My own introduction to gravel started in Southern California with an old Trek 1200 road bike on 25c tires. The bike was primarily used for commuting on the occasional weekday, a 30 mile round trip from Carlsbad to La Jolla. My true riding interests took me off-road, exploring local open spaces and linking together trail systems on a hardtail mountain bike. As my knowledge of rideable dirt grew, so did my curiosity on what was possible with the road bike on evening commutes. With good reasons to escape traffic-heavy roads and an ideal climate year-round, these interests only grew. What failed to grow in parallel was the suppleness of my Trek, ultimately limiting the potential for adventures I knew were there. My first gravel bike in 2015 would change all that.
In the ethereal mountain town of Steamboat Springs, an event known as SBT GRVL would bring in a new era for gravel cycling. On the weekend of August 17-18, 2019, some 1,500 riders representing every US state made their way to northern Colorado’s Yampa Valley. With promises of a welcoming community, pristine gravel roads and a star-studded field, SBT had seemingly everything one would expect from a world-class gravel event.
I got pretty excited when I first heard about the inaugural Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder, an epic gravel adventure set in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Traversing through Central Oregon’s high desert, the course included places like Sisters, McKenzie, Oakridge, Gilchrist and Bend. The race would merge two of my favorite disciplines - gravel racing and stage racing. Even better, the event registration included camping and food, making the 400 mile point-to-point gravel race arguably more of a bike-vacation.
It was a perfect day in Carlsbad, California for the 2nd annual Hunt of the North. Riders gathered early at the CANYON Bicycles USA headquarters in the heart of coastal North County San Diego on Sunday June 9, 2019. The event was not your typical gravel event, and not a race in the traditional sense.
Gravel races and events have their unique characteristics. Nearly all test riders in distance and climbing. Some events merge elements of bike packing, cyclocross, and even straight up road racing. Most gravel events grow out of the local riding culture and are often dictated by terrain. By any measure, this year’s running of the Hunt of the North in Carlsbad, California was unlike any other gravel grinder you will find.
The challenge with developing a gravel tire is a reflection of what the category entails. Try selecting a tire for all conditions and all roads. There always seems to be some compromises in tire selection, a balance between traction on dirt and minimal resistance on road. Additional variables like mud, sand and rock can further complicate things.
Every spring the cycling world gathers in the coastal city of Monterey, California for a four-day event considered the largest bike festival in the world. Hosting nearly 10,000 athletes and over 70,000 fans, the Laguna Seca Raceway becomes the focus of brands and consumers alike. In making the trip north from San Diego I wanted to take advantage of all there was to explore on my way to the event. The plan was set to camp at two spots, with a good measure of gravel exploration mixed in.
In case you hadn’t heard yet, handlebar bags are finally cool. It wasn’t long ago that this accessory was something you wouldn’t even consider as part of your setup. Fortunately the days of “rules” in cycling are finally behind us, now that function and utility have its rightful place as a priority. There are loads of handlebar bags available today, each offering unique styles and functionality. We got our hands on this one from Topo Designs, called the Bike Bag.
This is how the 2019 Belgian Waffle Ride weekend would begin. With another SoCal breakfast favorite, the burrito. The brainchild of Brandt Furgerson, aka Uncle Tio, the 2nd annual Breakfast Burrito Ride (BBR) would take place on the cloud covered morning of May 3. Hosted by Canyon Bicycles USA, the BBR is a no-drop, all smiles coastal roll to the top of Torrey Pines and back. Just 35 miles in distance, the ride covers perhaps San Diego’s most popular strip of pavement. While not much dirt in sight (that will come on Sunday), the views and vibes through Carlsbad, Encinitas, Cardiff, Solana Beach and Del Mar can’t be beat.
During a recent trip to the Bay Area we stopped by the Outer Shell workshop to see what Kyle and Jim were up to. Last Fall we met up with these guys for a #CoffeeOutsideSF ride to Battery Wagner, followed by some sweet gravel shredding around the Marin Headlands. With no bike, and no time to ride, this time we opted for a quick visit to see what was new in the land of extremely dope bike gear. Here are a few shots we took that beautiful afternoon in the Mission District.
It was shortly after a friend’s birthday road ride to the top of Palomar Mountain in February of last year that we first had the idea for our own ride of a similar theme. With little time to plan we reached out to our friend Roman for help in crafting a memorable route that would take riders on a gravel adventure in late March of 2018. The concept was simple, yet true to our ways. The Great Western Reroute (GWR) was born.
Our very first time to the Sea Otter Classic was quite the spectacle. While this is traditionally a mountain bike event, it has increasingly featured numerous large and small brand gravel bikes from all over the world. We visited numerous booths to bring you our favorite gravel bikes from the show.
#BestBikeGameEver. That is the hashtag for the Croatan Buck Fifty (CBF) race held in Swansboro, NC. Matt Hawkins and Gordon Wadsworth, the two race directors, set out to make that hashtag more than just a few words though.