Gravel Grinders and Urban Adventures

I think the funniest thing on the internet is how intense people get about “What Is Gravel?”

Is it CX? Is it Bike Packing? 1x vs 2x ? 35, 40 or 45 mm? 25, 35, 40 psi?

Doesn’t matter. Just get on your bike and ride whereever it takes you.

In the other FORUM TOPIC called CX…I laid out the history of CycloCross in the Club. But when CX’rs are not “running” with their bike over their shoulders, they are riding their CX bikes on the gravel roads and trails. We have always entered Paris To Ancaster in WAVES of green jersey’s over the past 15 years. Why not do that all year around?

Early organized WCC gravel rides were lead by Steve Shikaze on Saturday morning. Igor’s “Getting Lost In The Dark” on Tuesday’s. And Bill Frier’s Monday Evening Gravel Rides.

They became VERY popular ALL inclusive rides where anyone with a bike could come out and be sure not to be dropped and have a great time exploring. Well…and then there was Igor’s rides…LEGENDARY to this day. With my favourite Igor quote being…“I have no idea where we are…but I am positive it is this way.”

Here was a typical Saturday ride that I managed to capture with the Club GoPro. We still start at the same place today. Every Saturday at 9am.

Jim D. and I generally lead an “intermediate” group of riders. And with any luck we have a stop at a coffee shop or bakery…or pick butter tarts out of a cart sitting at the side of the trail (4 for $4). And more often than not, Brent D. will have a batch of post-ride delights back in the parking lot.

Our new El Presidente, Kevin…has taken Gravel to a next level. And by “next level”…we had to create a SCALE to categorize each of his “types of rides” so that we could anticipate what we needed to bring? Extra water? Change of Clothes? Hacksaw? We christened it…the KAS system. Kevin Adventure Scale (KAS).

He had (still has) a penchant for veering toward EVERY non-ventured trail he sees. Which is often not a trail…but a bog…or farmers field covered in 4 feet of snow…that sort of thing?

Then he introduced Urban Adventure rides to the club…with mind-dizzying RideWithGPS routes through-out the city covering every single patch of trail, grass and path that one could ride (and not ride). They are truly an adventure.

Anyway…Gravel is the great equalizer and bringer-together of the people from across the club. There is something for everyone. The vistas are alway inspiring. There are virtually no cars. And the gravel roads and adventures are endless.


To Alain’s point regarding inclusivity. I joined WCC in Sept. 2019. I had recently started gravel riding and was hoping to start doing some group riding. I am usually one of the slower riders in the peloton and had some concerns that I would be dropped and end up riding solo. To the contrary I was welcomed into the group immediately and have never been left alone. It is a great group and a ton of fun. We have great gravel and endless options to explore the routes less travelled.
As for Kevin’s adventure routes. How about this one. Fatbiking in early February this year. Why don’t we try this frozen creek bed just for kicks.


Do you remember the time when I had to hold/push Jim up a 6ft snow bank to get us out of a frozen creek bed in the middle of winter.

This was THAT time !


Yes it was Alain. A night to remember for sure.

Gravel riding is the best, I especially loved the LITD night rides. Our local gravel race (Steaming Nostril) was also fantastic. Hopefully this race will make a comeback some day :slight_smile:


great posts guys, let there be more doubt the gravel rides are more “fun” and social side of WCC. When I started cycling again maybe 15 years ago I only had a ccx bike and quickly was exposed as a poser on the Tuesday night ride - although at the time there was much more intermediate on Tuesdays than there is these days. I think gravel was becoming more of a thing back then and I soon settled in as semi regular - mostly Monday’s with Bill I think. 3 years into it and I would still have no idea where I was and thought I was seeing new gravel roads every week. There is just soo much out there to explore. Now with trying to keep up with Kevin (occansionaly) I can be “lost” without being 5km from home!


Ahhh gravel grinders. I remember when we started those back in about 2012! The first rides I organized were not through WCC - informal rides arranged through email. We explored all the roads that many of us know now. I didn’t have a cx or gravel bike - I rode an old hardtail that I modified with 700c wheels and cx tires. Nowadays, I’ve replaced that bike (though it still sits idly at home) with my all-purpose gravel/adventure/ride-anywhere bike and I haven’t looked back. I haven’t been on my mountain bike in 3 days. My road bike sits on my trainer. Gravel is where it’s at!

I blogged last year about some of my favourite gravel roads


Why did I buy a road bike? I am a roadie my nature…apparently I need to get dirty and get a gravel bike…order up!


Yes, I wanted to try some gravel rides but was not going to buy another bike so I built this:

It is an old hardtail MTB frame I had kicking around. Bought a carbon fork, some salsa wide drop bars and brifters.

I can run it with skinny 700C tires, small 29er tires, or swap wheels and use 650b wide 44mm gravel tires.

I had some growing pains getting it setup ( a few dropped chains on the 1X front ring on some rides) but I really like it now.

Gravel is a lot of fun - - I just wish the Region was not paving everywhere around here now. It is disappearing.


You have inspired me to take my old Cannondale Caffiene F3 aluminum MTB and see if I can build it into gravel bike. The trick will be the carbon fork based on the large head tube and limited conversion kits. If someone is knowledgeable here that woul dbe great. Bars and wheels will be easy…its the stem and folk that will be a challenge, I think.

Sellution mtb makes a whole bunch of different headset reducers, one of them might work for that frame.

If the 26" wheels are still good you could also just run them… tires are a bit tricky for that size but panaracer made the gravel kings in 26" but I dunno if stock is still available or not. They are expensive but René Herse makes a 26" tire that is very nice… I have the 700c version and it’s really good. I got my RH tires from Mariposa in Toronto.


I converted my 30+ year old 26" MTB…er…30 years ago into a drop bar, slick tired bike courier “gravel bike”. Back then we called it a “John Tomac Special”. :smirk:

Rode it on some WCC gravel rides last fall and it was fun. The slicks are 1.5". I bought 1.7" with a bit of tread (in the pic) but swapped back to the slicks.


Nah, there are an awful lot of carbon fork options in many different sizes available especially if you are willing to buy direct from a Taiwan manufacturer.

Also if you look at companies like Cane Creek the options for modifications via headsets are huge. They will have one that works.

Let us know how it goes or if you want some suggestions what are the dimensions for the headtube on that frame?


Thanks Steven, I will look into the suggestions…however the more I look at this, the more and expense there seems to be in doing this. I will probably and go ahead with the new headset and fork so i have a “pub crawl” bike with my wife. I just need to buy a proper gravel bike…if I can find one!!! I would like the ORBEA, Litespeed or Cervelo.

1 Like

I just checked out the video. I think that’s me in the red :slight_smile: Man that brings back good memories. I sold that bike yesterday and just picked up a new 2021 Giant Revolt Advanced 2 so I am ready to start on those rides again :slight_smile: I hated the braking on that bike especially in winter so I rode it less and less. Told the guy I sold it to the braking sucked but he took it anyway. I sold two bikes in the last two for what I thought were outrageous prices. They both sold within minutes of posting. Strange times.