Thursday, September 24, 2020

Urban Gravel

Is it possible to have a genuine gravel experience while riding in the city? This may seem a ridiculous question, but it’s one I set out to answer anyway this summer as a COVID-induced something-to-do project. Before you scoff at my premise, let me establish my terms.

By “genuine gravel experience” I mean that of 1) riding on roads that are primarily not pavement 2) where vehicle and pedestrian traffic is sporadic, if not scarce 3) where one experiences the peace and quiet of nature, away from heavy vehicle traffic 4) and where one occasionally feels the sense of adventure that comes with venturing into territory where bicycles rarely venture.

To be clear, I’m not talking about riding on gravel multi-use paths in the river valley or elsewhere. While many of those gravel paths do offer an experience in nature and, in some cases, a kind of adventure, they’re not roads and they tend to feature a steady stream of pedestrians (something you generally see only occasionally while gravel riding). So for the purposes of my experiment, they don’t count. No paths, no trails allowed.