|Out here, we ride on gravel|
Under the thin veil of answering a reader's question, "Beardo" says this about gravel grinding: "Also, let's also,kill the gravel grinder nonsense term". and then follows that up with some movie related gibberish which leads to this,"People have been riding road bikes on unpaved roads for as long as the bike has been around."
Ha! It's always the same ol' ruse whenever someone wants to criticize "gravel grinding" and related hardware to do that with. The "Just ride any bike" crowd, and that ilk seems to be a group that smacks of self righteousness and is so short sighted as to think that bicycle specialization is somehow evil, bad, or undesirable. I mean, if this is the case, go ride a Madone at the next cyclo cross race in Portland. Right? Because "people have been riding road bikes on unpaved roads for as long as the bike has been around." Yeah....that'll work!
"Beardo" then makes a salient point. That being that any bike can be ridden on a gravel road, but he adds that "even that skinny-tired roadie bike will be fine with reduced speed and enough air in the tires to prevent pinch flats." Right. Obviously Beardo hasn't ridden much of the over 69,000 miles of gravel roads in Iowa. Not saying it cannot be done, but I am saying there is a much better tool for the job. Just like riding a road bike in a cross race isn't impossible, but it isn't going to be all that fun either. See what I mean?
|There is a better way for gravel, so why is that such a bad thing?|
So anyway, back to the whole thing about "gravel grinding", which I think a lot of folks think is a marketing term made up by the bike companies to bilk you out of money in your wallet for a bike that is unnecessary. (Although even Beardo feels one would "probably make you happy".)
Nothing could be further from the truth. It wasn't made up by companies, or marketing wonks, it was coined by roadies. Road cyclists that trained on gravel roads during the early season to get better fitness, test themselves against the winds, and to "grind out the miles". This type of riding came to be known by these road cyclists as "gravel grinders". They rode the old steel bikes with tubular tires and friction shifters. Generally they rode in the Spring before the roads were maintained, so pinch flatting wasn't as bad an issue. Anyway, that's where the roots are from of gravel grinding and where the term came from.
When we started these grassroots events in the Mid-West, we called them "gravel grinders" due to that history. The idea spread, and well.......now magazine writers that don't understand the term spout off about it. But you don't have to be misinformed in kind.
Finally, I'd like to wish all the Dirty Kanza 200 riders a great time and a fantastic ride. It's a beautiful course where you probably won't see any road bikes, due to the flinty rocks, but you will see plenty of gravel grinders!
Keep the rubber side down and have a great weekend on whatever kind of bike it is you ride.