Friday, February 21, 2020

Friday News And Views

Early "Slop Season" road from 2018
Entering The Slop Season:

Well, we're just about to the end of February and that means that "Slop Season" is just around the corner. "What is that?", you might ask. Well, it is when the roads are in the process of thawing out and the frost draws up out of the ground. This makes the roads soft, wet, muddy, and therefore, sloppy. Slop Season. Get it?

This is a hard time in the cycling season for many folks. Traditionally, roadie season cycling was about the only game in town, but with deaths, injuries, and too many close calls to name, most of us aren't going out for road rides these days. Not with distracted drivers and just plain bad, lazy drivers out on the roads. I know we like to blame electronic devices for much of the mayhem that affects us cyclists, but I'm here to tell you that just plain old bad driving skills and poor decisions are killing more than we care to admit.


The point is, the trails for off road are not suitable to ride on, road cycling is too dangerous, and gravel roads are there , but you'd better be prepared for some gooey-going.  When Winter fades and Spring edges in, the gravel roads can be pretty bad. This is when I bust out the wider tires and fenders. Remember those? British folk call 'em mudguards. That's actually exactly what they are during "Slop Season" here.

I also will ride single speeds. In fact, the old "Orange Crush" BMC is set up specifically to tackle "Slop Season" this year with a single speed set up and mudguards. Derailleur drive trains can get destroyed in the slop or the rear derailleur can be completely ripped off your bike! Single speeds get around all that, plus they are easier to maintain. But yeah....I'll also still run a fully geared bike. The BMC MCD with full mudguards will be fitted with the fatter 650B tires which allow for a bit less of a "pizza cutter" effect on the softer roads.

I'm sure Winter will make a final appearance or maybe two, but Slop Season is nigh, and there is no stopping it.

A nod to the grassroots gravel events. Where gravel gets its "realness" from.
 A Good Word;

You know I've banged on about how the entire gravel scene is basically a grassroots scene, built by the populace, not by the marketing machine. But we're becoming victims of our own, homegrown success. Now the slick, fancy messages from the traditional cycling media and the former roadie Pros turned gravel grinders have been making a raucous noise about how this is "the new thing", when in fact, it most certainly is not "the new thing", and especially not because they say it is so. There's this thing called "history". They might want to look into that.

Anyway, I welcome them regardless. I welcome them to what we've been doing for about a decade and a half now. Hope they have fun. But enough about what I think. I'm not the only one seeing this. A gravel rider and friend of mine from South Dakota, Craig Groseth, has similar thoughts, only maybe his are more concisely and clearly laid out than my ramblings are. If you care to check out what he has written, click HERE.

I met Craig while grinding away in central Nebraska at Odin's Revenge. Woo! That was some kinda tough right there, and I do miss that event, and seeing Craig also. I guess they have a new event out that way which is set to take in some of that Odin's area. I just cannot get out there this year due to the new job, but it looks tasty.

Anyway, Craig is a great guy and I just wanted to point out another take on the scene. Thank you, Craig!

Specialized CG-R seat post
 Seat Post Shoot-Out:

Several years ago MG and I ran a seat post shoot-out on the old "Gravel Grinder News" site. We had that Ergon/Canyon leaf spring deal, a Niner RDO post, and I think something titanium was thrown in the mix as well. Anyway.....

Now we have the Kinekt suspension post, the new Redshift Sports ShockStop post, and the old Cane Creek Thudbuster suspension post. I'm going to pit my experiences with these posts against some fully rigid offerings like the new PRO Discover Carbon post with Dyneema, and this guy here......a Specialized CG-R. 

I've wanted to get my hands on one of these posts for years. It has been around since at least 2012, as near as I can tell, and I remember trying to get one for our old shoot-out. Unfortunately it never materialized. But here is a used one I got my hands on, and I am going to check it out. It gets great reviews, from what I can see, but there are a few things that are nits on this post as well. One being the 25mm of setback. Not everyone is going to get along with that! Some also allude to the post's shaft being where all the comfort comes from and not so much from the funky head design, but I will try to see if I can figure out what is going on with this particular post, along with the others as well.

That's all for this week! Have a great weekend!


graveldoc said...

Single speed, chubby tires, and mudguards. Sort of makes me recall the Western Flyer cruiser I rode on gravel roads as a child growing up in rural west central Missouri. The bike was a boat anchor and probably improperly geared, but a modernized version of the same would be appropriate for this time of year, eh?

Phillip Cowan said...

It's funny that as cars become more switched on the driver's brain's seem to be becoming more switched off. Remember the video of the guy dead asleep behind the wheel of his self driving car?

Guitar Ted said...

@graveldoc - Sounds like a fun bike to me! Actually, it sounds like my Trek Sawyer cruiser style frame which I have set up single speed with belt drive and 2.8" X 650B wheels.

@Phillip Cowan - I wouldn't be against making people drive manual shift cars and have nothing but a radio in the cabin for "info-tainment".

CrossTrail said...

Thanks for your kind words, Mark, and for your continued service to the community. I'm sorry to miss your C.O.G. 100 this year. Hope all goes well. And I hope to ride with you again soon.

graveldoc said...

@guitar Ted that Sawyer sounds like great fun and probably a perfect slop seaaon bike!

BluesDawg said...

Craig's article about grassroots gravel events is good reading, but even his take is more racing oriented than what I like to see. But that's just me and my take on cycling in general. I've never figured out why races tend draw more people than recreational rides. But many of the gravel races I've participated in here in Georgia were very welcoming of non-competitive riders, many even offering a lower price registration category for non-racers. I have found that events put on by bikepacking enthusiasts are most likely to cater to my slower paced, stop and take pictures approach to riding.

I'm not being judgemental, just remarking on my own preferences and how I try to work within the prevailing scene.

Bob said...

I just couldn't get the Brooks B-17 saddle back far enough so I installed a Salsa Regulator TI post. Compared to the aluminum Thompson Elite it replaced it gives a great ride. I didn't realize until then how much titanium could flex and comfortable it could feel.