Being sidelined all winter, I find myself doing shorter rides early on. I’m gradually getting my legs under me and will hopefully be doing much longer rides before the beginning of summer.
This week, I had the opportunity, after a long drive to Maryland, to squeeze in a ride before dark. As soon as I got off the interstate, I saw Pikesville Bicycle Shop. I stopped in to ask about local routes. Bernie and his staff were awesome. They hooked me up with a great route and even gave me a Pikesville Bicycle water bottle (I forgot to pack mine).
I pedaled right out of the hotel onto Reisterstown Road and made a right on Hooks Lane. I rode up to Park Heights Avenue and turned left. After another mile, a right put me onto Greenspring Valley Road. Not a single portion of this route had a shoulder. It mattered not. The driver’s were courteous and the landscape was quite beautiful.
I made the decision to turn around to avoid riding in the dark. The smooth pavement and rolling hills added beauty to an already fantastic route. When the riding is this good, you feel like you can pedal forever.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Them – Gloria
I believe that one cannot have too many bikes. That said, I think most people would agree that maintenance, storage and time to ride each, would be a good problem. So, I decided to sell a few bikes to make room in the garage for another do it all steed.
I parted with the Karate Monkey and the Van Dessel WTF in an effort to find that do it all frame that can handle singletrack, gravel roads and snow mobile trails. After careful review, I purchased a Velo Orange Piolet, an easy choice, since I have always fancied their stems, seat posts, handlebars and road brakes.
After finally gathering the drivetrain and components, I was ready for the build. The 4130 double butted chromoly frameset accepts IS disc brakes, 1 1/8” headset, 27.2mm seatpost and quick release hubs, making it super compatible with older or modern parts. I decided to go with: SRAM Apex 11 speed shifters and rear derailleur, SRAM GX 175mm crankset with 30t chainring, Velo Orange Grand Cru headset, Whiskey #7 stem 80mm, Dajia Cycleworks Far Bar handlebar, Velo Orange Grand Cru seatpost topped with a WTB Volt saddle and Crank Brothers Candy pedals. I chose an FSA 700c wheelset with Teravail Rutland 29X2.2 tires and finished it off with Velo Orange Moderniste bottle cages and a Velo Orange by Road Runner Bags Day Tripper saddle bag.
From the Velo Orange website:
The Piolet is our bikepacking and rough-road riding frame. It’s designed for off-road touring, including dirt and gravel roads, double track, and single track. We built it to be sturdy, simple, and very capable. As with our other frames it’s double butted chromoly steel. The fork is triple butted for reduced weight and extra strength. The seatstays come together in a cool mono-stay wishbone and compliment the segmented fork. The frameset is covered in bosses for easily mounting any racks, water-bottles, gear cages, and even fenders. It’s happily set up in bikepacking fashion or as a traditional rack and bag tourer!
The Piolet handles similarly to a XC mountain bike, but slightly more in the touring direction. Feels natural with drop bars or flat bars. Non-suspension corrected fork handles predictably with or without a load.
The final build came in at 28.5lbs, slightly heavy for a gravel bike but very light for a steel mountain bike. After a few miles, I dialed in the fit and headed into the woods for some late winter fun. A few hundred more miles and I’ll be able to make an informed judgement. Stay tuned for the final review.