Gravel riders are a funny breed. They’re certainly not averse to the hard efforts that a road ride can provide, but they prefer it to go hand in hand with the kind of fun and adrenaline more commonly associated with mountain biking.
Like the bikes, the gravel rider is evolving, but there are a number of sure-fire ways to identify that #groadie.
1. Tattoos (and beards if male)
What better way to show off your individuality than by decking yourself out with excessive facial hair and skin art?
When it comes to the male face, either go full bush or a neatly sculpted ‘rugged’ look, because that’s how real men’s facial hair should be, apparently.
Your body art should preferably be designed yourself, or, at the very least, in close consultation with the artist over an agonisingly detailed series of emails.
The tattoo should also be extensive, hint at your prowess and fearless attitude on the bike, and will ideally have been applied in a fashionable neighbourhood in Berlin or New York City.
2. Signature hat
While some roadies insist on sporting those goofy little cycling caps off the bike, and mountain bikers rock the flat-brimmed baseball cap, the true groadie aims to be unique with his or her headwear also.
Whether it’s a multi-coloured, hand knitted ear-warmer or a pattagucci non-flat-brimmed baseball cap, the idea is that nobody else has a hat quite like yours, and you’ll rarely be seen without it.
3. Party pace
Emotionally suspended somewhere between stoic roadie and super-caz mountain biker, the groadie’s pace on the bike reflects this tweener state. As such, on most gravel rides it would be rude to do nothing but hammer away head down like a road racer, yet stopping and chatting every three minutes at each and every bloody junction like a mountain biker would be excessive, too.
The true gravel rider can ride at a steady pace, but one that still lets you have a laugh with your mates. Fun and fitness meet here.
4. Impeccably curated Instagram
If your instagram account isn’t full of self-consciously understated images right at the bleeding edge of the modern aesthetic zeitgeist then can you really claim to be a true gravelista?
Everyone loves those inspirational shots of big rides in incredible locations, and the gravel bike’s versatility provides ample opportunity to get those snaps over brook or yonder hill.
Oh, and those of you who put #nofilter on your pictures? We don’t believe you. iPhones are good, but they don’t automatically turn out images with the exact look of a Leica M2 loaded with Kodachrome.
5. Eschewing tradition
Yes, the gravel bike is the latest N+1 bike, but those who’ve committed to the gravel bug are likely the riders who toss tradition into the trash can and are well up for breaking the rules.
Want to run 650b+ slick tyres on your drop-barred singlespeed? Go for it.
Massively flared handlebars? Have at it.
Cover your frame and bars in bags? The world is your flamboyantly designed oyster.
If you’ve escaped the strict rules of roadie culture, embrace the freedom with your bike.
If getting off the actual and proverbial beaten path is what you’re after, then perhaps none of the above five things apply to you at all — in which case, congratulations — you are the graveliest groadie of all.