Yesterday I took off at 2 with hopes of a gravel metric. As soon as I got to the gravel I realized that wasn't even close to happening. The roads north of Des Moines are very sandy so the wet conditions makes them very difficult to ride after a rain storm but not as dirty as gravel roads with limestone. I found that every couple hundred yards there was a muddy bog area were the snow pile next to the road was taller and trucks had spun out trying to drive through. I thought about how my gearing was not going to work and I need a smaller crankset, but I was glad I didn't have any gear with me so I could stand up and grind through. The touring bike works very well as a gravel machine the extra weight of the rack on the front seem to ad some stability and the bike overall is very comfortable. I finally got the seat in just the right place. I would have no problem doing several hundred miles on this bike.
I am going to change the crankset though the compact double with the 11-28 is not a low enough gear range for what I'm going to use it for. I'm hoping that my new tires (Schwalbe Marathon Extreme) come in soon. And I will be ordering a small double (thinking stylo 2.2) with gearing more like 36/24 for a better range. Then I'm ready to explore.