Instagram, what is it for?

I use instagram to post pictures, I like then to be seen both on my personal account at @rocketdoguk and of course the account linked to this site UKgravelCO I assumed anyone who posts on there with an open account, i.e. not private feels the same. They post pictures for everyone to see.

There are some people who are sponsored and I also assumed that the whole point of tagging your sponsors was to give them something back in the way of publicity. This is what i do with the help i get from Rad 8 Sunglasses, Mudhugger and BeerBabe. I try to spread the fact that the products they produce have been tested by me and are worthy of your attention.

When I repost other people’s pictures on UKgravelCo instagram account I always ask permission and up until two days ago this was done with a brief message on the comments of the repost, typically, “is it ok that i’ve reposted this?” Usually the original poster doesn’t comment even though I tag them in so they get an alert to say their pic has been posted by me. occasionally they reply with a smiley face or a thumbs up etc indicating they are fine with it, they and UKgravelCO get a bit of publicity. Once only someone said they weren’t happy for the repost to be published and that’s fine, I then deleted the picture ASAP.

Then after using a message similar to the above on a repost i got the following direct message (i’ve removed the senders tag as they clearly don’t want any publicity)

So, this person only posts pictures that their sponsors have paid for and doesn’t allow sharing of pictures of their sponsors products. that seems a bit of loss of publicity for them. As far as i could tell from their account they are not a world renowned sports person or celebrity. I guess the nearly 1000 (and growing, yay!) followers of UKgravelCO are not the type of riders that this persons sponsors (and yes they are all bike, gravel and outdoor activity related) want to sell products to. I’m sure that’s not right is it? don’t these companies futures rely on selling stuff to us?

UKgravelCO isn’t a business, the T shirts that you can buy do not bring much revenue, in fact if you buy one I get £2.08 and I’ve sold 4. That money will go towards paying for the next batch of stickers which cost around £45, which as you can see is a bit of a shortfall. What I’m trying to get across is that I wasn’t in this case or any time trying to profit from other peoples work in any way. The point is to promote healthy outdoor pursuits using a bicycle.

I’m a little disheartened by the whole episode I’ll be honest. Since the message, unless the picture is hashtagged UKgravelCO or UKgravelcollective i’ve asked in the picute’s comments if i can repost. This does mean a delay and of the 10 or so pictures I’ve wanted to repost for you to see only half have replied, so only 5 have been reposted.

I’d be interested in hearing your views.

Do you need a Gravel Bike?

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The gravel phenomenon

Sacrilege I know when this is a site dedicated to gravel bikes but around here we adhere to the #norules philosophy so I’m reposting this article I published on my other blog and the guys at ADNTR.C.C where kind enough to repost.

It’s just a bike right? A road bike with a bit of clearance for a bigger tyre? Well, yes and no. that’s a road plus bike though…probably… or is that a touring bike? Hmmm, maybe maybe not although the gravel bike frame will probably have the ability to mount at least one rack, mud guards and multiple bottle cages. That is unless it’s a pure gravel racing bike, paired down to the bone for weight saving and the ability to move forward efficiently at top speed with scant regard for comfort.

A gravel bike will have a cyclocross tyre around 35mm, er unless it’s a 45mm tyre but then that’s a 29er XC mtb with drop bars. Phew! at last we’ve nailed it down. Oh but hang on there’s a 650b option with 2.2 inch rubber so that’s what used to be called in the days before gravel bikes, monstercross! Arrgh!

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All road, adventure road, road plus, gravel, cyclo cross, monster cross, tourer, rough stuffer there are lots of fancy names and sub genres but when it comes down to it it’s just riding a bike. In fact that’s just what I’ve been doing. I have a steel mountain bike of at least 10 years vintage. It’ll take a 29er wheel and a CX/Touring/narrow XC tyre in the back, it’ll even take a 29 x 3.0 inch tyre in the front with the lovely steel fork I have fitted. But at the moment it’s got 35mm tyres that cost me £3.99 each from a well known northern online store. The tyres have a continuous centre line of rubber with a few shallow side knobs, The bike is no lightweight but rolls well on tarmac and is frankly scary on any damp surface so you can imagine what it’s like on wet trails, pretty lethal. However it’s made the bike much like HG Well’s time machine. When I ride it I’m transported back to the late 80s early 90s. a time of narrow bars, long stems and the excitement of riding local trails for the first time. The time when we went out exploring and nearly every trail you pedaled down was a new personal discovery. Bridleway signs were an invite to unseen (by me) vistas and new routes to the pub or cafe. handling was scary, brakes (canti) were frankly non existent.

The trails that you now dismiss on your fancy “trail/hardcore” hardtail as being too tame become a proper challenge again, low grip and twitchy handling just with disc brakes instead of canti brakes. except this doesn’t help as the wheels lock up easily unless you concentrate and go gentle with them rather than slamming the anchors as you would with a 2.4″ knobbly rubber tyre to bail you out. The bike skitters about like bambi on the proverbial ice, I suddenly have to pay attention to the trail ahead and actually have to plan where I point the front wheel. I’ve relearned the art of weight shifting to give some extra traction to the rear wheel and to lean on the front to get the most of the limited grip. The bike has old school XC geometry so there’s no relaxing behind a 65° head angle and letting a plush 160mm travel fork take the strain. I have to actually use my arms and legs as suspension! There isn’t even a dropper post!! The adrenaline rush is unreal as you bounce off the rock you missed when planning ahead, it’s how I imagine Danny Hart felt on his rain soaked world championship DH win, stay on your bike Danny!….ok maybe it’s not in that league but it’s the most exhilarating fun you can have at 8 mph, it just feels like 50mph and my thigh muscles are as clenched as they would be at that speed.

So, I’ve got basically a hybrid bike that I use on trails and lanes. I use it to explore. That little lane that has grass growing up the middle that you’ve never ridden up could lead to a gem of a bridleway or track that needs exploring and might link up to somewhere you know and create a great loop. You’d never go up there on a road bike, you wouldn’t have pedaled 30 miles on tarmac on an mtb to get there. The only things that I have on this bike that I didn’t have on a bike back in the day is consistent braking and bars over 600mm wide.

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flat bar fun

A gravel bike does all this; it’ll probably even have wider tyres too. It will be comfortable over long distances, be forgiving, have all the rack and bottle mounts you’ll ever require and you’ll be at the cutting edge of the latest buzz word in cycling after the “E” word. But do you really need one?

Nope, you just need to dust off that old hardtail you’ve hidden behind a pile of junk in the shed, stick on some narrow tyres, remove the peak off your helmet (not really) and hit the trails that you now ignore or avoid because they are too easy and not challenging enough for your enduro rig. Get back to basics and I guarantee you’ll have a big grin on your face and a little bit of fear in your heart as you hit that first 8mph downhill.

Would I gratefully accept a modern gravel bike over an old hardtail mtb/hybrid?

You bet your ass I would!

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Golden Glow of Gravel

With the increasing popularity of “gravel” riding around the world i thought it was time to start a UK appreciation group. So as you do I started a Face Book group to try and gain some interest and meet some like minded riders to share routes.

Opening the group to the whole world may or may not have been the best idea. Yes, there are lots of potential routes out there with nearly 200 members from all around the world riding their favourite trails but they probably wouldn’t want to travel to my neck of the woods for a 20 mile ride after work!

But the response was good so I thought what the heck, pictures speak better than words why not start an instagram channel? here This is proving much more popular and the tag line “UK gravel riding and international gravel grinding” pretty much describes the feel of the channel. I repost UK riders and inspirational international riders pictures, i always ask permission unless the post is tagged with #UKgravelCO or #UKgravelCollective I just one rider gets inspired enough to go out and ride then it’ll be worth the time and effort of doing this.

hope you take a look at the instagram page and maybe join up to the facebook group. here

I hope to use this website/blog to inspire and maybe review a few things. To dispel some of the myths and eliteism that can some times come with cycling, but having said that I do seem to find that the type of person who takes to gravel riding is pretty open minded and friendly. Let’s see where this goes!