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James Walsh racing

Against the Grain

February 01, 2023

Preview an article in the FREE OBED publication, Spoke & Terrain. An assemblage of stories, recollections from the trail & the race, all about the gravel community. Full Article Now Available

Journeyman gravel racer, James Walsh, mixes it up at the front of any race with the big boys. But it’s his blue-collar ethic, his balance as a dad and racer, with zero expectations, that means more to him than anything the pros have.

Walsh begins his day like many dads across the country. There’s a short morning session on the trainer, a quick breakfast and coffee, then a drive to take his daughter, Fiona, to school, all before settling in to work from the home. Later in the afternoon, he’s there to pick up Fiona and shuttle her to soccer practice. Come evening, if there’s light, there’s a quick evening trail run before dinner and putting Fiona to bed for the night.

As routine as his day seems, make no mistake, Walsh is one of the best gravel racers in the country.

More dedicated than many pros to his craft. While he may not be at the top at the end of a race against pro and elite riders half his age. Walsh’s long-time mountain bike experience and technical savvy sees him stay with the lead group of any race.

James Walsh and his daughter

Walsh has his own routine: strength work in the garage, lots of sessions on Zwift, and bottle refills courtesy Fiona. And that’s just fine with him.

Then there’s race day. As the pros get the call-up from the announcer, Walsh wrestles 15 yards back for position near the front of the starting corral.

While there are all these differences, they all go out the window when the gun goes off. And those pros are definitely looking at the guy who deftly charges around them, dances through a rock garden, and creates a gap on riders who have spent time battling on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, or dashed through the Arenberg Forest. The course is the great equalizer. And Walsh belongs...

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