Well, it was another great edition of Melting Mann! Central District is proud to support the event, and there’s hardly a more charming town to visit than Vandalia. There are some thank you's we need to toss out there, and a few trends we are excited to see! 

If you were there, you know that a soggy week led to some soft road conditions, but that can also make a race like that even more fun. Walking through the parking lot and checking out the start line, there were a lot of diverse bike choices. There were two Kona Wozos in the fat bike class, two Kona Honzos, and plenty of Kona Jakes of various description taking on both the 22 and 32 mile routes. 

We also want to thank all the volunteers who were out in force directing traffic and keeping the racers safe at intersections. There were some vociferous cheering sections, too, which kept even the most tired racers smiling all the way back to downtown Vandalia for their promised beer. The volunteers make any race, and at Melting Mann, they really are a part of the face of the event. Thank you! 

We wouldn’t be bike nerds if we didn’t spot some interesting trends in the gravel scene this morning, either. One big change from 2016 is the amount of dedicated 1x drivetrains on cyclocross and gravel road bikes. Especially in muddy conditions like those we ‘enjoyed’, it eliminates a lot of the risks and issues of the front derailleur. Without a ton of long climbs, that smaller ring didn’t seem very useful anyway. We would say a 40t ring was the size of choice, although we saw as little as a 36t and as big as a 50t on bikes while we walked around the parking lot afterwards. 

With plenty of more gravel races, and so many miles of gravel to explore around Grand Rapids, it’s a great time to tweak your rig or even pick up something new to make the most of your time in the saddle. 

Thanks again to everyone who organized, volunteered, and raced Melting Mann 2017! How’d your race go? Let us know in the comments, or swing by the shop and regale us with your glorious tales.  

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