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Riding on Gravel

I was mentioning my mom's house the other day.  It's a nice house up there in rustic Spooner where all the bugs and the moose and the black bears of Northern Wisconsin conglomerate and have their wild jamboree.  The one thing there's a distinct lack of is traffic (which is music to a cyclists ears...you know, one of the nice things about having a beat up old car is that you can just smash into things whenever you want to...I don't know about you but I'm just TIRED of being all "careful" whenever I drive out of fear of smashing up my car somehow...when your car is FULL of dents you don't have to WORRY about that any more and it's really LIBERATING...but I wouldn't hit a cyclist obviously...and I digress).

One of the problems, however, with visiting my mom's house is that it's about...oh...a half mile down a gravel road.

Actually this isn't a huge problem, all it means is that you have to get used to riding your bicycle on gravel, with your 700 X 23 tires pumped up to 110 lbs of pressure.  Simple!

At first, the whole thought of riding on gravel made us nervous.  Real, hard packed gravel is fine, but if you get into some of that sand stuff, you might lose velocity (and therefore balance) relatively quickly.  The other annoying thing is that if you're going UPhill, you might find your wheel spinning out on you thus causing you to instantaneously stop (and probably fall over).  The way to beat this is to climb all hills while sitting in your seat...easier said than done (it can become a kind of strength/power exercise).

It was Frank, I think, who made us all feel ridiculous about our concerns over riding on gravel...of course that guy just bounds over huge stretches of territory like the incredible Hulk (the wheel isn't even touching the road for fifty miles at a time).

Now, I'm not saying that you should seek out gravel...but if you're in a position where you're forced to ride over it, it will probably give you some good skills to have (just in case Joseba Beloki blows a tire in front of you some time and you have to go careening down a mountain).

2 comments:

  1. Aw, c'mon! Lots of us seek out gravel for our 700cc bikes. My CX bike LOVES the gravel roads down here in Rice County, MN. Pavement is just a fast way to get to the gravel! Anybody can climb on pavement, but the real test is a long ascent in loose pea-sized gravel - rough, tough, dirty, and fun.

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  2. Right on Chris! Thanks for your comment.

    Gravel riding is really becoming a big deal with a literal community of semi-underground epic long gravel road races in the Spring around the Midwest.

    Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine!

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