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Every participant came home from the inaugural event with a copy of the Trinidad-Las Animas Gravel Adventure Field Guide, a whimsical pocket-sized cycling guidebook, chock full of maps, routes, and information about the region.
Serena Bishop Gordon, a pro rider from Bend, Oregon (who placed second at The Rad), was so taken with the book that she showed it to friends back home in Bend.
“There is nothing like planning an adventure with a real map,” she said, “and the Gravel Adventure Field Guide brings together the look and feel of old school navigation and planning, with the amazing route planning technology we have at our disposal. I wanted to bring this bit of awesome to Bend, where the gravel riding is quite different and top-notch.”
In 2022, Bend, Oregon — as well as Patagonia, Arizona, and Pueblo, Colorado — will have their own versions of a Gravel Adventure Field Guide.
On Thursday, Juan De la Roca (Backshop Bikes) and Stephen Beneski (Beneski Designs) announced the launch of an official venture known as Gravel Adventure Field Guide (GAFG), as well as the three forthcoming guidebooks.
“The amazing response to our Trinidad-Las Animas County Gravel Adventure Field Guide pushed us to seek other destinations that know the value of promoting great local rides alongside their regional culture and tourism efforts,” De la Roca said. “Everybody that holds the book, the simple response was, ‘this is really cool.’ I think it’s because it’s something you hold, that has a tangible feel.”
While the hallmarks of the Gravel Adventure Field Guide are its artistic renderings, historical vignettes, and offers from local businesses and regional partners, the books also contain QR codes that grant access to digital resources like gravel cycling routes.
While many users will use the digital version of the GAFG while riding, the analog copy is designed to have a longer shelf life.
“The idea moving forward as we get new destinations is that they become collectibles,” De la Roca said. “Each one has a unique story and take on a location, and it becomes something that people want to collect.”
De la Roca and Beneski have a bold vision for the future of Gravel Adventure Field Guide, and local, regional, and state tourism agencies are firmly on board. In fact, much of the funding for the new Bend, Patagonia, and Pueblo guidebooks came from state tourism boards who are flush with money from the American Recovery Act and making a big push to promote outdoor recreation.
“Now, talking at a state tourism level it’s like ‘hey, gravel is at the point where it is its own thing like mountain biking,” de la Roca said. “When you put together your outdoor recreation programming and use MTB you can also throw gravel in there. Arizona tourism was keen on that. They obviously saw Patagonia as a huge opportunity at the state level, but that conversation can evolve to other locations as well – Ajo, Flagstaff, even Phoenix.”
The Gravel Adventure Field Guides will not stop out west, however. The plan is to entertain book destinations across the country, especially in areas that could benefit from the exposure. De la Roca said he already has interest from three different cities in Indiana and plans to travel there this spring.
Furthermore, he hopes that the routes and information contained in subsequent Gravel Adventure Field Guides help issue a subtle reminder: that ‘gravel’ defies one sole definition.
“This is also an opportunity to evolve the gravel road conversation,” De la Roca said. “People think gravel is all drop bars and 700c wheels but there are people that might want to mix in singletrack. We want to pull more people in to participate. One of the things I quickly picked up that’s still happening – bike shops are still selling mountain bikes. Gravel bikes are for people who already have one to two bikes, not just coming into the sport. Other people might have a bike with flat bars. That’s the real opportunity for the sport right now – to play off the all-rounder component and reach more people who just want to ride bikes.”
In honor of its launch, Gravel Adventure Field Guide has cooked up the Explore Trinidad Gravel travel sweepstakes. It awards one lucky contestant a $1500 travel reward for a four-day and three-night trip to visit and ride in Trinidad, Colorado. Interested riders can register at Gravel Adventure Field Guide website: https://graveladventurefieldguide.com/contest