Monday, December 27, 2021

Rear View 2021: Top Ten Posts Of 2021

Last year I posted concerning the top posts of the past year. I thought it was another fun way to look back over the year via the perspective of what caught the reader's attention here. 

So, I thought it would be fun to rank the Top Ten posts from the blog during the calendar year 2021. These posts are ranked according to what Blogger stats tell me were the most read posts of the year. 

I'll start with #10 and work up to #1. Each post will be linked so you can go back and read it if you so choose. Then I will comment a bit on each post. 

#10: Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should - July 6th, 2021

This post was generated by response to a Tweet regarding the possibility that the governing body, USAC, was going to create a Pro level gravel series of events. While that has yet to come true here, the World governing body, UCI, did actually create a series for 2022. How much longer will it take for USAC to follow suit?  

Recently the CEO of USAC stepped down to take a better paying position at the mattress company, Purple. The CMO of USAC also recently quit. An influencer on social media who was on their Diversity Committee recently gave up their position. So......with USAC's leadership in disarray? It may take some time before we see anything like a gravel racing series from this organization.

#9: Twin Six Standard Rando v2: One Year Review - July 14th, 2021

The one year review of my Standard Rando v2 bike was the next most popular post on the blog for 2021. The bike was pretty much what I expected it to be having owned the previous quick release axle version of the Standard Rando. This time I got the carbon fork though, so this bike came out a bit lighter due to that choice. 

I like the much more versatile bottle boss arrangement of this version and that I could set it up as a single speed with a really clean look. My only real beef with the Standard Rando is that it has limited tire clearances compared to my other gravel bikes and to most current gravel offerings. That's okay though, as it forces me to keep relearning that one doesn't always need big tires to enjoy gravel travel.

#8: Life Time Fitness Announces New Series For Gravel & MTB - November 23rd, 2021

Well, while USAC waffled during 2021, Life Time Fitness wasted no time in creating a series of six events that they are dubbing the "Life Time Gran Prix". Half of the events are MTB while the other half are gravel. 

It's an interesting move with the series being closed to a small group of people and that group being not being very "representative" or "inclusive". Rather, it is a showcase group of top-tier athletes which are there as a way to attract rank and file athletes to Life Time's bigger cycling events. In fact, I make the point that these three 'gravel based' events in this series are not gravel events. They are Pro/Semi Pro showcase/publicity stunts attracting a small group of riders chasing money and endorsements. That's not how the gravel scene was built.

#7: Crank-Crankity-Crank-Crank - January 5th, 2021

  I wrote this post so long ago, and the title was so odd for it, that I couldn't remember what it was about! So, after re-reading it..... 

This is a paen to the triple crank, on one hand, and a severe criticism of 1X drive trains on the other, all tied up at the end with a whimsical prediction for the future. I was a bit surprised that it garnered the comments that it did and became the #7 most viewed post of the year. Sometimes you just never know what touches a nerve! 

#6: B.O.G. Series - What To Wear - March 10th, 2021 

Early this year I published a series of posts dubbed "Beginners On Gravel" or "B.O.G." for short. You can see the entire series here, or you can always check the link under the header of this blog.  

I found it rather surprising that this particular post in the series garnered more views than any of the rest. It also sparked more conversations and comments than any of the others. I will say that my audience here has a much more experiential, nuanced viewpoint of apparel for riding than what I was aiming for in terms of readers. 

I think that is what sparked the comments and discussions more than anything else. People with passionate opinions on 'how you do it' were not the people I wrote the post for, but they usually are the ones with the loudest voices. Anyway......

#5: A Discussion Concerning Types Of Geometry For 'Gravel' Bikes - February 27th, 2021 

Unlike the post at #6, which was written for rank beginners, this post was a total 'nerd-alert' post! I figured that this would resonate, and it did, coming in as it does as the #5 most read post of 2021. Geometry and bicycles always is a good way to get interest up here at the ol' 'G-Ted Productions' blog. 

I was motivated to post about this- again- since manufacturers and brands are starting to think that by combining cross bike geometry with gravel bike tire clearances, attachment points, and a bit taller stack height, that they can make just one bike and call it good for both.

Bzzt! Wrong way to do it! And that is why I posted that article. This post shows the 'why' of gravel geometry and where cross bikes are quite a different animal. I also point out that this geometry isn't anything 'new' and that most of this stuff has been figured out for years. Making something a buzz-word and claiming that a bike has a radical new way of doing things is pretty much your standard marketing B.S. ploy. Making one geometry to cover two completely different disciplines is really goofy. This post calls that out.  

#4: Project Wide Gravel Wheels v2: A Tire Swap & Impressions - September 14th, 2021

A few years back I tried a wider internal rim width for a set of gravel wheels and it ended up becoming a standard of sorts in the industry for internal rim width on gravel tires. So, I decided to try again with something really wide. This post, coming in at #4 for the year, was pretty much my conclusions on the experiment.

While I have a wheel set now that, for what I have around here, is pretty unusable, I did find out that where I landed on internal rim width a few years ago probably is spot-on for gravel tires and what bikes will fit for tires going forward. Anything 'more' ends up becoming MTB territory stuff. 

#3: A Ten Year Review Of The Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross - February 22nd, 2021 

Ten years is a long time to hold onto one bicycle, much less to continuously keep having adventures on it. The Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross" model bike I have is one rare example of that in my stable of bicycles. This bike was from the very first run of Monster Cross models which were the creation of Mike Varley of Black Mountain Cycles

Purchased at a time when there weren't any gravel specific bikes, the Monster Cross did what I needed it to do. Yes, it is not perfect, but I do like this bike and it is a great reminder of what gravel cycling was all about pre-2012 when we all just 'made do' with whatever bikes we could make work for us. 

Black Mountain Cycles and this blog have had a long relationship and influence. I know at one point Mike Varley mentioned to me that the majority of Monster Cross frame/fork sales came with a mention that the customer had heard about the bike here on this blog.  So, it makes sense then that this post was #3 on the year for the most popular post in 2021. 

#2: SRAM XPLR: Impressions And Commentary - August 11th, 2021

SRAM was bound to answer Shimano's pitch to the gravel going cyclist with something. Shimano's GRX was really something new- a complete drive train offering for gravel cycling needs. But what would SRAM come up with? Instead of answering with their own, from the ground up design, they made a variation on AXS technology which was lacking in versatility and appeal across the spectrum of gravel riders. 

I think the article can be summed up with this quote from it:

" Which kind of begs a question: Is SRAM's answer to GRX really a 'gravel group', or is it just a minor variation on a SRAM theme with limited options? "

Essentially the answer is "Yes- it is a minor variation on a theme". SRAM chose to try to sell riders on a limited choice ecosystem  philosophy instead of allowing riders a vast array of choices and price ranges as Shimano did with their GRX offerings. 

At any rate, it garnered enough attention that  this post easily slots into the #2 position in my ten most read posts of the year. 

  #1: Redshift Sports Kitchen Sink Handlebar- March 16th, 2021

This review of the unusual drop bar from Redshift Sports drew the most attention of any other post throughout the year. It wasn't even close! And that really came as a surprise for me. A handle bar review? Yes, a handle bar review! 

I have no idea why this is the case, but congratulations to Redshift Sports for making the Kitchen Sink Handlebar and allowing me to review it. This result from my blog readers- making this post the most read one in 2021 by a large margin, is quite amazing. And I am still running it on my BMC MCD bike. So, I guess I do like it very much. My only wish at this point? Could we get this in carbon? 

That's a wrap on the most read posts of 2021. Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

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