An ode to escapism

An ode to escapism

AN ODE TO ESCAPISM

As the sun sets into the horizon and the countryside turns to golden hues, the dust kicks off your tyres and dances in the light like fairy dust. This is it, this is why your gravel ride – There is just something about gravel riding that is different. It is something indescribably special. You say why gravel I say why not?
 
More so than anything else, gravel riding is all about following those back roads to see where they go, a chance to escape to where adventure begins.
 
Where does an adventure begin, how do you get there what is the medium for this space? There is no prescribed way, it requires a path separate from other lines, a different direction, a divergence. Gravel riding is not only a style of bike but a philosophy on riding. It is not following the well-trodden path but making your own. It means stopping at that fork in the road and considering for a moment which one do I take? Which one is less ridden? Am I going to get lost….again?

The dirt or gravel roads are as much ingrained in the Australian psyche as they are in a Slim Dusty’s songs. From the dusty trails winding their way into the bush to the sandy tracks leading off into the desert. From one day epic local loops, weekend flings into the known or following the footsteps of the “Overlanders”. To explore these roads takes more than a road bike because these are more than roads.

The dirt or gravel roads are as much ingrained in the Australian psyche as they are in a Slim Dusty’s songs. From the dusty trails winding their way into the bush to the sandy tracks leading off into the desert. From one day epic local loops, weekend flings into the known or following the footsteps of the “Overlanders”. To explore these roads takes more than a road bike because these are more than roads.

My love affair with dirt and gravel roads began when I tipped into my first kitty litter corner and slid around the corner. I expect I was about 10. Some of these corners stayed rubber side down some did not. I am older but the feeling has not changed. The capability of road bikes has progressed to meet the needs of this style of riding.

My love affair with dirt and gravel roads began when I tipped into my first kitty litter corner and slid around the corner. I expect I was about 10. Some of these corners stayed rubber side down some did not. I am older but the feeling has not changed. The capability of road bikes has progressed to meet the needs of this style of riding.

The Diverge, is more than just a road bike. It has the gravel goods to be the goods on gravel. For roads where the condition of the sealed ones are worse than the gravel roads they take you to, what you require is a capable ride to take on any road condition that comes your way so that you can concentrate on getting lost from the same old rides along the same old roads. The new diverge geometry provides a faster bike with more control. How do you achieve this? Longer, slacker rake and trail with a tuned head angle to take on the rides you can dream up.
 
Corrugation the formation of periodic, traverse ripples on the surface of gravel and dirt roads, there is nothing quite like riding seemingly endless corrugation rattling you to pieces. The old bushman's myth of “Lower tyre pressure and high speed are the cure to the vibration of the corrugations” does not hold up. Speed will get the trip over quicker but the vibrations will be more severe, tyre pressure will make the ride smoother but also increases the potential for tyre damage and blow out.
 
Pick your line, anticipate the changing conditions of the road to create a smoother ride. Have equipment which is capable for this style of touring. Future Shock for cobbles, but turns out it’s the ultimate technology for riding rough road, thick gravel, and chunky dirt. Future Shock 2.0’s adjustable, hydraulically damped travel keeps you in control and on target, all while protecting your hands, arms, and shoulders from the battering.

Muddy rutted roads and trails, I don’t ride mud unless its absolutely necessary, sure it looks fun but will cause track damage and potentially bike damage of course sometimes there is no other way so you simply have to take the plunge. Lower tyre pressures will provide a longer footprint better traction. The wider the tyres the better. When picking a line check the depth of the ruts if present. If they are not too deep they are more than likely the best route. If you feel your wheels start to spin in the mud, that’s okay; in fact, the rotational forces will help to clear the tread blocks giving the tyres a better chance of gaining purchase. Nothing unlocks potential like tire clearance 47mm on a 700c wheel and 2.1” on 650B. Crazy, but wait until you rip a descent with that much rubber.
 
Isolation, gravel roads are a ticket into the further unknown, even if this is a just a local loop. Seeking isolation requires self-reliance to have what you need to go further. Self-reliance means that you may need to carry more to deal with what the unknown may though your way. The Diverge’s internal SWAT compartment takes the gear out of your pockets and puts it low in the frame, improving handling and keeping you more comfortable.
 
Gravel road riding is arguably about escape, once this escape is found it hold onto it. The escape can take many paths, no two paths are the same local loops to long haul rides the aim is the same. Draw a line in the dirt, grind the gravel, to where the sealed road ends and we escape.
 
The rest is now up to you grab a map……..or not. Setting off with a half baked plan on your own path, part of it will work, part of it won't, but isn’t that the point of an adventure story? They are made when it didn’t go to plan.
 
Written by Scott Mattern - @scott_mattern
Images by Josh Firth - @vertigojosh