You’ve read me blog about the Gravel Metric video that North Central Cyclery is gathering support for. And if you follow Gnat from Salsa, you may have seen his blog post last year about the Gravel Metric. Today, I went out with Tobie, Mattias, Nevdal, Bonk-King, and Dan…on a little Gravel Metric preview/planning trip. It’s been unseasonably warm and pleasant lately (as in a high of 86 today), and while there was a little rain overnight, it’s been such mild weather that everything should have been wide open and totally rideable…in sharp contrast to last year’s ride.
I’ve written about it a little before, but last year, I went through the muddy B-roads and creek crossing substantially after Gnat. The muddy roads were impassable–everyone was walking, in a total downpour. The pleasant little creek crossing was halfway between my hips and shoulders. And that was before the lightning and hail. I may overuse the word “epic”, but it was Epic.
Anyhow, today started off as a beautiful day…the sun was just peaking above the horizon as I was rolling into DeKalb.
Nevdal has been sporting a quite impressive beard all winter, as has Tobie. Tobie is maintaining his in preparation for the aforementioned Gravel Metric video. Nevdal has lost his beard and sprouted some new facial hair, and now looks ready to appear in a different kind of video. Sadly, RATG has been informed that this was a one-day facial hair event…so I’m glad I memorialized it.
Weather was clear as we rolled out of town, with some clouds to the west and some gorgeous temps (close to 60).
At the head of the peloton was yours truly and Mattias, who was all smiles shown here in the ever popular ‘over the shoulder shot’.
The balance of the group was just warming up.
In full disclosure, I did not lead the whole time. After a short jot out of town on the pave, things turned familiar.
The pic below is Dan–and this is his first RATG appearance. You might note his Trek 29 Crew matching kit. He was a Trek team rider, and seems to have some pretty proficient legs. I’m sure he’ll be a fixture of future rides, as he has now signed on as a wrench at NCC.
The facial hair review: Tobie…
Sorry ladies…they’re both taken.
I took this shot thinking that the roads would be dry, and the cute little gravel splatter on my shoes would be artistic. Little did I know.
This was the first B-road…which was predominantly grass (if you could avoid the bike-swallowing ditches and culverts).
After that road was conquered, we quickly arrived at the famous Elva road…home of the mud from last year. I saw that NCC had the comfort trailer out here, ready for the race.
Things looked wetter than I expected on Elva. Much wetter.
So, being logical, we decided against trying to ride it on 35c cross bikes.
Elva did not disappoint.
You may wonder why Mattias is walking. He was riding a Specialized Roubaix (pronounced Roob-Axe). On 23c slicks.
Yeah, it was a bit muddy.
After Elva, we headed down the road to, wait…what?
Does that say?
Quickly became this dirt path:
Which quickly became the creek.
This year, it was calm and totally rideable…like 4-6″ deep. Imagine it 3-4′ deep and raging.
A brief hop across the railroad tracks, and back on to the road.
If you look closely there, you’ll see the lead rider coming back on to the road at an angle. I was about 1/2 second too late to catch a picture of Nevdal doing the Nevdal ™. (Riding the gravel shoulder).
The balance of the ride was uneventful. Gravel, Illinois wind, warm temperatures, good friends. I had a weird grating noise coming from my front brake…
So when I got home, I cleaned and serviced the Vaya in my normal anal-retentive way, and found this:
Yup. Rock in the front brake. That’ll do it.
The Gravel Metric. It’s coming. Are you ready?