By Bill Plock
How many bikes do you have? What if you just had to choose one, which one would you choose? Lately, I have been having more fun on my bike than ever. The reason, I think, is because of the bike I have been riding. It’s a Blue Hogback “gravel” bike.
I think it needs a new name. I don’t like how limiting “gravel” sounds. What I love about my “do everything” bike is, well, it does everything pretty well—short of technical single track. I suppose some of you have the skill to ride technical single track on even a triathlon bike, but not me. I want a shock or two, a wide handlebar and some fairly sizable nobby tires!
My rides lately have been on mixed terrain, or maybe mixed road is a better term. There you go…”Mixed Road.” That sounds more inviting, or at least a more accurate description. I suppose at the end of the day it’s an “Adventure Bike.”
Blue Competition Cycles, out of Lafayette, Colorado, made my Adventure bike. They also make road, triathlon, and cross bikes. Check them out here if you are curious about a Colorado company that makes great bikes!
What I love about my Adventure bike is, well, it’s simple and versatile and great for a variety of conditions. I like riding it on both paved and dirt roads, on dirt trails, in not-so-deep snow, anywhere really.
Last week I rode some of the trails and dirt roads in Winter Park while encountering patches of hard-packed snow and mud. It handled that just fine. I have 42mm wide tires inflated to about 55lbs, and with that ratio, I can still hit the pavement between 18 and 20mph and then peel off onto the not so smooth roads and trails and maintain good speed.
The other day I rode my favorite loop from my house in Old Town Arvada and headed west on the Clear Creek path to Easley Road and connected to the dirt road at the base of North Table Mountain. I cruised north to some dirt paths used by the Primal Palooza cross race. I eventually ended up on the Ralston Creek path by the Arvada Reservoir. While most of this loop is flat, there were a few opportunities to get off-road and even cut some corners in the grass and unimproved dirt—and it was fun to peel off the path like when I was a kid! (link to my route HERE)
Realizing this bike wouldn’t be great to race road or even keep up with the “A” or “B” group at say a Wednesday Morning Velo ride, it is perfectly adequate as a road bike. It’s also more than capable of single track with even a few obstacles. In some ways, other than the handlebars, it reminds me of riding the first “real” bike I ever bought. That was a 1988 model Specialized Rockhopper. It had no suspension, tires of about the same width, and it handled Slick Rock, Porcupine Rim, and Mount Tam just fine.
Maybe we are overdoing it with all the specialization of bikes? How retailers keep up with the wide variety is beyond me. I would hate to be a buyer at a retail shop guessing the trends, the preferred wheels, the brake types, and on and on.
But I get it too. In a world ripe with choice, an economy that affords many with the means to load their bike quivers with huge varieties, why not get just the perfect ride for a variety of terrains?
God forbid an apocalyptic event where we can only pick to take with us what we can carry or ride, but if forced to choose just one bike, yep, you know what I would pick. How about you?