It’s Gravel Week here on Bike Snob NYC, and so all week long we’ll be talking about gravel, and bikes, and gravel bikes, and of course the importance of search engine optimization. So pull up a patch of gravel and let’s gravel gravel to the gravel gravel!
“Gravel” as it is used in contemporary cycling parlance refers specifically to an agglomeration of very small rocks:
Or more generally refers to any type of cycling that is not strictly pavement-oriented yet not fully mountain biking either. Gravel cyclists (called variously gravelistas, graveleurs, gravlaxes, or gravelinos, according to facts that I just made up) seek out unpaved surfaces and also engage in a modern form of journaling that involves chronicling their adventures on digital platforms such as Instagram. Some gravel rides can go on for two or even three days, at which point they metastasize into a form of extreme gravel cycling usually referred to as “bikepacking,” which itself is similar to a style of riding that was once known as “touring.”
Most bicycle companies now offer some sort of “gravel bike.” Consider, for example, this Pinarello Grevil:
Because gravel bikes look so similar to road bikes and cyclocross bikes, it is very important when marketing them to provide the would-be gravel consumer with certain cues, such as the rider with many leg tattoos as seen above. The Grevil is a rather contrived attempt by the smarm-mongers at Pinarello to get in on this whole gravel thing. For example, consider the name; what does “Grevil” even mean exactly? Is it a portmanteau of “gravel” and “evil?” If so, how do you say it? “GREH-vil?” “GREE-vuhl?” “Gru-VIL?” I’ve run through all the permutations, and none of them work. Also, why would you go to Pinarello of all companies for a gravel bike? That’s like buying a flannel shirt from Assos:
The Pinarello gravel bike reminds me of the folding Porsche sunglasses I had as a kid and thought were super cool:
If you’re in the market these are available on Etsy for $75, though I’m pretty sure we used to get them at Fleaport on Rockaway Turnpike for like three bucks. I even had a pair of driving gloves to go with them:
Given my douche-tastic tendencies it’s amazing I didn’t grow up to become the model for Assos.
Boldly, I tried to use the driving gloves as my winter gloves. I ruined them on the very first snowball, which is probably for the best since I probably would have lost a digit to frostbike. Shoulda just stuck with the Freezy Freakies:
They really should offer a gravel version.
Anyway, this morning I headed out for a ride on my flat-bar singlespeed gravel bike:
Believe it or not, back when I got this it used to be considered a “mountain bike.” Now it has much more in common with the current crop of gravel bikes than it does with modern mountain bikes, which just goes to show that if you hang on to anything long enough it’ll become relevant again. (Though I suppose the quick-release axles and the 135mm rear spacing give it away as a museum piece.)
Then on the way home I encountered a deer:
I’m pretty sure this is the same deer I always see around here, and I’m also pretty sure I could have walked up to it and touched it since it was utterly unperturbed by my presence. However, it had all these little black spots on its ears, and while I have no idea what they were they did look a lot like ticks. I realize we’re all preoccupied with the gravel bike of illnesses, but let’s not forget about good old-fashioned Lyme disease.