50 interesting people / entities you should know in Gravel Cycling

50 interesting people

Nowadays, lists making the rounds on the cycling WWW are somewhat common place. Some are click bait, quite genius really, and others, a clique popularity contest? Interesting? However, the old adage “if you can’t beat them, join them”, springs to mind albeit with a different take. This list isn’t about self aggrandizement, nor the largest social media following, the most selfies posted, “influencer”, blah f’n blah.


I consider myself fortunate to have ridden on gravel / mixed-surface roads a very long time, long before bikes for this purpose existed. During my time in this side of the sport, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from all walks of life; local land owners, cycling stewards, and fellow riders. Some of these people have been at this gravel cycling madness far longer than yours truly, and others, are relatively new. Some have made impacts into the world of gravel cycling tech, while others are movers and shakers in the world of events, media, and elsewhere in this fine sport. This list is not the end all and be all, I could probably add another 50 names, but I hope you’ll find it interesting.


In no particular order, this list is not numbered:

  • Bobby Thompson, aka The Casual Cyclist. He’s like many of you; a father, a husband, and in his case, a native to Americus, Kansas. Bobby has ridden all about the Midwest and beyond. In addition to his working life, Bobby is founder of a local, grass roots series of gravel events, DiscoverGravel.com / Flint Hills Gravel Ride. Bobby’s events emphasize local community, and help to showcase this part of the world but in more relaxed and laid back manner.


  • Kathryn Taylor, Founder of Girls Gone Gravel, “Women Chasing Adventure”. Getting more people onto bikes is a winner, but getting more women onto bikes no matter the terrain, what’s not to love?! Much like this quote from Kathryn’s website, “IT ALL HAPPENED AFTER ONE TOO MANY GLASSES OF WINE…”


  • Amanda Nauman aka Amanda Panda; two time winner of that mega gravel race in the Midwest before it underwent its controversial name change and pro riders appeared on the scene. Amanda won the 2015 edition in the most disgusting of conditions. People talk about “epic”, a very overused word in cycling, but her win that year was exactly that. Sadly, the mass media didn’t pay Amanda the recognition she deserved, but most of us recognize her accomplishment on that day, and beyond. Like many of us, Amanda works a full-time job, and trains when her schedule allows. Today, her full plate includes duties becoming of an an event promoter, as co-founder of Mammoth Tuff in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California.


  • Every Panda needs a handler, and David Sheek, sometimes known as the Panda Handler, aka Amanda Nauman’s partner in everything, is an interesting bloke. He’s a coach, mechanic, tinkerer, driver, explorer, event promoter, and more. I hit it off with Dave during our first meeting, and the subsequent bike tech nerd out fests that followed; new bike parts, solutions to bike part problems, chainring counts, Amanda’s bike for dry running, Amanda’s bike for mud running, removing cow poo from the drivetrain, and so on. Dave’s a co-founder of Mammoth Tuff, an event that should be high on your must-ride list.


  • Sam Ames, founder of Rock Cobbler. I heard about this stupid race courtesy of Burke Swindlehurst (more on him later). I understand a prior edition featured a drill sergeant awaiting riders atop a motherfudger of a hike-a-bike, demanding them to drop and give him 20… pushups that is. This stupidity is right up my alley. I’ve ridden through Tacoman’s house (a Bakersfield local well associated with this race), hiked up  some stupid steep climbs and called Sam a f’n wanker for making this $hit so difficult. But this race is so fun, I’ve no regrets making the journey from Gainesville, Florida to Bakersfield the past two years. Sam wears a cowboy hat and I expect has something to do with the cattle industry in the Bakersfield area (don’t spoil the surprise if I have this totally wrong). Just don’t ask him about the Running of the Bulls, 2022 edition.


  • Neil Shirley. An ex-professional cyclist with history riding for teams such as that ultra cool underdog coffee team, Jittery Joes of Athens, Georgia… but not a “privateer”. Nowadays, Neil remains a stud muffin rider, despite pulling major hours with that little outfit out of Ogden, Utah, ENVE Composites. As a family man, I’ve no idea how he rides so well, maybe it’s mustache power? Neil also happens to be one of the nicest blokes you will cross paths with… and possibly smile as he rides you clean off his wheel.


  • Jeremiah Bishop / The Vegan Cyclist (aka Tyler Pearce). Jeremiah’s been around this sport a very long time, and if it’s got two wheels, he can ride it, usually quite rapidly. He’s got his very own Gran Fondo in the hinterlands of the West Virginia Mountains with nary a flat road. He partnered a couple of years ago with Mr Vegan Cyclist, who in his own right is a very accomplished cyclist, YouTube personality, and dedicated family man. Their collaborative effort of dodgy cycling adventures is better known as The Impossible Route.


  • Jay Petervary – Long time ultra-endurance cyclist, Jay’s accomplishments are known the world over. He’s tech savvy, an out of the box thinker. Jay was sporting a very interesting alternative bike design until his tragic accident at the 2023 Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, struck by a motorist from behind. Jay is “not done with this ride yet” circa August 29, 2023. Jay has a long recovery road ahead, but we encourage you to visit his website, particularly if you have further information regarding his accident, or simply to pass along some words of encouragement.


  • Troy Templin, rider, editor, family guy and more, Troy’s past includes time at Road Bike Action, reviewing road and gravel bikes, and all of the madness that accompanies those riding experiences. Nowadays he makes his home at Velo as Senior Tech Editor, but his passion for cycling persists no matter his place of work, along with interesting cars. Troy’s highlight vehicle is his 1989 VW TriStar Syncro Doppelkabine (Doka, as most know them), quite a rare truck, with approximately 500 leaving the production line.


  • Nick Legan / Dave Lawrence / Hiroshi Matsumoto, and the gravel crew at Shimano. You know who you are. Shimano GRX, the world’s first groupset designed specifically for gravel cycling, in mechanical and electronic flavo(u)rs.


  • Tyler Benedict, founder of Bikerumor. While Tyler was at the helm, Bikerumor was my go-to tech website. I first found Tyler while researching disc brakes for drop bar bicycles around 2013. Hydro drop bar levers were non-existent, rather it was mechanical cable-actuated brakes or kooky mech-to-hydro converters that were a dodgy stopgap to current hydraulic brakes. Tyler rode the dodgiest setup of all, paired with the most minimalist Ashima rotors, and had the bad idea to ride it in the mountains of Boone, NC. You can read his story for yourself. It didn’t end well, but he lived to tell the tale and we all learned some valuable lessons (like what NOT to do!). I reached out and ended up freelancing for Tyler and Bikerumor, which helped kickstart Gravel Cyclist and we remain good friends to this day.


  • Stan Koziatek, founder of Stans sealant / NoTubes.com. Stan’s work with rim and tubeless tyre designs, laid the foundations for mass adoption of tubeless tyre technology.


  • Chad Sperry, promoter extraordinaire, founder of the amazing Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder multi-day event, and many more events in the Oregon Gravel Grinder series. People talk about bucket list rides, the OTGG is the real deal, multi-day event with glamping, scenery, good food, and a lot more.


  • Ray George, founder of the community that is the Ohio Gravel Grinders Facebook group, and Ohio Gravel Grinders website. There are so many amazing resources in the Facebook group and website. Ray’s opening paragraph on the about page for the OGG sums up the gravel experience for many of us; “I’ve ridden gravel roads since I was a kid so this whole gravel grinding thing seems to come naturally. At the end of our street we always took the gravel road down to the park and beyond. We never had “gravel” or “road” bikes; our bikes took us on all-roads.”


  • Garth Prosser, “If it doesn’t grow don’t eat it.. .If it makes you smile, stay awhile. Cyclist. Nature lover. Survivor.” I’ve lost count of the number of times Garth has kicked my proverbial arse on the bike. I first made his acquaintance during the late 2000’s at events such as Southern Cross in Georgia, and the absolutely legendary, Hilly Billy Roubaix of Morgantown, West Virginia. I had the pleasure of sharing the podium with Garth at the now-defunct, American UltraCX Series in 2014 (this series needs to return!), a highlight of my cycling “career”. In my case, consistency was key, whereas Garth was natural talent.


  • Selene Yeager, aka The Fit Chick. Another rider whose acquaintance I made in the earlier days of gravel / mixed-surface cycling. She roared past me like I was standing still, somewhere in the Michaux State Forest during the 2014 edition of Iron Cross. Beyond her cycling prowess, Selene has authored, co-authored, and contributed to more than two dozen books. Her work has appeared in numerous media including Details, O, the Oprah Magazine, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, and more.


  • Ride for Racial Justice; not one person, but an entity / people who believes the bicycle represents freedom. “Ride for Racial Justice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and exists to ensure access to resources, education, and community for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) cyclists and to dismantle systemic racism so that EVERYONE can feel safe, free, and empowered to ride a bicycle.”


  • Lael Wilcox; direct from Lael’s website, “Lael Wilcox is an ultra-endurance bicycle racer who won the Trans Am Bike Race in 2016, and set the Tour Divide’s women’s course record on an individual time trial in 2015. She was the first American to win the Trans Am. She also set the overall course record with her time on the Baja Divide route.” Lael’s accomplishments on and off the bike reach further than this, visit Lael’s website to learn more.


  • Linda English and Kevin English; Founders of the Dirty Freehub. “Ride great gravel routes! 12,000+ miles!” Looking for beyond amazing curated routes in places such as Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona, British Columbia, North / South California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Tasmania?! From the Dirty Freehub website; “Dirty Freehub on the surface is about sharing great gravel bike routes. Five stars. The ones that make you think, “Wow, now that was too much fun.” We provide maps with loads of nitty-gritty details so you can venture out to a place you would have never found, all for FREE. And we want you to learn about the areas you ride — through podcasts and links in the guides — about the history, the art, the culture and the environment. We want you to love where you ride … to inspire you to become volunteers, donors, and advocates for these wonderful places.”


  • John Tomac, because IMHO, he’s an absolute living f’n legend. “John Tomac is an American former professional cyclist who competed from 1985 to 2005. He was a versatile rider who competed in multiple disciplines including; BMX racing, cross-country, road racing, trials riding and downhill racing.” John was racing drop bars off road on mountain bikes before most people had thought of the concept, barring perhaps Charlie Cunningham (see a video containing his revolutionary bikes here). I’m not a celebrity chaser, but John Tomac is someone I would love to meet in person, and share a brew or two with.


  • The Design Crew at SRAM HQ. eTap brings wireless shifting to the masses, recently becoming more affordable with Apex eTap AXS. Mechanics of the world thank you for saving much time and hassle, routing shift cables. Additionally, SRAM has chucked the notion of traditional gearing out the window, with their 1x specific XPLR groupsets centered around a 10-44 or 11-44 cassette, and the WIDE gearing 2x concept. Think a 43/30 2x chainring pairing mated to an 11-36 cassette. Lower gears for gravel bikes whose larger, taller tyres, created a need.


  • Chris Sugai and Steve Domahidy (co-Founders of Niner Bikes), Mike Gann (former President of Niner Bikes), and George Parry (RIP – former Designer at Niner Bikes). Niner Bikes is likely the brand that kicked off the 29’er wheel size revolution for mountain bikes. Nowadays Chris Sugai is with Gates Drive, Steve Domahidy is with Viral Bikes, and Mike Gann, President and COO of Look USA / Corima USA. Mike’s brainchild was the wild and crazy, Niner MCR 9 RDO, with all of the bike’s design work by the late George Parry. This radical full-suspension gravel bike broke from established norms of gravel bike design, one I had the fortune of reviewing.


  • Gravel Bike California, “The State of Dirt”. Gravel Bike California is a project of Zachary Rynew to explore the history and adventures the state of California has to offer. A longtime cycling advocate, Zachary is known for his advocacy and literary achievements through CiclaValley, work with non-profits, ghost bikes and winner of the 2016 Streetsie award for Journalism. A graduate of the University of California, Zachary went on to study and work at UCLA for seventeen years before focusing on mobility. Zachary lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife, daughter and too many bikes.” Joining Zach in the fun is Victor, otherwise known as BikeObsession on Instagram. Zach and Victor co-host a semi-regular LIVE Q&A feature with a network of interesting guests, on the GBC Instagram account.


  • VeloPigs Beer & Social Club / Kasey Clark. “We are a beer and bicycle social club. Our mission statement is pretty simple. Ride bikes, drink beer, do good and be kind. Of course the cycling and drinking are not required, but being a kick ass kind person is. Gravel, mountain bike, cyclocross, backpacking, road. Our members ride it all.” LOVE the VeloPigs, many of their members reside in or around Washington, D.C., and ride the amazing roads of Loudoun County, my Top 3 place to ride a gravel bike in the United States. Kasey Clark is a VeloPigs members, and brought attention to the America’s Routes project by riding virtually every single mixed-surface road in the county a few years ago, non-stop. The America’s Roads Project is an effort to preserve and experience the mixed-surface roads of Loudoun County, Virginia; 300 miles / 300 years.


  • Eric Wever, founder of Pisgah Productions. Long before the big names rolled into Asheville, Brevard, and surrounds of North Carolina, Eric Wever was in the trenches, running his fledgling promotions company with a skeleton crew of friends and volunteers. Eric’s events are what I consider at the grass roots level, with an emphasis on amazing experiences, scenery, challenging climbs, challenging descents, and meandering far beyond the well-beaten tracks of Western North Carolina. Topping this off, Eric’s events don’t break the bank.



  • Gravel Calendar / Connor Driscoll; “The idea for Gravel Calendar was born in 2020 when I noticed a growing need in my local community. So I decided to get off my duff and do something about it. What started as a small website for local gravel races soon was serving a much larger community. Gravel Calendar now has thousands of visitors per day and acts as a centralized hub for events all over the world.  I feel passionate about connecting those who love gravel riding.” Once upon a time, Gravel Cyclist hosted an events calendar, that was extremely time consuming to manage. Shortly after the the founding of Gravel Calendar, I struck up a conversation with Connor to partner with his website. The rest is history. Connor’s website is THE go to calendar website for Gravel Cycling events, and I got a portion of my life back, whee!


  • Karlos Rodriguez Bernart, aka the Singletrack Samurai. “The Journey is the Prize”. SSP (SingleTrack Samurai Productions) is a group comprised of adventure cycling enthusiasts who advocate, create and promote unique and fun ultra cycling events in the Southeast. “SingleTrack Samurai started adventuring by bike one ride at a time. The goal was always to ride from Canada to Mexico, but Karlos searched for challenges and routes that prepared him and pushed him to go further and faster.  In the process of this journey he discovered he had a gift for connecting the dots of the passable paths in his area.  After a few years he discovered that his abilities extended farther and wider than he ever imagined and eventually invited folks to follow his routes and guess what… they did.”


  • Dougrao Pedala; dougraopedala on Instagram. A plus-size athlete who rides it all, Dougrao continues to document his riding and weight loss journey with frequent posts to his Instagram account. Love his content!


  • Craig Dalton, founder of the Gravel Ride Podcast, the OG Gravel Cycling Podcast. “The Gravel Ride is a cycling podcast where we discuss the people, places and products that define modern gravel cycling. We interview athletes, course designers and product designers who are influencing the sport. We provide information on where to ride, what to ride and how to stay stoked on gravel riding.” If I had time, I would build a Podcast, but be thankful Craig is filling this space, and the official partner in podcasting to Gravel Cyclist. Thank you Craig for all that you do.


  • Dr. Meg Fisher, “Doctor of Physical Therapy, Athletic Performance Coach, and Motivational Speaker based in Missoula, Montana. Her personal athletic achievements include Paralympic gold, silver, and bronze medals from the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Games and ten world championships. She retired from Team USA in 2016. Meg’s road to success has not been easy. At 19 years old she was involved in a tragic car accident that nearly killed her. She survived a coma and lost the lower portion of her left leg. Meg worked hard to heal and move beyond her new physical limitations. Today, Meg is dedicated to helping erase limits, change lives, and demonstrate the capacity of the human body and spirit.” Learn more about Meg at her website.


  • Jacob Schulte of Challenged Athletes Foundation. Jacob isn’t a household name, but this list isn’t about that. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jacob during my one and only appearance at Big Sugar Gravel, circa 2021. Completing 50 or 100 miles of Big Sugar’s demanding course is an accomplishment in itself, but can you imagine riding and completing 50 miles with just one arm?! This is what Jacob did in 2021. I cannot fathom such an effort and are truly in awe of Jacob’s performance. Chapeau Jacob, I hope to cross paths with you again.


  • Gerard Vroomen; a Dutch-born mechanical engineer and owner of Open Cycles. He was previously the co-founder of Cervelo, and holds a controlling stake in 3T. Approximately seven to eight years ago, under the direction of Gerard and 3T CEO, Rene Wiertz, the company launched the revolutionary Exploro gravel bike. This bike had an emphasis on aerodynamics, wider tyres, and re-introduced the drop side chainstay design to help with tyre clearance. Follow this link to see my interview with Gerard Vroomen.


  • All of the mums / moms and dads out there with kids, working jobs, keeping a home, making it happen, and finding the time to ride! Most of the media outlets won’t focus on you, but this group is of great interest to me. I love sharing stories from riders I find very relatable to those of us working full-time jobs, paying bills, a mortgage, etc.


  • Zapata Espinoza; “Zapata “Zap” Espinoza is a journalist and current editor-in-chief of Road Bike Action Magazine a Hi-Torque Publication. He was formerly editor of two American mountain biking magazines, including Mountain Bike Magazine. Zapata was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1995.”


  • Mark Laandsaat; designer of the Raleigh Roker, and founder of Noble Bikes (out of business). There was a time when Raleigh’s performance line of bikes was cutting edge, way ahead of it’s time. The all-carbon Raleigh Roker was launched around about 2015, and featured 45mm+ of tyre clearance for 700c, but 700c x 50mm would fit, depending on the rim and wheel combination. A favorite bike of the Gravel Cyclist crew to this day (there are at least four examples of the bike kicking around Gainesville, Florida), Mark’s design never received the publicity and marketing it deserved. Another cool bike to come out of the Raleigh stable around this time, The Stuntman.


  • Corey Hilliard; nowadays based in Brooklyn, New York, Corey is known as one of the few people to contest that big Kansas gravel race on a fixed-gear bike. Despite several attempts, he hasn’t been successful in completing the 200 mile event fixed, but a worthy mention is needed for the miles he has traversed across that landscape, fixed. Corey’s work off the bike includes diving deeper into developing Twin Tigers Cycling (a project to promote both grassroots cycling by funding two riders annually to become licensed USA Cycling racers in the Spring, and two people to become certified bicycle mechanics in Autumn), and building a variety of steel bike frames in Brooklyn.


  • Sarah Cooper; “Head Banger, Course Designer, Crusher of Souls I like all bikes, both fat and skinny tires, and any road that will take me someplace cool.” Founder of Iowa Wind and Rock / The Spotted Horse Ultra, Sarah epitomizes mixing this with working full-time, and family life commitments with her husband and kids. Drop by the Gravel Ride’s Podcast interview to learn more about Sarah!


  • Burke Swindlehurst, founder of the ultra-difficult, ultra high altitude, Crusher in the Tushar, Utah. As a former professional cyclist, Burke is familiar with the training and discipline that goes into a career path of this nature. It was this training on Utah roads, specifically for the Saturn Classic, a former 140-mile race from Boulder, Colorado to Breckenridge with some 15,000 feet of ascending and mixed-surface roads, that Burke dreamed up Crusher. The Saturn Classic, a favorite race for Burke, except for the part where riders could switch bikes for the dirt road sectors. He righted that wrong with Crusher, you pick one bike, and ride it all day.


  • Michael Marckx, brain child of the original Belgian Waffle Ride and now the series of events under Monuments of Cycling. MMX has guided clothing brands, sunglass companies and magazines on his way through the action sports industry and inadvertently defined the mixed surface scene in SoCal very early on. Not originally conceived as a gravel event but now falls into the category, the Belgian Waffle Ride is its own form of crazy. This had a significant impact on the gravel scene in SoCal; for instance, there may not have been a Rock Cobbler without a BWR to influence Sam Ames in the beginning.


  • Kevin Lee of The Spinistry, “Long, Hard, and Dirty”. Kevin’s events have been a mainstay in gravel from the early days. One of the biggest and better known events by Spinistry, the Texas Chainring Massacre. Add to this favorite, Red River Riot, Hell of the North Texas, just a few of the many events promoted by The Spinistry.


  • Paul Errington, founder of the UK’s Dirty Reiver, and a semi-regular in behind the scenes operations at the Grinduro series. Dirty Reiver has arguably become the largest US style Gravel event across the pond from the US of A. “Based in and around Kielder Forest in the English/Scottish Borders the Dirty Reiver makes use of the extensive gravel trail network across the area. With hundreds of km of tracks to choose from riders always have new vistas to explore.”


  • Sean Mailen, Product Engineer, instrumental in the design of Salsa’s gravel bike line, particularly the ground breaking Warbird. “At the 2009 Trans Iowa, I rode a one-off titanium frame we had made to test geometry,” said Meiser. “It had a lower bottom bracket and better tire clearance, but what really shined was the compliance it delivered. I won the race, but perhaps more importantly, I could stand up after completing the 300-plus miles of Iowa gravel and B-roads. That compliance made a real difference and resulted in the Warbird Ti, which we consider to be the Warbird v2.”


  • Ray Trammell, G3 series promoter in Oklahoma, “Oklahoma’s 1st Gravel Race Series”. “The G3 Gravel Series launched in 2019 under the leadership of Ray Trammell (or, as we like to call him, Ray Ray). He and his team of graveleurs were scouting route upon route around Guthrie and the surrounding area when they realized: why aren’t more people riding these epic gravel roads? With the goal of introducing the beauty of Guthrie gravel to Oklahoma cyclists, Ray Ray and crew launched The G3 Gravel Series. They held their first event in 2019 and, at that moment, The G3 Gravel Series was etched into the Oklahoma grassroots cycling scene.”


  • Jeff Zell and the design, research and manufacturing team of Panaracer. The Panaracer Gravelking SK tyre arguably reigns as the best known tyre, the King!, for the gravelly roads less traveled, and is the primary choice of yours truly, for 95% of my mixed-surface riding. One of the earlier gravel-specific offerings, Panaracer has kept it fun with limited edition colored tyres launched every spring, and a multitude of sizes catering to the most discerning of cyclists. Development at Panaracer HQ has never stopped, with releases of the Panaracer Gravelking SS (super sport), Extreme (for Mud, etc), following the SK (semi-knob). Whether Panaracer’s tyre is a choice for you, it is undeniably a brilliant tyre option.


  • Continuing the theme of tyres, you may know about Rene Herse tires, and the company’s founder, Jan Heine. Long story short, science-based research on rolling resistance and the evolution of tire / tyre development. Additionally, Jan is well known for his publication Bicycle Quarterly, the pioneering magazine that put gravel riding, bikepacking and adventures on the map.


  • Jason Ebberts of TBL Photography. His photographs have captured so many famous moments in the American Midwest gravel cycling scene.


  • Linda Guerrette is a fixture at so many gravel cycling events. Typically spotted in the company of Levi, her companion dog in backpack, Linda is not only an ace photographer, but a steward for all things gravel cycling. “My photography is based on life is an adventure, live it! Adventure being an exciting and unusual experience. It can be risky or not. It can be solo or shared experiences by two-legged or four-legged beings. Simply venture out to see what the world has to offer. I aspire to have viewers take a personal journey through my images by having them feel, explore, imagine, connect, see the world’s magic, understand, enjoy, see what the eyes can’t see.”


  • JR Petsko, founder of Hilly Billy Roubaix. The fact this race is no longer is tragic. I sincerely hope JR reads this bullet point, and finds inspiration in the future to revive Hilly Billy Roubaix of Morgantown, West Virginia. Classified as an “Ultra CX” race, this quote from 2015 sums up the growing popularity of Ultra CX and Gravel Racing… when a well known pro cyclist friend said to me… “One hour of punching yourself doing laps in a park, versus cool gravel / extreme stuff.” Extreme stuff is HBR, because there is no perfect bike to complete the course. See my event video from 2015. HBR enticed all manner of riders to attend, and it was part of the now-defunct American UltraCX series. JR, please bring back HBR!


  • LeLan Dains, Director at Visit Emporia, and founder of the Gravel Kansas project. LeLan’s an interesting individual who is typically found behind the scenes, what I like to call a quiet achiever. His work has done much for the gravel cycling genre, and he’s never afraid to lend a helping hand to a rider in need. Case in point. I bagged my one and only appearance at the 2017 Land Run, nowadays known as Mid South. Rain combined with 39F temperatures saw a monumental dropout rate, including my own, in the small town of Guthrie, Oklahoma. I spent at least an hour camped out inside LeLan’s SUV, cold to the bone and shivering uncontrollably. Thanks LeLan!

#51 and #52

This list was difficult to cap at 50, but the following people needed to be on this list.

  • Jess Cera, founder of JoJe´Bar, and The Last Best Ride. A former professional cyclist, Jess leveraged her Montana gravel race to create the Barbara Mansfield Champion Scholar Award in 2021. This is a scholarship is named after Jess’ high school guidance counselor, that provides post-secondary education funding for young women in Whitefish. Adding to this, Jess is an amazing chef!


  • Todd Leedy, co-founder of the OG North Florida Freeride Gravel Series. Going into its 13th year of operations for 2024, NFFGS is a 10-event series of mixed-surface fun rides (at the time of this article), mostly held near Gainesville, Florida. The NFFGS is 100% free, and epitomizes the true meaning of grass roots mixed-surface cycling fun. Todd’s tireless volunteer work on the series is in addition to his day to day responsibilities; family man, home-owner, and full-time employment.

Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom!


  1. Thanks for the mention!
    Not only is this our 7th consecutive year coming up in 24 but we’ve done more for our surrounding VFD’s, over $60k worth, more than any gravel event I know of. We donate 100% of our proceeds to these fine folks every year.

    • Avatar Peter F

      Hold on, did you see the title of the article? “Interesting people”. “Guitar Ted” aka Mark Stevenson is not in the least bit interesting.

  2. Thanks for the shout out and including me in with this stellar grouping of interesting people. Happy New Year.

  3. Avatar N lempinen

    Congrat’s Todd, last but not least, nothing wrong with that, very nice

  4. Avatar shiggy

    Who is “Steve” Cunningham?
    Do you mean Charlie, one of the founders of WTB?
    The were many, many people racing dropbar MTBs before JT, and for different reasons, including Steve Potts, Steve Cook, Wes Williams and Jackie Phelan.

    And I second, where is Guitar Ted and Jeff Kerkove?

    • JOM JOM

      Hello Don, there is a Steve Cunningham who you don’t know, wires crossed writing this ultra-long article. Corrected, thanks. If anyone isn’t happy with this list, please feel free to produce your own. There will be another list likely posted in 2024.

  5. Just to be clear, because it’s important: Chris is the co-founder of Niner Bikes. I am the other co-founder of Niner. I should also be clear that aside from being the creator of CVA suspension I did not have anything to do with the gravel bike mentioned here. In addition, that gravel bike received another CVA patent and the late and missed George Parry was the designer of that bike and should be mentioned here.

    • JOM JOM

      Steve, thank you for writing in and clarifying specifics of the MCR 9 RDO, its CVA patent, and of course, designer, Mr George Parry (RIP). I will make a correction ASAP, also to include your name as co-Founder, all facts I was unaware of. Additionally, I was completely unaware you were the designer of Argonaut’s GR3 Gravel Bike. I had the good fortune to conduct a factory tour of the Argonaut facility in the company of Alex.

      Thank you again for your insights.

      • Hey thanks for the correction!!! I really appreciate it, and now I’m listed as one of the 50 interesting people! Wow, that was unexpected and very much appreciated. I just want to make sure the record on my time there is straight. 🙂 Yes, I also designed the Argonaut GR3, RM3 and the patented molding process they use for their bike. What an incredible 4 years over at Argonaut in Bend, OR. I am also working on a drop bar adventure/gravel bike for my brand, Viral, which is called the Wanderer and is basically a drop bar hardtail mountain bike, but with a cool new twist for added comfort. My instagram page is currently chronicling the development of that bike. Anyway, thanks so much for the correction!

  6. Avatar bagni

    where’s pete stetina?

    • Avatar Nah Bruh

      Bruh, why would Stetina make the list? Stetina isn’t interesting. Failed euro pro, now getting beat down by the other pro riders riding gravel. rinse and repeat

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