I started the cycling year in April by buying a new bike. Gravel bike. I also get rid of all other 3 bikes I had. I thought this would be a big compromise. Plus for simplified bike storage and maintenance, minus for having to use just one so-so bike for all kinds of riding. In reality it turned out to be better than expected - except for the extreme cases of road racing (where each second counts and which I do not do) and really rough terrain (which would anyway be better with a full downhill bike) - gravel bikes turned to be better fit for almost any riding in between those extremes. It feels like road bike on the road, can handle single trail in woods and flies over most of the mixed terrain I normally ride.
There is a growing variety of gravel bikes these days. Nearly every brand already has one or two, plus all the gravel-only startups. I decided to try a relatively unknown (at least here) English brand Alpkit and their Sonder Camino Al. It is cheaper than most and there is a clear upgrade path if I liked the geometry and had cash to burn. Delivery to Prague takes 5 working days from the order. It comes almost assembled, ready to ride in 5 mins. Well except for DHL breaking the front wheel valve during shipping, but this is a great improvement compared to the last time I had something shipped by DHL.
A did a few test rides before, but May was the real test of the bike. There is a “Bike to Work” challenge going on every May in most Czech cities. And it just so happened that my colleagues also had gravel bikes, so we made a gravel-only team for BtW and started counting rides and kilometers. It started similarly as BtW did a couple of years ago - everybody rides to work and back home the shortest or his favorite way. Then I went for one week vacation. When I came back, everybody changed for the way BtW usually works - doing extra distance on both ways just to get more kilometers per day. In our extreme cases more than 100km per day, in the BtW winners cases several hundreds of kilometers a day just going to work and coming back. Well I did around 750km in total, but in only 13 riding days (because of the vacation and free Fridays). But still, not bad. Now see how I got from the shortest way to exploring both south and east of Prague:
The next big riding was with my brother-in-law. We decided to ride from the Hostivar brewery to the Trautenberg brewery. These two pleasant venues share some of the owners, share beer and architecture style, but are far away from each other. The original plan was to do one day of long distance but mostly flat ride (120km), one day of rest and one day of shorter but mountainous ride (50km). Well, it didn’t quite go that way as we changed the second day to unexpected mountainous circle lap to the highest hill around. Then at the and of the third day we reached the destination, exhausted to the surreal point of admitting to be too tired to enjoy the beer we came for. And than the fourth day was a 20km downhill descent to train station.
My father also bought a bike this year. An electric full suspension almost freeride-ish beast. We had some rides together. On this one I got so close to finally getting him to ran out of battery - on his next ride it went out after only 5 more kilometers - but my legs also ran out of energy and I had trouble walking for the next 3 days.
My sister borrowed the beast bike and we rode the solar system to Pluto and beyond and then to Říp. But we had little to eat and at the hill heel we learned that the restaurant at the top was closed. So instead of climbing up, we went to the nearest city for lunch.
And then in August I went to a cycling race. The first after many years. The first on gravel bike for me. The third for gravel bikes in Czechia (probably, not sure). I made it to the end, it was great fun and all, but obviously no chance at getting close to top positions. I am in the following official video at 1:17 getting ready for the next timed section:
Overall 2018 was a good riding year. I made around 3000km, enjoyed most of them and almost rode off the WTB Riddlers.