Quiet roads, absence of vehicles, farm fields and undulating terrain that keeps you focused are all reasons why I seek out dirt roads during my long road rides. Some road cyclists are scared of them and some don’t understand why others love them but I am in a comfort zone while riding on dirt roads with my “road bike”. Riding on gravel roads is not only beautiful but I believe it also strengthens your riding skills and forces you to be more efficient while focusing on riding habits, posture and balance. Every aspect of dirt road riding has different lessons. Uphills force you to be still in the saddle while focusing on efficient pedal strokes, descents help you become more balance as the bike moves beneath you and long loose straightaways are great for perfecting low cadence drills.
Almost all bike manufacturers now offer an endurance road bike line which allows riders to experience rougher terrain without sacrificing speed and handling performances. In the past I used to convert my regular road bike into what I thought was a dirt road machine. Spec’ed with 32mm wide tires (not recommended on all road bikes as clearance might be an issue), double wrapped bars and a cassette outfitted with a big cog to help me climb some of the steeper hills in the Hockley Valley. With these few changes to my bike I felt very comfortable riding dirt roads of any kind and with my MTB experience I enjoyed “getting loose” whenever I could.
With next years Jamis road lineup there are numerous exciting options for people to choose from for their road riding requirements. The five main road lines for next year are:
1) Xenith- See you at the finish mentality, aggrssive position with Jamis’ new carbon manufacturing process called NNM/SPV (Near Net Molding/Silicon Polystyrene Vacuum).
2) Xenith Endura- Your dirt road machine! lower head tube angle,ECO fork (Enhanced Compliance Offset) with reinforced rib, long reach brakes (for greater tire clearance).
3) Icon- Anodized beauty. The best non carbon road bike on the market. Alloy double butted frame. With an Ultegra build it is competitive in the Xenith competition line!
4) Ventura- Most versatile road bike. Similar geometry as the Xenith Endura but an Alloy frame. Outfitted with compact crankset to send you anywhere you like. All 3 models in this line also have a female specific version.
5) Steel Series (Eclipse, Quest and Satellite)- Stiff but buttery smooth. Hello Reynolds, nice to meet you. Take one look at the Eclipse Reynolds 853 heat treated, seamless air-hardened chromoly frame and you will have a bike gasm.
Have fun riding wherever you are and don’t be afraid of that gravel road!