What is Gravel Cycling?
Riding on gravel goes back to the creation of the bicycle. Before the car and the modern road system, there were dirt or brick paved roads built for horses and carriages. The bicycle offered a new type of adventure and was built to go anywhere.
Today, riding gravel, also known as gravel grinding, has become popular for many reasons. Just like in the beginning, riding gravel offers a new type of experience. The atmosphere of the gravel riding community is unique and tends to be more social compared to other types of cycling. It does not fall under any of the highly regulated cycling federations and requires no membership fees or licenses. “Gravel” refers to essentially any non-paved road: jeep trails; utilitarian public or private country roads for farming, ranching, or oil/gas companies; and even roads that have been decommissioned. It may be surfaced with gravel, mud, packed dirt, sand, surface rocks, or recycled asphalt chunks!
Like other sporting events, gravel cycling has those who choose to race and those who choose to just ride. One of the biggest differences I see between road and gravel cycling are the unknown and ever, changing, variables. Conditions can vary more when riding on gravel compared to riding a paved road. Due to the weather and the different types of gravel, there is never a guarantee that one will ride her or his bike the entire time. There have been many gravel events where the cyclists have had to carry their bicycles for miles due to mud and difficult terrain. This is all part of the “unknown” that appeals to many gravel grinders..
Just like other forms of cycling, riding gravel can take one on new adventures and to unexpected places. . It will test bicycle-handling skills and may revive lost passion for cycling, if needed. There is a very good chance that a first-timer will make new friends and be welcomed with open arms.