Gravel. It’s no longer the terrain of bearded, sandal wearing introverts who shun society. These days it’s the hottest trend in “road” cycling. All the Rapha clad hipsters are turning their slightly knobby road tyres off the bitumen and onto the unsealed unknown.
I’ve never been a huge fan. I love the road. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting low, upping the power and absolutely flying along some super smooth blacktop. I’m a roadie through and through. I get it though. Gravel roads are usually quieter and more scenic. So I went for a “gravel ride” exploring some of my local backroads. After all, it makes for some tasty Instagram shots.
It was only 20 miles, but had 2200 feet of climbing squeezed in.
You know what? I actually enjoyed it. It made for a nice change of scenery to get away from the hustle of traffic (not that you can call it traffic down here). The gravel also made me slow down. It’s tough to go full gas on the loose, dusty climbs – especially on slick 23mm road tyres!
The industry has certainly latched onto the gravel craze and fuelled it’s growth. The market for gravel is still growing and if you believe the hype, you need a whole specific bike and gear just to touch the rough stuff. Then when you think it’s reached “peak gravel” something else comes along and blows that notion away. A very quick Google search gave me the following “gravel-specific” products…
Gravel bike? Pfffft. I took my trusty Trek 5200. Yep. A carbon road bike with rim brakes on skinny tyres that even had TUBES inside them! It’s amazing I even made it home (although with a new chip in my paintwork, not cool). I certainly wont be making a habit of gravel, but when the day calls for a lower intensity recovery ride in the sunshine?
Perhaps I’ll take the road less sealed…