Our partner in podcasting, The Gravel Ride Podcast, sits down this week with Gravel Locos founder Fabian Serralta to unpack the road to developing a stand out event. New for this year, Gravel Locos will be adding an event in Pueblo, Colorado in addition to the original event in Hico, Texas.
Automatic Transcription by The Gravel Ride (please excuse all errors)
[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport
I’m your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don’t need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.
[00:00:26] Craig Dalton: Have you ever thought about organizing a gravel event? I certainly have this week’s guest Fabion. Serralta took that passion and idea to create an event. And created gravel Locos.
The original event in Heico Texas is joined this year by a new event in Pueblo, Colorado. I sat down with Fabi and to learn about his inspiration for gravel Locos, the charitable component of what he does and the general theme of all gravel Locos events.
Before we jump into the conversation. I need to thank this week. Sponsor hammerhead.
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Mile mile and a half climb. Versus at the end i discovered as it turned a corner that i was in front of a six mile climb but fortunately the gradient was pretty chill.
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With that said let’s jump right into my interview with Fabienne from gravel Locos.
[00:03:40] CraigDalton.: Fabian , welcome to the show.
[00:03:41] FabianSerralta: Hey, Craig. Thank you.
[00:03:43] CraigDalton.: It’s good to talk to you again.
[00:03:44] FabianSerralta: Same here. Thank you.
[00:03:46] CraigDalton.: I’m excited to learn all the things about gravel locus and, but would love to learn a little bit about your background first, just kinda what drew you into the sport originally, and then what led you to take on the huge challenge of creating an event?
[00:04:01] FabianSerralta: Well, I, I would definitely say I was probably what led me to the sport was purely accidental. I I purchased a, a ranch in Oklahoma in 2012, and I remember the first time driving out there to see this ranch with the R I was following a realtor and wearing this perfectly smooth country road. And I was just thinking, this is great.
I’m gonna have my road bike out here. And and as soon as we get to the one road leads to the ranch, it was this. Awful road with rocks and gravel and dirt. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is terrible. I’m not gonna be able to ride my road, bike out here. And then we’re on this road. And this lady is just like flying on this road and just dusting, dirt everywhere.
And then we’re just flying on their road and, and it was like a 15 mile drive from on this. Awful gravel dirt road to the driveway of this ranch that I had just purchased and or I was about to purchase. And then the driveway from this road to the ranch was another mile and a half. And when we get to the ranch property in the house, I said to her.
This is terrible. I’m not gonna be able to ride my bike when I’m out here. She’s like, well, what do you mean? I said, I’ll get a flat tire by the time I get to, to the to the main road. And she’s like, well, you can just drive your bike in your car and, and go out there and just park out there. I’m like, where am I gonna park?
That’s like somebody else’s property out there. So this is 2012. And I, so I buy this property and probably from 20 12, 20 13 until about 2015. I didn’t get to ride my road bike every time that I went out there.
[00:05:41] CraigDalton.: yeah. I was gonna say there wasn’t a lot of options
[00:05:43] FabianSerralta: Yeah.
[00:05:44] CraigDalton.: of gravel bikes at that point in time.
[00:05:45] FabianSerralta: Yeah. But then in 2015, I’m visiting my son in Denver. He was gonna school at the university of Denver and I just happened to go to a, a bike store.
It was a, I believe it was a specialized bike store and I walk in there and there’s. White and red bike Witham, and it looked like a road bike and it had these Nobby tires on it and zip wheels. And I’m like, what in the world is this thing? And the sales guy comes up to me and I’m like, what is this thing?
You know? And he’s looking at me like, he’s like, where are you from? I’m like, well, I’m from Cuba. And he’s probably thinking this guy just fell off of open a Palm or something. Cause likes a, and I’m like, what’s a, you, I had idea what a. He’s like, you don’t know what a cross bike is. I was like, I don’t know, but I want that bike.
He’s like, well, you gonna Doy lacrosse. I’m like, no, I bought this ranch and it has these horrible roads that are rocks. And he’s like, oh, so you want a gravel bike? I’m like a gravel bike. I said, no, I want that bike. And I need you to ship it to Texas. And the guy is just like, looking me, like I’m nuts. But it was like, It looked like a road bike and it had, you know, what looked like to be mountain bike tires.
And I’m like, this is it. So I purchased a bike and it happened to be on my size, a 54 centimeter. They ship it to to Texas to my local bike shop and gets over there. They had 700 by 33 C tires. I start writing it in Oklahoma and I thought was the greatest thing ever. And I was running 90 PSI on the tires, which I thought at the time was perfect.
As you know, on my tubular road tires, I was running 120 PSI. And so I thought this thing was just as smooth as can be on these gravel roads. And I signed up for my first gravel event, October 1st, 2016. And I thought, Hey, you know, it was 15 miles, no big deal. I showed up at the time, I think I had 95 P assigned a rear and 90 in the front.
And I thought it was gonna be very much like a road rally where you have, you know, rest stops every so many miles. And so I think I had two water bottles and, or maybe a one snack or whatever, and man, it was a nightmare.
[00:07:55] CraigDalton.: Was was that in Oklahoma, the event that you signed
[00:07:58] FabianSerralta: it was Texas. It was a really hilly area monster, Texas. And you know, I paid my registration fee, which I think it was, I don’t know, 85, $90. And I was expecting it to be just like many of the road rallies I had done. And. You know, grass stops with bananas and oranges and cookies and pickle, juices, and Gatorade.
And there was nothing. all they had was a water table. with warm water, no food. And by the end of the 50 miles, I thought I was gonna die. And with that tire pressure on those 33 sea tires. I was so beat up. I swear, I’ll never do this again. I remember getting to the finish and calling some buddies. I’m like, I am never doing this again.
This is horrible. Why would anybody ever do this? You know,
[00:08:43] CraigDalton.: Yeah. It’s, it’s funny. What a difference the evolution of the equipment has made in the enjoyment of the sport. I’m with you. I, I got my first gravel bike a little bit later than the, I think back in 2016, but it was a. 2014 model year bike, 32 C tires. Fortunately it, it did have tubeless on it, but it still, like, I just felt like it wasn’t that much better than Ayro bike.
I had five or six years earlier, which I had pretty much quit riding because I would either flat or get the crap beat outta me every time I rode it.
[00:09:15] FabianSerralta: Yeah, this, this, I mean, it was, it was ay, it was a cycle cross bike. It was specialized crux. I mean, it had great, I mean, it had zip three or threes. I was running tubes. Which was, you know, a big difference from running tubers on my other bikes road bikes. And they had ceramic red, I couldn’t complain it was a great bike, but I was just running to run tire pressure, the wrong tire size.
And I really didn’t have any, any knowledge of, of gravel, but, you know, I did see other people running big, your tires and all that. And it, it was just this learning curve. But that first experience was horrible. And I really, I swear I never did this again. And it took a while and then I, I started learning from others like, Hey, yeah, you can’t be out there running tire pressure like that.
And you can’t, you, you gotta run bigger tires than that. And you gotta run, you know, tube, you know, tubeless. And and you know, I, it probably took me a few, a couple of months before I even wrote again. But as I, I started getting more and more advice from others that were doing it. But it was so early on.
But it was that experience that really led me to wanna have eventually at one day have a gravel event. That was a lot like a road rally, but that it was also, you know, it, it had the, it was at the time it was, you know, the dirty cancer event, the DK 200. So I wanted to have a, a DK 200 event with the pro component, but yet.
Beginner friendly. So have all the support that you would need for beginners like myself or, or people just really interested in gravel. So having all the bunch of rest stops and having portable bathrooms at rest stops for the women and having sag vehicles all over the place, but yet having a ton of pros.
So having, you know, an event that was a DK 200 packed with pros, but yet packed with. All the support and all the things that you are accustomed to experiencing and having at a, you know, family road, rally type event.
[00:11:15] CraigDalton.: Interesting. So it sounds like, I mean, if we fast forward a few years from that original event, it sounds like you competed in a handful of events every year to try to, you know, obviously continue your enjoyment of the sport. The, the equipment had continued to evolve and, and you’d had a number of experiences at other events where you’re like, I like part of what this event has done, but part of what that event has done.
And you thought, well, like what if I did this on my own?
[00:11:41] FabianSerralta: Yeah, look so it, the events continue. I con I would go to every gravel event that I could go to, but it just, it was, you know, you pay your 75, 85, a hundred something dollars, but. You’re lucky you got a water table and it was, everything was always self support, self support, self supported, and you’re paying all this money, but you’re not really getting a whole lot in return.
And to me, it really excluded a lot of beginners. It excluded people that didn’t have a lot of bike skills or, or bike mechanic knowledge because, you know, I always say what, what makes riding gravel so great is that you’re out in the middle of nowhere. , but what that’s also, what makes it kind of dangerous and also kind of keeps a lot of people out of it because you know, you’re out in the middle of nowhere.
You don’t have cell reception, you don’t have convenience stores. Oftentimes you don’t have many houses or you don’t see a vehicle or cars don’t even go come by half the time. So yeah, you’re out there in the middle of nowhere, but then you don’t help of neighbors and you don’t have convenience stores and you don’t have others to reach out to in case of an emergency or a mechanical.
And I feel that that deters a lot of people from venturing and, and experiencing gravel. And as a result, you know, a lot of people miss out on experiencing gravel. So how do you bring in all those people? And for me, Is the way to do that is by bringing in all the support, the sag vehicles, aid stations, every so many miles.
So for example, in gravel Locos, you have, you know, six aid stations you have 20 something sag vehicles for the women. We have portable bathrooms at all the aid stations where there is in HaCo or in Pueblo, Colorado . And that’s how we take out that, that fear of, you know, Being out there in the middle of nowhere.
So, but yet we still have, you know, 20 something, 30 pros out there participating just like you, we did, you know, at events like dirty cans, 200 or, you know, what was land run, you know? And I referred to them by those names because that’s what I was modeling.
[00:13:42] CraigDalton.: I’m glad we unearthed that because I think it’s important to kind of think about people’s orientations as event organizers in terms of how they’re gonna set up the overall experience. You know, it’s one thing when you’ve got a, a top level pro who’s decided they want to get into the event business.
And oftentimes they do design events that are driven from the front. They’re really a professional experience that does trickle down to the rest of us. But it’s
you know, it’s pretty refreshing to hear you talk about. Wanting the last person in the event to have the best time possible as well as, as the first.
So stepping back for a second, you, you live in Arlington, Texas, you’ve got property in Oklahoma. You’d experience the gravel community for a number of years. You decided, Hey, there’s something missing. I’d love to highlight my perspective of a gravel event. How did you decide on, on, on Texas for the original event and what was that process like?
[00:14:36] FabianSerralta: Well, I, you said it in, cause that’s where I predominantly ride, you know, so I’ve a lot gravel. I’ve done gravel in California. I’ve done gravel in Vermont, in, in Montana. I’ve done gravel in Scotland. I, you know, I’ve, I’ve done gravel in other parts and, but Texas, where, where I mostly write gravel and I’ve done gravel all over Texas and HaCo.
I remember writing and close to close to HaCo. And one of the folks that I was riding with says, man, if you like this area, You’ve gotta check out. Heico so I said Heico where’s that? So I found it went out there and,
[00:15:13] CraigDalton.: And where, where is it relative to, to the Dallas area
[00:15:17] FabianSerralta: for me, it’s about an hour and 20 minute drive
[00:15:20] CraigDalton.: and is that to, to the east or which direction
[00:15:23] FabianSerralta: I’m the guy that gets lost with Garmen.
So so I’m gonna take a chance here. Say I think it’s so out.
[00:15:30] CraigDalton.: Okay.
[00:15:31] FabianSerralta: So, yeah, I’m horrible. I’m like directionally challenged. So I get asked this all the time. Like the other day I was in Pueblo for meetings and I was meeting with the the the PBR, the folks for the professional bull riding association, which one of our sponsors in there were asking me.
So which direction I, I have no idea. Here’s the route, you figure it out. And really, I do get lost even with Garman. I’m that guy that I’m following route. And I always end up with more mileage. So I, up going out to HaCo. And I follow this route and it had so much more climbing, even though I am not built like a climber.
I love as these challenging routes. I really love taking on routes to have as much climbing as possible. And it, even though it takes me all stinking day and HaCo has that, you know, for Texas as one of these guess that you get so much climbing and I absolutely fell in love with it. And Heico has it’s heart packed.
And it has a lot of beautiful canopy areas, you know, tree canopy, tree areas. It has lots of water crossings. It has. I mean, it’s just a really diverse terrain. And even if it were to rain, it’s so hard packed. It’s it’s got a lot of smooth areas. There’s really nothing rough or nasty about it. It, and. Even, even if it rains it’s, it’s not an area that, that you get much mu much more than a couple inches of mud.
So it’s not like, like Mid-South where you have, you know, six inches, 12 inches of mud in your foot, you know, is, you know, foot into the mud. For example, last year in may it did run, it did rain. And so yeah, people got my, but you’re talking, you know, an inch of mud, two inches of mud. Maybe two and a half.
So it’s not a situation that you’re just bogged down and you, you have to walk, you, you can ride through it. So it it’s really a, an area that you can ride it all year long rain or shine. And it was just perfect. And. I said, this is it. We’re gonna do it here. So, you know, we had last year, we had three routes this year.
We have four routes. Last year we had a 30 mile or a 60 and 150 something. And after our survey of the event, it was a very positive survey folks, which is absolutely thrilled with the event. But what kept coming up was have a 100 mile. I said, all right. So for 2022, we have a hundred mile as well.
And it just filled up immediately. So folks really wanted a hundred. Not everybody wants to do 150 something miles, but they want it more than a 60 mile. So the hundred mile, you know, I never even thought of it, you know? So you learn, I’ve learned a lot, you know, I thought,
[00:18:03] CraigDalton.: feel, I feel like I’m in that category where 150 mile, maybe I can muster that up once a year, if I’m lucky, but a hundred keeps me honest. I need to train for that pretty well. But I, I believe in my heart, like I can always uncork a hundred miles if I’m like relatively fit.
[00:18:20] FabianSerralta: Yeah. And you know, and the hundred mile it is, it’s a legit route. I mean, it’s, it’s over 5,000 feet of climbing and it’s really a beautiful route and it, and it really incorporates all the hard climbs that are in the 150 something mile. And
[00:18:33] CraigDalton.: what I, one of the things I always wanna unpack with event organizers, because I think it is a challenge depending on where you are, is okay. So you you’ve decided on HaCo as a, as a great riding location. But there are also logistics and permits and all kinds of things. You need to go through granted in a rural community.
Maybe those are less than a more populous community, but you still need to do that. So what was that process? What was that process like for you?
[00:18:59] FabianSerralta: Really easy, you know, what, what I have learned with I, you know, this is for me as a hobby and HaCo has, you know, it’s really been incredibly easy. They they’ve really take care of all that for me. And I went in there with, you know, the understanding that, look, I’m doing this to help the volunteer fire departments.
If you’re willing to help me, I’m willing to do it.
[00:19:17] CraigDalton.: And was that perspective, something that was already in your head. Hey, I wanna have a charitable component to the event I put on.
[00:19:24] FabianSerralta: Yes. Yes. And, and if you’re willing to work with me and, and take care of these things, I’m willing to do it. If you’re not willing to work with me, I’m outta here. I just, you know, it’s, it’s one of those things that I, I don’t have the time to mess with all that stuff. So if the town is willing, then I’m willing, I, if they want to put me through all these hoops and things and, and, and, and barricades and all these.
All this red tape, I’m just, I’m outta here because I just don’t have time for it. You know, I’ve got four kids and two other businesses to run. And so I was really upfront and they were really honest about it. And they just, they facilitated everything that I needed. They, they provide all the things that I needed.
They provide law enforcement, they provide crowd control and barricades and they provide everything. The same thing with Pueblo, you know, they’re.
[00:20:09] CraigDalton.: you know, hike in the original gravel locus event. Sorry to interrupt you there for it. It took off through the gravel cycling community as a event option incredibly quickly. And there was a couple things that. Kind of at least caught my eye right off the bat, which were one was correct me if I’m wrong here.
But it seemed like the registration was entirely a donation based model, which was unheard of. And two for a first year event, you had all these top pros saying I’m gonna be there.
[00:20:40] FabianSerralta: Yes.
[00:20:40] CraigDalton.: How did both of those things happen?
[00:20:43] FabianSerralta: well, you know, it was, it was out of really, so the event was initially gonna take place in 2020 in November and I canceled it cuz of COVID, you know, so I had the Greenlight from, from HaCo, but I canceled it because of COVID. My basically, you know, I have absolutely zero connections in the bike industry.
And what I tried to do was try and get the bike industry board. And the only way that I could do that was reaching out to them via Instagram and Facebook. And that really didn’t really work. I couldn’t get anybody to, you know, return any messages or anything, despite the amount of money that I spent on bikes.
You know, I have the the record of my local bike shop for spending the most money on bicycles every year. just absurd. despite all that I couldn’t get a response from anybody. So I said, you know what? I’m not gonna let that discourage me. I’m gonna have this event with, or without the bike industry.
And so I said, I’ll, I’ll fund it. I’ll do it myself, cuz I I’m gonna have this event. And this event is gonna have the component of the pros and the component of the beginners. And there is not there. Isn’t gonna be a cutoff. So if folks are gonna train for the geo one fifty, a hundred fifty something miles with over 8,000 feet of elevation gain.
I’m not gonna yank ’em off the course. They’re gonna be out there as long as they want to be. And if they want to give up, they’re gonna give up, but it’s not gonna be, I’m not gonna take it away from anybody. I’m not gonna be that person. That’s gonna say, Hey, you know what? You didn’t make the cut off by 10 minutes or an hour or two hours.
And you’re off the course. Because I’m always that person, who’s the last one. And you know, when I was at Ted’s event in Vermont last year, I didn’t make the cutoff. And when they came up to me and they, Hey, look, you, you didn’t make the cutoff. I said, , we’re gonna have a fricking fight. . And they said call Ted.
And they did. They called Ted and it’s like, leave him alone. He’s fine. I I’ll take care of, I’ll wait for him. And Ted did. And he understands, he, he waited out there for me and I didn’t make the cutoff by over an hour. And he was out there in the rain, in the cold waiting for me, everybody was gone. The whole thing was shut down.
And he followed me for like the last 15 miles, cuz it was pouring rain. It was cold, but you know, he, he let me finish the, the event and to me, that’s what being inclusive and, and finishing and, and you know what it’s about. So to, Hey said, I’m gonna have this event regardless. So in 20 for 2021, how I was able to.
Do what I did is with, like you mentioned earlier, this, this donation thing I said, you know what? Let’s just, I’ve gotta get the attention of, of folks. Cause I don’t have the support of the bike industry and I don’t have name recognition and I certainly don’t have, you know, experience. I’ve never done this before.
So how do we capture attention? We’re gonna do this for free. It’s gonna be a free event. And, and first thing I said, all right, this event is gonna have 1200 free registrations. And what you’re gonna do is it’s up to you to make a donation, a direct donation to the volunteer fire department. Most folks are used to paying a hundred, something to hundred dollars or more for an event like of this caliber.
Remember you have all these age stations you have. So you’re getting 20 something pros. Top level pros from around the world. You’re getting over five age stations, fully S stocked, 20 something, sag vehicles, portable bathrooms at all. Age stations. You’re getting a draw string swag bag. Really nice. You’re getting with zipper.
You’re getting T really nice. T-shirts you’re getting purest water bottles from specialized. You’re get all this swag, all this stuff for free. So, whether you give the fire station a dollar or $0, you’re gonna get everything for free. So it was an honor system. And really, I think that showed people that it, Hey, this is an event that has Lawrence 10, Dan Ted king, Peter TNA, Allison Terick Jess, Sarah.
You know, Colin, Strickland, you know, all these names that I, that are all of ’em are gonna be at at Unbound, all of ’em are, are all these huge events and there’s no cutoff. There’s all of this support that you don’t get at these big events, you know, as far as aid stations and it is entirely up to me to decide how much I’m willing to pay with what I think it’s worth well out of those 1200 free registrations.
Less than 400 people donated anything. So that was a bit of a shock, but we still had the event
[00:25:11] CraigDalton.: Yeah. And, and just to unpack that a little bit, you know, quite disappointing, obviously, that just like sort of the percentage of people that actually donated and to, to put a finer point on it, like, as you describe all the things that one would get for participating, you’re talking about a hundred dollars worth of.
Effort per rider to give them nutrition, to provide them porta potties, to give them swag, all those things. So it’s a, it’s a big proposition that I think often gets lost and and you put it in the proper context in that without someone supporting you without a, you know, a nutrition sponsor coming in and dumping.
Tens of thousands of dollars worth of product on your tables. Like that’s coming outta your pocket as the race organizer. And there’s no way around that. So pretty incredible effort to get it off the ground. And sorry to hear that the donations were not as great as you wanted them to be, but with those donations, something great.
Did material realize for the fire department.
[00:26:12] FabianSerralta: Yeah. And.
That that side didn’t happen the way that it had. I had hope, but it, we don’t really even think about it because we, at the end of the day, there were so many articles written about the event that I never expected in a million years. I honestly, I never thought that GCN would write about it. That basically magazine would write about it.
That cycling news, the Velo news, all these publications wrote about it. You know, it was listed as a, as a basically magazine listed as a. Top 20 bucket list event. You, it was mentioned like 17 times in VLO news. GCN mentioned it cycling news had articles about it. These are all things that I never even consider would happen.
[00:26:55] CraigDalton.: Yeah. it was absolutely incredible to reach the brand and the event got in that first year.
[00:27:00] FabianSerralta: We smoking great deal on the, the fire. We were still able to buy it with the money that we raised. We, you know, we still had great registration numbers we had. And then for 2022, you know, we have over 1500 people registered and we raised enough to build a bigger fire station. So
[00:27:20] CraigDalton.: That’s
[00:27:20] FabianSerralta: while maybe, you know, less than 400 people register out of 1200, it doesn’t matter to me because cuz we still accomplished everything that we set out to do.
We still got more numbers than I ever thought were gonna happen. And as a result, we, we have interest from other cities that are contacting me that wanna have events. So, you know, I, I was several cities reached out to me. Hey, can, can you do the same at our city? And it is, you know, I’ve had to turn down cities cuz it’s just too much.
You know, I’ve had two, two other Texas cities that I asked me to host events at their cities. And I unfortunately I’ve had to say no because I just don’t have the time
[00:27:59] CraigDalton.: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:28:00] FabianSerralta: Pueblo. Against my better judgment. I was like, sure. It’s you know, the, the Pueblo story. I really, really I, I couldn’t say no, it’s just, they they’ve, they’ve been wanting to do an event there and they even they were bidding to try and get an event and they, they lost the bidding most cities that want to do something like this.
They’re paying promoters to do the events there. That’s one of my rules. I will not charge a city to host any event, cuz it goes completely against what I’m trying to do. So what I’m trying to do is bring money to the city and build and bring equipment and funding to the volunteer fire departments.
So why would I be charging them money to host events
[00:28:39] CraigDalton.: Yeah, it’s super, it’s super interesting. When you look at the economics of events, just events in general, how much they cost, but the economic impact to these rural communities, which in your case is very specific to raising money for these volunteer fire departments. But even beyond that, the, you know, the amount of meals purchased the amount of hotel nights, cetera.
Like it’s it, it has a significant impact. and, I’m super interested to get into your second event in Pueblo and
learn how that happened. But one more question, just outta my own curiosity, how did you end up getting those 20 to 30 pros to come to a first year event?
[00:29:15] FabianSerralta: I will see the credit to that goes to Ted king because I reached out to several pros. First was him. Via Instagram. Again, I don’t have any connections or I don’t really know anybody. And he was the only person that responded. And I wrote him this long thing through Instagram, direct messaging through Instagram.
And I explained to him, look, this is what I’m trying to do. I’m I’m gonna have this event and it’s gonna be free to everybody and gonna be up to them to donate. And this is all that they’re gonna get, and this is all I’m gonna give them. And this is what I’m trying to buy a fire truck for the fire department.
And I’m trying to get this many pros and he, he rides back. He’s like, are you nuts? and he finally calls me. He’s like, are you nuts? He’s like, I’m so intrigued by this. And.
[00:30:04] CraigDalton.: The idea, the idea was so crazy. He had to call and talk to the guy behind
[00:30:08] FabianSerralta: That’s exactly what he said. He’s like, this is absolutely insane in this, but I’m so like intrigued by this and he’s like, are you really gonna do this? And I said, oh yeah, I’m really gonna do this. And he’s like, you know, this is how stuff gets done. You know, when, when people just take a chain and, and, and do something completely outside of the box.
And, and he said, can I have two weeks to think about this? And I said, absolutely just take your time. And and he’s, and he did two weeks later, he calls me back and I’m like huge fan of Ted. And, and I remember watching him in the tour de France and all that, and sure enough, two weeks later he calls me back.
He’s like, all right, I’m in. And. Do you have a website? No. He’s like, you need a website and then he’s like, what are you gonna do for registration? I don’t know. I mean, he just went down this list. He’s like, you gotta have registration, you gotta have this. And, and then and then he says to me and your social media post suck
[00:31:11] CraigDalton.: suck
[00:31:12] FabianSerralta: and he is, starts helping me, you know, he starts Giving me so much guidance and stuff like that.
And he is like, and how are you gonna get ahold of all these other riders? Cause I give ’em a list. Like I want to get ahold of, of all these other riders. And he is like, I don’t know. He says that, you know, let me help you. So he started really vouching for me and, and contacting them. And. And then he gave me a lot of advice.
He says, you know, don’t, don’t do a don’t, don’t give money, don’t do a purse, don’t do this and don’t do that. And, and you’re gonna find that the folks that believe in what you’re trying to do are gonna jump on board. And, and that’s how it happened. He just, the folks that came forward are, are folks that care about what I was trying to do.
And really wanted to be a part of something totally different. That was more about giving back. To communities and, and, and not so much about, you know, a big corporate event, it was more of a Grasso type thing. They, they were just interested and a lot of ’em have their own events that are grassroots focused, you know, Ted and Jess, Sarah, Sam Boardman, Laura King, and Ted, you know, all of them Lawrence Tanem has his own events in the Netherlands.
Peter has his own event. So all of there’s a connection amongst all of us. That have to do with our own little small events that are, they’re not corporate they’re just small community type events.
[00:32:32] CraigDalton.: Yeah. Yeah. Amazing, amazing
[00:32:34] FabianSerralta: then what would I do in return? You know, I help with the hotels and things like that and meals and stuff like, you know, that’s how, what we do, you know, they, they ride for a living that’s, that’s, that’s how they make a living.
So you certainly, you have to help out in some way, you know, and you know, when with HCO helps me out with the hotel cost, so I provide them with a room and, and stuff like that.
[00:32:54] CraigDalton.: Gotcha.
Interesting. So now let’s shift gears to Pueblo. I know you had mentioned you had a number of rural communities. See what you had done and reach out to you, but what was it about going to Pueblo in a state that you don’t and you don’t have property at this point? What was it about the Pueblo opportunity that said, Hey, this is the right next step for the gravel locus event team.
[00:33:16] FabianSerralta: Well, I, I found out that they helped, they they’ve been wanting to have a gravel rent and I found out that. They had been bidding on, on, on having an event hosted there and, and they lost somebody else got the bid and that kind of bugged me. It bugged me, it bugs me that these small towns that are hurting and economically, and they’re trying to bring business and they’re trying to bring funds to their towns that they’re, that there.
Trying to get events by paying promoters and paying corporations money or offering to pay money. So that events are being hosted there. And to me, that it just doesn’t make sense because if you’re doing it for, for, as a business, you’re making money. If, if you’re hosting an event somewhere, you’re gonna make money from registration, you’re gonna make money from cells of, of, of, you know, shirts and, and you’re making money from.
Vendors and, and the bike industry’s paying you per and, and, and all this stuff that I, I have, I don’t have access to cause I don’t have any, you know, I don’t have the bike industry behind me and you know, or any of that, but you know, the, the lifetime events and the big corporate events have all of that, you know, you know, all those, you know, shaman and spa and all those companies that are, there are not there for free, you know, let’s just be honest, you know, I was born at night, but not last night.
So, And then to have these small towns that are struggling financially and have high unemployment paying significant amount of money for, for them to host the event there, to me that that just seemed wrong. And as a result, they, they were outted by another town and they didn’t get the event. And I learned about this and I said, all right, we’ll do the event there.
So I met with the city I met with the mayor. And one of the questions were, well, how much are you gonna charge us to do the event here? I said zero. And I said, if I ever ask you for money to do an event here, kick me in your ass, please. I said, that’s not. That goes completely against what I’m trying to do.
I said, the reason I’m I’m doing these events is to bring funds to cities that are struggling financially, but also to bring funds to the volunteer fire department, because. Guess who we call when we fall and wipe out and bust our asses out, riding gravel, volunteer, fire departments, guess who’s out there.
That’s, who’s out there. You know, when we’re out there riding gravel that, and all of us know this it’s volunteer fire departments. We’re out in the middle of nowhere and it’s a volunteer fire department. It out there charge and really taking care of hundreds of, of miles. That they’re covering and that’s who we rely on.
So if we’re gonna support a, a department as a gravel community, I mean, I would think that I, you know, logically we’re gonna support the volunteer fire departments in those areas that we ride. So it’s not that I’m Mr. Nice or anything like that. It’s just logical that we’re gonna support the very same people that come to help us.
And it’s the volunteer fire departments in those areas that we ride. So. And I think they, they appreciate that, you know, so to charge them, it doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it’s fair, but they do help. You know, they provide, like we said earlier, they help me with the permitting and they help me with law enforcement and they help me with barricades and things like that.
So they, they do help. It’s not like they’re doing nothing. So it’s, it becomes a, a community, a true community involved event. And we, we get that. We throw that word around all the time, community, this community, that, but when you really dig into it, poor community is paying a few hundred thousand dollars.
And it’s really no longer a community. Now we’re talking about a service and a fees and stuff like that. But in, in our case, you know, HaCo provides all this help and volume and stuff like that. The same with Pueblo. That’s.
[00:37:03] CraigDalton.: think that’s, you know, it’s, it’s in, I think it’s refreshing to take that expansive view of community cuz oftentimes the gravel community, those words are thrown around a lot. Generally implying your fellow athletes, the fellow people out there riding with you. But it, it really is in these rural communities.
It’s the people of the community that are coming out, coming out, whether they’re, you know, Manning the registration booth or Manning an aid station, or, you know, opening their doors and giving you a glass of water. If you’re stuck out there somewhere like that, that really is the breadth of the community that gravel does touch in these town.
[00:37:38] FabianSerralta: Oh, I mean, you better believe it. If they don’t help me, I’m not doing it. mean, there’s no way I, I would do it. It it’s just, you know, I wouldn’t do it. And they understand that and, and, and I’m really open about that. It’s like, I’m not charging anything, but you gotta help me. You know, when I met with the fire department, it’s like, you all gotta help me.
There’s, you know, I don’t have, this is, you know, and I, and I say this, you know, like, My social media, it’s one Cuban and an iPhone. You know, I don’t have a, a, a, a crew or anything like that. It’s, you know what you see on social media? It’s Fabian, you know, one Cuban and an iPhone. I don’t have employees.
I don’t have anything. It’s just myself. So I, I will take all the help that I can get. And you don’t need an entire staff to, to do anything like this, but you do need, you know, help and, and volunteers and, and Pueblo understands that. And HaCo understands that, you know, I’m looking at another state right now and we’re looking at a third event and they understand the same thing that, Hey, we need, we want to have event grab a locus type event.
We don’t have, you know, a few hundred thousand dollars to. Give a promoter to bring the event here, but we do have willing bodies and people that are willing to, you know, help and, and volunteer. And, and that’s the model. And, but we also like having 20 something pros and we like having the, that racing component.
But yet we also want to have an environment that the Fabians that are gonna come in last know that they can train for this. And it’s not gonna be taken away. They’re not gonna be turned around and yanked off the course because to me, that’s, I can’t imagine training for something for a year. And, you know, not being a Ted king or, or, or a Allison Terick or Jess, Sarah, I’m not those folks.
You know, I can’t imagine training and having my family behind me and all of that support and, and the struggles of having to work other jobs and then being yanked off the course until, Hey, you know, you can’t finish you because you didn’t make it by 30 minutes or an hour or two hours. I cannot imagine what that feels like.
And to me that just, that that’s not inclusive, that that’s just telling somebody you’re not good enough and turn around. I, I, to me, there’s no explanation that you can give me that tells me that’s rational, reasonable, not even safety. What do you mean safety? There’s, there’s nothing. If it’s a issue then guess what?
You know, the amount of money that these events make, then you plant a fricking sag vehicle behind those folks to follow them till the end. What does that cost? I mean, lemme know I’ll pay for it. What’s the big deal. You know, and that’s what we do at gravel locus. Last year, we had a vehicle sag vehicle to follow five folks, cuz it was dark.
They didn’t have lights. I said, well you freaking follow them. Follow ’em all the way to the end. You’re gonna be their light because. Again, why would we yank somebody off the course? Now, if they want to quit, it’s on them. If they want to throw in the towel, it’s on them. But, and, and then the other thing that we have with our pros and, and, and they’re more, and you, we don’t even have to ask em and it’s like, Hey, you know, make yourself available to the, to the folks, to the regular folks.
And I do, there are so many selfies out there with Ted and, and kids and, and Pete. Lawrence. It’s just super cool and funny as hell. Allie Terick and Jess, you know, all these young girls and, and folks that got to meet them personally. And they were out there available to all these folks, which, you know, it’s, those are memories and things that you just, you know, all their fans get to meet them.
[00:41:16] CraigDalton.: A hundred percent. So I guess we, you know, I feel like we’ve unpacked pretty completely what the gravel Locos, eco ethos is and what the experience is gonna be like on the Pueblo side. What is that terrain like? I’ve driven through Pueblo, but I’ve never, I’ve never put rubber on the its and trails there.
What, what do you expect the courses to be like in Pueblo?
[00:41:36] FabianSerralta: Oh, my gosh, it’s silky smooth, but you know, it’s, it’s, it’s so beautiful. I got to ride 23, 24 miles the other day. So we, we, we rode from the fire station. We did a loop and it was about 24 miles and about 1400 feet of elevation gain. The the main route we call it the, the GL one 50, that’s just our, our, our, the, the big route is always gonna be called the gravel locals one 50, but it’s really 169 miles.
So you get, you get a little extra, but it’s, you know, right with GPS says it’s over 13,000 miles, but as we know, it’s always under, it’s always more than.
[00:42:14] CraigDalton.: feet of climbing.
[00:42:15] FabianSerralta: So I would expect just about 14,000 feet of elevation gain and, you know, it’s it’s for me coming from Texas, it was a little, a little harder cuz there there’s that whole, you know, the altitude, but it is just so smooth and so nice.
It’s you know, it’s hard packed also. It’s it’s smoother. The gravel there is it. It’s just hard to explain. It’s just, it’s beautiful.
[00:42:40] CraigDalton.: So do you imagine this being the type of event that larger groups can stay together and benefit from drafting off one another and things like that? Just given the type of terrain you’re on.
[00:42:48] FabianSerralta: Yeah. Yeah. It’s just, I mean, it, it’s hard to explain. I mean, there it’s, I was, I was telling them over there, it’s like, it’s hard and it’s definitely challenging, but you’re looking at mountains and you’re looking at, at all this beautiful terrain, it’s really, you know, I was, I was exhausted. Again, I’m not, I’m not anybody who’s in the kind of shape and certainly I’ve, I’ve gained.
I, I was telling them the other day, I was like, you know, there was the COVID 19 pounds. I, I managed to, you know, I went from riding a ton of mileage every year. And when I started gravel Locos, I’ve gained 50 pounds in, in two years of not riding and running two businesses and gravel Loco. So. I’ve gotta find a way to get these 50 pounds off.
So yeah, going downhill was great over there, but going up was tough, but just a scenery is just so, so interesting.
[00:43:37] CraigDalton.: and are the courses punctuated by like a significant climbs? Like in terms of like, oh, you’re gonna be climbing for an hour at a time. Like
[00:43:44] FabianSerralta: know, gradual they’re gradual climbs. There was nothing that like in HCO, you get these punchy climbs over. There’s more gradual. So. You know, you can get away with with less big gears in HighCo. I tend to run bigger gears over there. You know, I didn’t get in any of my big gears, you know, I, I run a 10 52 in a rear Ram and I, I wasn’t using it over there because they’re, they’re more of the gradual climb.
You kind of get into a rhythm and they’re kind of, I prefer that to be honest, that you just kind of get into this groove and you get into this rhythm. Whereas high code has these. You know, we have some, some climbs that are 22% 23, and they’re pretty punchy. And we have these three climbs that are back to back that we call the three bees.
You can decide whatever you want to call those bees, but bitches they’re rough. And then and man, those kick up into the 22, you 23, 20 4%. and it’s, you know, they’re kind of loose rocks and you just kind of gotta lean forward and you gotta get that big granny gear and just work your way up.
Whereas in Pueblo, you don’t have, I didn’t experience anything like that. And, and most of what’s out there is these long gradual climbs that you kind of get into a rhythm. So I prefer the, the type of climbing that they have out there in Pueblo, but they’re both very, very different, very different type of riding.
[00:45:05] CraigDalton.: And would you change your, your tire width from HaCo to Pueblo? Would you do
[00:45:10] FabianSerralta: I think that you can. I think that at, at both, you can get away with smaller diameter tires. So I’ve done HaCo with 35 centimeter tires. I’ve done HaCo with 47. I think that in Pueblo again, we rode Pueblo last week where it had been snowing. and it was muddy, but even then, you know, I wrote it with 45 centimeters and there was folks out there running it, riding it with 30 eights and they still did just fine, but the, the Pueblo gravel is much smoother than the HaCo.
And I, I can see some folks getting away with when it’s dry, especially over getting away with, you know, 30 fives,
[00:45:50] CraigDalton.: Yeah.
[00:45:50] FabianSerralta: somes. I.
[00:45:52] CraigDalton.: It’s funny. It’s so it’s so counterintuitive to me to, and S B T gravels the same way I remember getting like my arm twisted to run 30 eights, and I was like, there’s, there’s no way, like I’m going to Colorado. And at home, I’m all about the 40 sevens here in Marin county, cuz it’s so Rocky and but sure enough, like I definit could have ridden that as they call it champagne, gravel in Colorado on 38 with absolutely no issue.
So it, it, it’s quite fascinating to me and. One of the things I.
[00:46:20] FabianSerralta: racers recently that are 40 threes. I haven’t put ’em on yet, but they’re kind of, you know, they’re not slicks, but they’re not Nobbies and I can’t wait to try something like that. They’re 40 threes. And normally in HighCo I run 40 fives or 40 sevens, but I’m looking forward to running those 43 as a whole new tire I’ve never used for, but I can certainly see a.
And in Pueblo getting away with 38, even, even a slick or a semi slick.
[00:46:45] CraigDalton.: Yeah. so, so interesting. It’s obviously, it’s like, it’s a never ending debate and discussion about which tires to use. And I remember reading, you know, where the, when we’re recording, it’s the weekend of Mid-South and you know, there’s a lot of people. Twisting their arms and, and twist getting all twisted inside about what tires are gonna run tomorrow or today.
Excuse me. On race day at Mid-South. So always fun and appreciate the insight there. So for people looking to find out more information about the events, where can they find information about gravel locus? Why don’t you tell us the, the website and the dates of the events this year?
[00:47:19] FabianSerralta: So HaCo is May 14th. And Pueblo is October the first you can sign up on our website, which is www dot gravel, locos.bike. Just make sure you click the link for one or the other, or if you wanna do both I’ve left. He still opened. But we’ve got a or 1500. I haven’t decided where I want to shut it down because HaCo is open to having more Pueblo is still open as well.
but just all the information is on there. There’s four routes for each. So there’s the gravel locals, 30, the 60, the hundred. And the one 50 information about the routes is on both of them. The cause for each of the events is always gonna be a volunteer fire department. Pretty much everything you need to know about it is on the website.
You’ll find all the different pros that are gonna be there. We’ve got more pros to add to the website every day you get, you know, we get new pros that wanna come on board. As far as our sponsors there, aren’t not many of them, but the, the ones that are on there, you’ll find out that these are folks that are very, have been very loyal since the beginning.
And if somebody wants to be a sponsor, they’re more welcome. Welcome to send us a message or email us, but. We’re pretty much self supported and really it’s just a community thing. And, and it’s really, this whole entire thing has been made possible by, by the towns and, and little businesses within the towns.
Very small involvement from the bike industry. It’s been a, a community thing to be on. Oh, just kind of how it worked out.
[00:48:42] CraigDalton.: Amazing. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for putting so much of your heart out.
there and, and making a making events that you wanted to see happen in the world. And I think it’s such a sort of beneficial place for the gravel cycling community to have event organizers with that orientation and From this conversation in our earlier conversations.
I know how much of yourself, both personally and financially you put on the line to create this event series. So again, for, from, for me, thank you for doing that and exciting to hear that Pueblo is going off this year and exciting to hear that yet another community has come to you and talking about like, how do we have grow Ava three.
[00:49:19] FabianSerralta: Yes, we we’ll release that soon. I’ll let you know. .
[00:49:23] CraigDalton.: Awesome. Thanks for your time, Fabian.
[00:49:25] FabianSerralta: you. Thank you. So.
[00:49:27] Craig Dalton: That’s going to do it for this week’s edition of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thanks to Fabion, not only for joining us on the show, but for everything he’s doing around the gravel Locos series, I think he’s got his heart in the right place and I’ve no doubt. These are some of the best gravel events out there to attend.
Until next time here’s to finding some dirt under your wheels.