Image above: Polly Ross e-bikes while towing her dog, Taffy.
What it is, who’s doing it, and where
Whether you’re a road rider wanting to explore farther when the pavement turns to dirt, a mountain biker building up base miles, or a cyclist seeking a setting with few cars, pedaling on mixed-surface roads is biking’s hottest trend. Gravel riding blends road cycling’s long, rolling miles with mountain biking’s dirt thrills.
“What I love about it is you have the ability to combine the disciplines and connect different areas that you couldn’t before,” says David Gensch, a Snowmass Village native and Moots athlete.
For a taste of gravel grinding (as the sport’s also known) in the valley, try an out-and-back ride up the Fryingpan Valley from Meredith. A longer route with epic views is what Gensch calls the Creek Loop: Snowmass Creek, Sopris Creek, Prince Creek, and Cattle Creek roads.
To properly enjoy these remote routes, make sure your bike has these signature details: a relaxed frame geometry for comfort; clearance for wider, knobby tires; disc brakes for stopping power; and generous climbing gears. —T.O.
Moots Routt RSL
This stiff and light titanium gravel ride, like any Moots model, is a "forever" bike built by a 40-year-old Steamboat Springs company. Highly touted for its comfort, it has increased tire clearance and a carbon fork. $8,645–$11,390, moots.com
If all this talk of pedaling at 8,000-plus feet has you gasping for breath, consider renting a Class I, pedal-assist e-bike, which is allowed on roads, as well as on paved and crushed fine trails, from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. You still have to pedal, but the electric assistance helps make local climbs less daunting and more enjoyable for lunch rides to Ashcroft or for spotting moose as you ride to the Maroon Bells or up Independence Pass. —A.P.
Rent them here:
$85 for four hours
465 N Mill St, #20, 970-925-1495
$85 per day for a kids bike/$110 per day for adult bikes
430 S Spring St, 888-448-2330
Four Mountain Sports
$85 per half day, $125 per full day
Locations in Aspen and Snowmass, and at Aspen Highlands, 877-282-7736
Ute City Cycles
From $95 per day
231 E Main St, 970-920-3325