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  1. #1
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    Gravel - who likes it and what do you like

    I recently bought a x bike and have enjoyed riding those roads I've always avoided with my skinny tires (yeah, roadie, haven't done the mountain bike thing for years). In every ride in the last 2 months I've been on at least one new road (for me). I like the up and down, twisty roads and the more narrow and tree-lined the better. I ride in the Caledon/Halton area and I'm still discovering these roads though I've ridden in the area for many years.

    thought it would be cool to hear others share their gravel experience. I see in the US they have gravel grinders and it's gaining some traction. Haven't heard of much in Ontario.

    Feel free to talk gravel bikes, wheels and other components or accessories or whatever you like.

  2. #2
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    If you want a serious dirt road climb in Caledon, do Coolihans Sr. from Gore Rd. to Airport Rd, feel the burn.

    I think its like 160m of elevation from Centerville Creek Rd. to Airport (1.8km).

    Locals in the area call it 'The Cooliburg'

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by broadwayline View Post
    If you want a serious dirt road climb in Caledon, do Coolihans Sr. from Gore Rd. to Airport Rd, feel the burn.

    I think its like 160m of elevation from Centerville Creek Rd. to Airport (1.8km).

    Locals in the area call it 'The Cooliburg'
    That is a nice stretch. I've only ever done it on a road bike with 23c tires, so a little rough, but still manageable w/o a cx bike. It seems like a lot of gravel roads are disappearing, at least longer sections to link together. Last summer I road a bunch of nice unpaved roads going north of 9, lots of awesome rollers and a few steep climbs.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by nspace View Post
    It seems like a lot of gravel roads are disappearing, at least longer sections to link together.
    I think this is simply a by product of location. Anything close to large urban centre's like Toronto will end up paved. Or really cheap paving..chip and seal I think they call it. The more rural an area the more there are options on top of gravel roads.

    Kingston area has some options that would make for a route for a Gravel Grinder.

    Area has lots of little routes around one can take as well. Some options just by taking the hydo line access roads. Just be forewarned...sharp limestone rocks don't like CX tires if you are not careful.
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  5. #5
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    I spotted Coolihans on a map - I know the area. Will try it next time out. Thx

  6. #6
    Lemmy Rules!
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    I was introduced to the Red Hill Valley Trail in Stoney Creek earlier this year. About 20k of gravel out and back. And apparently you can link it to the rail trail that runs between Hamilton and Brantford for a full on gravel Nirvana....
    Strava made me do it....

  7. #7
    I Strava Hamburgers
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    Trans Canada Trail from Uxbridge to Kawartha and back is a route I take every once in a while, or I'll just cycle out to Durham Forest and ride around in there.

    Cyclocross bikes are dangerous because you end up loving them and all they do is make you hurt yourself by riding dirt roads and entering races like P2A and Nostril.

    Love at your own risk.
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  8. #8
    Evil Jr.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unglued View Post
    I was introduced to the Red Hill Valley Trail in Stoney Creek earlier this year. About 20k of gravel out and back. And apparently you can link it to the rail trail that runs between Hamilton and Brantford for a full on gravel Nirvana....
    Between gravel roads, conservation trails and rail trails, Hamilton is packed with options and loops. It's great for fall when light gets scarce. You can still get a good ride in without having to worry about twilight traffic as you would on the road.
    Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    Between gravel roads, conservation trails and rail trails, Hamilton is packed with options and loops. It's great for fall when light gets scarce. You can still get a good ride in without having to worry about twilight traffic as you would on the road.
    Hamilton is a CX haven.

    There has been a discussion of a 100 km underground Hell of the Hamilton type ride, with strava segments (Done safely, get your knickers untwisted). Kinda like an enduro ride.

    Got to get on that. YOU may be getting an invite.

  10. #10
    Evil Jr.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor View Post
    Hamilton is a CX haven.

    There has been a discussion of a 100 km underground Hell of the Hamilton type ride, with strava segments (Done safely, get your knickers untwisted). Kinda like an enduro ride.

    Got to get on that. YOU may be getting an invite.
    Ooh, that would be a fun ride - kinda like MonsterCross x2.5! There are so many potential routes!
    Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.

  11. #11
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    Haven't checked this out yet.

    Cataraqui Trail

    Though I do know the listed mileage is a little off as the track goes further south past Strathcona then they claim.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xcyclist View Post

    thought it would be cool to hear others share their gravel experience. I see in the US they have gravel grinders and it's gaining some traction. Haven't heard of much in Ontario.

    .
    Understandable that there isn't much in Ontario. If you look at the primary areas where they happen in the US it is Iowa, Kansas, and such which are prairie states. Even less mtb riding then in Ontario. You would probably see more of a gravel following in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and say 75% of Alberta. Wainwright Alberta comes to mind.

    Guitar Ted does a lot of this and tests a lot of gear.
    Guitar Ted Productions

    And they just ran Trans Iowa V9 on the weekend. I think it is the granddaddy of the races.
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    Depression...can eat a sack of manure and die.

  13. #13
    snowbound
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    I like the gravel roads - or dirt roads as I call them. I ride them in winter when there is too much snow to ride at my local trails (Durham, Greenwood).

  14. #14
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    Mono township and Mulmur township both have tons of great gravel for riding. Plenty of climbing.

  15. #15
    Lemmy Rules!
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor View Post
    Hamilton is a CX haven.

    There has been a discussion of a 100 km underground Hell of the Hamilton type ride, with strava segments (Done safely, get your knickers untwisted). Kinda like an enduro ride.

    Got to get on that. YOU may be getting an invite.
    Count me in on that one!
    Strava made me do it....

  16. #16
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    If you are in the north Caledon area this is a heavy heavy gravel climb that seemingly never ends / has some really steep sections.

    Strava Segment | 5 Line E Climb

  17. #17
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    Uh oh..looks like it has become hip.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/sp...anza.html?_r=0

    As she pedaled into the 100-mile checkpoint on her bicycle, Wendy Davis, 44, asked the question on everyone’s mind: who turned the wind on?


    For much of the previous 50 miles, she and hundreds of other cyclists had battled the stiff gusts that blow across the Kansas plains. She was halfway through the Dirty Kanza 200, a 200-mile race on the rarely maintained back roads of the state’s rugged Flint Hills.

    Why ride 200 miles over crunching gravel, her noncyclist friends asked. “Because I can,” she answered.

    Davis, a recent convert to long-distance cycling, had fallen in love with the growing sport of gravel grinding. “I like the sound of it,” she said. “I like the feel of it. If the gravel is still crunching, then I’m still moving forward.”

    She had come ready for whatever the race might throw at her. She had bowed out her first year when the temperature hit 100 degrees. Last year she pushed herself, “riding on euphoria” to a 19-hour finish. She was back hoping to beat her time, but the wind had other plans.

    Undeterred, she pointed her bike back toward the gravel and shoved off.

    “The Midwest is not blessed with mountains and the type of geography that one might think is a preferred cycling destination,” said Jim Cummins, who has been organizing the Dirty Kanza for eight years. “One thing we do have is vast expanse and endless miles of gravel road.”

    All of that gravel attracts tough amateurs and seasoned pros alike.

    “I thought I was going to be bored, like riding a stationary trainer for 13 hours,” said Rebecca Rusch, 44, a professional cyclist from Sun Valley, Idaho, who first raced the Dirty Kanza 200 in 2012 and won the women’s title.

    “It ended up being one of my favorite events of the year,” she said. She returned this year, again winning her division and finishing 11th over all.

    Mark Stevenson, who puts on the granddaddy of gravel grinders, the Trans Iowa, a 300-mile-plus excursion across that state’s back roads, said that people were drawn to the races as a way to test themselves.

    “Everybody who toes the line has already won,” Stevenson said. “If they show up and have an experience, that’ll last their whole life. That’s what really appeals to people.”

    Gravel events, he said, are a relaxed contrast to the often uptight world of hard-core road and mountain bike racing.

    Riders are required to be largely self-sufficient and can receive support only at the four checkpoints, each 50 miles apart. While some gravel grinders are free, entry to the Dirty Kanza is $95. The prizes for winning are a belt buckle and some bike parts donated by sponsors.

    For some, the allure of the ride is the scenery: the Flint Hills are home to one of the last stands of the native tallgrass prairie that once blanketed much of the Great Plains. For others, it is the absence of honking horns. On the gravel, traffic might be limited to the occasional tractor or stray cow. The bicycle industry has begun to respond to the interest with a few gravel racing bikes and tires with twice as much flat protection.

    Stevenson began a Web site in 2008 — Gravel Grinder News — to catalog what was then a handful of events in the Midwest. Today, he said, about 150 gravel rides and races are listed. And the sport is moving to other corners of the country. This year Rusch is organizing her own gravel grinder in Idaho.

    The first Dirty Kanza drew 38 riders who started and finished in a motel parking lot. Last year’s field filled up in hours. This year it was expanded, and more than 600 riders tested their mettle in the Flint Hills. Others competed in 20-, 50- and 100-mile versions.

    The race has become a highlight here. Emporia has embraced the gravel grinders, seeing them off at dawn and welcoming the fastest back to town 12 hours later with cheers and ringing cowbells. Many stay up into the early hours to see the last stragglers across the line.

    Weather can determine the outcome. Two years ago temperatures peaked at 100 degrees, prompting all but the hardiest to call for a ride home. Other races have had rain and hail. This year the wind slowed many riders to a crawl.

    “The course is great, the weather is great,” said Rob Delaney, who had come for his first Dirty Kanza from Franklin, Ill. “It’s the wind today, it just strips your soul.”

    Riders from strongholds of endurance cycling like Colorado are often humbled by the conditions of the Great Plains, said Matt Brown, who owns High Gear, Emporia’s only bike shop. Unlike mountain climbs, which top out with a leg-refreshing break on the descent, he said the combination of rolling hills and headwinds mean constant pedaling.

    Here in Kansas you pedal up the front of the hill and you pedal back down the backside, said Brown, who finished third in the open men’s category.

    This year’s race was won by the defending champion, Dan Hughes of Lawrence, Kan., who sped across the finish line in 12 hours 3 minutes for his fourth victory. He likened the race to a marathon: short enough to be raced by the very fit and a personal test for the average athlete to finish.

    And, he added with a bit of Midwestern pride, “the Flint Hills are just awesome.”

    Some seven and a half hours after Hughes’s win, Davis and her husband, Jim, pulled into town.

    “I didn’t get my goal,” she said, “but it’s O.K., because there is a lot of wind out there.”

    www.teamnfi.blogspot.com



    Depression...can eat a sack of manure and die.

  18. #18
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    I have done a lot of gravel grinding from Lakeshore GO stations. There are some great roads north of Whitby and Oshawa. The further north you go the more fun it gets. Since I bought a Salsa Fargo a few years ago my road bike is increasingly gathering dust as it's just too much fun to ride singletrack, gravel and rail trail in one ride.
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