I decided to leave my MTB and touring bike in the garage, and try something new. I borowed a friends gravel bike and took the opportunity to get away for a few days and savour a different kind of bike travel. Impressions after 4 days riding from Digne to the Mediterranean.
A new riding position (I'd never ridden with drop bars before) and minimalist baggage are the first notable differences. Preparation and packing requires some extra attention to detail. No room for that "just in case" extra layer, nor that 600 page novel you're currently reading. It's all about utility, and keeping things fast and light.
Suitable for riding non-technical offroad tracks, gravel bikes are great for tours that mix road and offroad, making it easy to get away from the traffic. Though perfect for climbing and flat terrain, the descents are noticeably rougher than on an MTB, largely due to the lack of suspension. Some wider tyres would no doubt have been more suitable...
As we get nearer to the Med the temperature rises and the landscape becomes noticeably drier and more arid. The numerous fire roads that criss cross the hills offer miles and miles of perfect gravel riding.
A big thanks to Marine who lent me her gravel bike!
This multi-day tour between Provence and the Mediterranean was a great opportunity to discover ultra-light bikepacking. Gravel bikes open up a host of possibilities, not least to get off busy roads and on to quiet tracks.