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Gravel Essentials? Here's some top tips from our team.

Gravel Essentials? Here's some top tips from our team.

Gravel Essentials? Here's some top tips from our team.

We all love gravel. No cars, no fumes, no traffic lights, a sense of discovery, a real connection with nature, it's safe to say gravel is here to stay. 

But as you explore the forests and hills, it's quite easy to get things wrong and with no local shop within riding distance, it's wise to prepare the journey correctly to avoid finding yourself stuck in the mud. 

So here's some top tips from us at Richmond Cycles to get you exploring safely. 

   

1. "Plan your route properly" - Anthony, Store Mechanic

It's really easy to look at a screen and think "I'll be fine". Have you ever heard "famous last words"? Yeah, so have we. 

There is a range of tools from Komoot, to Strava and Trailheads, which help you plan a proper route. This means that you can see the correct elevation, the difficulty of terrain and this will help you enjoy your ride and not find yourself in a sticky situation. 

We would recommend to get a cycle computer such as a Wahoo Roam to make sure you can download your routes in advance. There is nothing worse than having to stop at each fork to get your phone out. 

We would also recommend that if you're riding in a group, you don't rely on only one person having the route downloaded. 

I tried to follow a route from Matt's Strava on one of the first days it reached 30C in the summer. Realised half way through that I needed to cut it short. After turning left,, crashing through brambles, woodland and general undergrowth, I ended up in the back of a paintball place near Effingham. The owner was fairly unimpressed and asked me why I was on private property. 

Anthony, Store Mechanic

    


        

2. Wear the right shoes - Jake, Store Manager 

It's essential on your gravel ride to wear the right shoes. Road shoes are less than ideal as sometimes you might need to hop off the bike and walk. The last thing you want at that stage is to have annoying road cleats under your feet. Needless to say that you might damage them too. A great pair of MTB shoes or gravel shoes, coupled with some SPD pedals will work a treat. Alternatively, if you are not comfortable clipping in, some flat MTB pedals and some MTB flat shoes (or any pair of trainers with a rigid and sticky sole) will do the job nicely!

A decent set of MTB shoes and cleats, as I've found out the hard way, road cleats and £300 carbon road shoes aren't ideal for hiking up rocky trails.

Jake, Store Manager

        


        

3. "Them Fidlock Boa Thingies" - Anthony P, Mechanic

Them Fidlock boa thingies. I've attached all sorts of random stuff to my bike using it. 

Anthony P, Mechanic 

You can pretty much tie up anything to your bike with the Fidlock Uni connector. It turns any object into a cageless water bottle. Check out this review from Bike Rumour if you want to see some "in action" images and an illustrated opinion of this product.

    

     


        

        

4. Bring enough food and drinks - Belinda, team member 

When you ride gravel, you won't get the opportunity to pop over in a corner shop to buy a couple of snacks so make sure you bring plenty with you. Nothing like a lovely lunch on a field with a view! We recommend to fill up your frame bags with delicious snacks to keep you going throughout the day. 

When it comes to water, ensure that you have plenty. One bottle will simply not be enough. We recommend a minimum of two. Some brands also so some excellent backpack, which have a water bladder in them. You can then carry an extra 2 to 3 L of water depending on the length of your ride. 

   


    

5. Don't be afraid to go electric - Phil, Team Member

If you want to go riding with a group but you are conscious that you might be slightly slower, or if you simply want to cover more ground in a limited amount of time. Don't be scared to go electric. There is loads of options now of gravel electric bikes to suit all budgets and riding distance. They have become lighter and lighter and the batteries are now lasting longer than ever. 

If you have any questions on e-bikes, check out our other blog post, which answers the 10 most common questions. 

Ensure however that your battery is fully charged before setting off. 

          

        

   


    

        

6. Enjoy your surroundings and take the time to look at the view - Richard, Store Owner

Gravel riding gives you a unique opportunity to connect with nature. Away from the cars and fumes of road cycling and the technical concentration of MTB, gravel takes things slow and gives you the change to take it all in.

Enjoy the smells of bark, leaves and soil, watch the incredible views, which will present themselves to you. See beauty in the little things and enjoy the slower pace of riding. 

This is the perfect opportunity to stop and have a chat with your riding mate, sat on a fallen tree trunk. 

Enjoy those precious moments, which are more and more rare in the current faster pace of life. 

Breathe it in, breathe it out, be present. 

          

Our Gravel Essentials

     

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