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.