Not all gravel is the same. Cycling 50 miles a day on backcountry gravel roads gives one a taste of the diversity of gravel. Road geology changes as frequently as spring weather in the northwest, and gravel comes in all shades of gray, rusted orange, cinnamon and even purple.

There’s the fishtailing in sand type of gravel, lovely packed gravel, thick red pumice, ash grey newly laid and total pain in the ass gravel and lastly pavement!

The apocalyptic remnants of old volcanoes near Paulina Crater, and Crater Lake were some of the toughest gravel to pull through these past weeks. It felt like hours of riding with flat tires, as the sandy, thick pumice attempted to pull our bike tires into quick sand oblivion.

There were a few places where burly mountain bike tires would have made my day, and other sections where our light cycle-cross bikes felt like they had wings. We rode gravel the majority of the way from NE Oregon into California, and criss-crossed a fine border between mountain bike terrain and cycle-cross by the hour.

Any laments I had for the mountain bike tires I’d left at home were overridden by two full days of clean, one-lane pavement heading into the Strawberry Wilderness area and again into the Ochoco Forest. One-lane pavement with not a single vehicle all day in the middle of spring green wilderness was as dreamy a day as could be. We were all transported to childhood days of timeless meandering on wheels.

I called my set of wheels my “Old Girl, and I owe that Old Girl for the adventure of a lifetime and a safe journey home.


Image: Cycling on a gravel road with sponsor David de Rothschild – image by David Moskowitz