Finding motivation during the winter can sometimes be tough for a cyclist. It is extremely easy to lose a couple of weeks of riding due to family obligations, the holidays, the endless amounts of food, and less daylight hours. Thankfully, I was able to find my spark while riding on dirt & gravel with a few coworkers and friends.
Until recently, I haven’t had the opportunity to ride off-pavement with my road bike but it was a blast! It was a nice change of pace not having to share the road with cars. Riding on the fire roads and gravel trails gave me a sense of freedom that I haven’t experienced since I first started road cycling. Instead of navigating our suburban roadways, while being cognizant of auto traffic, I had to navigate around deep sand and horse manure!
Most roadies are reluctant to try riding on dirt or gravel. The neat thing is that you don’t need a new bike. With the proper setup and introduction, it can be safe and beneficial to any road cyclist. Your overall bike handling skills will improve and you’ll get a sense of what it’s like to ride in one of the Spring Classics! Think Paris Roubaix or the Strade Bianche. I would recommend trying places like Peter’s Canyon or Irvine Lake to start. Instead of running my typical set up of 23mm Vittoria Corsa tires, I ran the 25mm Vittoria Pave. The wider tire helped with traction and puncture resistance.
It is important to find trails that don’t have any steep pitches and are hard-packed enough for road (albeit wider) tires. Trails with steep gradients and/or those that are too rocky, rutted, or sandy call for either a cyclocross or mountain bike.
New scenery has really helped re-ignite my enthusiasm for cycling. I was looking forward to every ride rather than treating it like necessary training miles. In fact, I’ve been cyberstalking local cycling legends on Strava to come up with new riding areas! My goal is to find new trails and dirt sections on a weekly basis. I feel that my renewed passion for riding will pay dividends during the race season!
So, my New Year’s Resolution is to add more variety on the bike. I’m glad to have found a new aspect of road cycling that will let me explore new avenues and diversify my normal routine. For 2015 at A Road Bike 4U, be on the lookout for new shop rides that will incorporate dirt & gravel riding. Trust me, you’ll love it!