The leaves start to turn, the days get a bit shorter, there's a feeling in the air that change is afoot. Trails start to change from dusty and fast, to mud and leaf litter, rain gullies and greasy roots. These are all things to be celebrated, as autumn is a great time of year to be out enjoying the world. With the cooler air and still some light in the sky when work is done for the day, you can get out for a ride, enjoy the sunset and fire up your lights for the final descent back into town.
There's plenty going on in the world of GRVL apparel at the moment, firstly with me, your new Marketing and Events manager as the author for these regular newsletters. To give you a quick background about myself:
I'm an enthusiastic and committed gravel rider and route designer, photographer and coffee drinker, who likes nothing better than to get out early for a ride before work, stop to enjoy the views and shred some trails, while trying to capture and share the experience.
I'm the creator of the European Divide Trail, the longest Off Road bikepacking trail in Europe. This I created for the sheer love of the experience, to share it for free with the community, and to hopefully inspire others to explore the vast and beautiful European continent for yourself.
This month also sees the opening of the Church Farm Cafe, not far from the town of Berkhamsted in the charming hamlet of Aldbury. With its picturesque village setting, fantastic food and beverages, it'll be a great place to start or finish a ride, or stop in for some refreshments or fuel to get you back home again. The cafe has also got our first dedicated space for you to see GRVL apparel for yourself, try them on and buy it from our first retail location.
Sunday the 8th will be our first official Ride-Out from the cafe. This will be a regular thing for us, where we'll be hosting a weekly ride into the Chiltern hills. The route will be varied and fun, taking in some hidden gems of the Chilterns, while catering to all abilities.
So if you're keen to see what the new space has to offer and you're up for a 50km mixed surface ride, then we'll be leaving at 9am sharp.
It'll be a 3-4 hour ride, with us being back in time for lunch at the cafe.
Please bring an extra layer/waterproof, and some basic spares specific to your bike ( inner tube, brake pads, chain link).
Join us for a Gravel Ride, by submitting the form below:
With the prospect of wetter weather coming in, as if it's not been a wet enough summer , it's getting closer to the time to fit your winter tyres, as I certainly will be for this ride. While I've been really enjoying the Specialized Pathfinder Pro's for the drier months, with their fast rolling yet grippy enough tread pattern, they've been a real boon to ride for the last 3 months. Yet I'm looking forward to the extra grip and security of my perennial favorite for softer and looser conditions, the Schwalbe G-One Bite.
Tyre choice is always going to be a compromise, but with the G-One Bite I find the extra grip offered more than outweighs their marginally slower rolling feel. Changing tyres really alters the feel of my bike, giving it a more sure footed stance in the softer, muddier and less predictable conditions that autumn brings. And if you're after something even more 'Bite', then the Schwalbe G-One Ultra Bite has got deeper reinforced lugs to give you a tenacious grip in most conditions.
I can't remember where I saw it first, but the idea of the 'Bivvy a Month Challenge' is a great concept to motivate me to spend at least one night out in my bivvy bag, after a bike ride, in every month of the year. With the onset of earlier sunsets and later sunrises, cooler weather and the potential for wetter conditions it takes more planning and preparation to be prepared for this.
A few suggestions for a better experience are:
-A mid weight sleeping bag and insulated sleeping mat can really help to stave off the cold.
-A hooped bivvy, like the Outdoor Research Helium bivvy, is perfect for added protection from the elements skills they turn unexpectedly inclement.
- A small, lightweight tarp, like the ones from DD Hammocks just in case there's the threat of rain overnight.
- Scout out your proposed bivvy site prior to your overnight trip. With it getting dark earlier and earlier, it's well worth knowing the area and having a proper look at the potential before you turn up there in twilight hoping for the best, only to find it's overgrown, boggy or otherwise unsuitable.
- And finally, think about a 'school-night' adventure rather than using up a valuable weekend where you may well have other commitments. Ride to work on your already loaded bike with all your equipment for a night out, or at least leave your bike fully packed before you go to work in the morning, then leave straight from work/home as soon as you've clocked off for the day. Enjoy the freedom and adventure of your little, local, overnight trip, and be back at home/in the office the next day having experienced a real adventurous evening, whilst everyone else has just gone home, watched Netflix and fallen asleep as normal.
I'll be publishing this newsletter as a regular thing, with news and tips from our Chilterns home, links to articles for further reading, and inspirational pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Ok, so that's me Andy Cox, signing off for a few weeks. Be sure to keep us posted with your adventures using the hashtags
#grvl&drt #bivvyamonthchallenge #awesomeautumn