The seasons roll out in front of my bars for another year, another year of shifting weather, light and trail. With that the Gravel bike bends with the flow & restrictions, offering up rides as varied as the weather, each one with its story to tell.
Here’s to the rides that don’t end and the tyres that make it happen.
March eases into view not a moment too soon after an endless winter, the vernal equinox tells us there is longer rides in the light on the horizon. With that light and flex of temperature the slumber of winter thaws from the trails and woods, the ground beneath starts to grip not slip & on the good days signs of dust materialise from the gloom. There’s a lot going on, the birds are on a building boom while buds explode into blossom, woodland floors carpet with growth, the sky blue loses its pale pallor and the sun climbs higher & sharper. Meanwhile the rides get longer, or shorter depending how much time is spent stop and staring, soaking long lost warmth onto first days of shorts, warmers banished to the pockets. Choice for this season is the mighty Raddler 44, I can plough the lanes at a comfortable pace and slice off to the trail or track. The Raddler inspires the possibility of what the Gravel bike is all about; rediscovery, turning left or right at will, turning in and hanging on. Like the season itself I feel renewed and invigorated, I have served my winter miles, let’s go.
But if adventure beckons to rougher ways, keep a Ranger 27.5 at the ready, blur the lines some more.
The Queen has arrived, everything hinges on the summer it seems, for many it’s time to dust off the bike, for others it’s a change of tyres & horizons broadened, but the feeling is the same; Who doesn’t dream of rides where the bottles are empty, you’re gasping for shade or a cool river, camp outs with the cicadas & friends or long evenings chasing the sunset arriving home late with light in the sky. Some venture far, the need to traverse continents or mountain pass to the tune of cold drinks popped, maps marked & challenges done. Or for some maybe time to roll with family with picnic packed, memories madeWhatever it means, it’s the time to be out, a time to cover those miles a bit quicker in the dust unhindered by the grip of cold & the slip of mud, a joyous time to join the wheeling swallows & the dapple of the woods. Breathe it in deep as it’s got to last the winter long. And what to choose to connect bike to the surface? For me it was the Riddler 45 and in its new casing makes for plush motion to cover most transitions all summer long.
In between days, a commute from the warm to the cool. There is a twinge that the sultry nights are behind. But as with harvests bounty, the trails and byways are a sensation; as ripe as the produce itself, the rides hold all. within few weeks and one can ride all the conditions, variation guaranteed. The daily change is on, as we fatten on the fruits & nuts, the trees thin and offer a magic carpet to ride. With the fungi comes the damp, and before we know it our tan lines seem misplaced with snap in the air & every warm stroke of the crank could be the last. Back to our enablers, the tyres. You can have all seasons in one week, so run what you feel. Here the Raddler is back and the saviour in the form of the Sendero is up on the 650 hoops; a get out of jail free option. Top end speed is down but derestricted even if the weather says otherwise.
If, like me, the trainer is a last resort then winters song is one to embrace. If summer is the Queen then surly winter is the King; serious, cold, sombre & strong. Rightly the appeal to pull through is low, but commit and there are rewards a plenty. Rolling out on a crisp clear morning is one of the gifts royale, frost majestic and a quiet that only winter can provide. Here in N Europe the wind howls and the rain can be endless, once prime runs are now attritional. In fact, the birth of gravel for me was found in these seasons; too wet to mtb & too nasty to road so the cross bike made for extended rides to keep the flame alive. My Flandrien genes almost take pleasure in conditions poor; a challenge with the prize of slapped cheeks and an endless cleaning regime, but ride we did & we all felt better for it. Fire up those lights, fill the flasks & have warmth at the ready because on the coat tails of the King is spring…Resolute in nature and Resolute in tyre. These treads keep the wheels turning; an all- rounder that cuts the muck and glides you on to the next warm drink. But be ready with the Sendero and if it snows…those low-pressure Rangers will serve you well.
There it is, a year on Gravel. The bike and its build is open, but the tread of the tyre makes the ride. Fine tune this from the finest range available, and the year is yours.
Hope the trail is kind