The lesson: Don’t give credence to your fears.
I’d heard so much talk about gravel riding recently, but when I think of gravel all I picture is breaking my elbow in some torn-up hotel parking lot. In September, my friend Tim Johnson finally convinced me to give gravel a shot, and we spent three days riding (I swear) every “gravel” road in and out of Woodstock, Vermont. My conclusion: gravel gets a bad rap. The roads in Vermont are unpaved, yes, but in the same way you’d call a baby unshaven—they’re butter-smooth at baseline. Forget the mental image of loose rocks rolling around under your tires. This “gravel” is actually dirt tamped down to the consistency of pavement and the holes, washboards, and other small hazards keep you alert (and honestly, aren’t exclusive to unpaved roads, as any cyclist well knows). What there aren’t on these roads is cars, allowing you to pick your line and really lose yourself in the scenery: old red barns, stone walls, pastures full of Ben and Jerry’s dairy cows. I got so into it that I felt a tiny pang of disappointment whenever we had to get back on the pavement. The trip may have burnt my legs, but I was on my way back to Vermont the very next weekend.
Choose from two bike tours in Vermont, including a 4-day getaway and a week of cycling with a chef.