ExperiencePlus! Blog

Gravel Explorer Primer Part 1: Time for European Dirt

In 2022 we launched our new Gravel Explorer Tours in Portugal’s Algarve and Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula. If you’re booked on one of these tours, or curious to learn more about them, we want to make sure you’re familiar with the style of riding that awaits.

Our Gravel Explorer Tours use a combination of up to 50 percent paved and unpaved surfaces. Unpaved? Yep, as in no tarmac, macadam, asphalt, or concrete. But to be clear, we are not pedaling abandoned and potholed country lanes nor grinding up rugged and rocky four-wheel-drive jeep roads.

Instead, we will cycle dirt paths and roads similar in quality to what you’d ride on the North American Rails to Trails system. Sure there will be rocks. A bit of uneven two-track terrain. Yet Europe’s sprawling network of farm lanes, dirt paths, and gravel roads enables us to create new tours in prime locations that just beg to be pedaled.

In order to enjoy these surfaces, we’ll provide you with a bicycle fit for the adventure.

Touring In Comfort

Riding dirt roads is not about suffering. It’s about going where others rarely go. It’s about connecting special destinations via a new route. It’s about maximizing fun and exploring hidden vistas. It’s about having the right equipment:

  • Our Gravel Explorer Tours will feature our titanium hybrid trekking bikes outfitted with wider (1.5”-2”) tires that are made to absorb off-road conditions with minimal rolling resistance on paved surfaces.
  • For those wanting some electronic assistance, our e-trekking bikes – also with wider tires – are perfectly suited to diverse terrain and include a head shock for moderate front end absorption.
  • Our new fleet of Cannondale Topstone e-road bikes are more similar to “gravel” style bikes than to svelte racing style bikes. These new bikes deliver on comfort and performance by combining wider tires, lower gearing, and multiple hand positions.

There is a surcharge of $250 if you elect to use an e-trekking bike and $300 for an E-Road bike on a Gravel Explorer Tour. Otherwise, our titanium hybrid trekking bike is included in the cost of the tour. Learn more about our entire fleet on our bike specifications page.

Is a Gravel Explorer Tour right for you?

We certainly would like to think so, but admittedly, not everyone seeks this kind of adventure. My honey and I have opposing points of view when it comes to riding dirt. I could do it all day; he would prefer to avoid it at all costs.

But if you haven’t ridden off-road before, you might suspend judgment until you give it a go.

Do you need a special bike to make sure? Great question! You don’t have to invest hundreds of dollars in a new bike just to discover if riding off-road appeals. Between demoing, borrowing, and retrofitting your own bike, there are plenty of inexpensive options available, whether preparing for your first Explorer Tour or trying out the this much-loved style of riding.

Part 2 of the Gravel Explorer Primer will cover the basics of how to get your hands on a bike that is just right for dirt touring and how to begin exploring dirt near you.

In the meantime, check out our upcoming Gravel Explorer Tours, and let us know what you think about this new tour style by dropping us an email at tours@experienceplus.com.