Gravel – Not just for posh driveways!!
In 2016 I had started a new job and my requirement for a bike that could carry me there and back everyday had extended beyond the Townsend Mango Creek that I had owned since I was 17. Baffled by the various options available (cycling had come a long way in 16 years it appeared) I visited my local bike shop for some advice and guidance. I walked out with a 2016 Specialized Diverge A1; an adventure bike and all rounder which should have done almost everything I needed it to. This is where my gravel experience began. Assigned to commuting duties during the week and all-road machine at the weekend the bike lapped it up and gave me a sense of freedom I hadn’t experienced on a bike for years. Unfortunately, the frame was faulty (replaced under warranty), the tyre clearance was not as advertised and my bike buying, itchy trigger finger was starting to get restless.
Fast forward to the present day and I no longer own the 2016 Diverge, nor the Charge Plug that I purchased to replace it, nor the Cannondale Slate (more on this another time) and I have even sold my beloved Charge Cooker (turns out the snowy winter killed it off). I am now the proud owner of a 2019 carbon Specialized Diverge and I have to say that I love it. For me the experience of riding now harks back to the fun I had as a kid. No plan, no hurry just jump on and ride, anywhere. And by anywhere I mean anywhere. Tarmac, bridleway, canal paths, trails, you name it this bike can do it, and quite quickly as it turns out.
But what about the gravel I hear you cry? Well I haven’t, ahem, actually ridden any “proper” gravel as of yet although I do have plans for some longer rides when the weather is more agreeable, especially as I live on the doorstep of the Surrey Hills, it would be almost criminal not to. I love the fact that I can leave my house, hit the road and in minutes be on the trails leading out into the wilderness. And it is exactly this ideal that excites me so much; I have seen more of my local area in the last 4 months than I had done in the previous 20 years. I have got lost, discovered new places and seen some amazing views all within an hour of home, sights that would have remained hidden had I been on my road bike. Basically, gravel riding for me represents versatility. Not necessarily for the bike’s function but for where I can ride, the route I can take and the surprises that await. And, most of all, I don’t have to own an expensive driveway to experience it.
I will be posting more of my Muddy Tales over the coming months and look forward to sharing my stories with you. Happy Gravelling!!!