Gravel. It’s STILL so hot right now…

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 tyres (okay, this is fine)
Gravel shoes
Gravel helmets
Gravel bib shorts
Gravel groupsets
Gravel saddles
Gravel bar tape
Gravel track pumps

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…

11 Comments Add yours

  1. I was ahead of the game. I was riding mixed terrain on a cross bike over 11 years ago before ‘gravel’ became a thing. Weird how just a minor tweak in bike geometry has created a whole industry. I’ve sold my road bike now. I just like to do both on and off. Hate the term ‘grave’l though. Riders claim they’ve been on a gravel ride and don’t ride on any lol. And all the gravel specific products …just bollox too like turbo specific clothing

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh don’t get me started on the “indoor specific” market! Did you know you can get indoor specific energy gels? 🤦‍♂️ I wonder how long until the first gravel gel is launched? Or maybe there is one. Might have to Google that in a minute!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ..and gravel tyres lol Cross and hybrid tyres have been around for years and do the same job

    Liked by 2 people

  3. idlecyclist says:

    I still prefer the MTB for anything not tarred. It just feels “right” 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ericritter65 says:

      Not a fan of off road cycling at all, but if/when I do, it’s with a mountain bike, like you said, it just feels “right”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. bgddyjim says:

    I love my gravel bike only because I’ll do to it what I won’t do to the 5200 and Venge. All of that other crap is useless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d probably ride a little more gravel if I had a bike set up for it. I don’t fancy any more paint chips on the Trek!

      Liked by 1 person

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