In the second installment of our Adventure Addicts collection in association with Scott Sports, roadie Mark Bailey joins former British CX champion Nick Craig in his Peak District playground to learn the gravel manner.
Why street cyclists ought to try gravel using
Humans are creatures of dependency but also can thrive on change. With that in mind, I’m in the Peak District for an advent into gravel riding, a ride designed to assist me in breaking out of my usual road-riding habitual and exploring slim towpaths, bumpy bridleways, muddy climbs, and stony descents in pursuit of a wilder off-street experience. But, like all first-rate bike journeys, this one starts in a comfortable kitchen, with an Ordnance Survey map unfolding across the desk, a military-fashion debate over the kit, and the buzz of a brand new journey.
The kitchen belongs to Nick Craig, a former expert bike owner who lives inside the vintage mill town of Hayfield, which sits simply below the long-lasting gritstone cliffs of Kinder Scout. He’s the proper manual for gravel riding, having gained three countrywide cyclocross titles and four national mountain motorbike titles.
“Road cyclists will find gravel riding a lot of a laugh because gravel motorcycles open up an entire new international of thrilling places to experience,” he insists. When I first read approximately gravel bikes – which integrate race-prepared road frames with thick tires and disc brakes, liberating you to tackle tarmac and trails on the same motorcycle – I became intrigued.
As an avenue bicycle owner, I love epic 100km rides and the fun of speed, but I instinctively seek out scenic spots and quieter backroads. To fuse adrenaline with the journey – blasting alongside an avenue at 40km/h, then darting off-road to discover some trails – sounds like something that I should fast include.
Scott Addict Gravel 30
I’m driving a Scott Addict Gravel 30. Its 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allround knobblies are an entire 12mm wider than my street tires, and its self-assurance-boosting Shimano hydraulic disc brakes have to provide me with all the preventing strength I’ll need. What’s extra, it has a journey-equipped 11-34 rear cassette, which, when you consider that the biggest sprocket on my road motorcycle is a 28, feels huge in comparison.
How to devise a gravel journey
The motorbike may be equipped. However, I don’t know how to plan a travel adventure; that is why Nick and his OS map are here to assist. “As properly as normal roads, you can experience on gravel trails, bridleways, mountain motorbike trails, disused railway strains, and towpaths,” explains Nick, tracing our deliberate direction with his finger. “You just join them up to make your very own direction.”
Whereas street cyclists are restrained to using the purple and orange street traces on an OS map, gravel bikes permit you to discover the dotted green and orange bridleways, footpaths, and byways, as well as any trails strolling through the inexperienced and brown smudges of moorland, forests, and mountains.
You can also explore unsurfaced roads, Forestry Commission tracks, and simpler mountain motorbike trails graded green or blue. New gravel riders can use path-planning tech, including Strava and Garmin Connect, which list many off-road trails, and the OS Maps app, which includes aerial 3-d imagery. The Komoot app harnesses neighborhood riders’ input to evaluate routes, elevations, and profiles in-depth. “Komoot is outstanding for off-avenue routes because it suggests all the neighborhood trail,s which make gravel using a lot a laugh,” says Nick. “But I locate it satisfactory to mix maps and websites to exercise session the best routes.”
What to take to your first gravel ride
Before we head out, Nick talks me thru the package required for gravel riding. Road cyclists can put on all their regular clobber: with the thicker tires, you don’t need extra padding to your bib-shorts, and you received’t experience everywhere which requires knee pads or a complete-face helmet. It would help if you carried the same old returned-up package of tire levers, internal tubes, tire plugs, a multi-tool, and a few foods and drinks. In extra far-flung terrain, it’s first-class to additionally p.C. A compact chain tool, spare hyperlink (Shimano Speed Quick Link and SRAM Power Link both offer tool-free assembly), and repair patches.