A little more than a year ago, I retired the Trek 5200 road bike I’d been pedaling back and forth to the Austin American-Statesman for 15 years and bought a gravel bike.
Since then, I’ve been riding my new Specialized Diverge (nickname Banana Cream Pie) gravel bike around town – and on gravel roads near and far. I love pedaling home from swim practice every morning, taking the slow route up the Johnson Creek Trail beneath MoPac, past a historic stone windmill, along the edge of Tarrytown, next to The Grove development and finally to Shoal Creek Boulevard and home.
I ride my gravel bike for a bunch of reasons, and here are my top 10:
- Biking places makes me feel like a kid again. I ramble over creeks, pop up and down curbs, and zip down bike lanes, and it makes me smile.
- Biking gives me an up-close look at an ever-growing city. I like seeing buildings go up and come down and neighborhoods change. It somehow feels less overwhelming when I watch it bit by bit from the seat of my bike.
- Biking gives me a chance to spot new murals.
- Biking places gives me a bonus workout – and keeps my legs strong and cute.
- Biking saves me gas money. At the Statesman I once went six weeks without filling the tank of my car because I chose the bike as my main mode of transport as often as possible.
- Biking is way better than sitting in gridlock traffic.
- When you bike the same route day after day, you see a lot of the same people, and they’re friendlier out in the real world than they are inside a cocoon of metal and plastic. I love the community – the nod from fellow cyclists, the smile from the old man walking his dog, the wave from a construction worker I pass four times a week.
- I like the pace of biking. It feels more natural than zooming around in the insulated capsule of a motor vehicle.
- The parking’s usually easier on a bike than in a car.
- I gather story ideas. I’ve usually got a notepad tucked in my backpack or pocket, and I jot down stuff I see along the way – things that go by so fast you miss them when you’re driving a car.