by Riley Lantz
As gravel riding continues to surge in popularity, every unpaved road is fair game for exploration. Still uncertain about taking your next ride off-road? Here are five reasons why you should.
1. All bikes are welcome.
If you’re new to the dirt riding scene, we have good news: You don’t need a bunch of fancy gear to get started. Road bikes, mountain bikes — even cruiser bikes — can easily manage most dirt and gravel roads. The tires that are already on your bike should work for gravel riding; you can also increase comfort on bumpy roads by upgrading to wider tires with lower pressure. (Pro tip: Applying even, controlled braking will give you more control over your bike, regardless of the width of your tires.)
2. The views are stunning.
Another perk of taking your bike to dirt? The scenery. Many gravel routes follow low-traffic roads lined by nothing but nature’s beauty. If you’re unsure of where to go, check with your local bike shop about nearby roads, paths or rail trails that are well marked and easy to follow.
3. Gravel rides are great for social time.
Whether you’re an experienced gravel rider or just getting comfortable with this terrain, invite your friends on your next off-road adventure. Quiet routes make it easy to catch up with your best riding buddies or even take your lunch meeting over two wheels.
4. Some of the best races take place on dirt.
With hundreds of gravel races popping up around the U.S., there’s more than enough opportunity to enjoy a little competition and challenge yourself. Thousands of bike riders at all ability levels have taken part in races like Barry Roubaix, Rebecca’s Private Idaho and Dirty Kanza. If you’re intimidated by the crowds of a big race, research smaller events in your area or joining a local cycling club to get a feel for riding in a pack.
Source: Rebecca’s Private Idaho
5. Off-road routes connect to sweet destinations.
Ever dreamed of embarking on a multi-day bike tour? Plenty of gravel routes connect across city and state lines — and keep you on quiet, low-traffic roads . Bikepacking trips can be done individually, with friends or a guided touring service. (Pro tip: A reliable bike is essential if you’re traveling long distances. Talk with your local bike shop about the condition of your bike and purchasing gear like panniers and trailers to stash the essentials.)
If the idea of riding on dirt scares you, fear no more. A sturdy set of tires, a positive attitude and some even, controlled braking are all you need to master the bumps along the way. See you on the gravel!