Like Water For Gravel

We’re now living through what will soon be remembered as “peak gravel.” Don’t believe me? Well, not only are they pushing suspension forks for gravel bikes, but Campagnolo of all companies is also offering gravel-specific socks:

I miss when Campagnolo used to be good at naming stuff. Chorus, Record, Athena…those names exuded class. Now we’ve got Ekar, and the Kunken Gravel Sock, which sounds like something horrid and crusty you’d find under a teenager’s bed. But I guess you can’t blame Campagnolo, what with the media plundering all their best product names for virus variants and all:

I once had a bad case of the Croce d’Aune. I’ll spare you the details, but I couldn’t sit down for a week.

Anyway, now that gravel’s gone mainstream it’s obviously time for a new trend to captivate the cycling word’s imagination. But what will it be? Well, as someone who’s always got my finger on the pulse (when it’s not in my Kunken Gravel Sock, that is) I’m usually at least a half-step ahead of everyone else, so it could very well be that urban swimming is about to become the new gravel:

For one thing, cycling trends are generally watered-down (see what I did there?) versions of existing competitive cycling disciplines that have been adapted for socializing and leisure. Consider:

  • Fixed-Gears (came from track racing)
  • Gravel (came from cyclocross and cross-country mountain biking)
  • Urban swimming (comes from triathlon)

Also–and this is a big one–Lucas Brunelle has gone all-in on urban swimming recently. For example, here he is swimming across the East River for some reason:

Note the title of the video says he “got busted,” when in fact they simply suggested he swim closer to shore next time and then gave him a lift to DUMBO in their police boat. In fact, their casual response suggests that people must swim in there all the time, and that the only person shocked by Lucas Brunelle’s aquatic exploits is Lucas Brunelle. I must say it’s rather ironic that you can jump in the East River without raising an NYPD officer’s eyebrow, yet if you swim beyond the rocks at Orchard Beach the parks patrol will chase you down with an ATV, which is what happened to me last time.

Then again, swimming doesn’t involve buying lots of cool equipment, which means the next big thing could be “bikerafting,” which is indeed a thing, and which I recently learned a lot about when I helped out with a book on the subject. Not only is bikerafting fully gravel-compatible, but it also means you get to buy a boat:

I’m arguably the least rugged person on the planet, and yet even I sometimes fantasize about bikerafting down the Bronx River. In fact, the only things stopping me are: 1) I have no place to store all that equipment; B) if the New York Times hears about it they could make me the subject of one of their awful trend pieces. (“Bike Lanes Blocked? Try the Waterways!” Barf.)

Regardless, one thing’s becoming increasingly clear, and it’s that if you ride a bike long enough you’ll eventually be tempted to launch yourself into a large body of water. It’s the Final Fredly Frontier.

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