Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Gravel Riding Makes The News

Last week, while I was doing my requisite end-o-the-year recap, a little surprise came in the mail down at the shop where I work. Well, it wasn't a total surprise to me, since I knew it was going to happen at some point. It did catch me by surprise at how fast the story did get published though.

Front page news!
I am talking about a story published in the January 1st issue of the trade paper, "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News", affectionately known in the bicycle trade by its acronym- "BRAIN".

Here's the "back story" on the story, for those who care about such things....

The whole thing got started when I was following BRAIN's Tapei Bicycle Exposition coverage back in early December. That show is a time for product managers to meet with factory representatives and brand managers from component companies in Taiwan, where a big chunk of the recreational bicycle trade works. The deal here is getting ideas to spec on future bicycles that will show up on dealers show room floors for 2013 and beyond. Part of that is your garden variety component news, and sometimes you might find out about something brand new.

Well, a story about Clement brand tires caught my eye. Clement is offering to the trade some new, fat road tires. We're talking 40mm and up to 50mm road tires with high performance features. The author of the story, BRAIN's Matt Wiebe, mused that bikes don't exist for such tires, and who would be using them? Well, I decided to e-mail him and let him know about this little gravel grinding deal going on out here in the hinterlands. One thing lead to another and.......

We got yer fat gravel road action right here.
......Mr Wiebe wrote this story. I basically tried to get an overview of gravel grinding stuffed into two short phone calls, and I didn't know what would make the story, and what wouldn't. You know, the whole thing was supposedly about those big Clement tires, and Campagnolo's newest triple cranks coming out for folks like gravel grinders.

I mentioned a few of the events I felt captured the best all around feel of gravel grinding's roots today. (Sorry if I left your favorite event out, this was off the top of my head, after all!) I mentioned some brands that I thought were catering to gravel grinding, I mentioned the grass roots nature of the events, and how I felt that appealed to the riders taking part in these events. Oh, and I stressed that this has a lot of interest amongst you folks out there. (I don't think that is stretching the truth.) Of course, (Matt Wiebe himself being a prime example), not everyone has even heard of gravel grinding,  or can imagine why anyone would want to do that when they do consider it, so yeah.....it isn't for everyone! 

Still, you gotta say that gravel grinding has been catching on. Look at the registration numbers for Almanzo, Dirty Kanza, Barry-Roubaix, or even for the smaller events like CIRREM. Ten years ago, barely anyone was out riding gravel, and hardly anyone was having competitions. Now the race calendar on Gravel Grinder News  is chock full of competitions and rides from coast to coast and even overseas.

So, the story in BRAIN comes out and Mr. Wiebe actually packs about everything I mentioned in there. Of course, the brevity of the article prevents in-depth coverage, but at least the story has been delivered to bicycle shops all over the country and maybe, just maybe, some new folks will hit the back roads to see what the heck the deal is concerning "gravel grinding".

Thanks Mr. Wiebe for being curious and for getting this story out. Yes, I know some would rather not have the secret get out, but there are so many back roads around here, the more the merrier, I say. Then again, not everyone can even grasp the "why" of gravel road riding in the first place. That's okay too. I'll be out there grinning from ear to ear no matter.


Eric said...

Any idea on when the clement tires you mentioned will hit market? They sound like they will be sweet

Guitar Ted said...

@Eric: My guess is that these were being shown for possible spec on 2013MY bikes, so most likely these will be seen for sale late this year, and most likely next.

Mike Johnson said...

Great article and sweet pic. This is a good thing to sread the work. Thanks to Ben, I got my very own copy. Thanks for being the voice!

Guitar Ted said...

@Mike Johnson: Glad you got a copy! Pretty cool to see you and Jeremy, (and the other guys as well), on the cover of a magazine I have been reading since 1993!

Never thought I'd see the day. Thanks for the kind words too. See ya soon!