Gravel Cycling: A conversation with pro cyclists Kae Takeshita

I’m a roadie at heart, but over the past few years, I’ve started to gravitate to gravel riding. It’s a totally different vibe than road riding: more relaxed, with a wide range of personalities and an even wider range of bikes. When riding gravel roads there’s a sense of adventure. You never know what you’ll come across either along the side of the road or route conditions. Just don’t sweat the small stuff and go with the flow. Or should I say bumps in the road?

Last weekend while on The Milk Route gravel ride, I came across an old-time exercise bike on the side of the road. Nope, not the end of someone’s driveway, but in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road. I kick myself for not taking advantage of a great photo op, but my blog guest, Kae Takeshita, certainly did.

You never know what you’ll find on the side of a gravel road

Recently I was asked by Women’s Cycling which celebrities were my role models? I cited three women I consider them local legends (actually they’re known internationally) with Kae being one of them. I’ve known Kae for over 15 years and have always admired her amazing cycling ability, sense of humor, and humbleness. I’m sure the latter is from her Japanese heritage, being born and raised in Sapporo.  

Kae always is the one out front

Over the years I’ve watched Kae go from a recreational cyclist to a force to be reckoned with on the pro circuit, now riding for ABUS. Living in the Chicagoland area, Kae has turned to Zwift for her winter training rides and competes on Saris+The Pro Closet’s team.

Her first gravel experience was in 2014 on a commuter bike with full fenders. A lot has transpired in a few short years and below are just a few of Kae’s career awards. I know she’ll continue to add to her trophy case.

Barry Roubaix, 100k overall women 1st (2019)
Unbound Gravel (formerly DK200) – women open 4th (2019 & 2018)  
The MidSouth (formerly LR100) – overall women 2nd (2019 & 2018)
Hilly Billy Roubaix, overall women 1st (2018)
Gravel Worlds, overall women 1st (2016)
PureGravel.com Gravel Ranking Female 1st (2019)
Groadio – The Premier Gravel Cycling & Racing Podcast, Female Gravel Cyclist of the Year (2019)

Talking to Kae this week was so much fun. We covered a variety of topics including cycling in Japan, synergies between gravel riding and flying, and being your own mechanic out on the racecourse. Yep, sometimes you need to be your own MacGyver.

Hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. Maybe it will encourage you to try the road less traveled, and yes, bumpier. I guarantee you will always feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the ride and look forward to the next one.

Enjoy the ride!

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