Word and photos by Michele Minessi
Gravel is not a fad, and even if it were, it’s not a fad for me. Who am I? A lover of outdoor activities and, in particular, biking in all its forms.
“Come to town by bike and have a beer?” “ok!”… ” Shall we go off the top of a mountain on trails?” “ok”… “Shall we go on a lot of alpine passes this we?” “ok” “Loaded bikes and go on vacation?” “ok!”…
My life has always been like that since I started pedaling, and it’s still going on now… however, discovering the gravel has immediately filled that sense of incompleteness of hundreds of kilometers of alpine passes on roads that have become more and more dangerous, or mtb rides to reach a peak a few kilometers from where I started.
All very nice and rewarding, of course, I will continue to do these things, but a gravel bike for me is the charm of a ride studied on the maps, it’s road but it is also off-road, it’s about climbing a beautiful alpine road at a pace and efforts similar to a racing bike and, once at the top, a plunge into old dirt roads at high altitude and then down into a new valley, it’s hanging three bags to go on vacation, it’s the discovery of the territory that slowly tints that dark mental map of forests, roads, villages and small and insignificant but beautiful details that I always ignored and never would have discovered and that now I proudly collect, I take friends there or advise anyone who asks me.
In addition, it’s the sense of freedom, it’s touching nature not just from the roadside, it’s moving fast in the urban jungle, it’s its natural aptitude to clock up the miles, it’s the reliability of the solid and essential tool, a frame, large tires and very efficient brakes. It’s about being able to ride on roads, b-roads and forests in total safety and, last but not least, it’s the sense of strain and satisfaction of bringing the body to a tiredness that I love to look for.
This is what I love about this bike, it’s not for everyone but this is what has connected me to this tool.
Will it be a fad? Maybe … I welcome any fad that improves the experience and the sense of well-being that gives me, and then let’s face it … a gravel bike is really beautiful. Since I was a child, I have loved the racing bike, its shapes and its essentiality and, many times, I tried to mount the biggest tires possible because hell yes, it was beautiful to go crazy but it had technical limitations; however, someone has created it for me now and really did a great job!
There will always be someone who tells me “I used to do those things with just one bike and I didn’t call it a gravel bike, mtb or racing bike”…probably, what they lack is everything I’ve told you, gravel is just a tool.
Enough words… let’s get out, stay outdoors, pedal, plan, sweat, have fun and enjoy!