It's officially spring now. The snow has finally melted, and everyone's undersides are incredibly tender from a lack of hard saddle time here in the Mid-west. Spring means base miles, messy roads, and unrideable single track (we can't ride wet trails here in the Chicago-land, people freak out). As a result, spring also mean GRAVEL season, the red neck cousin of cyclocross.
Many people don't understand the allure of riding shitty, gross, gravel roads. For us, its a sense of adventure. Dirt/gravel roads around here in Illinois have almost no traffic, they are the most scenic, and give the greatest feeling of "Where the F am I"? Which is something we find appealing, riding new things, seeing some random farm ATV trail on the side of the road and checking it out. Some times it pans out and you find a RAD trail that connects two dirt roads, some times you wind up in someone's front yard. When you hit a patch of freshly graded gravel, the Earth moves beneath you, your core is working, your eyes are darting for the best line, your skills are tested. Its like surfing on bicycles, and it's a skill that transcends the disciplines of cycling. You don't really need a "gravel" bike like the industry wants you to think. Road bikes work fine, cross bikes work better, it just depends on the level of fun you want to have. Skinny tires are a little more work through ankle deep golf balls, but the roads are not always like that.
You gain balance and strength that apply to both road racing and mountain biking. It's also FUN AS SHIT!
Snows gone, go ride your bikes. Hit us up on Facebook and we can go for a ride together.