What the Heck Is Gravel Biking, and Why Do CEOs Love It?

Introducing cyclists' favorite new trend ... which often involves beer at the finish line

What Is Gravel Biking?
By Tanner Garrity / August 21, 2019 11:08 am

It’s perfectly understandable to have no clue what “gravel biking” is. The way gravel cyclists operate, that’s kind of the point.

According to a recent article by Worth, gravel biking is an unheralded yet beloved trend in biking today, a new-ish sport spiritually similar to free surfing, where bikers of various skill levels “thru-bike” pathways of undesignated backcountry trails. “Gravel” is a bit of a misnomer; these bikers are looking to ride anything that goes beyond a paved trail.

In opposition to the intense competition of road racing, or the physical stress of mountain biking, gravel biking aims for a happy middle, where participants (often large, social groups) will essentially sight-read a string of trails — think fire roads, power line trails, farm tracks — and complete distances of anywhere from 15 to 100 miles.

The trend has attracted former Tour de France cyclists, CEOs of investments firms, and full-time parents, and is praised for its inclusive, come-aboard atmosphere, which, if you’ve ever crossed paths with a self-loving, racing-striped road cyclist, is a nice change of pace.

There is growing infrastructure in the sport, as every state but Hawaii has its own race now. Plus, bike manufacturers have started crafting bikes expressly for the type of terrain gravel cyclists encounter. But it’s clear that the reason cyclists are gravitating towards this sport in the first place, to bring biking back to its elemental, fun foundation, has remained in the minds of those billing these competitions.

Perfect example? One of the sport’s biggest competitions is the Belgian Waffle Ride. It takes place in San Diego, and involves waffles at the start, bacon in the middle and beer at the finish.

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