THE QUESTION FOR THOSE REALLY INTO IT WAS, would a mountain bike or a gravel bike be faster at the Tour De Big Bear Gravel Race.  The serious cats had pre-ridden and made their decisions...

... I committed to honor the spirt of gravel.

Can I say that without making someone getting lycra hurt?

Of course.

Grab some fries and let me splain it.

The best part about gravel is it is all spirit. 

There are no rules.

Riders think there are...

  • hipster mustache
  • monochrome kit
  • no coordinated teamwork

... there aren't.

I saw everything today...

  • Gravel bikes
  • CX bikes
  • MTBs
  • Wild kits
  • Boys
  • Girls
  • Camelbaks
  • Excellent teamwork 

... and lots of rocks in certain spots.

Not everywhere,
but, enough in certain spots
to shred tires,
cause crashes, 
and, in my case,
bounce bottles out of the best cages in the world.

I'd estimate about 50% of our time was spent off road,
even though there was a little more mileage on the pavement.

As I said, there are no rules in gravel which is why it's a little hard to explain to friends and family.

I rode 25 miles on pavement,
19 or so on gravel roads,
the rest on singletrack.

Look at the results.

1st MTB
2nd MTB
3rd Gravel (lil ol me)
4th MTB
5th MTB

I'd guess about 10% of the bikes on course were MTBs.

Here's why I think gravel was the fastest today.

My friend Eric won, on his MTB.
About 6 minutes ahead of me.

My friend Tim and I and one other came in together.

Generally speaking, Tim usually beats me on races under 3 hours.  Eric always beats me into the ground.

Seeing that we came in not far behind Eric, and that the gravel bike was a lot faster on the last 4ish miles of pavement...

... I think I made the right choice for me.

They would get away from me on the rocky sections,
we were about even on the flowy single track,
and I'd catch back on any time it was 
smooth or paved.

My set up:

  • BMC URS - a gravel bike for rowdy terrain
  • Continental Terra Speed 45mm Tires, 32 lbs rear, 30 lbs front
  • 2.3 water bottles of 2 scoops of Skratch 
  • 2 Honey Stinger Waffles
  • 5 Salt Stick chewable tablets
  • Kask Protone Helmet
  • PEDAL industries Aero Jersey and Pro Bibs and Race Socks and Race Gloves.

What would I do different?

Not much.

I've thought about rubberbands or something for the bottles, but seems like a hassle and these bottle cages from Arundel rarely let me down.

Nutrition was perfect, even with launching the mostly full bottle.

For me, the spirit of gravel is the versatility of skills that is required
in the bike handling and equipment set up.

The unknown,
the adventure.


6.5 hrs
No Strength
20 minutes recovery
60 minutes reading + Journaling