Riding a bike on dirt and gravel road has become more popular in recent years, and for good reason. The scenery is amazing, the traffic is much less, and the potential for adventure soars. Here are some tips and resources to get you riding on backroads, or to make your dirt travels even more fun.
Tips & Tricks:
- Just go for it. Any bike is a “gravel” bike.
- But with that said, you can make your road bike more gravel-worthy for very little money:
- Wider or more supple tires help keep the ride less bumpy (gear example: Panaracer Gravelking tires are likely available at your local bike shop and are available in many sizes to fit almost any bike).
- Dirt roads can be steeper than paved roads, especially in rural mountainous Vermont. You can change your gears (rear cassette or cranks) to make climbing easier.
- Add thicker bar tape to help keep your hands and wrists a bit more comfortable on bumpy roads.
- If you can afford it, buy a gravel-specific bike for your local bike shop. Test ride a few to find the best fit.
- Dirt roads in VT are generally just that--dirt--and can be awesomely smooth. Sometimes, they can be bumpy, of course.
- Don’t forget a bike repair kit in case you get a flat in the middle of nowhere (extra tube, tire levers, pump, or patch kit...and know how to change a flat!).
- Bring plenty of water and food for those long rides, and find pit-stops at local stores in advance.
- Slow your speed around corners and over very bumpy or wash-boarded roads to stay safe.
- Participate in a riding event that focuses on dirt and gravel roads. See a list here.
- If you like technology on your rides (it's not for everybody), check out the Ride With GPS website and smartphone app for route finding and creating.
- Purchase or print old fashioned maps or cue sheets if you want to be sure you follow a particular route.
- Sometimes the most fun is had when you just go for a ride and take the roads that appeal to you with no exact plans except to explore an area by bike.
- Go find “the middle of nowhere”. It’s quite nice out that way...
Tough Travels: A Green Mountain Epic (Outdoor Gear Exchange blog)
10 Great Gravel Rides (Vermont Sports)
Six Dirt Road Rides for Burlington-Based Adventures (Old Spokes Home blog)
Turn Your Road Bike Into A Gravel Bike (YouTube)