There are times we all feel the impulse to share a secret. Im sure you know the pressure where you simultaneous yearn to expose a secret, but sense you should hold from speaking. It's a complicated human dilemma. I have this relationship with gravel riding.
I am convinced riding gravel trails is the best medicine for stress relief. It's an incredible tonic if you're wanting to rekindle the excitement for adventure in life. On the other hand, there are rides where the tribulations on the trail rely on solidarity and serenity. Hence the hesitancy to spread the word and invite the hordes. But, to steal a quote by Erin Morgenstern, "sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them." The power of riding into the unknown has such an effect that I figure withholding the experience in these times of anxiety and uncertainty is frankly unfair.
Looking over the precipice : Gravel trail made unique by spectacular mountain range views
In any case, we'd be struggling against the tide if we tried to hold the secret. The joys of gravel riding are splashed across cycling headlines as the sport becomes increasingly commercialised. New gear, new bikes, new kit, new tracking devises, medical supplies, races and sportives are regularly updated by growing Brands invested in gravel.
So on a quest to give an actual played out account and a practiced taste of the outdoor trail scene my gravel partner Nadine Reynolds and I are hanging up our selfish ways to invite a small group on a planned ride. Here we share the impetus behind the route, an account of which you'll be able to read about after the event ...
A rare moment of smooth gravel trails on the DeAnima
I don't like following the same trails repeatedly. That's why between us we've built a substantial library of gravel routes. In fact, my partner in literal crime Nadine Reynolds aka "the Destroyer" is also not afraid to jump a fence or two, and discovering trails is what we both enjoy. Many times our bikes are carried through snake infested scrub, over water holes and flowing rivers, and dragged up boulders. We pity the few who, after our wake, dared to follow our Strava foolery (more bike hike than riding). It got to the point I'd title particular rides "Do not follow." We also make sure to bring a snake compression bandage and medical kit.
While we'd both like to say we encounter a lot of wildlife we two are continually talking, laughing, relaying stories, philosophising, advising, listening and ranting through the entire ride. Its fair to say animals with ears and eyes know we're coming well in advance. Apart from the occasional encounter with snakes, a roo or lizard, it's the landscape that we most notice. Luckily in Australia we've the widest variety of conditions traveled in a short distance.
Gravel partners Nadine Reynolds and Alison McGregor : never tire of testing trails with views
Gravel in Australia : prepare for the unexpected, including flooded creeks and infrastructure
It's smart to check forums for information on creek crossing access
The trails are rarely cared for and involve bike hike
Over the years we accumulated a lot of skills that have no purpose in the City. It's mostly through the roughest situations we learnt to read the clouds, check for footprints, predict the upcoming terrain, the sand type itself. But not all our rides end in blood and sweat. Occasionally we find a loop that has us in the saddle 100% of the trail.
A few weeks back we hit the jackpot. We travelled a trail that, in its entirety, can be ridden by someone wanting to test gravel and who hasn't yet invested in a gravel bike. It's hard to find a gravel trail in good enough condition to use a road bike or someone wanting to test the gravel before committing to a gravel bike purchase. But we found it.
We were somewhat excited. You see, Australian gravel can be a very unpredictable tough nut to crack. The trails one week are hard packed, and the next you're battling a rutted beast. So finding a "champagne gravel" route perfect for the starter was a real surprise.
The Planned Ride
The scheme we began to hatch was to ask a group of pesky friends who'd hampered us to join a gravel ride. Nadine and I are a few weeks away from hosting our small inaugural event which, thanks to the fantastic support by KASK, will end in beer and a decent surprise for one lucky rider to make the dirty trip worth it.
This is a ride that promises to deliver what, for years, we've loved about the trails. This hard packed trail is populated by eucalyptus with an occasional exposed mountain view presenting the bush as far as the eye can see. There's also varying terrain of hills and descents, a challenging climb, farmland meandering and bridge crossings.
How to Join?
If this is something you're keen to try but don't have a gravel bike, keep your eye out for the future updates. Join our newsletter below for news. We will post a run down of the day, and some obligatory shots of the local scenery. There are plans for another adventure to what we think is the best way to detox from the City life, enjoy new company in the outdoors and accomplish challenges that a good trail brings.