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So far it’s a solo ride.

Always Be Prepared: Early Season Gravel Racing and Q36.5 Clothing

Jim Merithew |

We caught a jet plane out of SFO and headed for Dallas/Fort Worth, hoping to get some warm early-season miles and maybe even a decent showing in the first of the year's gravel races. On tap was the inaugural Valley of Tears gravel race in Turkey, Texas, a place we had to Google Map several times before we were sure of its actual location, and a short hop into Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the much-loved MidSouth Gravel race

Like savvy little travelers headed into the land of the unknown this early in the year, we packed plenty of Q36.5 clothing but were hoping only to need a pair of bibs, a short sleeve jersey, and maybe one of our favorite lightweight base layers. How wrong we were.

After loading up our rental pickup truck, we drove due west towards the Texas panhandle in search of fresh gravel and the sort of temperatures that induce people to talk of eggs and asphalt. True to type, warmth welcomed us, and to ensure we availed ourselves of every single degree, we built our bikes quickly and headed out to explore the Valley of the Tears route. Like the weather, the course offered some beach-like conditions in the form of deep, stealthy sand, but we were not complaining.

It was nice to feel the sun's warmth on our backs and remember what it was like to sweat from the heat. The Dottore bibs and jersey handled the situation effortlessly. 

The gentle rustle of leaves told us the wind had started to pick up, but we didn't give it much thought as we arrived back at our little VRBO to properly unpack and prepare some dinner. Little did we know what the wind buffeting against the windows would bring us.

Well, it brought us snow. You read that right: Texas had gone from Spring Break to Winter Break in a few short hours. The snow didn't stick, but the chilling temperatures took a liking to the place and stayed.

When it came time for course recon the next morning, we broke out Winter Rain Gloves, Hybrid Overshoes, tights, long sleeve jerseys, and our beloved Adventure Vests. We also needed every piece of our emergency kit to take on the gusting winds of West Texas.


We found the Caprock Canyon Trailway, the portion of the course which brought this event to town, and it was neither smooth like Tennessee whiskey nor sweet like strawberry wine. It seemed like we might be some of the first bikers ever to roll this little stretch of trail.

With the recon complete, we prepared for what race day might throw at us.

Well, race day turned out to be a 'tweener. We weren't going to get frostbite, but we probably weren't going to be working on our early season tan either. The Woolf arm and leg warmers were just what the day called for.

All in all, our trip to the Texas panhandle was a huge success, and we were grateful, with the help of Q36.5, that our early days in the Boy Scouts held us in good stead. Always be prepared.

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