Russell Schrale is a late thirties Adelaide resident who along with being bike obsessed, works for Cancer Council SA.
- You have an association with Gravelaide, for the uninitiated, what is Gravelaide?
Gravelaide is a series of events that is designed to pull together the gravel riding community here in SA. The events will likely evolve over time but we’re committed to three key principles of showing some great new gravel roads in the state, providing a challenge to riders and most importantly having fun and not taking ourselves seriously. We don’t put on races and we want riders who are looking to have a good time come along.
- You are one of a team behind Gravelaide, who are the others?
Graeme Theissen (aka The Sticky Bidon) and Peter Gratwick are the other guys involved.
- How did Gravelaide come about?
Peter simply posted up on facebook that he was looking to get a ride organised and asked if anyone else was interested. Graeme and I responded and a week later, the three of us were eating burgers and drinking a few beers in a pub drawing loop ride ideas on the back of bar coasters. We then spent a lot of time riding many roads, coming across many dead end paths and talking with locals about how awesome it would be if they let us ride through their properties!
We’ve brought a good mix of skills to the events. I’m a spreadsheet dork who likes running the numbers and the ticketing, Peter is an ideas man who brings great enthusiasm and business development and Graeme is obsessed with finding routes that will give riders a day out to remember.
- You’ve just hosted G2, what has been the turnout for these rides.
For our first ride in October, we were hoping to get just 45 riders along and we ended up getting 87 which was great. For this last ride in March, we were aiming for 125 and ended up with 127 and sold out a week ahead of time (having to say sorry to those that wanted to sign up late). Obviously this is a great level of growth but we need to decided where to take it now. Do we go big and start trying to entice over interstate riders or do we keep it boutique and more manageable. We’ve scheduled a BBQ at my place for a few weeks time where these discussions are to be had!
- Whilst I wasn’t at the second, I was at the first, and I was stunned at where you took us, public roads, private properties, over fences, down ravines the mars explorer couldn’t get down. How long did it take for the route to come together?
Glad you liked it 😉
For the first one, we probably went out there about 15-20 times to ride the course and see how we could make it link together. Both long course options have been 95%+ of gravel which is unheard of for events like this that are so close to a capital city. This is not done easily though and you spend many a Friday or Saturday night staring at a computer looking at Google maps trying to follow yellow paths of gravel. Then theses’ manually creating a route for your Garmin and then out on your bike the next day to see if it works. There have been times where we’ve found something that’s perfect and then when you knock on doors to seek permission you get a no from the landowner and you have to change 30% of the course again in order to avoid long stretches of paved roads. It takes time but we think it yields great results.
- Have there been barriers to get these up and running?
There’s nothing really stopping anyone from getting started in putting an event on, you just need to do your homework and be prepared to put some cash on the line. Apart from that it’s just how much time you’re willing to put in. We’re all working and have families so really it comes down to watching the TV in the evening or typing away on the laptop and catching up for a meal after work to run through the to do list. Although it takes time, it is fun. I did not know Peter and Graeme before but now I’d consider them to be good mates and I always look forward to catching up with them.
- How frequently are you planning to run.
It’s a bit unknown at this stage. We’re looking to mix it up a little and perhaps the next one might be a bit more of a ride rather than an event. Peter in particular is a keen bikepacker so perhaps we’ll look at an adventure that incorporates this as well.
- What have you taken away from Gravelaide personally?
I’ve always worked for an organisation and have had a boss. It’s been a real treat to be able to work with two guys and create something together, it’s allowed me to scratch my entrepreneurial itch without having to quite my day job! Apart from this, I’ve met some great people and we all get a kick from seeing people post online saying they have had a great day out. We all talk about the week long glow we feel after each event. There’s nothing like putting a smile on people’s faces.
- To run these events you need a lot of support, what backing have you received to date?
Honestly, it’s just the three of us doing this without much support. This being said, we have had support from some sponsors but really, we only seek sponsors that can keep the costs of the event low. We’re not out to make a profit but we do want to keep the ticket prices as low as possible so this help from people like Swell Beer and Balfours has really helped.
There’s no doubt thought that the best support we get is from our wives. They put up with the days out of the house, the constant facebook messaging we do back and forth and the constant talking we do about it!
So, lets hear a little about you.
- How long have you been cycling?
Since I was around 3 years old, must be something to do with having Dutch parents!
- What got you started in cycling?
I must have been off my bike for at least ten years during my late teens and 20’s. I started to commute again about 7 years ago and then started looking at CX bikes. I made a deal with myself that I’d drop the cash on one if only I raced it. This lead to my dropping about 10kgs and having lots of fun racing with the great people at the Port Adelaide Cycling Club events.
- How many bikes do you own and what is your main go to bike?
I’ve got a very reasonable four bikes at the moment. An awesome Dutch commuter, a old banger mountain bike, a Bakefits Cargo bike and my jack of all trades Kona Jake the Snake CX bike. The Kona is definitely my go to given the many uses, especially as I have one wheel set with CX tyres and one with road tyres for a quick changeover.
- What bike do you covet?
I’m actually pretty happy as is at the moment but a Salsa Woodsmoke would be pretty sweet. I’d set it up as a permanent bikepacking bike and it would also be great for weekends up at Melrose.
- Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
I love hanging out in the shed and working on my bike… but I leave big jobs to the experts and I have to admit I’ve had them fix a few mistakes that I’ve made when I’ve overestimated by repair abilities 😉
- What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
A good quality stand and set of allen keys would be the most frequently used. Also, my Park Tool Dummy Hub has been fantastic but I do pick up tools as I need them. By the time I hit 60 I should have a pretty comprehensive kit!
- What is your favourite piece of cycling kit or accessory?
My new Gravelaide cap that we got made for the last event. It gives me a kick every time that I put it on and I’ve met a couple of people out on rides that I’ve got chatting to about the event which is awesome as well.
- What are your pet love and hates about cycling?
I love the comradery around the cycling world, you can always strike up a conversation with another rider as there is a shared sense of passion. I would not say hate but I dislike the perception that you need to spend big to get into cycling and the best kit is essential. Just get out there and have fun on whatever you have available to you.
- Other than yourself, who is your favourite cyclist?
At the moment, Matthew Van De Poel would be my favourite. He’s a beast and when he is fit he’s unstoppable.
- If you could have dinner with 3 people in the cycling world, who would they be and why?
Matthew Van De Poel, Jessie Carlson and Sarah Hammond. I was bitten by the IPRW bug and despite the Mike Hall tragedy, the event is a great demonstration of what humans can put themselves through.
- Where would you take them to eat?
Knowing the IPWR diet, anywhere that’s not a roadhouse would be fine.
- What are your craziest/fondest cycling memories?
Riding a bike through Amsterdam would be the number one. Such a fantastic city and it’s a bike utopia. I wish we could fly all the residents of Adelaide there over to ride bikes for a week. We’d radically change the way we think about transport as a result.
- Have you had any nasty crashes? If so how did the worst occur and what was the consequence?
Yep. I crashed during a CX race over in Melbourne. To cut a long story short, I snapped my arm and partially dislocated my shoulder. The end result was a bone graft and rehab that is still going.
- What is your favourite post ride cafe, and what would you normally buy as a treat?
I don’t really have one. I tend to leave it all out on the road and my recovery is a cold beer whilst having a shower!
- Do you have a favourite overseas country in mind you’d love to take your bike to?
Riding from the North to the South of NZ is very high up my list at the moment.
- What is your favourite local training route?
I like hammering my bike around the parklands making up CX courses as I go or alternatively, the up Mount Osmond, Lofty and down Norton is a go to.
- What is the biggest cycling lie you have told a partner?
There have been many but they all start with “I’ve been doing some research and I really need a …….”
- What cycling related thing would you like for your next birthday?
More free time to get out an ride!
- Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?
The Port Adelaide Cycling Club have done fantastic things for the CX scene in Adelaide. This has been a big feeder for the Gravel scene and there have been many many hours that they have put in. After organising a couple of events I’m more aware of just how much work it takes and we should all be grateful for clubs and individuals that give us an opportunity to do organised rides/races.
- From a non-cycling perspective, what do you love about Adelaide?
It’s just awesome. Sure we have our challenges but the quality of life is just so high that it’s hard to beat. To hard to name just one thing!
- What is your go to place when interstaters come to Adelaide?
I’m a big fan of the small bar scene and what it has done for the night life in Adelaide. Peel/Leigh Streets are always on the agenda as a result.
- Is there anything else you feel like talking about?
Nope! Thanks for the opportunity and for doing what you do to promote cycling in this great state,
Thanks Russell, keep up the great work with Gravelaide.