This weekend a few friends and myself traveled to Streator’s Marilla Park to ride some gravel roads. We intended to ride the Dirty Mudder course, but the lack of daylight mandated cutting it a little short. We ended the day with 45 miles, most of which were on ridden on gravel.
This was my first time riding gravel. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but I had high hopes of liking it as this type of riding seems to be gaining popularity. Shortly into the ride I had my first realization, it was very relaxing, almost hypnotic. There was no abundance of passing vehicles to worry about. There was no single track to dictate what path you had to take. There was no rotating pace line of crazy speed riding. There was only the gravel, the sun, vast scenery, and you pedaling.
A little further into the ride I began to gain a better understanding of the different types of gravel we were riding. There was deep gravel, almost snow like. There was big rocked gravel, small rocked gravel, smoother sections of earth with little to no gravel, and areas of mixed water gravel mush around puddles. All of those provided a different riding experience.
Nearing the third hour, I began to feel the my legs getting tired. We decided to head back with the sun setting in front of us. We all agreed that we enjoyed the experience and would be returning. Thinking about the ride today, I think the aspect of riding on the gravel that I most enjoyed was the consistent change the ride provided. The longest straight of the 45 mile day was only five miles long. The turning, the variety of gravel types, the stark difference compared to a training road ride and mountain biking, all equated to a fun new experience. I like the idea of having a new option for riding.