Does gravel riding make you feel like a baby giraffe learning to walk? If so then the following five tips will help you build confidence on the dirt to start tackling the groad adventure rides your Instagram feed keeps showing you.
Don’t worry about watts and definitely don’t look at your average speed. When you start riding dirt, the only important metric is fun. Is it in the green? Good! Careful though: don’t get too wild on your first few rides or you might end up in the bushes. Which brings us to number two.
#RoadBikesOffRoad might get you some likes, and we fully endorse #allbikesaredirtbikes, but you’ll be able to push your limits safely and have more fun with the proper rig. Any old ‘cross bike will get you started. Just put on some big tires for better traction and let some air out, and then let even more out if you're running a tubeless setup (which you should). You need a little cushion to get optimal traction and it comes with the added benefit of a smoother ride and less rolling resistance.
Crazy rocks. No Problem. Grit your teeth and hammer through it. Bam! Ooof! You touch a foot down and manage to stay up, but that was close. Your roadie senses might be telling you to keep hammering down the trail as quickly as possible. Stop! Get off your bike and repeat the challenging sections over and over again. This time, you’ll find a cleaner line and soon you’ll be able chase those downhill PRs!
The best way to build your skills is by riding with more experienced people. This might sound contradictory to numbers one and three, but if you have a patient riding buddy who can help show you the ropes you’ll learn quicker than you ever would alone. Plus, adventures are always better with a buddy!
Now that your bike and skill are covered, you’ll want to make sure to carry plenty of snacks so foraging for food doesn’t become part of your adventure (unless it's blackberry season). Throw on The Bar Bag for easy storage and snack attack access. With that extra space, you could even bring real food instead of gels (please do)! Carry a couple extra layers – like a wind jacket – so when you get to that overlook you can sit around for a while without getting cold. Any other tips you’ve found helpful in your quest for gravel greatness? Let us know in the comments below!