Descending from the Place Centrale on  August 11, 2018.
Descending from the Place Centrale on August 11, 2018.

AllRoad Cycling

I got into cycling in the mid-80s on a steel Muddy Fox Explorer mountain bike equipped with an 18-speed Suntour groupset. A couple of friends and I had just finished high school and we all had started to earn a small paycheck doing an apprenticeship when mountain bikes began to get popular. Obviously, we had to have one too. First, just as a means to commute to work and get around on weekends, but soon enough we started taking them to the trails. I was hooked from the very moment.

It took several years until 1992 for me to start having an interest in road cycling. That year, I bought one of the early carbon road bikes - a Trek 5200 with Shimano 600 Ultegra groupset. It was a fine bike that I rode for a whopping 14 years. Almost unthinkable now to own a bike for such an eternity.

Up to 2016, I hit the pavement in traditional fashion, in the early days on 23mm and in the new century on 25mm tires. One thing I really never cared to do was ride main roads, or "Hauptstrassen" as we call them here, which are heavily frequented by motor vehicles. The mountain biker in me was always looking for routes away from traffic. Gravel grinding and with it the discovery that wider tires actually roll pretty darn well while providing oodles of comfort pushed me to explore larger-volume tires on pavement. My Volagi RD was the most perfect bike to do that sort of testing. It was designed with room for 41mm tires.

First, I rode with 28mm wide Schwalbe Durano tires for quite a bit. Then in the fall of 2016, I went much larger by getting a Nox Composites Citico wheelset and Compass Barlow Pass tires. These tires are officially 38mm wide, but on the Citico rims, they effectively end up at a voluptuous 40mm. I instantly fell in love with this setup. While I still own a more traditional road bike with 25mm wide tires, it won't have a successor. For me, skinny road tires are passé. Wide tires and low tire pressure are the only way forward.