• 01743 537124

Gone Gravelling Episode 2

Posted on Thursday 16th January 2020

Hmmm so I got asked to write some words - maybe 500 – but to be honest less is more – 6 words are enough - Bikes, great company and fun times – that’s Gone Gravelling in a nut shell.


What is it - So it’s a super fun gravel ride put on by the fine people at The Trailhead – so GGII was about 30km or so but it’s really not about the numbers, it’s not a power meter, max speed or meters climbed sort of ride - instead its a super inclusive & super social pedal. This edition was pretty muddy but still a hoot, fun is what this ride is all about.

But first I feel I need to address the elephant in the room - I’ve heard the grumbles from the back of the audience– Gravel bikes – Pfft – just another industry way of getting people to part with their cash. Well, yes and no – yes as a gravel bike is a great addition to everyone’s shed... so yeah go buy one, but also no as you don’t need a gravel bike.

So ‘Gravel riding’ – hmm that new-ish hipster must do riding thing right – Hmph whatever - blah blah blah blah you know you don’t need that right – Mountain biking or the ever increasing niche within niche flavour of mountain biking that you’re riding – be it Enduro, DownCountry or DH that’s where it’s at, right? Or conversely if you covet the skinny rubber and tarmac terrain - Road riding is where it’s at - the bpm, the aero gains, the watts, the zwift that’s where it’s at right?


I know both sides have a moan about the fact gravel’s not new - well real roadies used to ride that sort of stuff – the rough stuff etc – and then the mountain bikers moan oh well its just like mid 90’s!

And you know what, both those moans are kind of valid but they miss a biggie on both fronts – the key driver for those old roadies that rode on dirt and sealed roads – and those mid 90’s mtb’er - was to have fun - whilst riding bikes. Wild idea right?

That’s what’s rad about gravel riding - less worrying about which niche of mountain biking your particular ride fits into or worrying about your FTTP or your max bpm or Watts - it’s simple fun, just riding your bike. You can do it on a Hardtail or xc full suspension – but to be honest a proper gravel bike’s pretty good at gravel – and it’s a darned good addition to anyone’s quiver of bikes anyway – commute on it – ride it to the shops... they’re super versatile.

For me – I’ve been riding a while, its that social thing that’s so good with gravel - mtb has been become a combo of too gnarly to risk the day job and a bit too boring doing laps and laps in the same small bit of the woods. And club road riding is really, really not my thing. But also its so fun to ride with new people – ok so you’re faster uphill - super; enjoy yourself – you have more fun blasting down hills – super; enjoy yourself – oh wait you prefer whipping round slimy single track; super enjoy yourself – you just want to get round the loop; super enjoy yourself!

Gravel can highlight the bits of riding that you find fun and also the bits you find hard, but then the same easy/ hard mix is different for everyone – the terrain is so diverse and it doesn’t really suit anyone… so I know this sounds off but it suits everyone - so it doesn’t ever really become the racer slug fest that lots of road rides become – and diversity is fun!


The Trailhead rides are super inclusive too – with a friendly no drop rule and not too racey at the front – which also helps the diversity too - and helps bring together a broad bunch of riders – so at Gone Gravelling II – I rode with folks on E-mtb’s, full-on race spec CX bikes, Hardtail MTB’s, Plus tyred MTB hardtails, I rode my ‘all-road’ bike, others rode on dedicated Gravel bikes be that skinny steel or feather weight Carbon – and we all had loads of fun.

Here’s the crux of it I’d totally recommend the ride to anyone – first off-road ride in while, cool come along – you’re a DH racer that wants to mix up their winter riding, cool come along - or you’re a Pro Roadie looking to change-up their training rides, cool come along – hopefully your catching the theme – fun, inclusive, diverse hopefully you can see why gravel is growing its fun.

So yeah the ride headed out… well to be honest – I’ve no idea where it went! I followed wheels and chatted the whole ride – I know we headed over a bridge and through a park then scooted along the river – then found some sweet meandering, if slightly muddy singletrack – another cool little singletrack loop - then a super fun super engaging downhill bit – then some more mildly muddy singletrack. But yeah, if you asked me to find it on a map I’d have no idea. And in someways - that’s the beauty of the gravel bike, especially this time of year, the trails don’t have to be MTB gnarly to be fun – and that means if it’s over your skill level, cool, that bit won’t last long and you’ll be riding mellow fun stuff again soon – likewise if you’re fast on mtb trying to go fast on 35mm or 40mm tyre versus the 2.35inch knobblies you normally roll on is interesting.

So can you tell I enjoyed it – yet?

So yeah I really enjoyed the ride and as Mtb’er from the mid 90’s it sort of makes sense – but it wasn’t just me – promise - and at various points during the ride I rode with a World Cup DH racer – who also loved it and then I rode with a Pro Roadie who also loved it too – so yeah GG Episode III is in the works for the 23rd February... if you enjoy riding bikes and having fun – get organised and come on down!

Ooo shivers did I mention the amazing Pizza – I know forgot to mention the mid – ride coffee stop which was nice enough – but yeah the pizza at the finish is amazing – like so so amazing heck I bought two that’s how good they were.

So don’t take my word for it come along - bring a bike that you don’t mind pedalling a bit on and that’s ok to get a bit muddy – and lets go gravelling!

Words by: Owen Coutts (Guest Blogger/ Brand Specialist @ Extra UK)
Stills by: Matt Potter