For the inaugural post I guess I could start by introducing myself and maybe a little bit about why I felt I should create another gravel grinding website. It may be a little cliché but I need to start somewhere, so here we go...
Hello fellow grinders (
and grinders curious... err scratch that. How about gravel neophytes [may I just say that I have always wanted to use that word but I so infrequently find a chance to bring it up in a sentence]) - my name is Isaac Tait.
There that was not so bad, now maybe a little background. I have recently caught the gravel grinding bug; but, it took a miracle of G-d to convince my wife to allow me to get a gravel bike. Let me explain.
Overcoming the first hurdle
The response my wife gave me the first time I brought it up is a common response to bike nuts whose spouses do not have the same bug.
"You already own a bike. Why do you need another one?"
Luckily for me I have been married for 11 years now and I know that if I want something and know she will say 'no' I begin asking WAY before I actually want it. When I wanted to take up back country skiing it took me about six months to bring my wife around.
Overcoming the second hurdle
Well, when she finally started coming around to the idea of procuring a gravel bike the obvious next question was:
"How much do you want to spend?"
All I remember, after answering the question, was some shrieking followed by deep bellicose laughing.
I had to come down significantly from my original number in order to bring the discussion back on the table.
Overcoming the third hurdle
A few weeks later my wife and I were in Wal-Mart and we happened to walk by the bike section.
"Look" my wife said "Bikes - and they are super cheap. Lets get you one of those"
Now, it was finally my turn to shriek - but there was no laughing I was too busy boring her with the details of why you do not buy bikes from Walmart.
My younger days
I have been riding bikes for nye on two decades now. I started out with a black steel Marin hardtail with an RST fork. I saved for months to buy a RockShok Judy fork because every time I hit a big bump the RST's internals would pop out. A year or two later, I sold that bike and got a Cannondale with a head shock - it was a cool bike. I also happened to take 3rd place in my first bike race on her too. After graduating from U.S. Marine Corps bootcamp I had to spend my money on something, so I bought a Giant NRS2. I still have that bike, albeit just the frame sitting on the top shelf in my garage.
A short gig as a bike mechanic
In 2014 I got a job at REI in Maryland working mostly in the bike shop. It was my favorite civilian job ever. Since working there I cannot kick the idea of starting my own shop (or at the very least working in one again). Alas I digress - while working at REI one of my responsibilities was building bikes. One evening I built a Novara Ponderosa 27.5 mountain bike. When I took her outside for a test ride I knew right away I had to have her. Thankfully I had two things working for me.
- My birthday was around the corner and
- My wife had just landed a new high paying job.
She acquiesced and for the first time in my life I had two bikes in my stable.
My local shop
Bikes have been a large part of my life for almost 20 years. With the addition of an infant into our family I was looking for a bike that I could have fun with on my own but was also capable of pulling a bike trailer. I had a lot of options but eventually settled on a gravel bike. I was also keen on supporting my local bike shop and so my options were limited to bike brands that they carried. I feel that too much of our commerce these days is online and impersonal. I did not want my bike to become that. I have so many great memories as a kid of the guys who worked at my local shop. They were cool guys and they loved bikes. Even though I was 30 sometimes 40 years their junior they still invited me out for group rides.
Going Gravel riding
So, I went to my local shop one afternoon and met the owner Mark. After talking awhile he gave me a catalog. I took it home and perused it for a week or so. My budget allowed me to purchase the KHS mid range gravel bike (220). However, I really liked the camouflage green paint job of the 110 or the bottom of the line bike. So, I opted for the KHS Grit 110 instead. And that my new friends is all he wrote... for now :)