Preparing Gravel Route for Bicycles

I have a few thoughts about preparation of the gravel sections for bicycles. I rode the gravel loop in 2018 with a road bike – skinny high pressure tires and fairly steep gearing (39 tooth chainring and 26 tooth cog). Even though I managed to ride the loop, the bike wasn’t ideal. I’m ready this year with a gravel/all-road bike, and have been riding a lot of gravel over the past year. Road crews tend to use a blade to remove washboards, and lay down a layer of gravel that is about 3 inches deep from edge to edge. This is great for large trucks and farm machinery. On a bike, I prefer that the road be less “improved”. This has some thin spots and lines that can be followed. Similar to picking a line when skiing. I can deal with washboard. I’m glad for road maintenance, but have a better ride on roads that have some use on them, providing a choice of tracks, and less deep gravel. Always glad to share the road with the primary users, but hope we have some bike-friendly conditions on the gravel day this year. Cheers and see you out on the back roads.

1 Reply

KenH, July 8, 2021 at 10:01 am

I can’t tell you what RAGBRAI or the county road crews will actually do. I can tell you that on podcasts Dieter has said that he asks the road departments on his gravel rides to do nothing that wasn’t previously scheduled. Gravel is what it is and dealing with the roads as you find them is part of the gravel rider’s ethos in his opinion. Trust yourself and your new gravel bike. It’s supposed to be an adventure!


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