Ok, so we are doing this 400+ mile bike ride thingy. So, I thought I should probably go ahead and get some gear. Where do I start? I have never identified as a ‘rider’ so getting a bike seemed like a good place to start. I know what you are thinking “You agreed to do a 7 day bike ride and don’t own a bike?”
Let me clarify that a bit. I have a bike. It is the same bike I have had since I was 18. It’s about 25 years old. Yes, I have had the same bike for 25 years. I was pretty certain that my 25-year-old mountain bike was not gonna get me across the state of Iowa in a manner that my body would be happy about, so, I started shopping. It is absolutely amazing how much the technology has changed in the last 25 years; all welded aluminum, hydraulic brake system, disk breaks, 2 in 1 shifter, etc. It is also amazing how much people are willing to spend on a hobby that takes serious work.
At first, I started shopping the used cycle sites. I had no idea what I was looking at other then I knew I needed a road bike. AND I was getting plenty of advice from the “pros” at work. There is no shortage of bike experts that work an office job. You would think they help train Lance Armstrong. I also never ran out of offers to “buy my buddy’s bike.” The one sound piece of advice that I got was to get away from used bikes and go to the bicycle shop. My coworker wisely told me that I would just be buying someone else’s poorly maintained “fixes” and the savings would quickly fade as I fixed the issues that were certain to arise.
Luckily, I found a great bike shop from a recommendation and a knowledgeable owner who has ridden in events like RAGBRAI. As I perused the road bikes and had a small stroke at the prices, the owner turned me toward a Giant Revolt.
This is what they call a gravel grinder. It is a bike that can easily be fitted for pure road riding or fitted to ride gravel roads. I gravitated toward this bike for several reasons but mostly because I was spending A LOT of money (IMO) and didn’t want to be locked in to a pure road bike. I imagined training on several popular gravel trails near my house.
Fast forward about a week. I have now ridden this bike about 40 miles. Half of that on gravel. My experience is that this bike does not fail to deliver. It is easy to ride and tears up the gravel (I should emphasis that it is a well beaten path). I cheaped out and bought the aluminum frame, but I can say that this bike was well worth the money and I speculate it is going to be a great bike to ride 420 miles across Iowa.