Cross country, mountain, road, downhill, free ride, trials, cyclocross, etc…It’s hard to keep track of all the cycling disciplines, and of course the above list does not begin to cover all of them. We’d like to introduce you to one more up and coming discipline; it’s called “gravel grinding.” Ever heard of it?
Gravel grinding is exactly what it sounds like…riding a bike on a gravel road. Though this may not seem overly enjoyable, it is becoming increasingly popular for 2 reasons: 1) There are hundreds of thousands of dirt country/mountain roads that can take you places that paved roads don’t, and 2) You don’t have to take your suspension heavy mountain bike on these roads, they can be done on a cyclocross or gravel grinding bike.
For those that don’t know, a cyclocross bike has the appearance of a road bike, but the chain stays and fork are wider apart to allow for a slightly wider and knobbier tires. In addition, most cyclcross frames have less aggressive frames than a road bike, which means they are more nimble and playful.
My Crusher rig, the incomparable Cannondale SuperX
Last weekend, I headed for Beaver, UT where some friends and I participated in former pro cyclist Burke Swindlehurst’s magnificently put on gravel grinding race, “The Crusher in the Tushar.” There is no other event that I will more confidently endorse than this one. 10,500 ft of climbing for 5hrs, 6,000ft of descending in 15 minutes (that’s at my pace, Levi Leipheimer, the winning pro did it in an hour less). It was my 2nd year participating and boy was it fun (and incredibly difficult). I’ve linked a few articles about the Crusher that you can read about that paint a better picture of it than I could : )
So go ahead, save your pennies for a cyclocross bike and get out there to see what all the hoopla is about. We highly recommend it : )