cycling · traveling

Sam has that look in her eyes, she’s thinking about bikes

Because of course she is.

You need something positive to think about while doing lots and lots of painful physio.

Even Duolingo knows something is up.

Ella tiene dos bicicletas

In the interests of honesty and putting all my cards on the table, let’s recap the bike situation as it stands. My current fleet contains:

1. A folding bike, a bright pink Brompton

Its origin story is that I bought it new three years ago so that I could have a bike to travel with when I went to conferences. This was the summer I was referred for knee replacement surgery and I needed ways of getting around that weren’t walks even for short distances. It’s great for folding up for travel and I use it a lot in Guelph too. Love wearing regular clothes and riding around campus with it.

Pink Brompton at an Airbnb in Halifax

2. A fat bike

This bike was one I got in a swap for my cyclocross bike. The cyclo-cross bike was my bonus thyroid cancer bicycle. I used it some but not enough to justify keeping it. At the same time I was renting fat bikes and loving it. So I decided to sell the cyclo-cross bike and buy a fat bike but instead found someone who wanted to trade. Perfect! Sarah now has a fat bike too and I love bombing around in them on local trails and taking them on weekend adventures.

Sam’s fat bike

3. A very nice road bike

I think this is bike 5 in the series of very nice Cannondale road bikes that I’ve owned. I broke the frame of the last one in Newfoundland. This is its replacement. It has fancy electronic shifting. It feels fast. I like sprinting on it. And it climbs pretty well too. It’s also comfortable for long rides. Jeff found the seller in Montreal and Sarah and I went to purchase and bring it home. It’s the bike I do almost all of my big outdoor rides on, the bike rally, pedal for Parkinson’s etc.

Sam’s Cannondale

4. An older road bike that I lend to friends and let hang out on the trainer

I bought this bike used because I was wanting something more aero, good for solo riding. It’s a fun bike. It’s not particularly comfortable but it’s great for distances under 50 km. These days though it’s pretty much a dedicated Zwift machine.

That’s the Cervello on a wahoo trainer, wheel on, but I have since I acquired a wheel off, direct drive trainer, a tacx neo 2..

5. Adventure road bike

This was a birthday bike from 7 years ago. Bike thieves cleared out our porch bicycle cage in London, Ontario stealing my commuting bike and Sarah’s good road bike. Jeff bought me this bike from Two Wheels in London, Ontario for my birthday as a replacement. It’s a great bike. I love trail riding on it and commuting with loaded panniers. It’s a very sensible bike.

Adventure road bike for trail riding and commuting

All of these bikes are loved, well maintained, and used often. They play important roles in my life. I also have an old track bike but I’m not counting that. It hasn’t been ridden in years and I would sell it except Sarah thinks occasionally that she might like to give track cycling a try.

So what’s missing?

Well actually, if I were racing time trials a time trial bike is missing. Ditto cyclocross. But I’m not doing those things. I’m also not mountain biking. I’m not aiming to create a bicycle zoo or a Noah’s ark of bikes around here. We don’t need one of each kind. That’s not the point.

What’s missing that I actually do is gravel riding. My adventure road bike is fine on gravel but it’s not a gravel bike. It’s stable but it’s not particularly fast. On its own that might not be enough to push me into new bike think. Fast is overrated. I’m slower than Sarah anyway these days. Also, I’m not that brave on gravel.

But I’ve also been thinking lately about travel and about a bike to travel with. Yes, my road bike, that’s my usual choice. But lately I’ve been wanting to do gravel rides too when I travel. When I next go to Australia or New Zealand on sabbatical, I know I won’t be happy with just a road bike.

That’s the line of thinking that gets me into new bike land. So what I’d like is a bike that can do double duty, both road and gravel. I’d travel with one bike and either two sets of wheels or more minimally two sets of tires. Essentially I’m in the market for a road bike that can take 35 mm gravel tires.

Here are some examples:

Trek Domane

Specialized Crux

BMC Road Machine One Three

Norco Section

Giant Contend AR

Cervelo Caledonia

Surly Midnight Special

Allied All-Road

There’s lots more. This would allow me to upgrade my gravel bike and have a bike I can travel with that will do both road and gravel. I think I’d keep the adventure road bike for bike packing and for commuting.

Depending on how/when my knee heals and the timing of the next surgery, I’d also like to go riding in Cuba and I know I’d want wider tires there.

I know that it won’t be a perfect gravel bike. There are other differences and it will still be a compromise bike. But I’m thinking I don’t need to be a gravel bike purist. I’ll always be primarily a road cyclist. So this compromise for the sake of travel seems okay.

If that’s Plan A, Plan B is just to buy a gravel bike and deal later with the travel issue since Australia and NZ travel are still a few years off.

Apologies for all the bike geek talk and the privilege that comes with travel and owning multiple bikes. But I’ve needed something fun to focus on while I recover from knee replacement surgery.

Any recommendations?