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What is your Fav Type of Gravel Riding (Long haul, Hills, Flat and Boring, etc)

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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.

What is your Fav Type of Gravel Riding (Long haul, Hills, Flat and Boring, etc)

Old 03-30-21, 06:25 AM
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m2244
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What is your Fav Type of Gravel Riding (Long haul, Hills, Flat and Boring, etc)

For instance, I'll work a bit up hills so I can get that down hill rush. Some of the pictures I've seen on this forum related to gravel riding look like a lot of slow flat stuff. I'm thinking about trying one of the local ski areas, ski lift up, blast down. I'm fairly new to the sport so just not sure how it all works, if ski areas have trails suited to downhill gravel riding.

EDIT: What I'd really like to try is a gravel road that's 10 miles, all downhill, varying from somewhat steep to nice cruising speed with nice views.

I'd like to hear what other people prefer for gravel riding.

Last edited by m2244; 03-30-21 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 03-30-21, 07:18 AM
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Ski areas are best with a full suspension MTB. And a full face helmet. And often some armor. But I guess you could take anything and give it a go.

As for what I prefer, since I ride 97% of my miles in my state, I prefer the riding here. Itd suck to not like the style of riding that is readily available to you.
Its short punchy climbs formed from all the creeks and streams with minor elevation changes in-between. I end up with 45'-65' of climb per mile which is plenty of challenge when riding hard. A lot of up then down up then down. There are areas around me that are dead flat and Ill sometimes ride there, but its usually to connect me to an area alongside a river valley or something more engaging. After 5mi of dead flat open wind farm riding, Im ready for a turn so I can get to some elevation.
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Old 03-30-21, 07:21 AM
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Where I live, almost all the flat and boring roads are paved. The non-paved/gravel routes are all hilly and twisty through the Canadian Shield and around lakes and rivers. My town is penned in between a large provincial park and a military base, and the gravel routes are the only way to make a decent loop for a long ride and avoid riding on the busy Trans Canada Highway.

There are also some snowmobile trails that are mostly ridable but have some sandy or swampy sections that I might have to walk my 'gravel' bike. The primary obstacle there is that in summer the sand is home to millions of deer flies, and they can only land on you and bite if you are going less than ~20km/h, so walking is best avoided.
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Old 03-30-21, 12:17 PM
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I live in LA, right in the middle of hills and mountain ranges. For me to have the best off-roading, I have to ride the uphill fire roads. Great views, but going up is always a grinder! I look forward to riding trails that don't require me to always ride my lowest gears!

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Old 03-30-21, 02:12 PM
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Good idea for a thread. Next time I have my phone with me I'll snap a couple of photos of where I like to ride best.

A two minute ride from my house is one end of a multi-use trail that has the following characteristics:
- about 6 feet wide in most areas, a little narrower in some
- crushed gravel that has been tamped down quite a bit, with only a few rocks/roots/rocks
- very flowy (short climbs and descents, some a small grade and others 20%; lots of turns, some hairpins and others you can corner with a smile on your face)
- the official trail is about 70% gravel, 20% dirt and 10% wooden boardwalk over wet areas
- runs along a wide creek and is pretty much in a forest valley
- has many tentacles going in/out of surrounding neighbourhoods (makes for fun rides where you mix up the route
- although the main corridor is only 5-7km long, there are another 3-5km of tentacles and if I take a paved path for 10 minutes I can connect to another similar trail...makes for an amazing 1.5hr ride that is safe (no roads), out of the wind, scenic and a nice blend of aerobic and anaerobic

If I was a millionaire with a large forested property I would build my own similar trail and invite others to enjoy it with me.
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Old 03-30-21, 02:24 PM
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The gravel rides I like best would be fire roads with long gradual climbs that have many turns on the way up and an awesome view at the top, and then a nice long rewarding fast descent after. The gravel rides I do the most are flat, mostly straight line country/farm roads and gravel trails along rivers or through forest preserves that have very little elevation change. I live in a flat urban area, so my options within a reasonable drive time are pretty limited.

As for ski areas, they usually have great DH mountain biking in the summer. I've done some lift-accessed trail riding in Colorado that was a blast, but yeah... that's for full suspension MTB, not a gravel bike. That said, I'm sure there are some gravel fire/access roads around some ski areas that would be fun to tackle on a gravel bike.
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Old 03-30-21, 05:59 PM
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Southern Appalachian Gravel is hard to beat.

Well packed and firm fire roads through dense old growth forests peppered with long, steep climbs leading up to exposed ridges which tip off into white knuckle descents running alongside a cataract laden mountain stream.
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Old 03-30-21, 07:28 PM
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Hilly with high dense canopy of old growth and lots of summer shade for me. Generally trails following creek beds are most scenic and have some cool spots for a break. The flats are all paved in PA and just the roads up and down are unpaved. If you want just downhill you have to stay near a ski lift and like riding same paths over and over like a gerbil on a wheel. Or have a mate that wants to shuttle you back up over and over!
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Old 03-30-21, 08:06 PM
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I live in Florida, so I'm going to have to go with flat, but all the off-road riding I've done has had beautiful scenery, so not boring, and has the advantage of not being overrun by automobiles.
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Old 03-31-21, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
all the off-road riding I've done has had beautiful scenery, so not boring, and has the advantage of not being overrun by automobiles.
THIS!

Normally I'm on packed dirt fire roads or smooth packed dirt singletrack. Smooth packed singletrack is my favorite especially when covered in leaves.
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Old 03-31-21, 03:38 AM
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Am often on the lookout for something that's more like a narrow hiking trail climbing a hill, or along a creek/tributary. Well trodden animal trails sometimes, if they're rideable.
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Old 03-31-21, 06:39 AM
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m2244
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Originally Posted by Cpn_Dunsel View Post
Southern Appalachian Gravel is hard to beat.

Well packed and firm fire roads through dense old growth forests peppered with long, steep climbs leading up to exposed ridges which tip off into white knuckle descents running alongside a cataract laden mountain stream.
That does sound enjoyable.
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Old 03-31-21, 02:05 PM
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From Jonathan: "I live in LA, right in the middle of hills and mountain ranges. For me to have the best off-roading, I have to ride the uphill fire roads. Great views, but going up is always a grinder! I look forward to riding trails that don't require me to always ride my lowest gears!"

Me too. I live right up by the mountains in La Canada, Altadena, etc. You simply can't ride around here without climbing your ass off on dry, rocky gnar. It's a destination for sure--the fire roads, singletrack, and views are incredible. But man, I'm 60, and some days I wish for some extended rolling dirt that isn't always a sufferfest!
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Old 03-31-21, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
From Jonathan: "I live in LA, right in the middle of hills and mountain ranges. For me to have the best off-roading, I have to ride the uphill fire roads. Great views, but going up is always a grinder! I look forward to riding trails that don't require me to always ride my lowest gears!"

Me too. I live right up by the mountains in La Canada, Altadena, etc. You simply can't ride around here without climbing your ass off on dry, rocky gnar. It's a destination for sure--the fire roads, singletrack, and views are incredible. But man, I'm 60, and some days I wish for some extended rolling dirt that isn't always a sufferfest!
And yet, most of us in flatland flyover country dream of having these amazing climbing routes right outside our doorsteps.
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Old 03-31-21, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
And yet, most of us in flatland flyover country dream of having these amazing climbing routes right outside our doorsteps.
And in my case, it really IS right outside my doorstep - I start climbing literally when I roll out of the driveway - I'm in my granny within 2 blocks of my house.
But I hear ya, the grass is always greener!
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Old 03-31-21, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Hmmm View Post
THIS!

Normally I'm on packed dirt fire roads or smooth packed dirt singletrack. Smooth packed singletrack is my favorite especially when covered in leaves.
Absolutely agree except for the leaves. Leaves are the devil

My favorite gravel is the kind about a day after a misty/light precipitation. Settles any dust, doesn't lead to washboard yet becomes soft enough that vehicles smooth out any pot holes.
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Old 03-31-21, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
From Jonathan: "I live in LA, right in the middle of hills and mountain ranges. For me to have the best off-roading, I have to ride the uphill fire roads. Great views, but going up is always a grinder! I look forward to riding trails that don't require me to always ride my lowest gears!"

Me too. I live right up by the mountains in La Canada, Altadena, etc. You simply can't ride around here without climbing your ass off on dry, rocky gnar. It's a destination for sure--the fire roads, singletrack, and views are incredible. But man, I'm 60, and some days I wish for some extended rolling dirt that isn't always a sufferfest!
I really wish we had something like the Fullerton Loop in the area with nice trails, but without the grinding hillclimbs! I'm right by the Verdugo Mountains and the Angeles Crest Forest so those have been my go-to destinations, but I usually spend about 2-3 days recovering after riding these uphill fire roads!
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Old 04-04-21, 06:33 PM
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I live in southern Colorado. That gives me a pretty good mix of flat desert, alpine climbing, and rolling foothills. If my average speed gets too much above 10-12, I need to find a mountain to go over.

I've only managed one gravel ride this year and it still had a 10 mile descent. I love those huge climbs and seem to be a pretty solid descender. It's funny because everyone and their grandma passes me downhill on a road bike.

I'll be doing a 115 mile ride this summer that's as flat as it is windy (ugh). I think it's what most people love about these bikes. It sounds like a lot of work. I'm doing it because of proximity and schedule mostly.
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Old 04-07-21, 04:01 AM
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The kind that rolls fast. No such thing as boring on a bike unless you think aerobars are real cycling. Hills and mountains are great, the views at the top cleanse the soul, and the descents are the reward. Flat(tish) is fine too, because you're still on a bike.
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