MTBer Troy Bailey had a mission: To ride around Australia (mainly off-road) to help raise awareness for refugees. He formed New Life Cycle and brought together the support of various refugee charity partners. We had just finished testing and refining the Grovel V2, so Curve decided to support his mission and supply with him with two bikes; An Uprock and the first pre-production Grovel v2 to land in Australia. The perfect test for the Grovel.
Here are Troy's words
The Grovel is the latest addition to the Curve family and I'm here to tell you, that it will be welcomed with opened arms.
Just like its titanium brothers and sisters, (Belgie, GMX and Uprock) all the design and R&D has been done in-house. Coming from such pedigree, the pressure was certainly on for this versatile youngster to perform. With the guys at Curve catching wind of what I was proposing to do (a lap around Australia off-road in 180 days) They were confident they had just the steed for me.
With the adoption papers signed for the first Grovel in the country, I was keen to see just how versatile and capable this bike could be. Melbourne's winter was sinking its teeth in, and it was time to make tracks. But the Grovel hadn't landed, so in the true family spirit of Curve Cycling, "Take my Uprock 29er hardtail and we'll send the Grovel to wherever you are when it arrives", these were Steve Varga's words, (aka Curve founder). Steve built this bike up as a Christmas present for himself, seriously what a guy! Thanks heaps Steve this bike is an absolute weapon!.
With the Grovel, in its yellow glory arriving in Port Macquarie, I was excited and a little scared about its maiden voyage; a punishing 160 km & 3500 vertical meter gravel road, dirt road and 4x4 track adventure. To top it off, I was with my old teammate Jason English (8 x 24 hr solo MTB world champion). With Jason saddling up on his MTB at 4.30am, the aim was to make our destination by nightfall. Sounds a bit more like a baptism of fire than a christening, but to both and my surprise the Grovel with the 27.5 x 2.0 Refuse tires (a robust slick with a tiny diamond pattern) handled everything we could throw at it.
This would be the first of many days on the dirt navigating the 4,000km New Life Cycle journey thus far. I followed the stunning tracks and roads through the Great Dividing Range and Bicentennial National trail, I toyed around with tire pressures and set up, and my confidence continued to grow on the Grovel.
I had choice, but the mountain bike remained in the support vehicle and I continually threw my leg over the Grovel as I was just amazed at the all-round capabilities of this gravel bike.
The New Life Cycle journey come to an abrupt but temporary end in the Far North. I lost my support vehicle driver suddenly and decided to wait it out in lovely Mackay and race the QLD state MTB champs. But then, whilst training on the MTB I dislocated my shoulder. The injury saw me back on the comfort of the Grovel pretty quickly, but 4 weeks later as I jumped back on the MTB, on the very same trail, I broke my collar bone. Surgery was a success, however with a six-week recovery time-frame, it was definitely curtains for any further progress north this year.
But the journey doesn't end here. As I recover and the top end becomes unbearably hot, humid and wet, I will chop and change the route to finish my round Australia trip in sections. So now my energies and training will be directed towards completing Perth to Sydney via Curve's unsupported 5,300 km Indian Pacific Wheel Race, kicking off on March 18th. After Sydney I'll head back to Mackay and complete the New Life Cycle journey with the new finish line being the southern-most point of the west coast in the Margaret River region.
I Grovel on! I am getting pretty excited for the Indy Pac, the gravel bike will turn roadie, so I will swap out the Grovel's 27.5 x 2.0" tyres for some 700c road wheels and 28 mm tyres.
I've always thought myself a MTBer, but doing this trip and also looking forward to a 5,300km tarmac journey, I would be more than happy to be referred to as a keen cyclist who loves it all.
I love the dirt side of the fence, getting away from it all immersed in nature as far off the beaten track as possible. But often to get there you need to cover a lot of bitumen between even the most remote places, and the Grovel makes these traverses more enjoyable.
For those who ride road, but have a secret hankering for dirt, this bike's clearance and geometry allows you do both. Run 700c wheels and then throw on some 42c tyres or better still, borrow a mate's spare set of 27.5 MTB wheels and you can get out there and test the water. Be careful though - it becomes very addictive!
In a nut shell, this bike fills the gap beautifully as a do-it-all bike. For mountain bikers, it's a road bike/gravel/CX bike or for roadies, it's an introduction to another world.
For me, it's been a tough but rewarding road, and my adventure continues.
To support Troy and New Life Cycle visit and donate here: http://www.newlifecycle.org.au/
For more images and short clips go #grovelhighway
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