Friday Group Ride #400

Friday Group Ride #400

Last week we talked about how to get fit in a hurry, mainly because I found myself moved off of the waitlist for Rasputitsa and into the starting pack. I rode the trainer before work this morning. Tomorrow I do a hill workout. I’ll be ready, if not READY.

This week I’m thinking about riding surfaces. Rasputitsa takes place mainly on wet, winter-worn, dirt roads. D2R2‘s serpentine course encompasses mainly Class IV roads that can be dry and dusty or moist and packed and fast. New England’s singletrack is known for being rooty and rocky. Our paved roads are decidedly marginal, pocked, cracked, potholed, especially this time of year.

I love crappy singletrack. I do. I love to try to find a little flow in every low-flow stretch of dirt I can find, but I think, of what’s available, moist, packed dirt is my favorite. I know the joy of fresh pavement, smooth and fast, but I see it so seldom that calling it my favorite is like saying my favorite animal is a unicorn, or a jackalope. There is nothing quite like working your way across the New England countryside on a packed dirt road, hemmed in by pre-colonial stone walls and remnant farmland.

The proliferation of wider-tired bikes makes this type of riding pretty revelatory. It makes Class IV riding more like Emirates Business Class.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what is YOUR favorite riding surface? Pavement? Dirt? What types? And what bike (or even tire) do you take there when you go?

ALSO, are we really here, at 400 FGRs? That’s nearly 8 years worth. I’d just like to say a quick thank you to regular readers and regular commenters, even the ones I disagree with. And of course, to Padraig, for making room on RKP for all of us to talk about cycling.

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  1. Winky

    I’m not sure I have a favorite surface. Each offers pluses and minuses. My technical capability is very low and I hate crashing, so it certainly isn’t technical single-track. I appreciate smooth tarmac climbs and descents such as one might find in the Pyrenees or Alps; in that case as much for the terrain, the history, the scenery and the atmosphere that goes with it. I like rough tarmac, such as one might find just about everywhere, for the sense of adventure it can bring, provided I am tyred-up for it. I like smooth to medium-rough gravel for the solitude and car-lessness that often goes with it. But the rocky, loose, big-bouldered, sharp gravel I have been told to expect at DK200 in June keeps me awake at nights (as does the fact that I haven’t found anywhere to stay in Emporia).

  2. Dolan Halbrook

    I only have a least favorite surface. #@*)^%& bark chips. I’m generally on my CX bike when I have to suffer through those things. All the other surfaces are awesome, provided you have the right tires.

  3. Michael Fox

    My favorite roads are the rolling red clay hills of North Florida and South Georgia near my home in Tallahassee FL. As long as it is dry. Wet, they are like riding in peanut butter. In general, any dirt roads, or chip-n-seal country roads. Any where with few to no cars.

  4. scottg

    Favorite surface, Michelin white roads with a green stripe, in France.
    Least favorite, Arizona extra chunky chip n’ seal with a side of Michelin wires.

  5. Jim

    Washington State chip seal. Fewer cars and more solitude among the giant fir trees. 28 or 32 mm tires so just fine. And full fenders for about half the year.

  6. Tominalbany

    Favorite: Hero dirt!
    Second favorite: Smooth Pavement
    Third: Anything under my wheels smaller than baby heads

  7. Scott M.

    I became a roadie when my kids were babies because I figured that, rather than driving to and from the ride start, I’d rather spend time in the saddle. So my mountain bike fell into disrepair and obsolescence and I spent the next 22 years rolling out the front door. That said, I love mixing in a little dirt into a paved ride to shake things up and expand my (meager) skills.

  8. Wyatt

    I have been a dedicated mountain biker since the late 80’s and still love to ride trail. As a complement to mountain exploits Ive enjoyed much great road riding since that time too. Id turn down no ride and have the machines for all kinds but, when left to my own devices, its Catskill mountain gravel roads on 40mm tires these days. This “new” genre really ticks all the boxes for me and has me exploring nooks of my own region that Ive missed for 30 years.

  9. Aar

    Smooth pavement. If I have time to prepare a bike for it, I like the occasional stint on rough roads. I’m currently enjoying fast road tires so much that I roll on tires that are not robust enough for rough roads.

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