Matt Michaud and I have been doing gravel rides (that is riding your road bike on surfaces other than tarmac, pavement or city streets) for at least 12-14 years. I remember it vividly in those early years, we’d plan for an all pavement ride and then invariably and unexpectedly we would encounter a section or sections of rough gravely roads. I can still hear myself tell Matt that we were officially now part of the ancient “Fuckarwhi tribe”. “What do you mean Mark, Fuckarwhi tribe?” And I would ask Matt nonchalantly, as I have done hundreds of times since, “where the F#@K are we?” But all kidding aside, getting lost, and then found is all part of an adventure/gravel ride.
Certainly one of the major aspects of gravel riding is that you are usually in for some sort of adventure, the unpredictable section of road that will take you over and through some questionable terrain, oftentimes of unknown destinations and distances. The recent growth and increased popularity of gravel riding locally, nationally and even globally is due in part to many factors. In fact, all major bike companies now have a specific type or bike category classified as adventure bikes of which to choose from. There are many events now all over the country that tailor rides and races to gravel/adventure bikes. Just in Vermont alone, there are dozens of such rides, including the Vermont Overland, Irreverent road ride in Waterbury, the Raid Lamoille, the Ranger, the Vermont Gravel Grinder, Rasputitsa, Guilford Gravel Grinder and the Tour de Heifer. In fact, this may be the fastest growing segment in the bike industry. Some of the other things that draw me toward riding the roads less traveled are, less traffic with virtually no distracted drivers and many more opportunities to reawaken all your senses. It seems as though that when riding gravel roads with friends there is a feeling of less competitiveness (at least where I ride there are NO Strava segments, yet). Riding these dirt roads with tough climbs is competitive in and of itself. There is something truly special about the mix of sweat and dirt that makes for a memorable experience and almost always worthy of a dip in the lake and a post ride beer to share with friends.
Goals of Fresh Trails Adventures FARM ride Saturday June 23,2018
Our aim is to inspire all cyclists to embrace gravel riding rather than fear or avoid it and to spread the word of what a truly great experience gravel rides can be. The highlight of this years FARM ride will be cycling the unique and diverse geographic region our area has to offer, including farmland, rivers, lakes and forests that are interconnected with the best and most interesting gravel roads anywhere. For me and other hardcore riders it is the challenge of climbing 6000 feet over the course of 60 miles that is both intriguing and satisfying. A general rule of thumb that I and other cyclists gauge our GOOD rides is to achieve 1000 feet of climbing for every 10 miles of riding.