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Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

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Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
“The long, steep climb out of the ghost town of Ashwood swallows riders in the forest.”
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

Title: Gravel Cycling – The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking
Author: Nick Legan
Publisher: VeloPress
Year: 2018
Pages: 304
Order: VeloPress
What it is: A where-to and how-to guide to riding gravel
Strengths: It looks lovely
Weaknesses: Possibly it’s over-stretching itself, trying to be all things to all people

Packed with more than three hundred colour photographs, Nick Legan’s Gravel Cycling – The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking falls somewhere between a coffee table photo book and a guide to where to go gravel riding, and how to go gravel riding.

Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

For Legan, “gravel roads offer escape from the increasingly busy paved roads around the world. Cyclists are discovering that riding on dirt lanes and gravel roads is the calmest form of cycling, a way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.” Bikepacking – multiday gravel grinds – offers “even more joys, a long-form escape into a world you may not have seen before. Imagine extending your gravel ride with some nights under the stars, and you will discover a joyous time in nature – self-supported, self-reliant, and richly fulfilling.”

Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
“Common at all gravel races is a wide range of riders and bikes.”
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

So who is gravel grinding for? Legan suggests it solves the problems of road riding (“Traffic on paved roads scares many new cyclists, and the absence of a safe shoulder or the threatening presence of a gutter strewn with broken glass and debris can be paralyzing.”) and also those of traditional off-road riding (“The technical skills required for mountain biking are also an impediment for many.”). Gravel and dirt roads, on the other hand, offer “a quiet cycling experience with only a minimal amount of cycling prowess required.”

Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
“Fast-rolling tires are the way to go for Almanzo, held in Spring Valley, Minnesota, every May.”
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

Where can one go gravel grinding? Legan offers up a wide selection of US and international rides.

Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

Gravel Grinders – US

  • Adventure Series, Sonoma County, CA (January–June)
  • Land Run, Stillwater, OK (March)
  • Barry-Roubaix, Hastings, MI (April)
  • Trans Iowa, Grinnell, IA (April)
  • Almanzo, Spring Valley, MN (May)
  • Dirty Kanza, Emporia, KS (May or June)
  • Crusher in the Tushar, Beaver, UT (July)
  • Gravel Worlds, Lincoln, NE (August)
  • Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée, Deerfield, MA (August)
  • Rebecca’s Private Idaho, Ketchum, ID (September)
  • Grinduro, Quincy, CA (October)

Gravel Grinders – International

  • Great Otway Gravel Grind, Forrest, Victoria, Australia (February)
  • La Gravel66, Pyrénées-Orientales, France (March)
  • Dirty Reiver, Kielder Castle, United Kingdom (April)
  • Pirinexus 360 Challenge, Girona, Catalonia, Spain (June)
  • La Resistance, Talloires, France (September)
  • Gravel Fondo, Black Forest, Germany (October)
  • Gravel Roc, Fréjus, France (October)
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

Multiday Routes – US

  • Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Banff, AB to Antelope Wells, NM (2,768 miles)
  • Denali Highway, Paxson, AK to Cantwell, AK (135 miles)
  • Trans North California, Reno, NV to Mendocino, CA (400 miles)
  • Oregon Outback, Klamath Falls, ORto the Deschutes River (364 miles)
  • Katy Trail, Clinton, MO to Machens, MO (237 miles)
  • Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Towpath, Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC (335 miles)

Multiday Routes – Singletrack

  • Colorado Trail, Waterton Canyon, CO to Durango, CO (525 miles)
  • Arizona Trail, Sierra Vista, AZ to Kaibab Plateau, AZ (739 miles)

For each route, the by now standard details are provided: a brief text description, a rough map, an elevation profile, and a picture.

Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

In addition, various talking heads chime in with their two cents on gearing and tyre choices and the like.

Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan
Gravel Cycling, by Nick Legan

With such a wide selection of rides – the US, Australia, Scotland, France, Spain, Germany – Gravel Cycling can feel like it’s trying too hard to find something for everyone. But, as well as being a practical guide, Gravel Cycling’s selection of photographs makes for something capable of looking good on the coffee table and idly flicking through in search of inspiration.

Gravel Cycling – The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking, by Nick Legan, published by VeloPress
Gravel Cycling – The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking, by Nick Legan, published by VeloPress