New Start

It’s been a crazy month for me. My family and I moved to Birmingham, Alabama only a couple of weeks ago. Reason was to be near both of our families and to support a growing family, almost impossible in our situation in Northern Virginia. We were originally from Birmingham so moving back is easy.

I however was not even close to being a cyclist when I lived here about 4 years ago. Learning the city again by bicycle is something that’s been pretty eye opening and I already am learning new roads. A few of things have changed though for my daily ride – road surface, elevation and length of ride which might change the style I have lived with for quite a while.

The road surface, wow, not even close to being good, even by VDOT’s low standards. The Grand Bois rear tired successfully received a slow flat today. Much of the roads here are narrow and dark due to the many trees hanging overhead; seeing these potholes and dips/dives can be a challenge. The two lane roads going through much of the town offer no shoulder either so bailing out is not an option most of the time.

Elevation is also a huge change. I knew there were hills here but never conquered them like I do now. In fact, my eventual morning ride will see 1250 elevation gain over 18 miles according to Ride With GPS. My normal elevation gain in NoVa was 900 over 23 miles – most of that being a 13 mile very gradual climb. Anyways, just to say the hills here are brutal and there is absolutely no escaping them within the city limits from what I have found. Nice views though..

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The length of ride I normally am used to is 23 miles. That was my daily work commute. Now, working from home and my current location will most likely have me doing maybe 20 miles each ride at most (I’m sure I can pick up an extra 2 miles somewhere for my morning ride). I have a feeling that my rides will be cut down to perhaps 3 rides a week. At least until I get myself settled in the new digs. This isn’t something I’m proud of but I have to remind myself that there are more important things in life than to keep up with mileage, although that’s not fun!

The flat I received today has me thinking even more to change my setup. The Grand Bois tires I decided to try are already (expectantly) not holding up to the rigors of Birmingham’s terrible asphalt. The chief reason I purchased them was only because of the smooth WO&D trail near DC for my daily commute. However, it has me thinking even more about what setup is unique to myself. I’m now thinking even more to take the fenders off and possibly the rear constructeur rack. This is an easy process and would allow me to throw on cheaper and more puncture proof wide 700c tires. I’m thinking perhaps a 38 mm tire (such as this) but haven’t measured yet to be honest. The possibility to have this type of bike is pretty awesome and gets me excited. With the most likely black tires I was thinking of changing the bar tape to a dark brown to match my saddle and get rid of the white tape. If anyone has any recommendations of tires out there that are around 38mm and don’t weigh a ton that would be fantastic, comment below!

Too, I could technically take the Campeur on gentle off roading and for sure gravel roads in Alabama with this set up. The bike would remain functional and still have its character, although totally new.

It’s good for a fresh start from time-to-time.



  1. The wider tires will indeed make for a more “worry-free” ride, however, giving up the fenders might dictate when your ride and when you do not; depending on the weather. (just sayin’)
    Good luck with your move.

    1. Certainly true. A lot of factors to ponder upon. Of course I could throw on the fenders when the fall arrives. It is generally very dry here in the summers. Thanks Carl

  2. Good on you Robert for sticking with the commute. I can’t imagine the adjustment from going from the WO&D to this. Hopefully drivers are polite and alert enough towards you making the potholes the worst of it. Stay safe!

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