Updates To Gravel Grinder News: In the news on Gravel Grinder News are the race results and a short report from the weekend's running of the first Red River Riot in St. Jo, Texas. Also look for registration news for Vermont's Gravel Grinder Springtime classic and a new addition to the gravel road events in the Twin Cities area called the Westside Dirty Benjamin. Links and info are over there on GGN, so take a look.
Also of note: You can now participate in the conversations if you'd like by commenting on GGN. In the future you can expect some gear reviews, editorils, and more. Stay tuned!
Salsa Cycles Vaya: Ever since I saw the Vaya prototype last summer I have sort of been ho-hum on the concept, but regardless, it is a cool bike. (Check out the details here) Salsa has made what I would refer to as a "Fargo-lite", a bike that takes up to 43mm tires, but in many ways strikes me as a more "road-centric" version of the awesome Fargo. There isn't a thing wrong with that at all. Really, it has more to do with my off road bias. I will confess that I have trouble dealing with the idea of riding a tire under 42mm wide. I really have a hang up with that. But I digress.......
The Vaya will definitely speak to those who have found traditional geometry in touring bikes lacking for comfort. A tall head tube with the sloping top tube is going to automatically turn off a lot of road going touring afficianados. Too bad. The Vaya will offer riders a far more comfortable rider positioning in terms of multi-hour rides than any traditional touring rig. I am sure that Vaya also has other cool features, (disc brakes for one), but to my eyes, the Vaya nails the nice upright, relaxed rider position perfectly and will really be valuable on rougher roads and gravel. In fact, I would agree with what Dirty Kanza promoter, Jim Cummings has written when he opined that it was the best gravel road rig he's laid eyes on. Yeah, at least from a production bike standpoint, I think that is correct.
So What's Wrong With Skinny Tires?: Nothing. Really.......not a thing. I have ridden many many miles on 23mm tires, but from my standpoint it wasn't very inspiring to be limited to paved roads. Never has been. When I was younger, I loved riding bikes, and I resisted giving up my 20" bike, even though I was way too big for it, because of its 2 inch wide tires. Then I got a 26 X 1/38ths shoed single speed coaster braked Huffy. It looked like an English lightweight, and I immediately removed the fenders, much to my father's chagrin, and began to go off road. Someone stole the thing from me, and I never could bring myself to fall in love with the "adult" bikes of the time which were all based on road racers. In fact, I hated them. They didn't like off road tracks, and I did. Bye-bye bicycles.
Well, I heard about this mountain biking thing around 1984 and my ears pricked up, but due to the hobbies of chasing girls, music, and booze, I never pursued the bicycle idea again until 1988. In 1989 I finally got my fat tired rig (again) and never looked back. Skinny tires just do not inspire me all that much. If it is good for you, well then have a great ride. Me? Not so much. Although I have had some good times on road bikes, I just don't even think about riding paved roads anymore and avoid the whole paved thing whenever possible.
Now you know.
But I would do a self supported paved tour for a month in a heartbeat. I would just chose a fatter tire than most folks, so maybe a Vaya would be that bike. Maybe........