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Kieran's Must-Haves for Gravel Rides
Kieran is our in-house gravel guru. A lifetime rider and passionate explorer, Kieran has slowly but surely encouraged local riders to embrace the fantastic gravel riding we have in Peterborough County. Always happy to share routes and advice, Kieran is even seen as a leader beyond our borders. He has been a part of the Shimano Gravel Alliance since its inception and is also an ambassador for Cervelo Bikes. If you have questions, Kieran probably has answers!
Over the years Kieran has learned (often the hard way) that gravel riding is about exploring both new roads as well as personal limits. Riding farther afield sometimes means exploring new ways of approaching nutrition and hydration as well as navigation and clothing. And, of course, the right bike needs to be paired up with a positive, adventurous attitude!
Kieran’s Thoughts on His Must-Have List:
As a lifelong road rider I really appreciate that the Aspero feels a lot like a “normal road bike”. It is light, nimble, and paired up with huge tire clearance. I will admit that I have two of these bikes. The first has a traditional gravel set up if there can be said to be such a thing. The second I have set up with 650 wheels, big tires, and a dropper seatpost. The second bike does not get ridden as much but it is SO MUCH FUN! Between these two bikes I can ride everything from asphalt to single track mountain bike trails.
I will admit that I never took frame bags seriously until being faced with a pandemic and its related business restrictions. Exploring in 2020-2021 has only been possible by becoming completely self-sufficient on the road. On the positive side, never having to plan routes with re-supply in mind has meant being able to ride even farther afield. My affection for the Pro Discover Frame Bag is not so much for the bag itself but where it allows me to go. It is compact but large enough for a rain jacket, sunscreen, tools and a day’s worth of food.
I am not going to say much about this except to say that if you are going to use a frame bag then you want to pair it up with a side-load bottle cage. Just trust me on this one! The stiff aluminum of the Pro cages ensures that you won’t drop a bottle, even on the roughest roads.
Along with my frame bag, a hydration vest/pack allows me to go farther without stopping and explore routes that are far from civilization. I have tried a number of “Camelbak” type packs and found the Chase Vest to be the best by far. It is designed for road/gravel riders so it sits high on my back leaving access to jersey pockets. The shoulder straps are also fully equipped with pockets so I have quick access to gels, bars and camera while I ride.
This is not an item that I have with me all the time but it has saved me on many a big day. Particularly now when business hours are unpredictable I like to have a hydration back up just in case I can’t find a place to refill. Simple water purification tablets are okay in a pinch but for cool, clear, delicious water, the Hiker Pro is my go-to.
Every good gravel adventure starts with a little bit of planning. The Garmin Edge 1030 allows me to create and load maps so I can follow routes with confidence. The large screen lets me leave my reading glasses at home. It is accurate and reliable for the longest rides that this old body can take on.
Want to test out the gravel roads of the Kawarthas for yourself? Here are a few route suggestions:
- A Peterborough Gravel Mini-Adventure 50km
- Lakefield – The Small Roads Way 60km
- Kieran’s Favourites 148km
For more cycling routes, check out Small Roads Routes.
Want to take on farther adventures? Check out Kieran's Must-Haves for Bikepacking.
For more inspiration and unfolding stories follow Kieran on Strava and Instagram: @kieranwro