Small and intimate, from the lakeside to the vineyards, steep loose climbs to hidden cobbled backroads, not quite a gravel festival, not like any other camp you’ve attended in the past—the first-ever United We Are Gravel Camp by NGNM was about more than the riding, it was about the experience.Everything we do has a thread running through it, and the four-day United We Are Gravel Camp, held on the shores of Lago d’Iseo with support from 3T, Hammerhead, and Bend36 brought our spirit to life.More than just a three-day gravel camp held for all ability levels, the United We Are event was an extension of NGNM’s brand mantra about bringing together women who ride and empowering each other through cycling (“United We Are, Lifting as We Climb” stamped on the UWAG jersey sleeve). Such immersive experiences are an opportunity to practice the vision, brand values, and lifestyle we’ve been telling since day one via beautifully captured photography and stories.It was clear that the love for cycling is indeed able to cross borders – as the participants arrived from the UK, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, US, and France – and that age is just a number, as the 32 riders ranged from 25-60 year olds. We encouraged women to go wild swimming in the lake, talk to everyone during the breaks, eat delicious locally produced food around huge circular tables, take breakfast on the terrace, say yes to moving up to the longer ride, ride sections that you never thought you’d be capable of clearing, learn about bike handling from Claudia and Barbara (shout out to our most wonderful ride guides), copy their position to get up the rough climbs (it’s an art form, truly), follow their line on the descents, end each ride with lakeside yoga (namaste, Giorgia 🙏🏽), stretching and moving to feel even better, then talking long about big and small ideas over spritz aperitivo as the sun sets.It was a camp where acquaintances became friendships and barely-there gravel skills were quickly sharpened so you went home with athletic grace (it’s true—we have photographic proof! 😃)Prior to the camp, we’d kept our routes largely secretive, inviting speculation as to what sort of gravel we’d be riding and precisely how we’d cater to beginners and experienced riders alike.
Splicing the Franciacorta area into 3 sections, center, right towards Brescia and left towards Ponte Oglio, each day served a different course in 3 different distances (short, medium, and long). Moreover, with a roughly 40/60 ratio between asphalt and off-road sections, fun was guaranteed when riding through vineyards, single tracks, gravel sections, or white roads.
Our secret: building from the base up, adding more challenging sections as well as distance to the standard S route to enhance the M and L routes. As a new discipline within cycling, gravel is incredibly difficult to label.Is it exclusively smooth white roads, or hard-packed bike paths? Is it dirty farm tracks used by tractors? Is it a ribbon of loamy singletrack that snakes lazily through the woods? Or field riding through Franciacorta vineyards? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. It’s as diverse and interesting as everyone that came to the first-ever UWAG camp. These contradictions are what keep us going. They’re what inspire us to get outside every day and bring you along for the exploration.For 2023, we’ll be running another multi-day point-to-point United We Are tour (UWAT) by road bike, and a United We Are gravel camp (UWAG) based out of a beautiful, hand-picked location with a range of routes for all abilities. We hope to see you at one or both of our events next year.UWAG ‘22 field notes:
Weather: sunny and mild.
Terrain: dusty, rocky, loose.
Bikes: high-end, seriously capable (the 3T Exploro is a fast machine!).
Navigation: in full colors, accurate (the Hammerhead Karoo2 rocks!).
Saddle comfort: pain-free (Bend36's chammy cream is addictive!)
Food: delicious, vegan, unlimited.
Coffee: strong, tasty, oat milk optional.
Feelings of inadequacy: zero. We'd like to thank our partners 3T, Hammerhead, Bend36 and Strade del Franciacorta for supporting such an epic event, where gender equality and inclusivity are part of a larger story that sees women gaining more ground and accepting bigger challenges in this beautiful sport called cycling.