Gravel bikes and all-road bikes are all the rage these days. When I jump on board a trend I don’t always follow the status quo. My new all-road bike is a rigid 27.5+ mountain bike. But not your standard mountain bike, it’s a Jones. I bought it as more of an all purpose bike. I have access to IMBA Gold Level mountain trails right in my neighborhood. I have hundreds of miles of dirt and gravel roads in the immediate area, and millions of acres of National Forests within 1-2 hours of drive time. The Jones is my idea of one bike to rule them all.
I plan to use it for some overnight camping and bike packing trips as well. Last year I did the same types of riding on my fat bike. The plus tires on the Jones seem narrow in comparison.
Now that I own a car I no longer have to start all my rides from my house. What a luxury to start an entirely new ride from somewhere other than my house. Every ride since 2003 has begun from my house. But not anymore. Saturday I decided to scout out some new to me gravel northwest of Two Harbors.
I started at the Lake County Demonstration Forest and rode the Drummond Grade north to almost Brimson. It was a good ride and only my fourth ride on the Jones. The road was very low traffic. Only counted 12 vehicles in 2.5 hours.
The Jones no longer looks brand spanking new thanks to lots of gravel dust and some mud. It was April 27th and winter still lingered in the spots that don’t get all day sunshine.
I already have an idea for a short bikepacking overnighter using this route. The route takes you into the Cloquet Valley State Forest.
One of my plans after buying this bike last November was to have it completely outfitted with options for packing by Spring time. I’ve been spending between $100 and $200 a month since then on bags and other things for loading up this bike. I think I have sufficiently acquired everything I need to properly overload this bike. Something I am all too good at doing. One last item arrived today.
It’s a Manythings Cage from King Cage. I have a triple bolt mount on the underside of my down tube on the Jones. This cage will allow me to strap and carry a full size Nalgene bottle, or a fuel bottle or a small stuff sack in that spot. It’s the first piece of bike equipment I’ve ever owned made with titanium. It’s shockingly lightweight. Really weighs next to nothing. Getting fancy here.
This ride let me settle in and really enjoy the ride of the Jones. The biggest take away from my first 2+ hour ride was how incredibly comfortable the riding position is on this bike. The first quarter mile it feels like you’re sitting strangely bolt upright. But then it just starts to feel oh so right. I’ve been using some version of a Jones bar on two different bikes since 2007. So I knew what to expect from the handlebar. This new wider loop bar feels amazing. And I really do move around on the bar and use it’s multiple hand positions.
I’m looking forward to loading it up sometime soon and seeing what it’s like on an overnighter.