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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.