After 20 years covering pro cycling and gear at outlets like VeloNews, Cyclingnews, BikeRadar and others, Ben Delaney started his own YouTube channel in 2022 called The Ride. Ben has worked at all the big races: the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, the world championships, the Tour of Flanders... In addition to covering pro athletes and their gear, he’s ridden hundreds of bikes himself, and in recent years he’s been enjoying testing gravel bikes in events like Unbound Gravel, Belgian Waffle Ride, and SBT GRVL.
Gravel riding and racing has more than exploded in recent years, and I’ve gone from making fun of it to embracing it wholeheartedly. I love several things about gravel, but perhaps chief among them is the fact that I don’t have to choose between being a journalist covering the race and being a participant. I can do both.
The variety and adventure and accessibility of gravel has been invigorating for me and many others. There is not yet agreement on what exactly this discipline is, or what it should look and feel like — and that makes it fertile ground for finding and telling stories.
Social media is full of so-called influencers who are paid by bike brands for promotion. That’s not what I’m doing. Instead, I’ve been careful not to take money from the brands whose bikes I am testing. I am continuing to operate much like I did when I was editorial director at various media outlets, requesting bikes and gear for test, and then returning it after testing. I am proud to have the support of Castelli, Giro and Feedback Sports — brands that make great cycling products in categories that I am not covering as part of my testing.
What’s the best bike? What’s the ideal tire? Aero bars - yes or no? Are tire inserts a help or a hindrance? Should teamwork be a thing in gravel?
While some of these are debatable, the best equipment often depends on where you live and how you like to ride, and I’ve been looking for answers by testing as many bikes as I can in diverse locations, and then sharing my honest opinions via video.
It’s a different business model, and success certainly isn’t guaranteed! But I’ve been enjoying the freedom of covering whatever I want, however I want, with the honesty that I hope you both appreciate and find helpful. I love the interaction with riders through comments on YouTube and Instagram — and in person at events. We bike nerds love to talk about bikes and riding…so please keep the comments coming.
What’s Next – New bikes and races are always just down the road! I just produced a course preview video for the first USA Cycling Gravel National Championships. coming up in a couple weeks, and I'll be doing more races and testing bikes in the coming months. Stay tuned!