My Riding Highlight by Jesse Yates

My Riding Highlight by Jesse Yates

“The Gradient T47 Gravel can take a beating” writes Jesse Yates.

"This year was the year of the Hutchinson Ranxo, and I headed out to Spain with my Reilly Gradient T47 Gravel with Strada hand-built wheels. This is a bike that can take a beating. Unlike carbon bikes, it’s bombproof, which is what you need when stones are flying everywhere.

The 159KM gravel route and beautiful dusty barren landscape allows for views of the Pyrenees - it’s like the Wild West out there, and it doesn’t take any prisoners. I signed up to the race because I like riding gravel and racing and the gravel aspect is a bit epic.

As my dad lives in Spain it was a no-brainer to get involved in this year’s Huchinson Ranxo with a Reilly Gradient T47 to try out.

There was a great mix of riders taking part from ex-Tour de France pros and I wanted to set myself a goal of pitching against them for fun to see how far I could push myself. It’s very exciting to race with guys who have raced to the top of professional level, like Nicolas Roche, Daniel Moreno and Nathan Haas, gives me something to race against!

It’s all about the fun for me – riding is an epic hobby. There’s a hell of a lot of adrenaline during the 159KM race. I don’t take it too seriously trying to get a good result. Racing hard, getting smashed up, and experiencing the suffering is fun and I can also turn around and see how other riders are getting on, and their levels of suffering.

There’s always humour in a fall, like a You’ve Been Framed Moment and despite the seriousness of the riders there’s also time for a fist bump or cracking a joke. I saw one guy crash and couldn’t help myself in shouting back at him ‘you can’t park there!’.

The way I approach these rides is from a place of having fun and a good ride. That way I don’t have the stress of getting a result, it’s all in God’s hands.

Of course, there’s some preparation involved. Josh Reid did nice YouTube videos on the pre-and-post-race preparations. The right bike with the right tires is a great place to start which is why I’m embracing a titanium gravel bike – Reilly’s Gradient T47 – to help me push as much as possible.

As titanium meant I didn’t have to stress about getting chipped, I also added tire inserts to the wheel. The foam lining goes over the rim, so if you hit a rock, you won’t damage the rim and it saves the tires from breaking or puncturing.

The UCI series was one to remember. I bagged 11th I think, which was a proper hit out, with no mercy. It was just so fun and epic. I always wanted to race by bike to a nice level. My dad decided to sit this one out and was cheering me on from the feed zones, which really gave me a boost. He’d be struggling in this one, that’s for sure. He’s older, has a pacemaker and has had two strokes!

A definite highlight was riding alongside Carlos Verona, who rode the Tour de France. The first climb was 2k into the course. I wanted to be the first rider into the climb. I managed to get to the front, alongside him and other ex-pros. We were all going berserk. It was epic to be riding alongside such high calibre riders.

I can’t wait for the next one, if you’re like a rider on the fence and you do road, I know Euro gutters are fun but don’t just sack it off before trying alternative racing - trust me. Big thanks to everyone involved and organisers and my hombres on the gravel."

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