For as much rain as we’ve had, the gravel has been remarkably good. Even the limestone I’ve been on hasn’t been too bad, if you don’t mind a stripe up your backside. If all I liked to do was mountain biking or dirt roads I’d be pretty sad about now. It will take a while for them to dry out. It’s good to have a variety of surfaces to ride on and I’ll ride pavement if it’s all that’s available. I already commute on it every day.
Luck was with us Saturday for the American Legion Post 197 Gravel Mission. I only know of one passing sprinkle. Luck was not with my knee, however, and for the first time I can remember, I didn’t go the distance I planned to go (with the exception of a broken derailleur once). At least I finished one of the two loops.
The course was beautiful and not too soft. It took us through my childhood stomping grounds of Eagle, Elmwood, Weeping water, Manly, and Murdock. It was well run with many helpful volunteers and friends new and old.
It was great to see some new-to-gravel riders giving it a try. Some people who are experienced with highway riding and even mountain biking seem to be wary of gravel. To each their own. I think it just takes an open mind, a few “pro-tips” and practice. We have a lot of gravel around Lincoln and it’s not as busy as the highways are, so we’re in a good place for riding it. Some of the bike shops host beginner gravel ride groups, and there are groups on Facebook dedicated to it.
One of the things I like most about gravel riding is the potential for exploration. Lincoln is located amidst an ocean of gravel roads with small towns and villages conveniently placed for re-fueling stops if you plan your ride to do so. You can ride in any direction and find something new. Our roads are generally on a grid here, so there is less chance of getting lost, than say, in China. I had to spend more time, albeit interesting, figuring out where I was and where I was going riding there. I do recommend using a mapping app like Strava or another to show you where you are in case you do get a little lost. Also, water, and maybe a snack if you’ll be out more than an hour. A packable wind vest or jacket these rainy days isn’t a bad idea, along with your standard extra tube and pump and a few appropriate tools.
If gravel is something new for you, find a friend to ride with, a group, or just go solo, but give it a try.