Patrick Strahm, Biel, Bern, Switzerland


after riding for seven days straight, i took a rest day sunday to have the legs for something longer monday. in the morning a few rain showers passed, but the forecast said dry and improving weather for the rest of the day. in other words, perfect for a long day in the saddle. i had a gravel route to the vue des alpes in mind. as often, i didn’t bother to figure out distance nor the amount of climbing. i’ve gone out that way already and had no time restriction.

the ride was also the first time to gravel grind on a new pair of tires, clement x'plor mso in 700x40c. and true 40c by the way. they measured slightly over 40mm newly mounted. quite likely, they’re going to widen some more over time. being somewhat new to gravel grinding and having a bike that takes tires up to 43mm, i’ve been swapping to different tires each time the bike needed new ones.

i had started on schwalbe sammy slick (700x35c), moved on the challenge gravel grinder (700x38c) and now installed said clement tires. first impression of the x'plor tires is good. i’ll definitely won’t go back to tires under 40c. the x'plor tires offer more traction than the two semi-slicks i rode before. on pavement, they roll surprisingly well as well. i’ve got some wtb nano 40surly knard 41 and a set panaracer gravel king sk in 40c to try next. the knards and nanos are probably only going to used during wet and muddy seasons.

occasionally riding 38c/40c tires across stretches of pavement, i’ve discovered that these big tires move pretty fast and offer loads of comfort in comparison to the 25c tires pumped to 120 psi (8 bar) on my road bike. no wonder, they have a lot more tire volume and run half the pressure. for decades road cyclists hit the roads in the belief that narrow tires pumped to high pressures were fastest. science today tells us otherwise. those narrow tires may feel fast, when in fact they aren’t. they roll across pavement passing all the chatter to the bike and the rider, slowing the bike and tiring the rider. tires with more volume and less pressure swallow all that. very little road vibration moves to bike and rider. much like i think 27.5+ is going to be the mtb wheel found on the majority of mountain bikes in a few years, i believe road cycling is heading the same way. 28 already is the new 25 and in a couple of years we’ll probably be flying across roads on high performance 35c tires. so, this got me to think about my volagi viaje rd that i’ve been riding with 28c tires for all these years. having a classic road bike with 25c tires in my ritte snob disc, i want to turn the viaje rd into roadplus. now not the “über” roadplus (650bx47) that wtb presented, but a road bike with 700x38c or larger tires. compass has the barlow pass, which would be a great start. come october, i also plan on swapping my aging 10spd sram red gruppo for their new 11spd etap disc groupset. since shifting happens wireless, only two hydro lines for the brakes would remain - sweet. it’ll also mean that my old wheel set with hope hubs and bontrager rims needs replacement. industry 9 ul235cx disc wheels with centerlock would be my choice of wheel. 1350 grams for the set and an aluminum 27mm outer, 23.5mm inner width rim - just the right numbers for wide road tires.

back to the ride, though. my first big climb took me to the métairie d'aarberg from where i descended to le pâquier. by the way, the whole way from the village up to the métairie is on google streetview. sometimes one wonders what priorties they set to add roads to streetview. that gravel climb’s a dead-end to reach said métairie. not much else along the way. from le pâquier i rode towards les vieux près and then started to look for a way up to the ridge to take me to the vue des alpes. to return i descended to cernier, rode across to vilars, looped around the chaumont to climb to enges. the forested hillside where the funicular goes up is amazing. it’s got a lot of younger or shorter broad-leaved trees, so the light is quite different from the forests around biel. in lignières i refilled my water bottle and returned home through prêles and gaicht. once i pulled into our yard, i pulled my iphone out of the jersey pocket, turned it on and stopped strava from recording. once the ride was uploaded, i was stoked to see the stats - 113 kilometers and almost 3200 meters of climbing. wow, and the legs never even complained about it.

a reblog from a long day to x'plor.

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Long gravel grind to the Vue des Alpes on a new set of tires - Clement X'PLOR MSO 700x40c. Great voluminous tire with excellent grip. Curious to see how it'll wear. Weather was overcast and temperatures were perfect.
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Patrick Strahm, Biel, Bern, Switzerland