Saturday, April 28, 2018

Riding The Dirt on Skinny Tires, Now Called "Gravel Grinding"

        I've been riding the dirt roads on Road Bikes since 1973...when I moved to Bodfish, California. I immediately started writing about this in a weekly column for The Kern River Valley Review, called Outback of Bodfish. Stories about solo trips to Kelso Valley, Peppermint and Saddle Springs, Breckinridge Lookout and crossing Sherman Pass (which was unpaved in those days).
         No big deal, 27x1 and 1/4 inch tires, it's what I had and I loved ridin' the dirt. My stories were dirty stories and it seemed that no one could relate to them. During the Winter of '75 I moved to Chico, Ca. and kept up the stories under the pen name Bodfish...Biking with Bodfish. I didn't have a huge following in the Butte County Bugle but, there were bicycle riders who,  got it.
         So, after a couple of years of developing a fan-base, I decided to self-publish a book...Butte Country Bicycle Journeys. On road and off-road journeys were featured, including a dirt route to "The Coast" from the Sacramento Valley. I worked as a wrench at Chico Bicycle and one afternoon I started a sign-up sheet which announced, "Riding to the Coast, Lotsa Dirt".
         Amazing, eight people signed up! Only six actually followed through...we had a rip-roaring time on roads like; Pettyjohn, Pattymocus, Stuart Gap, Pellitreau Ridge and Usal Road. Mud, gravel, log truck ruts and smooth dirt on whatever bicycles we had...remember this is years before a "Mountain Bike" hit the market. We've since published numerous articles and three more books that include dirt and remote paved bicycle adventures.
         Cycling The California Outback, published in 1983, exclusively features gravel and dirt routes throughout Northern California. It never made the best-seller list however, for those who were not afraid, it opened a whole new world of quiet foot-twiddling. Bicycle tires come in a huge array of sizes these days, my favorite is still somewhat narrow...700x38.
        There are a million miles of quiet roads in North America all waiting for the silent traveler to come cranking along under her own power. So much easier than 45 years ago, you can have an adventure accompanied by the incredible music provided by nature and the "Rice Krispies" sound of your own tires rolling along the backroads.

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