London Calling

I guess this bike (frame set) was released last year, and sold out, but I didn’t hear about it until some time this winter.  I decided I had to have one, and made a pre-order.  A bike swap was attended and items purchased, the pre-ordered frame set arrived in stock and shipped early, and a very promising looking weather forecast had been revealed, which clearly seemed like the end of winter.  And so I find myself, a few weeks later, with a completed Planet X London Road, custom build.  And riding it around in balmy Spring weather.  Awesome!

london road in stock

This is what it looks like.  How ’bout that color, huh?  Zesty!  So what is so great about it?  Well, if it isn’t obvious…

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Planet X kind of pitches this bike as a full time commuter and part time cyclocross bike, and potentially a bike with which one could do some touring.  But here in the US, gravel racing is kind of a big thing.  I’m sure there must be dirt and gravel roads in England, but perhaps not to the extent of rural North America.  So calling it a “gravel bike” to an English audience would not make a lot of sense.  Fair enough.

But this is indeed a gravel bike.  And a commuter, a tourer, and a cyclocross bike.  It is a disc road bike, with rough road and off road capability.  Because of tire capacity (40mm+) it can offer a greater measure of comfort than other road bikes, if you desire or need.  But no reason it can’t go fast, too, with the skinny tire bunch.  I think it is a brilliant design, combining things in a way that I don’t think has quite been done before.  In the early days of gravel racing, people were adopting bikes that already existed, but now there are bikes and frames designed and optimized for this kind of riding, and I think this is one of the best.

 

 

 

 

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Gravel Baby!

The Dairy Roubaix has come and gone.  I remember in the photo I was trying to look wasted and pathetic, but don’t know if that really worked.

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our resident gnome, getting buried by snow in April

Our resident gnome, getting buried by snow in April

The Dairy Roubaix was 54 miles, or 100 and something miles on mostly gravel roads in hilly western Wisconsin.  I had a great time.  This was my second gravel event.  I did my best to train, but the unrelenting snow and winter made it tough to get any significant miles in.

 

 

Here are a couple more photos.     049047

 

 

 

 

 

There I am, roaring into the finish!  So fast, I passed a Pugsley.

How was it?  It was tough.  I did an extra 10 miles, 64 total, because I lost my cue sheet.  And then, I tried to follow some other guys in, who turned out to be lost, but didn’t know it.  I was really mad at those guys!

 

It snowed like mad the day before we left, but there was almost no snow anywhere, 200 miles to the south.  The sun broke through, and it turned into a pretty nice day.

I’m really liking this gravel thing, and I plan on doing more of these.  The Dirty Benjamin is up next, unless I find something else sooner.  I’ll be adding some more about the bike I rode later.

Gravel Grinders and Monster Cross

I decided to start a blog today.  I wanted to talk about bike stuff.  Bikes I am building, new things I am trying, etc.  I’m not sure about where this will all go.  We’ll see.

I’ve become pretty interested in “gravel grinders” or “gravel centuries”.  I haven’t done one  yet, but soon.  I built this bike for that purpose and end.  I am pretty happy with it.  It is a great fit for me, a comfortable ride, and performs as good or better than I could have hoped.  Gravel Grinder News is a good place to go for information about these events.  So is Guitar Ted’s site.

There are a couple things unique about the bike.  The gearing set up is a little unconventional.  My front sprockets are 46 and 30 tooth.  What I might call a “touring compact”.  They are mounted on a triple crank, with a bashguard on the outermost ring.  I am a fan of the compact crank idea, and I think it works well with this bike.  I found a triple derailleur shifted smoother than a double, even though I am only using two rings.  Shifting from the 30 to the 46 is very quick and smooth, and vice versa.  The larger 46 is ramped and pinned.  I am using a Campagnolo “Racing T” on the front.  (I love how you can easily remove a campy front derailleur from it’s clamp, and install it on another clamp in minutes)   The rear shifting is your garden variety Shimano 9 speed, 105.

Another unique feature perhaps worth mentioning is the handlebars.  The last item I was waiting for, Origin 8 Gary Bars, were delayed by a backorder or some such thing.  Frustrated that I couldn’t start building the bike, one early morning I decided to try and bend my own.  Aluminum is bent when rims and handlebars are first made, right?  So why can’t you bend some aluminum bars a little more, the reasoning went.  So, with the help of a wood jawed vise, and some brute force, I bent an old SR bar into the form I was looking for.  No, the aluminum did not fatigue and crack.  No, the bars did not catastrophically fail on the first ride, or second, third, fourth…  I am really pleased with them.  I would do it again.

I will write about this bike with some more detail in the My Bikes section.