Saturday, September 16, 2017

Time for a Gravel Bike!

Since moving back to Iowa - you know, the state with more gravel roads than any other - I discovered the need for a proper gravel bike. The past seven months have seen me tackling gravel and B roads aboard a variety of bikes like a new Colnago C60, an 80's Tommasini SL, 70's Ciocc SL and even a 1926 Maino Model G! Something had to be better than a 28mm Clement tire pushing through the dirt of a B road. Side note - I've known Irio Tommasini for 25 years now. He made my first real Italian road bike... one I still own and have more miles on this year than any other ride.

All my bikes have a story. In what may be the longest-ever blog post, this is the story of "Linda". Named after the first song that popped up on Italian radio while on its maiden voyage. Yes, I listen to odd 70's Italian ballads at times!

I placed a call to my friends at Tommasini to go over the details and found that their Fire model would fit not only huge 700c tires (40mm passes easily), but that it would also take a 650b x 47mm tire, also known as Road Plus (as coined by WTB). Not only that, but the model they made for catalog photo shoots and trade show display just happened to be in my size! Only one thing was left... I just couldn't do a drab green Tommasini, so I broke out Illustrator and began... if I'm gonna do a gravel bike, a Salsa won't do... I need it to be a modo mio.
Hey Irio, please turn this...
into this!
A few more phone calls and emails and my new repainted Fire frame was here!

Three months start to finish! I usually reserve beauty shots BEFORE a dirty ride but in this case...
A nice thing about taking your time to build up a bike is that new opportunities arise, like the amazing wheel set built by my friend Pete from Ride Maple Wheels. While at the Boston Rebellion, Pete and I discussed wheels and my choice was easy... using my DT rear hub, Pete built me an amazing set of XCX wheels: Front is 408 grams, rear is 458 grams! For sneakers, my friend Roger at Kenda sent me a great hookup with a set of Flintridge Pro's in 40mm! He says they are the hottest thing going and after one ride, I can see why.

The same day the wheels arrived (after an anxious week checking UPS tracking), so did a mysterious package from China... containing my RISK titanium bolt set. I love the name. When I start my ti bolt company, the last name on my list will be "RISK". However, as much as these folks can't name a brand, they can certainly make beautiful ti bolts that left me wondering: "What happened to the ti bolt craze?!"  Regardless, many many rainbow-colored anodized ti bolts are now on my Fire.

Some RISK ti bolt love!

Count only 10 cogs and note the buried limit screw. A slight miscalculation that will soon be resolved!
"Niobium Doped Tubes"
Cheap-assed brakes that were laying around. Light and with a strong sprint, add Ti bolts, all good.
Prototype pedals that raced Paris-Roubaix. How do I know? Because I do.
Love the signature. I used to hate the horses. Love them now, too!

My latest trick: clear Gorilla Tape on the chain stay!
How do I take my beauty shots? Hula hoop and Photoshop!