Gravel Metric Preview

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…

And Nevdal…

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?

This gravel:

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?


5 thoughts on “Gravel Metric Preview

  1. This looks pretty fun and a great pre-ride review. I am seriously thinking about this ride but it seems intimidating as I am a newbie (somewhat) and the level of riders participating would make me look and feel out of my place. Should I just shutup and ride?

    I am also a big fan of NCC!

    • It was really intimidating to me last year, as well. Shut up and ride! There are riders of all skill levels, and all ability levels. There are also bail outs if you need them, and some rudimentary support (and lots of other rider support). It’s a great event–I highly recommend it!

    • It’s a great ride–just shut up and come! Seriously, though…I was intimidated last year, but there’s no need to be. There are riders of all skill, experience and ability levels. There are bailouts if you need them (heck–every road goes N/S or E/W…it’s not hard to get back), and there’s lots of support from other riders. It was the most fun I’ve ever had on 2 wheels. Do it!

  2. Pingback: First Ride: Trek Domane Review | ridingagainstthegrain

  3. Pingback: Finish Line Ceramic Wax Lube Review | ridingagainstthegrain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s