Last year professional cyclist, TJ Eisenhart, once the ‘free spirit’ of US domestic road racing, grew tired of the traditional ways a road team operates. Turning his attention to the gravel world, he joined forces with fellow teammate Andrew Dahlheim to launch their own gravel programme, the Imaginary Collective.
The innovative programme follows an atypical trajectory and sponsorship model, strongly focusing on creativity,the culture of the sport, and promoting brands through social media, videography and artwork – Eisenhart’s artistic talent the driver behind this.
“To me, gravel is such an expression and such a freedom, you can just throw a t-shirt on and get out and ride like a kid again. And I think that’s the greatest feeling in the world,” explained TJ.
Instead of adopting the conventional sponsorship approach seen in road teams, the collective’s athletes ride cohesively, yet have the choice to work with different sponsors who support their individuality and ambitions. The goal? To remain authentic, and avoid the implications that often come when athletes represent team-dictated sponsors.
“It’s time to do something new. It’s time to have someone say, ‘I don’t care about winning. I don’t care if it’s 5% faster or 2 lbs lighter. I don’t care if the paint adds weight.’
It’s about jumping on the bike and feeling so confident in yourself, loving who you are and being in that moment. To have everyone feel that way is my goal,” shared TJ.
Factor Bikes is focused on innovation, so when the opportunity arose to have Eisenhart on board as an ambassador, and take those first steps with the Imaginary Collective into the gravel world, it was a no brainer.
For the first part of the season, they rode the ViSTA with a highly successful delve onto the scene at the Epic Rides 24 HOP in February. Eisenhart has now switched across to the LS to meet the demands of the Imaginary Collective’s gravel ‘race’ prominent calendar. The lightweight bike, launched in June is specifically designed for gravel racing, with optimized stiffness, and crisp race-focused handling.
“The LS is its own gravel bike, and although the ViSTA is a great all-round bike that both Andrew and I loved riding, my favorite has to be the LS, as I prefer the increased race feel to it,” said TJ.
Although the season has been largely disrupted, TJ has still been able to put the LS to the test in recent events, including the latest Belgian Waffle Ride – 201km, with over 75% covering some truly gritty off-road terrain.
“The LS is flawless. No problems. No issues…I think it comes from my racing background. I know how a bike should feel when you accelerate, and the first time I raced the LS, it instantly had better handling, acceleration, and balance. It’s a pure and simple race bike.”
Psychedelic Factor by TJ Eisenhart
When not busy racing bikes, sharing his passion for cycling, or leading the way for the Imaginary Collective, Eisenhart will be caught spending time with his family or putting paint to paper, creating unique artwork and custom prints for team apparel or equipment.
“I want to leave a legacy behind, and for me, the collective is just my canvas and how I view cycling and want to paint it.
It’s not like my art stops in my studio. The sponsors are colors, the fabrics are different canvas’, and it’s about bringing it all together,” shares TJ.
Images by ENVE Composites
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