Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday News And Views

Well, yesterday's post I seem to have stirred the pot a bit. Some great comments, (26 so far!), and lots of views. Here's a few points to follow up with....

  • Any Bike Is A Gravel Bike: Look- we do not need a gravel specific bicycle. That said, we do not need 27.5 inch wheels for enduro bikes, we do not need gears, and we do not need electronic controlled drive trains either. But ya know what? Those things make doing specific rides and tasks easier. The industry is capable of doing them, and consumers like it. Okay? So if the industry wants to pursue a gravel specific bike, I say, "get the dang thing right", and that was part of the point with yesterday's post. With the amount of hits and comments I have gotten from yesterday's post, I'd wager there is some significant interest in having a gravel specific rig, or nothing would have come of it. Right? 
  • What Gravel Is To You May Not Be What Gravel Is To Someone Else: I get that some folks see "gravel roads" in the context of where they live. That might mean mountain fire roads. That might mean backroads which are dirt only. That might be a foreign concept, since some places don't even have gravel roads for a point of reference. When I give my opinion on this sort of bicycle, it is based upon where I have ridden all across the Mid-West, which is arguably the "World Center of Gravel Roads".(<===Not my idea. Actually this was brought up by a West Coaster I recently spoke with.)  I've seen and ridden on lots of different types of gravel roads, and that's where I base my "what is best" from. It is not going to be a bicycle for everyone, (but then again, neither is a 5" travel 27.5"er enduro rig either, or a cyclocross bike, for that matter), so if you see this as a big waste of time, I get that. 
  • Brakes: I knew my thoughts on brakes would get some attention, and it did. Look- I ride disc brake bikes on gravel roads. I know lots of folks that do as well. It isn't terrible if you want those sort of brakes, but I will also stand by my take that disc brakes are overkill for gravel roads. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be offered for gravel road bikes. I just do not think it is the best way, for the reasons I detailed yesterday. (Disc brakes ARE the most marketable way to do a gravel bike though, which is an entirely different thing.)
Finally, you are going to see more "gravel road" specific bikes coming. In fact, I have it on good authority that tomorrow at the Dirty Kanza 200 there is going to be a "well known rider" astride a prototype from a "well known brand". It's just the beginning folks........

Dirty Kanza 200: Right now there are a lot of folks in Emporia Kansas, or getting there, that will be testing themselves against 200 miles of flinty goodness. I salute each and everyone of you, and wish you tailwinds and to keep the rubber side down.

I elected not to go this year. I had an open invite from the race, which I always feel weird about, (for several reasons), but the reason I can not go is just the nuts and bolts of money and time away from my job and family. I have another trip to Nebraska in three weeks or so which will eat up some time off, and also the GTDRI about two weeks after that, so adding another big trip without the family- just ain't right. For me anyway.

So, have a great ride, if you are in the DK this year, and I look forward to all the great stories that will surely be told afterward.

3GR: Well, if it isn't raining like last week, I'll be at Gates Swimming Pool parking lot in Waterloo at 8:30am for the 3GR. Cedar Falls trail network, which I utilize to ride out of town on a normal 3GR, is all inundated with this flooding, so a W'Loo departure this time again! I am thinking of doing the loop up past Denver and back down again,just in case you are coming.

 The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational by the Slender Fungus Cycling Association: 

July 13-14 mark your calendars and come to Eastern Iowa for a hilly son of a gun called the "GTDRI" for short. It's a no drop group ride and is being put on by the Slender Fungus Cycling Association, which are some cool cats, if I do say so, (and I do!)

One thing that "El Presidente' Ari" is asking for is that if you are coming, please say so here. Several gravel grinding aficionados have already committed, so why not you? Once the SFCA knows a bit more about what to expect for rider numbers, they will hit us back with details on lodging/camping, route, and whatnot.

While I am not privy to the route details, I've seen enough recon photos to know that you'll want to be geared low and be able to carry plenty of food and water. There will be some stops, but in July, with expected hot weather, it is always wise to plan ahead! The route should be over 100 miles and no more than 150. It'll be an all day ride fer sure!

Maybe I'll bust out the Gravel Mutt Project bike for this one!

Okay, ya'all have a great weekend, and ride those bikes!


Dave said...

The "shrouded in mystery" comment about rider/ bike: You mean the picture of the Specialized that Rebecca Rusch posted on her own Facebook page?

(not exactly top secret :-) )

Guitar Ted said...

@Dave: There is nothing there that suggests that this is anything other than a disc equipped TriCross CX bike.

The geo specs are pretty steep on that rig. Not really gravel specific. Longer than necessary chain stays too.

Irishtsunami said...

This is a classic example of how bikes/technology are a trickle down from Elite levels.

The average person pedaling around town would benefit more from a gravel grinder than they would on a Trek Madone.

22mm wide tires are ridiculous for commuting. But bike shops and companies market and sell these to people that would be much happier with a 32mm tire. The specs you are talking about would benefit ELITE gravel grinders and not so elite commuters and recreational riders unlike most bikes.

Matt Maxwell said...

Out of curiosity why the requirement for short chainstays (not that 430mm is short)? Older road bikes, which I think of as the original gravel road bikes, had long chainstays and handled fine. IMO a longer chainstay would smooth out the ride and add some stability for the long haul.

Guitar Ted said...

@Matt Maxwell: You are right- the "original gravel bikes" of the 20's and 30's did sport some long chain stays.

In my opinion, I think 430-ish is plenty long. I don't really think going longer than that pays enough dividends in comfort and handling to offset the weight gained and (probably most importantly), the perception that the bike will handle like a truck. (I write this as if we are assuming this would be a marketed product.)

I also have to consider standing climbing, which may suffer the more you push back the rear wheel's contact point from the bottom bracket. (Suffer from spinning out, that is.)

Dave said...

Funny, I always felt like short stays were more difficult to hook up on standing climbs because they were much more body-position sensitive.

Have you ever seen one of those hill-climb motorcycles? Talk about long stays!

Guitar Ted said...

@Dave: As with most comparisons between motorcycles and bicycles, the extreme differences in power to weight ratios between the two make such comparisons moot.