Factor Ambassador, Angelo Calilap, stepped outside of his comfort zone and took a dive into the unknown over the summer, swapping out his skinny tyres for the slightly thicker gravel grinding kind.
From Brooklyn, NYC, naturally Calilap favours the road, commonly spotted darting through city streets and crushing crits aboard his trusty O2. When Factor encouraged him to test out the LS, however, he was instantly on board, up for the challenge and experience of trying something new and adventurous.
It was like at first sight and love at first ride on the LS for Calilap. So much so, that he was soon up to clocking rides as long as 8 hours. Having ticked a mammoth endurance day off with minimal breaks and strong legs, Calilap and his coach decided he was race-ready and more importantly, primed to take on his very first gravel race in August; aiming right for the Queen bee at the Gravel Worlds in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Here, he shares his journey to discovering gravel riding and how his first experience went gravel racing on the LS at the Worlds…
Why did you decide to get into gravel riding?
I’ve enjoyed gravel riding in the past, but honestly, getting my hands on the Factor LS, a gravel race specific bike, was what really lit the spark. I also wanted to challenge myself to ride and race longer distances than I ever have.
At what point did you decide you were ready to enter a race?
My coach scheduled me to do an 8-hour endurance ride, and I completed it with minimal breaks and without any red flags of physical issues like bonking, cramping, or pain. Once I was able to knock that ride out I knew that I could at the very least, finish a race.
How did you prepare for your first gravel race?
I worked with my coach to make sure I was ready to at least finish the race. I had no expectations of where or how I would finish. We included longer endurance rides (on gravel, when possible) in my training calendar, mixed with road racing.
What was the first gravel race you participated in?
My first gravel race was Gravel Worlds, in Lincoln Nebraska. The Factor family thought it would be a good idea to sign me up to put my Factor LS to the test. They were right!
What advice would you give fellow gravel cyclists preparing for their first race?
Gravel racing is a different beast! My first race was 150 miles of gravel, and the longest ride I had ever done prior to it was 125 miles – on smooth roads!
Ensure your body and bike are dialled to race the distance and duration you’re shooting for, and don’t go out too hot – ouch! It’s a long day ahead…
What do you think of your LS?
The LS is exactly like my O2, except with bigger tyres. It handles like a dream and races like a crit machine. I think I’m in love.
The LS features, such as the bolt-on top tube bag mount and third bottle cage really helped me save time and ensured I was able to carry enough nutrition and hydration during the race.
How did it feel in racing, compared to in training?
Racing felt incredible. The bike did what it should, and I did what I could, for the most part. The thrill of navigating through hundreds of riders for position, at high speeds, on gravel, was something else. I can’t wait for the next one.
What essentials did you carry with you on race day?
Hydration pack, ketones, waffles, tubeless repair kit, and spare tubes.
Are you planning on doing it again and if so, what’s next?
I plan on doing multiple gravel events throughout the USA in 2022. Which ones they will be I don’t know quite yet, but I’m excited to travel to new places, see old faces, and do more races!
What is gravel cycling like in general for training where you live?
There’s not much gravel in New York City, but take a train or a car upstate and you’ll find some really great gravel roads. The gravel climbs here can get very steep and long!
What do you prefer – road or gravel?
My background is in road cycling and in general I prefer the smooth pavement on my O2, but what’s great about cycling is that you get to challenge yourself in new ways in different disciplines and different types of riding and racing. Riding gravel allows me to explore new roads outside of the usual routes and racing gravel is a new challenge that I am really excited about.
Follow Angelo’s on and off-road adventures through NYC and beyond:
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