How does GravelUp choose where to run their bike trips ?
Right from the beginning our co-founders envisaged adding new destination each year. But not just anywhere! Putting everything together in a new location doesn’t happen overnight, so we thought we’d share a little of our process :
Make sure the destination meets our exacting criteria.
Get in touch with the various local people and authorities who will contribute to the trip.
Make several recce trips.
Keep improving the overall experience once the trips are up and running.
First off we make sure that the region we are looking at meets our exacting criteria.
It has to be “mid mountains,” meaning a range between 500 and 1500m of altitude. There’s a fair few of these in Europe and they are equally as rich as, but less well known, than their taller cousins like the Alps. Mid mountain gives the variety of terrain that is perfect for gravel riding and accessible for beginners through to experienced gravel riders. In a nutshell there’s something for everyone.
The area needs good gravel to ride.
Of course we need to check out the gravel. For this we use various digital mapping tools like komoot, Fatmap and the French IGN maps, alongside feedback/knowledge from our own personal bike trips, those of colleagues/local guides, and the regional authorities.
The PNRs (Regional Natural Parks) of France are key to the planning of our trips as they have extensive knowledge of the terrain.
Of equal importance is making sure we are in pristine spaces that will stay that way, as well as managed areas with good forestry trails.
Variety is the spice of life and the same can be said for the trails we want to ride, so we need all sorts of paths, tracks and trails for the unique experience that only a gravel bike can give.
Meeting the needs of our clients.
We feel really strongly about the local dimension of each of our trips. The aim is to discover some of the lesser-known parts of France, and experience (or rediscover!) an area from a totally different perspective.
And further afield we’ve chosen destinations abroad that are dream gravel destinations, for a total change of scene and culture, like Norway and Andalusia. By exploring some of the wilder regions we stay close to nature.
Next we meet the locals.
Outside of the Natural Parks we make sure that the local authorities want to work with us, so that we boost the local economy. This can be the local town halls, tourist offices and tourism organisations.
Then it’s recce time!
Our recce trips have three stages:
By car. First up is to find the right basecamp that will be the home from home for our clients. We get an overall feel of the region and meet the locals who will help shape the trip.
Bike and 4x4 test trip. This is to test out the trails to make sure the potential is there. We identify lunch spots and van meeting points etc to put together a first draft of the route.
Gravel bike time! With the local guide(s) we ride all the routes in real time and tweak as needed. We’ll set off with a bike packing set up to fully test the point to point routes.
We’ve decided not to share the routes with our clients ahead of each trip for two reasons:
Keep the surprise
Stay flexible, so we can tweak the route as needed depending on the level of the group, weather and conditions at the time.
Each day starts with a briefing where we talk through the route and answer any questions/worries the group may have. Sometimes there’s a couple options, with a bonus loop or a shortcut available to keep everyone happy.
And finally our destinations are constantly evolving.
The more trips we run, the more we tweak them! On each expedition we meet more people and make more contacts to be able to offer our clients more access to more local knowledge.
We hold in very high esteem the feedback we get from every client, which we use to constantly improve everything we do.
To find out about all our destinations have a look at the webpage here.
All the important info you need for getting back out on the Trails.
As everyone heads back to work and school after the summer break, we’ve put all the key info together to help you get back on the bike (if you stopped!): Getting (back) on the bike, choosing the right kit, heading off on a bike trip, gravel events to take part in...
Gravel vs Road, what’s the difference?
It’s not really news anymore that gravel is having it’s moment, with all kinds of bikes now available for all kinds of riding. It’s where MTB meets road riding, for a do-it-all bike that can take on a large variety of terrain, with unrivalled versatility. A gravel bike can take you from your daily commute to a long distance trip, via any trail it can find in between. So is a gravel bike just another bike on the market??