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Old 10-30-10, 08:12 PM   #1
xizangstan
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Loose dirt and gravel vs. Paved roads

Man, I've been riding paved roads too much! I did 40+ miles today on loose dirt and gravel and I feel like I've been beat up by a gang of bike thieves!

How many miles do you ride on loose dirt and gravel? How does that compare to hard surface such as concrete and asphalt?
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Old 10-30-10, 08:34 PM   #2
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Packed dirt and gravel good. Loose gravel bad.
I ride my road bike with 23m tires a couple of kilometres from the house to the paved road and I've ridden it on a really well packed crushed stone path. It was fine. Any other dirt road riding is done on a touring bike with 32mm tires or a hard tail mountain bike with the fat knobbies. I have a few all dirt road routes on which I use the mountain bike. I have no trouble hitting 70 km/h downhill with the mountain bike on packed dirt with some loose gravel.

The road bike is really skittish on loose gravel and I worry about nicking the rims and chipping the paint.
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Old 10-30-10, 08:56 PM   #3
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How many miles do you ride on loose dirt and gravel? How does that compare to hard surface such as concrete and asphalt?
1. Absolutely as little as possible.
2. Torture
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Old 10-30-10, 08:58 PM   #4
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About 50 miles is all I can manage on the dirt roads of rural Ontario. I've done it on both my Litespeed with 25mm road tires, and the Portland with 34mm cyclocross tires.

I have to stay above about 17mph to keep ahead of the biting flies. They also know how to draft. Needless to say, I can't climb at 17mph, and those darned drafting flies... Of course I did learn that MTBers wear baggies because the flapping keeps the flies at bay.

But I agree with the feeling beat up by a gang bit. And itchy. Always need a rest day afterwards. And calamine.

On my road days, again in rural Ontario, 70 to 75 miles is my limit, and that's mainly psychological. I get tired (bored) of riding after that much time. Physically, I'm fine with it.
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Old 10-30-10, 09:07 PM   #5
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Here's some gravel that is no problem at all. it is part of the Route Verte in Quebec. It is part of a route around Mount Orford in the Eastern Townships.

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Old 10-30-10, 09:30 PM   #6
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The showpiece of cycling in Victoria, BC is the Galloping Goose bike trail. It's a nice trail, quite fast and convenient where it is paved, but I find it highly overrated due to its lack of night-time lighting and to the fact that most of it is unpaved. The section that runs from the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay to the Victoria city limit is called the Lochside Trail. It's the flattest way to get between the ferry and downtown Victoria, but it contains a number of significant unpaved sections. Avoiding the gravel adds maybe 4 kilometers and 10 minutes to the ride (or adds a lot of climbing and riding along the main highway), but I would always avoid the gravel. All of the regular club rides that went along the Lochside would also assiduously avoid the gravel.

I don't like riding on gravel because it gets the bike dirty! I like having a clean bike.

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Old 10-30-10, 09:44 PM   #7
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A local group is organizing a 40 miler on almost all unpaved roads for December. I rode with the organizer on a similar ride last Memorial Day. It was just wonderful. Most of the roads were graded, packed stone.
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Old 10-30-10, 10:48 PM   #8
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To me the difference is about two to one. I can ride the road bike twice as far as the MTB with the same effort. Ok maybe 3 to 1.
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Old 10-31-10, 01:08 AM   #9
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Thats not a rough trail--Thats a Motorway.

I do get out offroad but confine myself now to the South Downs Way. An old drovers trail based on chalk but with a layer of Clay over the top. This is a pic at the top of a 1 mile climb at an average of 15% and this shows the chalk surface. It is not always as smooth as this.

sdw6trail..JPG

But I ride a Rough trail. Hardpack mud and in the dry not too bad. But it rains a bit over here and that mud does get a bit damp. Trail gets damp and slippery and these two show the rain. That 2nd pic is not Camera Shake- that is the rain coming down.

mtb3..jpg mtb5..jpg

But Rain also makes it a bit muddy. This is a Forestry road and the Tandem is not just getting to the top of a Hill- That rear wheel is in the rut caused by offroad vehicles.

TO KEEP 076..jpg

But that same trail does stay dry ssometimes- but is still a bit bumpy in places. That rain again and at 20 to 25mph you stay away from the puddles. To see the reason why- watch the last 20 seconds of this vid.


But I would never attempt this sort of trail on a road bike- It would have to be MTB and with suspension. The Tandem has a Thud Buster Suspension post fitted so only cause Problems when you ride one handed and over rough ground and holes in the trail
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Old 10-31-10, 07:26 AM   #10
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You came close to being tossed into the mud in the video. Funny!
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Old 10-31-10, 08:17 AM   #11
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I have to stay above about 17mph to keep ahead of the biting flies. They also know how to draft. Needless to say, I can't climb at 17mph, and those darned drafting flies... Of course I did learn that MTBers wear baggies because the flapping keeps the flies at bay.

But I agree with the feeling beat up by a gang bit. And itchy. Always need a rest day afterwards. And calamine.
I know what you mean about those flies! The past two weeks, I've ridden the loose dirt and gravel trails for several hours at a time - with my shirt off. (I'm lucky in that I still have the physique to get away with it - I used to be a model). I've been coming back with lots of little bites on my lower back and couldn't figure out how or when I could have been bitten. I know that the biting flies and little ladybugs that bite, swarm as soon as I pause for water. So my rest breaks have been nil...

The days for getting some sun are coming to an end for this season.


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Old 10-31-10, 10:13 AM   #12
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There are many miles of dirt and gravel roads networking through the area where I live. I don't ride them often as I have concentrated mostly on paved roads or MTB trails. But when I have ridden them, it has been a lot of fun and sometimes quite scenic. Riding these roads on a mountain bike is smoother, but I really prefer the road bike position for this kind of riding. Skinny tires give a rougher ride and require too much attention to avoid washing out in loose dirt or gravel, so I prefer wider tires.

The 28mm tires on my Casseroll are adequate for some dirt roading, but 32 or 38 would be better. My old Fuji S12-S with 27X1-1/4" tires was really good at this kind of riding. The Casseroll is temporarily serving as my main road bike, so wider tires won't be happening there for now, but when I get a new fast road bike, I can entertain setting it up for dirt roads. 38mm tires will fit, in fact it came with good 37mm Continental tires, but the Honjo fenders won't work with much wider than the current 28s. I might be able to squeeze 32s in there, but I don't think I'll try.

What I would really like for dirt/gravel roads is a Salsa Vaya. Salsa designed that bike as a tourer, but with dirt/gravel road riding in mind.

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Old 10-31-10, 10:23 AM   #13
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This is pretty much most of the riding that I do except for the occasional foray off the side of the trail for some time on rougher stuff in the woods. Some of that rougher stuff includes 1/2 mile hill roads with gravel, roots and sand for a surface. It can at times get so exhausting that you just fall over and lay there for a while gasping for air and laughing. These roads go back and forth from packed to loose to mud with washed out ditches across them to jump. Some areas have imbedded rocks that make the ride like a washboard.

A Hard tail MTB with 2.1 tires for air volumn is my weapon of choice. Sometimes I use a rigid fork and sometimes a Marzocchi optimized for washboard, not big jumps.
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Old 10-31-10, 10:36 AM   #14
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this summer I did a couple of rides with ski-patrol friends. They prefer deserted rides so we took to off-road trails. On the first outing on my old tourer (with 27 X 1 1/4" tires) it was fine when the speed was around 10 mph or less. But during the last half of the ride as speeds increased my tires were inadequate for the task. I flatted twice and compromised the rear tire the 2nd time; finished last and had to buy the first round post-ride. My rigid mtb performed more reliably on other rides, but I still prefer the roads. Speed thrills.
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Old 10-31-10, 05:29 PM   #15
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Loose dirt and gravel? That's why I ride an MTB with 2.35" xcountry tires. Oh yea. And front suspension turned way loose.
I like those kinds of roads because you can get away from it all with little or no traffic.
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Old 10-31-10, 08:03 PM   #16
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If you want to ride gravel check these out

http://almanzo100.blogspot.com/

http://www.ragnarok105.blogspot.com/

http://www.heckofthenorth.blogspot.com/

http://www.transiowa.blogspot.com/

Near as I can figure, there's a whole series of semi-formal/informal gravel races up here.
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Old 10-31-10, 08:33 PM   #17
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Here are a few of shots of one of my dirt roads.
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Old 10-31-10, 08:53 PM   #18
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We have lots of stretches of dirt/gravel roads. They are highly variable in quality, from pretty good, to treacherous. I usually avoid them on my road bike. I did the following ride last spring and had a terrific time - and two flats. Rode my winter bike with Gatorskins, one of which caused my phantom flats due to a partially punctured sidewall. http://hellofhunterdon.com/node/10
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Old 11-01-10, 02:35 AM   #19
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Good country for riding Dawg.
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Old 11-01-10, 09:26 AM   #20
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I've got a bit over 500 miles on the local rail trail and 1000 on the roads. It seems as if I always work harder on the trail. It is a different style of riding of course beyond the road/trail surface. As the trail is essentially flat and the roads are hilly this means no coasting on the trail and the effort remains constant. My road bikes have 25mm tires and I use a 32/30 combo on the trail bike, a flat bar specialized sirrus. I prefer the roads but it sure is nice to have the trail for night riding or for a change of pace.

BluesDawg, maddmax is right-it looks like good country for riding.
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Old 11-01-10, 10:19 AM   #21
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Here are some of the roads I rode back in May; we are planning to revisit some of them in December. They are near the home of a local blogger that rides on them all the time.







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