The Full Guide To Gravel Riding
Are you up for the challenge?
Everyone who has been into cycling would definitely know that gravel riding is all the rage nowadays. Gravel riding has been booming in the past few years. Still, if you are not yet that knowledgeable or aware of what gravel riding exactly is, here is what it’s all about.
In bikespeak, the term ‘gravel’ in biking refers to riding bikes on roads, trails, and unpaved paths. This puts gravel riding in between mountain biking and typical road cycling. But, unlike the two types of biking mentioned, gravel riding isn’t confined to a specific type of location. Gravel riding may span a wide range of terrain, from literal gravel to wooden tracks.
As many folks know, being flexible is a must when it comes to gravel bikes. That also includes everything in gravel riding as a whole. There’s always something for somebody in gravel riding. It can include chill riding events to extremely physically taxing racing, and huge social events to dirt tours. Gravel riding is as flexible as the equipment used in it.
The word “gravel” in gravel riding has many meanings. It could be any type of terrain between rough, rugged mountain inclines and flat asphalt roads. This makes for a ride with beautiful landscapes, challenging but enjoyable conditions – all without traffic. Gravel’s lasting widespread appeal makes perfect sense when coupled with developments in cycling technology.
Gravel is largely undefined. An individual could anticipate calm, slightly crunchy roads. Others might envision difficult, steep, crater-filled, rocky pathways. True enough, both of these are accurate. As a result, knowing what kind of gravel you’re getting into is essential, particularly when selecting your equipment.
Gravel courses range over four categories. Here are the following:
- Category 1 gravel: Smooth, well-kept dirt roads with few to no tiny gravel pieces.
- Category 2 gravel: Unpaved paths with ruts, washboard grooves, and loose roads.
- Category 3 gravel: Roads that are badly maintained, having larger rocks, potholes, and sand/loose dirt.
- Category 4 gravel: Roads that are not maintained, with deep layers of jagged gravel.
Gravel riding, also known as gravel grinding or adventure riding, is a growing form of cycling that mixes features of road and mountain biking. It consists primarily of long-distance rides over dirt roads.
To qualify as gravel riding, trails must comprise rough and unpaved roads. These roads could be dirt roads or gravel roads. As most cities have surfaced roads, gravel biking routes are mostly found in rural locations. This provides the opportunity to uncover some really gorgeous sights that can only be seen on a trip away from the city.
With its rough terrain and uneven ground, gravel biking brings an edge of excitement and a taste of danger. It amplifies the riding experience and rewards riders with a rush of adrenaline. It could also be key for fun encounters and scenes. The breathtaking environment along the road makes riding on gravel one of the prettiest riding experiences available.
Many believe that gravel riding originated in the United States, where long, desolate sections of unpaved roads spanned the divide between regular biking, mountain cycling, and cyclo-cross.
Gravel riding has emerged as a more accessible activity, with mountain biking becoming more intense and specialised in recent decades.
1. Choose the right equipment for the job.
Some cyclists will scoff at you if you mention “gravel bikes.” That’s because many of them believe that every bike can be a gravel bike – which is not actually wrong. However, after a certain point, the appropriate gear (especially your tyres) makes every ride more enjoyable. On top of that, bikes that are more gravel-specific do exist.
Gravel-specific bikes, like all aspects of cycling, have lengthy wheelbases and frames that are engineered flexibly. They range in price from below $1,000 to above $10,000. In contrast, the majority of regular bikes cost between $1,500 and $3,500. More expensive gravel bikes are typically lighter and have high-quality parts.
Once you’ve determined your budget, consider the type of gravel biking you would do. You do not need to empty your wallet to buy much gravel-specific equipment, not immediately at least. In general, you’ll bring the exact items you would bring on any long journey:
- GPS unit or maps
- Lights (torches or bike lights)
- Mini-pump and CO2
- Patch kit
- Seat or handlebar bag
- Spare tubes
- Tubeless plug kit or sealant
- Water bottles, hydrating drinks, or trail snacks
The additional equipment required is related to how far away you’ll be from help. Still, there is one thing you must keep in mind (and in tip-top shape): your tyres. You can research bike design and wheel sizing, but your tyres matter the most in gravel. If you don’t have good quality and suitable tyres, you would not really get anywhere.
2. Improve your mindset.
It is natural to wonder things like “Can I do this?” or “Is this possible?” before an adventure. Having doubts and worries are common before events. That uncertainty is not missed by the course planners.
When you are riding challenging trails, you will have instances where you will think that when you finish, you’ll stop biking. But when you arrive at the finish line, you begin fantasizing about repeating the experience. It all becomes rewarding and enjoyable in the end.
Gravel necessitates more work. You have to train your thoughts the same way you physically train. The harder categories of gravel riding need a quick and strong psyche. When everything else is constant, gravel bikers with the most grit will be the most effective. Luckily, it is something that one can master.
3. Train yourself physically.
Gravel-specific conditioning is something that many newcomers lack. Gravel riding (particularly racing) necessitates greater levels of fitness, endurance, and agility than plain road biking.
Strength training and gravel-specific workouts will eventually make you more effective, stronger, quicker, and less prone to injury.
Gravel riding is fun but also quite taxing. Not just on you but on your bike and gear too. Perhaps it’s time to get good gravel gear and enjoy the rough ride without any worry! Gravel courses are extremely fun, engaging, and an efficient method to get active.