Gravel is ‘normal’ cycling
You may be wondering why the Baroudeurs are posting a feature on ‘Gravel Riding’. Surely, everything associated with this form of cycling is out there already. And you would be right. The thing is, we need to recognise that this is not just a flash-in-the-pan trend happening in some far off location. It’s happening right here, and we’re excited to be rediscovering this ‘normal’ form of cycling.
What is gravel riding?
The good news is gravel riding is what you make of it. For us it is not an exclusively off-road affair. As Londoners we like to explore our neighbourhoods. And as such, it’s all the more fascinating to go along bridges, towpaths, fields, and mixing it up as we go. These locations may be familiar, but exploring them by bicycle opens our eyes to so much more around us.
Here are seven reasons to go gravel riding:
1.Gravel riding is normal cycling: The reason gravel riding has taken off so quickly and with little resistance is that it’s nothing new. For many people, this is normal cycling: this is the kind of cycling people grew up with – journeying to school; a fond family activity; or even part of one’s commute. Familiarity coupled with a sense of adventure makes gravel riding irresistibly fun.
2.We’ve been ignoring this for far too long: For 13 years the club has taken to the road. Everywhere from London to Istanbul; from Singapore to Bali; and from Lands End to John o’Groats. Some have found satisfaction in racing, sportives, as well as dabbling in CX, or incredibly long endurance/audax type rides. And, long may this continue.
At the same time, we have always felt subject to the direction of the road, or the limits of our bikes. Gravel riding frees people from the restrictions of a defined path to opening opportunities to explore.
3. A moment to breathe: Who doesn’t want to live in the moment? It’s not about taking a time out from life, but valuing it. For many cyclists, having that quality time makes a world of difference to both their personal and professional life. What’s more, most gravel excursions are far away from many of the distractions and dangers found on the road. It’s a safer place to find some peace.
4. It makes you a better cyclist: To be more precise, it helps develop your bike-handling skills. The mixed terrain and having the tools to go off-road give a rider the confidence to tackle challenging terrain. What one learns off-road is transferable to on-road riding. It’s a win for everyone.
5. Building bridges: This is not exclusive to gravel riding at all, but we have seen relationships build up over gravel. Several Baroudeur members ride out with their neighbours and members who haven’t had the chance to get to know each other, find that the space gravel provides is ideal for building friendships.
6. Yes, you can use your current bike: Most road bikes allow for greater clearance for knobbly tyres. Similarly, most mountain bikes can have their suspensions locked and converted to faster tyre set-ups. Imagine that: roadies with MTBers. Who would’ve thought?
7. Keep blurring those lines: Fancy taking a short trip, or a long one? How about staying over night and camping? What about going abroad? Gravel riding is all this and more. Get some bags, fill them up an start pedalling. It’s as simple as that.
Lockdown has been challenging for everyone. We have been fortunate to ride our bicycles throughout. Once alone, we now can ride together. And it’s in this spirit of shared adventure, that gravel holds it’s own.
There is so much out there to be explored right on our doorstep. It only needs the determination to go.
The Gravelistas, a new kind of Baoudeur
For good reason there are now a number of Baroudeurs riding gravel. If you would like to know more, or jump on a ride, get in touch and let’s go.