Listen, I’m not a gear expert or a techie kind of person. I’m more of a story teller. So this is going to be a story about buying a new bike.
You know that feeling you get when you’re registering for an event on BikeReg? Your mouse hovers over the Confirm button, finger ready to click, and you ask yourself, “Can I do it?” Then you cross the bridge from “maybe I should do this ride,” to “I’m gonna do it!” and you click the button and the transaction goes through and you’re in.
There’s a feeling that washes though you.
It’s a feeling of excitement, “Yes! I’m in!” It’s the anticipation of physical and mental struggle, and the expectation of exhilaration and, hopefully, satisfaction.
Every now and then, though, you click that button and immediately are overcome with a different kind of feeling.
“Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?”
That’s how I felt when I signed up for this year’s Overland. I’ve never done the Overland, but I knew it by reputation—tough, beautiful, well-organized. And popular. I knew I had to be at my computer when registration went live in order to have a chance of getting in. So 10am on New Year’s Day I was at my laptop, BikeReg cued up, credit card at the ready. Reg went live, and moments later I was in. “Yes!”
But as soon as I got my confirmation I realized I might have a problem.
I’ve been riding gravel for a while. I have a 2013 Scott Addict CX that has served me very well. It’s a solid entry-level gravel bike. It’s aluminum, 35 mm knobby tires, with cantilever brakes, Shimano 105 shifters, a 46-34 crankset and 11-32 cassette. It has stood me in good stead for almost 2,000 miles. It’s obviously got a ton of life left in it, but with cantilever brakes and the not quite 1:1 gearing ratio, I knew I’d be a lot happier on a newer bike with more modern amenities.
When I got my first gravel bike, I didn’t know if I’d like gravel or maybe want to race cyclocross. Now, it’s been a few years and all I want is to ride gravel. It’s time to upgrade.
So I did what any right-thinking cyclist would do. I went bike shopping.
I’m lucky to have a solid bike shop in my town: Drummond Custom Cycles. They know me pretty well there. Owner Dick Drummond has fitted three bikes to me, and Dick and the other mechanics understand what kind of rider I am and what kind of budget I’m working with.
So once I made up my mind to pull the trigger on a new bike this year, I struck up a conversation with mechanic Robbie Boody. He quickly steered me toward the 2019 Scott Addict Gravel 30. It’s carbon, so it’s more “compliant,” meaning it’s better at absorbing road chatter. It’s also lighter than my aluminum Addict. Overall, I should see an improvement in the transfer of effort to speed.
The 2019 Addict has a 50-34 crankset and 11-34 cassette. The larger gear on the crankset will give me more speed on the flats and downhills, and the 34 in front and rear results in a 1:1 gear ratio which will help a lot on the steep ups.
I rode it the first chance I got, on a recent gorgeous sunny Saturday. Nearby gravel roads were unfortunately too icy, so I took it out on pavement. RIght away, I loved it. Dick took the measurements from my old bike to set up the new one, so the fit was just right. And Robbie was right when he said I would notice a better transfer of power from pedal stroke to road speed. One little thing that I loved was the design of the shifters. They are designed so that the reach to push the shifter to a larger gear fits much better for smaller hands like mine.
Upshot? I totally love my new bike and can’t wait for the miles of gravel I’m gonna put on it.