Gravel riding, also called gravel grinding or adventure riding, is exploding in popularity — and Sisters is the perfect spot for it. 
photo provided
Gravel riding, also called gravel grinding or adventure riding, is exploding in popularity — and Sisters is the perfect spot for it. photo provided
Bicyclists are taking to the gravel in big numbers. Gravel riding — or “gravel grinding” or “adventure riding” combines elements of road- and mountain-biking in distance rides over unpaved roads.

“From a racing and organized riding perspective, it’s blowing up,” said Casey Meudt of Blazin Saddles bike shop in Sisters. He notes that the august Cycle Oregon is offering a gravel riding option for the first time this year.

With miles and miles of unpaved forest roads at our doorstep, Sisters is a natural fit for this particular cycling phenomenon.

“We happen to be in the best place for that style of riding,” Meudt said.

Gravel riding is appealing to families and riders of varying abilities. It’s not technical.

“It’s not extreme, like mountain-biking can be,” Meudt said. “We’re actually seeing a lot of mountain-bikers

Yet it’s also adventurous, venturing off the roadway into often wild and scenic country. And it avoids the potential for conflict with vehicles that is prevalent on paved roadways and highways (see story, page 3).

In terms of equipment, purpose-built gravel bikes resemble road bikes in configuration, with larger tires and the tire pressure considerably reduced.

“It’s surprisingly efficient,” Meudt said.

Some people simply ride a hard-tail mountain bike, although that doesn’t offer as many position options for a long-distance ride.

Blazin Saddles and Sisters Athletic Club are partnering for a free “Get Into Gravel” two-part series.

“We will discuss what this gravel riding craze is all about,” Meudt said. “The gear, the local rides and the tips and tricks to make for a better and more enjoyable gravel experience.”

Get Into Gravel #1 is set for Thursday, May 16, 6 to 8 p.m. at Blazin Saddles. There is no need to bring riding gear.

Sign up for limited gravel demo bikes available for discount for the Get Into Gravel #2 ride night. Call the shop to reserve bikes and sign up at 541-719-1213.

Get Into Gravel #2 runs May 23 at Sisters Athletic Club, 6 to 7:30 p.m. The ride ends at SAC and Three Creeks Brewing Co. for optional food and

drinks.