Gravel grinding, gravel biking or gravel cycling goes by many names but can best be thought of as adventure cycling. In a quick summary it takes some of the characteristics of mountain biking and merges them with road cycling leaving you with a crossover that allows you to cover some serious distance exploring paved backroads or even dirt roads.
What is Gravel Cycling?
Gravel grinding, gravel biking or gravel cycling goes by many names but can best be thought of as adventure cycling. In a quick summary, it takes some of the characteristics of mountain biking and merges them with road cycling leaving you with a crossover that allows you to cover some serious distance exploring paved backroads or even dirt roads whether they are single track or double track.
Your gravel bike is your versatile tool that has the potential to unlock bike packing, comfortable commuting, and exploration you may had not considered possible before on a bike. In this section we will go over some of the basics of gravel cycling, if you are looking for a gear list that covers the basics of gravel riding from an equipment perspective.
Where can I ride gravel?
In short, pretty much anywhere. Though it sounds like a short quick answer you can take your bike on any paths you feel comfortable on. One popular way to search for fun rides is searching heat maps on strava, additionally if you are located in Florida (or visiting anytime) you can check out our routes page or join our “Ride With GPS” group.
You can find gravel routes just about anywhere, even most cities have routes within a reasonable distance by bike or car you just have to search them. In addition to the above-mentioned local Wildlife Management Areas are a great place to start as well.
Self Sufficient? What Does That Mean?
A big part of the adventure in gravel biking whether bikepacking or not is it will likely take you some distance away from any support. If you are coming from the world of road cycling this isn’t the typical weekend ride with a stop at the cafe for a cappuccino and a pastry.
Exploring the depths of nature takes you far away from convenient stores, bike shops and easy help. This means you will need to be prepared to handle repairs (like a flat tire, and much more) if it happens. It also means you will need to carry enough food and water for the duration of your trip.
You will also need to have a good idea of your route and/or perhaps a bike computer to help keep you on route, additionally, it is a great idea to have a fully charged cell phone for backup or in case you need to call for help. Everyone has started somewhere, so even if riding with a group it is nice to at least have the needed equipment and seek help, vs having none of the equipment and seeking help.
Though also covered on our gear page, things you should carry include:
- Plenty of water
- Snacks/Food (eating each hour of riding is typically a good idea)
- C02 or micro bike pump (or both, I carry both)
- Navigation (Example: bike computer)
- Cell Phone
- Spare tire tubes ( a good idea even if you have tubeless tires)
- Tire patch kit (if tubeless)
- Multi-tool (there are some junky ones out there, make sure yours has relevant tools)
How do you ride gravel?
One word… RELAX!
Gravel roads can be beautifully smooth or they can be filled with rocks, holes, and washboards. Rough terrain beats up your body and saps your energy. Loosen up to absorb bumps. Death-gripping the bars with tense arms is a recipe for exhaustion, blown corners, and even crashes. A firm grip combined with loose arms lets the bike do more work beneath you. The key to riding gravel well is to be smooth — pedal smooth, brake smooth, and turn smooth. Try to avoid aggressive body movement or large and sudden shifts in weight. Let your wheels’ momentum work its magic. – Source: The Pro’s Closet
Bike Setup / Considerations
The best advice we can give you is to ride what you got especially if you are just getting started. With that said and when you are ready to move forward with the sport, you definitely want a gravel-specific bike. Why? because it was designed to cover long distances on gravel. Sure, you can also cover the same distances on any bike for that matter but we can assure you that it won’t be as efficient.
When you are in the woods riding in summer time, you want to be efficient as the elements play a big roll. When you are ready, drop us a note. We’ll point you in the right direction. Or, check out online bike brands like Canyon, Cervelo, etc.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER - RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK
Florida Gravel Biking website (www.floridagravelbiking.com) and other platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Ride with GPS – RWGPS, STRAVA) provide information for the public on bicycling opportunities in or out of the state of Florida. Bicycling can be a dangerous activity and regardless of what is presented on this website, users always engage in recreational activities at their own risk.
User assumes all risk and liability for any action in relation to the usage of information and routes on this website and floridagravelbiking.com, including if actions result in injury, death, loss or damage of personal property or other complications. Florida Gravel Biking, its partners, volunteers, associates, and contributors accept no liability. Route information and advice is provided as a planning resource only and is not guaranteed to be accurate or complete, and in no way should replace your own due diligence, research, and safety precautions.
All users are advised to check current conditions before embarking on any route, including weather, surface conditions, closures and safety precautions. Riders should obey all laws including public and private land usage restrictions and guidelines and carry adequate safety and navigational equipment. Read our Terms & Disclaimer below.