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

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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. 

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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

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.