Opinion: Pro gravel racing is good for the Spirit of Gravel

Pro gravel racers riding on a section of singletrack
Pro gravel racers riding on a section of singletrack (Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you are new to gravel as a cycling genre, you’ll have come across the term ‘Spirit of Gravel’ before. It’s hard to miss – a phrase used liberally by those in the cycling media – but finds its greatest use among marketers and influencers. It is also one of those terms that can seemingly mean all things to all people.

To some, just riding a gravel bike is the Spirit of Gravel (henceforth abbreviated to 'SoG'). To others it’s bikepacking. To some, it’s strategically underbiking, which oddly would then make Paris-Roubaix SoG. It’s community, it’s camping, it’s 90’s mountain bikes, it’s friction shifting, it’s ultra racing, it’s bike touring, but above all, it is fundamentally anti-mainstream. 

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Will Jones
Senior Tech Writer

Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. He’s tried his hand at most cycling disciplines, from the standard mix of road, gravel, and mountain bike, to the more unusual like bike polo and tracklocross. He’s made his own bike frames, covered tech news from the biggest races on the planet, and published countless premium galleries thanks to his excellent photographic eye. Also, given he doesn’t ever ride indoors he’s become a real expert on foul-weather riding gear. His collection of bikes is a real smorgasbord, with everything from vintage-style steel tourers through to superlight flat bar hill climb machines.