Gravel racing needs a 'cat 5': The spirit of gravel is dead, but it's for the best

More people should have a shot at a podium finish, argues Josh Ross

Scenes from the 2023 Lifetime Grand Prix
(Image credit: Lifetime)

I don't think it’s all that controversial to say that the spirit of gravel is dead. As we've seen gravel racing get more professional over the years I'm hardly the first one to say that whatever the spirit of gravel is, it's gone. What I think might be more controversial is to say that not only is it dead but it's for the best. And the faster we accept that and support the reality of the times, the better. 

Right now gravel racing is one of the few categories of growth in the American cycling scene. The gravel events and gravel bikes are exploding in popularity and yet, I rarely participate. When asked about it, I answer by saying I prefer not to drive to the ride and, if possible, I'll choose to leave my front door on a bike. I might also mention the price and how there's nothing stopping any of us from having a similar experience for free. Recently though, I realized those answers are excuses. 

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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes. 

Height: 5'9" Weight: 137 lb. 

Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx