Gearing Up For Gravel – Adventure off-Road
When the detour becomes the main event, the real fun begins. Switch out the smooth for the rugged with The Gravel Shoe, bike footwear designed with off-road riding adventure at its core.
Silence. Save the scattered notes of birdsong, the gentle swish of wind through the trees, and the crunch of tyres on gravel. When you take a break from the tarmac and head out on a gravel ride, the simple act of pedalling may be the same, but the riding, the location and the experience could not be more different.
To replace the smooth with the rugged and embrace the kind of adventure that can truly begin where the pavement ends, you simply need to switch out your road bike for a gravel bike, or even just swap your road tyres with a grittier alternative. The same goes for your feet. And with the adidas Gravel Shoe, you’ll find all the performance of a road shoe with the enhanced durability, toughness and comfort you need for off-road riding.
The Detour As The Main Event
Emma Bentley thought she knew all there was to know about having fun on a bike. She’d lived and breathed cycling since she was a kid, enjoyed the thrills of racing since her late teens, and in London, her hometown, riding through the city streets was by far her favourite way to get around. Her appetite for all things bike, though huge, felt satisfied.
But that all changed when she joined bike collective The 5th Floor and they invited her on a gravel cycling tour in Peru. “Once I started getting some rides in to prepare for that trip, I discovered what I could do on a gravel bike and the doors that opened up for my riding. It was a game-changer,” says Emma.
Gravel bikes are like the wild free-spirited cousin of road bikes. They have chunkier tyres, which allow you to ride on stony tracks, cinder trails, fields, all the alternative routes basically, which means you can get deep into nature and explore truly remote areas. Places you probably never knew existed, and spots that are off-limits to most cyclists let alone people in motorised vehicles.
The detour becomes the main event, and it’s that potential for original adventure that had Emma hooked right away. “Cycling has always given me freedom,” she says. “Freedom to think and breathe. Getting off the road and onto gravel takes that feeling to the next level. You can quickly find yourself a few miles from a road you've ridden a hundred times - but at the same time, in the middle of nowhere.”
Cycling has always given me freedom...Freedom to think and breathe. Getting off the road and onto gravel takes that feeling to the next level. You can quickly find yourself a few miles from a road you've ridden a hundred times - but at the same time, in the middle of nowhere.Emma Bentley
Escaping The Everyday
It’s inclusive and accessible, especially for people who like riding bikes but haven’t done a lot of road racing. There’s such a mish-mash of people at events and on gravel circuits, and a surge of young people coming into the scene.
It’s not just about where gravel biking can take you, but how transformative the riding can feel along the way. How it removes you from the hamster wheel of everyday life, provides some unpredictability, and takes you to stunning natural landscapes, which help you reset and decompress. “It’s an entirely different sport,” says Emma, “You generally move at a slower pace through your surroundings and stay a bit more focused on what you're doing, taking each moment as it comes. You're immersed in the countryside and experiencing it in a unique way while developing new skills as a rider every time you go out.” And though Emma is well used to riding on busy roads, she says it is of course more chilled when the only traffic is walkers.
The lack of emphasis on speed or pressure to go fast means that gravel cycling attracts a diverse crowd and it’s known for being welcoming to newcomers. “It’s inclusive and accessible, especially for people who like riding bikes but haven’t done a lot of road racing. There’s such a mish-mash of people at events and on gravel circuits, and a surge of young people coming into the scene. Everyone can just do their own thing, and it’s really nice to see people experiment with all the different ways to have fun on a bike.”
The Social Factor
Gravel biking is a massively social sport, and Emma thinks that has a lot to do with its appeal, particularly with younger people. You can’t talk much on the road for obvious safety reasons, but gravel tracks are perfect for side by side riding with friends and the kind of deep chats that beautiful natural backdrops seem to inspire, and of course the type of nature-based socialising that has become so crucial to our health and happiness during Covid times.
Emma still regularly rides on road but now also fits in as many gravel adventures with her friends from The 5th Floor as she can. “Gravel is great for riding with mates - you often have more space to ride freely together and you can learn from each other, particularly when you're newer to gravel and picking up on the differences from road.”
It's just great when you've had a really amazing day, or seen something incredible, to be able to share that with people. I’ve got a long weekend coming up with a couple of friends and I’m genuinely so excited because you create memories you’ll never lose.
And when you’re in a place that isn’t reachable by car, as you often are, you just have this appreciation that you’re seeing things a lot of people don’t get to see.
With gravel, there's an amazing opportunity to bring new ways to have fun on your bike into your repertoire. And with the introduction of The Gravel Shoe, those good times can feel just as sweet for your feet as they do for your mind. Leaving you to focus on the important stuff: the trails, the forests, the lakes, the sky… oh wow, look at that deer...
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