Rocks, Roads, Reggae 2017 - Event Recap

Dec 24, 2017 at 11:18
by Ian Hylands  


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.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Riders arrive for the first annual Rocks Roads and Reggae ride near Gainesville, Florida.

Wayne Lee of Atomik Carbon checks riders in.
Event organizer Wayne Lee welcomes participants.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

The Rocks Roads Reggae gravel bikepacking ride was supported so riders could choose whether they wanted to carry their overnight gear with them or just throw it in the trailer.
From lycra clad roadies with carbon bikes and no bags, to people with full bike touring rigs, and everything in-between, it was definitely a case of ride what you have.

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.

bigquotesWe didn't see a lot of gravel riding happening in Florida, there are a couple of events that are really hardcore, but our idea was to bring a lot of people in, to have a lot of fun, and see what we could do. For us the food and entertainment was absolutely key. If you look at the demographic of most gravel cyclists they're 30 years and up. So food is very important, and entertainment is very important. We wanted to take all the parts that aren't a lot of fun out of the whole equation.Wayne Lee

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.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Totes Ma Goats is a bike club out of Alabama. The girls decided to ditch their partners and go on a girls only adventure.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Route planner and ride leader Jayson O'Mahoney and Atomik Carbon's Kevin Linehan go over the details before the riders depart Critter Creek Farm near Gainesville.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Food! After 25 miles of beautiful roads and the only real hill it was time for a sag stop.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
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.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
The ride was fully supported, sag stops, mechanical help if needed, and a trailer to carry all your camping gear and casual clothes if you so desired. While some people did choose to carry their gear with them true bikepacking style, many opted to put their gear in the trailer.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

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...

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
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.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
That night the fog rolled in, and the full moon made everything seem incredibly bright and surreal.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Coffee! While some people decided to wait for the coffee that came with breakfast, many also made their own.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

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.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
While some riders rode boutique carbon gravel bikes from companies such as Open, 3T, and Niner, many didn't. The idea that you have to have some sort of expensive gravel specific bike to go on a supported bike packing trip is completely ludicrous. The right attitude is far more important...

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
The lead group kept a pretty leisurely pace, around 14mph. This kept everything casual and allowed for lots of social interaction.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.
Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.

Rocks Roads Reggae Gravel Bikepacking event in Gainesville Florida.


For more information check out Atomik Adventures

What do you think of gravel riding? Want to see more, let me know in the comments!


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