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Interbike podcast looks at booming gravel market

Published June 8, 2018
Kansas gravel (photo by Bob Huff)

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (BRAIN) — On the heels of the Dirty Kanza, which took place last weekend, Interbike – The Podcast talks to the Emporia event’s organizers including Jim Cummins and LeLan Dains about how the sold-out event went off this year. Joining the discussion was Dan Hughes, owner of Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, who’s raced in the DK since it’s beginning back in 2006 and is a 10-time finisher.

Cummins talks about how he was inspired to start the Dirty Kanza after seeing other events north of him including the Trans Iowa, which started in 2005.

“A couple of us were intrigued by that and thought somebody ought to put on a race like that in Kansas,” he said on the podcast. “2006 was our first year and we had 34 riders. We were pretty pleased with that. We didn’t think there were that many people who would want to ride 200 miles in a day on gravel. We’ve grown every year. The 2018 event that took place just last weekend we had 2,700 riders from 49 states and 16 countries who converged on Emporia, Kansas, to ride their bikes through the Flint Hills.”

At Sunflower, gravel bikes have supplanted traditional road bike sales, making up as much as 30 percent of its road business.

“The conversations I have in my shop every day are from people who want to ride and have an endurance-length experience where they’re out there testing themselves against big challenges, but they’re also concerned about distracted drivers … gravel provides them an opportunity to go and ride in some really beautiful places and what I think are the best roads to ride on and do it in a relatively car-free manner,” Hughes noted on the podcast.

Bruno Suttles, sales and marketing manager for IRC Tire USA, also joined the podcast to give a perspective from a tire brand.

“It’s pretty incredible how fast this area has taken off,” he said. “I see different races across the country like Dirty Kanza and Belgian Waffle Ride, which are totally different events. And from a tire perspective, each race requires a totally different tire. For a race like Belgian Waffle, you’re running a 28c or 32c tire. Then out in Kansas or Gravel Worlds or other races where you worry about mud you’re running a high-volume 40c or 42c tire. For us it’s great to develop a tire for every circumstance or event someone’s participating in.”

Tune in to hear more. You can download the podcast from SoundCloud, iTunes or Interbike’s website

Topics associated with this article: Interbike

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