Why We Ride Gravel

Why We Gravel

Words & Images: Shimano Cycling

Find yourself surrounded by rolling hills and wide open spaces. Miles away from the hustle and bustle of daily life where busy streets and city smells are but faint memories. The dusty roads, bumpy tracks, and rock-strewn lanes of remote gravel riding lead to much more than that simple, satisfying fatigue of a bike ride. Riding gravel opens the door to new opportunities. Opportunities to ride without the distraction of traffic or the trials of technical terrain. Opportunity to explore one’s own limits further. Opportunity to connect with others willing to slow life down for a spell through the magic of cycling.

 Road vs Gravel. Gravel vs MTB. Gravel pedals. Gravel cycling pedals. XTR vs XT pedals. Best gravel bikes. Road bike vs gravel bike. gravel stoke. gravel grinders. carbon gravel bike. titanium gravel bike. gravel bike reviews. 

Gravel cycling is not a new phenomenon. In fact, riding unpaved roads was how cycling began and thrived for many years. Then the siren of fresh pavement, smooth surfaces, and faster speeds came calling and road cycling forgot its gravel past. With new technology, advanced materials and future-like bike designs, we moved farther away from cycling’s roots and dove deeper into the speed machine of road riding. Needs for lighter, faster, more aerodynamic overcame our needs for versatility, comfort, and fun. The days of quiet roads and abandoned paths, of losing yourself in the sound of gravel beneath your tires were fading. 

Fading until the blaring horn of a car woke us all up from this focused dream. The same technology that pushed our sport forward, pushed us faster and more efficient was once again rerouting our path to a new destination. Busy roads with distracted drivers swiped us off the pavement we once claimed and sent cycling searching out the quieter roads, the abandoned paths of histories long since forgotten.

Gravel’s resurgence once again opened the opportunity to tune out notions of quotidian life. Allowed the undulations of the road to shake us awake from the stupor of meetings, commutes, and grocery runs. Forced us to reacquaint ourselves with the natural rhythms of sunrise, sunset, snow melt, rain, and wind and reawaken our connection to the planet we call home

Gravel roads are more than dotted lines on a map. They are avenues of self-discovery, of reawakening, of rejuvenation. They jolt free long-forgotten memories of childhood bike rides around the neighborhood and the thrill of pedal-powered freedom. Gravel roads transport us to an earlier, more rustic time, both personal and unknowable. They take us back to an age before the edges of the world were straightened, rounded off, smoothed, and polished. Through their uneven, inconsistent surfaces we rediscover immediacy. Despite the toil of hours spent pedaling, we find ourselves refreshed.

shimano_2.jpg

When riding as an ensemble, gravel taps into our tribal instincts, the desire to explore and yet still surround ourselves with fellow wanderers. Gravel offers the opportunity to meet a family you’ve never known, a collection of pioneers that challenges itself while offering support. On even the most solitary road, you are never alone. You are connected, through a narrow ribbon of dirt and rock, to a clan of adventurers. They understand the trials and tribulations and escape that gravel presents.

Gravel isn’t defined by pinning on a number, the length of your ride, or the size of your tire. It doesn’t ask how you measure up. It doesn’t care if you’re fast or you’re slow. Gravel doesn’t mind if you stop and smell the roses or hurry by in the midst of a race. Gravel is about adventure and gravel asks just one thing in return: Explore Further.