My two-wheeled obsession started a relatively young age. The day the training wheels came off, I began what would be a lifelong love of bicycles and cycling. I wasn’t the most coordinated or athletically-inclined child, but those limitations seemed to vanish the moment I threw a leg over my bike.
Bicycles also satisfied my urge to tinker. Armed with my well-worn copy of Anybody’s Bike Book and my father’s tools, I would spend countless hours learning the intricacies of my bicycle’s various components (although back then they were simply called parts).
Inside dad’s toolbox was the holy grail of tools–genuine Campagnolo cone wrenches. Thanks to Bicycling! magazine and Eugene Sloane’s Complete Book of Bicycling, the Campagnolo mystique was not lost on ten-year-old me. While I may have casually borrowed my father’s other tools, I treated those cone wrenches with a sort of reverence.
Eventually I began amassing my own set of bike tools; the commandeered Campagnolo spanners serving as the collection’s foundation. Bikes came and went, but no matter how much I pruned my stable, those two wrenches remained in my possession. When I hit a particularly rough patch, and N+1 turned to zero, those tools became talismans–reminders of what once was.
I don’t know if my father–or mother, for that matter–ever fully understood the impact that bicycles and cycling had on me. When mom died, I rode my bicycle as a way of coming to grips with her passing. In dad’s final years, many of our long-distance conversations included talk of the riding here in Colorado. After his death, I found that I missed those post-ride phone calls more than I ever could have imagined.
Today I plan on venturing into the garage, opening up my tool chest, and pulling out those Campagnolo cone wrenches. To others it may seem odd, but to me, it’s a fitting way to remember my dad on Father’s Day.
I wanted to celebrate GRAVELBIKE’s 200th post by taking a moment to thank everyone for their support. The blog’s readership has grown tremendously over the past year, and it’s great to know that there other like-minded folks out there. So to all our readers, twitter followers, and everyone else who’s taken time to check out the site–thank you.
Although GRAVELBIKE is essentially a one-man show, I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive support from some amazing people in the bicycle industry. Guys like Mike from Black Mountain Cycles and Peter from Vecchio’s, our advertisers, and the companies that have provided product/review samples. Your generosity has been instrumental in GRAVELBIKE’s growth.
Mark @ GRAVELBIKE
Passing this on as a public service:
QBP recalling some Salsa forks (Vaya and La Cruz)
Thanks to BRAIN for publishing this information. I’ll be checking my Vaya’s fork ASAP (turns out mine was not part of the recall).
I recently posted the above photo on one of the popular image sharing sites. Someone commented that “it’s dangerous to ride such skinny tires” on a trail like that. Yes, they actually used the d-word.
When I think of bicycling and danger, riding a skinny-tire-equipped bike on dirt roads isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. No, danger would involve me riding against traffic, after dark, with no lights or reflective gear, all while wearing noise-canceling headphones. That’s dangerous.
And what about the person who said that I had made the “wrong tire/bike choice for that terrain”? Wrong? I always thought that choosing a bike–any bike–was the right choice.
Riding a bicycle shouldn’t be reduced to a problem-solving exercise. I’m not riding because I want to attain someone else’s concept of perfection. I’d much rather have fun riding the wrong bike or the wrong tires on supposedly dangerous terrain.
Yes, dear readers, it’s true. You don’t need a gravel bike.
“But how can I explore all those cool, unpaved roads and trails I’ve been reading about?” It’s easy.Ride your bike on those cool unpaved roads and trails. While you may know the difference between a paved and unpaved road, your bicycle can’t tell the difference.
“My bike has skinny, slick tires, though.” Get bigger tires. You don’t need the fattest, knobbiest tires to enjoy riding on dirt or gravel roads. Over the past few years, I’ve actually transitioned towards narrower tires for the bulk of my unpaved riding.
“I’m afraid that my bike will break.” Bikes can break. They can break when ridden on city streets, and they can break when ridden on dirt roads. Personally, I’m more freaked out by pothole-riddled city streets than unpaved back roads.
Don’t let not having the “perfect” bike prevent you from exploring new terrain. People have been enjoying all kinds of terrain on the “wrong” bikes for over one hundred years. Like the sticker says, free your mind and your bike will follow.
As always, Guitar Ted’s Gravel Grinder News site has the info you need for gravel races, rides, and events. Check out the 2013 Gravel Events Calendar and make some plans to get your gravel on in 2013!