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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    231

    Gravel trail with a road bike?

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    Only a few roads near my house have dedicated bicycle lanes and being a fairly new rider, I'm always looking for more bike friendly routes. I can easily add at least 10 miles to my routine loop--connecting one bicycle-friendly road to another--by traveling about 1.5 miles on a gravel fitness trail. I've used this trail many times before on my hybrid, but never on a road bike. I don't know the trail composition, but it's fairly-fine, packed gravel. Is this a wise move to consider? Thanks for your opinions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,639
    hi, Traveling on gravel with skinny tires is tiresome. You should just try it to see if it's worth it. After 8 miles, my arms and neck were killing me from the vibrations
    and I had to hang on tighter to steer too.
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
    Dahon 2009 Sport - Luna
    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    441
    I find it stressfull. With every 'pop' of a chunk of gravel scooting out of the way, I'm afraid it's my tire.
    Be yourself, to the extreme!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,407
    We ride on gravel and rocky roads frequently out here in the country. Our tires are 700x28's and 700x25's, all with kevlar type flat belts, and they have no problem at all on very sharp rough stony gravel. Actually, I sort of get a kick out of picking my way through the scary lunar landscape for a mile or two between paved roads to avoid the worst stone 'daggers' that stick up...adds variety. Haven't had a flat from it yet...I've only had flats due to unseen glass shards on smooth paved roads.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Pendleton, OR
    Posts
    782
    I think it just depends on how fine the gravel is and how hard packed it is. I've been on some that aren't much different from pavement, on some that have nearly shaken my teeth out, and some that are very scary because the gravel is very loose. It sounds like your trail might be OK--just give it a try.
    Tis better to wear out than to rust out....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,314
    I ride on gravel with 23s. I use slime tubes, so I don't worry too much about flats.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,321
    I've done it on 700x23 race tires. I don't really like to do it (it's uncomfortable, unstable, and slow), but sometimes, I've had no choice. If the rocks are small and it's packed well, then that's not so bad.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    550
    Our path through the Santa Cruz Mountains has a about a 3 mile stretch through a trail that is gravel. I've ridden this on my road bike (23 tires) several times. I guess I have been mountain biking too much and expect my road bike to perform like a mountain bike. It does not exactly, but it is not as scary as I originally thought it would be. If it's a short stint, I say try it.
    Christine
    Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

    Cycle! It's Good for the Wattle; it's good for the can!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Memphis, TN
    Posts
    996
    Road bikes do just fine on gravel!

    I just did a road race in Louisiana (Rouge Roubaix) that included ~15 miles of gravel roads... sandy, slippery, deep gravel There were some wrecks, of course, but for the most part, people were inspired to ride harder on the gravel sections than on the paved road It was freakin' awesomely fun.

    Once you get past the mindset of "road bikes may only be used on pavement," you're on the right track. I actually seek out gravel roads on my rides because they add some interest to an occasionally monotonous activity.

    Tips:
    • A slightly tougher tire is not a bad idea- I've used 23c Kenda C2Cs and 25c Conti Gatorskins with no issue.
    • Carry two tubes/CO2s. You are slightly more likely to flat
    • Unless you're on really slippery stuff, you may find that a slightly harder gear feels better.
    • Just like on the pavement- Look ahead for potholes or stuff you don't want to run over, NOT down at the ground just in front of your wheel. Pretend like you've got blinders on to prevent you from looking down. Look where you want to go!
    • If you start to slide a little or hit a deep spot, pedal harder to get out of it... DON'T slow down or grab the brakes (or look down)!


    Have fun!!!
    Because not every fast cyclist is a toothpick...

    Brick House Blog

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    231

    I'll give it a try!

    Thanks, everyone for your advice. I'll certainly give it a try--I think I'll know after a few feet whether it will work or not. My tires are 700 x 23.

    It finally stopped raining here in Atlanta, so I intend to make the best of early spring weather. It felt so good to get out yesterday!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,639
    Quote Originally Posted by skinimini View Post
    Thanks, everyone for your advice. I'll certainly give it a try--I think I'll know after a few feet whether it will work or not. My tires are 700 x 23.

    It finally stopped raining here in Atlanta, so I intend to make the best of early spring weather. It felt so good to get out yesterday!
    Give it more than a few feet. give it a couple blocks. the fact is, you can probably do it, the crux is; do you like doing it?
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
    Dahon 2009 Sport - Luna
    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    13,779
    Quote Originally Posted by Biciclista View Post
    Give it more than a few feet. give it a couple blocks. the fact is, you can probably do it, the crux is; do you like doing it?
    +1

    If you find you do like it (or at least don't mind) and you plan to make a habit of it, it wouldn't hurt to shield the entire bottom half of your frame with some of that nice static-cling plastic like people put on their chain-side chainstays or under motorcycle luggage.

    Gravel will put all kinds of chips in your clearcoat, which is not a problem if you ride it as rarely as I do, but over time could get pretty ugly (and possibly even damage a carbon frame).
    Trying to live every day as though it were my first

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    231
    I'll definitely give the whole trail a try. Not only is it a way to get from point A to point B, it's also a really pretty trail, meandering along the river. My concern was not the bone jarring ride (I expect that). I'm just such a rule follower that I didn't want to do anything to damage the bike. I just need to lighten up a little and make sure I know how to change a flat tire! (That comes Sunday at the LBS)

    I really appreciate all the suggestions!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,321
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea View Post

    Tips:
    • A slightly tougher tire is not a bad idea- I've used 23c Kenda C2Cs and 25c Conti Gatorskins with no issue.
    • Carry two tubes/CO2s. You are slightly more likely to flat
    • Unless you're on really slippery stuff, you may find that a slightly harder gear feels better.
    • If you start to slide a little or hit a deep spot, pedal harder to get out of it... DON'T slow down or grab the brakes (or look down)!
    ^^^ very good tips

    My BF rode on a ton of gravel (huge, sharp rocks) last weekend. There were multiple flats in his group. He ripped a 3/4" hole in the sidewall of his tire. Road bikes can do it, but I'll just say it's not my favorite terrain. Hard pack dirt (with or w/out light gravel) is a lot easier IMO.

    Another tip that I find helpful is to 1) stay seated, and 2) keep your weight back. The rear wheel is where you're going to feel the slips, so keep your weight on the saddle and keep going. I don't fly through gravel, because I don't want to remove all the paint from the underside of my bike, but it's like going through mud in that you need some constant speed to keep from slipping or getting stuck. Sitting back a bit will also help you loosen up your arms so that you aren't trying too hard to control the front end, and you won't get quite as much upper body fatigue from the rough ride.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,618
    Quote Originally Posted by skinimini View Post
    Thanks, everyone for your advice. I'll certainly give it a try--I think I'll know after a few feet whether it will work or not. My tires are 700 x 23.

    It finally stopped raining here in Atlanta, so I intend to make the best of early spring weather. It felt so good to get out yesterday!
    Oh! Is it the trail over to Columns Drive? I know lots of folks who do that on road bikes. Won't be a problem at all!
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

 

 

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