By Zack Allison
One positive of Covid-19 in 2020 is the massive growth in the cycling scene. Not to discount the pain and suffering this disease has caused, one unexpected side effect is that in the boredom of quarantine and social distancing people picked up bicycles.
One segment of cycling that was growing before the pandemic is gravel cycling. Almost hidden in plain sight, different from road or mountain biking, gravel cycling is an entirely new cycling genre with the greatest diversity of terrain. Gravel bikes have recently seen a surge in sales and tech. Taking the best parts from road and mountain bikes they have hybridized those parts into an all terrain machine of freedom that can take on trails or the chunkiest of dirt roads. Gravel bikes also move fast on pavement, opening up unlimited new possibilities for riding routes, especially in Northern Colorado.
If you’re on the fence for a new bike a gravel bike is the way to go. If you’re so inclined to get two wheel sets, one set for the road and one set with larger width gravel tires for more harsh gravel terrain, you then have an “everything bike” and you can go anywhere. Where’s “anywhere” you may ask?
Enter Gravel Graceland at website https://www.gravelgraceland.com, dedicated to gravel routes for beginners to the most advanced explorers. One of the contributors, Zack Allison, has been training and racing professionally on road and gravel bikes while living in Fort Collins for the last 10 years. “New road day is the best day” are words he lives by. Yes, living in Northern Colorado you hit many of the same roads but with gravel bikes getting better and faster and with road racing somewhat stagnant, the exploration of all of Northern Colorado’s remote gravel roads ensued. Start from your door — that’s always the best place to start. And in Fort Collins we are beyond spoiled with the diversity of terrain and amazing riding opportunities we have from your door.
Start with some of the dirt and mixed terrain riding just north of town. North of the country club neighborhood are some fun twisty dirt roads. Just beyond that you get into the far north and east rolling hills past Wellington. As you start to get more comfortable on the gravel bike, make a loop with Lory and Horsetooth Parks. The valley trails are really smooth, fun and “flowy” on a gravel bike. As you get more exploratory, head to Livermore, Cherokee Park and Red Feather Lakes. You’ll start to notice that Northern Colorado is dirt and gravel roads by default.
Head to Gravel Graceland at website https://www.gravelgraceland.com to check out dozens of routes and pictures. Bike Sports website has great bike fitting advice, racing, reviews on some specific bikes and parts and is a peek into what the top step of gravel racers are doing.
Whitney and Zack Allison are professional cyclists and entrepreneurs. Bike Sports, their most recent venture, seeks to make gravel riding more accessible, inspire cyclists to challenge their limits and highlight Northern Colorado as a travel destination.
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