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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
and you can build one of these ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓
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!!
Look Here for Gravel Events
Some great Gravel Grinders