A gravel ride that didn’t come to be

I had recently joined a few groups on Facebook that catered toward riders of cyclocross bikes, machines just like Hyro. I had gotten an invite to ride the gravel roads around the Pasong Buaya area that the Daang Reyna road cuts through as it links Cavite and San Pedro in Laguna.

Hyro with his original footwear remounted.

This would require some changes to Hyro’s now-default road-going setup. The day before the ride, I removed the rear rack and both full-length fenders, and dismounted the 28 mm Continental Ultra Sport II slicks off Hyro’s wheels. Back on went the 35 mm Schwalbe Super Swan knobby mud tires, which had been sitting in a storage cabinet since their last outing around Heroes Bike Trail in Taguig last year. (They are essentially a tubeless-ready version of the Rocket Ron tire, specifically made for Giant as an original-equipment item on built bikes.) I inflated them to 60 psi.

Setting out, I rode to the Phoenix gasoline station in Molino along Daang Hari, observing Hyro’s behavior on his original footwear. The larger overall diameter had a noticeable effect on the gearing, and I couldn’t lean into turns quite as hard because of the knobs, which emitted a low thrum as they pattered against the road. However, the bigger air volume and lower pressure meant that the bike just steam-rollered its way through road acne and bigger ruts at speed, which was quite welcome on the rough final few kilometers of Daang Hari.

Waiting at the Phoenix gasoline station along Daang Hari. This is also the home of Gran Trail Cycles’ branch in Molino, Cavite.

I arrived at our designated meeting place, but had nobody to ride with, as my ride buddies had failed to wake up on time. I wasn’t keen on exploring the gravel roads by myself, so I retreated to familiar stomping grounds and roads in Alabang. Here I could further observe the bike’s behavior on 35 mm rubber.

As it turns out, the performance delta between the Super Swans and the Ultra Sport IIs is much smaller than it had been previously. I remember the Super Swans feeling much more sluggish, but apparently, the rollout difference between the two tires amounted to just 10 mm, as the nominal 28mm Ultra Sport II slicks actually measure 30 mm across my wheels when inflated to 80 psi. I was just 0.4 km/h slower on average compared to the pace I set on the slicks. The rough surface of the concrete roads further reinforced the virtues of low pressure and greater air volume, as it was less fatiguing to ride. The larger diameter rollers didn’t hinder climbing ability as much as I had thought, too.

The Daang Hari excursion aside, I treated this as a typical Sunday morning long road ride. Even with slightly ponderous cornering, the Super Swans acquitted themselves well, and made me consider deflating my slicks a little. Once the Ultra Sport IIs go kaput, I wonder if I should start looking at a herringbone-tread 30 or 32 mm tire?

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