New Bike Day - Ribble CGR SL Gravel Bike Shimano GRX Di2

Let's start at the very beginning of the story. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... Stop, stop! Not that much from the start. So, our "old" gravel bikes have been accompanying us since mid-2020 on various surfaces and some short and some longer trips.

The reason for choosing our bikes back "then" was, as I'm sure it was for many of you: availability. More precisely: the availability of the right frame size and the proper budget. Getting a suitable bike was really a challenge in the summer of 2020 (not that it isn't just as difficult now). Björn was able to secure his Canyon Grail CF SL as a job bike while I rattled off various stores in Hamburg and webshops for the right bike for me. In the end, it became a Specialized Diverge Base Carbon, which was slightly above my budget and actually could have been about one frame size larger. Except for a few criteria, we had little idea of what we really needed when it came to bikes. We just wanted to have a good time outdoors on the bike.

Something we didn't know at the time? How our ideas about cycling would change in two years.

 

 

Bikepacking was not a topic at all for us that year, and therefore we ignored whether this would be possible with the bikes at all. Following our first bikepacking experience, in which we were on the road without a tent, sleeping bags, and co, only with clothes for a few days, it was apparent. These bikes are not ideal for trips where we want to be completely independent. Well, especially Björn's is not. The Diverge already fits there quite well, but that's another topic.

In our search for suitable bikes and / or possible bike partners, we finally came across Ribble Cycles from England or instead were made attentive. So one thing led to another, and we could acquire Ribble as a partner. We are very excited about this.

After a few impatient weeks of waiting, our new bikes finally arrived.

Since we will never be super sporty cyclists and don't intend to be, we chose the bikes according to our needs and purpose. Fortunately, Ribble offers a massive selection of bikes that can be built according to your wishes. The Bike Builder on Ribble's website makes it easy, and in the end, you don't get a bike off the rack as everyone else might have.

The bike of our choice: The Ribble CGR SL

Due to difficult availability, the Ribble CGR (Cross. Gravel. Road) SL is currently the best alternative to the Ribble Gravel (Explore. Race. Escape.) SL, which would be the dream bike for us to bike pack. The frame of the Gravel SL offers more possible bolt-on locations than that of the CGR.

We opted for 650B tires in a 47 width. The wide tires are suitable for various surfaces and give us a safe feeling even with a lot of luggage.

Of course, the WTB tires are tubeless-ready, and one of our next steps will be to put this to use. There is still plenty of clearance in the frame of the CGR SL - which means we could even fit wider tires if we wanted to. The carbon frame of the CGR SL has a sporty geometry, so 28-inch wheels and narrower tires could be installed as well. This definitely makes this bike a perfect "all-rounder" for us.

 

The sturdy aluminum LEVEL handlebar with plenty of room for bags thanks to its' flare, a Shimano GRX Di2 groupset 1×11 speed, and Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brakes finish it all off.

Especially the electronic groupset impressed us directly on the first ride. We no longer want to do without it. The difference to mechanical shifting (especially the Sram Apex 1 on my Diverge) is gigantic.

Visually, the Ribble CGR SL is also very nice to look at. As soon as we are back home after a ride, we can hardly wait to go again with the new Ribble bikes.

The bike and its components are great fun. Up next, we will be testing the bikes for their bikepacking capabilities. We guess that this experience will also be outstanding!

Technical facts

MATERIAL

Toray T1000/T800 full carbon monocoque

GROUPSET

Shimano GRX Di2 RX815 1×11 speed

BRAKES

Shimano GRX Hydraulic Disc

 

HANDLEBAR & STEM

Level Gravel light alloy 6061 31.8 Flared handlebar // Level 1 light alloy stem

WHEELSET

Mavic ALLROAD SL DISC CL Road+ wheelset

TIRES

WTB Byway Road Plus TCS Tires Tan 650 x 47c

 


Romantic, harmonious, or chaotic? How cycling makes you a better team.

Couples, including us, don't always share the same interests and goals in all situations. Supposedly, however, this is precisely how tensions and stress can be reduced. I wonder if that's really the case.

It's easy to see - both of us love to spend our time together outdoors on the bike. It just makes us happy to be able to share this passion.

In our experience, it's nice to know that when free time comes up, like most weekends, we don't have to leave our partner at home.

By the way, this also makes the question of what we're gonna do the following weekend superfluous.

Whether our tours are romantic every time? Probably not. Nor are they always harmonious, because on some days there's always something to complain about, which can be challenging. That goes for both of us. But most of the time we have a lot of fun together. We laugh a lot, motivate each other with funny things and nonsense, listen to each other when they need a break, something to eat, or something else and love to discover the surroundings together. Especially on longer routes, we can motivate each other - or when it's time to get up early. It's not that we love getting up in the dark.

Whether we individually would have come up with the idea to spend whole days or more on the bike? We can not know what if, but we can assume that we would not necessarily have come alone. Björn was always relatively urban with his fixies, and riding a road bike as a sport was never his thing. And for me, the bike was always a means of transportation. But I also didn't have a good bike before I met Björn. So we both benefit from it because our joint tours, experiences, and plans for cycling bring us closer together.

The advantages of cycling with your partner? We know each other so well and know exactly where the other's challenges lie. We know each other's fitness levels, consider this when planning, and motivate each other when one is more, and the other is less keen. We spend the time planning together and, in the end, riding together. Simply put: share quality time together, away from everyday life and many other people.

The key to a relaxed bike ride with your partner is thoughtfulness. What feels like a challenge the first time is soon replaced by safety. You know how your partner behaves on the bike (at least most of the time). You get to know each other away from all the distractions of our modern world. You can also learn how to manage crises together. May that be only a mechanical problem, a flat tire, or feeling good old hangry during a tour, this can also be transferred to everyday life. After all, most problems can be solved.

You're in love with cycling, but your partner isn't? Share your passion. Enthusiasm for something can be contagious.

We have 8 tips for you that can help you spark the enthusiasm for cycling in them. Very importantly, remember what lit the fire in you.

// TIP #1

Suitable bike

Make sure your partner has a suitable bike - the right size is essential, for example. And what good is it if you're on a super-light road bike and your partner rides a heavy Dutch bike? Neither of you will have any fun that way.

// TIP #2

Plan together

Plan your tour together and REALISTICALLY. It does not have to be 100 km. Start small and feel your way.

// TIP #3

Taking Breaks

Taking breaks. Take enough of them, take care of each other, and remember to bring something to eat and enough to drink. Or make sure you get something on the way.

// TIP #4

Rewards

Rewards are a must! Either reward yourself with a delicious meal after your ride together or schedule breaks for it. Who can say no to a piece of cake or a scoop of ice cream?

// TIP #5

Anticipation

Ask your partner what they like, if there are certain places they would like to visit, or particular preferences. Plan this for the tour. It will increase not only the anticipation but also the motivation.

// TIP #6

Exit Strategy

Nothing worse than being stuck in "nowhere" on your first tour together and not getting away when there are problems (mechanical or physical). If possible, plan so that there is always a way out nearby.

// TIP #7

Suitable season

Go in the summer, when the weather is good, and not in the cold and rain. Conditions should be as pleasant as possible.

// TIP #8

No pressure

Be patient, listen, observe and share your enthusiasm. Do not put pressure on your partner!

Enjoy riding together, and let us know if it worked out for you. Also, tell us about your tips, which we may be able to add here.


Going Home - Our first bikepacking adventure

Why actually "Going Home" when we start at home in Hamburg?

Quite simply, like so many people in the world, we have drastically reduced our social contacts over the last 1.5 years. Video calls with friends became the new normal. But face-to-face contact with our families suffered the most as a result. After all, they weren't skilled at using technology and all the modern communication options.

But since our families live 100-300km away from us, and neither of us drives cars, there was only the possibility to go to them by train. But as long as our families and we were not fully vaccinated, we did not want to take any risk and possibly introduce the virus to them.

Over time, Björn also developed a particular fear of becoming infected himself. This fear wasn't easy to deal with. During this time, however, one thing has repeatedly helped us clear our heads and enjoy some normality: getting out into nature by bike.

When we were finally all vaccinated, it was pretty clear right away that we wanted to visit our families by bicycle. We have family members living spread out over distances that are a good day's ride between them. So this was going to be our first bikepacking trip. A trip on which we would also rediscover places of our respective past together.

The fact that the decelerated journey by bike was at the same time to become a kind of slow return among people was something we hadn't quite realized beforehand. Still, it became apparent with the relaxation that spread among us after the first few kilometers. The stress of everyday life had disappeared from our minds; we were not thinking about the pandemic. We were just looking forward to the adventure together.

// DAY 1

HAMBURG - BREMEN

It is day 1 of our GOING HOME adventure. We have planned to ride 140 km from Hamburg to Bremen, where my father lives.

// DAY 2

BREMEN - OSNABRÜCK

Plan for today: 136km from Bremen to Osnabrück. Half of our route and the home of Jana's twin sister.

Day 2 of our Going Home Tour was long. Longer than the first day and had a few more meters of altitude. These were waiting just before our destination for the day and unnecessarily delayed our time in the saddle. But let's start at the beginning.

After about 90 km, we were able to take the long-awaited fries stop at Lake Dümmer. The snack bar welcomed "bikers" (with and without an engine).

A portion of french fries and a cold sugary drink were just what we needed now. To strengthen and motivate us.

We rode a short distance along the lake, which was a bit overwhelming after 1.5 days with almost no people. On a sunny Sunday at lunchtime, many people were spending time at the lake. A few too many for us.

Slowly we realized that our butts were sore and sitting in the saddle was becoming very uncomfortable.

// DAY 3

OSNABRÜCK - WERNE

The last 120km of our journey was ahead of us, on to Björn's mother.

"Beep, beep, beep." 4:43 a.m. and the alarm clock rang. Hello, day three.

Today we had fresh coffee from the French Press, my sister had gotten up with us, so we had breakfast together and all sat at the table with a cup of coffee. We now had to make a decision.

Would Björn's knee make the planned 120 kilometers? What alternatives did we have? We wanted to do a bit of cycling around Werne over the next few days, which of course, isn't possible if the knee is entirely shot. So what was our best option?

After a round of yoga and some decision-making, we carried our bikes down the stairs fully loaded. Outside it was already bright since we had taken more time. And it was colder than the last days.

We took a train to Münster so that we could shortcut about 80 km and ride the remaining kilometers to Werne by bike. We hoped that Björn's knee would be less stressed this way, and we still wouldn't have to give up cycling altogether.

Of course, we could not adequately secure our bikes on the train, so I had to get up at every stop and hold my bike. How happy we were when we arrived in Münster and could get back on our bikes.

When we arrived at Björn's mother's house, we were greeted effusively by her dog. We didn't expect anything else, but for me, it's always a bit too much. I like our quiet cat better, after all.

In the afternoon it was time for shopping in the city center. We had thought about doing something good for our bodies during the trip and decided to visit the local natural brine bath. However, we didn't have any bathing clothes, so we had to get them spontaneously.

After three days on the bike and a total of 320 kilometers, our bodies were a little sore, but we were thrilled to have completed this adventure almost as planned.

We were so happy and excited that we were already making plans in our heads for the next major bikepacking trip.

We will definitely take away as a lesson to consider shorter stages, maybe around 80 kilometers, to have more time to enjoy different places and not just sit in the saddle all day. Combined with photography, this is already very time-consuming.

But the most crucial question is: When will we go on the next bikepacking adventure?


Festive 500 - how do we prepare for it?

For 11 years, Rapha's Festive 500 has been part of the holiday season for many cyclists. Riding 500 km in eight days while braving the elements on a bike? Or: sitting in front of the TV in the comfort of a warm room like many others and stuffing our bellies? Sounds like an easy decision, right?

We have decided to tackle the Festive 500 this year instead of spending time at home with our families. The right thing for us to do this year is to keep to ourselves and not put ourselves or others at risk of catching the virus.

This is the first time for us to participate in the Festive 500 Challenge, and with the cold, dark, and rainy winter days ahead, it can be challenging to find the motivation to get outside and ride. The fact that the two of us are tackling the challenge together, rather than one person having to go out alone, is a massive advantage for us.

We have spent the last few days preparing and thinking, because as the saying goes, "If you don't plan, you plan to fail."


Where the wind comes from the west

After we spontaneously took the train to Sylt last year in the pre-season and spent an almost perfect day there that felt like being on vacation, we couldn't shake off the thought of repeating it all over again.

All summer long, I have felt this desire. We had no "real" vacation, apart from rides with our gravel bikes around Hamburg and a tour to Lübeck, all thanks to the pandemic.

Since I spent a lot of time and vacation by the sea as a child, I had a little wanderlust for the sea, more specifically for the North German coast and for its fresh salty air and the feeling that spreads inside you when you are by the sea.

But that train ride of about 6 hours proved to be a more significant obstacle this year: Do we want to sit on a train for that long? How can we travel "most safely"?

ROUTES DETAILS


Follow us on Komoot and ride the route yourself.