Why is Gravel Riding so Popular?

Photo: Cycle Oregon’s GRAVEL, May 17-19

Have you noticed that everyone seems to be talking about riding on gravel these days? It used to be that people gushed about smooth pavement, skinny tires and were hypnotized by the subtle whir of tires on pavement.

But these days, everyone’s talking gravel. Just why is that?

Why Gravel Riding is So Popular

Cars. Let’s be honest: it’s because of cars.

The more we ride, the more we crave riding. And the less patience we have for anything that gets in the way of our enjoyment of the ride. Cars and traffic (not to mention close calls or worse) completely detract from our ability to enjoy the landscape and cruise easily along our route. Most gravel roads have very little traffic, and cars travel slower on gravel. Riding away from the cars has become increasingly enticing.

Gravel Roads Tucked in the Landscape

Gravel roads are often tucked in remote areas, closer to nature, away from the bustle of city life and the grime of urban areas. This makes for much more pleasant riding and often gorgeous views. You’ll see more wildlife and notice the birds.

Fun Factor: High!

There is a playful vibe about gravel riding. You might float around a little (That’s okay! Don’t fight it!) You might have to slog through some soupy spots. You may even have to walk through a section or two. When you’re on gravel, it’s no biggie.

You can plan ahead all you like, but gravel often pulls a switcheroo on you just when you least expect it. Riding gravel is more playful; it’s hard to be too serious on gravel.

Bikes Made for Gravel Riding

With changes in bike tech, riding gravel has become easier than simply heading out on skinny tires and fishtailing your way through the grind. Wider tires mean more stability and a tubeless set up (optional but recommended) means fewer pinch flats. Add to that some gear adjustments like eliminating the front deraileur for less flying gravel interference and complications, and you have a recipe for ease on the crunchy road.

The Future of the Bike Industry

Outside Magazine said “The gravel book could save biking’s soul” and many others are inclined to agree. We’re not going to get into the nitty gritty of the implications of new bike tech for gravel (bo-ring! let’s ride!), but we are rather excited to see this incredible surge of freshness and energy pulsing through seemingly every corner of the bike world these days.

We like gravel. A whole lot.

Check Out Cycle Oregon’s GRAVEL

Are you gravel curious? Already in love? Check out Cycle Oregon’s event Gravel on May 17-19 in Dufur, Oregon. This fully supported event is the right kind of grind.



Explore Oregon with Bicycle Rides Northwest

BRNW Oregon 2019
June 22-29
North-Central Oregon


About the Bicycle Rides Northwest

BRNW (Bicycle Rides Northwest) is one of Oregon’s best-kept secrets. The 32-year-old nonprofit’s week-long, fully supported, 300-rider tours typically sell out, with a loyal following of riders who relish the small size, all-inclusive pricing (free beer, wine and snacks!) and focus on the rider experience.

The organizers tell us that a whopping 100% of riders reported they got a good value on BRNW Oregon 2018 – we think that’s rather impressive. If you are looking for a ride that will treat you right for the week, this outfit is a wise selection.

An Oregon Exploration

Fortunately, BRNW Oregon 2019 still has some spots open. The intriguing route traverses the underrated riding paradise of north-central Oregon: geologic wonders, deep-carved canyons and meandering backroads, with overnight stops including Maupin, Fossil and Heppner.

When the blue skies open up for the season, the soft warm air flutters around bare arms, the days get longer and the riding is sweeter. Spend this summer on a multi-day ride with top notch support with Bicycle Rides Northwest.

Watch the Video

Blooming Fields of Flowers

Petal Pedal
June 22


About Petal Pedal

The rain is here to nourish the land and all around there are plants in bloom.

But you’ve never truly seen flower power until you’ve ridden through the Silverton area in June with entire fields are bursting with flowers. What a perfect place to ride a bike, and Petal Pedal on June 22 is the best way to traverse the Willamette Valley’s roads less traveled.

Those Legs Love You, or Love You Not…

Like a flower, the ride features interlocking petal loops that give you the choice of how far you ride without having to make that decision in advance. Cruise through the gorgeous landscape, and let your legs tell you where to go. Feeling strong? Keep riding. Itching for a beer? Head off to the finish line.

About the Petal Pedal Route Options

A lovely flat ride past farms, fields and flowers that passes through the covered Gallon House Bridge.

Extend the 30-mile route with some rolling hills and river crossings.

Explore the broadest section of the valley WITHOUT the climb to Silver Falls.


The whole shabang. Starts with a climb to Silver Falls. Enjoy panoramic views, then an extended high-speed descent before rejoining the 70-milers.

Generous Support

With onsite lodging, an awesome dinner, free Hopworks beer, extremely gorgeous courses, free bike checks, breakfast, lunch and snacks all included, Petal Pedal makes for a perfectly relaxing ride. Plan to spend the weekend riding the region and exploring the quaint town of Silverton, widely regarded as the friendliest town in Oregon.

Pro Tips

1) Register in advance to save big.
2) Bring three friends and you’ll ride free.
3) Stay overnight. The Oregon Garden has lovely accommodations.

Ride Basics

Saturday, June 22

30, 50, 70, 100 miles with plenty of combos along the way

Breakfast, lunch, snacks and a gourmet dinner.



Photo Gallery

Sugar Wheel Works Anniversary Parking Lot Party

The Portland-based custom wheel building company Sugar Wheel Works is turning 10 which is no small feat in the bike industry! That means it’s time to celebrate. Join them for an awesome parking lot party in their new home at Breadwinner Cycles.

Saturday, May 4
2323 N. Williams – Portland, Oregon
All ages, family friendly
Rain or shine


  • Enter to win a set of custom Sugar Wheel Works wheels!
  • Complimentary beer, cider and snacks.
  • Tours of the new Sugar Wheel Works shop and Breadwinner Cycles.
  • Meet the Sugar Wheel Works team.
  • Hang with your bike brethren.
  • Chat with Sugar Wheel Works owners Ira Ryan and Tony Pereria.
  • Sugar Wheel Works founder Jude Gerace will be on site. If you’re really lucky, she just may regale you with stories from the early days of Sugar, when the shop was only 64 sq. ft.



  • Must be present to win.
  • Tickets are on sale from 2-5:15 pm on site.
  • The raffle takes place at 5:30 pm.
  • Tickets are only $2, so you should plan to buy a bunch.
  • Cash only. Arrive with a fat stack of dollahs and cross your fingers.
  • Proceeds benefit WTF Bikexplorers, a community that supports WTF self-identifying riders who love to explore by bike.
  • HOT SPECS! Astral Outback 650B wheelset featuring a Chris King Components matte Jet (black) hub in CL disc. Custom built by Sugar Wheel Works.


  • It’s easy – you don’t have to be present to win.
  • It’s free to enter.
  • HOT SPECS! Astral Wanderlust rims with a fine White Industries hub. Custom built by Sugar Wheel Works.
  • Entry on May 1-4 only!


Get all the details here.

Escape the Memorial Day Weekend Crowds

Survival Century
May 25+26
Tulelake/Klamath Falls Area

About the Event

Survival Century is a remote bike ride tucked into the landscape around Klamath Falls, Oregon. The event features two days of incredible riding with many route distances to choose from, making it the perfect Memorial Day Weekend getaway for all your riding buddies, no matter each person’s ride style.

Event Layout

Day 1 – Road or Mt. Bike
Choose from a variety of road routes – from 8-118 miles – or a killer mt. bike course through the Modoc Forest with varied terrain.

Day 2 – Gravel
This cool ride takes you to the remote Juanita Lake, a swimming hole only popular with the locals. The ride is only 30% gravel, which means new gravel riders will delight in a day of (relative) ease. There is a little bit of climbing, and tons of incredible views far away from cars.

Day 3 – Explore on Your Own
Bring your boat, kayak, tent, hiking shoes, camera… all the fun outdoor playthings! There is so much to see and do in this region. You can stay on site at the fairgrounds, or move on to another cool destination for the evening.

An Outdoor Playground is Waiting

This region is on the way to and from so many incredible outdoor gems like Crater Lake, Bend, Oakridge, Mt. Shasta, Ashland and more! Plus, once you’ve made it this far, you may as well take the opportunity to explore far-out oasis that you likely wouldn’t get out to otherwise, like Summer Lake Hot Springs, one of the most relaxing places on earth.

More Info

Ride Details




Photo Gallery

Cycle Oregon’s GRAVEL

May 17-19
Dufur, Oregon


The Right Kind of Grind

Hold onto your handlebars because Cycle Oregon‘s ride GRAVEL is back! The ride kicked off last year in the Tillamook State Forest to rave reviews.

To mix things up, this year the ride is heading to the stunning expanses of high, lonesome prairie, and forested foothills surrounding Dufur, Oregon for an unforgettable trip down some of Oregon’s most scenic backroads. For one golden weekend in mid-May, you have the opportunity to cruise a combination of gravel and paved roads, with wide-open views of Mt. Hood and Adams appearing around nearly every corner.

Cycle Oregon Style: Fully Supported Awesomeness

When you sign up for an event with Cycle Oregon, they take care of all the pesky details so you can focus on one thing: Mega fun on your bike. As it should be.

This event includes camping, music, food and plenty of fun. Cycle Oregon always caters tasty meals – even magically out in the middle of blissful “nowhere”. They know just how to treat riders right and ensure you have an excellent event experience.

About the Routes

New to gravel? No problem! Each day features multiple options, each one a mix of gravel and pavement.

Day 1

Long: 65.3 miles — 5064 ft of climbing 47% gravel/53% pavement

Short: 31.8 miles — 2140 ft of climbing 67% gravel/33% pavement

Day 2

Long: 63 miles — 5216 ft of climbing 53% gravel/47% pavement

Short: 33.2 miles — 3118 ft of climbing 61% gravel/39% pavement



Photo Gallery

VR Cycling Through History: A Feasible & Fascinating Idea

Virtual reality cycling is starting to catch on. While we wouldn’t quite call it mainstream yet, several early demos have made headlines online at sites devoted to VR news. Most recently, we learned that a VR cycling experience was on the way from one of the biggest names in home fitness. This speaks to what appears to be the main use of combining VR and cycling, which is, precisely, fitness. However, even if this is the purpose that drives innovation and generates popularity, VR cycling will also have more leisurely and entertaining applications.

There will always be an exercise component of course, but just as some applications might help people to race or go through specific training programs augmented by VR, others will simply provide people with immersive, interesting environments that they want to pedal through. And the interesting idea we’re touching on here is that those environments don’t necessarily have to be real. The beauty of VR is that it can essentially render any environment, which means we have just as much of a chance to wind up cycling through fictional or historical places as real routes and roads.

Taking this exciting idea into account, these are some of the places we can only imagine falling in love with via VR cycling programs….

The Great Wall of China

It’s a fanciful idea to cycle along the Great Wall even now, in person, though this is easier said than done. Even if you were able to set such a trip up, the Wall is not uniformly smooth and simple; several portions of it are actually quite treacherous, to say nothing of the occasional crowds along the top and other obstacles. In VR, however, and transported back in time, this could be a breathtaking cycling fantasy of sorts. Imagine instead of the modern tourist attraction, the Great Wall in all its former glory, at the height of its functional existence. The surroundings on all sides would be lush and inviting, the walkways would be populated not by tourists, but by silent sentinels (perhaps they’d wave or nod as you passed by), and you might glimpse a camp of marauding would-be invaders off in the distance now and then. On top of it all, the twists, turns, and ups and downs of the wall could make for a good simulated workout if a cycling machine could provide resistance accordingly.

The “New World”

We tend to think of the “New World” – the Americas in the Age of Exploration – as being full of untamed vegetation and wild lands. But where civilization was, it’s not as if there weren’t roads and paths. There’s actually some precedent for exploring areas like these in VR, albeit with a decidedly fictional tinge. “Gonzo’s Quest” is best known as a free game on the internet, enhancing a slot arcade with a rich theme of exploration in ancient Peru. The same game now exists in VR, and works such that as you play, you follow Gonzo deeper into ancient civilization and toward treasures and structures. The surroundings are what make the game unique though, and indicate that there’s interest in this general concept. A VR cycling app with a similar idea but a more realistic approach – such that you could cycle through jungles and ancient cities, and past members of the Incan, Aztec, or Mayan civilizations – could be an incredibly fun experience.

The Amber Road

The Great Wall is a fairly obvious choice for this discussion, and “New World” civilizations suggests vast areas to explore, with perhaps multiple roads and routes built into a single large program. But there are also specific roads from history that would make for fascinating VR cycling experiences, and while it’s difficult to choose from among them, the Amber Road might be one of the most interesting. Linking Russia with Italy, this was essentially a trade route by which amber was mined and traded between the Baltic region and the ancient civilizations near the Adriatic Sea. As with the two examples above, this would be made interesting not just by the route itself, but by the surroundings. You could essentially be cycling among the people from many centuries past, at least as we might imagine them, and get something approximating a realistic feel for what it might have been like to traverse such a route (but for the fact that you’ll have the benefit of a bicycle!).

The Silk Road

Dubbed the most famous trade route in the world in a fairly thorough write-up of ancient trade roads (and likely in a fair share of history textbooks as well), the Silk Road would be a different sort of option simply because it would have to be incredibly long. This would present a lot of challenges for a VR development team – perhaps like an “open world” video game in VR form – but done well, it could be endlessly fascinating. Essentially connecting China with the Roman Empire, the Silk Road stretched thousands of miles, meaning this experience could work with constant, saved progress. That is to say, you could start at one end or the other and cycle along such that every time you get back on your bike you begin where you last left off – ultimately seeing all sorts of beautiful lands, as well as people spanning much of the ancient world.

We could go on, but you get the idea, and in a way it’s fun to think up your own ideas and examples. Right now, it’s all fairly hypothetical – but it’s possible, and VR is only going to see more creativity moving forward. This is a general development we’d be all for.

EvergreenHealth 7 Hills of Kirkland

May 27 – Kirkland, WA

What does your summer riding season have in store for you?

Set the tone for a powerful season of strong riding with the EvergreenHealth 7 Hills of Kirkland – a hill climb challenge on gorgeous routes. Your legs will thank you all season long. There are several routes to choose from, each one of them guaranteed to make you feel victorious at the end.

This Memorial Day weekend, the cyclists will outnumber the cars on these hushed roads. Travel at your own pace through urban, suburban and rural roads. It’s a holiday weekend crafted for doing something special on your bike.


The Bikes of Wrath

April 2
Regal Fox Tower – Portland
Reserve tickets >

About the Film

Five Australians attempt to ride from Oklahoma to California in honor of the westward migration undertaken by the Joad family in “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Through chance encounters with everyday Americans, the cyclists expand on the novel’s core themes of migration, inequality and the perceived land of opportunity. The group explores whether America has progressed since the book was written, discussing the wealth gap, immigration and the American Dream.

The fascinating people they meet along the way reveal the enduring strength of human spirit despite the inequality and disenfranchisement which runs as deep today, as it did in Steinbeck’s seminal novel. The Bikes of Wrath is a unique, funny and insightful documentary filled with adventure, literature, music, and human connection.

The Bikes of Wrath trailer showed in Portland at Filmed by Bike 2017, and we’re thrilled the final film is finally here.

Learn more about this project on their website.

Watch the Trailer

Reserve Tickets Early

This is a show by demand, meaning it will only be shown if enough tickets are reserved in advance. The goal has almost been met, so they are well on their way. Purchase your tickets early to ensure the show is a success!



Sugar Wheel Works Joins Forces with Breadwinner Cycles

Exciting growth is happening in the bicycle industry as custom handbuilt wheel building company Sugar Wheel Works joins forces with award winning custom bike builders Breadwinner Cycles for streamlined service and expanded expert quality. Both companies are based in Portland, Oregon, with headquarters mere blocks from each other.

for streamlined service and expanded expert quality. Both companies are based in Portland, Oregon, with headquarters mere blocks from each other.

“Our partnership over the last 10 years made this a natural progression,” says Sugar Wheel Works founder Jude Gerace. “We have common core values with an emphasis on quality and customer service. We started our businesses around the same time and have been helping each other grow ever since.”

Nearly every Breadwinner Cycles bike that rolls out the door features Sugar Wheel Works wheels. The new partnership means increased cohesion for the customers as the companies already share a common customer base.

A Smart Move in a Challenging Industry

Nationwide the bicycle industry has faced significant financial challenges in the last few years, marked by the closing of countless retail bike shops. Both Breadwinner Cycles and Sugar Wheel Works have long recognized the need to continually develop creative approaches to business operations in order to remain sustainable without compromising the quality of their products.

Breadwinner Cycles owners Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan are no strangers to joining forces for efficiency and strength in a challenging industry. In 2013, the two builders merged their successful independent bike building companies Pereira Cycles and Ira Ryan Cycles to form Breadwinner Cycles.

“We are thrilled to be joining forces our long-time partners Sugar Wheel Works,” says Tony Pereira. “Sugar has been building wheels that match the quality of our bicycles since day one. Bringing them in-house will help us improve on the custom experience our riders expect.”

“I can not think about the bicycle industry in Portland without thinking about Sugar and Jude” says Ira Ryan. “We have a tight knit community that is like a family – we have grown our businesses side by side over the years. It feels natural to know that we trust each other with our ‘babies’ that we have spent years growing and fostering. I am proud to call Sugar and Jude family.”

Sugar Wheel Works is Unique

Sugar Wheel Works is one of only a handful of companies that specializes in manufacturing handbuilt bicycle wheels. Their customized process matches the design of the wheel to the customer’s riding style, budget and even aesthetic preferences. Typically a customer chooses to purchase a handbuilt wheelset instead of a machine built wheelset for the superior quality and ability to tailor individual features.

Celebrating 10 Years: What’s Next for Founder Jude Gerace?

Owner Jude Gerace founded Sugar Wheel Works in 2009 when she realized there was a lack of companies that focused on quality, sustainable bicycle wheels. After 10 years of working with engineers, keeping up on industry developments and creating a detailed quality control process for building fine handbuilt wheels, Jude is leaving the company.

Jude Gerace has worked hard to build Sugar Wheel Works to the internationally known quality brand it is today. She is proud of founding and growing the company and is confident her role in that process is now complete. As a person of varied skills and interests, Jude is ready for her next adventure.

In her newly developing advisory business, Jude will incubate and foster the growth of other small businesses.

Sugar Wheel Works will retain that name and operations will now be housed at the Breadwinner Cycles headquarters. Current wheel builders will remain on staff. Through a partnership with United Cerebral Palsy job placement and coaching program, Sugar Wheel Works created a specialized position to meet the skill set of Dan Waugh, a young man who was eager to find a job after high school. Breadwinner Cycles is thrilled keep Dan on staff.

Business operations will not be disrupted during this transition.


Breadwinner Cycles can be found online at BreadwinnerCycles.com

Sugar Wheel Works can be found online at SugarWheelWorks.com

More information about Sugar Wheel Works’ support of Dan Waugh can be see in this video.

An overview of the difference between handbuilt wheels and machine built wheels can be found here.

To hear more about the transition from Jude Gerace, check out this excellent exclusive interview with BikePortland.org.


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