I began riding gravel when I moved to the Stossel Creek area (east of Duvall) 25 years ago.
So why gravel?
I like to explore and answer the question: “I wonder where that road goes?” It’s hard. The hills can be steeper and the surface rougher than most paved roads. You see stuff. Like bears. Cougars. Bobcats. And amazing vistas and remote lakes. And it’s challenging – there are seldom any road signs and it (used to be) hard to find good maps. And there are WAY fewer cars. I always wave to the logging truck drivers – it’s their road.
Where do I ride?
I like the Marckworth Forest (Stossel Creek) and the Snoqualmie Tree Farm. They are close by, there are miles of roads, and very few people. I even ride there at night. I love Central Oregon. Yes, the single track is awesome, but I once rode from Sun River to Paulina Peak and back in a day, all on logging roads. I am starting to explore the Olympic Peninsula, including the (washed out) Dosewallips River Road, the Dungeness Valley, and now the BigQuil. I found a great gravel ride near Vantage that I have been meaning to try again.
But ya gotta be careful!
I once tore off a derailleur riding at dusk about 10 miles from car. That was a long walk home. I have a 70 mile loop that starts and ends near my house. If I wipe out on a Saturday afternoon 30 miles from home on a little-used logging road, who’s going to find me? I carry tools, water, lights, some first aid supplies, and extra clothes. I usually leave a message with my family with info on where I parked and when I will be back.
What do I ride?
My favorite gravel ride is a Specialized 29’er hardtail. It’s geared low for hills and the front suspension helps keep my hands on the grips when bombing down a rough road. Every moving part on it has been replaced at least twice. I do ride a cross bike on occasion. Often when the 29’er is broken.
I still kayak, ski, and hike. I even ride single track and pavement. But I love covering ground on a gravel bike.