Gravel Is Good

daylight dirt road ecology environment

gravel header

Get me on the gravel

Because bikes have changed. Everything has changed. Blame the DIRTY KANZA or CX racing or the Paris – Roubaix,  but bikes have changed. Road bikes and Mountain bikes had sex and their babies came out with hydraulic disc brakes and skinny fat tires. Slack geometry, drop bars and thru axles, everything is all mixed together and what has this accomplished?

Access.

To millions miles of unpaved roads.

In past years, road riding meant rolling around on hard as rock 100psi on 23mm tires. Riding anything but tarmac was miserable. It’s different now. Lower tire pressures and wider wheels are supple, tough and roll fast. People want to get away, really away, into the rolling ribbons of lonely roads. And that includes the dirt roads. And it’s fun as hell! And the bikes are made for It!

It doesn’t matter what you ride on gravel, as long as you dig it.

Gravel has an international standard. It’s categorized by it’s roughness.

Category One Gravel

is basically super hard packed dirt and grit, not entirely different than asphalt. Super fun to ride while posing no challenge to equipment or ride skill.

Category Two

is more gravel-ee. It’s got some chunks, some potholes, less maintenance. It’s the beginning of the fun. It requires slight attention to bike handling, choosing lines and makes a chain get a little bouncey. Maybe some off camber turns, steep crowning and loose shoulders.

Category Three

Now we’re talking. This is straight up gravel. Equipment becomes important, you need tubeless tires with some meat. Going fast requires good skills. Plenty of treacherous obstacles, like deep ruts, pot holes, washouts, big rocks and poor maintenance.

Category Four

Get me a beer. Cat 4 gravel is the final stage before mountain bikes are brought in. It’s rideable, but bone jarring, tough and nasty. You’ll encounter pits of boiling lava, snakes and possibly hunters on quads, rednecks in 4×4 trucks with camoflaged sun visors. This is the best gravel, but all gravel is good.

Now, you can do this.

and you can build one of these ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

Lee

Or you can get one of these.

 

gravel road

canal path
Canal Path along Delaware River in Pennsylvania

hunterdon gravel

Hamp Rd
Hamp Rd, Lamvertville, NJ

These are some of my favorite gravel sectors. I am fortunate to live in a cycling paradise. There aren’t any local routes that are 100% unpaved, it’s a good mix of sleepy rural roads, covered bridges and creek valleys and connecting spurs of Pave, gravel and rough, poorly maintained roads. Ever since road bikes became more capable, there has been a steady diet of gravel gobbling among the local roadies’ diets. It keeps getting better, get me on the gravel!!

map

lake View

Creek Rd

Old Carversville Rd SOlebury PA
Another awesome gravel sector is Old Carversville Rd, Solebury Township, PA. Twisty, rutted and exposure to a big cliff. Very cool.
Laurel Rd
This is a great climb, right off the Delaware river. It’s shaded by trees all the way up. If only it were longer.

Look Here for Gravel Events

Gravel Cyclist

 

Some great Gravel Grinders

hell of hunterdon

iron cross

Pisgah

battenkill

 

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s