In the first guest post Joshua Meissner shares his thoughts and experience from the Dolomites.
ONE BIKE FOR EVERYTHING
It seems like every week, there’s a new sub-niche in cycling. The new bike is touted as the one that can do it all, but the explosion of categories sends a whole other message. You need one for the city and another one for going beyond. This one for sport and that one for travel. One for pavement, one for gravel, and another for slightly chunkier gravel. This specialized marketing does a disservice to the incredible versatility of sturdy bicycles designed to serve the rider.
For proof, let’s go back to the early 1950s. In the UK, the Rough-Stuff Fellowship riders toured far and wide on steel touring bikes loaded with canvas bedrolls and tin teapots, rolling and pushing on “wide” 28mm tires. Almost always, this was their only bike, which they also commuted on back home. Yet with their trusty steeds, they stormed passes and crossed remote highlands that today we’d consider deep in mountain bike territory.
Up to the tiptop
In 2022, I returned for a bikepacking trip to the magnificent Dolomites. I’d ridden the Veneto Trail on a suspension-equipped hardtail the previous year. But this time, I took the rigid Pelago Stavanger. I like to imagine that my friends and I retreaded some of the same famous passes the Rough-Stuff riders scrambled over many decades before us.
We took our time hiking on unrideable paths that took us along incredible scenery. We would have blown straight past it otherwise.
Technically, we were vastly underbiked for some sections, but that didn’t make the trip less enjoyable. We weren’t looking to punish ourselves either—we made up the path as we went and the Campari spritz flowed freely. We took our time hiking on unrideable paths that took us along incredible scenery. We would have blown straight past it otherwise. All it took to appreciate this slower mode was a shift in our outlook.
The main thing is being out in nature, splashing through puddles and clambering up ladders and having a laugh with mates.
If you look at the photos from the Rough-Stuff Fellowship—smiling faces brewing up tea on the side of the path—it’s clear they’re not in it just for the cycling. The main thing is being out in nature, splashing through puddles and clambering up ladders and having a laugh with mates. RSF photographer Bob Harrison famously said: “I never go for a walk without my bike.”
The modern all-steel, all-road bike is the spiritual successor to those versatile workhorses of yesteryear. With wider tires, far more reliable components, and lightweight gear, they’re infinitely more capable. The Stavanger performed admirably in the rugged Dolomites, no hardtail needed.
Whenever I think I need a special bike or piece of gear for some trip, I flip open my copy of the RSF Archive photo book. I admire their exploits and stare in awe at their rickety setups that took them so far. They remind me that what I have is more than capable. Their silent smiles tell us the classic recipe for a good time: grab your bikes and friends and head out into the rough stuff!
Learn more about Stavanger
Pelago Stavanger is available in three different colors and 8 different sizes. Click images below to enter the bike configurator or the frameset page. As of February 15th, the frames are in stock and complete bikes deliver from March 2024.
For further reading you might also want to visit these three features you should know about the bike.