Why ride gravel?

I found it humorous that was posted in the fixed gear forum. If anyone understands doing something just because it’s fun it should be posters there.

Anyway; compared to gravel, road riding is intensely boring. The depth of gravel is a huge pull. Learning to ride different surfaces in different conditions, at speed is a satisfying skill to learn and develop. Nothing on pavement can compare to winding down a twisty gravel descent at the edge of traction, deep in the woods alone as the winter wind rattles the bare forest around you. The more technical and deeper into gravel you go the more serene pavement seems. Pavement is the bright suburban grocery store to hunting your dinner in the woods with a knife on gravel.

Hyperbolic to the extreme? Of course, but that’s how it feels.

Often I’ll spend 2 hours riding a flat, straight, paved rail trail to some gravel. The more I’m on the trail the more my bike seems to bog down and my legs get heavier and heavier. Once I get off the trail and gravel starts crunching under my tires the bike seems to come alive, my legs feel light and efforts come easy as I rumble along in the dust. It’s a wonderful feeling and I find it sad some people haven’t felt the pull and don’t know what they’re missing.

Banditing short sections of hiking trail in a tiny city park surrounded by urban sprawl is nothing. Fast food for a soul that needs full nourishment.

All this is to say nothing of the technical aspects. Compare two road slicks, are they different? Who cares, they’ll both get you down the road and around the corner just fine.

Ah now compare two gravel tires. Are you riding in the wet? Is the course muddy or dry? Hardpack or loose railroad ballast? How much climbing do you expect? Do these knobs give enough traction while leaning to go down that switchback at the speed you need? Does having a front tire more aggressive than the rear give you more capability of just the ability to outride your skill level?

How are you handlebars? Flared? How much? What width?

Stem length? Too long and you’re over the front end on any descent and getting squirrely over the bars. Too short and that rock you didn’t see is wrenching the bars from your hands and tossing you to the ground.

There’s a ton of things to learn and observe. As they say the core loop is enjoyable, it reinforces continuing the activity in a way that road riding does not once there’s a taste of the chalky dust in the air.