I came to road riding late. For most of my youth I was a MTB kid, be that an almost fluorescent MBK, a Raleigh Aviator or a red Giant that I forget the name of. I did however, splice that with a road bike, although it was called a racer in those days – a pearl-white Falcon Kellogs Milk Race, complete with those old metal pedals that stripped a layer of skin off your shins if you were unlucky enough for them to meet. So, whilst I may not have been multi-discipline at the same time, the idea of switching between different kinds of riding is not altogether unfamiliar.
Fast forward to present day, and I’ve continued this appreciation for different styles and riding a mix of terrains; I have a MTB and a road bike, although my abilities on the rough stuff lack waaaay behind that of being on asphalt. Perhaps it’s that reason that I tend to opt for predominantly road riding, that and I just prefer the aesthetics and rising position of drop bars.
The latest buzz of new bike design and riding terrain has been gravel bikes, and their ability to go off road, but not too off road for this snowflake roadie, the drop bars and the options they have for adventures – mini or maxi – started getting me interested well over a year ago. I spent ages looking for something that offered everything I wanted at a price point that was realistic. Finally I found it; the Kinesis G2 gave me it all – a 1x drivetrain, those drop bars, disc brakes, a geometry that felt comfortable but exciting, enough places to attach bags and panniers if I wanted to, and some good tyres, (I replaced the cassette to save some weight and upgraded the wheelset to some Hunt 35 Carbon Gravels) all came together to create a sense of freedom – not tied to the road or the trails, free to explore both.
Set free by my latest purchase I have been keen to get out on it to explore the highways and bridleways round my way. Having the ability to switch easily between roads, trails and some genuinely rougher terrain plus not having to worry about traffic and being in the countryside are wonderfully soul enriching things, something I knew from riding my MTB, but the geometry and riding position of the G2 raised that feeling somehow. This has seen me enjoy some solo rides on trails, commute home on the South Downs Way, and take in a wonderful family picnic bimble to Bramble Castle with Vélojay.cc.
This has not meant that I’ve ignored the road. With the weather improving (slightly) I’ve been able to get the summer whip out from hibernation and scratched that other itch that only the road bike can – the sound of carbon wheels as the turn over asphalt, the handling, the feeling of cutting through the air at speed, the loud and proud free hub of my rear wheel, and you know, all that intangible stuff you can’t describe, just feel.
On the road I’ve switched between my normal diet of solo rides with group rides, something I really enjoy and don’t do enough of (that will hopefully change soon – keep an eye out for Centuries rides on our Strava club page, Twitter and Instagram).
It’s been a great few months of mixed riding, granted I’m no Mathieu Van der Poel, a shocking revelation I know, but being able to mix it up, – from terrains, to ride types, to riding alone or with mates and/or family has been fantastic. I’ve always said if it’s [riding] not fun, don’t do it, and whilst road riding has always been fun for me this has opened up a new avenue of fun on a bike for me, it’s not so focussed on the road anymore. If anything it’s further emphasised something I’ve been keen on since I started Centuries – that cycling is about more than just riding your bike, its about connecting with your world in a way that nothing else does. Whether it be the relationships we have with people or with our environment bikes enable these interactions in an unparalleled way. Increasing the ways in which we have these interactions enhances our relationships with our world and increases the ways in which we can enrich our lives with these connections.
So to summarise, and bastardise a rather famous line, the world moves pretty fast, if you don’t mix up your riding, you could miss it.