Monday, June 29, 2020

Country Views: Test Ride

Not bad out on Saturday.
Saturday I had to get out to do some review/test ride work for This time it was for the third of the big tire sets I have gotten in as a way to see what might work for people doing gravel rides on mountain bike based rigs like Fargos, Cutthroats, hard tails, and the like.

The things is, you don't need a "gravel bike" to gravel bike. 

Mountain bikes, maybe even some dual suspension ones, make gravel biking fun, but there may be a few things one might want to tweak out for a better experience. Things like, you 

Tires make the biggest difference, more so than anything else you can do to a bicycle, for whatever it is you are trying to do on a bicycle. Contact points would be the second best upgrade point, then wheels, and after that, everything else you do is gravy. So, if you have an MTB, and you want to ride gravel and have a "do-it-all" tire, well, that is kind of the point to my articles on these tires. Obviously it also makes a big difference where you ride, so you know- Mountains, Plains, Woods, etc. You'll need to tailor your choices accordingly. That's why I got in three really different tires. There is the semi-slick, the aggressive/wide tire and the typical MTB choice in the bunch.

So, I am down to the third set of tires in the review and I needed to get going with some actual gravel riding after doing some other surfaces with these tires previous to Saturday.  I decided to head out Northeast of Waterloo for a short test ride and found that conditions were too good for what I was trying to figure out. Oh well..... I did find some good bits though, and a slog through two miles of deeply graveled shoulder along a county blacktop eventually got me what I wanted.

Giant Hogsweed or Wild Parsnip? Either one = BAD! Don't touch this stuff! (Turns out it is Wild Elderberry- Thanks Tony!)
I've been neglecting the soybean fields in my pictures. My apologies!
There wasn't much wind to speak of, but what there was came from the Northwest. The roads were about as perfect for smoothness and speed that you could ask for. Looks like Black Hawk County has held back on dumping fresh gravel of late. I expect freshies soon!

From a high point on Big Rock Road.

Prairie Rose? Swamp Rose? Seen along Sage Road.
I had to stop at one point to get some images of a rose along the side of the road. I see these flowers occasionally on rides, but they are not super common. I notice similar, but often times larger, pink flowers when I ride in Kansas. They seem to be a lot more common as a roadside flower down there. Perhaps our uses of chemicals in farming in Iowa aren't nice for these flowers as in Kansas most of the land I've ridden by is pastureland.

The "wild rose" is the state flower of Iowa. Apparently due to its being part of a decorative gift of a tea service given by the Iowa legislature for the late 19th Century battleship Iowa, and for its noted hardiness, the legislature was prompted  to make the Wild Rose the state flower in 1897. So, I had to stop and pay my respects to this delicate little blossom.

You just never know when you will run across a bit of history on your gravel rides!


Tony said...

The white flowering plant looks like elderberry, and the pink flower is a wild rose (Iowa's state flower).

Guitar Ted said...

@Tony - Yes on the elderberry ID. Thank you!!

I checked some images and the leaves match up. But it looks a LOT like the others, so for most folks, I think just steering clear of anything that looks like that is best.

Everything I found out about the "wild rose" thing was pointing to a possibility of several varieties of rose (the State legislature never specified a certain variety), and most said there are even variations in species themselves, making correct ID of specific species difficult. As I am not a botanist, I am making a guess there as to which variety it was, based on internet images. Could very well be waaaaay off! It's fun to check out stuff like that though.

baric said...

A great do it all tire for the Fargo, including gravel, the Surly Extraterrestrial. They now come in every size you can think of, 26, 27.5, 29, 700c and 650B. A good review of this tire is on google; type in Surly Extraterrestrial reviews and read or reread and see what nice things they had to say about them on their fully loaded touring bikes. They loved them on gravel. I myself have a spare wheelset, 29"er's mounted on Velocity Dually rims using tubes and aired up measure almost 2.7 wide. They are ridiculously heavy so I don't run these shoes all the time but with proper air pressure for what ever road you're on when I do they do seem to perform, are comfy and give you the feeling that they are virtually bombproof and you are invincible.