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Can somebody please explain gravel riding to me?

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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 : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Can somebody please explain gravel riding to me?

Old 02-23-21, 02:23 PM
  #51  
mstateglfr 
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Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
I don't really get it either. Fixing flats and silicosis is not my cup of tea
I dont like either of those.
The last time I got a flat on gravel was 17 months ago and before that it has to go back years.
As for silicosis, doesnt it take many years of continued high exposure to be an issue? I dont view me riding gravel roads for 4-6 hours a week to be a major risk.

Risk is everywhere and taking reasonable precautions to reduce risk is smart.
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Old 02-24-21, 09:30 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by bOsscO View Post
If you're flatting more on gravel rides than road rides, you're doing something wrong or there's something wrong with your tires.
Silicosis is (almost) always a result of chronic exposure at work, typically associated with concrete cutting, mining, steel fabrication, construction, drywall installation, glass manufacturing, etc. I'm no doctor but I've not heard of a case of silicosis from gravel riding.
I'm just having a bit of fun. But at 91kg I think I flat more then most.
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Old 02-24-21, 10:32 AM
  #53  
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The biggest draw to gravel riding for me is getting away from cars/traffic and into areas that are more rural, quiet and natural. I like mountain biking for those reasons too, but dislike being contained to a handful of specific (and often busy) trails that I have to drive to access.

For me, gravel riding is basically just riding wherever I want, regardless of surface. In most cases, my preferred routes include a combination of paved roads, paved trails, unpaved roads, and unpaved trails.
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Old 02-26-21, 10:12 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
What are the gravel roads like in your area? Sometimes uncompacted large-aggregate gravel can be a little bit like what you're describing...



...but in most areas this is fairly uncommon. Oftentimes the big chunks are compacted, or held in place by smaller aggregate or organic material. "Gravel riding" is also a phrase that used pretty broadly to refer to all kinds of road riding that may include unpaved surfaces, so things like dirt and grass roads are included in the discussion as well.

Aside from potholes, this gravel road was smoother than most paved roads in the same area:



What "gravel riding" means is also highly regional. People in different places build unpaved roads in different sorts of terrain for different reasons, and they have different material available to build it from. The rural unpaved road network of Iowa is quite different in a ton of different ways from the various mazes of mountainous logging roads in Washington.

But no, the point of gravel riding is not to bounce around on marbles. That's something that incidentally happens, sometimes. Mostly I ride gravel because there are lots of fun gravel roads to ride in my area, often with excellent scenery and views.

I can't ride this awesome road without riding gravel:

What bike is this in the photo? 80's MTB?
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Old 02-26-21, 10:28 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
What bike is this in the photo? 80's MTB?
Yes. Drop-bar conversion of a 1984 Stumpjumper.

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Old 02-27-21, 08:26 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Yes. Drop-bar conversion of a 1984 Stumpjumper.

That is sweet!!

I used to have a 1984 Takara Highlander, which was a slightly heavier copy of the Stumpjumper, and I loved that bike!! So much fun to ride.
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Old 02-27-21, 01:07 PM
  #57  
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I actually don't ride a gravel bike for it's intended purpose. I just wanted a general all-terrain bike, best suited for urban riding. I'm not a roadie or a dedicated mountain biker and living in a big city, sometimes I like to cut across parks, paths or hop onto other rough terrain dedicated roadies wouldn't even consider. I prefer wearing MTB shorts and I like flat pedals, I also enjoy getting into an aero position with my drop bars when I need to get somewhere fast and the better assurance of wide tires (had a friend break his leg when his bike's skinny tires hit a crack). Gravel bikes to me are like the jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
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Old 02-28-21, 07:29 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Its about bears:


I was on a gravel ride last year and saw a large black bear up the road. I figured it would run off into the woods as I approached. However, it stayed in the road as I drew closer. When I got close enough, I realized it was only a fat guy in a black sweat suit out for a walk.
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Old 02-28-21, 07:39 AM
  #59  
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I had a lot of flats on gravel before I went tubeless and got bigger tires. Then I got so excited about being able to run lower pressures that I had a few problems with the tubeless tires, but nothing in the last couple of years.

I imagine there are some gravel roads in Ohio, but maybe none very close to the OP. I am not sure I would regularly go look for gravel to ride on if it weren't nearby.
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Old 02-28-21, 08:48 AM
  #60  
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We can explain it to you, but we can’t understand it for you.
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Old 02-28-21, 11:06 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Dino_Sore View Post
I was on a gravel ride last year and saw a large black bear up the road. I figured it would run off into the woods as I approached. However, it stayed in the road as I drew closer. When I got close enough, I realized it was only a fat guy in a black sweat suit out for a walk.
In 2017 I was on a gravel road at a campground in NW Pennsylvania preparing to leave at dawn when a huge black bear walked out from between two dumpsters. He was at least 600 lbs. He had raided the dumpsters that night, but I figured he had split. We were about 25 apart. Not the way to start the morning. Fortunately, he realized what a badass I am an ambled off. The next day I saw a young one from a much safer distance.
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Old 02-28-21, 01:24 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I actually don't ride a gravel bike for it's intended purpose. I just wanted a general all-terrain bike, best suited for urban riding. I'm not a roadie or a dedicated mountain biker and living in a big city, sometimes I like to cut across parks, paths or hop onto other rough terrain dedicated roadies wouldn't even consider. I prefer wearing MTB shorts and I like flat pedals, I also enjoy getting into an aero position with my drop bars when I need to get somewhere fast and the better assurance of wide tires (had a friend break his leg when his bike's skinny tires hit a crack). Gravel bikes to me are like the jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
Exactly my situation, except for the drop bars. I run regular MTB bars and sometimes a Jones bar.

A lot of cyclists ridiculed hybrids in the 90's but guess what? Take a lot of those 90's hybrids and put drop bars on them, and you have a gravel bike!! Maybe not as refined and high performance as modern, dedicated gravel bikes, but very capable and 20+ years ahead of their time.
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Old 02-28-21, 09:54 PM
  #63  
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I think it was Russ from Path Less Pedaled who said: Gravel Bikes are what 90% of people (who aren’t pros) should be riding. I’ll agree with that.

I use to ride an alum8num road bike because I thought I had to be fast and light, because that’s the marketing. After about 10 years of increasing pain and discomfort from the aero position, neck and hand fatigue, and road chatter literally vibrating my body apart....I needed a change.

Enter the gravel bike, it’s my do almost anything, anywhere bike. Wider, supple tires, steel compliant, frame, more upright riding style = comfort and a happy rider no matter what surface your on. I’d rather be comfortable than fast, I’m not racing. I actually do enter gravel races just for the grass-roots fun and trying out new rural routes I might otherwise not have known of. I’m happy to finish while being challenged with adventure. I also use my gravel bike for bike-packing, commuting, and stuff like RAGBRAI.

Swap wheel sets and I have an extremely versatile biking platform. I live in Iowa with thousands of miles of Gravel roads and a Casey’s store almost every 10 miles. If I didn’t have a day job and family responsibilities, I’d probably just wander around living off my gravel bike 7 days a week...

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Old 03-01-21, 12:17 PM
  #64  
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ride what you have

A lot of folks are showing pictures of what we call crushed rock in Maine; gravel is usually sandy. with rocks in it, or whatever else the native subsoil is. Riding on gravel is pretty much a necessity in rural Maine, that is what there is.
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Old 03-01-21, 12:32 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by Ed333 View Post
A lot of folks are showing pictures of what we call crushed rock in Maine; gravel is usually sandy. with rocks in it, or whatever else the native subsoil is. Riding on gravel is pretty much a necessity in rural Maine, that is what there is.
That's what the dirt roads were like when I was a teenager in the mountains of Virginia. Around here, the DNCR has way too much money for maintaining the forest roads and there are all kinds of surfaces. There is one road I ride on occasionally that has very large crushed stone. It's quite unpleasant, particularly since it's on a mountain ascent and usually late in a ride. I think they usually use that larger stone as underlayment for the smaller stone. Maybe they ran out of money one year.

By the end of deer season, most roads are compacted down to whatever compacting agent they put in with the crushed stone. Much faster to ride on. One year they skipped putting down new gravel and just scraped up the old. That was slippery, and not much fun. Fortunately it was compacted again pretty quickly.

But anyway, we use gravel as shorthand for all kinds of surfaces that are manmade but not asphalt or concrete pavement. One thing to keep in mind is that everyone's gravel is different.
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Old 03-01-21, 12:39 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by epnnf View Post
Obviously I've never done it, or even seen it. It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles. I assume you use around 3 inch bombproof tires, but it would seem to me the tires/bike would still take a beating. And you do it for ... fun?
It is a throwback - another stage in the evolution of riding on 'roads' - Dirt, Plank, Gravel, Paved.
Just remember all of those 100 mile races on high wheelers in the late 1800's. The early years of the Tour de France was on gravel / mud / snow up to 300 km a day with no support.
So larger tires, lower gears and unbelievable vistas become the result.
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Old 03-01-21, 01:25 PM
  #67  
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Graveling when appropriate

Great comments here. Around Eastern Iowa where I live, the road network of gravel roads is far more extensive than the paved road network, so what I've found is that having a gravel bike allows me to extend my regular training routes in new and different directions on the gravel network, while also riding part of the way on the paved road network. I enjoy finding gravel sections that go through beautiful areas - often along streams, or through hilly forested areas. Some of our gravel riders here have been motivated mainly by the belief that riding on paved roads is no longer safe due to the constantly rising traffic speeds and cellphone-distracted rivers, and I get that. There is far less traffic on the gravel network. By coincidence, I live across the road from a stone quarry that is one of the largest gravel suppliers in the area, so I'm acutely aware of the patterns of gravel road maintenance as I see the gravel trucks heading out to replenish the gravel roads. I generally avoid freshly graveled roads because the loose gravel can make riding uncomfortable (it seems like this is worst in mid-summer when a lot of gravel is being spread). But unless the road gets very little traffic, fresh gravel is usually compacted within a few weeks, and not too hazardous for riding comfortably.
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Old 03-01-21, 02:39 PM
  #68  
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I have always ridden logging roads, 'unimproved roads', and a lot of canal towpaths, long before it was a 'thing' and did it on road tires of 25-28mm. It was real popular in the mid-1970s when I was in college in Central PA. I now use a cross-type bike and 32-35mm tires. Of all, I find the canal towpaths are among the nicest rides, especially on the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal out side of Washington, DC. There are some areas where in early spring you might have to walk it due to washout or mud, but the silence of a bike allows you to come up on wildlife before the see you.

My other favorite location is the unimproved roads (and the paved roads) of the Rideau area of Ontario, Canada. Those were probably some of my most memorable rides
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Old 03-01-21, 03:19 PM
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Not gravel but unpaved

In north central Florida there are plenty of unpaved roads. They are safer and more scenic than paved roads. Not as fast, but lots of fun. Perfect for a roadie who wants something different.
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Old 03-02-21, 12:38 AM
  #70  
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Mostly its just about riding a bicycle in new places in your region. If gravel/dirt/fire/unimproved roads double the available mileage into new interesting areas; why not? Its not dangerous with the right tires as your skill set improves. But, the best reason for me is the freedom from car traffic. Its not for everyone but you might want to give it a try. You might like it!
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Old 03-02-21, 08:07 AM
  #71  
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Don't know how to define it but "I know it when I see it."

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Old 03-03-21, 01:55 AM
  #72  
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I quote my father, who made it clear that science trumps god! "Gravel is god's way of punishing you for stealing". I couldn't challenge him at that moment. Being 9 years old and getting punched in the mouth would have just aggravated the 40 missing layers of skin on my leg from being forced off the road into an eventual gravel slide.
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Old 03-03-21, 09:19 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by sammymann View Post
I quote my father, who made it clear that science trumps god! "Gravel is god's way of punishing you for stealing". I couldn't challenge him at that moment. Being 9 years old and getting punched in the mouth would have just aggravated the 40 missing layers of skin on my leg from being forced off the road into an eventual gravel slide.
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Old 03-03-21, 09:25 AM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by sammymann View Post
I quote my father, who made it clear that science trumps god! "Gravel is god's way of punishing you for stealing". I couldn't challenge him at that moment. Being 9 years old and getting punched in the mouth would have just aggravated the 40 missing layers of skin on my leg from being forced off the road into an eventual gravel slide.
I am so confused. are you saying your dad punched you in the mouth when you were nine?
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Old 03-03-21, 01:44 PM
  #75  
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The gravel bike is a true "Swiss Army Knife" for cycling. One day I can be out with my roadie friends, keeping up with them on cushy tubeless 38c's, and the next I'll be bombing a dirt trail and passing up full squish MTB's on climbs where they clearly brought a gun to a knife fight. Gravel her in So. CA ranges from dirt singletrack to DG crusted horse trails. The beauty of the gravel bike is that it allows leave my garage, ride the paved roads for a few miles to the wonderful trails along the river. Once there, I"m free of traffic, other riders, and most people!




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