I’m a road cyclist. I have been for about 7 years now, since I abandoned my long distance running due to frequent knee injuries. I love my road bikes, the solo rides and the cake runs with my friends…BUT…I have seen too many cyclists (myself included) involved in road accidents with cars. Let’s face it, no matter how good of a cyclist you are, the car always wins.
So in January 2021 I started looking at gravel bikes. It wasn’t the best time to look, as the post pandemic cycling market is scarce, but I am very determined. I knew the exact bike I wanted. I am a Canyon girl, my ‘baby’ is my Aeroad and I knew the only bike for me was the mighty Grail. Looking at the Canyon website made me cry because the delivery dates were in 6 or more months’ time and I knew there was just one way to get what I wanted: the Canyon outlet! Daily and obsessively at circa 8:30 am I checked the outlet page on the Canyon website for the Grail in my size, which is a medium and eventually, it appeared!
My Grail CF SL 7.0 is a carbon gravel bike, weighing just over 10 kg. It runs the Shimano GRX RX810 gears, which are the gravel equivalent to 105. It has disc brakes, which are a must on uneven, lumpy terrain and a pair or aluminium DT Swiss wheels. My recommendation would be to have aluminium wheels on a gravel bike, carbon are too delicate for bumps. My Grail has the ‘double decker’ handlebars. They are a bit like Marmite; some love them, some hate them. They’re supposed to give a little flexibility and suspension during a lumpy ride and they probably do plus, I think they look cool.
So how have I got on with gravel so far? In four words: I have loved it. The first thing I did was try it out on the canal tow paths and in the local woods. About a month after I got the bike I rode the King Alfred’s Way on it. That was brilliant, too. I envy cyclists who live near proper ‘gravel routes’…unfortunately in the West Midlands there are more ‘mud routes’ but here we go. My plans for this year? I will be riding long route in the Gravel Series North Downs with UK Cycling Events on 25th June and there is a plan brewing in my head to fly out with my mom to Poland and cycle back on my Grail in the summer, so watch this space…