Terms Of Endeerment

    Have we reached Peak Gravel? While far from conclusive, the proliferation of gravel conversions is certainly one indicator. However, when people are doing 650B conversions on old Litespeed road frames I think we can say the answer is an emphatic “Yes:”

    Why must people foist their modern gravel delusions on every vintage bike regardless of how ill-suited? You know, back then Litespeed actually made a touri–

    [No, drop-bar bikes with wide-range gearing and wide tires weren’t invented in 2016, sorry!]

    Oh, never mind.

    Anyway, speaking of titanium, and road bikes, and tire clearance, and all the rest of it, one year ago now I received the refinished Milwaukee:

    I’d always loved the bike, but in its new hue it attained an added level of sophistication–plus with the mid-reach brakes I could use wider tires if I so chose–and given both its newly-aquired aesthetic refinement and its inherent versatility I informally promoted it to my primary road bike, even bidding adieu to my “forever bike” in the process:

    Yes, that’s right, rather than defile the poor thing by making a 650b conversion out of it I preserved both its integrity and its dignity, and in so doing I sacrificed the dream bike of my 20s for the greater good. Let that be an example to you oof responsible and ethical bicycle curatorship.

    Of course, no sooner had I sent the Litespeed back to Classic Cycle than Paul sent me another titanium bike–well, half of one, anyway, the other half being crabon:

    Like the bartender who scoffs when you tell him you’re on the wagon and pours you another whiskey, he keeps lining ’em up, and I keep knocking ’em back.

    I admit that I’ve fallen for the LeMond, but the Milaukee is every bit the road bike the LeMond is–plus, as I say, you can put wider tires on it if you feel like it:

    Though once you put wider tires on there you’re wont to get carried away and put on gravel clothes:

    What makes them gravel clothes? Well, for one thing, they have a pocket on the side of the shorts. (This feature has won me over, because it’s a much more convenient place to keep your phone than your jersey pocket.) For another, they have sort of a camouflage thing going on, so when you fall off your bike in the woods the predators can’t see you right away:

    Eventually they’ll be able to sniff you out, but this at least buys you a few hours before they eat you alive, during which you can grab your phone from your shorts pocket and send farewell texts to your loved ones.

    By the way, I don’t even know if Pearl Izumi offers that particular Gravel Suit anymore, but I do know they still sell these shoes:

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been extremely pleased with Pearl Izumi’s inexpensive footwear, and I also see the road shoes I’ve been wearing for almost two years now are on sale for only $44:

    Sometime between when I first got them and now Pearl Izumi started selling them as an indoor cycling shoe, probably because people who ride Pelotons won’t buy expensive shoes. and people who ride road bikes won’t buy cheap shoes. But however they’re currently marketed they’ve been great, the Velcro (or equivalent) straps still have all their bite, and thanks to the rubber heel thingy they’re quite walkable for a road shoe.

    Anyway, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s no gravel in the immediate vicinity of New York City, but I’m not completely stupid, and having strategically positioned myself and my family in the northwest Bronx close to the city line I’m within easy striking distance of any riding surface I so choose, including the one consisting of very small rocks that so dominates the cycling zeitgeist:

    We’ve also got deer that are evolving to no longer fear humans:

    Either that or he was confused by my Gravel Suit and thought I was a shrub.

    And if you know where you’re going you can follow dirt trails for miles:

    These escape portals are barely perceptible you’re a normal person, but if you ride a bike you know how to find those little seams between the patches of urban sprawl:

    As a cyclist in a densely populated area, it’s sort of like you exist in another dimension:

    You’re on this skinny-tired machine (and yes, even your garvel biek has skinny tires relatively speaking), following the fissures in the urban continuum:

    By the way, having not only conducted an expensive derailleur shootout, but also used various other configuration since then, I believe that Campagnolo rear derailleurs work slightly better than Shimano rear derailleurs with friction shifters on bikes with 10 speeds:

    If I’m right then I suspect it’s because of the slightly different actuation ratios, and if I’m wrong it’s because I’m imagining things. But either way the Silver shifters with the Veloce derailleur is an exquisite combination.

    Yeah, that’s right, I said exquisite.

    What would road bikes be like today if indexing and integrated shifters and electronics hadn’t happened but all the other stuff did? (Casette hubs, adding more cogs, shaping teeth to aid shifting, etc.) Well, they’d be like this, and I can’t say we’d be worse off for it.

    No batteries, no indexing, no paved road surface, no problem:

    It’s a thrill to ride a superlight road-only road bike like the LeMond, but sometimes the true measure of a road bike his how far off the road you find yourself when you ride it:

    No gravel conversion necessary.

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