6 months.  Looking forward to doing some gravel grinding too in 2018.

CW:  One piece of advice you would give to an up and coming cyclist?  

BT:  Be patient and stick with it.  It takes time to build up. 

Getting the win in the Masters 40+ at the 2017 Georgetown cx festival.

Getting the win in the Masters 40+ at the 2017 Georgetown cx festival.

CW:  Do you have any fun pre-race rituals?  

BT:  Not really.  I just like to get to races early enough to relax some before go time.

CW:  Favorite pre or post race meal/beverage?

BT:  Pre is normally waffle, eggs, yogurt and coffee.  Post is normally whatever I can find mixed with a beer.

CW:  What is something “If you would’ve known then what you know now?”  

BT:  I think I might have gotten a coach sooner in life to help balance my training in the early years.  I did a lot of over training that left me tired early on and or unprepared for what I was about to do.

CW:  If you weren't bike racing what would you be doing?

BT:  I would probably go back to doing some trail running.

Getting ready for the off camber descents of mt. krumpit at the 2017 UCI Jingle Cross cyclocross festival in iowa city.

Getting ready for the off camber descents of mt. krumpit at the 2017 UCI Jingle Cross cyclocross festival in iowa city.

CW:  Favorite songs or playlist to listen to while training or warming up?

BT:  Normally, it is some old country. 

CW:  When you think of a happy place, where is that?  

BT:  Out on a road ride, the sun is out, pace is comfortable, and the temperature is spot on.  Perfect.

Athlete Spotlight: Craig Schmidt of the Pirate Cycling League

Photo Credit:  Steve Fuller

Photo Credit:  Steve Fuller

This week we talked with our gravel ambassador and one of the masterminds behind Gravel Worlds, Craig Schmidt. Representing the Pirate Cycling League, Craig has set sail to many of the gravel roads around Lincoln, Nebraska. Surrounded by a great community, Craig continues to be involved growing the grassroots culture of gravel in Lincoln.

Cantu Wheels [CW]:  Your passion for dirt and gravel, where did it all start?

Craig Schmidt [CS]:  My passion for bikes started very early as a child, it was the perfect way to escape and explore. I cut my teeth as an adult racing road bikes. After a lot of years racing road bikes in the Midwest, I needed something else and that is how I found dirt, gravel, mtb racing, cross racing. I also love and enjoy designing single track , mtb courses, cross courses and gravel courses.

CW:  What do you take into consideration when creating a course such as Gravel Worlds, any features/areas you will use from past years or can disclose?

CS:  I always like to think about the gravel worlds course as a painting. What do I want people to see and experience. Small towns are special to us, I make it a point to take people through small towns. I want people to see barns, livestock, farms, dirt roads, abandoned buildings, crops, grasslands, creeks, ponds, and lakes. I want people to meet and experience some of the locals out on course that open up their properties for the event. I could go on, but you get the idea, it's special to us.

a course in the making around the gravel grids of Lincoln and surrounding small towns. photo credit: Craig schmidt

a course in the making around the gravel grids of Lincoln and surrounding small towns. photo credit: Craig schmidt

countryside views near lincoln

CW:  What is it about Lincoln, Nebraska and the gravel community that appeal to you?

CS:  Lincoln has such a great cycling scene. It is very easy to get around Lincoln on a bike. It is also very easy to get out of Lincoln via bike to all the amazing gravel we have surrounding us.

CW:  How and when did Gravel Worlds begin?

CS:  Gravel Worlds officially got it's name 8 years ago over some pizza and beers, the ride had been going for 2 years prior and was named 'The Good Life Gravel Adventure'. After our second helping of pizza and beer someone said , "Hey, why don't we call it Gravel Worlds, no one has claimed it yet!!". The rest is history.

   throwback to the 2009 Good life gravel adventure photo credit: Pirate cycling League


throwback to the 2009 Good life gravel adventure photo credit: Pirate cycling League

2010, the inaugural Year for gravel worlds

2010, the inaugural Year for gravel worlds

in some years of the event, scratch off tickets or powerball tickets were used to verify you stopped at certain checkpoints.

CW:  Is there anything different this year you guys will do than in years past?

CS:  This year's Gravel Worlds will have much of the same flavor as past gravel worlds, oasis's, checkpoints, small towns, dirt roads, gravel, and some pavement. We always change the design of the Tshirts/posters each year, this year's is pretty cool. We are happy to have Schilling Bridge providing great food and great beer at the finish line.

This year's screen printed posters

This year's screen printed posters

The official gravel worlds beer made by Schilling Bridge winery & microbrewery.

The official gravel worlds beer made by Schilling Bridge winery & microbrewery.

CW:  It’s the day of Gravel Worlds, what are favorite moments you look forward to?

CS:  I look forward to talking to everyone, people I haven't seen since last year or the last gravel event. I want to shake hands, high five, and I might even hug you (it's because of all of you that I am starting to slowly enjoy hugs). Gravel riding and racing is one big family and I am happy to be a part of it.

CW:  Three tips you have for first-timers at Gravel Worlds?

CS:  Be prepared for it to be possibly hot, it's the Midwest and it's August. So make sure you have the means to keep yourself hydrated between towns and checkpoints. Test your equipment beforehand and make sure you have it all dialed in the week of the event. I am not a fan of last minute changes. Have fun, get with a good crew of people and enjoy the day, you are with your gravel family.

rolling hills surrounding Lincoln photo credit: Craig schmidt

 photo credit:  rob Evans

Craig's gravel rig with cantu rebel wheels

Craig's gravel rig with cantu rebel wheels

CW:  Describe your perfect Saturday?

CS:  My perfect Saturday.....sleeping in just a little bit, turning on the local radio station or spinning some vinyl (various records of Craig's collection below), eating pancakes and drinking a coffee, then of course, going on a ride.

CW:  Stay on course or get lost?

CS:  I prefer a little of both, I have routes or ideas of where I want to ride, but there is also that time when I think "have I ridden that road yet?". I don't like to use Garmin's or any navigation, so it's usually by feel and local knowledge.

CW:  Favorite season to ride gravel?

CS:  I don't really have a favorite season to ride gravel, fall is pretty and the temps are tolerable, so maybe I'd lean towards fall. I ride gravel all year round though.

a typical snowscaped January in Nebraska

CW:  Best swag ever acquired at a bike race/event?

CS:  I once attended a cross race at a farm. You had to bring a white elephant prize for your entry. I saw a small shark in a bottle on the prize table. I made sure I won so I could pick first. That shark is pretty special to me, eventually I plan on giving it to my nephew as he has had is eye on it since he could stand and reach for it.


You can find more information about the Pirate Cycling League here and check out the Gravel World's website. We are headed to Gravel Worlds Expo/Event August 18 and 19th, be sure to follow our adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

The 2017 Dirty Kanza 200

This past June, I completed my first Dirty Kanza 200, riding a custom set of Cantu Wheels built by my husband John and my trusty steel frame bike "Bumblebee" built by our friend, Hans Schneider. Here is my story...

riding through the jagged, sharp gravel of the flint hills. Photo:  matt Fowler/Gravel guru

**Article by Venny Wilmeth, first published in the Texas Racing Post. Video and Newspaper Article to follow.

The wonder and reward of the Dirty Kanza belongs to anyone who goes looking for it. Somewhere between a bustling start and the finish of a 200 mile race, limits are either made or broken. The Dirty Kanza is just as much a personal conquest as it is the Super Bowl of gravel events.

I first caught the gravel bug at Gravel Worlds in August of 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. 150 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. There was a buzz in the air about the Dirty Kanza. 200 miles? I’m good. Who is crazy enough to ride 200 miles? I can’t ride 200 miles.

I laugh because five months later I proved myself wrong and signed up in January. There came the nerves clicking the ‘Register’ button. Luckily no hesitation because it sold out in less than an hour. One click and my journey to Kanza had begun. My husband was not so lucky. His category sold out within 13 minutes! He would settle for next year and be my one man support crew for this year’s journey.

The Dirty Kanza (DK200) celebrated its 12th anniversary and has grown to more than 2,000 participants. The town of Emporia, Kansas becomes a holy grail for any gravel rider. This is what happens when a the community is engaged and involved. The entire experience is not possible without them and it’s one of the reasons, if not the main one, why people come back for more.

The Dirty Kanza 200 is 206 mile course with roughly 9,000 feet of climbing. You are self-supported and self-navigated riding through remote and rugged regions given any weather conditions. No support is allowed along the course. There are three check-points where you can refuel and replenish with your support crew.

12 weeks of training, lots of mental preparation, hundreds of solo miles ridden (what I call character building miles), many miles with friends, and dozens of articles and videos later. The big day had finally arrived.

My first goal was to finish. I thought 16 hours was good, well safe, goal time averaging roughly around 13 mph. A bigger goal was to complete the Race the Sun challenge and finish before the sunset at 8:42 pm.

The start to an amazing day

I can’t think about the start without getting the chills. With a 6 a.m. start, riders start filling Commercial Street beginning at 5 a.m. in the morning. The broadway lights of the Historic Granada Theater serve as a beacon to the start line. We take a moment to celebrate the weather, because shockingly enough rain and thunderstorms had crawled along the forecast up until the day previous. What a break! Dawn is breaking, smiles, and sighs. “5 minutes to the start!” My stomach drops. I feel a sense of accomplishment just getting to this place. The countdown begins 5…4...3…2…1 “Let’s roll!”

This was the first of many cloud nine moments throughout the day. Around 2,200 riders rolled down Commercial Street escorted by police for the neutral start. Friends, family, and locals lined the streets cheering us on as we headed out of town to the gravel roads. The pros were up front leading the pack. I was about 40 seconds back playing it safe, knowing I would have to save my matches for later. The first section of gravel roads were hard packed. Everyone quickly organized themselves into one of the two pace lines that the road allowed room for. Trying to get around riders was tricky with looser gravel surrounding us. I trusted my skills and moved safely up when I had the opportunity.

winding gravel through the flint hills. photo:  Matt fowler/gravel guru

After mile ten I was opened up to a new country, the Flint Hills of Kansas. Open range, rugged, and rolling hills as far as the horizon. At the top of the climbs you could see the most stunning views of the sunrise, hazy blues mixed in with the peachy glows. Pinch me. I couldn’t be mesmerized too long. The Flints Hills is also infamous for flats. Given that the Native Americans used flint rock for arrowheads, one cannot be too zealous bombing down the fast, gnarly descents. I remember our friend saying, “Respect the descents and watch your line.” There were some drop offs where you couldn’t see the steepness of the slope until right before you came upon it. Large sharp edged chunks of rock awaited for you at the top, the bottom, and sometimes in between. At the bottom, several riders would be pulled over fixing flats. Respectfully, I descended.

Around mile 30 we were coming out of the Flint Hills and ranching region to more familiar fast gravel roads. I felt good and eventually joined onto a pace line. We averaged about a 20 mph hot pace into the first checkpoint in Madsion - mile 48. A welcoming crowd awaited us at Madision High School. My husband, John, quickly escorted me to the van to refuel. My face was all covered in dry Kansas dust. I splashed water on myself, drank a can of coconut juice, and restocked rice cakes and gels while John checked my bike and re-lubed my chain. After a quick bite, I was off.

staying hydrated and riding with a good group through the first leg. photo:  matt fowler/Gravel guru

refueling at checkpoint 1 in madison

56 miles to the next check point in Eureka. Three miles after leaving Madision, I feel like I’m missing something. I reach a hand behind and slap my back. Nothing there. “I forgot my CamelBak!” I decided not to turn around and make the best out my two water bottles I had. I start riding with a small group of 4 and the guy up front starts talking about Texaco Hill. He points off to the distance. “See that tiny tower, we’ve got a hard four mile climb ahead of us.” If it was one thing I felt good about, it was climbing. I had trained for this and felt prepared with a 46/36 chainring paired with an 11-28 cassette. I climbed a higher cadence than most and mixed in some out of saddle riding while staying in good rhythm. I survived Texaco Hill with energy to spare. Another tough climb was Teter Hill. It was long and steep, some people had to get off and walk their bike up. Ten miles from the Eureka awaited one last kicker. This one was a rough and steep, two-punch climb. I climbed around the bend and my head tilted up to see the top of another arduous climb. People were hiking their bikes left and right. I could here grunts of determination behind me. The last five feet to the crest, I begin inching my way forward using every part of my body to keep the pedals turning over. A group was cheering us on at the top. Once over the climb I quickly recovered and started tackling down the rollers that lay before me. They were nothing compared to the previous climbs. I soon found myself working in a fast pace line with 6 other friendly faces. We encouraged each other and communicated as we rolled into Eureka. Coming into checkpoint 2 (mile 104) we parted our ways to our support crew. I hoped to see them again.

Leaving the checkpoint, I didn’t forget my CamelBak this time. John helped me replenish with Pedialyte and it worked well. I was never extremely thirsty or hungry. After 104 miles, I was in good shape. Going into the third leg (miles 104-162) I was optimistic at first, but it became a slow drag and my mental energy went south. The third leg has been describe as some of the following descriptions: the dark place, where you’re mentally trying to climb out of the hole, dying a million deaths, and fighting demons. Fortunately, I had that little voice in my head. “Forward progress.” After all it was demoralizing to look down and see my speed under 10 mph. I thought about all my friends and family that were cheering for me back at home. I thought about how my husband was not going to let me quit. We were in this together. Quit wasn’t in our vocabulary for this journey, but it grazed my mind. My hopes to beat the sun were diminishing. “I just want to finish.” There were not many trains or pacelines created. Everyone seemed to be in their own solitary confinement, fighting cramps, overcoming mechanicals, or fixing their fourth flat. It was a long 58 miles.

trying to recover at the last checkpoint in Madison.

I came out of that hole once the town of Madison was in sight. The last and final checkpoint! Recovering from a demoralizing 3rd leg of the course, John looked at me, “You can do this, you can still beat the sun.” I had just under 3.5 hours to cover the last 45 miles, seems reasonable, but after 162 miles anything can happen. I was physically and mentally beat. Then suddenly a spark. Two guys pass me and we start pushing each other. We start working together to stay on pace, a small pain train was then created of 6 riders with one goal in mind, Race the Sun. The uplifting camaraderie of the gravel culture was in full force. It was suspenseful and hurtful, to watch the sun creep closer to the horizon while putting everything I had into each pedal stroke. Our pain train dwindled down to two riders, me and Steve. This was Steve’s fifth Dirty Kanza 200 on a fat bike. This would be his first time to beat the sun. Eight miles out and we’re making good time. Don't flat. Don't flat. Don't flat. Four miles out, the sun is just above the horizon. I was overcome with emotions seeing the town of Emporia.

steve cannon full speed ahead!

“We're going to do this!” I thought. I got goosebumps passing under the iconic I-35 tunnel coming onto the Emporia State University campus. That's when I could hear the loud speakers and crowd from downtown. I forgot about the pain, I was on cloud nine once again. One more hill then we winded through campus. The main street of Emporia was electric in the air. We approached the finishing chute down Commercial Street, lined with family, friends, and the fans roaring with pride, cowbells and high fives left and right. That feeling I will never forget. We beat the sun. I gave my husband a big dirty hug after crossing the finish line. I had finished my first Dirty Kanza 200. And yes, I plan on coming back next year for another unforgettable experience.


covered in kansas dirt from head to toe. not ashamed.

It took about a day or so for it to sink  what I had accomplished. 

It took about a day or so for it to sink  what I had accomplished. 

Bumblebee post dk

Athlete Spotlight: Bobby Thompson aka The Casual Cyclist

Gravel Worlds 2016. photo by Gravel Guru

This week we interview Bobby Thompson creator of the The Casual Cyclist blog and host for The Gravel Guru show "This is Gravel". Recently this year, we welcomed Bobby on as one of our gravel ambassadors. Hailing from Emporia, Kansas home to the Dirty Kanza 200, a 200 mile gravel grinder, Bobby has a playground of remote gravel roads intertwined within the locals' beloved Flint Hill region. He is out to finish his 5th Dirty Kanza next weekend on June 3rd. We talk to him about gravel riding, Dirty Kanza, and finish up with some of the fun, spontaneous questions in true Casual Cyclist fashion.

Cantu Wheels [CW]:  The Casual Cyclist, where did it all start?

Bobby Thompson [BT]:  Ha!  The Casual Cyclist.  I was worried that "Super Cool Old Dude Riding Bikes" would be really hard to fit on a t-shirt when I became famous. I was also afraid people would call me out on being "super cool".  I have a very casual take on cycling.  I only recently rediscovered my passion for being on a bike.  I know there are many more people like me who got caught up in the wave of "life" and forgot about bikes.  I wanted a way to spread my gravel cycling passion that was non aggressive.  Show me...don't tell me.  I love to show my passion for cycling through words and pictures.  I tend to be casual in this approach so it fits. When I'm at my best...cycling...working...being a dad...being a husband...I'm casual.  

CW:  What inspires you everyday to get on your bike?

BT:  When you ask about being inspired everyday then I have to think about my wife.  She's the foundation of our family.  No matter what drama is going on in the world around us...she keeps moving forward.  She keeps the family moving forward.  I've adopted this thinking in my life and the way I get through the dark times of an endurance ride.  Just keep moving forward...even if it's slowly at the time.  Move forward.

Bobby and his wife at the 2017 Dirty Reiver gravel grinder in England.

CW:  Describe a perfect day of riding in and around Emporia, Kansas?

BT:  Perfect riding around in Emporia.  Gotta have wind.  Wind gives you a sense of determination when you're fighting into it, a sense of accomplishment when you've made it to a turn around point and a sense of "I could be in the Tour De France" when you are racing with a Tailwind. 10-15 mph.  Sunny and 70's.  80's gets hot quick with a tailwind on that white gravel.  Dry and white hard pack when you wanna go fast and chill.  Bombing the Flint Hills chunky downhills when you want some thrills and are ready to focus.  Sunny with a few wandering clouds for the occasional shade.

CW:  Advice to people curious about or interested in gravel riding?

BT:  Stop thinking about it and just go ride.  Treat it as an adventure.  Explore.  Find out why it's a dead end road.  Is the bridge really out or can you walk across? Minimum maintenance road, travel at own risk?  Challenge accepted.  Go play.  Bring water.  Bring a snack.  Have an alternate way home if something breaks you can't fix.  Don't make that call for a pick up though unless you really need the help.  Challenge yourself a little.

CW:  Top 3 tips to tackle the Dirty Kanza 100-200?

 BT:  1.  Stay hydrated.  2.  Race it Checkpoint to Checkpoint instead of thinking about the whole day.  3.  Keep moving forward.  You are capable of so much more than your mind is telling you.

CW:  What has been your most memorable travel experience for a gravel event?

BT:  A hard one but I have to saying driving the 20+ hours the past two years to Rebecca's Private Idaho.  That's a long drive.  A lot of time spent with friends on the way there.  Not so much on the way home when you are exhausted but talking strategy, bikes, nutrition...on the way there is a blast.  

CW:  Favorite songs or playlist to listen to while training or warming up?

BT:  Soundtrack to Footloose.  Seriously.  How can you not wanna start running around jumping off the walls??  Long steady state intervals or climbing intervals...angry music.  Rage Against the Machine, Disturbed, Korn, Rob Zombie, Bodies by Drowning Pool.  My radio station is country, I grew up loving big hair rock and late 80'is hip/hop and rap.  Lol.  I'm all over the place.

CW:  What is something “If you would’ve known then what you know now?”

BT:  Can I say everything?  I mean my first endurance race was the Dirty Kanza 200.  I just jumped right in...and failed.  Maybe not though because the failures are what drives me to this day.  I do not like to fail.  So to make it a simpler focused answer...spinning up a hill because mashing. Using you gears.  Really understanding how gears can lengthen your day.

Bobby's Salsa Warbird equipped with a lauf fork and our Cantu Gravel Rebel Wheels.

CW:  What is your super power?

BT:  I'm the Casual Cyclist.  It's being "casual".  Okay, yeah that's just lame.  I never call myself the Casual Cyclist...except when I'm signing autographs.  No um, you know the superpower I wish I had is Wolverines regenerative power.  I'm getting old and the hills aren't getting any smaller. The superpower I actually have is the ability to adapt to a situation.  Don't judge my initial reaction.  Let me think and I'll adapt and figure it out.

CW:  How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse?

BT:  Oh dude I'd rock in a zombie apocalypse.  I'm not much of a fighter but I know I could run...or ride...circles around them.  Wait are we talking slow historical zombies or new age advanced zombies??  Let's go with the old school casual clumsy zombies...cause in the end...being casual is the best way to be.  

Bobby and his Co-host Lelan Dains on "This is Gravel"

Check out Bobby's adventures on Instagram, Facebook, The Casual Cyclist, or through The Gravel Guru. Be sure to connect with and follow us on Cantu Cycling Wheel's Facebook Instagram.

Athlete Spotlight: Interview with Carolyn Defoore

CD4 in her element at the Driveway Series in Austin.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Carolyn Defoore aka CD4 of Team Athlete Architecture p/b Hyperthreads. Carolyn has climbed quickly up the ranks to a Cat 2. Along with her strong teammates, she continues to embrace the Texas racing scene to the fullest. We enjoyed the chance to get to know her more.

Cantu Wheels:   When you began riding, what was it about the bike that appealed to you most?

CD4:   I started riding with my dad when I was 13 or so, and I just loved getting to spend that time with him.  I would constantly ask him if we were going 20 miles per hour!

Cantu Wheels: As you progressed into the sport, were there any key individuals that influenced your growth as a cyclist?

CD4:   There have been several key individuals that influenced my growth as a cyclist, too many to name here, but I'm grateful for all of them. The first century I ever rode was also a very fateful day... Eryn Wike introduced me to Kelly Barrientes, now my team manager and best friend - who has shown me unwavering support on the bike and in life. And of course, my dad has always been and always will be my best supporter.

Cantu Wheels:  What's the racing and riding scene like in Austin?

CD4:   Racing and riding in Austin, Texas... well, spoiled is the word that comes to mind first. We have the best weekly criterium series in the U.S. [The Driveway], there is a group ride every day of the week for every skill level, plenty of hills to make strong legs, and a city government that is dedicated to investing in its bicycle friendly infrastructure. Cycling is a huge part of Austin's culture.

Cantu Wheels:   What event or race are you looking forward to most this season?

CD4:   I turned 35 this year, so I have my heart set on Master's Nationals in Augusta, GA. I'll be competing in the road race and criterium in just a few weeks.

Working with teammate LeighAnn Ganzar in the Men's Open race.

Cantu Wheels:   What is your most memorable day on the bike?

CD4:   I have so many memorable days... but I'll describe one of my favorites from a couple years ago. I did a weekend trip to Leakey, Texas with Velo View Bike Tours, and I can't even imagine a more perfect day... Incredible views, incredible hills, wildly fast descents, all followed by cooking dinner, laughing and staying up late recovering in the hot tub, drinking beers under the stars... I wish I had more days like these.

Cantu Wheels:   Do you have any favorite pro riders you like to watch?

CD4:   I can't say I have a favorite rider, but if I've had the privilege of racing next to them, my ears perk up a little more at their results. Coryn Rivera's win at Flanders is probably the most recent result that's given me goosebumps to hear about.

athlete architecture sporting the cantu r5c

Cantu Wheels:   Favorite location to train?

CD4:   I have a special relationship with the hills in Lost Creek, just west of Austin, specifically Barton Creek. When I was just starting to race, these were the hills that challenged me, got me strong, and gave me the confidence to get out there and compete.

Cantu Wheels:   Best advice for beginners interested in bike racing?

CD4:   Don't let anyone else define what you can be good at. Define that for yourself. 

We're proud sponsors of Athlete Architecture p/b Hyperthreads. You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Be sure to connect with and follw us on Cantu Cycling Wheel's Facebook & Instagram.

2017 Cantu Gravel Ambassadors

Cantu Cycling Wheels is happy to kick off our new Gravel Ambassador Program. The program is designed to support the working athlete who is enthusiastic and engaged within their cycling community, not to mention having great sense of adventure on gravel roads. Our two ambassadors this year hail from the Midwest representing Kansas and Nebraska where gravel is not only a way of riding, but a culture for those who enjoy the wide open skies and endless rolling hills their region has to offer.

We'd like to welcome Bobby Thompson and Craig Schmidt to the Cantu family as our Gravel Ambassadors for 2017. As a Gravel Ambassador Craig and Bobby will be riding on our Cantu Rebel 28mm Disc Brake Wheel Set built custom for them. Their passion is not only in gravel riding, but building community. They embody the true meaning of "adventure starts where the pavement ends."

Bobby at Gravel Worlds 2016. [photo courtesy of Gravel guru]

Craig at the 2017 Land run 100. [photo courtesy of gravel guru[

Bobby is the host for Gravel Guru's show "This Is Gravel" and the mind behind The Casual Cyclist. Hailing from Emporia, Kansas, home to the Dirty Kanza 200, Bobby is grateful to call the Flint Hills his home. We will be cheering him on as he rides to complete his 5th Dirty Kanza this year to collect the Five Time Finishers Cup and also shooting to complete the Race the Sun Challenge (ie finishing before sunset). He has participated and finished other events such as Rebecca's Private Idaho, 24 hrs of Cumming Relay, Land Run 100, and Gravel Worlds.

Craig represents the Pirate Cycling League out of Lincoln, Nebraska, home to Gravel Worlds. He wears many hats when it comes to helping orchestrate a gravel event such as Gravel Worlds and Tour of Dirt Roads. You can find him scouting out potential courses throughout the rolling gravel grids of rural Nebraska. Some favorite events under his belt are the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder, Almonzo, Cirrem, and Good Life Gravel.

Give these guys a follow! We're fortunate to have them on board and we're looking forward to their experience our the Cantu Rebel! #UCantu #CantuAttitude 

Cantu Wheels p/b KHS Bicycles CX Team

We're incredibly proud of our Cantu p/b KHS Bicycles CX team! Packing some dynamite in our first season and taking first in the Women's Elite and second in the Men's Elite Team Rankings for the Houston HTXCX Regional Cup Series!  

Team Roster (photo from left to right)

Bill Fiser Cat 3
Venny Alub Cat 2
John Wilmeth Cat 2
Kathrin Bentley Cat 3
John King Cat 1
Harrison Worzel Cat 3

Huge thanks to KHS Bicycles for being one of our main sponsors this season!

Gravel Worlds 2016 Expectations and Packing List

Tomorrow we hit the road to Lincoln, Nebraska! As we get all packed up for our first Gravel Worlds, I wanted to make sure I have the essentials. 150 miles is the biggest distance I have yet to tackle. I'll admit this is my second ever long endurance gravel grinder and my #1 goal is to FINISH. I'm expecting to be on the bike for over 10 hours. I'm preparing for the ultimate suffer-fest, but with all this said I want to enjoy every bit of the hurt and suffering. If that doesn't make sense, try a cyclocross race and then you'll understand. I can tell one of my biggest challenges will be the wind with up to 20 mph winds. Now comes the time to see if all the miles and climbing I've been putting in have paid off. I couldn't replicate the endless gravel grids and rolling hills of Nebraska down here in Texas, but I made the best of it.

Gravel Worlds Overview
What:  150 mile gravel grinder,  11,000 ft of climbing (from last year's course)
When:  6:00 am Saturday, August 20th
Where:  the course that will be released soon this week will take us around the beautiful countryside and rolling hills outside of Lincoln, Nebraska
Why: glory and/or the Gravel Worlds Championship Jersey for me it's the self accomplishment and challenge
What else: take on the challenges of self-navigating (course is not marked) and self-sufficiency (no outside support allowed) 
Last Year's Champions:  Mens Open, Neil Shirley (7 hours 54 minutes) and Womens Open, Rebecca Rusch (9 hours 8 minutes)

Current Race Day Forecast:  77 high/ 55 low 16 mph winds from the North and 20% chance of precipitation

Packing List Essentials

  • Nutrition:  Clif Bloks, Clif Shots, Clif Bar*, Body Glove Surge Energy Shots (take as much nutrition as you think you need and then some!)
  • Sunscreen:  Coppertone Sport SPF 50
  • Saddle bag equipped with 2+tubes and tire lever
  • Multi-tool
  • Helmet*
  • Sunglasses
  • 2 water bottles*
  • Heart-rate strap
  • Garmin 500 Edge
  • GoPro Hero4 Silver (for fun)
  • Camelbak 1.5 Liter
  • Front and Rear Lighting
  • Chamois Butter:  DZNuts Bliss Chamois Cream
  • Cash/Card 

*Not Shown

Last but not least, my rig, Bumblebee. Steel Cyclocross frame built by Hans Schneider. 

'Til Next Time! We'll see you in Nebraska!


Meet "The Hustler"

She's a Bad Mama Jama

We've combined the ultimate race bike, the 2016 Trek Madone, with our most popular selling wheelset the Cantu 55C. Meet "The Hustler". It has the ride-all-day comfort plus the control and responsiveness you need for racing.  One. Fast. Ride. Take a look and then another. 


Top 5 Things We LOVE

  • Not only are wheels custom build, but throw in a custom paint job and this steed is one of a kind!
  • ISOSpeed Decoupler - aka the shock/bump absorbing master. "Trek engineers designed a decoupler that allows the seat tube to rotate independently from the top-tube-to-seatstay junction, increasing vertical compliance without compromising pedaling efficiency. Result: you can ride harder, longer." 

  • Red reflective logo decals. Ride safe and be seen!
  • H1 Fit headtube -with this aggressive geometry you can keep your weight low and forward while enjoying the responsive steering.

  • Vector Wings - any eye catcher for sure, but these are the robot-like opening flaps that cover the front brakes adding to the sleek and aero design.





Interview with Jocelyn McCauley

We had the pleasure of sitting down to speak with pro triathlete, Jocelyn McCauley as she prepares for Ironman Texas in the Woodlands this weekend. Her professional journey began after clinching a win as the fastest female amateur finisher at the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. This year at Ironman Dubai 70.3 Jocelyn hammered out the second fastest bike split amongst the pro women with the help of our Cantu 55C and Cantu disc setup. With her ever emerging talent and ability, she has true dedication for the sport. 

Cantu Wheels:  Take us back to your childhood, where you grew up, and how you got into athletics.
Jocelyn McCauley:  I grew up in College Station, Texas. It started in elementary school where I really loved running. We had a thing called Road Runners, so in PE they would bring us out and make us run laps around the field. I would always beat all the boys, so I thought it was really cool. My sister [Meredith] started doing cross country and track in junior high. We have a very competitive streak in my family, and I really had to beat her. I started running in junior high to be able to beat her. Then I continued through high school and college and loved it. I went to Brigham Young University in Utah and ran my last year at the University of Cincinnati. After that I did a couple of elite running races, but kept getting back into old running injuries. [Meredith] started doing Iron Man races. I went to her races and absolutely loved the atmosphere and electrifying excitement. I was like, well, I have to do one. It was a domino effect from there. 

CW:  What has been your biggest inspiration along with your sister?
JM:  I love the athletic side and the people atmosphere. I love meeting new people. I think what got me into athletics in general is that I love to push my body to the limits and see how hard I can go for how long I can go, and be the best I can be.

CW:  Can you give us a recap of your most memorable race?
JM:  It was my second Ironman race [in 2014]. I had qualified for The World Championship in Kona. I went out there without any hard expectations on myself. I had goals, but I wanted to have fun. I told everyone I wanted to be top 5 in the amateur overall. I had a secret little goal to myself that I wanted to win overall, but I didn’t even tell anyone, not even my husband. It was an amazing day. I was able to do it with my sister. I swam on her feet for the entire swim. I kept touching her feet and she told me after the race that if it was anyone but me she would’ve have screamed and yelled at the person, because I touched them way too many times. I passed her on the bike. That 2014 Kona was crazy. It was really windy. I had been told that Kona was windy, so I thought it was just a normal thing. It’s a normal day in Kona, it’s suppose to be this windy. I think that helped me mentally. It wasn’t defeating me because this was normal. I went out on the run and I remember coming out of transition. There was this really young boy. He told me, you’re number five amateur woman. I didn’t know to trust this little boy or not, but if that was the case, let’s see what I can do on this course. I remember seeing my husband right before I went into the Energy Lab. He told me, you’re number two, number one if just right in front of you. You got her, no problem. That feeling that came over me, I wasn’t feeling great, but I wasn’t hurting. So I passed two women in the Energy Lab. One was a pro and one was amateur. I passed them and was like, Well, I’m in first, now I just have to hold on. I crossed that finish line and it was surreal. Then somehow on the way to drug testing we ran into my husband and that was the real moment. I just gave him a hug and looked into his eyes. Oh my gosh I just did that. It’s those moments that you live for.  

CW:  What keeps you motivated?
JM:  Since having my daughter, I think that gives me an extra reason to do this. I want to show her you can have these dreams and goals in your life. You can go out and make them happen no matter how crazy they seem. She’s fun to see at the finish line. 

CW: How do you overcome the mental challenges in a race?
JM:  I think that you continue to grow into yourself and figure out how to deal with those as you train and race. A lot of people say the highs are really high and lows are really low in an Ironman race. Just keeping that in your mind. Yeah, I might feel really horrible right now, but let’s take some nutrition in, let’s give myself 10 or 20 minutes and then re-evaluate and not base my whole race on this. Something that Coach David has said a lot is chunk it down. Chunk down the elephant. Don’t try to eat the whole thing all at once. There’s no way you can mentally think about 140 miles and I’m going to do this all. Let’s get through the swim. Let’s get to each station and go from there. The same with the run. One mile after the other.

CW:  What has your journey been like as a professional triathlete?
JM:  I qualified to be a pro in my first race in 2014. I hadn’t really thought oh, I’m going to be a pro triathlete or anything. Then after Kona I thought well, maybe I can take a crack at this. So, I discussed it all with my family. I started [professional triathlete career] in January of 2015 doing a race in New Zealand. I grew a lot that year in triathlon and personal life in realizing different limitations that I had. I was looking at different coaches. I was looking at athletes and who I thought I lined up with in similar backgrounds and strengths. Then looking at their coaches and talking with them. I really enjoyed David and started working with him in August of 2015. That has sent everything into overdrive. My training is a lot harder, more intense, more specific. My racing has taken off since then as well. It has been great. 

CW:  How are you feeling this week building up to Ironman Texas?
JM:  I feel good. The thing is if I felt bad it wouldn’t make a difference either. I remember how I felt before that Kona race. I felt horrible. I was drained and not happy. It went fine. There’s something special about race day, race morning. Whatever has happened up to that point has all washed away. Let’s go out there and do this. My training is going awesome. 

CW:  Do you have any fun pre-race rituals?
JM:  I always have to have mismatching socks. One has to be bright orange. The other one, it doesn’t matter the color. I have a specific sports bra I always wear. I always have a new pair of goggles. Other than that, race morning I used to do buckwheat pancakes. This year I’m on to a new trend of blueberry muffins. I love having my husband there. I say a prayer before the race for safety and the ability to do my best. 

CW:  What’s one piece of advice you have for people training for Ironman?
JM:  Go out there and have fun. The thing is I started this whole thing with the ultimate goal of having fun. To me having fun was doing well and beating people. Whatever is fun to you, go out there and do that. How are you going to accomplish that goal? Set specific process oriented goals of how you’re going to accomplish that process. 

CW:  How was your experience with the Cantu Wheels?
JM:  My first experience on them was in Dubai. There were 30 mph winds. They had to do the swim in this little yacht harbor. You were swimming by these massive yachts as you go around because the winds were too horrible. I was a little nervous going out on the Cantu disc in these crazy winds and not being a big person. The wheels sliced through the wind like butter, it was just amazing. I was able to have the second fastest bike split [in the Pro Women]. I really contribute that to the smooth Cantu Wheels.

2016 Ironman Dubai 70.3