There used to be a time that road riders had a choice: stick to the pavement and deal with the traffic, or explore further and risk the flats and the rough rides that came with it. Sonoma County is undoubtedly beautiful, but it will never win awards for the quality of its pavement. But the views and solitude on the gravel roads around Santa Rosa were always enough to tempt people from the beaten path, and that was the drive that initially created the Gravelking tire. Now we're at the point where exploring new turns is part of every ride, and the tire technology is at a place to allow that.
Bryan Larsen is a developing road racer who has been racing with the Echelon Storck Development team this year. After a season or two avoiding potholes on his road bike, Panaracer set Bryan up with a pair of Gravelkings to make the training miles go by a little quicker, "For the first time, I can now look up from road directly ahead of me. I can now enjoy the expansive vistas of Sonoma County with little to no worries about the condition of the pavement" For Bryan, the ability to extend his training rides into the unknown has been a huge aid in staying mentally fresh throughout the harder miles of winter and spring. While there have always been bigger, heavier road tires on offer, Larsen is happy that the Gravelking maintains the ride feel of his race bike, "In the past, I've had to make a compromise between ride quality and protection. I've had to choose if I want to feel sharp, fast, and snappy or if I want to spend my ride not fixing flats. The Gravelkings offered no compromise in terms of protection or race handling."
Larsen hopes that the extra space to do his training will pay off when it comes to race season. For Panaracer tires, expanding the options for road riders has been a huge part of the continued development behind the Gravelking line.