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“Tackling up-and-down terrain on rugged, unsuspended sets of wheels, gravel biking combines road cycling’s speed and mountain biking’s thrills, minus the dangers inherent in those pursuits — think distracted drivers and unforgiving trees.”
That’s how I first described gravel biking more than two years ago. I’d just gotten a crush while test-riding Evil’s semi-controversial Chamois Hagar and getting my ass kicked by a bunch of gravel-heads in Arizona.
Since then, I’ve developed a genuine love for going unreasonably fast over rocks and dirt — and for the unpretentious people whose passion sustains the sport. The blend of velocity, technicality, community and, well, pure joy is pretty tough to beat.
The affair crescendoed last month when I rode my first race, SBT GRVL in Steamboat, Colorado. While it went better than I could have hoped, I still learned a bunch of essential lessons that could come in handy if you’re thinking about trying one yourself this fall. Here are five biggies.