Well, it was a good day in the saddle.
The downtube is big. Bigger than I thought. Wow.
The tires should be great for off road and the handling geometry is exactly what I was hoping for after reading the Nick Legan review in Adventure Cycling: quick and road bike like but not nervous. The tires were pretty good on flat road where the bike felt really fast but when I was headed up the steep part of Gonzales Road and was grinding away in the 30x28 combo, you could feel the little offroad nubbins on the rear tire groaning and deforming. Maybe I will try to find a better on road/off road tire compromise but if I were to hammer the Rail Trail, I think those would be great tires. As Litespeed told me, the whole point of those tires is gravel, not pavement, and I suspect in that, they will be great.
Handlebar controls are excellent. Thank you longtime pal and Adventure Cycling bike reviewer, Patrick O'Grady, for our discussion of various levels of Shimano whizbangery as I was sorting through this decision. The shifting and front derailleur fine tuning worked well, the brakes predictable and firm with only a couple finger touch and as I found out, quite powerful when some dipshit in a car made an unannounced left turn directly into my path. And somehow, I got a wheel upgrade from the listed Sun Ringle Charger Comps to a pair of FSA AGX'es.
Only minor annoyance is the saddle, but I expected that might not be perfect and in most respects it is pretty good for a short ride. I don't think it is a bike company's job to know everyone's ass as well as one knows one's own ass. The saddle on the bike was just a little squishy. Not bad, actually, and great saddle shape, but a little soft for an ass that has forty two years of high mileage on stiffer Selle Flites or Selle Turbos in it. Pen Pal Pat O'Brien has a spare Terry he is going to mail me.
Bottom line is this felt pretty darn good on first spin. I do have to get this rig offroad onto some of the nearby gravel roads or the Rail Trail to see what a Gravel Bike can do.
Now, if we could just solve all the world's problems this way...just by riding a bike.