The Joys Of Gravel

by Andy Amick on November 21, 2013

in Cycling

The sun is brightly shining.  The ride starts and that familiar sound of dirt under the tires brings a slight smile.  Miles come easily as the dirt, bike, and legs work together.

Sounds like a great trail ride doesn’t it?  But the cows, barns, open views reveal it to be a quiet country gravel road instead of a flowy singletrack trail.

quiet country gravel roads

Twenty years ago, my 18 year old self would have said “That’s crazy.  I only ride singletrack with roots, mud, and rocks”.  Even 10 years ago I would have thought gravel riding was for people that didn’t have access to singletrack.

Today, my take is different, and exploring quiet back roads with great views is a treat.  It only took me 20 years of riding to realize that a ride connecting gravel roads could be fun and enjoyable.  Maybe it’s me being stubborn or me being a slow learner, but I’m happy to have finally realized what others have known for years.

Gravel riding is fun.

classic americana from the gravel roads

Gravel roads are peaceful, quiet, and just fun to ride.  Sure, there’s nothing technical about it.  Instead, there are the views – the classic American barn or a herd of cattle relaxing with a great view.  With a technical trail, the focus is on the next 3 feet.  With road riding, it’s the next 10 feet and making sure cars see you.  On gravel, the focus is on cruising and gazing at the surrounding scenery.

cows find great places to rest

With the quiet rural settings comes very little traffic.  When a car does pass by, the drivers are friendly and wave.  When is the last time that happened on a road ride?  As someone who lives in a suburban area, I’ve become used to busy streets when road riding and plenty of other riders on the trails.  Out in “gravel land”, the road is often empty and the bicycle becomes the king of the road.

sunshine and open views

Riding the next “epic” trail or finding a new climb to conquer in the mountains is often the goal of a ride.  By going in a completely different direction, my eyes have been opened to another option that’s more about exploring than conquering.  There will still be singletrack days and climbing mountains days, but my tires will be seeing more gravel.  It makes it possible to take in the scenery while exploring by bike.

quiet break with prairie vistas


About Andy Amick
A little bit nutty in general, a lotta bit nutty about bikes. Each of his boys received a bike helmet for their first birthday and the three of them have been biking together ever since.

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