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Reasons you started gravel biking?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Reasons you started gravel biking?

Old 07-08-19, 07:42 AM
  #1  
Hondo Gravel
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Reasons you started gravel biking?

Too many road cyclists around here became road pizza by careless drivers that never faced any consequences. After a few close calls I said goodbye to road cycling. Hit the back county roads some paved and some gravel. Light traffic and I can hear a vehicle from a ways off so I know of itís approach. I have seen a decline of cyclists on the roads over the last decade and an increase in gravel bikes. I miss road riding from town to town refueling with Gatorade or whatever at convenience stores. Not taking the risk today with people on cell phones weaving all over the road and the amount of drunk drivers on so on. Maybe it is different in the area you ride in but here there is hardly any cycling infrastructure.
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Old 07-08-19, 08:49 AM
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I am a map geek(cartophile?), so planning routes and seeing new roads/locations on a bike kills two birds at once. With something like 73000mi of gravel in my state, its easy to hit gravel and B-roads and makes new route planning a lot more fun.
My gravel rides are almost always solo(last time I rode with someone was a couple years ago), so the other appeal of gravel is I can toss some ear buds on and pedal for hours until Im exhausted. Its cathartic- music, remote quiet area, constant turn of pedals.


I ride a mix of paved trail and roads a lot during the spring and summer- I dont ever feel unsafe on the roads, but can certainly understand if someone perceives traffic as less safe now than years ago.
The network of paved trails in my region is so extensive, there is almost no need to ride roads, and it seems most recreational riders stick to trails. The only real benefit to riding roads here is hill climbing...and many recreational riders dont exactly love hills.


With such easy access to gravel, the ability to geek out on route planning, and quiet locations- gravel is about perfect for me.
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Old 07-08-19, 08:57 AM
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Six years ago, for a span of four months, I lived in a county that had exactly TWO (2) paved roads. Both were highways -- one north/south, one east/west. I started riding gravel because I was a long-time roadie and I wanted to keep riding a bike every day.

Since then, for the last six years, I've lived in a county that has no gravel roads at all. ZERO miles. The nearest gravel road is an hour away by car . . . two hours to any county with enough gravel to make it fun. So, for six years, I've been riding gravel only for the races in Oklahoma and Kansas -- 800+ miles away. I still put a lot of miles on my gravel bike, but the vast majority of my GRAVEL miles are racked up during out-of-state races. (My warmup before the Open Range 200k Gravel Race were my first gravel miles, of any kind, for the year.) I enjoy the grassroots gravel racing in the mid-continent.

Last edited by FlashBazbo; 07-08-19 at 09:11 AM.
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Old 07-08-19, 09:09 AM
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For me, it was a want for a bike that is more capable. If I see a trail on the side of the road that I want to explore, I want a bike that is capable of letting me do that. As a teen, I rode my Peugeot UO-9 everywhere, but those days are long over. I need a bike that is a little more forgiving on the body. I think I started a trend locally, as gravel bikes were non-existent in my area when I bought one. They are just starting to become popular as more people, including my LBS, are seeing the potential. My LBS owner got his first gravel bike last October and his review on Facebook said "This may be the future of road bikes for those that want to ride any road surface at any time, and get off the pavement whenever they can." Personally, I doubt there are many people who don't meet that criteria - who haven't at one point or another said to themselves "I wonder where that road goes".

Last edited by medic75; 07-08-19 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 07-08-19, 09:50 AM
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Everyone else was doing it.
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Old 07-08-19, 10:22 AM
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Excuse to buy another bike?

I've only been road biking for about nine months, pretty sure mountain biking isn't for me (but haven't tried it yet either), but was def intrigued by posts from other roadie friends about their gravel adventures. First gravel ride was 31 miles and didn't see a single car, I was hooked instantly! Still riding the road, but getting in as much gravel as I reasonably can (have to drive to it from here). Got 270 miles of gravel in last week, it was fantastic!!
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Old 07-08-19, 10:25 AM
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I ride gravel because I ride road and there are some great roads out there that happen to be gravel.
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Old 07-08-19, 10:34 AM
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I bought a Rivendell Sam Hillborne years ago and rode that all over the place, including paved roads, single track, and gravel roads. I wound up getting into road cycling and sold the Riv but after too many close calls with vehicles, people throwing bottles at me, a couple of local cycling deaths where the public outcry was against the cyclists and not inattentive/dangerous drivers (one of whom was driving while legally blind) and the justice system clearly not giving a crap, I moved on to mountain biking, gravel riding along with some cyclocross stuff. If the USA ever gets its **** together with regards to riding on the roadways I might consider a move back to more paved stuff, but until that happens I would rather just crash into a tree than get ran over by a texter.
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Old 07-08-19, 10:53 AM
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Lack of rideable pavement in short. In my area, the paved roads tend to have a 55mph speed limit and no shoulder. Or, at least not a paved one. If there is a shoulder, it's gravel and the pavement in the right 1/3 of the lane is likely broken and potholed anyways. Even 28mm tires aren't going to fix that... I love road cycling first, but sticking to pavement would mean limited route options and a lack of safety. Gravel bikes (which to me is just a road bike with fat tires) open up basically every road in the county, from flat to hilly and with great scenery as well. I can safely ride down a gravel shoulder of a high speed road if need be, but usually ride the dirt roads. Technically the dirt roads also have a 55mph limit, but the traffic volume is so much lower that drivers almost never have a problem giving me a comfortable passing space.

In the end, it's still road biking and in my minds eye I can look like one of those properly hard guys from the early days of the Tour de France!
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Old 07-08-19, 01:49 PM
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There are only a handful of great roads to ride around here. I can't ride the same place over and over. Gravel opened up a whole network of fantastic local riding.
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Old 07-08-19, 02:08 PM
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I've been doing this for decades, but cell phones changed everything. Its nutz out there on the roads.

But I never really owned a road bike before gravel. I borrowed road bikes, and road velodrome, played with a steel roadie, but could not find a bike I liked. Too stiff, to limited in where I could ride them, not enough fun. Gravel/CX bikes changed all that. It can be as much fun as mountain biking, without the limitations a 23c equipped bike inherently has. Its my N-1 bike!
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Old 07-08-19, 06:08 PM
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I was too heavy for a regular road bike, and I wanted to ride faster than what my mountain bike could go!
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Old 07-09-19, 12:24 PM
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This was posted on Facebook 1 hour ago by my LBS: "We’re switching our Tuesday road rides to a Gravel/mixed surface ride to attract more riders. Run what ya’brung and we’ll mix it up. This will be an ongoing experiment. #roadisdead #gravel #allroad #gravelgrinder #cyclocross"
Keep in mind that most locals didn't know what a gravel bike was less than 1 year ago. My LBS didn't even have a Trek Checkpoint for me to look at. The gravel bike "fad" is here to stay
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Old 07-09-19, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
Reasons you started gravel biking?
Because I live on a gravel road, and most of the roads in my area are gravel.
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Old 07-09-19, 01:43 PM
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plus it's fun to explore
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Old 07-09-19, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by medic75 View Post
Keep in mind that most locals didn't know what a gravel bike was less than 1 year ago. M
Apparently NWPA is the black hole of cycling trends?

Really neat that they are changing a weekly road group ride to a mixed surface ride.
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Old 07-09-19, 01:50 PM
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Gravel is like the Goldilocks of cycling, easier than mtb, and harder than road.
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Old 07-09-19, 01:53 PM
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The few gravel roads around here are accesable via a rail trail system. The rail trail head is 5 km from my house, but the road to it is great with a fairly wide bike lane on it so its no problem. But then the trail drops 600 feet before it clims again, the clim is 25 km long at a slight grade, 1 to 3 %. Any how, I can ride off road in one direction for about 120 km with very little paved sections, and the rail trail passes through a conservation area loaded with hilly trails.

As much fun as it is to blast along the paved streets here in the city, I do 90 percent of my riding down the rail trail and off in the woods.
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Old 07-09-19, 04:16 PM
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I’m a roadie at heart but I started to burn myself out on trying to constantly improve FTP’s, PR’s, KOM’s etc. I went to a “mixed surface” ride because a friend begged me to go with him and I fell in love. Road cycling culture is very rigid, whereas the gravel culture is very open. I saw guys wearing (gasp) camelbaks and t shirts because the vast majority of the dudes there didn’t care about looking cool, crossing the finish line first or pretending that they had a team car supporting them. They rode that gravel event because they wanted to spend the day on a bike.
That ride changed my perspective on cycling. I still do care about trying to crush segments and push myself when on my dedicated road bike, but when I take out my gravel rig, it’s because I want to spend a comfortable morning on a bike just riding. Ive noticed that I take my road bike out a lot less lately. In fact, today I did a 95 miler on my road bike doing the normal thing of constantly looking at my power output and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’d rather be out on my gravel bike and taking side trails and roads and not caring about how fast I was going.
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Old 07-09-19, 08:24 PM
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I have always used a hydration pack for all styles of biking. Never bothered me but I never raced. I just ride for the endorphin induced natural high.
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Old 07-09-19, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Apparently NWPA is the black hole of cycling trends?

Really neat that they are changing a weekly road group ride to a mixed surface ride.
Not necessarily the entire NW area of Pennsylvania, but my immediate area is the black hole of everything. We are decades behind on many things. This is not always bad. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, it didn't hurt us because we hadn't yet caught up.

Unfortunately the group ride wasn't well attended, but hopefully future rides will gain some traction. The roadies organized their own ride last night.
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Old 07-09-19, 08:53 PM
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Reason I started riding gravel?

Riding through the Winter.
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Old 07-10-19, 06:49 AM
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We moved permanently out to our place in the Hill Country. Lots of chip sealed and dirt roads.
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Old 07-10-19, 07:31 AM
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I never stopped, just had some form of flatbar good for non pavement in the past. A drop bar with wider tires and more "relaxed" (AKA gravelbike) has opened up the possibility of also having a decent on road experience and offroad experience in the same ride. Sure you can go off road with 28c but not all gravel or offroad is the same. Possible but are you actually enjoying that experience and can you do it all day? Flip side, a fat bike can be used on the road too but.
Road riding as most people use it is a workout or training session while getting from point A to B. It is an autopilot experience with a thought bubble around yourself that revolves around the training aspect and what is immediately ahead. Different goals and road is good for that but I doubt the actual location or where you are riding itself is the purpose or the highlight other than a change in scenery. I relate it to a less boring version of an indoor trainer. A group dynamic or competitive, fun, or charity ride etc is different but I ride mostly solo anyway. If you remove or do not have a real training goal part of a road ride, you are just riding on a boring road. Gravel, fire road, trail is a better riding experience for me and why I ride as much as I do. I'll ALWAYS seek out the path less traveled when it's there. One of my routine rides is a circle about 50 miles paved and 50 miles trail. I would do 100 gravel/trail but I need the 25 road before and after to get to the 50 mile trail section. You can extend the workout and training experience to a gravel road or trail too and benefit but a lot of people are not doing it for that as the primary reason.

Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
Light traffic and I can hear a vehicle from a ways off so I know of itís approach.
Less cars might relate to a reduced chance but does hearing someone approaching really make a difference? Can you hear their approach line if they are on the other side of the road or directly behind you or they are drifting towards you? When I myself am moving 15+ I certainly can't tell the difference. Other than piece of mind thinking you could hear it and actually do something about it is what people need to think they are still in control. I ride on rural roads and try to guess where a car is and I'd have better luck flipping a coin. I've yet to hear that story someone heard it from behind and was able to pull off into the weeds to avoid. I did it in my car one time but the guy behind me was actively skidding.

Last edited by u235; 07-10-19 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 07-11-19, 02:52 PM
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Because Gravel bikes are better and faster than hard tail Mountain bikes on rail trails. Plus, Gravel bikes have drop bars.
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