TEAM RALEIGH-CLEMENT TACKLE GRAVEL METRIC
Raleigh cyclocross specialists Caroline Mani and Ben Berden got a taste of American gravel this weekend at the Gravel Metric, a popular metric-century on farm roads around DeKalb, Illinois. Now in it’s forth year, the Gravel Metric draws hundreds of gravel lovers from across the mid-west, where gravel races are gaining popularity. The event, which blurs the line between a ride and a race, includes a variety of dirt roads, wagon tracks, and even grassy paths the organizers call “unroads.” Just a few miles of pavement mar the gravel goodness.
Both Berden and Mani are no strangers to riding dirt and this was Berden’s second trip to the Metric. For the Raleigh-Clement team, the Metric is a highlight of the summer schedule and provides good training and plenty of laughs. At only 70ish miles, the race suits cyclocross racers more than some of the mega gravel grinders like the 200-mile Dirty Kanza or 300-mile Trans-Iowa.
Berden displayed his strength and experience by riding in the front group all day and taking a lead role with navigation along the way. “I love riding the dirt and I’m used to doing these types of rides now that I’ve been in the U.S. a couple years,” Berden said. “We took a wrong turn and did a couple extra miles, but our group kept the pace high and we just had 6 guys left in the last hour.”
As they raced into town with just a couple miles remaining, the gloves came off within their gentlemens group and attacks flew left and right. Berden covered the moves and as they made the final turn into the finish, it was Berden leading the charge. Although officially the event is a “ride” and not a “race”, Berden’s prize as the first finisher was a well-used oil painting featuring mid-west scenery. Something he’ll cherish forever no doubt!
Caroline Mani enjoyed her first trip to the Gravel Metric and rode inside the peloton where she witnessed all the carnage a proper gravel grinder can bring. “What a crazy day!” she said at the finish. “There were crashes, people got lost, and I was chased by a dog. But I helped someone fix a flat tire and even helped a guy who lost a crank arm!”
Events like the Gravel Metric provide a chance to showcase the team’s sponsors. Mani and Berden both rode Raleigh RXC Pro cyclocross bikes with Shimano components and TRP brakes. For tires, they ran prototype rubber from Clement: a new Xplor MSO 32mm at about 40 psi. This is the newest model in Clement’s Xplor line of gravel tires, and is a lighter and faster version of the well-proven MSO 40mm.
Thanks to everyone for hosting Team Raleigh-Clement and see you in DeKalb next year!