Gravel rides with friends are a fairly awesome social experience. Riding along at a pace that suits the group creates hours of opportunity for conversation with old friends, and for making new friends. Unlike normal daily life where even the most intimate of conversations can be interrupted by phones and other devices, gravel riding creates conversation mostly free from outside distraction. The gravel road takes just enough concentration to keep one focused on the task at hand, but leaves plenty of room to relax, think, and discuss. Of course every ride is different, but if there is a stereotypical ride it includes various groups of riders, each riding at a different pace. Some riders choose to ride alone and spend the time lost in their thoughts, or simply admiring the scenery, while others ride together in social groups. Regardless of the pace at which you choose to ride it, gravel rides can have an option for almost everyone. The only limitation is the fitness level needed to complete the ride.
Jayson from Gravel Cyclist put together this great video report on the event.
When my friend Wayne Lee, owner of Atomik Carbon, told me earlier this year that he wanted to put on an overnight bike packing/gravel ride in Florida, I commented on how flat I thought Florida was. He replied that yes, while there would be several small hills, most of the route would be flat. This was part of his plan to include a greater group of people.
The best part of this particular gravel ride/bikepacking trip for me was seeing the number of people that were trying it out for the first time. And not just the bikepacking part of it, some participants were riding gravel for the first time, and for a few it was even their first time camping. To me this is success, using bikes to get people out of their element and into adventure and camping. I was also really excited to see a good number of people that were slightly older than I've seen on previous trips. While I personally enjoy rides with bigger challenges and heading further out into the wild, we all have to start somewhere, and this ride was a perfect first time experience for many people.
Who enjoyed it more, father or daughter?
The ride itself was two days, and the advertised 50 miles per day ended up being closer to 60, but no one really complained. Gently rolling hills, minimal pavement, and only a smattering of sandy sections kept everyone happy. The scenery was beautiful, limestone gravel roads through tree tunnels filled with Spanish Moss, and occasional horse farms along the way.
The first day ended at a state park camp site where cold beer was waiting. Beer was drank, campsites were set up, and people mingled while waiting for others to finish. Then it was time for dinner...
Wayne was true to his word and the food was amazing. Jerked chicken and jerked pork, with veggies and rice and peas, and possibly a few other things I missed. Followed up with just a little bit of rum, and some great Jamaican dance tunes that had everyone on their feet for hours in spite of having just ridden for 60 miles.
Breakfast was catered by the same rad Jamaican crew that had done dinner the night before, and it was equally good. Sausages, eggs, Jamaican porridge, and coffee mon! After breakfast it was time to get ready for the ride back to the farm.
For more information check out Atomik Adventures
What do you think of gravel riding? Want to see more, let me know in the comments!