Here at Great Freedom Adventures, we’d say a gravel grinder is freedom on two wheels. We concede though that some might classify the more insane rides out there as hell on wheels. We recently launched a new (sane) Gravel Grinder Bike Tour. It’s a tour through Vermont and New Hampshire like we’ve never done before and we are pretty excited about it! While we are quickly taking to the fastest growing segment in cycling, it’s still relatively new and perhaps unknown to most. So really, what exactly is a gravel grinder?

what is a gravel grinder

A gravel grinder is a bike race, ride or tour that usually combines riding on a variety of surfaces such as asphalt, gravel, hard-packed dirt, rocky terrain and possibly even single track. You could say gravel grinders are a bridge between mountain biking and road biking. And depending on the route and the rider, it might be a serene spin on scenic dirt roads or a heart rate redlining climb followed by a brake smoking descent.

How Gravel Grinders Differ

Great Freedom Adventures offers a number of tours that take riders through Vermont and New Hampshire. GFA’s Gravel Grinder Bike Tour (and gravel grinders in general) allow the rider to explore new places they might otherwise not see when sticking to the pavement. Riding backcountry roads gets you off the beaten path and puts you right in the middle of nature. The Rivers and Ridgelines Vermont Gravel Grinder Bike Tour takes adventuresome cyclists into the untraveled countryside for a rare experience. Biking these ancient dirt roads allows riders to experience the real Vermont and New Hampshire in a way that is totally immersive and invigorating. This is an experience only a gravel grinder bike tour could give!

Gravel Bikes & Gear

GFA’s Gravel Grinder Bike Tour encompasses mostly smooth dirt roads along with stretches of paved roads. But given that it’s primarily in the Green Mountain State, it does include a number of hills that are sure to improve climbing skills. Because gravel grinders are often more intense than road rides, it’s important to be properly equipped. Gravel specific bikes are sort of a combination of road bikes and cyclocross bikes and they’re great on the kind of mixed bag of terrain found on gravel grinders. In general, the head tube is taller and the geometry more relaxed than on a racing bike and the bottom bracket is lower than on a cross bike. And the wheelbase is longer – more like a touring bike. Disk brakes are the standard.

gravel grinder bike tour

But with some modifications, the bike you already own may work as well. Swap out skinny road tires for beefier ones – 28c+ are good in most cases. Unless you have a race bike, you probably have enough clearance for a 28c tire. And many newer race bikes do accommodate a 28c. Disk brakes are best but if you aren’t riding crazy steep downhills, wet surfaces or loaded with gear, your well-maintained existing brakes will suffice. And of course, your gearing should be low enough to tackle the hills on your ride.

Besides having the right bike set-up, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared for backcountry riding. Carry one or two waterbottles on the bike or a lightweight pack filled with adequate water and snacks. When it comes to clothing, layers are key. Due to changes in conditions, a rider can quickly go from chilly to warm and back again. The temperature and how hard your body is working can change just as quickly as the terrain on a gravel grinder.

Fortunately, riders on Great Freedom Adventures Gravel Grinder Bike Tour don’t have to worry too much. Vehicle support means that extra water, snacks and gear are nearby. And having a guide cycling with riders means that interesting area info plus gravel riding technique tips are just an ask away. Whether you are a seasoned gravel grinder or trying out cycling’s hottest thing for the first time, the Rivers and Ridgelines Vermont Gravel Grinder will get you stoked!

Jessica Baker
Head Honcho of Communications, Great Freedom Adventures