Gravel Bike Adventures was started by Laura and Rose, two road cycling enthusiasts in Denver, CO with a sense of adventure and a desire to be inclusive to all.
We believe it is vitally important to include women’s voices in the gravel biking industry. Our goal is to encourage all people (especially women and members of the LGBTQ+ community) to explore the power of the outdoors through venturing onto dirt roads. Our interactive website provides routes, downloadable maps, advice and other resources.
Up until 2018, we were hard core road bikers. Then, after we finished our first gravel ride, we realized a few things: First, it was really refreshing to be away from cars; riding gravel took a whole different kind of fitness and endurance; and lastly, we realized we need to be prepared in a whole new way.
After road biking for 20+ years and typically having easy access to coca-colas, coffee shops, bike shops, gas stations and cars for support if anything went wrong, gravel biking was a rude awakening.
The research we were able to do prior to starting a gravel ride only told us where dirt roads might exist, but left everything else to the imagination. We quickly understood that dirt/gravel can come in a huge variety of conditions from smooth packed dirt, chunky gravel, washboards, deep sand, etc.
When you are twenty miles into an isolated forest road and about to run out of water, exhausted from bouncing on washboards, or dangerously slipping on steep and sandy surfaces, life gets serious!
Then we started paying more attention to the gravel biking community, and we noticed that most of the rides were curated and led by men. So of course we wanted to get in on the action and lead by example.
The tools on the website help to build community by giving all cyclists the confidence to see what is possible, get inspired, spark conversation and ultimately plan their own adventures.
I got a bike as a young child and quickly set off making trips up and down the driveway then loops around my neighborhood, but I fell away from the joy of cycling as more and more of my free time was occupied by ballet training (around age 10). It wasn’t until I gave up my professional dancing career and moved to Colorado in 2000 that I began cycling seriously.
From infancy, and well into my late 20’s, I suffered from exercise-induced asthma and was afraid of cardio activities that made me wheeze. If my asthma was triggered by an intense activity, I was advised to stop immediately and use an inhaler.
I was into yoga and Pilates back in 2000 (Still am today!), so when one of my friends suggested we go to a spin/yoga class (30 min of spin, followed by 30 min of yoga), I was game to at least try something new. Even though I had trouble breathing in the classes, the safety of an indoor spin class gave be the ability to choose how hard to push myself, and at just 30 min, I slowly learned to tolerate the stress on my lungs. The fact that the spinning was followed by yoga gave me space to work with calming my thoughts and my head which said: “I can’t do this!”. As I got stronger and more confident and my cardio endurance increased, my asthma problems became less and less, and therefore, my willingness to try more adventurous and strenuous activities increased! I went from seeing cyclists biking up Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO and thinking, “they are crazy!”, to, “that looks kind of fun and I wonder if I can do that?”. And then I bought a bike, joined a club and tried biking up that mountain! My Asthma is nearly non-existent and I have been hooked on outdoor biking ever since.
I currently live in downtown Denver and have been car-free for about 10 years, typically biking 7,000+ miles a year between commuting, road riding and gravel bike adventuring. I have been a member of Naked Women’s Racing Team, and Colorado Women’s Cycling Project.
I teach Pilates and Yoga for a living and have been doing it for over 15 years. Just this year, I went out on my own and began a private-practice Pilates Studio called Align.Move.Breathe. I am a self-proclaimed “body nerd”, constantly reading, attending continuing education workshops and learning as much as I can about movement, bio-mechanics, alignment, anatomy and Ideokenesis.
I love to teach my clients how to relax and have fun with all movement, as well as have new and positive experiences with their bodies while gaining strength and flexibility in body, mind, and spirit. I strongly believe in both Pilates and Yoga as safe, supportive, and healing practices which can profoundly transform one’s every-day life!
If you are in the Denver area and interested in the intersection of biking and Pilates or Yoga, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura’s favorite Gravel Route: There are so many great rides it is REALLY hard to decide, but if there was one ride I would do over and over, it would be Four Mile Canyon and Switzerland Trail to Sugarloaf. It’s quiet, beautiful, challenging and fun!
Laura’s Gravel Bike: Spot Rallye Geared (It originally came with an 11-32 rear cassette, but she upgraded to 11-42, and it now comes standard that way.) Spot is a small bike company out of Golden, CO, and the people there have been terrific with customer service!
She is currently using Panaracer GravelKing SK+ 700×35C tires (but the Schwalbe G-One 700×35 that it came with were pretty sweet too).
I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love moving my body. There is a famous story in my family that when I was six years old I wanted to go running with my dad. He took me along thinking that I would run a few blocks and then quit, I ran five miles with him that day. He promptly signed me up for every sport imaginable after that! I have been an athlete my entire life. As an often shy and awkward kid, I had the utmost confidence whenever I was involved in sports. Sports helped me get out of my shell, engage with the world and gain a sense of self-confidence and self-awareness.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play Division I soccer at the University of Denver and then unlucky when I herniated two discs in my back in a car accident. This was a life altering event. Sports were my outlet for my emotions, they gave me a social network and they gave me a place to feel confident and competent. I felt worthy when I was being physical. Biking became my new outlet, and I fell in love. The feel of the wind, the burning in my thighs as I climbed mountains, the realized joy of feeling like a kid again.
Eighteen years later, I still love it. I’m an avid road biker and have recently entered the gravel phenomenon. Gravel biking has allowed me to let go of control. To not know the mileage, the conditions, the number of refueling opportunities in front of me, has helped me stay present in the saddle. It has brought back that adventuresome spirit and a sense of curiosity and creativity that can hide itself as we age.
Off the bike, I work for Denver Public Schools within the Comprehensive Health Program, attempting to ensure every student has access to health education. For more information, I can be reached at email@example.com.
Rose’s favorite Gravel Route: When I think of the perfect gravel ride, I need a combination of challenging hills, sweeping views of the mountains and of course the downhills. My favorite ride that has all of those components is the Classic Boulder Gravel Ride.