Gravel Culture

Finding the right gravel ride

To help you find a gravel ride that is right for you, we define a couple of ride attributes. The first is ride culture. Ride culture defines the group dynamics for the ride. The other attribute is ride style. Ride style deals with the terrain.

Gravel Cultures

All gravel rides are about getting off the beaten path, whether you like to get on the gravel for the adventure, quieter roads, trails, nature, or some other reason. Longer rides will commonly have a stop to restock nutrition. Details will be added to specific ride posts in the club’s Discourse Forums.

Every attempt is made to make our gravel rides no drop. As a rider, it is your responsibility to notify the ride leader as soon as you feel you may be at risk of falling off the group. If you are uncomfortable being dropped, the ride leader will adjust the group to accommodate. All riders leaving a group must report the departure to the ride leader.


Spirited pace. Riders are expected to keep the pace of the group. There will be brief stops at convenient locations (e.g. stop signs) to regroup. Riders who are struggling to keep the pace should expect the group will not continue to wait.

What to expect on a fast gravel ride

  • Similar to intermediate, but with a quicker pace on all aspects of the ride.

What fast gravel rides expect of you

  • Same as what an intermediate gravel ride expects from you including adherence to the Highway Traffic Act.

  • You have strong technical riding skills as the routes can be more technical and you are expected to ride at a faster pace.

Intermediate (Int)

Strong, steady pace with a plan to work hard, and keep the group together when appropriate such as working a head wind. Although riders string out a bit, they are expected to generally keep the pace of the group. There will be occasional stops to allow hard-working riders to regroup.

What to expect on an intermediate gravel ride

  • Intermediate gravel rides combine a faster pace and less stops for a steadier, more vigorous workout with all the benefits of a gravel ride.

  • Most riders are comfortable riding in a group. Riding in 2 abreast formations is common.

  • When the group splits apart, as it will from time to time, we will stop and re-group at stop signs or at the ride leader’s discretion.

  • It is a no drop ride.

What intermediate gravel rides expect of you

  • You have the confidence in your bike handling skills and fitness to safely ride gravel roads and trails.

  • Safety on the road is a huge priority, and communication is an important part of safety. Talk to others in the group. Point out hazards. The Highway Traffic Act MUST be followed, including one foot down at all signed stops. Provide friendly advice to those who can use it.

  • If an estimated pace is posted it normally factors in weather conditions such as wind when riding in group formation. If you prefer to not ride in the group formation, make sure the posted pace is manageable for you in the forecast conditions.

  • Being self-sufficient. Tools, spare tubes, pump, cell phone, drinks, food, money, sunscreen. You may need to return home by yourself if keeping the group together is impossible

Recreational (Rec)

Relaxed pace and atmosphere. Riders can work together as a group when it is beneficial to do so. At other times the group can spread out as desired to allow a safe distance for you to enjoy our beautiful countryside.

What to expect of recreational gravel ride

  • A fun social ride. This ride is great for those who do not want to ride in a tight formation.

  • More relaxed pace than that of the more advanced gravel cultures.

  • More stops to regroup, grab a snack, a selfie, etc..

What recreational gravel rides expect of you

  • These rides should be fun for all participants. Everyone should be given a fair opportunity to ride at the front of the group if they choose. This gives them an unobstructed view, allows the group to see a comfortable pace for them, and allows for smoother acceleration if there are a lot of slow downs such as for gates on a rail trail.

  • The Highway Traffic Act MUST be followed, including one foot down at all signed stops.

  • If an estimated pace is posted, make sure this isn’t too slow for you. If you are unsure if you can maintain the pace, reach out to the ride leader in the specific ride’s post in the Discourse Forum to discuss options.


Over time different styles of gravel rides have emerged. Rides will normally include the style in order to help you find the right ride for you. Within each style there are different cultures - see above.


These rides seek to find quieter routes, but all typically are firm surfaces that resemble maintained roads: graded, surfaced (firm gravel, rock dust, asphalt), at least two bikes wide, etc. In many cases these surfaces are better than most of the asphalt roads in the region. With slightly wider tires these rides offer a comfortable excursion into the wonderful natural environment we are lucky to have.

Because the gravel in the region continues to be paved over or is made less accessible, it is hard for shorter routes to contain more than 50%. We are hoping the term crossroad will communicate that although the surfaces may vary, if you are comfortable on a bike and looking to get away from some of the normal road traffic, these are rides you should consider.

Dirt road

Groomed Trail

Less used trail

Rural bridge


This style includes all of Crossroad, but adds an element of exploration. It leaves no trail unexplored. This requires higher level of fitness and bicycle skill. You may encounter single track trails with rocks, roots, and mud. There can be steep climbs and descents. You may encounter loose surfaces like sand and pine needles. This is not a mountain bike trail ride, but is more advanced than our the a Gravel Crossroad ride. Most riders use a CX (cyclocross) bike for these rides.

Single track with structure

Ford a creek

Cow path

Winter adventures