What is a gravel grinder?

It's an organised, self-supported bike ride on a set route on mostly dirt roads. We're pretty much following Guitar Ted's definition here. Thanks Guitar Ted. There will be a couple of (un-manned) checkpoints on each ride which you'll be required to visit and possibly buy something from - they'll usually be shops or servos and will be located in places you'll probably want to refuel at anyway - make sure you ask for a receipt and then we'll have proof that you did actually visit that checkpoint. Receipts are date and time stamped so we'll be able to see when you visited each checkpoint too. MGG: The checking receipts thing never really felt necessary. You ride, you win. The only proof needed is the smile on your face.

Is this a race?

Short answer: No. The main focus of these rides is to get out onto some awesome backroads and ride bikes through some beautiful countryside. You'll be given a map and cue sheet at the start of each ride so you won't have to wait for that one guy who knows the way, you'll be able to ride at your own pace. If that pace happens to be really really fast then so be it - just make sure you wait at the end for the rest of us so we can swap stories and have a laugh.

How long are these rides?

We're aiming for about 100km, depending on the terrain. You can expect to be on the bike for about 4-6 hours give or take, depending on how fast you go.

What sort of terrain can I expect?

As the name suggests, you can expect lots of gravel/dirt roads. There will inevitably be some paved roads but it'll be mostly dirt. This means you'll encounter corrugations, potholes, loose gravel sections, soft shoulders, no shoulders, lack of traction and lots of dust. There will be hills of both the up and down variety and some awesome views.

What sort of bike can I ride?

There are no restrictions on what sort of bike you can ride. Ride whatever makes you happy. But remember, you'll be riding for five hours on rough roads so you want something that won't break and you want something that will be comfortable. You'll definitely need to carry water and probably some food as well. A mountain bike or CX bike would be two obvious choices but you could do just as well by slinging some fatter tires on your roadie or fixie. Comfort is king on long rides and comfort on dirt means wide tires at low pressure. 28s on your roadie? Yeah, that'd work. 35s on your CX bike? Now you're talking! Big fat MTB tires? You'll be laughing.

What will I need to bring?

These rides are completely self-supported so when you're packing your gear, pretend that you're going on a solo ride and pack accordingly. That means food, drink, tools, tubes, mobile phone, money, credit card, sunscreen etc. Be prepared, be self-sufficient or at least ride with someone who is. If you end up riding alone and you bust your bike then it's up to you to fix it or you may have a long walk to get back to civilisation. Also, we'll be out in the sticks so your mobile phone may not work.

Is there an entry fee? How much is it?

No, these rides are free.

Do I have to register or something?

We'd like people to register at the start of each ride so we know who's riding and can make sure you're all accounted for at the end. Also so we can give you a cue sheet so you know where you're going. Registration will open 30 minutes before each ride starts.

Will there be support provided? Food and drink? Sag wagon?

No. These rides are fully self-supported. Carry everything you need to get through the ride on your own. Checkpoints will generally be at places that sell food and drink so you can plan to refuel at them if you don't want to carry 5 hours of supplies with you right from the start.

Will the course be marked? Will there be marshalls at every corner?

No, there will be no course markings and no course marshalls. You'll be given a cue sheet at the start of the ride and then it's up to you.

How do the checkpoints work? Will there be someone I need to find and check in with?

Checkpoints will be un-manned - don't look around for someone to cross your name off a list coz there won't be anyone! We always plan checkpoints to be at a shop of some kind so go in and buy something - you'll probably be hungry and thirsty anyway. If you're feeling great, just keep on riding.