The Rad Dirt Fest Wrap

 “Fall seven times and stand up eight.”

While open to nuance and interpretation, this apparently-Japanese ( I say apparently, because nobody seems to definitively know, but everyone seems to agree it originated in Japan) proverb gets to the core of resilience. And while there’s wisdom in knowing when to quit, I love the surface level simplicity and never-say-die essence of these seven words. They’re so applicable to cycling, and to anything hard that is worth doing. And given that some of our crew this year did seven events, it leaves me hopeful and excited about what 2023 might bring…

DTE rider, Lailah, on The Rad course racing rain that never came, late in the day before she found her actual Distance to Empty

Usually in these posts, I add a good amount of third party observations and attempts at color, but being I was on the mend from a second bout of Covid with a fair amount of brain fog, my recollections of the weekend are a little… thin. And with that, let’s hear what the Team DTE riders have to say in their own words.


To be honest, I don’t really know where to begin. The Rad was the last race of a very challenging season for me. I’ve never really been quite confident in my abilities and couldn’t help comparing myself to those around me, but with the encouragement of my teammates, Starla, and Gino, I started feeling like I belonged in this community and started trusting myself more. Throughout the season, I gained confidence in myself, realized I could do hard things, and started having fun with it. 

Going into The Rad, I didn’t know what to expect. I was heavily underprepared for the event, but gave it all I had regardless. Unfortunately, I had to be pulled from the race because I missed the second cutoff by just a few minutes. I was absolutely devastated, a blubbering mess on the bike, but I kept going. I wanted to see if I could go the distance, but I also kept going because the feats my teammates had overcome this season inspired me to. I ended up riding for another 32 miles before I bonked so hard I could barely steady myself. I, again, was disappointed and cried even more, but, now I look back and am immensely proud of myself. I rode the longest distance I ever had by almost 30 miles, and while I didn’t end the season or race how I wanted to, I still feel like I accomplished something great. I’m stronger than I ever gave myself credit for and I can’t thank Distance to Empty enough for making me realize that. 

I’ve said this before, but I will never not be grateful for DTE. Through this program, I was introduced to one of the most incredible and accepting communities I have ever known. It still amazes me how everyone in the gravel biking community is so supportive of each other especially the WOMEN! The women in this sport are absolute beasts and I’m so incredibly honored to be one of them. 

Through DTE, I met incredible people, learned more about myself and what I’m capable of, and pushed myself further than I really ever had in the past. I’m so excited to join the next group of awardees and am already preparing for the next season. I know now that I can do hard things and I’m a force to be reckoned with. I will never stop pushing myself and finding my Distance to Empty and I cannot wait to encourage more to find theirs as well.


The Rad Ride in Trinidad represented for me the final race of this incredible season. After slowly increasing my endurance and skills over the course of six other events I was excited to visit another part of the state and a final race. 

Just after SBT GRVL in August I had come down with Covid and spend most of the next 7 weeks recovering, not spending much time on the bike. I was unsure of my conditioning going into the Rad but knew that if I rode my ride I’d do fine.

While I had definitely lost a step due to my illness and recovery, I was proud of my ride. Finishing my race faster than I had hoped, though the only PRs I set were in my own internal goals of climbing with confidence. Finishing the race was a satisfying conclusion of a momentous first season in the gravel racing world – showing up, riding my ride with joy and confidence, and showing all that all bodies, big and small have a place in gravel.


We made it! After my first full season of racing, The Rad was the perfect place to tie it all up. Even though the weather was looking questionable, I was able to finish my first 100 mile ride and beat the rain. Trinidad gravel lived up to all the hype and my legs felt strong throughout the ride. Seeing familiar faces throughout the day at aid stations, on the road, and at the finish line was also such a cool feeling.

This past year has been wild – full of new experiences, community, and minimal scrapes along the way. I am super proud of my teammates for riding hard and am excited for what is next!

And that’s it for our final race report of the season! In the coming days, we have some exciting announcements to make, and we’ll be opening up 2023 DTE Pursuit Award applications later this month!

Thanks for the support, inspiration, laughs, cries, and most of all, indelible memories of the inaugural Distance to Empty season. We can’t wait for what’s to come!

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