Photo courtesy of Jay Prasuhn/Wattie Ink.

Ed. Note: later this week we'll launch the Wattie Ink. Gravel Collective Project, a family of riders and companies dedicated to the stoke of gravel racing in North America and beyond. The newest addition to the collective is Yuri Hauswald, who has been riding bikes and living the gravel way his whole life. Read on, and then come back here to apply to the team tomorrow.

If you’re a professional gravel racer who has won the Dirty Kanza 200, and you also happen to teach elementary school, what do your students most ask you about? “Scabs,” Yuri Hauswald (DK200 2015 champion) says. “They’re fascinated by them. I would come back to school on Monday morning and during reading time I’d notice most of them were looking at my knees and half-listening to the story. They always wanted to know where I’d been to pick up such regular wounds.” The next question, of course, was whether he’d won the race. “Of course most of the time the answer was ‘No,’” Hauswald recalls. “But it was my job to quickly pivot and remind them that we can’t all be “A” students all of the time. My racing was my way to go out and focus on strengths, develop weaknesses, and work towards a personal best. I wanted to show them that progress was the goal, not perfection, every time I’d go and toe the line at a race.”

Hauswald is the newest addition to the Wattie Ink. family, and he’ll co-captain our newest venture: the Wattie Ink. Gravel Collective Project, and endeavor we launch tomorrow (and to which you will be able to apply here tomorrow). The GCP follows in the model of the Wattie Ink. Elite Team and Hit Squad, including amateur and elite athletes in one amazing family. Hauswald’s connections to Wattie Ink. go way back (as they do in this sometimes very small industry), but he joined us for deeper reasons than that. “I’d known Heather from years ago, when she worked with GU, but I only met Sean this past year in Kona. We had a positive meeting, and then when I came to visit the factory, I saw what makes the company different. When Wattie showed up at the factory, every single person—whether it was a seamstress, the guy running the laser cutter, the warehouse manager—stopped what they were doing and came over to him and shook his hand or gave him a hug, and he had time for everyone. He treated everyone the same way, and he treated them well. I knew then that this was a place with a culture of working towards a shared goal, and that’s really rare these days. I instantly wanted to be a part of it.”

Why Gravel if You've Done Triathlon

Got a robust multisport background, but not sure if you're into the dirt? Gravel is a perfect fit if you’re coming from a triathlon background, and Hauswald agrees: “Triathlon seems like a place where most athletes are aiming to finish and to see what they are capable of, rather than gunning for the podium or trying to upgrade, and I’m in that same spot myself. I won DK when I was 45; I’m going to be 50 this year, and the podium is so far out of reach for me that all I can really do is go out to races, do my best, and see what happens. I see that mindset at a lot of triathlons, so I think those athletes will really dig the gravel scene, which is so inclusive—when I started doing this stuff eight years ago I couldn’t believe how supportive everyone was. Each race was more about the experience, rather than the outcome.”

This year, Hauswald will participate in an eclectic mix of gravel events and camps, spreading his attention between racing and educating (you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but never the classroom out of the teacher). He says he’s most excited about the Nova Eroica, a Grinduro-style gravel day on the white roads of Tuscany, Italy, and that he’s most “puckered” about the LeadBoat Challenge, which pairs the Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 and the SBT GRVL 144-mile gravel race the following day. “That one speaks to the idiot in me,” Hauswald says.

The roads at SBT GRVL, which Hauswald will traverse the day AFTER doing the Stages Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race; image courtesy of LiFT Creative Studios

How To Join Us

At Wattie Ink., we’ve always endeavored to create family first and let the results come when they come. As Hauswald says, we’ve always been about doing our best on any particular day and seeing what outcome we get. The Gravel Collective Project will be no different. It will be a squad of curious athletes who want to try something new and gravel veterans looking for a community to call home. Supported by Wattie Ink., our partners Argon 18 Bicycles, ENVE Composites, Wahoo Sports, IRC Tire, Zealios Skincare, and Rudy Project North America,  our riders, and each other, it’s certainly going to be an exhilarating ride, and we’d love for you to join us—scabs and all. Be sure to come back here tomorrow and apply for the team.