Charity rides a Canyon Grail CF SL, and she says...

Pro(moter) bike: SBT GRVL race director Amy Charity’s Canyon Grail

Amy Charity spent her life in finance before making the leap to the professional road racing scene. The race director for SBT GRVL now takes her speed and motivation to the dirt.

It’s clear Amy Charity can go fast. The former road racer left a career in the financial industry to test her mettle full-time, eventually landing with Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies team. She raced in the 2015 UCI Road World Championships race, and called it quits not long after. Then, just as quickly, the road beyond the road became apparent.

She helped found SBT GRVL (Steamboat Gravel), which was held for the first time in 2019 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It has since become a notable “must-do” race for serious gravel pros and amateurs alike, with its stunning scenery and various course offerings, from the Black Course with 144 miles (100 miles on gravel, and 9400 feet of climbing) to the beginner-friendly Green course (37 miles, 2,000 feet of climbing, 20 miles on gravel).


Charity has taken on the race director role for SBT GRVL, so no one knows the course like she does. “We don’t have any real steep pitches,” she says. “About 8 percent is about as steep as it gets around Steamboat Lake.”

So for drivetrain choices, Charity recommends assessing your strengths and weaknesses and making a decision based on that. But if you’re unsure, err toward a good high gear so you can tick off the miles quickly in between the moderate climbs. “There are a lot of flats and downhills, so you want to be able to have a variety, but you won’t have anything too steep out there.”

Amy Charity
Charity rides a Canyon Grail CF SL, and she says it’s an ideal bike for the SBT GRVL course. “It’s light, it’s quick, it accommodates many different tires, the handlebars on it really dampen the vibration of the road but you still feel like you can get into an aero roadie position as well.” Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Amy Charity's Canyon Grail
It’s hard to argue with Canyon’s status as a leader in the gravel category. The Grail is a popular choice among racers for its aggressive stance, compliance features, and race-ready handling. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Amy Charity's Canyon Grail
The Grail’s most notable feature is its integrated cockpit and Hover Bar system. The double-decker handlebar adds compliance to the front end of the bike, according to Canyon. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Amy Charity's Canyon Grail
The stem integrates nicely into the head tube for a svelte look and aerodynamic performance. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Panaracer Gravel King Tire
The [Panaracer] Gravel King, probably 35mm or 38mm are ideal” for the SBT GRVL course, says Charity. “Tire pressure depends on weight and other factors, but I usually run 35 psi. For my weight that seems to be ideal.” Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Shimano Ultegra crankset
Charity didn’t seem too particular about her gearing choice for the week of riding in the Arizona desert. She was “fine” with the standard gear package that came on the bike, which includes this Shimano Ultegra crankset with 50/34 chainring combo. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Out back, Charity has opted for an 11-34 cassette. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
The roadie may have left the road, but Charity still sees value in roadie gear. She runs a Stages power meter on her Shimano Ultegra crank. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Fizik Saddle
Choose a saddle that’s most comfortable for you. While no one can make that choice for you, it’s fair to say that Fizik saddles are quite popular in both the gravel and road worlds. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Bag strategy
“For our race, we recommend bringing a tube and C02,” Charity says. “We do have support out on the course. We have aid stations, so always be prepared with a couple of bottles. It really comes down to your strategy, like if you want to stop at the stations. Most people will stop and will grab food, so you don’t need to carry as much as some of the other races.” Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Disc brakes
The road community might still be debating the worthiness of disc brakes, but there’s simply no denying them for gravel purposes. Superior stopping power and modulation make discs the ideal choice. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Garmin Edge
Charity uses her Garmin Edge 830 computer to track her data and for navigation. Photo: Dan Cavallari |
Amy Charity
Aside from riding bikes, Charity is a motivational speaker and author. Photo: Dan Cavallari |