Gravel bikes are all the rage right now. They’re great for riders looking for a challenge off the road and an experience completely different from pavement riding.
To prepare for a gravel race, you must build up your capacity to ride at a high power output for long periods. Doing longer Zone 3 and Zone 4 intervals that push you to just under or over the threshold will help.
Get There Early
Gravel bikes are the new cool kid on the block. Throw a stone, and you’ll likely hit a gravel biker in the wild (or perhaps just a social media feed populated by drop-bar evangelists).
A Gravel Mountain Biking Training requires different fitness, strength, and stability levels than pure pavement riding. You’re asking your skinny tires to absorb thousands of square-edged bumps over a long day out, and even for the most experienced rider, this can take its toll.
For many novices, tackling a big gravel event can be intimidating. Preparation can make all the difference, whether entering an endurance-style race or just going on a social ride.
Don’t Get Sick
The wind can be tough on a gravel bike ride. Headwinds can drain your energy, and tailwinds will be short-lived. If you are riding based on time or kilojoules, adjusting your ride to account for these conditions may be necessary.
For those new to gravel cycling, it is a new experience that feels like the halfway house between mountain biking and road cycling. The genre actively eschews performance metrics and prizes exploration.
Gravel racing is also different in that it takes place over long distances in rough terrain with minimal support. This requires athletes to be self-sufficient and have more fuel than they think they will need at the start of the race. Athletes should start with at least 2x24oz bottles and enough food to last for 3hrs. Having more on hand ensures that if an athlete gets a mechanical issue or misses an aid station, they will have enough to make it to the end of the course.
Don’t Forget Your Gear
Gravel biking is becoming more and more popular. Many experienced cyclists and newbies find it a perfect medium between road cycling and mountain biking. It allows you to enjoy diverse terrain, get away from traffic, and be adventurous without getting in over your head on technical trails.
But gravel riding is more difficult than it looks in all the cool pictures online. It requires more technique and a different mindset than riding on pavement. You must be comfortable shifting your weight and cadence, especially when navigating rock gardens and ruts. You must be ready for unexpected obstacles like washboards and soft sand patches.
And don’t forget about the weather. Cold, wet conditions make riding less enjoyable and can cause injuries. Windy conditions also affect your speed and increase your work to get forward momentum. To avoid injury, practice your skills on smooth surfaces at home before heading out in bad weather.
Gravel cycling is gaining popularity. By joining a Gravel Bike Training Membership, you can enjoy a blend of road and mountain biking, encompassing all-road and bikepacking. It also includes cyclocross riding and even some road races with gravel sections.
When preparing for a gravel race, consider the weather conditions that might affect your ride. The terrain and location of the course will also be a factor. Some courses have rocky sections more likely to damage your bicycle, while others have mud or sandy trails draining well.
Regardless of the weather, it helps you stay hydrated on your ride. This is important to ensure your muscles and brain function at their best. Drinking small amounts of water or a sports drink frequently on your ride is recommended. This is better than trying to guzzle a lot at one time. Sipping water or a sports drink every 10-15 minutes is the best way to keep your hydration levels high.