The phrase ‘gravel riding’ means different things to different people, but gravel riding can mean taking part in events, completing a long-distance tour or it can just be finding the most fun route to your local coffee shop. We know that gravel riding is all about fun, flexibility and freedom.
To help inspire you to get out and try a gravel adventure for yourself, Shimano put together a group of gravel riding fans who will be sharing their stories and adventures with you over the next twelve months. The 2022 Shimano Gravel Alliance come from all over Europe and from a diverse range of backgrounds, but the thing they have in common is a love of riding gravel and the fact they will all be using Shimano GRX componentry on their bikes.
So, without further ado – we’d like to introduce the 2022 Shimano Gravel Alliance team.
DALILA LECKY - Dalila lives in London and started riding and racing bikes back in 2012. Initially she was into road and criterium racing, but then got hooked on track riding too. Now she spends her winters getting a fix of mud and endorphins during the cyclocross season and the rest of year juggling a full-time job with gravel racing and bikepacking trips. She wants to try her first ultra-endurance gravel race in 2022, but will also continue to compete in shorter one-day races which she says “is a good way to temporarily escape the daily grind.”
ENA CUPINA - Ena had a super-busy 2021 – she got married, bought a cargo bike and she had a baby. Her plans for this year are to take things a little easier, but to get back into gravel riding when she can. We have no doubt she will be keen to pass on her love of gravel riding to her new family, so we expect to see her riding the gravel trails near her home in Stockholm towing a bike trailer in the not too distant future.
ERWIN SIKKENS - Erwin is a third year Shimano Gravel Alliance veteran from the Netherlands. He describes himself as a huge gravel and bikepacking enthusiast and is out and about on adventures as much as possible. Most of his micro-adventures and gravel riding take place in his backyard, the Veluwe national park - a true gravel paradise. Last year however he visited multiple gravel events abroad, such as Flanders Gravel and WTSHNN in the Alps. His first go at ultra-cycling, during the GranGuanche Audax over on the Canary Islands, taught him that he’s not that much into racing. In fact, taking part in the event strengthened his opinion that ‘party pace wins the race’.
FLORIAN 'FLO' NOWAK - Based in the Bavarian Alps, Flo loves riding his bike on all kinds of gravel roads around his local area. After a career in professional road racing, gravel riding gives him the perfect combination of freedom and challenge. He is still trying to find his way into the world of gravel events and racing! He joined the Shimano Gravel Alliance in 2020, and despite already having experienced so many facets of our sport, he says he still feels like a kid when it comes to planning new adventures on his gravel bike.
HENNA PALOSAARI - Henna is from the far north of Finland, but she is not usually too long in one place. She discovered bikepacking just two years ago, but her first bikepacking trip – almost 5000km around Finland, got her hooked for good. Since that trip, Henna’s gravel bike has been her favourite way of adventuring and exploring new places wherever she is. This year she hopes to get more time off to be able to do longer bikepacking trips again. “The feeling of freedom and achievement you get when reaching new places with your bike is hard to put into words but it’s a feeling everyone should experience” she says.
IBAI FRADEJAS - Ibai, who lives in the north of Spain, has been a fan of gravel since long before it became fashionable. His mission is to inspire all kinds of people to explore and enjoy adventures on a gravel bike. Adventure cycling is his passion and traveling on a gravel bike with friends or on the XPLORE Experiences that he organises, are his best way of understanding life. He is proud to have created and to direct Deiadar Gravel, an event by which he wants to make the Basque Country known to gravel riders all over the world. His goal is to continue discovering the most spectacular gravel trails in the world.
JOSH IBBETT - Josh is from the UK and has been racing bikes since 2002. Josh competes in a range of events – CX, XC MTB and ultra-endurance off-road events. He also organises his own multi-day event in the UK. This year will see him race across the globe from a bikepacking event in Rwanda to the Tour Divide riding down the length of America, plus a number of single day events back home in the UK.
OMAR DI FELICE - Despite living in the sunny Italian city of Rome, Omar is passionate about winter and loves nothing more than a solo bikepacking adventure where it’s cold enough to freeze his eyebrows. He has ridden solo through Mongolia, across Iceland and up to Everest basecamp in Nepal – all in the depths of winter. His current challenge is the Arctic World Tour – a 4000km winter ride from Kamchatka in eastern Russia, right through the polar north to Fairbanks in Alaska.
SIMON TAULELLE - Simon lives in Marseille, in the south of France, where he spends a lot of his time getting lost on the gravel tracks close to his home. He’s fortunate enough to be able to claim “the long-sleeved season here is known to be rather short!” When he’s not on his bike he works as art director and motion designer for museums and all kinds of exhibitions. Simon has been part of the Shimano Gravel Alliance for three years now, promoting and documenting the leisure side of gravel riding with all kinds of cameras, especially the heavier analogue ones.
SOFIANE SEHILI - After discovering the joy of cycling via commuting, Sofiane decided to push things further and transitioned to bike touring, forging a long-lasting passion for self-powered two-wheeled adventures. It didn't take him long to get initiated into the peace and quiet of off-road touring. So, when the gravel bike revolution happened, he was on board immediately. Over the years, fuelled by his desire to ride longer and longer distances, he successfully turned into an ultra-cyclist specialising in off-road races. He says that after a tedious process of trial and error, victories finally came and racing the longest and toughest races in the world is now his full-time job.