Joe Fleming from Bike Market heads off the beaten path for his first out-of-town gravel adventure and shares a few lessons learned.
| WORDS: Joe Fleming, IMAGES: Alex Bramley |
I picked up my first gravel bike from Bike Market in the latter months of 2020 and had huge aspirations of doing weekly gravel rides outside of Johannesburg. Until now, I’ve been using the gravel bike’s versatility for other types of riding too. The odd commute, training at the coast, a morning ride here and there with the very handy option to jump onto the payment or the shortcut down the gravel path. My first real gravel ride finally happened early in 2021 when Jared from Bike Market and I committed to a sunrise start and adventure somewhere south of Johannesburg. Jared, my riding mate, and guide for the day, has a lot of experience on the road and on long-haul gravel rides with particular knowledge of the plethora of smooth gravel roads we were heading to.
On the drive out towards Kliprivier I was greeted with the most amazing sunrise I had seen in a while, and I instantly knew our timing was perfect. Thankfully after three weeks of rain in the area; the morning was crisp and the forecast indicated full sun. We cleated in and set off on our epic gravel mission. The roads had dried out, dust was non-existent and we enjoyed the cool fresh air as we settled into the rhythm of the gravel. This is what I learned on my first gravel ride.
1. It’s one hell of a way to see the sunrise
2. It’s better with friends
3. You’ll explore more
4. Run the right tyre pressure
5. Choose good lines
6. Speed is your friend
7. There are endless opportunities
I absolutely love that I can hop on a gravel bike, cruise out of town on the tar and bomb down any dirt road or trail that I see. That’s where you’ll find the goods and I believe that is where you’ll find your next adventure! – Joe Fleming.