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  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    Originating mostly in the Midwest, gravel grinders—long races held on predominantly unimproved dirt, chip-seal, and gravel back roads—have exploded in popularity over the past few years. People race on whatever they’ve got (mountain bikes, cyclocross rigs, traditional road bikes), and the vibe is part century, part adventure race. Challenging road conditions, nasty weather, and limited support checkpoints are all part of the allure.

  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    CamelBak Podium Chill Bottle

    Load up the Chill with ice and you’ll be treated to a refreshingly cold drink hours into your ride. The on-off bite valve ensures the jostling roads won’t eject half your hydration before you drink it. ($12)

  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    Salsa Warbird 2 Bike

    One of the first gravel-grinder-inspired bikes, the Warbird 2’s longish wheelbase, tall headtube, and low bottom bracket deliver confident handling, and the Enve carbon fork takes the edge off rough roads. Smart gravel-oriented details include a huge main triangle for cargo bags, clearance for tires up to 38 millimeters wide, and better-performing-in-the-mud disc brakes. ($2,499)

  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    Mavic Helium H20 Jacket + the Rapha Super-Lightweight Jersey

    The Helium ($200) kept us dry for hours in full-on rain and all but disappeared when the sun came out—it stuffs down to the size of a Coke can. The Helium goes great with the Rapha Super-Lightweight jersey ($160)underneath. A trio of dimpled and textured fabrics make this jersey one of the most breathable we’ve ever tested.

  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    Garmin Edge 810 GPS + WD-40 Bike Dry Lube

    Navigation at most races is done with cue sheets, but wrong turns happen. Edge 810 ($500) will get you back on track and logs every cycling metric (speed, distance, power). Even better, Bluetooth compatibility means friends can follow you remotely and uploads are automatic. As for bike maintenance, the clean and nonsticky Dry Lube ($9), part of WD-40’s new line of cycling-specific products, kept our chains running smoothly in all but the harshest conditions.

  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    Pearl Izumi Elite Gel-Vent FF Gloves

    Pronounced gel pads on the palms and fingers of the Gel-Vent FF gloves take some of the sting out of washboard roads. ($40)

  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    Castelli Inferno Bib Shorts

    With textured stretch nylon in the legs to speed evaporation, the Infernos were our favorite shorts for long, hot days in the saddle. ($200)

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