Two Wheels Exploring, but the other kind of two wheels.

Took the Niner RLT for some mountainous mixed-surface riding. Gravel and road. Sure, I’ll call it groad. It is a groad bike after all. I think I’m sticking with the nickname Adrian Groady.

Illustration for article titled Two Wheels Exploring, but the other kind of two wheels.
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I’ve had a lot of shake-ups recently and I’ve been finding myself on a bike more and more. I worked at a bike shop in college and did a ton of riding then. Living in NYC for three years crushed that hobby along with so many other parts of my soul, but that’s another story. Getting back into biking has been really good thing mentally and physically. I’ve re-established my love of cycling, completely fallen for building and repairing bikes all over again, and now don’t hesitate to jump on a 60 or 80 mile ride at a moment’s notice. Most importantly this means I’ve spent a ton of time outdoors and biking silly distances.

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Silly distances. In June I logged 517mi (830km), July was another 400mi (640km) and despite today being only the 20th of August, already another 518mi (~830km) and counting. Collectively, just under 2000mi (3200km) in the past few months.


This weekend, the mountains were calling as they always do, though I spent my mountain adventure time on the bike. This bike was built with the intention of all-day comfort and it certainly excels at being comfortable. Steel frame, carbon fork, bosses and mounts everywhere you look, and in this configuration fat 40c tires with Stan’s Grail rims made for smooth, comfy, and fast riding.

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One of my favorite things about the Niner forks are the bottle mounts. Not unique to this brand, I think that more companies should include braze-ons for almost every fork. In the photo below, you can see that the fork is carrying a Salsa Anything HD cage with an Osprey dry-bag filled with snacks, Nuun, and a lightweight rain/wind shell. The other side of the fork is carrying a Lezyne pump which proved useful in airing up the tires upon return to pavement.

Illustration for article titled Two Wheels Exploring, but the other kind of two wheels.
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Starting in Boulder, this panned into a 37mi (60km) loop with 3900ft (1185m) elevation gain. Needless to say, much grinding occured.

It’s a relatively popular area due to the easiness of the trail and its proximity to Boulder. An early start meant that I encountered relatively few people.

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Illustration for article titled Two Wheels Exploring, but the other kind of two wheels.
Illustration for article titled Two Wheels Exploring, but the other kind of two wheels.
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I’d driven this before and always felt mediocre about it. By local standards, the scenery is so-so, the 4x4 trail is easy as pie, and all in all it’s just not super thrilling.

Shake up your means of transport and this couldn’t be more different. On a bike, it was fantastic. Apart from two dirtbikes and an ATV, the morning was dead silent. Rain the night before kept dust at bay and pine trees filled the air with that laundry detergent freshness. Line choices became more of a mental discussion and the occasional bit of deep sand kept things squirrel-ey and interesting. One-wheel drive meant more churning and grinding, but the WTB Nanos handled the variations of surfaces brilliantly. The ability to ride pavement up, gravel around, and fly back to town on pavement again was liberating and satisfying.

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Illustration for article titled Two Wheels Exploring, but the other kind of two wheels.

If you ever find yourself in Gold Hill, be sure to stop at the Gold Hill Store/Cafe/Pub for some homemade pie and a cup of coffee. There aren’t a ton of buildings, so you can’t really miss it.

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