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  • Gravel Goals: Strength Training for Better Endurance, Power, & Comfort

    We recently launched a new series called "Gravel Goals" to help you train for your 100 mile gravel races. Today Coach Paul Warloski discusses why you should include strength training in your training plan and how it leads to improved endurance and more comfort on the bike. Words by Paul Warloski of Simple Endurance Coaching. To learn more, visit our Introduction to the Gravel Goals series. Strength Training Gives Gravel Racers Better Endurance, Comfort, and Power One of the most important parts of your training for long gravel races should be strength or resistance training. Strength training not only improves your strength and power, but it can help you prevent injuries and improve your endurance. Anyone who’s done a long gravel race knows we need to have full-body strength to withstand the challenges of gravel racing. Using the 80/20 model to schedule workouts. Learn More. Building a base for gravel racing performance. Learn More. Five keys to training for gravel racing. Learn More. Why you should do intervals and how to do them right. Learn More. Benefits of strength training Improved power output: Strength training can enhance the rider's ability to produce power, especially useful for climbing and sprinting. Injury prevention: Riders can reduce their risk of common cycling-related injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissues. Cycling primarily moves the body in one direction and we need to strengthen supporting muscles to prevent overuse injuries. Endurance and efficiency: Stronger muscles fatigue less quickly, leading to more efficient pedaling over long distances. Strengthening back and shoulder muscles lead to a stronger position on the bike. Improved bike handling: Core and upper body strength contribute to better stability and control on rough terrain, preventing fatigue and boosting confidence. How to start strength training First of all, it’s important to start slowly when you are strength training for gravel racing. When I start working with a new athlete, I give them this Back and Booty video to start training their back and glutes, which are often weaker in cyclists. After a couple of weeks of doing this series of exercises several times a week, we’ll start with weights at the gym. Going to the gym is often easier simply because of the variety of exercise equipment. But you can use adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, or suspension straps like the TRX at home as well. Key strength training exercises for gravel racing Build full-body strength to be fully ready for gravel racing. This means including the following with an example Squat movement: Goblet Squat Hip hinge: a deadlift or Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift Chest push: a pushup or dumbbell bench press Chest pull: a dumbbell bent-over row Shoulder press: dumbbell overhead press Shoulder pull: pullups Core: Hollow Hold Timing and structure of strength training Generally, I tell my athletes to do two sets of repetitions. The first set should be about eight to 10 repetitions to get a sense of how you’re feeling with the weights. Maybe the weight you chose needs to be lighter - or heavier - for your effort today. Your goal is to use the second set to do six to 10 repetitions to fatigue. This means you stop when you feel like you could do one or two more repetitions. Do your strength training all year long Structure strength training around the cycling season, with more intense strength work in the off-season and maintenance during the racing season. This means training two to three times a week during the preparation and base phase, and then maintaining your strength gains with once a week training during the race season. If you’re racing from April until November like I am, continue training twice a week. Don’t do your strength training the week of your race. Generally, I tell my athletes to do their strength training around 12 hours after their interval work so that they get a hard day. This means intervals in the morning and strength training in the evening. Or you might simply have a day when you do strength training without any endurance work. Nutrition and recovery When you add strength training to your program, you’ll need to eat more and probably add more protein to your diet. When you break the muscles down during strength work, they require protein to rebuild. And because you’re adding in additional training stress, you’ll need to eat more calories to maintain your muscle mass. You’ll be surprised how much more you need to eat! That’s why protein shakes or smoothies are a great way to add in more nutrients when it’s tough to physically eat that much food. Research supporting strength training for cycling One study found that both male and female cyclists experience beneficial effects from concurrent strength and endurance training on cycling performance. The study suggested that increased muscle cross-sectional area is an important adaptation for improved performance, countering the belief that cyclists should avoid muscle gain​​. Another review found that combining endurance and heavy or explosive strength training improves running economy and cycling performance. Specifically, heavy strength training is recommended for enhancing cycling economy. It also suggested that improved endurance performance might be related to delayed activation of less efficient muscle fibers, improved neuromuscular efficiency, or conversion of fast-twitch fibers into more fatigue-resistant types​. A third review indicated that strength training enhances cycling economy and can improve short-term cycling performance, including maximal performance gains and time to exhaustion, in both untrained individuals and high-level trained cycling athletes. About Coach Paul Warloski Paul Warloski is a Level 2 USA-Cycling Coach, a certified yoga instructor, and a certified personal trainer. He supports everyday endurance athletes at Simple Endurance Coaching, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He's been racing gravel, road, mountain bike, and cyclocross for decades, so he brings both experience and training knowledge to help you to your best gravel race performances in 2024. He'll be racing the Big Rivers Gravel Series in Illinois, the Hungry Bear in Cable, likely the Coon Fork 40 in Eau Claire, and other gravel races this year. To learn more, or for a free 30-minute Virtual Coffee to talk about your training and your goals, visit Simple Endurance Coaching.

  • Everything You Need to Know About the New "Old Fashioned Gravel" Race This October

    Old Fashioned Gravel is a brand new, full-driftless gravel race coming to Hokah, Minnesota this October. Starting and ending at a farm, this race promises to bring you back to your gravel roots with a variety of routes, post-ride gathering, and an unforgettable gravel adventure. To learn more, visit Old Fashioned Gravel or follow along on Facebook and Instagram. Q&A Paul Reardon, Race Director Why is this event happening at a farm and what's special about that spot for starting and finishing? The property the ride will be starting and finishing on has been in our friends Gabe and Annie's family for years. They purchased it last year. It is a big farm nestled in a valley with beautiful views. The barn is going to be the center of the event, it is a cool old structure with a rustic feel, like really rustic. Gabe and his family have been working hard to spruce things up for all of you. The really neat thing about this property is the fact that they are working with the State of MN to develop a sustainability plan for the property. Their goal is create a partnership with the State to restore and invigorate the land in a way can easily be maintained for generations to come. We will also be donating a portion of the proceeds to help with this project. Also did we mention the farm is surrounded by fabulous gravel roads? "Old Fashioned". Tell me about the name. Is this a nod to the wonderful supper club drink or a nod to grassroots old school gravel? The name as you said has a couple of meanings. There is a definite nod to Supper Clubs. Meeting with friends and family and enjoying each others company, and maybe a delicious beverage or two. There is always a nod to the hard-working folks that are the root of this sport, we welcome them all to come ride some fun roads! 3. Who is putting this race on? Putting bike races on simply could not be done without all of the industry friends we have made over the years, and our amazing community. Working closely with local businesses, volunteers, friends and family that help make this all happen. I am the director of this one, all by myself. I live in La Crosse and own Blue Steel Bike where in the winter I build custom titanium and steel bicycle frames. In the summer I work as a race mechanic with Education First/ONTO Cycling development team. When I am not on the road with the team, I work a number of gravel races around the U.S. In all my free time, I like to organize and put on races and puppies, I really like puppies. 4. What kind of riding should people expect and who should participate? These routes will be challenging. We have everything from an 18 mile route, on the shorter end of things, but you will still have to climb the bluff twice with 1300 feet of climbing. You will encounter rolling hills once on top of the bluffs, lots of farms (and animals), and a good amount of wide open to wooded descents. All of the routes have spectacular views. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the 100 mile route with 8200 feet of climbing. A challenge for the most seasoned rider. As I say with all the rides I have helped produce, if you want to race, we will be timing, and we wish you luck. If you want to come challenge yourself, or just go for a ride with other rad people, make new friends, eat, drink, and laugh, that's what it is all about! We would love to hang out with all of you!

  • Get Ready for the "Best of Gravel" 2024 Reader Poll

    On Thursday, March 21st we're launching the vey first "Best of Gravel" reader poll. Readers of The Nxrth will get a chance to vote for their 2024 favorite gravel things in a few select categories in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Add your voice to the gravel community and vote for the best gravel things in the 2024 Best of Gravel reader poll. Voting opens on Thursday, March 21st and runs until Thursday, April 4 at midnight. Here are the categories you can vote on: Voting Categories 1. Best Gravel Race for Competitive Racing 2. Best Gravel Race for Community Vibes 3. Most Beautiful Gravel Race 4. Best Adventure Hub for Gravel Biking 5. Best Bikepacking or Bike Camping Event Help Your Gravel Community Vote for You Let your community know to vote for you in the Best of Gravel reader poll. Download our free promotional tools and share them on social media and on your website to spread the word and get the most votes.

  • Readers' Routes: Katrina Hase & a Brush With Osceola

    Today's Reader's Route is from Katrina Hase and wanders from Hugo, Minnesota into bluff country and through Osceola, Wisconsin and back. Enjoy some curated stops for food and coffee along this scenic gravel route. Submission from Katrina Hase Wander out of Hugo on quiet gravel roads as you wind through lakes, rolling farmlands, tree-canopied lanes and into bluff country. Resupply, if needed, in Scandia before flowing on and down into historic Osceola, Wisconsin for coffee or lunch and a photo opportunity by a waterfall. After a brief climb out, enjoy some tarmac and wide shoulders before before passing by Big Marine Lake. Refuel once more, if needed, at the Big Marine Convenience Store, before a scenic gravel return to Hugo. Submit Your Reader's Route All Reader's Routes So Far

  • Join a Bikepacking 101 Rendezvous in Seeley or Eau Claire

    This March and April, Life Above Eight is putting on two Bikepacking 101 Rendezvous in Seeley and Eau Claire. Learn about bikepacking routes in the area and check out some gear at these spring bikepacking meetups. Join Seeley Dave for a free, fun rendezvous to learn about bikepacking. Dave will bring the Bikepacking Gear Lending Library he maintains so you can see the different shelters, sleeping systems, bikepacking bags and other gear available for locals to use. He will have tents set up, air mattresses, bikepacking bags, etc., all for you to check out in person. The Seeley event will take place on Saturday afternoon, March 16 at the Freight Station Theater at the Sawmill Saloon. Learn More. The Eau Claire event will take place on Wednesday evening, April 17 at Compass Bike Lab. Learn More. You can borrow what you need from the Bikepacking Gear Lending Library to give bikepacking a try without buying lots of expensive gear. Bring your bike and try fitting the bikepacking bags to see how they fit. Dave will also give a short presentation about different routes in the area, which GPS navigation systems he recommends and bikepacking websites he refers to for routes and gear reviews.. Already an experienced bikepacker? Awesome, bring your rig, favorite gear and some stories from a trip to share!

  • Readers' Routes: Kiel Hynek and the Sand County Careen

    Today's Reader's Route is a modification of the Sand County Caress bikepacking route from Kiel Hynek. It explores the beautiful Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy the views of wildlife on this flat route. Submission from Kiel Hynek This route seeks to take advantage of as much of the available space within the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge as possible. You'll see a variety of almost completely unpaved roads ranging from the most pristine gravel you could ask for all the way to pure sand. There are a multitude of roads to allow you to either avoid excessive sand or to cut down the total distance. While you won't encounter much elevation, the sand can be vexing at times, however the majority of the route makes up for it with immaculate biking surfaces and stunning views of wildlife especially during waterfowl migration. Take note that there are several trails in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge that are off limits to bikes and they are clearly posted. Submit Your Reader's Route All Reader's Routes So Far

  • Spring Bike Fitting: 4 Principles to Make Sure Your Bike Fits Great with Paulie from GO PHYSIO

    With the onset of the spring gravel biking season, we're talking about making sure you have your fit dialed in on your bike. Paulie Glatt from GO PHYSIO joins us to share 4 important areas of bike fit to make sure you have a healthy and comfortable riding season. To learn more about Paulie or to schedule a professional bike fitting, visit GO PHYSIO. Words by Paulie Glatt Spring is here, it seems. Or at least it is sticking its head around the corner and staring at us. Are you ready? As we officially prepare to take the bike off the trainer it’s important to go over a short checklist to make sure that we are setting ourselves up for success. As a Physical Therapist and Bike Fitter I like to address both the body and the bike, so here we go… Let’s start with the ABCs (air, brakes, and chain): A - Air: Top off your sealant. Check your tires for any damage and wear. B - Brakes: Inspect your brake pads and discs. C - Chain: Check your chain. There are few things worse than having to throw on a new link in the middle of a race or ride. If necessary, roll into your LBS for an inspection and potential overhaul. It’s worth the cost. 4 Bike Fit Issues That You Can Address This Spring Digging a bit deeper, let’s look at some wear issues on the bike that might be tattling on your bad habits. My eyes go straight to the 3 contact points: pedals/cleats, saddle, and bars. Here are some things to look for: 1. Cleats When we think of the warm embrace of our pedal and cleat we can appreciate and benefit from some float (the ability to move our heel closer to and further from the chain stay while staying clipped in). However, we must also consider the amount of movement around the long-axis of the foot. Visualize the bottom of your foot looking left and right while resting on the pedal. As cleats wear out they gain the ability to rock back and forth which can cause a cascade of issues up the proverbial chain. As you sit reading this, push your arch down towards the floor and watch your knee follow. We’d really like to prevent this from happening while pressing down on a pedal with significant force thousands of times. Additionally, worn cleats become a safety concern because your foot is more likely to jump free from the pedal at inopportune times. If they’re worn, replace them. 2. Saddle Saddles typically need to be replaced every few years. I just heard you say, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” I’m not. Saddles can lose their structural integrity after years of use which can increase pressure in the wrong places. It is also important to inspect your saddle for uneven wear and fabric disintegration, both of which are strong hints that your fit is off. Are you leaning more heavily on one side? Are you constantly scooting yourself back on the saddle? A visual inspection of the saddle can give us some good ideas about your bike fit. 3. Bar Tape One of the first things I look at during a bike fitting is your bar tape. It tells me where you have been spending most of your time. A clear indication of a poor fit is significant wear at the “elbow” transition between the tops and the hoods. This typically means that your hoods are too far away and that you aren’t ready to brake at all times. (Pro tip: Be ready to brake at all times.) If your bar tape is falling apart, replace it. The fact is that your bars are one of the few parts of your bike you get to look at when you’re riding it. Enjoy the view. 4. You What was your focus this winter? The best answer is, “Riding my bike, or nordic skiing, or (insert endurance exercise here) and working on strength and mobility, especially my weak and tight spots.” No? You don’t know where your weak and tight spots are? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. I recommend treating your body like you [should] treat your teeth. Folks go to the dentist twice a year in order to avoid losing their teeth. Imagine all of the injuries you might avoid if someone assessed your movement patterns once a year. You’d be less likely to “throw your back out” bending over to pick up your shoes. Find someone in your area who performs a Functional Movement Screen (we do!) or something comparable. Or see a PT to address that lingering pain in your (insert body part here). Taking care of your body off the bike will improve your enjoyment on the bike. Spring is a great time to step back and evaluate if you and your bike are ready for the coming season. However, give yourself some grace. You might not feel great on those first few rides. Your body, your bike, and the roads need some time to get reacquainted. If things don’t come together after 1-2 weeks of riding then your job is to identify the hurdles and find a way to clear them. Ask for help. There are plenty of us out here ready to help you. Happy riding. About Paulie Glatt As a competitive cyclist with a history of low back pain, Paulie has a great understanding of how critical a proper bike fit is to our experience on a bicycle. He rides Road, Gravel, Mountain, Bike Packs, and commutes by bicycle throughout the entire year. His longest race was The Day Across Minnesota, a 240-mile gravel race that he completed in 17 hours. To learn more about Paulie or to schedule a professional bike fitting, visit GO PHYSIO.

  • MinneIoWisco Bikepacking Route

    MinneIoWisco is a week-long gravel bikepacking loop through the picturesque Driftless Area of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The 273-mile route uses a mix of gravel, bike paths, backroads, and a smidge of singletrack to take in the region's many highlights, including the Kickapoo Valley, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, and countless eclectic breweries and restaurants along the way... Created By: Scott Haraldson Originally published on Bikepacking.com and featured here with their permission. From BIKEPACKING.COM: Named for the fact that the route navigates parts of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, the 273-mile MinneIoWisco falls entirely within the beautiful Driftless Area. While no formal boundaries define the region, it encompasses much of western Wisconsin as well as the corners of southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. Described as the land of many hills, Driftless represents why this landscape looks so different from the rest of the Upper Midwest. In short, the land was spared from the flattening effect of the most recent passage of drifting glaciers. As a result, it has an unmistakable character and unique topography that creates opportunities for winding roads to lead you up hundreds of feet to the top of bluffs before sending you swooping and racing back down into the valleys and rivers below. MinneIoWisco Bikepacking Route Map: BIKEPACKING.com is dedicated to exploration by bicycle. They inspire and inform through original bikepacking routes, stories, and coverage of the gear, news, and events that make our community thrive. They believe travel by bicycle has the power to encourage conservation, inclusivity, and respect for all people and cultures. More here. Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.

  • Readers' Routes: Marty Larson and Hurricane Hill

    Today's Reader's Route is from Marty Larson and starts in Northfield, Minnesota. This hilly ride shows off beautiful views and takes you along Farmer Trail, an all time favorite local gravel road. Enjoy. Submission from Marty Larson A hillier choice but worth it! The course name comes from the farm up near the top of Cabot avenue. You will feel this climb as it works its way up to a terrific view at the top of 163rd Street. And Farmer Trail is simply one of the most treasured roads in the county - beautiful in every season. I prefer this route clockwise as shown - be careful crossing highway 3 on the way home Submit Your Reader's Route All Reader's Routes So Far

  • VIDEO: Brian Davis' US Fat Bike Open Race

    The US Fat Bike Open was held on Feb 24 at Ariens Nordic Center as part of the Snow Crown series. Brian Davis just dropped his Youtube recap of the race. To get an inside look at the race and what might be planned for next year, check out his video here. To learn more, visit Brian Davis Races on Youtube or check out the Snow Crown fat bike series. Cover photo by Mitchell Vincent.

  • Gravel Goals: Why You Should Do Intervals & How to Do Them Right

    We recently launched a new series called "Gravel Goals" to help you train for your 100 mile gravel races. Today Coach Paul Warloski discusses why you should include intervals in your training plan and how to use them to make you a faster, stronger cyclist. Words by Paul Warloski of Simple Endurance Coaching. To learn more, visit our Introduction to the Gravel Goals series. Boost Your Gravel Racing Performance: A Guide to Interval Training To have your best performance in a long gravel race, it’s important to do intervals throughout the season to maintain and build muscle strength as well as cardiovascular adaptations. Intervals, riding hard for short periods, followed by short periods of recovery, prepare your body - and your mind - for the challenges of gravel racing, especially over a long distance. These are generally high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions that can go anywhere from 30 seconds to about 20 minutes, depending on your purpose. Doing intervals will help you finish your gravel century more comfortably - and a lot more competitively. This is the fourth in a series of gravel-centered articles, designed specifically to help you achieve your performance goals at long gravel races this summer. Using the 80/20 model to schedule workouts. Learn More. Building a base for gravel racing performance. Learn More. Five keys to training for gravel racing. Learn More. Four Reasons to Do Intervals for Gravel Race Training 1. Cardiovascular Efficiency Interval training significantly improves cardiovascular health. It increases the heart's stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped per beat) and cardiac output (the total volume of blood pumped by the heart per minute). Improved cardiovascular efficiency means that more oxygen can be transported to the muscles during exercise, enhancing endurance. 2. Muscular Adaptations During high-intensity intervals, fast-twitch muscle fibers are recruited. These fibers are typically underused in cycling, which primarily engages slow-twitch fibers. Training these fibers can improve overall muscle strength and fatigue resistance, allowing an athlete to maintain higher intensities for longer periods. 3. Lactate threshold improvement Interval training helps in increasing the lactate threshold, which is the point during intense exercise at which lactate, which is a fuel source for energy production, starts to accumulate in the blood faster than it can be used. A higher lactate threshold means an athlete can perform at a higher intensity for a longer period before fatigue sets in due to excess lactate accumulation. 4. Capillarization Intervals, like endurance training, also help build more mitochondria and increase capillarization. This means there is the potential for more energy produced in the cell, improving efficiency, as well as more blood vessels to carry oxygen. Start With Your Weaknesses in Base Training For gravel racing, I generally suggest that cyclists work on their weaknesses in the base period. For most of us, we always need to increase our VO2max. VO2max measures the maximum rate at which your body can use oxygen, directly impacting the amount of energy your muscles can produce aerobically. This means higher sustained speeds or effort levels before fatigue sets in. A higher VO2max means you can maintain a harder pace, climb faster, or reach the summit with less exhaustion. With intervals designed to improve VO2max, we recruit fast-twitch muscles to make them stronger and more fatigue resistant. In the winter, for example, I often assign sets of 30/30s, 30 seconds as hard as you can sustain for the whole time, followed by 30 seconds of easy pedaling. Typically, we do four sets of six to eight repetitions. Longer Threshold Efforts Come Later in Race Preparation After you build your base of fitness, you’re starting to work on your specific race fitness. What are the requirements of your particular gravel race: Are there long hill, short hills, is there loose gravel where you just need to put the power down? Usually, gravel races require a lot of power for a long time. That means working on intervals at or above race pace for increasing amounts of time. This again means you’re recruiting - and strengthening - fast-twitch muscle fibers, which make you stronger. For example, you might do four sets of eight minutes at a hard pace, with two minutes rest. These are at or above your second threshold: the point in your breathing where you start to pant and can’t talk much except in short bursts. Once you feel those long intervals are manageable, increase the time to 10 minutes, then 12, and so on. What is the Frequency of Intervals? You might start with one interval session a week during the early base period. After a few weeks of letting your body get used to them, you can add a second. During the winter, I often tell my athletes to do Zwift races because they tend to max out your power and heart rate. In general, I recommend athletes only do two hard sessions/days a week with plenty of recovery in between. Interval sessions build up a lot more fatigue than endurance sessions so it’s critical to recover fully before starting another. Intervals Make You Fast Endurance training builds the base of your fitness. Intervals get you fast. If we continue with the building analogy from the last post, endurance training creates a big and sturdy foundation, threshold intervals raise the ceiling, and VO2max intervals raise the roof. Doing intervals are a critical part of training for gravel racing. Doing just endurance miles, for example, strengthen mostly just your slow-twitch muscle fibers. Intervals round out your strength by training the fast-twitch fibers. About Coach Paul Warloski Paul Warloski is a Level 2 USA-Cycling Coach, a certified yoga instructor, and a certified personal trainer. He supports everyday endurance athletes at Simple Endurance Coaching, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He's been racing gravel, road, mountain bike, and cyclocross for decades, so he brings both experience and training knowledge to help you to your best gravel race performances in 2024. He'll be racing the Big Rivers Gravel Series in Illinois, the Hungry Bear in Cable, likely the Coon Fork 40 in Eau Claire, and other gravel races this year. To learn more, or for a free 30-minute Virtual Coffee to talk about your training and your goals, visit Simple Endurance Coaching.

  • Why to Never Update GravelMap.com [and how to actually make gravel mapping better]

    Popular mapping apps often have inaccurate gravel surface type classifications. To get a better view of where gravel roads are, many people turn to GravelMap.com. Here we discuss why GravelMap.com is a poor place to make gravel surface updates and why OpenStreetMap.org updates are significantly more powerful and further reaching. To learn more about OpenStreetMap and to add gravel surface types to all the mapping apps you use and love, visit OpenStreetMap. When planning gravel rides in new places or looking for new gravel roads for bikepacking routes, it can be hard to get accurate information about which roads are gravel. Popular mapping apps like RideWithGPS, Strava, Komoot, and Gaia are all known for having inaccurate surface type classifications. Known gravel regions might all be depicted as paved roads in a mapping app or your favorite gravel road might not even show up in your mapping app. That can get pretty frustrating when you're trying to plan a gravel route and maps are all incomplete. It makes sense then that a lot of people turn to GravelMap.com which is a user-generated map dedicated to displaying gravel roads. If someone has updated that area, it can give pretty good representation of where the gravel is and anyone can contribute to growing GravelMap.com as a community gravel resource. On the surface, GravelMap.com can seem like a really useful and even indispensable resource. But there are several reasons I think it not only falls short of being a useful solution but gets in the way making updates that are actually useful to the much larger gravel community across many more mapping platforms and more device types. Read on to see why we think it's better to never update GravelMap.com and instead contribute to OpenStreeMap.org. Why to NOT Add Gravel Surfaces to GravelMap.com 1. GravelMap updates don't ever appear in actual route planning apps. Updates that you add to gravel surfaces in GravelMap.com only exist in the closed ecosystem of GravelMap.com. If you use any popular mapping apps like Ride With GPS, Strava, Gaia GPS, or Komoot, gravel surface updates from GravelMap.com don't ever sync with those tools are never usable because they don't contribute to those platform's base layer maps. 2. It's a poor tool for serious route planning On a surface level, GravelMap.com seems like a nice tool. If you've ever been frustrated by other popular mapping apps' lack of accurate surface types, seeing a dedicated gravel map seems refreshing. But a simple visualization of gravel routes is where it ends as GravelMap.com lacks the serious route planning tools of the much more powerful routing options. 3. There is no mobile app or multi-platform syncing GravelMap.com is just website. No mobile app. No ride recording. No automatic syncing with your GPS. It's nice to visualize gravel surfaces on GravelMap.com but it doesn't do anything else. Updates that you contribute to GravelMap.com are stuck in a closed, single-channel platform. Using OpenStreetMap as an Alternative to GravelMap.com OpenStreetMap is the wikipedia equivalent of street maps. It's made of user-generated roads, trails, rivers, and WAY more. Imagine the power of GoogleMaps but anybody can make updates or fix incorrect map features and it updates other mapping platforms of all kinds. Because it's such a powerful map with global collaboration, popular route planning apps like Strava, Ride With GPS, Gaia, and Komoot all use OpenStreetMap to update their own proprietary mapping software. If you update OpenStreetMap, it'll eventually trickle down to all the mapping apps that cyclists use. 4 Reasons to Add Gravel Surfaces to Open Street Map Instead of GravelMap.com 1. OSM (Open Street Map) Automatically Sends Surface-Type Updates to All the Apps You Already Use & Love Ride With GPS, Komoot, Strava, and GaiaGPS all utilize Open Street Map data for their routing tools. When your surface type updates get added to OSM, they trickle down to your favorite mapping apps and those gravel surfaces are now usable for everyone around the world. 2. OSM Gives You the Power to Fix Incorrectly Mapped Roads (And Update ALL Map Apps at the Same Time) Do you have a favorite local gravel route or bikepacking adventure that shows roads in the wrong place? Anyone can fix incorrect roads in OSM and those corrections will end up updating tools like RideWithGPS, Strava, Komoot, and Gaia. 3. OSM Lets you Add Missing Roads Have you ever tried planning a gravel route in a place where you know there is a road but it doesn't show up in your routing app. By simply adding the missing road in OSM which syncs to other apps, you can personally update Ride With GPS, Strava, and Komoot at the same time. 4. OSM is a Free, Global, Crowd-Sourced Tool. Anybody can use OSM for free and contribute to one of the most powerful maps in the world. Your contributions extend way beyond the OSM platform and have an impact on travelers and adventurers across many disciplines beyond just cycling. 5. Adding Gravel Surface Types to Open Street Map Is EASY. Okay, so there's a little tutorial you'll need to start with in order to start making OSM updates, but that's good because it ensures that the global community of contributors making map updates actually know what they're doing. After you learn the tool, adding gravel surface types takes just a minute or two. New to OpenStreeMap? Here's What You Need to Know 1. It's a Powerful Tool with Lots to Learn OpenStreetMap is an extremely powerful resource with a lot of mapping tools and it really helps to take the tutorials on the website that they guide you through. You'll learn how to make fast and accurate updates of all kinds without breaking things. 2. Updates Take Time to Sync to Other Platforms Every mapping app like RideWithGPS, Strava, etc adopt updates from the base maps at different frequencies. When I update a gravel surface in OSM, I usually see the update synced to RideWithGPS' map in a few days to two weeks. When I add or fix missing roads, those usually take slightly longer like two to three weeks. Yes, it's a slower process but the impact is open-sourced map data that can reach unlimited numbers of other apps, devices, and recreational activities. 3. Get Started With OpenStreetMap.org Want to give it a try? This story isn't sponsored by OpenStreetMap and doesn't have any affiliation wit it whatsoever. It's just a tool we love because it helps improves maps everywhere. To get started, head to OpenStreetMap.org, and click "Start Mapping" so that you can create an account, take the tutorials, and start editing gravel surface types and adding or correcting missing roads. After submitting your updates, give it a few weeks and then enjoy seeing your map updates in the different mapping apps that you love.

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