Ventum Racing owes their roots to triathlon. On the success of their ONE bike, they’ve been the official partner of IRONMAN since 2016. But they didn’t stop there: after introducing a second triathlon bike and wading into the road world with their groundbreaking NS1, they got their hands and wheels dirty with their entry into the gravel scene, the performance-driven GS1. We met their team in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains while riding the ENVE Grodeo, and it was instantly clear our goals and creative vision aligned. We’ll be riding their bikes on all our adventures for 2022.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is it. Simply the finest fall color show on either side of the Mississippi. Twisting through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the crest of Old America, no road better characterizes the blazing autumn fireworks and rich foliage of the East Coast. Hoping to nail the color window and screen our short film along the way, we saddled up on Ventum Racing’s new GS1 gravel bike and headed east, bound for kudzu tunnels and hidden hollers.
The humidity is real. Half our team grew up around these parts, and was used to (if not stoked on) the insta-sweat generated when you step outside. The other half struggled with the non-desert climate, squinting at wet chain lube labels and giving up on good hair. With a whole lot of rain in the forecast, that didn’t matter, anyway, and we kicked things off with a cruise up Black Mountain, following the road through a no-cars gate and weaving to the treed summit. On the jet fighter descent, we were glad for big rubber; hitting black walnuts at 35mph is a clavicle fracture waiting to happen. Thankfully, stability at speed was a key focus in the GS1 engineering, so even goofballs like us were able to keep the bikes upright into town.
Then, the rain. For the next 6 days of our 8-day trip, we rode the slick, no-shoulder parkway, balancing brief glimpses of the wide valleys with car callbacks, tucking tight and low for the high-speed, higher-consequence descents. Trust us: you don’t want to find out what’s in the Jurassic ravines on the other side of the Blue Ridge guardrails. With one clear morning, we set out for a true gravel ride, connecting the local favorite Curtis Creek with the Parkway for a perfect (and surprisingly steep) dirt climb to the crest of the oldest peaks in the world, the mighty and ancient Appalachian mountains. We hooted and hollered on the motocross-style descent, leaning into the banked turns and stomach-dropping steeps, locking our brakes into the hairpins with a little too much devil-may-care. Every now and then, you just have the need for speed.
Pulling back into Old Fort, NC, the rains came in again, and this time they were here to stay. We wrapped up the ride with some local coffee and pastries, hanging on the covered porch with our bikes and looking out at the swirling storm cell that would follow us all the way north. With nowhere to be but here, we ordered another cup and settled in.