Gravel riding has been the biggest growth trend in cycling for the last few years. For the uninitiated, gravel riding is, in essence, a cross between road riding and mountain biking. Road bikes engineered and modified to ride off-road as well as on Tarmac, taking on the smooth of the tar with dirt and gravel roads, and single-track, mountain bike trails.
The gravel bike is the go-anywhere bike with the biggest manufacturers designing road bikes with bigger tyres, more wheel clearance and disc brakes for safety and comfort, combined with drop bars for speed. Gravel bikes are almost as quick as road bikes.
Many cyclists are choosing gravel bikes as their do-it-all piece of equipment, doing away with the need for a road bike and a mountain bike.
South Africa is fast making a name around the world as a Gravel Riding paradise. With thousands of kilometres of dirt roads connecting some of the most beautiful and hard-to-reach parts of our country, it is little surprise that South Africans have been taken to the off-road-on-road form of the sport. It’s a hark back to the beginnings of cycling, when bicycles were meant to go everywhere and cyclists endured all conditions. With new gravel riding events being added to the calendar on a regular basis as organisers find new routes and new challenges, here are a few you might want to try.
The Tour de Braai is run by Jan “Braai” Scannell, the man behind National Braai day which is celebrated on Heritage Day on September 24. The Tour de Braai is a five-day ride from George to Swellendam from the 4 to 10 November 2018, averaging around 75km a day on the district and dirt roads usually used by farmers and those living in rural communities. Jan is a keen and strong cyclist, and has put together an event that celebrates his two great loves – cycling and braaing. It is not a race, but a ride, with braai stops for lunch and dinner. Accommodation, food and kit is included for participants.
Riders roll along the beautiful back roads of the Western Cape on the Tour de Braai gravel ride.
For those who want a harder challenge, the Lindley Gravel Grind is a 230km race that has to be completed in under 24 hours. The event starts at the Lindley Hotel in the Free State on January 25 and will be a test of endurance for the hardiest of gravel riders. For those who want a challenge that will be a little easier, there is a 116km route.
This article first appeared on CycleChallenge : Upcoming chances to revel and razzle on the gravel