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Tag Archive: bicycles

What’s the Deal with Gravel? (In a Jerry Seinfeld voice)

So I feel like the kid in the 1950s pot commercial; I rode gravel once and now I’m hooked and my whole life has been turned upside down. I just can’t see the road the same. I now see cars and replace them with trees, signal lights are now steep hills, cement streets are now dirt paths… Everything has flipped and I love it.

I had tried cross and it was plenty fun. Not like every day fun, but fun once-in-awhile-fun. I will/must/don’t want to admit how bad I am on a mountain bike. On a road bike is where I was the most comfortable. Gravel does not come natural for me even if I’ve tried most of what cycling has to offer. For me it’s not the descents because I’m not all that confident in my skills. It’s the views as I suffer and drag my 200 pound butt up these climbs that normally lead to some hike-a-bike situations. The climbing can be brutal but like the Instagram inspirational quote with a majestic background says, “It’s just a hill, get over it.” If you can, then you will get a new perspective; your eyes will open to everything you’ve missed on a road bike or a mountain bike.

On a road bike you ride with your eyes wide shut. That’s the appeal for me, a lot of it is just not thinking and just going; you can zone out on a climb and even forget about the views. On a mountain bike you are more aware but there is still a level of letting the bike do it’s job and going for it. The closest thing to riding gavel (on a rigid bike with drops), in my opinion, is riding a fixed gear bike. On a fixed gear bike you have to be aware of everything around you. From the cars to the road conditions, the signal lights to the pedestrians, you are on full alert all the time. Not having real brakes will do that to you. Gravel is somewhat like that, you have an idea of control but it’s more controlled chaos then precision.

The real beauty of gravel [(…and I get a ten-cent commission every time I type G R A V E L)- Gravel] riding is that it’s not just about riding, hiking is also a big part of the experience. On a road bike you can take another route, on a mountain bike you have a lot of gearing and a more capable bike, so when you get to a section that’s above your pay grade you either push yourself or hike-a-bike. You go on a ride and you really don’t know if you are going to be able to ride every section of it. How much of a route you can manage changes as you improve and get more confident/stronger. I tend to fall more on the climbs than the descents. I’ve also done a lot to improve my gearing.

Nonetheless, gravel is my new obsession. So much so that this summer I am planning a Summer Adventure Gravel Series (SAGS) around the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. The adventure part is that there will be no routes given out. We will have to stay together, this will help avoid douchebagery. This is not a race. This is not about being first, fast, or better. This is about the people next to you, the landscape that surrounds you, and the route in front of you. Aside from maybe the Cannondale Slate [(with a gearing upgrade) no pun intended] there will not be a perfect bike for every situation. After, I hope we question our bikes but not our time in the saddle. I’m currently doing recon for the S.A.G.S ride- details will come.

How technology is changing the face of bicycle commuting

Here’s an interesting article that appeared in our Google News Feed the other day — from Fast Company, folks who know a thing or two about technology and new businesses:

Bicycles, with their gears and pedal power may seem like the Luddites of the transportation family, but the technology available to improve your ride is out there, it’s growing, and it’s helping more Americans consider bikes as a method of transportation than ever before.

If you’re a cyclist, or have friends who prefer two wheels to four, you are aware of how passionate people can be about bicycles, and specifically their enthusiasm for bike evangelism.

Tyler Doornbos, of Bike Friendly Goods in Grand Rapids, Michigan, chatted with me about some of the “barriers to entry” for getting more people on bikes, and how new technologies are addressing some of those issues. I’ve taken his advice and put together this short guide to digitizing your bike commute.

Read the full article by visiting the Fast Company page here. The article serves as a rundown of emerging new tech and devices to make your commute safer and easier. You may have heard of some of the technology already, but there were a few products in the article that were completely new to me, and I try to stay abreast of the trends in the industry. The article is worth a look, in any case.

Interbike 2013: Fatbike frenzy!

Let it be known that 2013/2014 is the year of the “fatbike”…these things were EVERYWHERE at Interbike, both indoors at the show and at the Outdoor Demo. We saw a dozen different brands, and even got to ride one. Let’s take a look at some of the fatbike hightlights:

When we first walked up to the entrance gate at Outdoor Demo, we spotted a young lady wheeling in what turned out to be a prototype KHS fatbike. The finalized version will be a different color and will have some different features, and is scheduled to be released in the first part of 2014 (hopefully before the snow comes):

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RL and I stopped by the 9:Zero:7 booth at Outdoor Demo — with so many bike companies and attendees coming from the Southern California area, the guys at 9:Zero:7 were pretty stoked to meet someone who actually lived in a snowy winter climate! They sweet-talked us into checking out one of their bikes, the aluminum 190 with 190mm rear dropout spacing. This one will swallow the widest fatbike tires available (up to 4.8″).

We hustled this orange-and-white beauty over to the Bell Helmets pumptrack and let it RIP. What a blast this thing was…smooth over rough terrain and surprisingly nimble for such a massive machine. One loop around the pumptrack and I was sold!

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RL followed up with some flow of his own:

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Aluminum not your thing? 9:Zero:7 is also rolling out a new carbon frame. Colorado Springs-based Borealis Bikes had their new carbon Yampa frameset on display, too:

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We even spotted a couple of fat e-bikes. Here’s a Felt with a Bosch assist kit:

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Inside the indoor show at The Mandalay Bay convention center, there were more fatbikes than you could shake a stick at. There were quite a few frame and component makers with fatties on display; even Phil Wood had a custom full-suspension downhill model in their booth.

The highlight for me, though, were these glorious fatbikes in the Boo Bicycles booth. This one is made from the “holy Trinity” of frame materials…carbon, titanium, and bamboo, with a Gates belt drive and Rohloff IGH. The front end sports a titanium springer-style fork:

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Here’s a racier model with bamboo tubes surrounded by what I believe to be titanium assemblies:

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Winter warriors, take note: fatbikes are here and they open a door into a snowy wonderland of riding. These bikes also happen to be quite fun in summery conditions…sand, gravel, and obstacles are no match for the balloon tires and wide footprint. With some smooth tires (or a quick switch to 29″ wheels/tires — most are a direct swap), these might even make formidable all-season commuting rigs!


Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky