Gravel, Gravel... Gravel!?
I want you to think for a minute on Mr. Stoeller - you know, Dave's dad - particularly the moment of his break-down: "Refund, Refund... Refund!" Remember the tone, the inflection. the raw emotion when he repeated that single word. Good; now use that same tone, inflection, emotion and say the word gravel: Gravel, Gravel... Gravel?" Let us get one thing straight, that stuff the Gravel Wednesday ride bounces over, deflects off of and, occasionally slides around in is not what I think of when I use the word gravel. When I specify an 18" wide, 3/4" aggregate maintenance band against a building, or include gravel spread to a depth of two to three inches in someone's side yard on a plan, it looks like something completely different. Not that it was a surprise, mind you, these are familiar trails after all; I knew going in what that word "gravel" really meant.
The Hakkalugi is graced with a 35 x 700 up front, with tread that makes it look like a glorified road tire more than anything. The rear is bound by an even more narrow 33 x700, but at least it has a respectable dirt tread on it. It is an old-time cyclocross bike, good for a little dirt, a little rock, even shallow sand is okay. It is not exactly a "gravel bike," and that is not a bad thing; it kind of forces you to rise to the occasion, focus on finesse and handling, rather than bulling right over, or through, obstacles in the way.
For several weeks now, I have been passing the Gravel Wednesday ride while on the Thompson Creek Trail portion of the Cross Town Loop, always in the opposite direction, always thinking, but never acting, on the impulse, the whispers of "turn around, turn around" rising up from tires slashing across the sand. This time the slashing struck home, and without regret, turn around I did. What ensued after that puts Mr. Toad's Wild Ride to shame, the bouncing off rocks, the sliding through sand and around sketchy turns, smashing through thickets grown across the path, trying to keep a straight line across the planks of those old wood bridges in the "dead zone" below San Antonio Dam, hoping they don't slip and become lodged in between.
The reward - excellent company, a glorious evening, cool, clear, thrill, adrenaline spike excitement, focus and accomplishment, honing that skill, satisfaction. I may have turned off at the bottom of the dam, backtracked to finish up the Cross Town Loop that I had started but, thankfully, Wednesday's come around every week.
pavement riding between sections of "gravel"
hmmm, seems John has a different route in mind - exit stage right