The other day I alluded to going down to Terry’s (my shop of choice) in beautiful downtown Alma to check out a bike. With me racing mountain bikes less and less and less and less and less and less these days, my rides of choice have been dirt road rides mixed with crap Michigan pavement. Last season when my back was jacked up and made worse by my positioning on the Jake (The Snake), I thought the best route would be to get a rigid fork and essentially make my El Mariachi a flat barred CX bike for dirt and gravel riding. Even though I usually turn to my Superfly full suspension for singletrack riding, I still couldn’t do it. The EM is too good of a mountain bike to relegate to dirt roads. So….
I went down to Alma, dropped off the EM to have some work done on it and laid my eyes on Trek’s Boone 5 Disc. My buddy Napper (co-owner of Terry’s) has been riding the canti version for a while and spoke highly of it. He then offered me a deal on one that I found really, really hard to pass up; mostly because I am scared to death of Napper (not really).
There are many things I could have or should have bought or done rather than getting a new bike, but right now I committed more than ever to cutting back on beer drinking (weekends only thank you) and riding as many miles as possible so as to shed as many pounds as possible from my hulking frame (down 7 pounds in 2 weeks thank you again). I needed something to keep that motivation going. A new bike to slay Michiganderburgh dirt roads and shit pavement seemed like a good idea.
I looked, I rode, I loved, I made sure my gravel road tires of choice fit, I drove home with a carbony Boone atop my car. Life is too short to worry about shit. Riding makes me happy, it keeps me sane (ish), it helps me get out of bed in the morning. And aside from Wifey and B-Man it seems like at times it’s all I have.
Aside from the Boone series from Trek, there are a lot of great cross and “gravel” bikes out right now, I have been in a silent masturbatory tizzy about them for months: Salsa’s new Warbirds, All City’s Macho Man (Disc), Niner’s RLT, the new steed from Twin-Six, etc., etc., etc., But what it came down to was bang for my buck, service, warranty, and the fact that I was dealing with a friend; something I talked about in a post a while back [Loyalty and Such].
With the Boone home and ready to roll, I could’t NOT ride it today. So I got myself out for a 47 mile ride that was equal parts dirt & gravel and pavement.
The bike felt amazing! The combination of a carbon frame and fork, IsoSpeed and wide WTB Nano 40c tires smoothed out the Michigan gravel and dirt roads like I was riding a full suspension. The added stopping power of the Avid BB5 brakes is also pretty awesome. It would be nice to upgrade to hydro brakes in the future, but right now I think it’s best to pay for the bike first!
Another added feature to the bike is the Bontrager tubeless ready wheels. I’m running tubes right now, but having the option to easily upgrade to the tubeless Nano tires in the future is a real bonus.
I think this was a good choice and at 19 pounds (without pedals in the shop), it will no doubt be my first choice for riding not just dirt and gravel but the road as well.
Enough bike talk.
Bike talk aside, the ride, like most of the rides this week, was pretty awesome. I’ve started connecting some of favorite paved roads with some of my standard gravel loops and the result has been rides that are averaging around 45 miles a ride. Some of the hilly, low traffic paved roads I would only ever ride when combined with other pavement on a “true” road ride (whatever that is).
Time to get things ready for some more miles today. I’ve got nearly nine hours of riding in this week and I’m hopeful to get well into the double digits before the end of the weekend, especially since the coming week looks like it could be bit colder and bit wetter.