No sooner had cyclocross become the darling of the spandex set than gravel racing emerged as another high intensity offshoot of bike racing. But whereas cyclocross is more like an off-road, obstacle-laden crit race, gravel races are the off-road, blue collar equivalent of gran fondos: they’re mostly in the Midwest, they’re largely unsupported, and racers pedal a mountain, cyclocross or (sometimes) a road bike. In the last few years, though, bike makers have introduced gravel-specific models that have the toughness of a mountain bike, the geometry of a road bike and the clearance for big tires.

MORE CYCLING: The Best Road Bikes for Any Rider | Interview with Cannondale’s Henning Schroeder | The Best American Mountain Bike Trails
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