It can’t have escaped your attention that ‘gravel’ is a bit of a ‘thing’.
There are gravel bikes, and gravel helmets, and gravel shorts, and gravel bars, and gravel seatposts, and gravel tyres, and gravel events, and guides on how to ride on gravel, and gravel wheels, and gravel shoes, and trips to Scotland to ride gravel bikes… and probably gravel chamois cream and gravel gels.
Is it all marketing and hype to sell us more products?
So, as the great capitalist wheel of the cycling industry turns, devising ways to get its hands on our ever decreasing reserves of disposable income, what’s the next thing we are going to be convinced we need to buy a bike for?
At the beginning of the year, dreaming of warmer days, and with ambitions that only a long cold January can incite, I said yes to everything. In the space of a few days I agreed to join friends on a bikepacking weekend in the Lakes… and go to Scotland for a week long off road cycling and wild camping adventure. Oh! and ride an off road audax.
First came the plans, then came the bike.
Despite a trend away from 29 inch wheels, I knew I wanted a bike with big wheels for long distance efficiency and comfort. And while I didn’t plan to tackle any too technical terrain – I have been known to get myself around a red mountain bike route, this year has been about going new places in comfort rather than shredding the dog turd strewn trails of Clayton Vale – I wanted a bike with some suspension for when the landscapes needed some bounce. Enter the Pinnacle Ramin 2, kindly lent to me by Evans Cycles.
Anyone who is on nodding terms with anxiety and self-doubt will know that getting out of the door is half the battle.
It’s too easy to say to someone else, knowing they have the right equipment and time to hand, to “just go!” Can you ever really understand how concerns, amplified through the subjective lenses of worry and inertia, hold someone back? This time, however, the “just go” came at the right time, in the right form, from the right person, and I found myself on a train to Holyhead on Solstice morning.
I think I’m a pretty accomplished cyclist. I’ve cycle toured solo across European countries and American states. I’ve raced time trials, hill climbs and cyclocross. I’ve won an alleycat. I’ve finished more audax than I can count. I’ve even been involved in a marketing campaign for a national cycle brand.
1 March 2017. I’m about 40 miles out of Las Cruces, New Mexico, feeling strong and happy, looking forward to lunch in the next town, when the dogs attack.First I hear them, then I see them. With relief I note the dogs are still in a farmyard about 100 yards ahead of me…
A few weeks ago Evans Cycles kindly invited me on a trip to the highlands to help celebrate ten years of their in-house bike brand, Pinnacle. As you can see we pedalled, pushed and carried our fleet of limited edition Pinnacle Arkose bicycles across some gorgeous countryside.
Meet Emily Chappell, a hero of mine. A reformed London cycle courier, she’s cycled from Wales to Japan, from Anchorage to Seattle in the depth of winter and raced across Europe on the gruelling Transcontinental Race.