Maps, Art and History to Hold in Your Hand: Introducing the Gravel Adventure Field Guide

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One thing was indeed very rad about last year’s The ‘Rad gravel event in Trinidad, Colorado.

Each participant came home from the inaugural event with a copy of the Trinidad-Las Animas Gravel Adventure Field Guide, a playful pocket-sized cycling guide, packed with maps, routes and information about the region.

Related: Trinidad-Las Animas County Releases Gravel Adventure Field Guide

Serena Bishop Gordon, a professional cyclist from Bend, Oregon (who came second in The Rad), was so impressed with the book that she showed it to friends back home in Bend.

“There’s 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 great route planning technology we have at our disposal. I really wanted to bring this stretch to Bend where the gravel riding is very 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 upcoming guides.

“The amazing response to our Trinidad-Las Animas County Gravel Adventure Field Guide forced us to seek out other destinations that know the value of promoting great local attractions alongside their regional culture and tourism endeavors,” said De la Roca. “To everyone holding the book, the simple answer was, ‘this is really cool.’ I think it’s because it’s something that holds you, that has a tangible feeling.”

While the characteristics of the Gravel Adventure Field Guide include artistic renderings, historic vignettes and offerings from local businesses and regional partners, the books also include QR codes granting access to digital resources such as gravel bike routes.

Although many users use the digital version of the GAFG while driving, the analog copy is designed to last longer.

“The idea that we move forward as we get new destinations is that they become collectibles,” De la Roca said. “Each copy has a unique story and 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 national tourism boards are firmly on board. In fact, much of the funding for the new Bend, Patagonia, and Pueblo guidebooks came from state tourism agencies that hold money from the American Recovery Act and go to great lengths to promote outdoor recreation.

“Speaking of the level of state tourism, it’s like ‘hey, gravel is at the point where it’s its own thing, like mountain biking,'” said de la Roca. “If you put together your outdoor recreation program and use MTB, you can also throw gravel in there. Arizona tourism loved that. They clearly saw Patagonia as a huge state-level opportunity, but that conversation could evolve into other locations as well — Ajo, Flagstaff, even Phoenix.”

The Gravel Adventure Field Guides won’t stop west though. The plan is to entertain book destinations across the country, especially in areas that could benefit from the fame. De la Roca said he already has interest from three different cities in Indiana and plans to travel there this spring.

He also hopes that the routes and information in the next Gravel Adventure Field Guides help us give a subtle reminder: that ‘gravel’ defies a single definition.

“This is also an opportunity to develop the conversation about dirt roads,” said De la Roca. “People think gravel is all drop bars and 700c wheels, but there are people who might want to mix singletrack. We want to attract more people to join in. One of the things I picked up quickly and still happens – bike shops sell still mountain bikes. Gravel bikes are for people who already own one or two bikes, not just for the sport. Other people may have flat bar bikes. That’s the real opportunity for the sport right now – to play out the all-rounder component and reach more people who just want to cycle.”

In honor of the launch, Gravel Adventure Field Guide created the Explore Trinidad Gravel travel sweepstakes. It will award one lucky participant a $1500 travel reward for a four day, three night trip to visit and ride Trinidad, Colorado. Interested riders can register on the Gravel Adventure Field Guide website:

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