kingdomexperiences

3 ways to better prepare for your next gravel (dirt road) ride:

By: Collin Daulong

Recently road biking has seen fewer and fewer riders participating, and for valid reasons. Roads are getting more congested and drivers are becoming increasingly distracted by the accessibility of technology. In light of these two facts, many road riders are seeking quieter roads for a safer, more enjoyable ride. Gravel (riding on dirt roads) has recently taken off in popularity because it offers the solitude and safety that riders are looking for, and generally good routes are closer than you think.

Below are 3 ways to better prepare for your next gravel (dirt road) ride:

Be prepared:

When dirt road riding you will usually find yourself amongst riders who are simply interested in the enjoyment of the beautiful natural surroundings. While escaping the concrete jungle you will often find that services along your ride will be more sparse and you may even run out of cell phone reception, so it is important to be prepared in the event of a flat tire, getting lost and the dreaded bonk (getting very very tired). In previous years, I have been a minimalist when it comes to being prepared but recently I have fully embraced being ready for whatever my adventure brings me. I wear a Thule Hydration pack, their smallest model, and carry essentials like a Pedro’s multi-tool, extra high-energy food, plenty of water, a few extra layers, a fully charged cell phone and some cash for the mid-ride market stop for a home baked cookie! It is way cooler to be over prepared than underprepared when it comes to adventuring out on dirt roads.

Have a plan but let it evolve:

I love both having a plan and not having a plan, as a tour owner and operator it is important to have a plan at all times but you also need to be able to evolve due of the energy of the group, weather and many other considerations. When setting out for your adventure do the same, generate a plan that you will want to stick to but do not be afraid to let it evolve or find yourself exploring a new dirt road you may not have seen before. When heading out on these rides it can be a great way to experience the local culture of an area so add in some local coffee and pastry shops to fuel up mid-ride (and use their facilities if you need too). Also, let a friend or loved one know where you are going and when you will be starting and finishing just to be safe!

Soak it in:

Cycling can be an amazingly cathartic experience, it allows you a physical and emotional release from the twitter, facebook, instagram, instant gratification culture we live in. Finding dirt roads near you means that you are experiencing an area that many do not (hence the roads not being paved) and there can be a lot of hidden and not-so-hidden beauty there, so soak it all in and enjoy the view. I can nearly guarantee that if you go and find yourself on an adventure via dirt roads you well come back to the craziness that regular life can bring with more clarity and a better sense of presence.

I think Ernest Hemingway probably said it best “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” If you are a cyclist or non-cyclist we strongly encourage you to give riding on those quiet dusty roads a try for your health, happiness and general well-being!

Looking for a great way to try out dirt road riding or an adventure for the seasoned gravel rider? Check out Gravel & Gastronomy on June 2nd!

Get to know Collin

Collin is the co-owner and grand master of good times on two wheels at Kingdom Cycling and Experiences. He was born in Florida but quickly moved to Connecticut where he developed his love for being outdoors and cycling. He graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a BS in Exercise Science and then proceeded to move to Colorado to, you guessed it, ride bikes!

He lived just outside of Boulder, CO in a small town called Nederland. He finished his tenure out west with a short stint living and working in Moab to ride one of his most favorite trails on repeat, The Whole Enchilada. After Moab, he moved back to CT where he worked for GT Bicycles traveling as their demo driver covering a massive territory from Amarillo, TX to Maine. During that time at GT he fell in love with Kingdom Trails, trying to schedule as many demos he could in that region. A little while into working for GT he met Caitlin, his now wife. He knew when he met her that she was “the one” so they decided to change career paths and start their life together in Northern VT.

For the next 4 year Collin helped spearhead the Village Sport Shop Trailside operation while nurturing their side hustle – Kingdom Cycling & Experiences. The business showed promise but needed some real time and effort put into it so both Caitlin and Collin decided to focus on their business full time. Over the next couple years they put their full attention to KC&E and as they say “the rest is history”…

 

  1. What does biking mean to you, and how does it impact your life?

 

Great question! And where to begin…Well biking means a whole lot to me and it will mean different things to me on different days. On some days cycling will be a way of processing a tough emotion or feeling, on another it will be out of the pure excitement of going fast through the woods and to challenge myself, and on another it will be to simply enjoy the breathtaking scenery that I am riding through. The one constant with cycling for me is that is one of my favorite mediums to connect with myself, friends and strangers; I can’t think of a more positive environment to get to know someone or yourself.

 

Cycling impacts my life pretty heavily, I mean we’ve created a business around it! Cycling started as (and continues to be) a passion of mine that drives a lot of the decisions I make but don’t let it rule my life. I think how it impacts my life most dramatically now is finding new and fun ways that helps others find/grow their love of cycling that will help make positive life changes towards their health and wellbeing all around.

 

  1. How did you get into cycling?

 

You remember that heavier set kid with glasses and braces, who was unmistakably awkward and not good at team sports in elementary school? Well that was me, in a big way,haha! I started riding my bike at an early age because I found that cycling was something that I owned and was not judged on. I could enjoy being out in the woods just for the sake of enjoying it and it was not something that was tied to accomplishments.

 

  1. What is your dream cycling destination, and why?

 

Tuscany or Umbria! As you will find out in 2 questions, I love food equally -if not more than- cycling! I especially love cheese, pasta, espresso and pizza, so what could be better? Honestly anywhere in Italy where there is some mountain biking, vacant dirt roads and non-touristy food culture.

 

  1. What has been the biggest adventure you’ve gone on in life so far?

 

The journey of life hahah! But seriously, this is a tough one, I’ve had a lot of great adventures but I think the greatest one so far is having our own business. Having our own business has been kind of like learning to ride a bike all over again. At first you fall down a bunch, have some bumps and bruises but the more you keep with it the easier it is to remain moving forward. Everyday I am humbled by how little I know but excited and encouraged by the challenges ahead of me (us). Having this business teaches me something new everyday, takes me to amazing places and allows me the opportunity to meet new and exciting people constantly! Ohh ya, it is also highly encouraged that I ride my bike and find amazing food sports often, so that’s not too bad.

 

  1. What are 5 things that people may not know about you?
  1. I have no feeling in the left side of my face and have a hard time hearing in my left ear (as well as no feeling in the tip of my tongue, so sorry for the lisp sometimes!)
  2. I love food equally if not more than riding my bike, especially Italian food
  3. I meditate, journal and write gratitudes everyday to assist in being present, grateful and just to enjoy life to the max!
  4. I watch franchise movies on repeat (haha) especially, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and James Bond
  5. I am finding that I actually really enjoy small cities.

 

  1. Of all of the places you have lived so far, where would you choose to live again?

 

We already live there…well at least for half the year! Burke, VT; that place is magical. Beyond having stunning bucolic beauty, I have met some of my best friends up there. Being in Burke is really like having a little slice of serene calm in what seems to be an increasingly divisive and chaotic time (or at least the way the media makes it seem). I would love to live in some sort of city as well, I’ve always lived in small towns and enjoyed that but recently we traveled to some cities where we would walk everywhere and I really enjoyed that. I think there is a lot to be said for being less and less reliant on motorized vehicles and slowing down the pace of life a little to enjoy the views – figuratively and literally.

 

The 5 most important things I learned while in Rome

By: Collin Daulong

Recently Caitlin and I went to Rome, Italy for a little R&R before the season heats up as well as to do a fact finding trip for an experience we are planning for this fall.

Before we got to Rome, Caitlin gave me some disclaimers (as she lived there for nearly 7 years before we met) about Italians, the city and their pace of life in order to prepare me (an admittedly “type A” American) for the potential culture shock.  I decided in advance to go in with an open mind, and try to embody the adage of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Armed with this mindset and my wonderful tour guide, we set off to one of the most ancient cities in the world. Here are some things that I learned:

1) Life is not all about money and working yourself to the bone. One of the most clear distinctions that I noticed between the States and Italy (at least Rome) is that their daily rituals prioritize quality of life over work. A long (at least by American standards), leisurely lunch – with vino of course – certainly sets the rest of your day up for success and feels downright luxurious in comparison to a quick sandwich or salad next to my computer while working. A nightly passeggiata (walk around the neighborhood) was not only good for digestion but worked wonders for my sleep schedule (even with 11 pm dinners).

2) Do not expect things to be on time, or even open necessarily. One thing that we are accustomed to in America is hyper-vigilance of hours of operation, timeliness of public and private transportation and strict adherence to a schedule and deadlines; in Rome this is not so much the case. This is not necessarily a problem if you are willing to approach it with an open mind and fully immerse yourself in the culture (both positive and negative) of Romans. Realizing that most restaurants close around 3 and do not re-open again until 7 or 7:30 is hugely helpful in planning for meal times.

3) The food is simply amazing. In my experience, Italian cuisine relies on simple, fresh ingredients that are cooked to perfection. There are not many meals that I had over there which were overwhelming flavor bombs (like a triple bacon cheese burger) but all the flavors and ingredients were appropriate, delicate and delicious. The portion sizes were also interesting: they are moderate and leave you feeling renewed after a meal, not like you need to take a nap from a food-coma!

4) The riding was unexpected and it over-delivered. When you think of riding in Italy, most people think of Northern Italy in the Alps, which is what I thought as well – until I went to Rome. I took a tour around ancient volcanic craters and quaint, colorful hillside towns, and it blew my mind. Within a 45 minute drive from the city center, our friend Linus and I departed on a 30 mile mountain bike ride leaving from a beautiful lake side town, Castel Gandolfo (known as the pope’s summer residence). We rode around a couple of mountains with increasingly impressive vistas and fast flowinig single track. On our way back to Castel Gandolfo we passed through a town, Nemi, where we had ridden the day before with Darius Arya, one of our celebrity tour guides. The single track was amazing here, the dirt was tacky and fast and there were just enough technical features to keep you on your toes.

5) It is important to have someone with local knowledge. When we were walking around Rome we saw enormous groups funneling into all the same museum entrances and restaurants; this lead me to believe that these were the best places, or where we needed to be going, but this was far from the truth. One of the most important things I took away from our trip is that you need to be guided around like a local – not like a tourist – to experience the true Rome. Some examples of this would be that we would go to restaurants off the beaten path and away from the high traffic tourists area because that is where real roman food is. Food around the major monuments is overpriced and less authentic. Another example of going with a “Local”: we went to see Saint Peter’s Basilica at the most inopportune time, Friday evening. The line was enormously long and they were actually closing down for visits due to a Papal mass. Our local friend shuffled us around to the back where we gained access and were fortuitously seated within 20 feet of Pope Francis.

We will be taking a mountain bike trip to Rome in the fall. If you would like more information, please follow this link!