Bike Check: A full spectrum of gravel-ready bikes at Peacham Fall Fondo

Post-ride work duties included a few fantastic New England-style IPAs. This bike has apparently seen many owners throughout Burlington, VT, as it bounced around the local racer scene.

by Marshall Opel

A few weekends ago, I flew out to Ian Boswell’s Peacham Fall Fondo in Northern Vermont, a beautiful autumn ride which raised funds for the Love Your Brain Foundation. That foundation is helping Ian — who rides for Katusha-Alpecin — during his recovery from a traumatic brain injury he sustained in a crash in Italy earlier this season.

Vermont is known for its beautiful rolling countryside and wooded hills, and the Peacham Fall Fondo is a near-perfect exhibition of what the state has to offer. We climbed well over 5,500 feet (1,675m) in just 50 miles (80km), riding over everything from pavement to Class 4 roads, which are un-maintained and un-plowed in winter.

It’s a playground for bikes. More than half the roads there are hardpacked dirt that seems to hold up remarkably well over the summer months. At the Peacham Fall Fondo, we saw bikes that were more than 25 years old as well as bikes that were so new they hadn’t added brand logos yet. Part of what’s cool about gravel rides is the range of bikes you see turn up on event day. There were mountain bikes, road bikes, old bikes and new bikes and everything in between. The only common denominator was the smile of each pilot.

I took a tour around to get a sample of some of the bikes you see at a gravel ride. The conclusion: Almost every bike can be a gravel bike, if you want it to be. Check out this gallery for proof.

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