In the cycling world, Miguel Crawford is considered the king of gravel—he has made a name for himself riding off-road. He’s also known as the grandfather of mixed-terrain cycling, a distinction he earned when he founded the Grasshopper Adventure Series 22 years ago. Josie Carroll, who is responsible for all things Velo, as well as marketing and communications at Mill District, sat down with Miguel to talk about his legacy and what makes Healdsburg such a great destination for cycling. What follows is a (heavily) edited transcript of their conversation.
You started the Grasshopper 22 years ago. What was the draw then, and what is it now?
Originally my idea was to create these competitive training rides, but without support and connecting to dirt whenever possible. The people who were road racers started hearing about how fun it was. I reached out to riders and created courses that played to everyone’s strengths. That’s how we got mixed terrain. For me it’s always about trying to get people to look at the best side of competitions. That draw hasn’t changed at all.
The Grasshopper Series is very inclusive. Why is that important?
It’s always been my goal to be inclusive. As the years have gone on, I’ve seen how there are people across the spectrum doing it for challenge and adventure. This year we have been making more of an effort to reach out and get more women involved. It’s important to make everyone feel welcome.
With riders coming from all over the country, what do you hope they’ll take away from the area?
The beauty of the ruggedness of being in NorCal. The remoteness. The variety of roads from the Russian River Valley up to the oak and madrone woodlands and redwoods in Cazadero. When you’re in Sonoma County, within a day you can move through so many ecosystems.
What’s the most extraordinary adventure your bike has led you on?
Starting in Sonoma County, I loaded up and toured the Lost Coast, through Arcata and then through into Idaho. When you put everything on your bike and you just go, it’s certainly an adventure.
Why did you choose Mill District as home base for your Super Sweetwater ride?
Mill District is so welcoming and sincere. Also, the location just made sense. There are so many great rides you can do from Healdsburg. And the town is phenomenal, just like the community.
What’s your favorite snack on the road?
Rides that finish with food are great. For me when I’m out on a big ride, stopping too much is not my favorite thing. I wouldn’t want to make food a stop in the middle. That said, I do bring some favorites on big rides. If I’m packing my own food, I’ll go for sprouted grain bread with peanut butter and bananas and chocolate chips. After 30 years of ride food, you know what you like.