When Eric Tippett started his Pelotonia journey fifteen years ago, he wasn’t a seasoned cyclist. In fact, he’d just bought his first bike. But that didn’t stop him from riding 50 miles for a cause he believed in – cancer research. He got his first taste of all that gravel riding offered just four years later, completing the ride on the same bike he’d ridden in at the very first Pelotonia. He was hooked.
“The whole thing was just fun.” he says, “Somebody even brought a drum set out to play for the riders. I had a blast!”
Since his first gravel ride, Eric has found a deep love for the sport.
“The terrain challenges you in different ways,” he explains. “The scenery and the spirit of gravel just fits with my style as a cyclist.”
He’s spent years forming friendships, honing his cycling skills, and exploring beautiful Ohio backroads.
And – his love for Pelotonia has continued to grow.
“I always say Pelotonia is the second best day of the year, right behind Christmas. The community is incredible and I love that every single participant really gets to feel like a hero for a day.”
In late 2022, Eric heard that Pelotonia was considering hosting a gravel ride. He reached out right away, “I emailed the Pelotonia email address and heard back from Joe almost immediately. I said ‘I want to be a part of this’ and he asked me to join the community advisory committee.”
For Eric, this opportunity was a dream come true. He’s had the opportunity to work alongside a group of gravel cyclists, bike experts, and long-time Pelotonia participants sharing their expertise with the Pelotonia team, all in the hope that Gravel Day can become as much of a mainstay for gravel cyclists as Ride Weekend is for road riders.
"I’m a map nerd, so working with Nick Tepe to design the routes was a lot of fun,” he said, “and it’s been cool to share some of my passion and my knowledge with the Pelotonia team.”
And he feels the Gravel Day routes have shaped up nicely. “The scenery is absolutely the best part. The routes are challenging, but the views are worth it. You get to the top of a climb and look around and think ‘wow’. It’s real, authentic, rural Ohio that many people don’t even know exists.”
Gravel Day Riders will see Eric taking on the 50+ mile route and he’s looking forward to crossing the finish line at another inaugural Pelotonia ride – on a much better bike this time.
“I love gravel riding because it makes you feel like a kid again.” he says. “I’m excited for my own kids to ride alongside me at a Pelotonia event someday.”