My heart always jumps when I see an email from Thomas Zijlma in my inbox. Why? because Thomas and his (Bicycling magazine) team always come up with great ideas. Great ideas which take place in great locations with great gear and great people. No wonder I get excited!
This time the idea was to test some gravelbikes. Gravelriding? Isn’t that what all the cool dudes do these days? The snowboarders of the slopes? The trailrunners in the woods? Me, who almost cries from happiness when she rides on new asphalt by chance? Me, the concrete kid? But this was Thomas. And Thomas always has great ideas. I said yes. I even hoped I wasn’t too late as there would only be a couple of bikes at our disposal…and I hesitated.
But there it was. The little gravel seed was planted in my head. This little seed was watered and grew a little bit by my Belgian Ötztaler travelmate during the windy Yerseke ride a couple of weeks later. He was planning to ride Strada Bianchi next year. Somewhat the Holy Gravel Gran Fondo Grail. And I felt this strong voice from above calling me to join him. I felt it was time to change my beliefs. I couldn’t wait to be baptized and get my first taste of gravel. I couldn’t wait for Bicycling’s gravelride.
I couldn’t wait to be baptized and get my first taste of gravel. I couldn’t wait for Bicycling’s gravelride.
We were meeting at Lola Bikes and Coffee in the Hague. And as soon as I saw two moustached cool dudes (move over bearded hipsters) pulling up in their car and heading for Lola Bikes and Coffee, I knew I was in the right place.
After the usual meet & greet with new and familiar faces, our gravelbikes were set up. I got to test the Grade Carbon Pro from GT Bikes. It was black with rosé golden details. No complaining from me thus far. A lot of wind was forecasted, just like a couple of weeks ago in Yerseke. However, in Yerseke I was in the hands of the windy wheather God on my fast aerodynamic Canyon Aerod. This time, I could shelter from the wind by taking the offroad paths on my more comfortable gravelbike.
This time, I could shelter from the wind by taking the offroad paths on my more comfortable gravelbike.
After the lights were all set-up by the Lovely Lezyne Ladies, we were ready to swirl out of town. Let the light be with us on this gravel adventure.
The only thing I pretty much remember is sand & smiles, gravel & (holy) grails. It was so intense in such a different way. As soon as the adrenaline rush kicked in, we were on a high (as well as on top of a sand dune).
Did I change beliefs? Do I only ride the holy gravel grail from now on? No, I love my Canyon Aeroad and the stiff fastness it brings with it as well. I believe there is one God of Cycling but many, many different forms to worship him. Side by side. And then there was light (and a whole lot of coffee). Amen.
And then there was light (and a whole lot of coffee). Amen.