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Anatomy of a Graveur

Anatomy of a Graveur

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I am a road cyclist, at heart. Even when I’m in a car, I’ll daydream about riding the same road I’m driving. I’ll imagine how the tarmac might feel as my wheels carry me across it, the wind, the smells in the air. I’ll imagine how my lungs are expanding and contracting, cleansing me a little with every exhale. In my mind’s legs, I’ll feel the pressure building as I imagine myself rising out of the saddle to power over a pitch. I know I would feel the pain of such a ride, but I can’t really imagine what it would feel like. I can never really imagine pain.

The paved road is where we are the closest we will ever be to achieving flight. To restrict ourselves to tarmac, however, is to restrict ourselves to those places in this world which are most travelled. The most beautiful places do not lie at the end of such roads; they are hidden away, where those with some element of imagination might venture to look for them. A two-lane dirt track, perhaps, or a forest road that winds off beyond the damp forest and on to places unknown.

On gravel and dirt, we find a completely different sensation from that on the road. Certainly, many of the elements are still there, but the terrain demands a different kind of harmony; we dart along from one side of the road to another, looking for the best bits where the holes are smaller and the gravel is held together more. The dust or mud kicked up by our tires hovers in the air about us and covers our lips, teeth, and tongue. Suddenly, we taste the road as much as feel it.

Being away from traffic and in the wilderness awakens something primal in our spirits. The smell of damp dirt, moss, and bark or the baking scent of dry pine needles flushes the city from your senses and immediately awakens a calmer Self. My soul is at peace when I return home from such a ride.

The road is where my heart lies, but gravel is where I find my soul.

// Belgian Affirmations // Cyclocross // Le Graveur

  1. @Weldertron I built my gravel/CX rig from a $500 carbon frameset from Ebay.  It works great, has the exact same geometry as the Crux. My LBS started building bikes and wheels with factory-direct unbranded stuff right around the same time.  Now all the cheapskates on our team ride incredible bikes.  Look into it.

  2. You mean roads like this? Had the Cogal gone off as planned, this was the “graveur” chunk. Took this last night after picking huckleberries.

  3. @frank That dude is absolutely hard.  Looks like a blast.

    oh and, @frank, I remember Travis Brown rocking the drop bars at Leadville a few years ago.  I don’t like Trek that much, and he was leading out COTHO that year, but still, it’d be fun to show up at a CX race on that rig.

  4. @EricW I really want to do a drop bar MTB some day. but so many bike upgrades are in front of that.

  5. I also kinda like the idea of a steel CX bike but I dont know why that would be any better than say carbon or alu

  6. @RedRanger I’ve tried it on my old 26er hardtail.  Ran a rigid fork up front, and put the fattest tires I could fit on there (Conti TrailKing 2.4).  Honestly, besides the hipster rad factor, it wasn’t all that great.  I felt very iffy on descents and couldn’t get my arms wide enough on climbs, and I was using flared mountain drop bars.  The only place where it was nice was on fire road but then, I have a cx bike.

    And IMO there’s not a lot inherently better or worse about steel over AL or carbone on a cx bike since the big tires give you plenty of compliance and dampening.  I guess not having to worry about the frame in a crash as opposed to carbone is kind of nice.  I’ve found the main advantage of having a steel cx bike is that I can look at the other racers and say things that begin with “back in my day…”.

    Also it makes PBR taste better.

  7. @RedRanger good steel (hand fettled) is very nice, feels alive. somehow less inert then alu.

  8. @Weldertron

    I mentioned it in “The Rides”, but the Dirty 40 is coming up in VT in a few weeks. Looks like a blast. and it’s a 10$ race!

    Oh MAN!!!  This sounds AWESOME!!!  I used to road race in Derby through USCF when I was growing up.  I will have to mark this on the calendar for next year.

  9. Besides the obvious fact that it is an excuse to try to complete the infinite equation of n+1, why not use your road bike with a different set of tires for graveling?

    I have a Merckx Scandium frame which I often run HED C2 Belgium rims mounted with Vittoria Pave 28 mm tubulars that have fine fork clearance. 

    Any reason that this is not an okay rig for riding gravel?   The gearing?  Seems like with a 39 up front and a wide assortment of gears on the casette it should be okay.

    I have never tried riding her on gravel but I really want to and it seems like it should work just fine.

    Of course, I would prefer to buy another bike just for gravel but curious as to your opinions on running the road bike on gravel with beefier wheels.

  10. @ frank: I find myself in the same place you describe, driving roads and thinking…what must it be like

    In the ozark terrain around here however, a graveur (or graveleur?) is of necessity, in that, we have 3 category roads: a) nice roads and up kept ~10% b) crappy roads aka ozark pave’, typically shit-n-seal but at least low traffic and descent otherwise ~30% c) gravel roads, which are even less traffic but there are endless possiblities that exist as they are the majority of roads here

    There are killer climbs, some >20% where your front wheel lightly bobs up and down yet then your gripping the chicken bones for all your worth on the descent before you hit a switchback, where grass grows on the road due to low to no traffic, where ghost towns use to reside and dogs don’t have a clue as to who or what you are.  I will take some pics and add later when able

  11. @Buck Rogers

    Besides the obvious fact that it is an excuse to try to complete the infinite equation of n+1, why not use your road bike with a different set of tires for graveling?

    I have a Merckx Scandium frame which I often run HED C2 Belgium rims mounted with Vittoria Pave 28 mm tubulars that have fine fork clearance.

    Any reason that this is not an okay rig for riding gravel? The gearing? Seems like with a 39 up front and a wide assortment of gears on the casette it should be okay.

    I have never tried riding her on gravel but I really want to and it seems like it should work just fine.

    Of course, I would prefer to buy another bike just for gravel but curious as to your opinions on running the road bike on gravel with beefier wheels.

    I think it really depends on the type of gravel surface you plan on riding.  Your bike with the 28s would do fine on hardpack dirt roads or something like crushed limestone towpaths, but you’re going to want a tread with some bite on looser stuff.  That’s where road bikes with standard reach brakes fail as that addition of even a modest tread to a tire can cause clearance issues.

    @Ron

    @frank

    @gregorio

    @Weldertron

    @gregorio

    Yes, definitely not romantic but I have a ‘bar steel cross bike that I use as my commuter. I had the 2011 model until the ST cracked. Now I have the 2013 and it’s actually a nicer bike and the ride on 28s is pretty darn smooth and nice. Crappy wheels but mine gets locked up. A nice bike for the price, especially with the 5700 105 parts. Also, if you toss on some better parts in the cockpit you can shave a bunch of weight. Added bonus for me – the dark red color is the same as the Giant Boulder that I bought with my own lawn mowing money in 7th grade.

    Despite my inclination towards beautiful bicycles, it is nice to have at least one so-so bike that I don’t have to worry about banging, nicking paint, etc.

    As we’ve discussed I too have the 2011 Nashbar steel cyclocross bike and honestly, I think its much better suited for gravel riding than for cross seeing as that even with a handful of modest, yet weight saving upgrades (like new wheels/cockpit) the bike still weighs 24lbs in a size 58.  Its geometry isn’t pure cross either – its not the most nimble bike nor is it particularly stiff, but its very comfortable to ride.  Don’t get me wrong, I race cross on it (albeit not very well) and its a fine bike for the money especially if you want something to pull double duty (or even triple if you’re a commuter) .

    The generic Ridley Nashbar sells is definitely a nice frame, but seeing as its a 2010 X-Night its made strictly for racing – having Ridley’s standard high bottom bracket, relatively short top and head tubes, and doesn’t have bottle mounts.  You can pick up a Alu/carbon forked Kona Jake the Snake for less than $500 that would be more versatile in my opinion (and has a tapered steerer and PF30 BB if you’re into that kind of thing).

  12. @gregorio

    @Weldertron

    @frank

    @gregorio

    @Weldertron

    @gregorio

    During the last year I’ve collected enough parts from upgrading my road bike to assemble a build kit. My VMH has decreed that I MUST build my gravel machine with a frame that is less than $1000 – which to my mind means steel. Anyone out there in V – Land have some ideas for a steel frame of this price point?

    Any particular reason to stay away from Alu?

    Not especially. I’m open to that possibility, but also remember the ride quality of my first steel racer 30 yrs ago. I’ve read about recent innovations in forming and manipulating alu that have resulted in improved ride quality. Suggestions?

    I think weight is a bigger concern than people give credit both on gravel and on CX; you’re lifting your bike a lot in CX and on gravel you want it light enough to bounce over the terrain. Its not very romantic, but I’ve heard people actually have had great luck with the Performance brands of Carbon frames – and Nashbar does a no-brand carbon frame that is actually an unbranded Ridley. Those can be had in your price point for sure, Rule #58 notwithstanding.

    I’m still wary of carbon frames in cross for the non-sponsored rider. One trip up on a barrier and you could be looking at a broken frame. I know aluminum and steel can dent, but I think it’s been proven a lateral impact to a lightweight carbon frame might have some adverse affects.

    That nashbar frame isn’t a bad deal for the starter. At that price it’s almost disposable.

    Found a Specialized crux alu frame with carbon fork for $990 retail. No Rule #58 headaches and no worries with tire clearance. Looks like with a set of cantilever breaks I have the parts to build her up over the winter. http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/road/crux/cruxe5osbbframeset Thanks for the ideas!

    Nicely done! And skip the canti’s and get some TRP Mini-V’s. They are a bit of a pain to set up (not like Canti’s aren’t!) but they actually stop the bike, which is always nice. (Make sure you get the right model for your brakes – http://www.trpbrakes.com/category.php?productid=1040&catid=185)

    @Weldertron Oh, yeah. What he said.

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    @motor city

    I’ve taken my maiden gravel ride tonight and I’m kicking myself that i haven’t done it sooner. I live right on the edge of the South Downs National Park and 200m from my house is a bridle path into the countryside that i’ve never investigated. I had an amazing time, rolling hills with chalk and flint farm track and grass all on my doorstep.

    I took some photos to add to the collective gravelbone:

    That’s right out your door??? JAY-SUS, man! What a sight those roads are! How many K’s?

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    You mean roads like this? Had the Cogal gone off as planned, this was the “graveur” chunk. Took this last night after picking huckleberries.

    Oh man, dude! You’re killin’ me here! We’ve gotta get that ride done still this year.

    @EricW

    @RedRanger I’ve tried it on my old 26er hardtail. Ran a rigid fork up front, and put the fattest tires I could fit on there (Conti TrailKing 2.4). Honestly, besides the hipster rad factor, it wasn’t all that great. I felt very iffy on descents and couldn’t get my arms wide enough on climbs, and I was using flared mountain drop bars. The only place where it was nice was on fire road but then, I have a cx bike.

    And IMO there’s not a lot inherently better or worse about steel over AL or Carbone on a cx bike since the big tires give you plenty of compliance and dampening. I guess not having to worry about the frame in a crash as opposed to Carbone is kind of nice. I’ve found the main advantage of having a steel cx bike is that I can look at the other racers and say things that begin with “back in my day…”.

    Also it makes PBR taste better.

    Jacquie Phelan did OK with it on her Cunningham named Otto.

  15. @Buck Rogers

    Besides the obvious fact that it is an excuse to try to complete the infinite equation of n+1, why not use your road bike with a different set of tires for graveling?

    I have a Merckx Scandium frame which I often run HED C2 Belgium rims mounted with Vittoria Pave 28 mm tubulars that have fine fork clearance.

    Any reason that this is not an okay rig for riding gravel? The gearing? Seems like with a 39 up front and a wide assortment of gears on the casette it should be okay.

    It depends on your gravel and on your roads. Out in southern MN, the roads I used to ride were fine on a road bike, even with 25mm tires. The Almanzo gets raced on road bikes a lot. Here in the PWN, a lot of the roads I ride have quite large rocks and the gravel can be quite loose. I can hardly keep the wheels on the bus with 33mm tubs and at about 5 bar – not to mention I definitely want some knobs on the sides of the tires for cornering. I cannot imagine doing those on a road bike, and you’d peel out on the steep bits.

    Also, I’m running 38×27 and some of the steep stuff is scraping the bottom of the barrel on the gear inches, so a compact would not be a crazy addition if you’re doing lots of climbing on steep forest roads.

    Gravel basically adds about 20% resistance, so keep that in mind. Except when descending, when it basically means you’re riding on ball bearings.

    @Souleur

    @ frank: I find myself in the same place you describe, driving roads and thinking…what must it be like

    In the ozark terrain around here however, a Graveur (or graveleur?) is of necessity, in that, we have 3 category roads: a) nice roads and up kept ~10% b) crappy roads aka ozark pave’, typically shit-n-seal but at least low traffic and descent otherwise ~30% c) gravel roads, which are even less traffic but there are endless possiblities that exist as they are the majority of roads here

    There are killer climbs, some >20% where your front wheel lightly bobs up and down yet then your gripping the chicken bones for all your worth on the descent before you hit a switchback, where grass grows on the road due to low to no traffic, where ghost towns use to reside and dogs don’t have a clue as to who or what you are. I will take some pics and add later when able

    Sounds like heaven.

  16. @frank

     

    Nicely done! And skip the canti’s and get some TRP Mini-V’s. They are a bit of a pain to set up (not like Canti’s aren’t!) but they actually stop the bike, which is always nice. (Make sure you get the right model for your brakes – http://www.trpbrakes.com/category.php?productid=1040&catid=185)

    @Weldertron Oh, yeah. What he said.

    +1 to this.  Mini-Vs are the way to go.  Even Ridley is spec-ing them on their entry to mid level canti-mount cross bikes this year.

  17. Probably a good job you didn’t try them over the winter or even last summer – I can just imagine how deep the mud must have been.  Added to that, with a good soaking that South Downs chalk clay has a lower coefficient of grip than a wet bar of soap.

  18. @Teocalli

    Probably a good job you didn’t try them over the winter or even last summer – I can just imagine how deep the mud must have been. Added to that, with a good soaking that South Downs chalk clay has a lower coefficient of grip than a wet bar of soap.

    Not quite sure how I managed that but that was supposed to be in reply to @motor_city and the South Downs pics.

  19. My first post as I have discovered the Velominati. A great article that I will share. As a marathon runner turned road cyclist I am still enjoying tarmac and all the potholes and variety of surfaces it brings. And I am lucky enough to cycle in remote North Pennines in the UK. Sometimes not seeing another sole and occasionally for a minute worrying what might happen if I come off as I ‘fly’ down a descent. Immense freedom, immense pleasure, loving every moment.

  20. Every bike has the potential to be(come) a gravel bike.  Free your mind, and your bike will follow.

  21. question, why did @G’rilla replace is Van Dessel G&T as his main cross rig? That frame is top of my list for a cx rig of my own some day.

  22. @frank

    That’s right out your door??? JAY-SUS, man! What a sight those roads are! How many K’s?

    There are a lot of routes in different directions but after around 10KM i can join the South Downs Way which is a famous 160KM / 4150M^  off road trail that can be cycled – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Downs_Way

    There is a fairly hardcore MTB challenge to tackle the whole route in one day so I’m going to investigate further to see how achievable it would be on a cx / gravel bike. It could make an epic cross-cogal.

    @Teocalli You are probably right about the weather, perfect for it this year but it must get sketchy at times.

  23. @frank Oh believe me, I think people who can shred singletrack on drops are totally metal.  But, alas, I am a mere mortal.

  24. @RedRanger

    question, why did @G’rilla replace is Van Dessel G&T as his main cross rig? That frame is top of my list for a cx rig of my own some day.

    You’ll have to check with him, but his new rig is a fully custom TI dream rig. I’m not sure there was a good reason to relegate the G&T to the pit position other than that it was a bit heavier and there were a few things he didn’t like about it (I remember him saying he didn’t like the HT angle or the ST angle or both or one or the other. I don’t know, he talks so much, you have to zone him out after a while.)

  25. @EricW

    Talk about Rule violations. The only Rule Jacquie didn’t violate was Rule #5.

  26. Not to bring attention back to dirt, but Merckx, this video makes a strong case for a full suspension downhill bike.

    Talk about a different kind of harmony.

  27. @frank

    Not to bring attention back to dirt, but Merckx, this video makes a strong case for a full suspension downhill bike.

    Talk about a different kind of harmony.

    Dude. You are fucking killing me, here. Alan Fucking Watts. Gorgeous vid!

    Just when I’m starting to let go of my negative emotions toward riding dirt. Starting to address my boundary issues. Fucker.

  28. @PeakInTwoYears

    @frank

    Not to bring attention back to dirt, but Merckx, this video makes a strong case for a full suspension downhill bike.

    Talk about a different kind of harmony.

    Dude. You are fucking killing me, here. Alan Fucking Watts. Gorgeous vid!

    Just when I’m starting to let go of my negative emotions toward riding dirt. Starting to address my boundary issues. Fucker.

    Unless you are riding that path in the lead photo, then every case is strong for a full suspension bike.

  29. @PeakInTwoYears I make it no secret that I enjoy riding my MTB which is a hard tailed XC inspired rig. 29er with thin tires(2.0) and we dont have buff trails out here by any means. oh and I ride in road kit.

    but here you go

    10 Things I have learned about Mountainbiking from Filme von Draussen on Vimeo.

  30. @motor city

    @frank

    That’s right out your door??? JAY-SUS, man! What a sight those roads are! How many K’s?

    There are a lot of routes in different directions but after around 10KM i can join the South Downs Way which is a famous 160KM / 4150M^ off road trail that can be cycled – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Downs_Way

    There is a fairly hardcore MTB challenge to tackle the whole route in one day so I’m going to investigate further to see how achievable it would be on a cx / gravel bike. It could make an epic cross-cogal.

    @Teocalli You are probably right about the weather, perfect for it this year but it must get sketchy at times.

    I remember a few years back and I went out from QE Park West after a short wet period.  There’s a flat bit a little before Cocking and I fell off 3 times on the flat it was so slippery.  At that point I turned round and came home before I did damage to myself.  Not very V but it was not fun.  I know someone who did e-to-e this year in under 10 hrs and someone else who doubled it inside 24 hrs.  Mad.  I’ve done it a few times with Trailbreak over 2 days with a overnight stop and party at the YHA at Truleigh.  It is perfectly feasible on a CX just have to be a bit careful on a few of the descents, there are other parts where a CX would be humming along.

  31. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Besides the obvious fact that it is an excuse to try to complete the infinite equation of n+1, why not use your road bike with a different set of tires for graveling?

    I have a Merckx Scandium frame which I often run HED C2 Belgium rims mounted with Vittoria Pave 28 mm tubulars that have fine fork clearance.

    Any reason that this is not an okay rig for riding gravel? The gearing? Seems like with a 39 up front and a wide assortment of gears on the casette it should be okay.

    It depends on your gravel and on your roads. Out in southern MN, the roads I used to ride were fine on a road bike, even with 25mm tires. The Almanzo gets raced on road bikes a lot. Here in the PWN, a lot of the roads I ride have quite large rocks and the gravel can be quite loose. I can hardly keep the wheels on the bus with 33mm tubs and at about 5 bar – not to mention I definitely want some knobs on the sides of the tires for cornering. I cannot imagine doing those on a road bike, and you’d peel out on the steep bits.

    Also, I’m running 38×27 and some of the steep stuff is scraping the bottom of the barrel on the gear inches, so a compact would not be a crazy addition if you’re doing lots of climbing on steep forest roads.

    Gravel basically adds about 20% resistance, so keep that in mind. Except when descending, when it basically means you’re riding on ball bearings.

    The tire choice for me always comes down to the cornering/rolling resistance equation. 28mm Gatorskins are fantastic for a lot of gravel for their low rolling resistance but corner for shit on loose stuff. Nobby cx tires let you blast through the corners with confidence but can be a bit slow rolling. Nobby’s are also nice on the trail sections of the Heck of the North because they can be muddy and if they’re not muddy they can be slick with grass and have fine sand. The trail sections of the Heck are where the selections are made as well so gambling on good tires for these is a consideration. With that, there may only be 10-12 miles of trail over 100 miles of gravel so low rolling resistance may win out. File treads have been my choice for the most part as they seem to be the best of both worlds. But if it’s wet they slip too.

    There’s a few peeps who ride the Almanzo on road bikes but it’s a bit ballsy and risky. That crushed limestone, especially when freshly graded, is really really loose. Bombing down those hills requires meat on the wheels to stay upright and climbing up those +12%’ers with road tires on would be a futile exercise in the saddle only I imagine. Most peeps are running CX tires, especially the ones who are winning.

    http://www.cxmagazine.com/tire-review-challenge-almanzo-gravel-race-tire

  32. @brett

    @PeakInTwoYears

    @frank

    Not to bring attention back to dirt, but Merckx, this video makes a strong case for a full suspension downhill bike.

    Talk about a different kind of harmony.

    Dude. You are fucking killing me, here. Alan Fucking Watts. Gorgeous vid!

    Just when I’m starting to let go of my negative emotions toward riding dirt. Starting to address my boundary issues. Fucker.

    Unless you are riding that path in the lead photo, then every case is strong for a full suspension bike.

    With my history of ruptured disks and a compression fracture of the spine, full suspension is pretty much required. But to ride a downhill bike, on the kinds of trails downhill bikes were made for and in the ways in which they were meant to be ridden, would represent a ten-fold increase in what I love and fear about riding my mtb in general.

  33. @RedRanger Beautiful.

  34. I bought my Felt F75 CX late last winter for winter riding, but I’ve come to recognize it for the its full potential on gravel and dirt. I was at Dirty Kanza 200 as support for 4 riders and watching these bad-ass people finish convinced me gravel is king. I can also swap my road wheels for a compact if I like since I purchased that bike for the rim brakes and the ability to switch.

    I’ve clocked a decent bit of saddle time on gravel but the best ride of the season was a 50km ride with two others when about half way in the clouds exploded giving me perhaps the best ride ever. Now perhaps it ain’t to smart riding in a serious thunderstorm, but there wasn’t much choice, really. Climbing these hills which were now river beds, the water flowing down hill against us, was slow, but amazing. When we finally emerged from the back country into polite society, cars were slowing down a bit to look at the three of us, coated in grime. That rain ride was exhilarating.

    Paved Michigan hills aren’t too plentiful, but they sure exist through gravel country. West Michigan is catching on to gravel racing with the Barry-Roubaix and the Lowell 50. The Barry-Roubaix weather is anybody’s guess. This year it was icy, freezing and wretched. I crashed 3km in and hated every second after that. Registration is Dec 1, 2013. See you there.

    Oh… Tires. I ride Ritchey 35. Like riding on pillows.

  35. So much gravel happening on the STRAVA. Very fun to see.

  36. I started as a mountain biker, and although I don’t have the opportunity to do it very much any more, it still holds a special place in my heart.

    That being said, I find myself doing this all. the. time.

    Even when I’m in a car, I’ll daydream about riding the same road I’m driving.

  37. @frank

    @EricW

    Talk about Rule violations. The only Rule Jacquie didn’t violate was Rule #5.

    Is there a ruling on the V to Rule Breaking exchange rate?  I.E. Each helping of V above 1 V allows the rider to break some fraction of another rule?

    Note that this is a generalization of Rule #33.

  38. @EricW short answer is No

  39. @RedRanger

    @EricW short answer is No

    Noted.

  40. @EricW

    @frank

    @EricW

    Talk about Rule violations. The only Rule Jacquie didn’t violate was Rule #5.

    Is there a ruling on The V to Rule Breaking exchange rate? I.E. Each helping of V above 1 V allows the rider to break some fraction of another rule?

    Note that this is a generalization of Rule #33.

    Even answering that question would violate Rule #2.

  41. @Nate I thought we were friends man.

  42. The Graveurs amongst you might want to have a gander at Cycleboredom’s latest exploits…

    http://www.cycleboredom.com/ggcso-part-duh-le-glutton-pour-la-punishment/

  43. Cross bikes are not the thing yet in Evansville Indiana. That despite the fact that we now have 4 serious bike shops representing 10 major brands in a city of 120,000. One bike shop however had risked ordering a cross bike in 2009. It was a Specialized Tricross with a price of $1600. I discovered it last year when looking for a cross bike and talked them out of it for $900. I love this bike. It shifts so smoothly despite its wide range of gears (nice drive train with Tiagra levers and a Deore LX rear). The ride with the larger tires and the carbon fork is the nicest road bike ride I’ve ever had. And to top it off it does not feel heavy or slow despite the 32 mm tires. (Well they are supposed to be 32’s despite the fact that they look wider than the 35’s on my wife’s Trek hybrid.) I’ve also got it set up with lights because of the fact I don’t have to worry as much about hitting potholes and losing control on it at night. Every cyclist should try one once.

  44. I love rockin’ my Marinoni Fango single speed cx on the gravel cottage and colonization roads north of Muskoka, Ontario. I raced it at the Paris-Ancaster this spring. It was a blast.

  45. I mentioned the Lowell 50 earlier – That was this morning. It was a soul searing ride with mud, bits of rain and hard gusting wind. Of the two distances to race, 55km or 92km, I raced the latter in my age division (over 50) and out of the finishers numbering 12, I beat one guy. Out of the entrants (21), I did better.

    Upon awaking and hearing the howling wind this morning and looking at wet roads, I chose the 12/30 to go with my 46/36 front rings. Given the mud, I’m very glad for the big cassette as that got me through the mud with something nearing aplomb. Or perhaps elan… In any event, I’m pleased to have finished at all. My time of 4:13:09 is slower than I would have liked, but I finished, eh?

    Climbing wasn’t bad at 897 meters and were made worse by the wind, but as I said hills in West Michigan aren’t terribly plentiful. Roughly 72-80km were into the wind or cross wind and the cross wind sucked the life out of this ride.

    A hard day in the saddle, deep in the pain cave with proper post ride hydration makes for an excellent day.

  46. I guess this video fits here perfectly:

    Lucas Brunelle goes to Africa from Cinelli Official on Vimeo.

  47. Revisiting this thread due to current thoughts of a cx bike as my n+1:

    Why is there (to me anyway) such a (recent?) zeitgeist toward gravel? With the Heck of the North discussion and, what seems to me anyway, a growing momentum with CX and gravel riding, I would like to understand what’s driving this.

    Is it that the road is getting boring for those who have ridden it all of their lives? Is it the evolution of equipment design that makes this kind of riding more accessible? Is it that roads are becoming congested?

    Curious as to your thoughts…

  48. @Bespoke Great questions all and fantastic way to further the discussion and bump a great thread.

    For me, gravel riding is home. It boils down to place. Road cycling is fine here but limited. MTB is burgeoning but forced (with great potential), CX is not on the radar. But gravel, gravel is home, it is geography. I live on gravel (literally), at least half the roads here are gravel. It opens up thousands of miles of riding that would be too dicey on a road bike and too slow on a mountain bike. It’s that perfect blend of need and tool. It’s no wonder that the premiere gravel races in the US are in the midwest. The Heck, Almazno, Gravel Worlds, are all in the bread basket. It’s our contribution. The gear doesn’t offer much that hasn’t existed in some form for years. It’s just a bunch of people coming home.

  49. @Marko You are always so poetic. I appreciate your response.

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