|The new Cosmic Stallion will be available in January|
Did I ever mention that my favorite color is purple? No? Well, it is, and since that is the case, you'd think I'd have owned a purple bike by now. I had one, but it was kinda more "eggplant" than purple. That was the old '07 El Mariachi that was Gun Koted for a "Twenty Nine Inches" review. So, that is kinda weird, I think. I cannot remember any other purple bikes I may have owned....... Nope.
So, whenever I see a good looking purple bike, I get all excited. There have been a few. I remember that Krampus from a year ago, the Vaya for 2019 in purple was killer. But I haven't seen anything I'd actually pop for until this came along. The All City Cosmic Stallion.
Now, fade paint jobs are another thing I like. AC has done several really good ones, but again- nothing I would pop for. However; this bike tics nearly all the boxes and would serve a purpose in the stable. If I were to get one, it would replace the aging Raleigh Tamland Two. Now- that bike has a lot right about it, but it is "aging out" in terms of standards, and it is getting pretty beat up. I'd like to "stop the bleeding" and preserve what is left of it due to its significance to me and to gravel grinding.
A lot of things would work for me with this AC rig, which I would change the name of, it it were mine, to "Cozstal", which is a mash-up of its weird name. But that's another story... Anyway- The AC rig has front and rear through axles, making it a perfect platform for testing wheels and tires for RidingGravel.com. It also has clearance for 700 X 47mm tires. Nice! Again, perfect for what I would need there. The head tube is also tapered, and that, unfortunately in my view, is where everything has gone, so again, a step into more current standards versus the Tamland. Rack & fender mounts also figure in to working well for what I need to do.
But like anything else, there are a couple of "not-so-good" things. The head tube angle for my size is 72.2°. Why? (sigh) I really, really think that a good gravel bike should be in the 71° range for my size and have a higher figure on the fork offset, like in the 50's of millimeters. The Tamland was in that realm, and it is nearly spot on. I would have liked to have seen a slacker head tube angle on this AC bike. I could live with that 72.2°, but it isn't the best. The other thing is the stated size for max 650B tires in the rear at 42mm. That is outright no good at all. This, more than the head angle, really cuts into the Cozstal's capabilities as a tool for Riding Gravel's uses. uggh! Too bad. Such a beautiful bike.
I still say this is something I'd pop for more so than anything else I've seen in purple for bicycles, but it juuuust misses the mark. That makes it a "maybe", and I'll keep looking for now. I still need to retire the Tamland.
|The Walmer Bar from Australia's Curce Cycles|
With the rise in popularity and, therefore, money-making opportunities, in the gravel/all road/bike packing sectors, there have been a slew of specific components launched in the last several years to tickle rider's fancies. Perhaps no other component for gravel/off-roading has been so tortuously reformed and redesigned as the off-road drop bar.
There are few hits (Luxy Bar, Cowbell/Cowchipper. Midge Bar and their ilk) and more than a few misses. Some are laughably so bizarre and off target that you have to wonder how they made it off the design table. Today we are looking at another weird, flared drop, that for all I know is perfectly fine. It's the width on the one end of the scale that is a bit extreme here.
The Curve Cycles "Walmer Bar", a flared, swept drop, is available in 46cm, 50cm, 55cm, and 60cm, with the widest one being 750mm at the widest point. That's over 29 and a half inches, for you 'mercans out there. That's wide! Is that too wide?
Well, that depends. Are you a really tall guy? Are you bike packing? Are you using these on a trail MTB bike? Then no, they are not too wide. For gravel travel for most folks? Probably far too wide, even the 46's. For reference, most flared drop bars offered on the market show 46cm as being the widest on offer.
The other thing is that these cost $189.00. yeesh! That's spendy for an aluminum bar, but I suppose they aren't a big numbers production item, need to be designed to work in a mtb-like fashion, and are from Australia, so there is all of that. Other than the really wide width though, these are not doing anything substantially different than a PRO Discover Big Flare bar, as a for instance. Those you can get for under 60 bucks. So, yeah..... Unless you have some monster handle bar roll you need to portage around on some off-the-beaten-track tour, I cannot say these move my needle all that much. But maybe for you they might. Choices are good, and this one looks pretty decent.
|The Cherry Grove Community Center is on the old Almanzo course.|
Wednesday I got an e-mail from the organizer of the "Spring Valley 100" which will use the former Almanzo course on May 30th, 2020.
This is all part of what occurred with the demise of the Almanzo name, which if you missed all that, is recapped here. Last Spring an event did occur on the former Almanzo course, but it wasn't well publicized. Originally known under the moniker "Keep Gravel Weird" it eventually landed on "Spring Valley 100" and happened out of Spring Valley with the city's blessing. While all details are not available now, this is good news for those who might miss the annual gathering in Spring Valley.
Comments: In my opinion, the demise of the Almanzo name/events is one of the biggest stories in gravel grinding from the 2019 year and maybe in the last decade. The event was often featured in publications and on websites as a prototypical gravel grinder, one that "should be on your bucket list". Even Shimano, when they were testing and doing research for their GRX group, came out to ride in the Almanzo 100. That should indicate what sort of stature this event has held in the past.
So, one cannot understate the importance of the Almanzo 100. The end game for the event was, in my opinion, regrettable, but out of the ashes we will receive two new events- The Spring Valley 100 and The Heywood Ride. One can enjoy Almanzo's past while riding the Spring Valley 100, with full support from the city, and what is promised to be a great after-party. Or one can enjoy the new event where the Almanzo was handed off to a new group eager to bring the same ethos and experiences that the Almanzo 100 once provided. Two events at the price of losing one? It might actually be a better deal.
Personally, I was very sad when the Almanzo was pulled from Spring Valley because I knew how important the Almanzo had been to the small village of Cherry Grove where, during the 2018 running of the Almanzo, I learned that the donations riders so freely gave at the Community Center provided enough funds to maintain the building for a third of the year's budget. That's impressive, and amazing when you understand that the donation bucket was not advertised in any way, and no prior mentions were ever made about it to the riders. That's the sort of thing gravel grinders are great at- charitable kindness, and these small communities thrive from the presence of gravel events either based in, or that run through, their communities. Bravo to the folks behind the Spring Valley 100 for making a scene like that possible again in 2020!
UPDATED: 12/6/19: Marty Larson of the Heywood Ride called me to say that they were scrambling to get details out ASAP. I am supposed to be meeting with he and Ben Witt, the other Race Director, soon. I also noted on Facebook that there was an indication by Marty that all three courses would be in play out of Northfield that were used for the 2019 Almanzo. (100, 165, and 380 miles) Ben Witt also chimed in to say that "This is not a rebranded Almanzo, but an entirely new event." Stay tuned.....
The Life Time Events acquisition of gravel events is in the news again as Life Time has reportedly purchased the Crusher In The Tushar event. No details have been released as of now, nor has anything detailed on how Life time plans to handle the successful event started by former Pro roadie, Bruce Swindlehurst.
Comments: What we do know is that at the time that the Big Sugar was announced recently, Life Time events stated through one of the organizers that its intentions were to have six gravel events under its umbrella of events in a few years or so. Life Time currently owns and operates Leadville, The Lutzen 99er, Chequamegon 40, Dirty Kanza events, and the Big Sugar Gravel NWA events. Of those, the DK and Big Sugar are gravel based events. The addition of the Crusher brings them halfway to their goal, as stated recently.
So, let's think about this. The DK is at the end of May, the Crusher is mid-July, Big Sugar is October. Add in a June event, and August event, and maybe a Springtime one. Probably another West Coast based event in the SoCal region, perhaps. One on the East Coast. Maybe one South-central one. (Texas?) Six events spread across the season. Life Time sets up a points championship across age groups and single speed, fat bike, tandem. You get the idea? It makes a lot of corporate business sense to have your customers buying into an eco-system of events where expectations for each would be the same, formatting, structure, and all. The experience would be similar at each, so you get "repeat customers".
Watch to see if I'm close on this.
That's it for this week! Get out and ride if you can and I'll see you again here with new content next week.