Getting After Gravel
March 2, 2023
If you have an adventurous spirit, gravel riding is just the ticket for you. Whether you’re looking to race, bikepack, or simply explore your local back roads, taking on varied terrain has never been so fulfilling.
As the name implies, gravel routes and event courses generally take place on dirt roads, often with a mix of pavement and even singletrack involved. Getting out on a gravel ride usually involves crushing big miles with a challenging elevation profile.
Although technically you can ride gravel on just about any bike (we recommend wide tires and disc brakes at a minimum), you’ll have much more control and confidence on one designed specifically for riding gravel. Comfort, safety, and efficiency are pretty important when it comes to the long miles you’ll spend exploring demanding multi-surface terrain.
A gravel bike is built to be versatile, coupling the geometry of an endurance road bike with knobby tires similar to those you’ll find on a mountain bike for better traction. You’ll also find extra mounts on a bike designed specifically for gravel so you can carry all that you need for a safe and enjoyable off-road adventure.
Speaking of which, we recommend the following necessities: LOTS of water (don’t underestimate how much hydration you’ll need!); front and rear daytime running lights; gloves; racks outfitted with bags and/or frame packs (or a lightweight backpack at minimum); a repair kit with spare tubes, a pump and a multi-tool; map and GPS computer.
And what to wear on these epic rides? Cycling-specific apparel is your best choice, with many gravel riders opting for bike shorts or bibs designed with a chamois that keeps your tender parts comfy. Cycling jerseys often boast rear pockets for even more carry capacity … use these to conveniently stash snacks and tools.
Merge your love for riding gravel with some social connection by registering for a gravel race. These events dish up friendly competition on scenic courses, and are known for their super fun post-race festivities.
There are many popular gravel (and gravel-ish) events scheduled to take place in the coming months reasonably close to the Bay Area and central coast. Check out the following and pick one or two or five to challenge yourself on!
- March 11 / Sherwood Adventure / Willits to Fort Bragg / grasshopperadventureseries.com
- April 1 / Fish Rock / Boonville / ridefishrock.com
- April 16 / Belgian Waffle Ride / San Marcos / belgianwaffleride.bike
- April 29 / Six Sigma Hopper / Lower Lake / grasshopperadventureseries.com
- May 19-21 / Grinduro / Shasta / grinduro.com
- May 20 / Groveland Grind / Groveland / grovelandtrailheads.org
- May 20 / Stetina’s Paydirt / Carson City (NV) / stetinaspaydirt.com
- June 3-4 / Lost and Found Gravel Grinder / Portola / sierratrails.org
- June 10 / Truckee Tahoe Gravel / Truckee / truckeetahoegravel.com
Need help choosing a bike, apparel and/or gear? Swing by any of our convenient locations and our knowledgable, friendly crew will be happy to guide you!