Gravel circa 1994 – 26″ wheeled mountain bike and hip pack (not being used for Enduro™) included.
All joking aside, I stumbled upon a couple of articles the other day in a 1994 edition of Bike Magazine. One article written by Mike Ferrentino (one of my favorite journalists of the day) was Fire Roads. It’s not a long article but is pretty spot on about the idiosyncrasies that make riding gravel (or in the article’s case– fire roads) cool.
Fire road. Dirt road. Jeep trail. Unpaved access. Wide, flat, featureless, not worth the dirt it’s graded from, plain old boring fire road. The albatross around every mountain biker’s grimy ancient mariner neck. Somewhere the fire road got a bad rap. That’s not to say that singletrack isn’t the twisty path to nirvana that we all pursue with grail-hunting determination. Not at all. What I have a problem with here is the negativity that so many of us all register towards my good friend the fire road. – Mike Ferrentino, Bike Magazine, June 1994
That paragraph, and the article in general, sums up many of my feelings on riding gravel and dirt roads. The joys of being out in the middle of nowhere on your bike is one of the best and one should never discount the potential enjoyment to be had from a ride or race based solely on whether it’s in the woods on singletrack or on a desolate gravel road.
In the same issue, on the very next page in fact, there is another article by Rob Story called Long Rides that is also very worthy of checking out. By the way, the photo above by Larry Prosor is actually taken from that piece, not the Fire Roads article. If you can track down the June 1994 issue of Bike it’s totally worth it.
Oh, the 90s… wheels may have been smaller, bikes may have been heavier, and parts and clothing may have been more shades of purple and neon green but riding bikes is riding bikes, no matter the year, time or surface under the wheels.
Photo and article excerpt were reproduced with hopeful permission from Bike Magazine, Mike Ferrentino and Larry Prosor.