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Embracing Gravel: A Primer for The Dirty Mudgee and Beyond

So you’ve committed to tackling the Dirty Mudgee gravel cycling event and eager to dive into the exhilarating world of off-road riding.

Gravel cycling, as you’ve likely heard, is a burgeoning frontier within the cycling community, offering a thrilling escape from traffic, the urban hustle, and smooth paved roads. Venturing onto gravel lanes and paths opens a whole new world and allows you to immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the Australian bush, where every ride promises a new adventure.

Early mornings, quiet roads and endless gravel – dreamy country cycling conditions.

Starting Out

Transitioning from road to gravel riding can be a shock to the system, as your muscles adapt to new challenges and terrains. Expect to feel the burn as you tackle dirt hills and navigate rocky surfaces. But fear not, for these challenges are part of the thrill of gravel riding and offer a unique test of skill and endurance.

Keen road & gravel rider Julie-Anne Hazlett at the start of the 2023 Dirty Mudgee gravel event.

Gravel Riders Unite

The beauty of starting your gravel riding journey in Australia is that you’re not alone. Communities of off-road enthusiasts are flourishing, fostered by local bike shops and event organisers such as the team at Bicycling Australia’s Classics. At the start line of any gravel event, you’ll find yourself surrounded by fellow riders, all eager to tackle the trails and share in the camaraderie of the gravel cycling community.

10 Gravel Essentials

As you prepare to embark on your gravel adventures, it’s essential to equip yourself with the right gear and knowledge. From navigation tools to first aid kits, here are 10 essentials to ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride:

1. Navigation: A reliable GPS computer or smartphone app is crucial for staying on course during your gravel adventures. Ensure your device is fully charged and your maps are downloaded before setting out!

2. First Aid: Be prepared for the unexpected by carrying a basic first aid kit, including essentials like bandages and a space blanket.

3. The Right Pedals: Invest in pedals designed for off-road riding, such as Crankbrothers Egg Beaters, which excel at shedding mud and debris.

4. Shoes: Opt for durable gravel cycling shoes, like the Northwave Hammer Plus or Fizik Terra to keep you comfortable and confident on the trails.

Wider tyres such as 40mm will help, especially when climbing looser sections of road.

5. Tyres: Choose tyres suited to the terrain you’ll be riding. We’d also recommend going tubeless for added puncture protection.

6. Tyre Plugs: These handy accessories are not just for MTB riders – properly used they quickly repair large tyre punctures, ensuring you stay on the trail.

7. PMP Valves: Upgrade to high-performance valves for faster air access and easy sealant checks – this is a real time saver.

8. Bike Check: Regular maintenance is key to keeping your bike in top condition. Clean and lube your gravel bike after each ride! And it’s always wise to establish solid rapport with the team at your local bike shop for expert assistance.

There’s nothing new about gravel riding – the pros have been racing on it for years! But the recent boom in gravel has led to way more gravel-specific bikes, parts and accessories – a win win for the sport. Image: Sirotti.

9. Frame Bags: Find the right balance of weight distribution with a saddle bag or handlebar bag to carry essential gear on your rides. Sure Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner may point you out and give you light hearted grief at the startline, but you’ll have everything on board for the day.

10. Bikes: Choose a gravel bike with ample tyre clearance and versatility to tackle a variety of terrain. You’d be looking for 38 to 40mm of clearance, and a more upright ‘endurance’ style geometry – hunching down low while traversing fast gravel is not for the faint hearted. The Orbea Terra is one of Bicycling Australia’s top pics, as is the impressive Kaha from Chapter 2.

Country roads, stunning sunsets, and endless gravel – Karen Norris aka ‘LifeInAngles’ rides a gravel road in North East Victoria.

Summing up, gravel offers endless opportunities for exploration, camaraderie, and adventure. Whether you’re gearing up for the Dirty Mudgee event or simply eager to explore new trails, embrace the challenge and excitement that gravel riding has to offer.

With the right bike, tyres, gear, preparation, and mindset, your gravel adventures will lead to magic memories. So saddle up, hit the trails, and let the gravel take you on a ride you’ll never forget.

Are you ready to take on the Dirty Mudgee at the 2024 Mudgee Classic? Register now and prepare for the ride of a lifetime.


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